Friday, February 21, 2014

SSoI - Session 21: To the Wyrmsmoke Mountains!

Our Heroes (now 9th level):
  • Lt. Alex Gravis, Water Genasi Warlord (and Ivan, owlbear commando) 
  • Gartok, Dwarf Earth Warden
  • No-Name, Elf Bow Ranger 
  • Torin Tsai, Half-Orc Slayer
  • Xyla, Drow Vampire
Gone But Not Forgotten:

Izenheim, Dwarf Cleric of Marthammor Duin
(Our friend Marc announced somewhere in between these last few sessions that he just could not make the scheduling work consistently and so he would be dropping for good. One of these days I hope things sync up and he can rejoin us. He didn't come from a background of tabletop play, most of his experience was from games like World of Warcraft. It was a lot of fun having someone with some game experience, plus the new player enthusiasm, plus the "what do those do again?" factor at the table once more. Hopefully we can drag him back in down the road.)  

Our heroes, escorted by Lion Knights and the city guard, stagger back into town and take a well-deserved rest. Afterwards, A pair of knights bring them to an open square which seems to have been blocked off from other traffic.  A regal looking knight, a wizard in red robes, and a strangely attired man wearing a helmet topped with ram's horns all wait for them. 

The knight introduces himself as Sir Brandis Brightblade, leader of the Lion Knights. He has been receiving reports of the invading horde and knows the decisive battle will take place here at Brindol. He also knows that the army is large and formidable. Sura, the Lion Knight who they met back in Drellin's Ferry has also reported their efforts to stop the horde and combining that with what he saw last night he has a plan to decapitate the army. Brandis explains (with a grimace) that Kurgan here, a local priest, has provided a map and guidance to an old portal near an old temple of Tiamat. This is believed to be the Red Hand's secret home base. Agents of House Bauer have provided information that the leader of the army, Azarr Kul, has returned there to perform some magical ritual. With the heroes proving to be a powerful yet small team, Brandis believes that they could be teleported to the temple, enter it, and have a chance to slay Azarr Kul. With their leader gone, the army should be much easier to defeat. Additionally, whatever ritual he is planning can't be good and stopping it is a worthwhile goal as well.

After a brief consultation, our heroes agree. Immerstal the Red, foremost wizard of Brindol, begins casting the ritual of opening. Kurgan snarls "you're welcome" and stalks away. The party marks him as a potential troublemaker, and turns their attention back to the portal. The wizard completes his chanting and arm-waving and gestures for them to step through.

They find themselves stepping out into an old stone circle, half-tumbled but still recognizable. It rests in a small rocky valley with mountains all around. A narrow path leads up the side of the nearest slope and that's the way they go. Soon enough the path turns a corner and their goal is before them.

The path opens up into a shelf about 20' wide and 100' long. At the end is a large double door with a massive sculpture of a 5-headed dragon looming over it. Near it is the mouth of a large cave and that's where the trouble comes from, in the form of a blue dragon.

As the party re-positions to face this newest threat, the dragon spits lightning and the fight is on. This one is a bit more talkative and mentions that his name is Tyrgarun, and he's going to enjoy slaying them and offering them up to Tiamat. Gartok and Torin charge while Gravis and Xyla work from a little farther back and No-Name works from very far back. It's ugly up close, and both the half-orc and the dwarf take a beating.

Xyla briefly manages to hypnotize the beast but Torin is having none of that - he tears into the dragon with a fury, aided by Gartok and Gravis. With a sigh Xyla joins the fray as well, all fang and claw. In a matter of minutes it's over as Gravis directs a simultaneous strike from the dwarf, vampire, and slayer and the big blue staggers back and falls for the final time. The group pauses to rest and recover as they keep a watch on the door and loot the dragon's lair.

In better shape they force open the door (setting off a trap in the process) and push their way inside the Fane of Tiamat.Only a long, empty stone hallway greets them, but they are on guard as their entrance has not been quiet. Advancing, they come to a large room lit by another sculpture of a five headed dragon, with the appropriately colored light coming from a flame in each one's mouth. As they survey the room they notice some balconies above them especially when five bearded devils swoop down from them and attack!

There are duels all over the room as our heroes take on the things in pairs or solo, though with the warlord and the bow ranger one is never truly fighting alone. These new foes have dangerous powers, as Xyla and Torin are both blinded, dazed, and thrown back from the fight by their opponents. The creatures also fade in and out of the shadows, striking without warning. The warden holds his ground and forms the core of their defense with supporting fire from the ranger as the warlord reestablishes control and the devils begin to fall. The last one attempts to flee but is slain by a shot from No-Name. 

The group pauses and pokes at the bodies. "Hmm, Abishai." They realize there may be devils all through this place, making it a tougher mission than just killing on warlord.

DM Notes: There was a lot of in and out of character talk at the beginning. Everyone leveled up to 9th at the end of the Ghostlord adventure, there was some shopping in town, and some NPC interaction. There may have been an extra day of game time in there but the next happening was the meeting described above.

People who have run or played this adventure may wonder what the heck just happened. In the module, part 5 is the siege of Brindol, while part 6 is the fane of Tiamat. The fane always felt anticlimactic to me after the big siege, and I saw some ideas for changing that up online so I switched them. The attack on the fane comes first, then we end with the big attack on the city, which can be greatly altered by how the fane episode goes. I'm still happy with this change even as we approach the end.

The fight with the big blue lasted all of 4 rounds. The slayer, aided by the warden, had inflicted almost 200 points of damage on him in round 1 between his normal action, his action point, the warlord's action, and the warlord's action point. The vampire hypnotized him on round 2, which was a lot of fun for her. Then the bow ranger bloodied him from his usual distance, triggering the breath weapon which blasted the slayer, the warden, and the warlord and was the cause of some discussion about timing, positioning, and damage. The vampire gets in 3 shots in round 4 (normal action, action point, warlord) so she wasn't too far behind the other melee monster.

The abishai actually lasted 5 rounds and had some fun powers as noted above, but one-on-one they could not stop the characters. This was their first real encounter with devils so hopefully it gave them some warning about the kinds of things they can do as someone finally remembered that Tiamat lives on the first plane of Hell. There are plenty more infernal things to come, and not a paladin or cleric in sight.


Kelvin Green said...

Brandis Brightblade? Is that his name in the published adventure?

I like Kurgan; the idea of someone who's an obvious bad seed but who's also on the players' side is a good one and I might steal it.

Blacksteel said...

No the knight's name is mine - one of the players is a Dragonlance fan so I like to work little things in like that every once in a while.

Kurgan is a priest of the local Orcus cult stuck in the uncomfortable position of not wanting the town to be overrun by a devil-led horde. The town leaders would normally arrest him but a deal was made to see what he had and it ended up in a sort of truce. He will be making a return appearance down the road. I play him as more like a supervillain than the traditional fanatical evil priest so there's a little more nuance to it than usual.

Kelvin Green said...

I thought it would be unlikely for WotC to use that name!