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.

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.

-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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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!”

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Don’t Stop Running

Yesterday’s session was rather slow. We were supposed to hold the session last Saturday, but a storm hit the country and power got knocked out, so playing would be pretty frustrating in the dark. Yesterday was a holiday, so we tried to take advantage of our collective free schedules and play.

Unfortunately, Lyka’s player couldn’t make it, while Kikkeni’s player was visiting the cemetery and would only be around after lunch.

Linny’s player is unfortunately out; her parents were no longer allowing her for some unclear reason. It couldn’t be helped, so I decided to ask a regular attendee (who doesn’t play but watches) to take over her character. At first I told him he could use his own character, but he said the party needed a buffer/healer and graciously offered to play as Linny.

We started yesterday with Holden and Loven’s player handling Lyka as well, while Linny’s new player also handled Kikkeni until her actual player arrived.

The party started standing over the rapidly-dissolving body of the Rakshasa they’d killed last session; I had forgotten to roll treasure for it, so I gave them the following: 3500 GP, a large Khyber dragonshard, some gems, a Vest of Defense, an Oil of Bless Weapon, a Scroll of Invisibility, and a Handy Haversack.

They went to report their success to the authorities and booked themselves at the Stone Wyvern for the night.

The Stone Wyvern

When they got to the Stone Wyvern, the gnome owner squeaked “AAAH! ADVENTURERS!” when he saw his new guests, and slammed the door.

When the party actually went in to see what the problem was, he apologized and explained that he’s always been paranoid of adventurers because he was afraid of them unpetrifying the wyvern.

“Ah, yes, we’ll have to talk to you about that…”

The PCs offered a great deal of money–an initial downpayment of 750 GP—to take out the wyvern and unpetrify it for use as a mount in the coming battle. Holden said that the Church of the Silver Flame would compensate for whatever damage and/or profit loss that taking the wyvern might cause–after all, the wyvern WAS a Thrane air cavalry unit and as such was property of the Church. After a Diplomacy check, the gnome, Mr. Yule, reluctantly agreed.

The next morning (Day 35) , they awoke to find Yule sitting nervously under the wyvern, so much so that when he saw them coming down the stairs, he stood up and almost knocked himself out on the stone monster.

Then came the hilarious problem of getting the wyvern out of the building—if you read the writeup of Brindol, it says the inn was built around the petrified wyvern. Holden asked Yule what kind of an idiot built his inn around a petrified monster, to which Yule replied that it made a lot of entrepreneurial sense when his father did it—mostly founded on how only an idiot would unpetrify the wyvern while it was inside the building.

There were several issues here: wyverns weighed one ton unpetrified, so the obviously denser statue would be far too heavy to drag out without smashing the floorboards. Even if they did manage to drag it, it was too big to fit out the door. Finally, if they unpetrified it while inside the building, it would likely trash the place.

Holden offered more gold and set about unhinging the door, while Loven took everyone’s rope and tied the petrified wyvern up as tightly as he could.

They then called Delora Zann in case they needed someone to handle the animal (though they were reluctant since they knew Delora was trying to keep her dragonmark a secret), in addition to some soldiers.

Just before Linny cast Break Enchantment on the wyvern, the soldiers all backed off and began to express their fear. Most of them knew that the wyvern was part of one of Thrane’s infamous air cavalry units, and some of them knew what it was like to see friends getting snatched up by wyverns and smeared on the ground.

Holden says that’s exactly WHY they wanted to unpetrify the wyvern, and tells Linny to go ahead.

As the wyvern turned back into flesh and blood, it made a series of strength checks against all the ropes, but failed to break any single one. Delora was about to use her dragonmark as the creature struggled, but it instantly calmed down when it smelled Holden.

Delora explained that it might have been accustomed to the scent of the standard-issue armor polish that Thrane soldiers used, and as such was calmed down despite having been stoned for quite a while. Holden and Lyka lead it out of the door without much trouble, and then realize that they don’t have a stable to put it in.

They ask the gnome if they could let the animal roost on the roof of the inn, but Yule refuses outright. They decide to chain the wyvern to a large stake they hammer down into the middle of the Cathedral square—after Lyka takes it for a spin.

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The Turning Point

The Chamber of Rebirth

The PCs open the door to the Chamber of Rebirth and are immediately greeted by the sickly green glow of the pool. I replaced the Lesser Bonedrinkers with true Bonedrinkers bolstered by the Ghostlord’s Corpsecrafter tree feats, and also add an advanced Boneclaw, also boosted with Corpsecrafter feats. The PCs only manage to spot one of the Bonedrinkers in the gloom; the Boneclaw and the second Bonedrinker remain hidden.

Holden immediately charges toward the Bonedrinker he spotted, but his movement prevents him from getting close enough to attack. The Bonedrinker beats him handily in its full attack and grapple check. Seeing the tentacles, Lyka warns her superior to guard his backside.

Yelling for help, Holden calls out. “Damnit, this things going to drink my bones!”

“I’d be more worried about the tentacles,” Lyka quips.

Kikkeni entrenches herself in the narrow corridor leading to the Lion’s Heart, while Linnea and Lyka take up positions near the pool.

At this point the Boneclaw emerges, using its speed to squeeze easily past the lion statue and shanking Kikkeni from 20 feet away. The second Bonedrinker also emerges and begins to grapple Linny before she gets a chance to do anything offensive.

Things don’t go too well at first. With Holden grappled and unable to beat the Bonedrinker definitively, he quickly accrues a lot of CON damage. He takes a total of 9 CON damage across the encounter while Linny takes 3.

Linny’s Religion checks reveal the Bonedrinkers’ resistances and the Boneclaw’s immunity, so Kikkeni resorts to using electricity to attack them. Given their huge amounts of HP, however, they’re able to shrug off the fire for a while.

Linny (played by a substitute) attempts to blow the Bonedrinker grappling her away, but she fails to make the Concentration check. Kikkeni, however, lays down a curtain of withering fire. Eventually, the Bonedrinkers stop moving. Eager to get back in the fight, Holden leaps up.

Lyka gets attacked repeatedly by the Boneclaw, taking lots of damage in the process despite her high AC. Braving the Boneclaw’s massive reach and AOOs, she tumbles toward it and executes a Soaring Raptor Strike. It’s not fatal, but it opens up an opportunity for Holden to finish it off with a Bonecrusher.

Now if you were wondering where Loven was, he was off to the side, missing with his Bag of Boulders and his Wand of Scorching Ray. It was rather sad.

The party stops a moment to rest and begins to look around the chamber. They discuss the value of the Lion’s Heart and then look into the pool and try to figure out what to do with the dire lion within. Loven uses a rat from his Gray Bag of Tricks to test the effect of the liquid, and sees that the rat gets pretty much paralyzed.

Thinking it would be a great morale boost to the people of Brindol (knowing how the lion was their symbol), they rescue the dire lion by pulling it out of the pool via a rope.

They search around the room for a while and find the path to the Ghostlord’s Chamber.

The Ghostlord

The Ghostlord stands up from his meditation to regard the PCs, his hand on the byeshk great scimitar at his waist. A twisted bugbear, tainted so thoroughly by the touch of the Daelkyr that his body had to be bolted together with splints and metal bars, moves out of the shadows and walks up beside his master.

The Ghostlord demands the PCs explain themselves.

<Holden> “We bring a gift, my lord.”
<Ghostlord> “What do you have to give me? I have lost everything! I demand to see your tribute!”
<Holden> *flashes phylactery*
<Ghostlord> “…where did you get this?”
<Kikkeni> “We found it in a dragon’s hoard when we raided a Red Hand outpost.”
<Holden> “My lord, the Red Hand has nothing more to coerce you with.”
<Ghostlord> “…and what do you want in exchange for it?”
<Holden> “We wish that you would work with us to fight the Red Hand.”
*party facepalms*
<Holden> “…or at the very least stop aiding the Red Hand.”
<Ghostlord> “Do you think that after all these years I would serve anyone?”
<Holden> “We wish for you to withdraw your support from the Red Hand.”
<Ghostlord> “Rift.”

A tentacle slips out from the bugbear’s side and grabs the phylactery from Holden’s hand.
<Ghostlord> “Are there any remaining hobgoblins in my lair?”
<Kikkeni> “They’re all dead.”
<Lyka> “One got away, though—a gaseous form.”
<Ghostlord> “That would be Wyrmlord Ulwai—I have longed to push that bitch into the pool myself, but you have rid me of her.”
<Holden> “We would be glad to fight alongside with you—”
<Ghostlord> “You speak presumptuously, dwarf.”
<Holden> “Forgive me, my lord.”
<Ghostlord> “Now get out. I will withdraw my support from the Red Hand. Go, before I change my mind. GET OUT!”

The party hastily retreats, dragging out the paralyzed dire lion after them.

They get a massive XP doleout from the Ghostlord—4800 XP—boosting them to Lv 9. (I redid the encounter so that it would be an EL 15 instead of an EL 13)

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To The Thornwaste

Day 19: Noon

The PCs arrive in Brindol at noon. They pay the gate tax and enter, and meet a group of clerics of Dol Arrah tending to a whole bunch of sick people by the roadside who are being evacuated into wagons headed for Vathirond in the East. The clerics ask the PCs for help, and they oblige.

They notice Miha, who immediately tells them that she’s something of a fan and would like to join up once her arm gets better. Kikkeni is suspicious as she’s the first to notice the unusual amount of attention she was giving them, but the rest of the PCs don’t really catch on. They think she might either be a spy or a legitimately noble person, but have no reason to absolutely believe either case.

Insert a hilarious exchange between Holden and Lyka. Lyka threatens to write to Holden’s wife back in Thrane about his supposed temptation to have extramarital dalliances with Miha, to which he violently reacts. (“TALL WOMEN DO NOT TURN ME ON!”) He orders her to do pushups and sits on her back. She simply retorts that his wife would not approve of this close contact, to which he orders her to do 50 more pushups.

In any case, the clerics order the wagon to move on ahead and also mention that Cpt. Sorrana was looking for them.

The PCs run into her soon, and she embraces the PCs she’s met before. Lyka and Linny introduce themselves. The cleric does not fail to mention her novels, which she offers to Sorrana. The soldier actually expresses interest, while Lyka warns her that the books deal with forbidden romances between hobgoblins and dwarves. “And the hobgoblins sparkle too,” she adds.
“They sparkle? I thought they just stank.”

She brings the PCs to Brindol Keep, where they meet with Lord Jarmaath and Cpt. Ulverth.

The PCs introduce themselves and tell the two everything they know—the information about Abithriax is news to Jarmaath and Ulverth, but the reports of Koth’s and Saarvith’s deaths help their spirits a lot.

The PCs attempt some discussion regarding siege tactics, but none of this is much help at the moment considering Lady Kaal isn’t around. One interesting idea that Holden floats is un-petrifying the stone wyvern (which I’d described as a Thrane air cavalry unit that had been downed during the Last War and petrified, so they can actually use it as a mount) for them to use as a quick means of transporting them around the battlefield when the attacks reach their climax.

The PCs then mention the phylactery and ask for help regarding information about the Ghostlord and the Thornwaste. Jarmaath directs them to Immerstal THE RED.

They proceed to Immerstal and meet Alandri. She tells the PCs that Immerstal can’t be bothered right now, and then changes into her sphinx form, offering to allow them to bother Immerstal if they can cough up a riddle. Kikkeni makes an Int check and rolls a 26, but the player didn’t have anything on hand so I let her think of one to give it another time.

Immerstal comes down and haggles with them over the price of information that they can get regarding the Thornwaste and the Ghostlord. They refuse to pay the 400 GP it will take for an immediate rush job, so they instead let him hit the books overnight. They also make the very clever move of talking about the phylactery and then ask HIM to pay them 20 GP for the information. He grumpily grants them a 20 GP discount on his research fee.

The PCs then return to the Keep, asking more about Miha along the way. They learn that she was a traveling sorcerer, and Loven believes her story checks out enough to trust her. They also learn that she had blown away a guard who was making inappropriate advances at her (and broke her arm). The PCs can’t agree on whether to recruit her or not, and in the end say it would be a good idea to keep her close in any case.

They talk to Ulverth again about the state of the army. He tells them that while the Lion Guard is capable, the militia is pretty much a collection of maggots. Their equipment is pretty decent, but that’s pretty much it.

Finally, the party convinces Ulverth to loan them mounts.

The PCs go rest (we have lunch).

Day 20-26: To the Thornwaste
Early the next morning, the PCs get their info from Immerstal—apparently Linny’s knowledge was pretty much complete, but it’s Immerstal’s info that points them to the actual location of the Ghostlord’s Lion—12 miles into the Thornwaste.

They also learn that the Thornwaste is home to a the Daelkyr-tainted wildlife that escaped the corruption and subsequent destruction of Rhest. The badlands are home to all sorts of predators—natural, undead, and aberrant.

They then buy provisions for the journey and get a wagon as well. They take their horses and ride off as fast as they can.

The PCs move as quickly as they can, stopping in Prosser, then Dauth. The weather gets pretty nasty, but they continue anyway; their rationale is that the visibility is just as bad for whoever is watching them anyway.

Day 22: The PCs encounter a small band of hobgoblins with a dire wolf marching down the road. (Easy skirmish). The PCs wipe them out easily–Kikkeni opens up with an Energy Ball that incinerates the grunts. They’re surprised the dire wolf and the bladebearer survive, but Holden charges in on his horse anyway. This was a bad move. The wolf overpowers the horse and trips it, sending the dwarf sprawling onto the ground.

Lyka charges the bladebearer with Two-Weapon Pounce, but rolls two natural ones. Pathetic.
Loven and Linny take potshots from the wagon, but it’s Kikkeni’s energy missile that kills the dire wolf. Finally, Lyka finishes off the bladebearer with Death From Above. Easy XP.

Day 26: I swear this is random. I roll a tornado on the random weather table. Instead of blowing them away (almost did, but it didn’t make any sense for a twister to appear out of the blue and blow them away), I have the storm rage on the horizon, with the twister rampaging across the prairie. A sign of things to come. Continue reading

An Alliance and An Assassination

Day 13: Twilight Telepathy

After raiding the dragon’s hoard and finding the important plot-relevant items in the Rhest town hall, the PCs figure out what to do with Nurkulnaak.

They plan to tie him to the side of the boat partially immersed in the water, among other grave threats and such. They even laughed at the irony of finding his torture implements inside his Haversack.

However, at this point things don’t go as they’ve planned and go surprisingly well according to my plan.

Using his telepathy, Nurkulnaak sends messages to the PCs heads in Daelkyr. None of them know the language, but the term “Daelkyr” is used. Nurkulnaak himself acts shocked and horrified, and begins looking around him in horror. Loven quickly rips off the gag while holding his rapier sharply against the beguiler’s throat (they still don’t know that he is one) and demanding what was going on.

“You fools, it’s the Daelkyr! Don’t you know the history of this place? It’s tainted!”

All this while, the same line keeps repeating in the heads of the PCs:
Fathk nrathkyl quyrafl uytrlk Daelkyr
Fathk nrathkyl quyrafl uytrlk Daelkyr
Fathk nrathkyl quyrafl uytrlk Daelkyr

Using Silent Spell, Nurkulnaak casts blur on himself—the only spell he can cast—and feigns a seizure.

Everyone does their best to try to figure out what’s going on, but without any spell components to identify the spell with, Linnea couldn’t really tell whether he had cast a spell or not.

Thoroughly spooked, they decide to quickly get the hell out of there and drag Nurkulnaak behind them. When they get onto the roof, they realize they’re surrounded.

Where Things DO NOT Go According to Plan
Four blackscale lizardfolk stand on the roof. These guys are enormous. Three of them are carrying tree-sized greatclubs, while the fourth has the telltale horns and wings of a half dragon.

Nurkulnaak secretly sends telepathic messages to the blackscales, telling them to run quickly and inform the Red Hand, and they will be rewarded. Despite their dim wits, they respect Nurkulnaak as a herald of Regiarix and fight a little longer only to escape. The half-dragon is the most intelligent and fastest, and as such is an ideal messenger, but Nurkulnaak broadcasts it to them just in case.

Once on the roof, Kikkeni begins to use her backup dorje of energy ray as she is out of PP.

Holden, however, quickly takes out the winged half-dragon via a lucky Divine Surge. The beast falls to the ground and almost pins him, but he successfully gets out of the way.

One of the remaining blackscales grabs Nurkulnaak from Holden, tucks him under his shoulder, and leaps into the water. The others do likewise, scattering in different directions.

Lyka manages an amazing leap onto the back of the blackscale holding Nurkulnaak and proceeds to hack at him, while the flying Holden pursues. Linnea plants an Ice Knife in the blackscale’s back, but it keeps on paddling. The two other blackscales escape unmolested.

Eventually Linnea uses her Rod of Viscid Globs on the blackscale, and Lyka shanks it dead. With the blackscales gone, their escape from the accursed ruins is going to be easier. More importantly, Nurkulnaak is alive. Still frothing and blurred, but alive.

They decide to paddle back to where they left the boat, using the dead lizard as a raft.

Don’t look at me, I just DM here. o_o;

Return to Starsong
Much to the shock of the elves, the PCs paddle in triumphantly, towing the corpse of an ogre-sized lizard behind them. The community gathers to welcome them, only to gape at their grisly trophy.

Killiar arrives and congratulates the PCs. He asks if they need to see the elders, to which they reply “Yes, we need items identified.” (SIGH.)

Trellara comes in and identifies Nurkulnaak’s gear, while Illian easily deduces that the PCs have been had. He dispels Nurkulnaak’s blur. Much wincing around the table.

Sellyria arrives and asks them what they plan on doing. “We wish to interrogate our ‘guest’.”
The old druid says she understands their needs, but says they may not shed any blood within Starsong. Holden assents, and they bring Nurkulnaak into a tent for interrogation.