Sunday, March 22, 2009

Actual Play 3/7 & 3/21: Heroes of Fallcrest no longer, Heroes of the Vale we have become!

Last session we played had no combat encounters. I did not take many notes.

We went to the place where the lizardfolk told us we could meet our contact with the Orcish Shamans. We were able to meet with a haughty Orcish Shaman who felt that the Prophesies were being misread and misused, and thought that the Red Champion was a fraud. He was trying to get the Prophesies so that he could disprove many of the signs that she had used to rally this Legion to begin with.

We attempted to give him a translated copy, but he wanted the real thing. We were, after a lot of talking, able to get an agreement hammered out. He would demand that the Champion prove herself by seeking a sign in a certain place at a certain time. We would be there, and kill her without having to hack through her entire army. We would then give the book to the traitor shaman and he would lead his people out of here. He did warn us that once he had the book he would not hesitate to tell his people that it was us that slew their champion.

The spot we chose was on the edge of the Harken forest. Lucan had spent some time patrolling the wood with his elven brethren, and took part in a battle against a large and vicious spider. He remembered the location of her lair, and suggested that we could ambush her there.

That was the condensed version of our roleplaying only session. The next week we played a Call of Cthulhu game, and yesterday we picked up our main campaign where we left off.

The party consisted of:
Lucan, Elven Fighter and sometime conscience of the party; played by Colin.
Ana, Half Elven Cleric of Bahamut and MVP of the coming battle; played by Colin in Chelsea's absence.
Nightshine, Shadar Kai Avenger of the Raven Queen, quiet, occasionally invisible, and deadly; played by Joel
Arlarond, Human Wizard, calm center of knowledge and fire; played by Dan
Therryk, Dragonborn Paladin of Erathis, clueless brute with a rage problem; played by Jay
Sanbrielle, Halfling Warlord, plucky and loud. Halfling Paragon? played by Jes

Immediately after the Orcish Shaman left the grove where we met, Nightshine creeped in. He had been a slave owned by the Legion until a recent escape, and had overheard our entire conversation with the orc. He offered his services, as he was naturally eager to punish his former masters. After a sparring match with Therryk, he was accepted into the group, and we began the quick trip three days to the edge of the Fens.
This is the spider's cave. The cave opening is the black bar on the right. The black region to the left of that is a dark pit that we can't see the bottom of. The blue parts are webs that are attached to the floor and sloping upwards and attaching to the wall about 30 feet up. The red portions are sticky webs on the floor of the cave. The difficult to see light blue-type color are solid husks of web. The giant spider was slain 6 or 7 years ago, so the egg sacks we see inside the solid parts are old and not a danger. Most have been slit open already. The top right and bottom left of the map are small. . .cavelets only reachable by the ramp of web. The cave was once a generic limestone cavern, but had been carved and eaten into it's current shape. Tiny fissures cover the walls.

Many plans were discussed. Should we hide? Where would we hide? Should we try and fool her with a sign of our own? How? And if we succeeded, then what? Arlarond had a ritual he had picked off of the body of one of the casters from the Legion that we had killed. The ritual allows greater ease of movement across mundane and magical webs. He has his familiar fly outside the entrance to the cave and keep an eye out for 3 figures approaching, an orc, a kobold, and a goblin. We had learned as much from the shaman. The Legion of the Chimera, led by 3 leaders of the 3 major races that comprise it. . .pretty clever.
This was our eventual plan. Our two minons hid in the thick webs. Arlarond and Ana concealed themselves on the ramp. Therryk, Lucan, and Sanbrielle crawled under the end of the 'ramp' and covered themselves in web to be concealed. Nightshine did the same thing, but in a different spot. A last minute decsion regarding the light situation led to us incorporating some element of deception. Arlarond's familiar returned. It had spotted an orc and a kobold approaching. Arlarond performed the webby ritual on us and we all got in our places. Arlarond then conjured a floating holy symbol of Gruumsh, and a light spell inside it to make it glow. . .and light the center of the cave.

The orc and kobold entered. They walked towards the symbol, paused, and then approached it. She swiped her axe through it a couple of times. Nightshine may have seen something, but knew that warning us would ruin any surprise we had.

After a long pause, Arlarond acted. He tried to sneak forwards to get within spell bombing range of the holy symbol. Almost immediately he was spotted by the kobold. The orc charged. Initiative was rolled. The battle was on.
This initiative board is after a couple rounds. Yes I am aware that it should probably be Grobb, Majordomo of Goblins. We liked the typo. Knock one down, they all go down...

The fight immediately went against us. The Red Champion brougt Arlarond into bloodied territory on her first attack. Sanbrielle gets him healed, Lucan and Therryk begin the process of freeing themselves from the webs they were hiding in. Grobb makes his presence known by appearing in a flanking position with the orc. Karka lobs some fire at the party, but is quickly locked down when Nightshine gets in his face.

The Red Champion hits Lucan twice. Both are criticals. Lucan is immediately felled, and lies bleeding on the ground. Sanbrielle uses her second and final Inspiring Word to get him back in the fight. Ana summons what is most likely the largest contributor to us winning the fight, Consecrated Ground. A 3x3 area of holy ground that she can move each turn, it has the effect of damaging each enemy that begins it's turn in it, and healing any bloodied PC's that start their turn in it. Since most of us were bloodied most of the time, we reaped a huge healing benefit from it. 12 HP each time was more than a healing surge (for all of us, I'm pretty sure).
Arlarond also uses his shroud of flame, which is super effective against Jesse since he always forgets to save. Ongoing 5 fire plys 1d6 or so for Consecrated Ground. . .and then Lucan activates his stance. Any enemy that begins it's turn next to him takes 1[w] damage. This added up to a huge amount of damage over the many rounds this fight lasted.

At the same time this was happening, Nightshine was taking on Karka by himself. Karka hit him with a poison attack, which allowed him to fly (shift) away and onto the web platform over the chasm. Nightshine had several tricks up his sleeve, however, and was able to chase him up there and teleport him over the edge and into the abyss. His fall was broken by some webs a few feet down, and we were introduced to the last element of this fight. Spiders.

Lotheb's Brood were medium spider minions who singlemindedly went after anything that disturbed the web. Karka was swarmed immediately, and Nightshade left the lip of the chasm to help us with the other two.

The fight was not really going well. Sanbrielle ran out of healing, and the status effects started to pile up. Grobb (the Domino) was a rogue and maintained his flank, tearing us apart. A difference was made when Therryk managed to get a flank with Lucan on Grobb, and used an action point to hit twice. The second hit he avoided by using an ability to swap places with the Red Champion, but this meant he would start his turn in the land of ongoing damage, and it brought him down.

We were feeling good. One enemy left. She was tough, but we were tougher. After all of that mess she was just into bloodied territory. We pressed our advantage. We were surprised to see Karka return. He had been spending each round rerolling for his abilities to recharge, and the one that allowed him to fly finally did. He soared from the darkness and immediately began to bombard us with elemental attacks, all of which carried some kind of status effect. The result was a rebound for the bad guys. The Red Champion was pushed into the webs, but used the opportunity to regroup with Karka.
This was bad news overall, but good news for Arlarond. He had the chance to hit them both with an area attack and summoned a huge cloud of icy pain over the two of them. He positioned it so that for the short time it was there, we could attack them through it's border.
This was the final stretch. Despite turning his scales white to afford him some protection against the cold damage, Karka was doomed and went down. The Red Champion coulcn't escape the Consecrated Ground, and each time she cut one of us down we popped up again on our next turn. It took some more time, but we whittled her mountain of hit points down eventually to zero.
We gathered the three bodies together to search them, and the only thing of value was the +2 Vicious Battleaxe that had hit Lucan with criticals at least three times. Probably more. And the book. Ana cast Gentle Repose on the Red Champion's body, and we loaded her on a floating disc for the journey back to Southember.

The Eladrin were understandable excited about this news, and they hoisted her body up on a pike to carry at the head of their army. Within hours the Eladrin had left to begin routing the orcs and clearing the fens of their foul presence. We had the Eladrin scholars perform their copying ritual on the book, and arranged (via animal messenger) for another meeting with the Shaman in the same grove we had met in previously.

He was still pompous, and we still did not relish dealing with him. On top of that, when he had his book he marched straight to his waiting troops and told them what he said he would. That we were the jerks who had killed their Red Champion.

A lengthy chase through the Fens was finally ended when we were able to lose the Warg riders in a difficult section of the terrain. We met up with Kerlos leading the Eladrin army shortly after, and told him where he could find 200 or so disorganized orcs begging to be slaughtered.

The next day was a feast day in Southember. Kerlos was pleased with us, and saw to it that our role in the events was made known to the people during the feast. We began this endeavour with the goal of preventing all out war between Fallcrest and Southember, and it looked as if, for now at least, we had achieved it.
There was some more chatting after that, in and out of character, determining what we would be bringing to the next leg of our campaign.

We have this grain of an idea, to turn out Party into a much larger organization. With the release of the PHB2, several of us are/were itching to try out some of the new classes. Add to that our sometimes peculiar party makeup (3 defenders and no striker, really?) and you have a great opportunity to start something different. We are going to try a different definition of party. Folks can have more than one PC, we just play one at a time. We would be able to try new things without doing one shots, or breaking continuity.

So far it looks like Dan might put Arlarond on the shelf for a bit and bring in a Gnomish Bard. Jesse and Jes were . . .arguing over who could play a Druid. I made a Warden (and my first love, a Kobold Rogue), but I think I'll stick with Therryk for now. He sometimes really underperforms, but I feel like in this last fight he did his share. Plus, with Colin running Lucan may be written out for the time being, and we will need a defender. Not that I feel Therryk is as good a Defender as Lucan (seriously, when Colin first brought him I though 'oh great. . .Elf fighter? Not very optimized...' but I have seen the error of my ways. I would dare anyone to make a more effective Defender than Lucan. He fills his role perfectly) but Therryk does have a defender in him somewhere. . .but it is crowded with all that Leader and Striker that he is carrying around. We will see.

So, this fight was really something. Jesse built 4 creatures using the DMG rules, 1 solo (the Red Champion) and 2 elites (his flunkies). Plus the spider minions. The Red Champion was built at 8th level, and Jesse had tried to plan for who would attend, but with our schitzo group I do not fault him at all for overestimating it's size. He thought we could have as many as 9 PC's, and planned accordingly. Thus, the 2 bodyguards were reduced on the fly from Elites to Regulars. the dice really favored him in the beginning, so I am curious if without that change we would have survivied. I think we might have, but with a PC death. It would have been that bastard Goblin stabbing Colin or I (or Sanbrielle or Nightshine) in the back.

Jesse mentioned emailing me the stuff he put together for me to post. I'll do that as soon as I get the email.

In other news, PHB2 is awesome. . . .


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