Wednesday, February 17, 2010

AP: Clever Title Placeholder

Full party again this session. Good thing too, as we stumbled into a nest of trouble. Stumbled/Galloped, really:

Paulic/Irus - One boy split into two bodies, this session they perfected the Twin Twin Strike. That's right, four arrows. As they are controlled by one mind, Paulic often acted as the laser designator for Irus' arrows.
Phedre - If her devotion to the party was ever doubted, she only need point to fights like this one. Arashi was propped up by her healing, and she brought back Paulic from the brink of death with it.
Arashi - Certainly got the enemy's attention, since even without being marked they focused on him, mostly. Was swarmed early, healed up, swarmed again, and healed again. . .ended the fight so deep in negatives that another attack would have killed him for good.
K'rrul - As an Assassin should, he stayed hidden, invisible, or concealed for the first half of the fight. Less impressive than Paulic, but the enemies were Brutes, so he hit with nearly every attack this fight.
Jasper - Obliging enemies clumped up for him, and his spells were extra effective this fight. Also managed to save Paulic's life. Three cheers for Jasper!

The party piled into the cave en masse, since our stealth was clearly broken at this point. Arashi carried the weaker party members over the river, and we climbed up into the ogre's home. It was a dead end.

There was a large ogre-sized bed, and several broken pieces of furniture that had been feeding a fire at one point. Despite searching around for another way in or out, we found nothing. We left the cave empty handed. Paulic looked at the surroundings and guessed that in other valleys like this, with a river, ponds or lakes often formed at the low point. He thought that if ogres had moved in, they likely gravitated to the lake as it was a source of water and possibly food. Arashi climbed a tree to scope out the area, and saw a thin wisp of smoke in the distance, coming from the lower part of the valley. With afternoon approaching, we shouldered our packs and walked the few miles to the lake.

We arrived on the opposite side of the ogre camp. From our position in the grass at the edge of the lake, we saw four or five buildings. One of them was a log cabin-type structure, and it had smoke rising from the chimney. At that distance we were unable to determine much more, so K'rrul ghosted off to scout out the camp.

He returned and confirmed what they saw. Four tents, one smallish cabin, and ogres and wolves visible. A quick and dirty plan was hatched:
- Paulic, Irus, K'rrul, Phedre, and Jasper go back to where K'rrul had observed the ogres and hide.
- Arashi was to circle around the opposite side of the lake.
- When he was good and ready, he would mount his Obsidian Charger and . . .charge through the camp.

Paulic and Irus each climbed trees to 15 feet or so high. Jasper, Phedre, and Phedre's Mister Bubbles each hid behind a tree in the forest. K'rrul hid in the high grasses and brush at the edge of the woods, but outside the camp. And waited.

Arashi charged through the camp like an elemental fury. Shouting and yelling, he whipped his sword over his head as lightning coursed over his body. It certainly got the ogre's attention. They unleashed their wolves and followed him into the woods.

A nublie young human, dressed in scant clothing stepped calmly from the cabin and took to the air, hovering 10 feet above the ground and moving towards the woods herself. In addition to all of that noise (3 ogres, 3 wolves, 1 mysterious caster), three totems in the village all released spirit animals. One each of a wolverine, bear, and mountain lion ghost totems leapt from their prisons and charged after Arashi.

Even though he was mounted, an ogre managed to catch up to him just as he entered the trees. It was perfect timing, really:
- The ogre had unknowingly lodged itself in our trap. It ran right by K'rrul in the grass, and ended up just a few feet from Jasper and Phedre.
- Almost the entire ogre army got to go before the rest of us went. The Vicious Dire Wolves, The Ogre Savages, and the jailbait something or other all went before any of us. They advanced, but as yet only one of the ogres was in our trap
- We sprung. K'rrul stabbed, Paulic and Irus shot, and Jasper cast. Now that our trap had sprung. . .were we just normal combatants, about to get smashed to jelly by ogres?
- Arashi was foiled early. He marked and moved, but the wolves had an ability to pull their target prone, and the other wolves all did bonus damage to prone targets. In addition to taking gobs of damage, he was wasting a move action every turn just standing back up. Luckily, the one he marked first attacked someone else, and he used his mark to teleport out of the gank and near his allies.
- Jasper changed the face of the fight in the first round or two. He bravely charged in, getting clubbed nearly to bloodied for his trouble, just so he can try to Otherwind Stride the ogres and immobilize them. He did hit one this way, and then dropped an Enlarged Acid Mire where he was, hitting most of the enemy and creating a huge, 5x5 area of difficult terrain.
- Phedre then spent her first few turns healing Jasper and Arashi up, then spent the rest of the fight healing herself, Arashi, K'rrul, Arashi, Paulic, Arashi, etc.
- Mr Improbable, Paulic/Irus, seemed invulnerable and cocky shooting at ogres without fear of reprisal. Their flying, improbably hot leader closed in on him, however, and instructed her ogres to do the same. Suddenly realizing that 15 feet is not that high to an ogre, Paulic was forced to use his magic cape to teleport away. Irus had an ability that let him get away from his ogre, too, but they were on the run and without their superior vantage point.
- The seemingly endless bag of hitpoints represented by the ogre mini finally dropped to our focus fire, leaving only two more ogres, two wolves (one of which was bloodied) and the spirit totems.
- Right. . .the totems. They were minions, which was a nice gimme in this bloodbath. Their catch, though, was that they imbued their allies with various, unnamed and improbable boons when they died. At one point we were fighting an ogre wearing a wolf mask with supernatural bestial elements reflecting the lion and bear totems. Quite the amalgam of a creature.
- With the ogres intent on killing our archers, and the boss lady not much of a threat (yet), we were able to start finishing off the wolves. This was working, being hastened by the Acid Mire, and Phedre summoning her Consecrated Ground. There was one poor wolf immobilized in two different auto-damage zones.
- Consecrated Ground was keeping Arashi from dying, and things were looking. . .okay. Or at least *less* deadly. Possibly sensing the same change in tone, the ogre leader morphed from a nubile young temptress into a Large, horrid, steaming mess of ugly. With a club. The ball is in our court, it looks like.
- Jasper had just teleported Arashi out of the way of the ogre leader and into the Consecrated Ground. Now she was in melee with two of the squishy members of the party, and she bore down on Paulic.
- With his freshly renewed vigor, and seven whole HP's, Arashi engaged her again. It was nearly his final act. He was dropped back into negatives again, and far away from the safety of Consecrated Ground.
- Desperation or teamwork had us focusing fire on her, and we quickly brought her down through bloodied, and eventually dead. Not before she dropped Paulic and chased Jasper away. Clever use of Eyebite kept him off of her radar, and kept him alive.
- Arashi didn't die, though he was so far negative that 10 or so more HP's would have killed him for good. We stopped there.
Paulic's double crit Twin Strike. Those dice must have 20's on more than one side to crit so much. ..

This session was mostly combat. It was kind of the culmination of this little investigation, two sessions of figuring out what was so scary in this valley, and if it had anything to do with the wagon crash. It appears it did. The ogres were led by an Ogre Mage, Jesse let slip. Someone super smart had guessed this very early on, so it was kind of a confirmation more than anything.

This was a pretty fun time, despite it being a long fight. We are sixth level, and had enough tricks up our sleeves to stay creative through most of the fight. Except Arashi. Those wolves really messed with his game. He lost enough actions that he was still sitting on Dailies, even though Jasper, Phedre, and K'rrul had been using theirs. . .kind of an admission that this fight was maybe a touch out of our league. Despite that, all the attention paid to Arashi (and deservedly so, with his pre-fight role as bait) kept them off of us long enough for us to whittle them down. Had they honed in on our two archers early and taken them out, or shut down Jasper's controlling, it would have been a very different fight.
Next week . . .exposition, roleplay, and possibly a surprise or two!


Friday, February 12, 2010

AP: My name is Koulton Brightwind, and I approved this message.

So this will be a two for one post (again), life has jumped up and stolen a bunch of my free time, so I got a little behind. Both sessions were full houses, with all players present:

Jasper - Begins work on phase two of his life plan, gain notoriety for himself to enhance the dust jacket of his book(s). He does so by schilling for a Pirate Captain.
K'rrul - Continues his efforts at fitting in to the party. Unfortunately, he remains unsuccessful to date.
Arashi - Begins the quest that Jasper finishes, though his inner Swordmage would much rather just cut to the chase and kill the opposition.
Phedre - Ultimately it is her goal to return to Verithrond in time to save a pretty dragonmarked man from assassination. So really, this is *all her fault*.
Paulic - Continues his tradition of just shooting the hell out of anything that gets in his way. Along the way he attracts a follower who has similar goals in life.

After the dust settled from our epic(ish) battle with the Eladrin assassination squad, we decided to split up and gather some information. Que the montage.

Phedre cast Speak with Dead, and Arashi brainstormed on some questions to ask the Eladrin leader. We convinced the lone surviving assassin to join us. His name is Irus, and he is our new Paulic. So we had two Paulics now. Both taciturn, arrow shooting, elfin murderers.

The rest of us went to the rooms of the Spiked Star. We considered taking their group name (The Spiked Star!), but I think consensus was that it was too retarded. Instead we took a bunch of their stuff. In addition to some magic stuff we found on their bodies, we also recovered some maps and a journal. Oh, and a trunk full of *spellbooks*. This has the potential to be the most valuable thing we collected, but we won't know until Jasper or Phedre has time to catalogue them.

Speak with Dead was productive. We learned that the person that hired the assassins is none other than Anton. Big shocker there. Unfortunately, we were not able to find out why he did so. This was kind of a small time adventuring party, but apparently they were well known enough that when a different party of Eladrin (The Cunning Claws. Why couldn't we have killed *them* and taken their name?) noticed Irus traveling with us, they suspected something.

This kind of marks our descent into madness. At that point, our careful plans about pretending to be dead, or seeking revenge, or any other interesting thing fell apart. We decided to stay in our adversaries' rooms. An official from the hotel approached us as we climbed the stairs, and though we were able to bribe him, we were still required to sign in. Since we guessed that the sign in was compared to the official log kept by the Guard at the gate, we couldn't just BS it (Dr and Mrs Smith, of Bree, with retainers) and we sent our least cunning member to the front desk to sign us in.

That's right. Paulic (of clan Paulic, of the Paulic reaches in Paulic county, Paulic) and Irus went to the lobby to see what was going on. While he was down there, Paulic signed us in, with our real names. He also gave Irus a little direction on what to say to Elaceiria, the leader of The Cunning Claws. It was awkward to listen to. Like Paulic, he was used to using his bow to solve his problems, and it was clear that she wasn't quite comfortable with things.

That night, as we prepared to lie down and be killed in our sleep, a city guard knocked on Arashi's door and gave him a letter. As he was in a room alone, and did not elect to share with us what it said, we didn't know anything was up until early the next morning. As he left to go to a meeting (indicated by the secret note), Paulic caught up with him, and they went to negotiate our future with a Pirate captain.

When they returned, the told us of the *new* plan. This pirate captain liked us. She wanted to take us home. She was willing to do so, for free, if we did a favor for her. A pirate election was coming up, and her candidate, Koulton Brightwind, was running against Anton Fatass. She wanted us to talk to some of the other Pirate captains about their votes, and hopefully sway them to vote for Koulton.

Despite being the party that negotiated this deal, Arashi was against it. He proposed an easy solution, if Anton was dead, he could not be elected. The party agreed, with one exception. Jasper wanted to try a more elegant solution. He wanted to destroy Anton's life, by destroying the source of his power. His ultimate goal was to take away his wealth.

So, Anton and K'rrul started talking. We chatted up sailors in seedy dockside taverns, dock workers in seedier dockside whorehouses, and eventually got ourselves audiences with a few of the influential Pirate Captains. Jasper spoke plainly and honestly about our experiences with Anton, and about his evaluation of the Quartermaster's performance. He used information gleaned from some Captains to sway the votes of the more difficult to persuade ones. Finally, he resorted to outright lies to sway the final contact of the day, convincing her that Anton was poised to eliminate the Piracy aspect of the organization in accordance to a contract he made with Dwarves.

In the end, Jasper was able to tell our contact that should the people vote as they indicated, Koulton would carry the day. In return, she offered us passage to the mainland at the end of the week. Six days hence.

With almost a week to kill before our ride outta town, the party had a pow wow to decide what to do. Our most attractive option, and our eventual choice, was to travel back to the Eladrin city and loot the holdings of the Spiked Star. Irus, their sole surviving member, didn't seem to take any offense at this, so we left immediately. Since we had a couple of extra days, we also wanted to spend some time in the dark and scary valley, and investigate the wagon crash that we discovered.

After making camp that night, we started off early the next morning and soon reached the crash. After extensive searching returned very little new information, Jasper performed a ritual to hopefully shed some light on what had happened. His ritual allowed him to see what was loaded on the wagon (various fine Eladrin goods from the Fortress of Fading), how it crashed (an ambush by several large canine headed humanoids and their wolves), and what they did with the wagon after it crashed (unloaded the contents onto sleds and pulled it into the woods in the valley).

Paulic was able to pick out a path once Jasper gave him a heading, and we started off into the forest. Paulic was out in front scouting with K'rrul a few feet behind him when he stopped suddenly. One hundred or so feet away one of the wolf-headed ogres stood with two wolves, apparently unaware of our approach. We snuck into position, and Arashi got his attention by using an arc of lightning to create a thunderclap in a clearing. The ogre charged:
- 5 on 3 meant that unless this ogre was a solo or vastly higher in level, we had this fight in the bag before it started.
- He wasn't a solo or higher in level by enough to matter.
- Three strikers (K'rrul, Paulic, and Irus) focused fire on him and he was bloodied in the first round.
- Round two saw him down for the count, and his wolf companions soon followed.

Disturbingly, when we examined him we noticed that the wolf head was actually a mask or a kind of headdress. When removed, we saw no way for him to see out, and it was obvious to us that this ogre was blind. Creepy.

Paulic continues pathfinding, and we followed the trail to a cave near a river. The stench of ogre permeated the cave, so we were pretty certain our quarry was there. Paulic and K'rrul snuck inside. After a bend, the light from the entrance disappeared, and we were left groping blindly along. The noise from an underground river masked our approach somewhat, but it also blocked our passage. We couldn't tell how large or fast moving it was in the dark, and were unwilling to compromise our stealth. K'rrul waded in. About ten feet into his swim, just as he was unable to easily walk, he was attacked:
- Dire Stirges lived in this cave. K'rrul and Paulic were a good 100 feet into it, alone and in the dark, with the party lounging at the opening waiting for us to return.
- K'rrul popped a sunrod and illuminated the cave. A handful (6 or 7?) or stirges were clustered over the river. Paulic yelled for the party and began Twin Striking and backpedalling.
- Through a series of obfuscating techniques, K'rrul managed to escape and prevent his blood from being totally drained.
- The party rushed in the following round and a natural kink in the cave provided a good point to hold them off. The battle surged around that point for a bit, with Paulic getting a good bit of attention from the Sturges, but our ability to teleport kept them from draining us dry.

And with that, I'm almost caught up. I have yesterday's game to detail, and that should be a bit of fun (big, climactic combat!). These two sessions were filled with talking, discussion, and exploration of Jesse's carefully built Pirate town. Early on, Jasper was labeled as a shill (Sarah Palin, to be specific) for Koulton, and a lot of jokes were had at his expense. His goal was revenge (in 5-10 years, if interest rates hold), and his motives were. . .annoying. In the end, it appears that we got what we wanted, but this is D&D. You never know if things will turn out as planned or bartered, and you should never count on it. We also managed to get some cathartic wholesale slaughter out of our systems, and should get rewarded my large amounts of lewt. We will see. . .