The Battle of Brindol

Awesome, awesome session today.

We begin by introducing Loven’s replacement, a changeling rogue/swordsage named 20 (though he prefers to be called “Free.”) His actual player wasn’t around, but a substitute player handles both Holden and Free.

Due to some miscommunication with the original player, Free made many choices that were not only suboptimal, but downright dangerous to the party (Charging Minotaur for a Swordsage who had 10 Strength, for one, 4 ranks only in UMD, and dumped Cha and Wis.) Lyka’s player had tried to help this guy make his new character, but unfortunately it seems this didn’t work.

In any case, everyone spent about an hour and a half fixing Free (with his original player’s permission). After gear was chosen, skill points reassigned, and martial maneuvers re-selected, we were finally able to begin.

Training the Lions

The party decides to go ahead and train the Lions of Brindol for their new and improved careers. Lyka successfully trains Teyani in her new career as a Fighter/Warblade.
Holden, with his short temper, is unable to keep his cool in transmitting his ideals to Wrogann, and fails to give him his Crusader levels.
Kikkeni, crippled by her level loss, is unable to make the DC and rolls low as well, so Narcy remains an ordinary fighter.
Finally, Free passes all his skill checks and successfully trains Jonz as a sniper (somehow).

After seven days’ training, the sentries on the wall call everyone’s attention to the horizon. The Red Hand has come into view.

The Red Hand troops set up just outside of bow range. Kikkeni, still a bit addled by her recent Raising, champs at the bit and tries to convince the others to ride out on their pet dire lion.

They convince her to hold back, and so they wait.

The Hammer Falls

The alarm goes up—two artillery teams have begun their bombardment. From the wall, the outlines of three hulking ogres and two enormous warforged titans are visible—the titans are heavily modified, and from the gates Linny can make out that each has one massive arm-mounted cannon powered by human-sized Eberron dragonshards. Each of the titans lets loose a shrieking, wailing projectile that pulverizes the walls extremely quickly.

From their HQ at Brindol Keep, the PCs decide to go after the southern strike team, since they can get there closer.

Before they go, Jaarmath, Ulverth, Immerstal, and Lady Kaal gather the PCs for one last word.

“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be. If we survive here, then good work, everyone. If we fall, gods help us.”

After setting up the Mindlink and Telepathic Bonds, the PCs march out and make a run for it.

The PCs start out 450 feet away from the ogre/titan battery. Lyka makes a run for it on foot, while Holden and Free, mounted on the dire lion (whom Lyka says reminds her of her grandfather), ride out as fast as they could.

Kikkeni and Linny remain behind. Immediately Kikkeni opens fire with her Energy balls, but since she could only hit one of them at a time she focuses on one of the three ogres. The first ogre saves well against the energy balls and is able to survive the first few blasts well, but soon is unable to weather the fire and starts chucking boulders at Kikkeni. The other two ogres and the titans keep up their fire.

By now they realize (and Linny also mentions) that the titans can only fire after three rounds of recharging their dragonshard resonators. It takes a bit of juice to get the dragonshards to reach critical, so they can only fire more or less every 20 seconds (or every fourth round). Linny tries taking potshots at the ogres with Ice Knife, but she’s unable to even make their AC.

Before long, the melee characters close the distance. The three ogres go down quickly once the frontliners get to them. The party then focuses its attention on the Titans. At this point, though, Kikkeni wants to conserve her PP and decides to refrain from launching any more projectiles.

Lyka attacks one of them all on her own and wails on it with everything she’s got, eventually accumulating enough damage for the titan to un-entrench itself and start trying to stomp her. With its cannon no longer trained on the wall, they party at this point has bought at least a one minute extension on the wall’s life span.

Holden, the lion, and Free don’t fare against the second titan so well. Their weapons deal miserable damage despite Holden full attacking and using Fight with mount to give his lion full attacks. Even when he did get Elder Mountain Hammer, Holden rolled a natural one and lost his first opportunity to deal significant damage to it. Unfazed, the titan continues recharging and firing. Seeing her companions in distress, Linny decides to use Divine Vigor and make a run for it to get close enough to drop an Earth Reaver on the Titan that continues to fire.

It takes her a couple more rounds to get close enough even with her enhanced run speed, but once Linny fires off the Earth Reaver, the titan fails its reflex save and topples. With their target disabled, Holden, the lion and Free continue their assault.

As the titan gets up, the three take their AOOs against the mechanical monster while Linny follows up reluctantly with a Sound Lance. Though the titan is resistant to sonic damage, the blast rips off a huge chunk of its armor.

Lyka, in the meantime, continues beating on the other titan while sustaining severe injuries from the titan’s stomps. With a final Soaring Raptor Strike, she sunders the titan’s dragonshard resonator and it goes down.

Holden’s lion manages the impossible—winning a grapple check against the titan. This ties up its cannon and prevents it from firing. Free attempts to use Devastating Throw on the titan twice (he wanted to be able to brag about it here), but fails completely—at one point he fails by 1.

Finally, Holden gets Mountain Hammer and bashes the titan’s chest cavity in. The titan goes down.

After picking up their loot (a whole bunch of dragonshards from the exploding resonators, some GP, a Minor Schema of Resist Energy and a Robe of Useful Items), they try to contact Jaarmath.

Jaarmath only replies “Oh gods, it’s coming! COME QUICKLY!”

Continue reading

Day 13: The Battle of Rhest

Day 13
The day starts out as a continuation of where the party left off: waiting for the thunderstorm after Lanikar’s funeral to dissipate. Enter Linnea Leiranoff, cloistered cleric of Aureon, found lost and wandering aimlessly in the swamp—utterly drenched except for her books.

Linnea performs an invaluable service for them: she identifies the remains of the loot they got from the razorfiends. This included a greater crystal of aquatic action, eyes of the eaglethird eye freedom, and arod of silence.

The party formulates their plan:
1. Purchase potions of water breathing from Illian. These potions last 12 hours.
2. Paddle up the stream to the rim of the Rhest sinkhole.
3. Drink the potions and walk across the stream bed. The crystal of aquatic action obviates Holden’s need for water breathing, and Loven doesn’t breathe, so the party gets to save on potions.
4. Take the bell tower first, then investigate the town hall.

Capsize

The party borrows a boat from the elves and paddles up the stream. Close to the sinkhole, they’re ambushed by a blackscale and four poison dusk lizardfolk.

The blackscale is spotted lurking underwater, but instead of surfacing as they had expected, it easily capsizes the boat and dunks everyone into the drink.
The party is lucky that the stream is only 4 feet deep and that their shorter party members don’t have problems with breathing water.

The lizardfolk are quickly overwhelmed; Linnea takes a poisoned arrow but her Strength isn’t damaged much, while Holden takes a sound bashing from the blackscale, he easily drops the blackscale after applying Divine Surge to the beast’s crotch.

Lyka, the shifter, is able to use her Jump to leap through the nasty undergrowth to grapple one of the poison dusks while Loven and Linnea apply some liberal fire from their soggy positions to take out two of the other snipers. Kikkeni freezes the last sniper with energy ball. Overkill, but it gets the job done.

They attempt to interrogate the remaining lizardfolk (again), but it only tells them the party stumbled through their territory. They dump him there—Kikkeni and Holden begin to argue about leaving him alive, while Loven just walks over to him and shanks the lizardman. They begin moving towards the tower.

Memorable lines:
<Lyka, to Holden> Look, sir, it is a large heathen!
<Lyka, to Holden> Look sir, it is a miniature heathen!
<Lyka, to Holden> Sir, it appears you have water in your eyes.

The Tower

Traveling to the tower underwater, the party enters the submerged floor of the tower. Loven sneaks up into the second floor to scout and spots three of the hobgoblins inside.

The party decides to have him plant the exploding spike at the stop of the stairs. Loven plants it in and splashes loudly into the water. The hobgoblins investigate the sound, and the spike goes off.

All of them are burnt within an inch of their life, but they draw their swords anyway. Lyka runs up to skewer one of them, but misses both. Kikkeni comes in and wastes them all with energy missile. As they come up, though, they see someone running up the stairs and give chase.

Red Alert

Lyka is the first to arrive on the top floor. Korkulan the bladebearer (now a Warblade 4/Fighter 2) confronts her, while the other hobgoblins drop their bows and draw their swords. Korkulan is initially able to counter Lyka’s strike with Wall of Blades, but when Loven tumbles past him, his advantage quickly turns. Holden runs up the stairs and uses an action point to jump from one of the lower steps onto the top floor (over the railing) and joins the battle. However, one of the hobgoblins begins ringing the bell.

Kikkeni joins the fray with an energy missile, nailing all four hobgoblins. Two of them die, while Korkulan and the last veteran are able to stand a little while longer before Lyka cuts them down.

However, the party spots lizardfolk beginning to get into their rafts to paddle toward the tower.

Crack ensues.

Holden hoists up one of the guard corpses and begins waving its arms so that it appeared to be waving at the lizardfolk. In a loud goblin voice (he can speak the language), he tells the lizardfolk to leave, that it was a false alarm. And he rolls really well on his Bluff, and it was too ridiculous to not let slide, so the lizardfolk begin paddling away.

The PCs then go down and search the bunks, and discover Korkulan’s potions of fly. They reemerge onto the lookout deck to spot the ogres on the Town Hall roof beginning to stir.

Last Flight of the Black Dragon

One of the ogres jumps down into Regiarix’s lair. Within a few seconds, the ogre climbs back out, and so does Regiarix.

The PCs quaff their potions—Holden, Loven, and Lyka are able to fly. Linnea inherited a potion of fly from Ashie as well, so she drinks but decides to stay in the tower.

Holden says: “We’re like flies guarding a piece of ****.”

Saarvith, astride Regiarix, wing angrily toward the tower. Kikkeni begins a devastating barrage of energy balls.

I roll horribly on their saves. By the time Saarvith and Regiarix close to breath weapon range, Regiarix is down to 105/152 HP. Saarvith is down to less than half (he started with a beefed 62 HP). This is despite me giving them action points and despite Kikkeni’s player rolling badly.

Regiarix lets loose a breath weapon but only hits Holden. Despite Holden’s failure to save, I roll badly and Holden only takes around 20 damage.

Holden and Lyka charge. Holden scores massive hits, while Lyka fumbles one of her two Two-Weapon Pounce attacks. The dragon retaliates with a full attack (bad idea; I should’ve remembered the dragon was supposed to keep his distance) , and rolls a mass of 1s and 2s. Not a single attack hits.

Holden and Lyka flank the dragon and combo him with Soaring Raptor Strike and Bone Crusher. At this point, the dragon is down to 32 HP. Kikkeni softens it up even more by detonating an energy ball BEHIND Regiarix, bringing the dragon down to 19 HP.

I should’ve wised up and had them run away, but no. The dragon flies upward and dives toward the tower. Saarvith uses his Arrow Storm but only hits Kikkeni for damage that is pretty much irrelevant at this point. (I should’ve used Hunter’s Mercy on her instead)

Kikkeni simply blasts the dragon and rider with energy cone. Saarvith is already at -2 at this point, and he slumps back in the saddle. The dragon is down to 7 HP.

Enter Linnea. Blast of Force. 8 damage.

Regiarix rolls a 1 on his Fort save, and falls out of the sky. The fall (even into the water) kills both Saarvith and Regiarix.

It’s All Ogre

The regular ogres on the hall’s roof hightail it when they see Regiarix fall out of the sky. The two remaining skullcrushers stay put and hurl some boulders ineffectually at the flying PCs as they close in.

Kikkeni blasts them once more, and Lyka and Holden quickly cut down the two ogres once they clear the space.

The Hatchery

The PCs investigate the ruined building off the side and find the Razorfiend waiting. It breathes acid on Lyka and Holden, but they cut it down quickly before its next turn, and Linnea finishes it off with a scorching ray. The PCs hear the loud hooting of Nurkulnaak’s ettin as it comes onto the roof. Nurkulnaak, wielding a rapier, emerges with them.

Showdown

This battle gets silly quickly. Nurkulnaak rolls high on initiative and raises a solid fog; Lyka and Kikkeni get trapped in it. The other PCs are unable to get in good shots due to the fog, and Nurkulnaak quickly raises agreater invisibility to attempt to escape.

Linnea is able to dispel the fog after Kikkeni and Lyka extricate themselves, while Holden flies up out of the Hatchery to drop down on the Ettin. The two beatsticks attack the Ettin and damage it quickly.

Still invisible, Nurkulnaak blasts Lyka and Holden (and the Ettin) with confusion. Lyka makes her save, but Holden remains floating in the air, babbling like a moron.

Loven snipes the Ettin, which rolls ‘attack nearest enemies’ in its confusion and hits the two beatsticks before collapsing from Loven’s bleed damage.

Kikkeni climbs onto the roof and tries to find Nurkulnaak with Lyka. Kikkeni tries to hasten the process by randomly choosing a spot to grease.

And dumb luck strikes: she catches Nurkulnaak in the area, and he fails his save, falling flat onto the ground, cursing loudly.

Lyka tries to close in on the grease spot and chooses one of the squares to attack, but she doesn’t pick the right square. Nurkulnaak begins crawling toward the stairs leading down to the boardwalk. Linnea summons a Hound Archon and orders him to hunt down the hobgoblin by using detect evil. Kikkeni fires anenergy bolt through the spot where she thought the beguiler was, but Nurkulnaak was no longer there by the time she does so.

The beguiler creates a major image trying to climb over the rampart and jumping down onto the boardwalk below. Immediately the PCs give chase (Holden rolls “babble incoherently” for 3 rounds); the Hound Archon is first. It slashes at the image with its greatsword, destroying it. Using its scent, the Hound Archon picks up the beguiler’s trail, and Kikkeni greases the boardwalk to prevent Nurkulnaak from escaping toward the hatchery.

With Lyka groping around blind, swinging her sword as if at a pinata, Holden drifting lazily through the air babbling, Kikkeni down to the last of her power points and Nurkulnaak nowhere to be found, I ask them if they want to give up looking for him. The players yell “NO!” in unison.

The beguiler tries to escape into the water, but his own invisibility gives him away—the PCs see the bubble in the water. Holden rolls “flee from caster at top speed” and ends up hovering over the water, way out toward the southwest. Kikkeni uses the last of her power points to fire an energy missile at the beguiler, but misses (I rule that the miss chance still applies since the spell is aimed at creatures, not spaces).

The beguiler dismisses his invisibility and surrenders as the Hound Archon brings him down on his knees.

The party ties him up for interrogation later and drags him into the hall while they explore.

They find everything they need to find: Ulwai’s letter, Regiarix’s hoard, and most importantly, the Ghostlord’s phylactery.

Linnea is able to provide the necessary information regarding the phylactery:
-It was most definitely a lich’s phylactery, and the letter gave his identity away.
-Linnea’s History check recalls that the Ghostlord was once Uriikel Zaarl, a hobgoblin druid who fought alongside the Gatekeeper sect against the Daelkyr invasion of Eberron more than 5000 years ago.
-After successfully slaying the Daelkyr who took over Rhest, Zaarl left, but after about 200 years a pride of ghostly lions ransacked Rhest, and an unnnatural quake collapsed Rhest into the sinkhole that it is now.
-The creator of the phylactery is not an arcane caster but a druid, and a blighter at that.

Kikkeni also points out the Ghostlord’s lair on Koth’s map.

Plans

This might be the source of party conflict. Holden and Lyka want to destroy the phylactery and slay the Ghostlord, while the others are sure there might be a reason why the goblins have it.

Holden balks at the thought of trading the lich his phylactery for aid, but Kikkeni says “We don’t necessarily have to allyourselves with him.”

Thoughts

-The PCs really wasted Rhest. The Ozzyrandion battle was harder.
-This might have been due to the adventure assuming the PCs don’t raise the alarm until they are able to get into the building; I built my battle plans around this assumption.
-Despite being advanced, overbuffed AND having action points, Regiarix and Saarvith crashed and burned really badly.
-All dragons are definitely going to have max HP now. Also considering bumping up Abithriax to Huge and Tyrgarun to Gargantuan without advancing their HD.
-I really want Nurkulnaak to escape. He’s a coward and an evil jerk, sure, but he should be smart enough to use his massive repertoire to escape and inform the Red Hand higher ups of the slaughter. This should allow the Red Hand to start sending out death squads and beef up the Ghostlord’s lair security as well.

Short Session

I haven’t been updating this journal in  a while, but I’m simply reposting here what I’ve been posting on my Giant in the Playground thread. Since this is going to be a more permanent location for the journal, I’ll be transferring everything here eventually.

This session is dated June 20, 2009.

Short session today; this served mostly as closure for the first chapter so we could cleanly introduce the new PCs next session: Linnea Leiranoff, cloistered cleric of Aureon, and Lyka aka “Pickles,” a brilliant, savage, shifter warblade.

The party decides to bury Ashie quickly and send House Orien a lock of her hair should they wish to resurrect her. After resting (the previous session was a pretty solid thrashing), they woke up to find Teyani Sura entering the Old Bridge Inn.

Teyani, as haggard as she is, quickly fills them in on what happened to the Rhest Trail. It’s beginning to become clear that the Red Hand is sweeping far wider than they had expected, and that simply taking out a bridge isn’t going to stop them for long. She asks for a map to mark the blockade, and is surprised to see and hear from the PCs what else is coming their way. She quickly scribbles down notes on whatever scraps of paper she has, and leaves for Brindol without even getting her ale.

The Town Council
The party’s immediate impression of Iormel is that he is a Grade A jerk; he harshly tells Holden to shut the hell up when he begins trying to plead against Iormel’s stance (fight).

After hearing all of the council members’ cases (one each for fight, flight and parley, one undecided [Norro] and one that’s practically an abstention [Soranna]), they try to convince Kellin first. Holden rolls really badly at first (he’s the only guy with ranks in Diplomacy), but the others are able to aid him in saying that the goblins wouldn’t have tried to torch the town the previous night if they wanted to plunder. They get Kellin’s vote.

Second, they try Norro. I assigned the lowest DCs to Norro (using The Giant’s Diplomacy rules) since he isn’t committed to any particular course of action. Kikkeni easily makes the case; Norro told them to destroy Skull Gorge Bridge if they had to, and they did. Norro changes his stance to flight as well.

Finally, just to be sure, they try the cantankerous Iormel. He has the highest DC for the flight option (DC 29), but Holden rolls a 20. His +6 modifier is bolstered by Jorr’s testimony, the map, and their performance in fighting against the goblin raid.

<Holden> A town is more than its holdings. A town is its people too.
<Iormel> …I…No way I’m fighting under the banner of the Lord of Brindol.
<Holden> Better to live to fight another day.
<Iormel> What do you know about fighting?
<Holden> We cleared out Vraath Keep. We defeated Wyrmlord Koth. We slew a dragon. I assure you, sir, we know about fighting. But we also know when to run, and now is one such time.
<Iormel> Fine.

The council reaches a unanimous decision to flee, and the town begins packing.

Chimera Attack
At about 2:30 pm, the chimera attacks. The thing died practically as it hit the ground. It rolled dead last on initiative, and even with its beefed HP and the party down one man, the combined firepower of Kikkeni, Loven and Holden takes it down to 13, then 3, then -21 HP before its third turn. The chimera does try to thrash Holden, but only hits with its first bite and gore. Its breath weapon (I gave it lightning instead) barely grazes Kikkeni.

Evacuation
As the party leaves, they decide to escort Norro, Soranna and the rear guard to Terrelton first, and then proceed to the blockades to the North.

Anyway, it’s reeeeally early into the timeline and they’ve already sent the people along the Dawn Way packing. Rhest is a pretty small place and will be pretty easy to clean out if they observe it. The encounters are going to be beefed up a lot more. The speed at which the party slew the chimera is pretty insane.

A Week Before

So a week before campaign start, one of our players, Kate, backed out due to parental difficulties. It’s rather unfortunate because rolled really well and would serve as the party’s artillery (she was going to be the Kalashtar psion). I should’ve realized that she does live too far away.Oh well. Now I have to start doing my homework again and calibrate the encounters for 4 players, then for five players. Either way, we still have two full casters. We shouldn’t have problems.

Now that I have a hardcopy of Magic Item Compendium, I can easily put together some good loot to help them.

Introduction

Hello and welcome to my campaign journal. In this blog I shall chronicle the adventures of my players as their intrepid characters as they go through Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 superadventure, The Red Hand of Doom.

We will be using the Eberron campaign setting, Keith Baker’s D&D world famous (or infamous) for its pulp action, lightning trains and living constructs.

Setting

Due to Eberron‘s unique style, I had to make adjustments to adapt the campaign to fit the world.

Here is my edited overworld map of Elsir Vale, the primary setting for most of the events in the campaign.

elsirvaleoverworld

Spoiler areas have been edited out, and the lightning rail (red dotted line) has been added. The bordering areas are also indicated on the edges of the map.

Party

We have six characters, but unfortunately, not all actually have names yet. The party is made up of:

Dwarf Crusader

Human Druid

Human Warblade/Bard

Human Artificer

Warforged Scout Rogue

Kalashtar Psion

As you can see, things are still rough. We’ll get around to the roleplaying stuff soon.