Raiding Mt Rushmore

Due to unfortunate circumstances, Lyka’s player was still absent and Kikkeni’s player, who has been the most consistent in terms of attendance, suddenly couldn’t make it either. I couldn’t contact Nox’s player, but he had informed me beforehand that he’d be late.

Only Linny’s player and Holden’s player arrived. I was worried about splitting the subbed characters between the two of them, but eventually we got so bored that we figured we might as well go ahead. Holden’s player handled Nox, while Linny’s player boldly handled Kikkeni, Linny and Lyka.

We ran into some difficulty with reading Kikkeni’s power sheets (which had been printed on a dot matrix printer), but we somehow managed. Anyway, without further ado:

Day 51: The Onrushing Storm

The PCs get up at 6 AM and begin the treacherous 2 hour journey down the pass that descends the cliff face. They notice that the weather over the canyon hasn’t changed; it has been cloudy since yesterday, and thunder periodically rumbles through the cloud cover. Although there is no wind and rain, the dark sky is foreboding.
Linny notices that the bridge below is a chain suspension bridge held up by crackling electric rings at intervals; these look very similar to the air elemental rings used in airships. Their close proximity to each other causes a sort of resonance that is likely responsible for the bad weather.

At about 8 AM they arrive at the foot of the bridge. They do the smart thing and tie themselves by the waist onto the handrail chains, and slowly begin the quarter-mile walk across the swaying bridge.

About 200 feet from the other end, the five-headed statue of Tiamat that looms over the bridge begins to speak.

“Who dares approach the Fane of Tiamat?”
“Priest Captain Holden Magroen of the Silver Flame.”

Lyka states her rank and complete name as well.

While the voice echoes throughout the canyon and clearly sounds like five different voices, the PCs make their will saves versus the ventriloquism. Lyka is able to pinpoint the source of the voice in the Tiamat statue’s blue dragon head.

Linny asks if it’s possible to shatter the dragon head. It certainly is, but given the scale of the statue, they’re going to have to deal a lot of damage to it.

(For some reason, Holden’s player was under the impression that the statue was only human-sized until here; only now does he realize that it’s more like Mount Rushmore.)

The statue continues: “I do not know what your business here is. Leave an offering for Tiamat and depart from here, and I might spare you.”

Holden replies: “Well, moving toward the statue counts as ‘departing from here’, doesn’t it?” He slings the maul over his shoulder and continues walking down the path. The others follow. Nox drinks a potion of invisiibility.

Almost immediately, the blue dragon Tyrgarun, the guardian of the Fane and father of Azarr Kul, jumps out of the maw of the blue dragon head and dives, landing with a thunderous tremor on the ledge.

Cue BGM.

“I am Tyrgarun, the Onrushing Storm and father of Azarr Kul! I shall not allow you to obstruct his plans! Dare you come against me?”

Kikkeni raises her Inertial Armor, while Linny casts Mass Shield of Faith. Lyka activates her Siberys Armor, spreading her dragonmark wings, and takes to the air. Holden drinks a potion of Fly and likewise moves closer to the dragon.

Immediately the dragon flies off the path and takes a position 65 feet away from the bridge, to the left of the PCs. Only Linny and Lyka succeed on their Frightful Presence saves—everyone else gets nailed. Tyrgarun lights up Holden and Lyka with his breath weapon. Both fail their saves and get blasted with 43 damage.

Kikkeni once more attempts to blast Tyrgarun, but she begins a long string of failures to breach SR. It would have been much better if she used electricity, since it gets a bonus to breaching resistance, but unfortunately the dragon is completely immune to it.

Lyka and Holden each drink potions of Enlarge Person and try to catch up with the dragon. Linny attempts in vain to blast Tyrgarun with Sound Lance, but she likewise fails miserably to breach his spell resistance.

Holden closes in, but before he even manages to get close enough to swing, Tyrgarun does a sharp turn and buzzes Holden, who misses on his AOO. The dragon instead sets upon Kikkeni, goring her with his horn. He attempts to throw her off the bridge, but she makes her reflex save and escapes with a graze. Nox misses yet again, but due to his hide check and the dragon still can’t spot him. (Okay I messed up; there was nowhere to hide. It really wouldn’t have mattered much in the end because…well, read till the end.)

Kikkeni fires yet another energy ball which simply dissipates against the dragon’s body. Linny likewise fails to get any more damage out of her second Sound Lance.

Lyka and Holden struggle to catch up with Tyrgarun, but he’s just too fast and his AC’s just too high. The dragon makes a wingover and comes straight back at Holden, goring him with his horn. Holden is able to make the reflex save to avoid the Awesome Blow, but he’s completely unable to dent Tyrgarun for now. Nox whiffs his shot yet again.

Kikkeni keeps up her bombardment, but to no effect. Out of Sound Lances, Linny instead takes up her Wand of Ice Knife—the only spell she has that can actually hit the dragon—and fails to breach SR.

Now within range, Holden smites Tyrgarun with Divine Surge, scoring a hefty 56 damage. The dragon makes his massive damage save, but Lyka circles and flanks him, dropping a Soaring Raptor Strike on him from behind. For the first time, the dragon roars in pain.

The angered dragon roars: “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that.”

“What, slept with your wife?” snarls Holden.

The dragon extends his wings and beats down hard, checking Lyka and Holden with the wind, and opens up a savage attack. The bite and first claw hits Holden, while the second claw hits Lyka. Lucky for her, the tail misses. Freaked out by the dragon’s savagery, Nox messes up his shot.

At this point Kikkeni stops trying to shoot and instead uses the Horn of Abithriax to use Psionic Fly on herself, and concentrates into Psionic Focus. Linny tries her Wand of Ice Knife once more, but the projectile fizzles ineffectually on the dragon’s hide.

Holden smites Tyrgarun once more, smashing him in the face with Bonecrusher. The dragon’s horn cracks down the middle. Lyka follows up with a Death From Above, stabbing deep into the dragon’s back.

This time Tyrgarun lets out an agonized wail.

“That’s what your wife said,” says Holden.

The furious dragon punches it, flying straight up to 90 feet above Lyka and Holden (who both whiff their AOOs), then soaring across the bridge once more to a position about 95 feet away from the bridge.

Nox calibrates his crossbow and uses the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the dragon’s position! He takes a single step to close the distance a bit!

And misses. Ho hum.

Kikkeni takes off, breaking away from Linny and Nox, while Linny tries her Ice Knife one more time. This time she rolls a natural 20 and breaches Tyrgarun’s SR, but fails to confirm her critical. The mighty shard of ice plunges into the dragon for an impressive 8 damage.

Lyka and Holden try their best to pursue the dragon, but don’t even make it halfway.

The dragon uses his Wand of Fireball and sears Linny (she makes her save) and then flies back to a position straight above the bridge, hovering above one of the lightning rings. The PCs don’t realize his plan—he intends to dive onto the bridge (sending the chain bridge quivering like a rubber band) and fire off his maximized breath weapon.

The two frontliners close in, but Nox composes himself and takes his shot. The confirmed critical hit plunges straight into Tyrgarun’s eye. He deals over 53 damage with his sneak, but the critical hit would have been enough to kill him at this point. (Which is why it didn’t matter if he was hidden or not.)

“You…cannot…stop…my son.”

Dying in mid-flight, Tyrgarun’s massive corpse crashes onto the air elemental ring. Draconic blood reacts with powerful magic, and a brilliant blue-white flash lights up the entire canyon. The impact sends the bridge swaying wildly, but Nox and Linny are able to hold on.

Realizing the dragon had just died, the PCs begin rejoicing.

Lyka then ruins the mood by asking Holden: “So, sir…did you really sleep with the dragon’s wife?”

“…”

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The Battle of Brindol, Part Trois

The Final Showdown
I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this entry. We finally got around to holding the final session for Brindol. Nox’s usual player couldn’t make it, Holden/Rampant’s player could only stay till noon, and the rest had to leave by around 3 pm, so I asked my players to come really early. Unfortunately, Rampant’s player arrived early. It took the rest a while to arrive; we were only able to start at 10:30 am.

The party hurries toward Cathedral square only to find Jaarmath being dragged into the safety of the cathedral. Captain Ulverth hurries toward the PCs, telling then that Jaarmath was taken down by a sniper. Seeing that Brindol is in grave danger, Rampant tells the others that Cannith designed him with a one-time use program that greatly increases his abilities, but only lasts for an hour. He activates this program and begins speaking in Autobot lines.

“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

They enter the Cathedral to check on him and run into Tredora, who is tending her fallen lover. As much as she loves Jaarmath, she isn’t willing to use up her spells when she knows that they might be needed later. Linny volunteers her one prepared lesser restoration and brings Jaarmath back to 4 Strength.

Jarmaath orders Cpt. Ulverth to take command since he doesn’t want Lady Kaal giving orders. He then orders the PCs to look for the sniper.

The Sniper Attack

The PCs begin by sending Rampant into the area where soldiers had fallen to the sniper. Almost immediately Skather takes a shot and scores a critical hit against Rampant. His fortification doesn’t protect him and he instead takes a full 20+ critical sneak attack. Nox is able to spot Skather as he takes his snipe hide check and quickly tries to enter the coffin maker’s shop.

Nox enters the back door and begins sneaking in extremely well, while the rest of the party gathers around the door outside. As Nox explores the interior, he opens a door that creaks noisily, alerting the invisble Kulkor Zhul War Adept hiding in the stairwell. However, Nox’s hide checks are so high that no matter how high the War Adept rolls, he is unable to spot Nox.

Nox spots into the stairwell and is able to discern the vague outline of an invisible creature. Taking his survival pouch, he rips out a campfire (AGAIN) and throws it at the War Adept. He hits, dealing a full 6 fire damage to the War Adept, who promptly swears and runs up to the second floor. The party rushes into the door while Nox follows the still invisible War Adept up the stairs.

When Nox gets up to the second floor, he opens the door to the supply storage room only to find a fiendish dire wolf snarling at him. He quickly backs away and enters the room on the other side of the stairwell to avoid getting pinned down by the wolf. The other party members pound their way up the staircase. Lyka immediately steps in front of the wolf, closely followed by Rampant. Linny tries to run past the wolf, but in the process gets AOO’d—the beast grabs her leg and shakes it, dealing a massive 30 damage, but Linny is actually able to succeed on the opposed trip attempt. Kikkeni remains on the ground floor, keeping watch in case someone comes in the front door.

Nox takes a shot with his crossbow at the Dire Wolf through the space between Lyka’s legs, taking off almost 3/4 of the wolf’s HP. Rampant steps in and then decapitates it, spraying Lyka with black blood.

“You’re going to have to polish my armor,” Lyka tells Rampant.
“Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” replies the warforged.

Lyka spots someone hiding behind some boxes in the storeroom–a hobgoblin. Rampant stomps all the way up to the hobgoblin, taking a double move, and stopping short of attacking him.

“Would you like to butt heads with me?”
The hobgoblin emerges from his hiding place and attempts to bash Rampant with Death Mark, but misses spectacularly.
Linny follows into the room while Lyka attempts to close in with the hobgoblin swordsage. With the stairs clear, Kikkeni decides to head up to the stairwell and try to help the others on the second floor.

Nox, in the meantime, investigates the back rooms to see if there is anything else. He notices that the doors in the bedroom are curiously He spots the windows in the bedroom and decides to try investigating it. Rampant then roars—“This hobgoblin is not our sniper!”

Right at that moment, the War Adept reveals himself and casts shatterfloor on the rickety floorboards, dropping Rampant and Lyka (Lyka fails her save to grasp onto the vertical wall below her) onto the first floor. Rampant’s player attempts something so awesome that I let slide at the cost of one action point—initiate a grapple with the swordsage and pull him to the ground with him. He makes the touch attack and succeeds in his grapple attempt, pulling the hobgoblin down. They crash into the coffin display on the first floor.

Lyka falls prone onto the ground, only to see none other than Skather suddenly materialize over her with his poisoned blade at the ready! He performs a Strength-Draining Strike on Lyka, his blade pulsing with black energy in the gloom.

Lyka rolls natural 1s versus both the Strength-Draining Strike and the poison. Her strength instantly drops from 18 to 8. Rampant then attempts to bash the grappled hobgoblin’s face in with his slam (headbutt), even using Emerald Razor and a full power attack, but misses. Lyka, still ever sarcastic, quips: “My hope! It is draining away faster than my strength!”

Linny takes a shot at the War Adept who now has a spectacular bird’s eye view of the desperate fight below, blasting him with scorching ray. Nox attempts to jump across the gap using a rope, but hearing the mess going on, he decides to crash through one of the ground floor windows into the display room. Kikkeni rushes to Lyka’s assistance, while Lyka weakly tumbles away from Skather to take her position beside the psion.

The War Adept drops a glitterdust on Kikkeni and Lyka, but both make their saves.

Skather uses Cloak of Deception and materializes behind Kikkeni, his blade firmly planted in her back. Half of her HP is gone instantly. All this time, Rampant and the hobgoblin are wrestling in a stalemate. Although Rampant’s grip is overpowering, he keeps failing to injure the hobgoblin except for one landed punch.

Linny decides to try to help Kikkeni by using her Rod of Viscid Globs at Skather. She hits and Skather fails his save. Nox attempts a crazy stunt with the grappling hook and tries to throw it at the war adept to pull it down, but it is quickly found lacking as an improvised weapon and simply fails to hit.

Kikkeni pulls back from the now stuck Skather. OOC the player agonizes over which of her powers to use—she’s down to her last use no matter what she does, and decides she wants to end the battle quickly and increase her chances of taking Skather out by using her highest-save viable power–Death Urge.

Skather rolls a 3; even with his impressive +14 modifier, he fails to make the save. Lyka tries to help Skather along, but her awful attack rolls and modifiers fail to do anything—and to add even more injury to injury, the War Adept drops a power word: weaken on Lyka. 2 points of Strength drain.

Skather stabs himself, leaving him with very little HP. Rampant, in the meantime, caves in the hobgoblin swordsage’s head with Emerald Razor + full power attack while Linny and Nox finish off the war adept.

Skather is unable to break free of the goo, and is finally finished off by Linny’s scorching ray.

The party collects their loot and moves back to Cathedral Square, with Rampant toting the corpses of Skather and the War Adept. The party reports to Captain Ulverth, who commends them on a job well done.

Not long afterward, Killiar and the hunters land their owls close by. Killiar reports that the Red Hand is making a final push on Cathedral Square, and that he expects them to arrive in about 10 minutes.

Hearing this, Jaarmath gets up and staggers to the Cathedral square to show that he’s still up and about, and delivers an inspiring, albeit recycled speech. Rampant continues this by saying, “Our chance of success is very slim, but we can make it happen because we are heroes—and everyone that has fought here is a hero!”

Tredora takes Kikkeni aside, saying that she senses Kikkeni is extremely fatigued. Kikkeni says she just wants some tea, but Tredora forces her on her knees and lays her hands on the psion’s head. She casts dweomer of transference and sacrifices enough of her spells to bring Kikkeni up to 26 PP (+1 from the cognizance crystal she has). Tredora uses up the two lesser restorations to bring Lyka back up to 16 Strength (she can’t get the 2 Strength drain from the power word weaken back yet).

While we have lunch, the party then goes about the very tedious and hassled process of procuring potions and scrolls from the 5000-GP item pool given to them by the merchants.

Lyka: bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, girallon’s blessing and dragonskin, shield of faith. She had a bunch of spare +1 short swords so she put those to good use with her extra arms.
Rampant: shield of faith
Nox: cat’s grace

Finally, they had Immerstal cast haste on the PCs.
Killiar, Trellara and the elves took up their positions on a grandstand in the corner of the Cathedral Square. Tredora stood by the Cathedral’s stairs with Narcy, Wrogann, Teyani and Captain Ulverth. Rampant, Lyka, and Linny stood in front of them, while Nox, Kikkeni and Jonz took up sniper positions on the Cathedral spires.

Nox’s and Kikkeni’s player help each other run Killiar, Trellara and the elves, while Linny’s player runs Rampant and the Lions. Kikkeni’s player also runs Tredora and Cpt. Ulverth. Lyka’s player has a handfull enough with her oodles of attacks.

Everyone nervously awaits the coming of the horde. As they wait, the rhythmic beating of swords on shields accompanied by goblin chants fills the air. The blaring of dragonbone horns rises above the din.

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Streets of Blood

Much ownage, but much pain.

Preparations:
Holden’s player was absent again due to parental reasons. Lyka’s player was also unable to attend due to the severe traffic between her place and mine; she lives outside of town south of Metro Manila while I live in the North. As such, it’s a pretty damn long trip for her. She only gets to come here regularly during school weekends since her university is nearby.

In any case, my new permanent player introduces his rogue sniper character, Nox, by taking potshots at the Red Hand as they enter. The character is pretty well built, and the player knows how to set up sniping, so he pretty did well today. More on this later.

The PCs call on the four Lions of Brindol, who support them and the militiamen in this encounter. The Militiamen are led by Rampant, the warforged subcommander of the Brindol Lion guard.

PCs:
-Holden
-Lyka
-Linny
-Kikkeni
-Nox, incognito, and unseen on a barn’s roof (it’s one of the buildings in the center of the map). Basically, nobody knows he’s there until he actually starts shooting.

The Lion Guard:
-Rampant, Warforged Fighter 2/Warblade 4
-Teyani, Fighter 2/Warblade 2, disarm build with Two-Bladed Sword
-Jonz, Fighter 2/Rogue 2, sniper build
-Narcy and Wrogann, vanilla two-hand bastard sword builds.
-10 militiamen

I put up a barrier made of small Mauly clips and folded index card scraps across the part of the map where the wagon is.

Wave 1: Air Strike

First wave:

-2 Hobgoblin dragoons mounted on advanced manticores
-1 Doom Hand Confessor (Cleric 5/Ordained Champion 3)
-10 Hobgoblin regular archers (mwk composite longbows instead of longswords)

The manticores come in hard and fast, carrying hobgoblin dragoons on their backs and 50 lb rocks. The Doom Hand Confessor appears, already buffed with Divine Power and Divine Vigor, and heads straight for the barricade.

Holden, Rampant and Lyka damage the confessor significantly in the first round, but the two manticores drop their rocks on Holden. Holden takes a wallop from the first rock, but the second misses.

Kikkeni stays prone on the roof of the cottage above the wagon, doing her best to lie low. However, with the manticores overhead, she desides to leap down and join the fray below instead of being plastered on the roof .

Nox sneaks the closest Manticore (his Hide check is 50), dealing significant damage to it.

Before the confessor can get any damage off, he’s dropped to critical HP by the mobbing PCs. Jonz takes a few ineffectual potshots while the other three Lions stay behind the barricade.

At this point, one of the dragoons barks out an order in Goblin: “Alright, drop the hammer on ’em!”—and an arrow volley strikes the militiamen. Four are severely injured, and Wrogann takes a hit as well.

Holden leads the militiamen in a concentrated arrow volley on the Confessor, and they actually get in a hit. The Confessor attempts to smite Holden by channeling Contagion into his heavy flail, but fumbles. Lyka cuts him down.

The Manticores retaliate by spraying the defenders with their tail spikes. The four injured militiamen die instantly, plus two more. Improved Natural Attack FTW. The other manticore fires at Kikkeni, Teyani, Wrogann and Narcy, but only lands a hit on Narcy.

A second volley of arrows comes down on Holden, Lyka and Rampant, but only Holden gets hit. Nox takes a second shot at the manticore he shot, and it comes crashing down. Its dragoon jumps off and lands very close to Lyka.

Linny comes out of hiding and blasts the second manticore with blast of force and it fails its Fort save, falling out of the sky. However, it doesn’t take enough damage to die and instead lands uncomfortably close to Kikkeni. It ineffectually tries to attack, but Linny knocks it into the negatives with scorching ray.

Although the two dragoons wound Lyka significantly with their halberds, the party’s frontliners and Rampant easily take them down.

The hobgoblin archers close in on the street, but Nox drops a glitterdust on them from a scroll. Seven of them are blinded, and the remaining ones, seeing the party tear up their frontliners, beat a hasty retreat, dragging the blinded guys with them.

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Ozzyrandion

This was supposed to be the final session for this summer, but it seems that we’ll be able to sneak in a couple more sessions before the school year breaks us down with work.

Ozzyrandion

Locked Girl ~The Girl’s Secret Room Betrayers of Siberys

I didn’t push through with my original plan to beef up Ozzy to Juvenile. At the recommendation of some other DMs, I kept Ozzyrandion’s hit dice, but I made him large. I didn’t even raise his ability scores; I only wanted higher damage dice and a tail slash attack. I’m glad I  didn’t use a Juvenile (CR 8) version; this would have killed the PCs. Thanks to all those who helped me. Anyway, here goes.

The players decided to wait until dawn (approx 6 am of Day 4) before attacking so that they wouldn’t get hosed by illumination disadvantages. At this point they were very close to fatigue, but they didn’t want to risk concealment and getting spotted before they could even see their targets.  Everything else had better senses than they did.

Ashie the artificer then proceeded to buff the hell out of the party while they stayed in the trees at the very edge of the Witchwood:
Holden: –shield of faith, bull’s strength, enlarge person
Loven: –cat’s grace, shield
Jorr: –cat’s grace
Ashie: eagle’s splendor, shield

She also cast haste on everyone and gave Holden the potion of fly.

Dripping with buffs, they rolled initiative, with Ashie, Jorr, Loven and Kikkeni staying in the undergrowth, “hiding” (they didn’t know that Ozzyrandion had spotted them all), while Holden and Seiza charged down the stone pathway toward the Hell Hound Scorch Drake. Unfortunately, Ozzyrandion rolled a natural 20 on his initiative.

Immediately, Holden and Seiza were bathed in a shower of supernatural acid. Seiza was instantly reduced into a spitting, hissing puddle of slag, which severely injured Ashie with its death feedback. Holden also failed his save and was left at half HP.  He went next and charged the closer scorch drake, pulping it instantly. The other scorch drake also died before it was even able to attack—it ran out of move speed right outside Holden’s reach and he burst it like an overripe tomato the next round. (I should have replaced them with Dire Wolves here; Hell Hounds are seriously rather useless.)
The archers in the camp began grabbing their gear (with the one round delay stipulated in the adventure), while the archers let loose. Due to some wise placement, however, the PCs were able to avoid fire from the archers on the far side by placing themselves behind one of the towers. Ashie and Kikkeni ran up the stairs; Kikkeni’s speed was up to an amazing 70 feet thanks to Speed of Thought and haste.

Almost immediately the hobgoblins started dying. Kikkeni was able to throw one of the nearer ones into the other with telekinetic thrust, knocking the target out of the tower and to his death at the base. Jorr kept missing this time, and would prove to be mostly a distraction for the archers. He took potshots at Ozzyrandion, but he just kept missing.

And so did the archers. The total AC ratings of the PCs were about as high as Ozzyrandion’s, so they’d only hit on a roll of 17 or higher. The Stormtrooper Effect seems to apply to these guys, as they kept rolling badly while their numbers were large and then started rolling better when they began thinning out. The archers in the camp and the sergeant immediately closed in after picking up their gear; the sergeant had no ranged capability (due to being a Warblade 3) and double moved as fast as he could across the bridge in order to take out Kikkeni, while Jorr tried to flank and sneak attack (but he missed).

Kikkeni stayed on the staircase of the southeast tower for a good part of the encounter, as she wanted to avoid the breath weapon and Flyby Attacks coming from at least half of the possible attack vectors. Ashie wasn’t so fortunate, as she stayed on the ground. Their combined firepower, however, packed a punch. After Holden had smote Ozzy, who was hovering above him, with a successful Bonecrusher, the two girls were able to blast the dragon down to less than half HP in short order.
Loven just made some rather ineffectual attacks for most of the encounter (having 1d4+2 damage on his CSB is really lame. Any suggestions for making this guy work better? He hasn’t really been making an effort to get into sneak attack position.), managing only to crit against the sergeant, who was threatening Kikkeni as she came down the stairs for a better spot.

Kikkeni renders the sergeant useless by making him chase her like a lovelorn stalker by using déjà vu (Seriously, I hate this power now), wasting his turn.

Enraged by the barrage, (and almost getting smacked into a wall with energy push) the dragon flies back to his roost and to drink his potion of cure serious wounds, then his potion of invisibility. Freaked out by the dragon’s sudden disappearance, the party attempts to stay put, thinking it mostly unwise to devote all their resources to killing the archers. Ashie casts call lightning from a scroll and begins blasting away while the flying dwarf dive bombs the crossing archers. His Charging Minotaur shatters one’s body in several places, sending him flying like a rag doll along the bridge.

Everyone is still frustrated by the dragon’s invisibility; they did their best to spread apart to avoid being bathed in acid. To their chagrin, however, Ozzyrandion reappears right beside Kikkeni and proceeds to wail on her. Kikkeni survives the full attack with 5 HP left.  Holden, coming from the bridge, dive bomb-charges the dragon, but he fumbles his attack roll.

Kikkeni accomplishes something amazing here. She makes a concentration check to manifest defensively, and uses energy push on Ozzyrandion.

The dragon makes his Reflex Save.
And fails his opposed Strength check—by 10.
The impact of the psionic power sends him skidding 15 feet toward the edge of the map. Using her incredible speed, Kikkeni runs out of the danger zone and towards the bridge itself. Ashie blasts away at Ozzy with her dwindling call lightning shots in the meantime, and finds herself backed into a corner at the edge of the map. Ozzyrandion charges her on the ground. His bite bounces off the edge of her shield. Ashie risks the AOO and she runs as far as she could in the tower’s direction—she just really wants to stay away from the dragon’s full attacks.  Holden runs to her rescue, attacking the dragon but missing once more.  This puts Holden and Ashie directly in the path of an acid blast. But we’ll get back to that later.

In the mean time, Jorr is exchanging fire with the hobgoblins and taking most of their shots. The archers fire mostly at Holden, the giant flying dwarf, but seeing that this doesn’t work too well, go after Jorr instead. Loven simply keeps missing or dealing pitiful damage, though he does manage to KO the sergeant.

Ozzyrandion uses his breath weapon on Holden and Ashie. Both save successfully, but by now are at critical HP levels—however, Ozzy is critically injured as well. Holden retaliates in the most fantastic manner—using Revitalizing Strike, he shoves his maul into the dragon’s maw, splitting the dragon’s head open. I describe the fatal strike as a surge of warmth and strength while the dragon’s polluted life force drains away—the Silver Flame’s power fills Holden, rewarding him for smiting this foul, corrupt dragon.

Just as Holden strikes down Ozzyrandion, Jorr takes a fatal shot, dropping to 0 HP. I rule that the extra 2 HP from Holden’s Martial Spirit saves his life and gets him right back up, but the cinematic image of Holden turning toward Jorr just as he gets shot down is pretty awesome.

Jorr stands right back up and crits the guy who shot him as he runs away, shooting him through the head.

Ashie, in the meantime, attempts to overtake the hobgoblins by doing the most awesome action movie stunt in the adventure so far. She first wanted to slide down the scree-covered slope in order to get close enough to use her dragonmark’s dimension leap power to teleport across, but I rule that she needs to make a Reflex save to avoid falling, then make the Concentration check to cast her spell-like ability in violent motion.  I give her an alternative, but she chickens out at first. Then she remembers her action points.

She has an awesome move speed thanks to haste. This gives her a prodigious boost to her Jump check. She rolls a 2 on her d20. She spends an action point to gain an additional 4. Her total Jump check lands her a 13—enough to jump 10 feet off the edge of the cliff. Then she taps her dragonmark to dimension leap the remaining distance and lands right on the edge of the other cliff. She lands with a wand in each hand, ready to kick some Red Hand rear.

Kikkeni, emboldened by their victory over the dragon, runs over the bridge as well, and slams the northeast tower archer with telekinetic thrust into the northwestern archer.

At this point the hobgoblins begin to retreat, but Holden beats them by landing at the base of the stairs of the northwestern tower. Kikkeni lays down psionic grease, and both the hobgoblins slip up and fall. Holden ends them with a full attack.

Cinder Hill

The party apprehends two hobgoblins—the sergeant and one of the archers–and ties them up, hanging them off the side of the bridge while they’re unconscious.

Jorr and Loven continue to scout out Cinder Hill, while the rest of the party searches the bridge.

The scouts confirm their worst fears: The Red Hand is a horde, and they have not only thousands of hobgoblin and goblin warrios, but worgs and ogres as well—not to mention a red dragon and at least 3 warforged titans, which Loven spots being stripped of their tattered Cyran battle banners and refitted with Red Hand heraldry.

The party decides to hightail it back to the town, dragging their prisoners behind them. Kikkeni easily destroys the bridge by using energy cone to blast the weak spot, ruining it after 3 shots.

I decide against throwing another random encounter against them since we were running out of real time, so I let them get quickly through the Witchwood back to town.

The party gets back to town at about 10 pm of Day 4 to deposit the prisoners at the Old Toll House and rest for the night.

Jack Bauer. Again.
The next morning, the PCs take Norro Wiston and Sorrana to the interrogation. Wiston expresses his distaste for the torture, but the PCs are determined to do this.

The torture is pretty fruitless by now. The grunts don’t know much; all they get from the crazed sergeant are visions of glory that Azarr Kul showed them, of a Dragon-inspired hobgoblin empire greater than Dhakaan, spreading across Khorvaire and Argonnessen.  A dragon-inspired hobgoblin empire ruled by Tiamat.

Kikkeni rolls a high enough knowledge check to realize the implications of this crazy idea, but by now the sergeant is no longer saying anything helpful. Both hobgoblins are executed.

Ahead of Schedule
It’s only day 5 and the PCs are already itching to get Drellin’s Ferry evacuated. This seems to be something that the adventure doesn’t expect. I make the lame excuse that they have to wait for two more days since Iormel is out of town and Wiston sort of fears him, and thus refuses to start the town council without him.

The PCs try talking to Sorrana, and although she expresses utmost concern for the safety of the town, she says she ultimately has to follow orders, and that despite Iormel being an unlikeable, proud bastard who is likely to oppose the town’s departure, they really have to wait for him.

OOC I tell the players that they’re actually way ahead of schedule and that the Red Hand is not going to reach Drellin’s Ferry anytime soon. This causes them to relax a bit, so they decide to craft stuff—Ashie wants new homunculi to replace Seiza.

Postmortem
-The PCs performed admirably on the bridge despite the difficulty of the encounter; their strategic discussion paid off.
-The dragon died faster than I had expected—he was already supposed to run away after he attacked Ashie, but Holden and Ashie presented him with such a great opportunity to kill them that I decided to just have him use his breath weapon again.
-I was a bit frustrated by the PCs being a bit too] convinced that fighting to save the town was a hopeless cause, their panic really caused me to make some lame, railroading excuses which I preferred not to do. Also, they’re way too early—the Chimera attack and the town council would have to be bumped up way earlier.
-We’re about to enter the second part of the adventure, and I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve made.

Chapter 2

Due to my brain going on Hibernate mode, I’m not able to write in a coherent manner at the moment. I’m also unable to put myself into the shoes of an alcoholic, vain dwarf. As such, I am simply going to dump the session summary of the previous session here instead of an actual story.
The Terminal
Ashie, the artificer, successfully brought the train’s berserk air elemental under control. Slowing down the train would mean the rest of the trip takes 2 hours, while keeping it at maximum speed means they arrive at the terminal in less than 30 minutes—at the risk of losing control of the train again, derailing, or smashing into the Vathirond Terminal, likely killing themselves and a lot of people in the process. Deciding to play it safe and avoid an imminent crash, Ashie slows down the train.

Kikkeni, the Kalashtar psion, having been dropped to 1 HP in the previous encounter, is healed with a wand of lesser vigor.

Knowing that the party is now riding one third of the train they’d departed Flamekeep in, and that the said remaining third of the train contains several dead crew members, the party figures out what to tell the authorities at Vathirond.  After weighing the pros and cons of lying and Holden, the dwarf Silver Flame crusader, says he’s beholden to tell the truth, and so they reluctantly agree.

The train arrives at Vathirond, and Father Larrister, the local contact, is shocked to see that only a third of the train is left. Holden quickly tells him they were attacked, and Larrister quickly calls in his guards to seal off the train before anybody tries to investigate, much to the chagrin of the House Orien personnel in the station.

Larrister brings the PCs to go to the Silver Flame diocese so he can brief them further.

At the Diocese
The PCs explain exactly what happened. Larrister is shocked, but since the PCs successfully identified the assassin as a rakshasa, Larrister explains that it wasn’t a random attack; a rakshasa who stayed in close proximity to them for hours wouldn’t have made a mistake. The attack was a deliberate assassination attempt, and the PCs have also come to this conclusion. Intrigued by the turn of events, Larrister says that they may be up against more than just a warband of hobgoblin bandits.

Larrister explains where they’re headed next: Drellin’s Ferry, a town at the forefront of a lot goblin attacks. Since the town is in the middle of nowhere (we joked that Drellin’s Ferry’s town motto is “More Nowhere than Nowhere”—there really is a town in central Breland named Nowhere, but at least the Lightning Rail system gets there. Drellin’s Ferry is over 160 miles from the nearest station.), Breland can’t really mobilize an army to meet the threat of a few random bandit attacks; said army would have to cross most of the country, and frankly, King Boranel is more concerned with the hostile Droaamite attacks on Breland’s western border than random bandit attacks in the east. The PCs have yet to make the Rakshasa-Khyber-Tiamat connection, but I expect they’ll get there by the time they get to Wyrmlord Koth. Either way, Larrister is convinced the PCs are up against more than just “random bandit attacks.”

The PCs bed down for the night in the diocese, waking up to find a House Orien coach specially chartered for Drellin’s Ferry. The coach driver/courier, Kien d’Orien, is a man of few words. Loven, the warforged scout rogue and the dwarf’s adopted brother, says the carriage reminds him too much of the boxes humans put equipment in, and declares that he wants to ride on the coach’s roof. Kien sarcastically tells him to enjoy the 160-mile ride.  Loven shuts up and sits in the carriage.

Holden also opens up a letter that Larrister slipped him as they left; the Letter talks about Amery Vraath and his failed lycanthrope-purging crusade into Elsir Vale. Vraath was nasty, bloodthirsty and altogether unlikeable, and ultimately he was killed by the lycanthropes he was hunting. There are lots of rumors about him being infected with lycanthropy himself or that his ghost haunts his old base in the Witchwood. Larrister simply asks Holden to check out Vraath Keep while he’s at it, but the old vicar himself says he never really liked the guy.

Marauders
Ah, the first encounter in the module. Kien spots the ambush for the PCs, and stops the carriage a few miles out of Drellin’s Ferry, and in a dreadfully quiet manner, tells the PCs that there’s an ambush just up ahead. The PCs get down. Kien hangs back to protect his cargo from looters, while the PCs engage.

Roll initiative.

The battle goes very, very badly for the hobgoblins. All of the archers miss their first attacks, and for the most part, miss over and over again for the entire encounter. Loven decides to sneak into the woods and carries his bag of boulders—one of the most fun low-level items for rogues, ever.

Ashie lays down a wanded entangle spell in the middle of the area, covering almost the entire map. However, since the trail down the center had no foliage, only the hobgoblins in the trees are entangled. Almost all of them fail; the only one who made the save was “hobgoblin A,” the furthest down the right side of the map.  Hobgoblin A constantly makes high saves and high attack rolls, even a couple of natural 20s. I dub him “Lucky” henceforth.

Kikkeni takes a round to get psionically focused.

Soon after, Uth-Lar the bladebearer and Zarr the cleric rush out of the farmhouse, telling the PCs to attack the spellcaster (at this point, Ashie is the only person who’s cast anything.) The two of them rush down the path with the two scorch drakes (just the hell hounds I reskinned to become bipedal lizards). The scorch drakes run at tremendous speed.

One of the scorch drakes runs past Loven, who throws a pebble from his bag of boulders. It would’ve likely been a fatal sneak attack, but unfortunately, he rolls horribly and misses. Holden, maul drawn, sets about bashing in heads on the left side of the map. He hits one hobgoblin, which he kills with a massive crit on his second turn. (x3 crit = win) With two hobgoblins dead, all but one of the archers entangled, and every single one of the hobgobins rolling badly, it looks like it’s over for them.

Zarr turns invisible; Uth-Lar runs at full tilt toward Kikkeni. Uth-Lar successfully lands an AOO on Kikkeni as she tries to slip away, while the archers keep firing at Ashie.

Kikkeni, with her 40-foot speed thanks to Speed of Thought, is able to get out of the way and shoots an electric energy bolt across the path, frying one of the scorch drakes and one of the archers. Ashie buffs herself with shield. Uth-Lar pursues Kikkeni into the forest, but as he enters he passes by Loven, who attempts to sneak him with his shortbow. The attack hits, but Uth-Lar’s uncanny dodge prevents him from getting creamed by the sneak damage.

One of the scorch drakes engages with Ashie’s  iron defender homunculus, damaging it for half its HP with a single bite. Holden charges the scorch drake with Battle Leader’s Charge, reducing it to a fine red mist. Holden: 3, Red Hand: 0.

The second wave of hobgoblins doesn’t do much better. Most of them miss consistently, although a number of solid hits land on Kikkeni and Ashie over the course of the battle, dropping them to single digits. Kikkeni responds in kind by killing almost all the second wave with one application of energy missile and then runs off into the forest.  Ashie, on the other hand, is unable to help much. A CL 1 magic missile wand really doesn’t do much. Uth-Lar pursues Kikkeni, and Holden follows.  Ashie orders her homunculus to chase down Uth-Lar as well.

Holden saves Kikkeni with Defensive Rebuke, forcing Uth-Lar to attack him. The bladebearer obliges, cursing Holden in his language (Holden knows Goblin; I translate Uth-Lar’s swearing as “Your mother has less honor than a flee-bitten centaur whore”) but his rolls are also bad. Only one of his Wolf Fang Strikes hits, and his Wall of Blades counter to parry Holden’s Mountain Hammer rolls a pathetic 3. Zarr reappears behind Holden and nails him with an inflict moderate wounds—Holden fails his first save but uses his Zealous Surge to reroll his failed will save. He takes token damage.

Loven throws another charge of his bag of boulders from concealment, this time successfully sneak attacking Zarr. The cleric takes significant damage and is left bleeding  (c/o Pathfinder Rogue talent); Ashie helps by pumping him with another shot of magic missile.

The homunculus shakes down Uth-Lar, finally dropping him to exactly 0 HP. Only Zarr and two hobgoblins—one still entangled and the other ready to piss in his pants—are left. Zarr attempts to rally the two and uses his smite on Holden, but Holden has cover thanks to the foliage. Zarr misses, and finally collapses due to blood loss. Holden makes sure he’s dead with a coup de grace.  The unentangled archer runs for the hills. The other one is stuck, and in no morale to fight any more. Loven walks up to him and executes him with an arrow to the back of the head.

I changed the treasure here. I said one of Uth-Lar’s short swords broke and replaced it with a bunch of low-level magic items that had been with the merchant whom the hobbos had ambushed earlier. Same thing with Zarr’s armor; nobody needed it, and since the town doesn’t offer much in the way of gear, I decided to scrap it.

Loot:
-one darklight (Secrets of Sarlona). A very interesting magic item that can change ambient light when imbued with psionic power. Due to simpy changing the ambient light and not emitting actual light, nobody can really pinpoint the bearer. The party finds it a very interesting item and thinks of all the various applications of the said lantern—then they see another darklight already in Kikkeni’s gear list (the character’s loot was prepared by me in an emergency due to players being unable to come). They shrug and move on.
healing belt. Without a cleric, they needed it.
restful crystal. Now the dwarf doesn’t take his armor off anymore. Ick.
-eternal wand of shield
-everlasting rations
-355 GP
-one unconscious hobgoblin marauder.

The party also hoovers the miscellaneous mundane gear and stacks it onto the carriage and ties up Uth-Lar BENEATH the carriage. They haul everything into town.

Kien delivers his goods and leaves while the PCs talk to the militia.

Tarnished Silver
Due to my re-fluffing of Amery Vraath as an unlikeable Silver Torch zealot who made life more than a little difficult for the Ferry folk during the Last War, the militia are wary of the PCs. However, desperate to have the hobgoblins dealt with, they’re let into the town.

Loven nonchalantly drags Uth-Lar toward the Old Toll House while the two girls look for an inn. They decide on the Old Bridge, which is a House Ghallanda operation—the only one for miles around.

The dwarf and the warforged start talking to Norro Wiston, and Soranna is impressed by how the PCs dealt with the ambush so easily. The women arrive just as Speaker Wiston offers a pay of 500 GP. Holden hates goblins so accepts off the bat; the others are fine with it. They tie up Uth-Lar in a cell.

Holden=Jack Bauer
Holden makes an Intimidate check as Uth-Lar comes to. Uth-Lar’s steely façade and pointed-back ears melt away—despite his+4 bonus to resist Intimidate checks, he rolls low and Holden easily makes his point by smashing a chair into powder with his maul.

Uth-Lar sings like a canary, telling the party about Wyrmlord Koth’s base in Vraath Keep, and also mentions Azarr Kul. He’s not sure of the entire horde’s command structure, and gives no certain description of Tiamat’s involvement—all the PCs know is that Tiamat is involved, since the hobgoblins keep raving about her, and that the holy symbol Zarr carried was Tiamat’s. The PCs puzzle over the title of “Wyrmlord,” but Uth-Lar doesn’t know why that title was chosen.

Holden explains to the party that the worship of Tiamat—a demon Overlord—is unheard of among goblins. The ancient goblinoid Dhakaani empire was agnostic, trusting in its own glory more than any gods; Darguun, the nation of Lhesh Haruuc, at least publicly worships the Sovereign Host in order to appear more civilized; other goblinoids in Darguun may turn to the worship of the Dark Six, the Sovereign Host’s dark brethren. An actual cult of a demon Overlord is very, very rare, as most of them are in suspended animation.

Ashie asks if there were other races involved. Uth-Lar snaps back at the artificer, saying that unlike humans, “the People” or “the Dar” have always considered themselves a single race with three different bloods (this is consistent with Eberron’s goblinoid fluff), and that humans were fools to separate them into three different races.

Uth-Lar mentions Karkilan the minotaur, but the PCs seem to gloss over this—Uth-Lar begins to get his courage back, Holden smashes Uth-Lar in the knee. Uth-Lar mentions one last important bit of information—the Red Hand is coming to slaughter the “human river village.” Ashie presses Uth-Lar some more for information, asking if the horde will continue pushing eastward past Drellin’s Ferry. Uth-Lar, his courage and adrenaline back, simply keeps raving about the Red Hand coming.

Annoyed, Holden orders Loven to shoot him “where it hurts,” but I tell him that Uth-Lar is too far gone and any further attacks would kill him. Holden then grabs Uth-Lar’s broken knee and twists it. Roaring in pain, the hobgoblin simply keeps swearing and says that he’s confident his brethren would feast on their innards, even if he were to die.

The party leaves Uth-Lar, and Soranna leans over to Ashie, saying that it was nice of them to leave the hobgoblin for them to take care of for the night. Loven hears this, turns around, and shoots Uth-Lar in the head. Soranna sighs, drags out the body herself, and orders one of her men to bury it out back. The captain tells the party that Vraath Keep wasn’t far, and that meeting up with the woodsman Jorr could help them get through the Witchwood without much trouble.

Shopping
The party visits Delora Zann, but she’s closing down for the day, so the party goes to sleep. Early the next morning, they go to Morlin Coalhewer, who accepts Holden as a fellow dwarf, and purchases the masterwork longswords and suits of mail. The party donates the rest of the gear to the town guard, much to Soranna’s delight.

The party spends the gold buying scrolls from Brother Derny, the local cleric of Dol Arrah (female Pelor to non-Eberron players, she’s one of the Sovereign Host, the predominant pantheon-based religion), and  Sertieren the Wise. Finally, they buy mounts and gear from Delora Zann, and ride off for Jorr’s place.

Jorr the Badass and Hydra Soup
Jorr greets the PCs in typical hillbilly fashion. They make their intent to explore Vraath Keep known; Jorr blows them off and tells them that it’s just “down the road, can’t miss it.” He responds a bit favorably to their flattery, but since the PCs feel they can’t trust him yet, they only speak in uncertain terms.  He responds by saying the wood isn’t that unsafe, and that while the Keep is haunted, they don’t need his help. It’s only when they mention the goblins that he perks up and offers his help.

Not long after, they arrive at the Blackwater Causeway. Jorr takes point, tells the PCs to keep watch, and leads the crossing. The PCs dismount and take the horses with them. Jorr fails his spot check and misses the Hydra completely.

“Aw hell. I dinnow there wuz a hydra here.”

Roll initiative.

Intiative goes as follows: Kikkeni, Loven, Hydra, Jorr, Ashie, Holden. Kikkeni’s Knowledge check result spooks the player; she advocates either mounting the horses and attempting to run full speed across the causeway (which would’ve made an awesome chase scene reminiscent of that one area in Metal Slug), or running back toward the town.  Holden stows his maul and draws his greatsword.

I simply tell her that the hydra will give chase, that horses can’t run at full speed with a rider, the causeway is too slippery and rickety to cross with charging horses, and that the beast will follow them all the way back to town if they ran.

Kikkeni uses inertial armor, while Loven tries to get cover and hides to snipe. The hydra takes the path of least resistance—the river. Ashie fires a ray of enfeeblement from a scroll, greatly crippling the hydra’s abilities. Its attack bonus is down to +5, and its bites no longer had their damage bonus. Jorr Rapid Shots, hitting both times. Holden scrambles straight into the path of the monster as it swims up the river to where the causeway crosses the deep water.

Kikkeni opens fire with her energy bolt, but rolls low. To make matters worse, hydras have good reflex saves despite their size, and takes very little damage. All its heads are intact. Loven sneaks the hydra with his bow, dealing a good amount of damage. The hydra moves in to attack Holden, using its superior reach to savage him with bites. Only one hits, and deals a pathetic 4 damage. Jorr keeps the arrows pumping, dealing 7 more damage. Ashie fires a magic missile from her wand, dealing 2 damage.  Holden pulls out a blast disk, sets it to “Proximity,” and plants it in the bridge.

Turn 3. Kikkeni blasts again, searing off a head. Loven sees what his brother is doing, and makes a run for it, climbing back over the causeway to the side opposite the hydra. The hydra stays put, attacks Holden with everything, and misses all but one bite. Again.  Jorr goes “What th’ hell are ye doin’? KEEP SHOOTIN’!” and stays on the bridge. One more Rapid Shot: 17 damage. Ashie makes a run  for it, jumping into the bog on the east side of the causeway, and Holden makes a run for it, ducking under the hydra’s would-have-been devastating sextuple AOO (none of it hit), and jumps into the bayou as well.

Turn 4. Kikkeni blasts yet again. A second head comes off, dealing damage to the beast’s body. Loven is already off and running away. The hydra takes the bait and steps right into the [I]blast disk[/I]’s range. [B]BOOM.[/B]

The bridge is sheared off its posts and falls into the water on the far end.  Unfortunately the hydra makes its save again. It does take enough area damage to shear off another head, though. Jorr almost falls, but manages to stay up—and keeps shooting. “I hope that wasn’t the  only one ya got, because it’s still COMING!” Another Rapid Shot and the hydra’s HP is down to 26. Holden swears at his failed plan, stomps back toward the hydra and plunges his greatsword into the body.

And rolls a 20.

And confirms with a 17.

The hydra’s heart bursts under the impact of 28 damage, and the whole thing collapses into the water.

End of session.

Spoilerrific DM Comments:
Continue reading

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.

MM3 and RHOD GET!

I finally got hardcopies of MM3 and RHOD. 😀 This will make things a lot easier to run.
dsc03891

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