D&D 5E Against the Giants: Campaign Journal

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 9

Pre game notes: They will probably need a rest at this point, and they'll need to figure out what to do about poor Sai. Will they teleport back to Pellak?

Either way, the Oni did double back and escaped deeper into the giant caves.

The Jarl and his remaining giants are prepping a hell of an ambush for the party. Hopefully they will finally meet Laurali, the captive storm giant. Likely they will need her help with the coming ambush.

I've decided to have the Oni (his name is, Luka) ransom at least Sai's spellbook back to the party. He will ask for 10,000gp since he knows there is at least that in the dragon's horde. He will have to be careful about it though. First, he'll recover his health, which should only take a few minutes. Second, he'll want to make contact with the party before they have a chance to rest and return to full strength. If the PC's decide to teleport out, have him contact them before they go. If they stay in the lair, he'll have a little more time. Either way, he will send an ogre with a message.

The Session

What a night! Had probably the toughest fight of this entire campaign.

They start out in the dragon's lair, still searching and deciding whether or not to rest there. And then Jef showed up.

Jef is an extremely good natured, extremely dim ogre, and waved a white flag as he approaches the party with the Oni's letter.

The Letter

If this book that I've so recently procured is what I think it is, I'm sure you'll be wanting it back. I've no use for it, but rather than destroy it I feel that, as reasonable folk in an unreasonable situation, it is in both of our interests that we come to a mutually beneficial agreement.

I'm certain that you are all seething with anger just now at having been unable to secure total victory in your most recent soiree. If your capabilities that I've personally witnessed, not to mention your having bested so many giants, are any indication, I'm guessing the impasse that we now find ourselves at is unusual for you.

But fear not! Humility is as valuable a trait as courage. I, myself, am not so possessed of hubris that I am not well aware that I am indeed fortunate to still be alive to pen this letter. You are fearsome foes indeed!

The long and the short of it is, I have something you want, and you have something I want. I have nothing personally against you, and if you will set aside your wounded pride for a moment, I'm sure that you'll find no personal grievance towards me. Circumstance finds us on opposite sides of a battle. Rest assured that I have no stake in it beyond my own gain. Your reasons for being here are yours, and I have little interest in them. I would also remind you that I could have just as easily slit your wizard's throat rather than help myself to a few of his trinkets. I don't expect your gratitude for that, only that you consider it.

So, now that you understand my intentions, all that is left is to work out the details. I suggest a quick meeting between myself and a single member of your group. I fear it will have to be on my terms, but I can only offer you my word as assurance of your agent's safety.

Please understand, my intention is to talk; to work out a trade that we can both walk away happy with. During this discussion I will not have the book, or indeed, any of your possessions. They will be in the hands of an ogre who has specific instructions to destroy the lot of it should our meeting end in treachery. Ogres aren't good at much, but, credit where it is due, they are excellent at destroying things. So let us enter into our tete-a-tete with pure intentions and honor.

If this is acceptable to you, have your priest make his mark on this letter and return it to my messenger. I will take that as an agreement to the terms and a vow of honorable motive.

Obviously, if this is not to your liking, I will take either your silence or the murder of my messenger as sign of such and you will never see me again.

Yours, L

After reading it they decide to meet with the Oni to find out what it want's, and to my great surprise, Thoradin nominates Edran to be their agent! To my still greater surprise, the rest of the party agrees!To my total bafflement, Edran handles the exchange like a champ, bartering Sai's spellbook and staff back, and even some valuable information in return for 20,000gp. When they eventually claim their goods, it is in the room with the captive storm giant, Laurali. They free the giantess and she joins them in the dragon's lair as they take their much needed rest. They have to stay put for fifteen hours, during which time Krote gets to know Laurali better, Jef wanders in, lonely and hungry after having been deserted by the Oni, and Edran gets acquainted with Whisper, a fine new dagger found in the dragon's horde. Edran also slips off during his watch and does a bit of scouting, following a map drawn by the Oni (part of their deal with him) that shows the location of the ambush being set by the frost giant Jarl. Edran gets a pretty good idea of what awaits them before returning to his friends.

It might also be noted at this point that Edran is not endearing himself to Selendra, taking every opportunity to be snarky to her. The elf knight finally has enough and tells Edran exactly what she thinks of him. On top of that, Edran takes a dislike to poor Jef, and it is only Thoradin and Krote who keep Edran from killing the oblivious ogre.

Also, when their rest is complete, Thoradin rids Selendra and Sai of the curse placed on them by the foul armor.

They talk strategy as to how to deal with the giant ambush awaiting them, and decide on a direct approach, simply charging in after some serious buffing.

They charge into the Jarl's hall and quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer numbers against them. There are eight frost giants, eight fire giant servants (hill giants), four giant polar bears, the Jarl himself, his wife, Estia, and their giant winter wolf pet.

Fights don't get much harder than this one. As much damage as the party dishes out, the giants are relentless, and pile it right back. Laurali, Sai, Jef, Selendra, and Joshua all go down multiple times. Most of them have at least four levels of exhaustion. Edran goes down at least once. The giants are brutal and their hits do an average of thirty points, rarely missing. They press the attack, and it is all Thoradin can do to keep the party on their feet. But at last, a tipping point is reached, and the heroes dig in and keep swinging, killing giant after giant. The Jarl goes down. Then Estia. Finally, only a single frost giant is on his feet, and he runs. The party is in such bad shape that they gladly let him go.

But, just as the giant is about to get away, Edran draws down on him with his bow...and then shifts his aim, putting an arrow into Jef, dropping the ogre.

Thoradin is appalled and furious. Selendra is disgusted. Krote is not happy either. As Thoradin rushes to heal Jef, he promises a very uncomfortable discussion with Edran. Jef, once back on his feet, is happy as ever, and returns Edran's arrow to him. I've decided, at this point, that Jef only gets one death save before he dies for good. He is, after all, only an ogre NPC.

It is just after 10:00am, Harvester 9th.


Notes: This whole session went off very well, and was one of the most enjoyable we've had.

The back and forth with the Oni to buy Sai's belongings back was quite fun, and again, I was shocked, not only that Thoradin suggested Edran as their go-between, but that Edran didn't completely hash the whole business up by attempting some trickery.

Using Jef as the Oni's messenger proved to be an impulse of good fortune. I basically played Jef as utterly stupid, and far too good natured to be much good as an ogre. He enjoys eating and bashing stuff with his club, but he just can't muster the hate in his heart that makes for a really good ogre. Consequently, after the Oni deserted him, Jef wandered back over to the party and they just didn't have the heart to kill him or shoo him away. Edran, for whatever reason, decided he didn't like him, but Jef absolutely adores Edran since Edran makes a lot of puns, and puns are considered the highest form of ogre humor. The rest of the party take a liking to Jef and they now have an ogre tag-along.

The big fight in the Jarl's throne room was brutal! Even with Laurali, the storm giantess, it was all they could do to deal with so many giants.

This is the last session we've played. I'll update after this Sunday's game.
 

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cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 10

A rather strange night, with no combat, but plenty of role play, much of it weird.

We started the session in the Jarl's throne room, the party very wounded, surrounded by dead giants, with palpable bad vibes in the air given Edran's pot shot at Jef. Thoradin is especially moody.

Laurali limps to the throne and has a seat, getting her breath after the battle. Jef, meanwhile, smells food, and heads straight for it, finding the spitted horse in the kitchen cave to the north. Thoradin, Krote, Selendra and Joshua follow him while Edran decides to wander down the SE tunnel, quickly finding it blocked by a huge boulder that he is quite unable to shift.

In the kitchen, the rest of the party discover a cage full of humans who quickly tell their saviors that they are captives from the village of Tanhaven in Ulek. They are, Dale, Win, Becca and Franz. As they tell their harrowing tale everyone tucks into some well done horse flesh, especially Jef, who happily gnaws on a leg.

Thoradin casts a Detect Magic and they move from the kitchen to the NE tunnel, finding the armory, giants quarters, and the polar bear den. There are several chests in the giant's quarters, so Thoradin fetches Edran to check them for traps. He finds the young rogue spying on Jef while menacingly twirling an arrow. This sets off a rather unpleasant conversation as the pair head back to the giant's quarters.

Thoradin is very upset that Edran shot Jef for no good reason. Krote tries to see both sides, but even he has a hard time defending Edran. Selendra looks on in ill concealed disgust as Edran defends himself, reasoning that all ogres are evil and that, of course, all of them must be slain. This back and forth escalates until Thoradin verbally dresses down Edran and finally washes his hands of him. He tells Edran that when they return to civilization, he no longer cares what he does, or where he goes, and quite frankly doesn't care if he never sees him again. Thoradin then retires to the throne room to stew on the steps of the giant throne.

Edran, for his part, appears not to heed any of this and ropes Krote into helping him move the boulder in the SE tunnel.

It takes some doing, by at last they gain entry to the Jarl's audience chamber and trophy hall. After a quick look around, Edran slips through one of the tapestries separating this cave from another to the north, and before long he spies five young giants, huddled near the rear of the cavern, armed, but obviously unsure of themselves. Edran returns to Krote, and the pair of them fetch the rest of the party. As a group, they re-enter the cavern and demand the surrender of the young giants. The five teen aged giants, seeing Laurali towering over them, comply, and drop their weapons. With stern warnings, they escort the young to the throne room exit and tell them to run and don't stop. Unable to believe that they are being allowed to live, the five giants do just that.

The party heads back to the audience chamber and collect a few pieces of loot. Selendra is particularly taken by the suit of elven plate mail, which, despite her last bad experience with magic armor, she is soon donning. Thoradin sets off a trap, but the spear it shoots at him merely bounces off his armor. They also find out the hard way that one of the walrus tusks on display sets off a Magic Mouth alarm that yells bloody murder for a full minute. But no one answers the alarm, and the group is even more certain that they have slain all of the giants here.

The next chamber to the east is the Jarl's quarters and they help themselves to his treasure, although in doing so they set off an Explosive Rune that knocks out Selendra, Joshua, and Sai once again. Thoradin and Krote scramble to heal them with potion and spell, but now Selendra is so wounded that she can no longer even limp anywhere. They put her in the Jarl's bed and are more careful with the rest of the treasure, which includes a map giving the location of the fire giant lair in the Sulhaut mountains.

But they are a long way from there, and they have wounded and freed commoners to deal with.

It is decided that Sai will take the peasants, via Teleport, back to Pellak. The rest will stay in the Jarl's quarters until Thoradin is able to cast Word Of Recall to bring the rest back to that city.

Laurali makes her intentions known. She will stay until she is at full strength once again and then return to her people. The party (most of them) will be sorry to see her go. Krote, especially, is saddened. He fashions a giant sized necklace for Laurali of his walrus skull belt buckle – his first ever trophy – and presents it to her. She is quite moved by the gesture.

While the rest of the party try to relax, Edran entertains himself by poking around the cave a bit more, and finds the hidden escape tunnel behind a bear skin on the wall in the sleeping chamber. This leads to him finding the iron lever set into the wall. Things go rapidly downhill from there.

First, he shows the lever to Krote, who is absolutely opposed to pulling the thing. He has to physically stop Edran from pulling it. Thoradin finds out about the lever as well, and of course he is also against pulling mysterious levers, given their current wounded and separated state.

So Edran waits several hours, sneaks back to the lever and pulls it.

He disappears.

Some time later Krote and Thoradin notice Edran's absence. It doesn't take a detective to figure out what happened when they investigate the lever and find the rope hanging from it that Edran had used to pull the thing. They walk back to the Jarl's quarters, discussing this, and Jef gets wind of Edran's disappearance and becomes quite agitated, convinced that he and Edran are best friends and that they must go save him at once!

Thoradin is having none of it. Edran is, as he is so fond of saying, immortal. The cleric is through chasing the boy around and picking up after him. He tells Jef that if he want's to go after Edran, be his guest.

So, Jef heads for the alcove with the lever. Krote follows and watches from the hall as Jef pulls the lever and vanishes.

Krote reports this to Thoradin, who rightly surmises that the lever probably teleports the puller to the fire giant lair, and that, by Clangadin, they are simply in no shape to go after the pair. Selendra can't be moved, Joshua isn't much better off and wouldn't leave Selendra anyway, and he is nearly tapped of spells. Krote want's desperately to go after Edran, but finally sees the wisdom in Thoradin's words.

So they settle in to rest and wait.

***

Edran finds himself in a blisteringly hot mountain range, not fifty feet from a giant pile of lava rock boasting a massive set of iron doors, utterly alone, except for the ever faithful Rufus, as volcanic ash rains down upon him. There is not a bush or scrub to be seen in the blasted landscape, and Edran worries that perhaps this time he has gone too far. He casts about for a place to hide, and finally finds a cramped cave about a half mile away. He settles in to wait, periodically leaving the cave to watch the spot he appeared at, hoping to see the rest of his party.

They do not come.

But Jef does.

Several hours later, Edran hears the ogre calling his name, searching for him. Edran want's no part of Jef and hunkers down to let him pass. But Rufus will have none of it, and bolts from the cave, barking for Jef's attention. Soon Jef pokes his head into the cave, and thus begins forty-eight hours of uninterrupted Jef and Edran time. Jef babbles. Edran double talks in his usual fashion, but where that ploy usually frustrates the average listener, Jef eats it up, hanging on every word with undisguised happiness.

Time passes. Jef hunts for lizards to eat. Edran begins to regress. Goes a bit feral. Goes a bit catatonic. Curses Clangadin and lops off his own finger – the one Thoradin had so recently regenerated. At one point Edran wakes up with Jef holding him like a child, rocking back and forth, whispering soothingly that everything is going to be all right. Day becomes night. Night becomes day. Edran can take no more and demands that Jef go kill giants, pointing to the fire giant lair. Jef shrugs and off he goes. Hours pass and her does not return. Rufus is upset by this, whimpering at Edran, who slips further and further into himself.

***

Meanwhile, Thoradin is finally able to prepare new spells, and he uses Word of Recall to transport himself, Selendra, Joshua and Krote back to Pellak where they waste no time in finding Sai. It will be another full day before they can have everyone back to full fighting strength. During that time Thoradin uses Sending to request that Annabelle Zane scry Edran to find out his status. She is soon able to tell Thoradin that Edran is in a mountainous region, in a cave, with an ogre and his dog. Thoradin accepts this as Edran being just fine and decides to let the boy stew for another day. Unfortunately, this involves lying to Krote about Annabelle's message. Annabelle, of course, is scrying them at that moment, and very soon after she Teleports directly to the inn to tell Thoradin that it is not a good idea to lie in her name, and it is an even worse idea to tarry much longer. In addition to her eagerness to get the final tooth, she has also become genuinely worried about the giants and who might be behind their machinations. She urges them to get going as soon as possible. To that end, she Teleports the party back to the Jarl's quarters where they can finally pull the cursed lever and reunite with Edran.

Which they do.

It is not a very good reunion.

Once they find the boy, they see that he is an utter mess. Nearly catatonic, his missing finger crudely bandaged, and wholly unresponsive to their questions. Selendra finally slaps him across the face and tells him to man up. Thoradin feels an unfamiliar pang of romance towards the elf knight at that. Krote uses Speak With Animals to talk to Rufus. Rufus tells him about the last two days, that Jef has gone to the giant's lair, and chalks up Edran's condition to loneliness.

When they at last get Edran moving, they head for the massive iron doors. Krote and Selendra are able to open one enough for the party to get through, and into the fire giant lair they go. The long hall stretches before them, their steps echoing off it's smooth obsidian floor. They glance warily at the tapestries that adorn the walls: scenes of fire giant violence against all manner of foes. Edran smears blood from his finger stump on them as they walk the hall.

On either side of the hall, Krote and Thoradin test the tapestries with their weapons, searching for hidden tunnels and alcoves.

Krote finds one.

As his axe finds no resistance behind one of the tapestries on the left wall, a massive horn blast fills their ears and reverberates throughout the fire giant lair. Only a few steps into the first hallway, and they are already found out!

And that's where we wrapped.

The party is 14th level.

It is Harvester 12th, about 10:00am

And best of all, the Patriots lose the super bowl!
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 11


We begin the session with the alarm sounded. Giants are mobilizing in the lair. King Snurre has been expecting them and has a plan in place.

Krote slashes through the tapestry concealing the fire giant in the hidden alcove behind it, but cannot immediately reach him. However, two Ettins have rounded the corner ahead and Krote charges for them. Selendra and Joshua take his place, leaping into the alcove and taking on the fire giant.

Thoradin and Sai move forward as well, and Edran gets off a bow shot at an Ettin. But the Ettin fall back, firing huge ballista as they do. As the party reach the corner that leads into the great hall, they spot him, King Snurre himself, seated at his massive throne at the far end, guarded by two fire giant dreadnoughts that stand, still as statues, armored head to foot, their twin shields studded with spikes and glowing with heat.

But more fire giants are coming. From the north hallway they come, crashing into Krote, who swings Black Metal without mercy.

And then Edran loses his mind.

Yelling that he sees his brother, Rowan, he bolts for the lair's entryway, exiting the structure and leaving his friends behind. It will be long seconds before he returns.

Sai and Thoradin cast furiously. A pair of Snurre's hell hounds bound forward, breathing gouts of fire. A few seconds later, still more hell hounds erupt from a second northern hall, baying and drooling lava as they close to attack.

Behind them, Selendra and Joshua finally finish off the horn blowing giant. Even before it hits the floor they are racing join the rest of the party.

Thoradin casts a Blade Barrier in the midst of a pair of fire giants and two of their servants. Blood sprays in crimson arcs, splattering the walls. But still the giants push forward, and one catches Thoradin a massive strike that causes him to lose concentration on the Barrier. It winks out.

Sai raises his staff of frost and casts Ice Storm after Ice Storm, doing terrible damage to giant and hell hound, but the foul beasts press their attack with fire and steel, and even as they drop, two more fire giants charge from the north.

The dreadnoughts move forward, slowly, biding their time.

King Snurre stands before his throne, calling orders, commanding his forces to die in his defense.

Outside the lair, Rufus whines and barks at Edran, and finally the confused rogue ceases to search for Rowan. He races back into the hall, charging it's length, sword and dagger in hand.

Edran is not a moment too soon. Krote is bleeding from a dozen wounds, Thoradin is reeling from hits, and Selendra and Joshua are just able to hold back the tide of giants. Even Sai is hurt, although his Ice Storms have taken a terrible toll on the enemy.

Thoradin unsheathes his new wand of paralysis, using it to deadly effect on a fire giant. Selendra, barely able to keep her feet, unloads on the paralyzed giant, once, twice, three times. The giant falls, unable to fight back.

Krote and Edran double team the last fire giant soldier, killing it even as King Snurre scowls and exits through a secret door behind his throne.

The hell hounds are all dead. The fire giants and their servants are all dead. But the dreadnoughts are still very much alive.

One of them plows into Joshua and Selendra, knocking both of them out of the fight. The second slams Krote with a mighty shield rush, nearly killing him.

Armored as they are, it is difficult to hit the dreadnoughts, and for a moment Thoradin and Sai think to consider teleporting them all away. But they can't reach everyone, and they will leave none behind. The fight goes on.

Thoradin uses the wand of paralysis again and again. He gets lucky, hitting the armored giants, and the heroes rally for a desperate attack. A dreadnought finally falls. Krote turns his attention to the last hellish giant, and his axe bites deep. Barely able to believe it, the dreadnought dies.

All is silent in the great hall. Thoradin begins to heal while the rest search the bodies, finding little of value or interest. Edran plucks gems from Snurre's throne, and then searches the area, finding the secret exit used so recently by Snurre. Krote practically begs Edran not to explore the tunnel beyond, but Edran is sure that he sees Rowan just around the bend and away he goes. Thoradin puts his hand on Krote's arm, stopping the barbarian from giving chase. “Edran will not dictate what we do. No more.” the cleric vows, solemnly. Krote sighs and lets Edran go.

Edran follows the tunnel around and finds a second secret door at the dead end, behind which is an opulent bedchamber. He searches, both for his brother and valuables. Alas, he finds neither.

Edran returns to the group just as they are deciding that they must return to Pellak. It is galling to have to leave so soon after arriving, but they are all nearly bereft of spells and struggling just to stand. Selendra and Joshua, especially, are in a bad way.

And so Sai Teleports them back to the city where they make the most of their time, selling still more treasures. Edran goes to find a temple and pays a pretty sum to have his finger Regenerated.

While Edran is gone, the rest of the party have a serious talk about what to do with him. True, Edran has always been impulsive, but now he seems utterly unhinged, and even Krote cannot deny that the boy presents a danger to himself and others. Selendra is all for leaving him behind. She recognizes the bond between Thoradin, Krote, Sai and Edran, but she is a soldier first, and knows that Edran is a hindrance in battle. She tells them that she will honor her vow to serve them, but she has no intentions of committing suicide.

A difficult decision must be made.

That's where we broke.

It is Harvester 12th, roughly 3:00pm
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
A few post game notes: I was very much looking forward to seeing the differences between frost and fire giants. After this battle I can say that's it's notable! They both do roughly the same amount of damage, but the extra hit points and higher AC makes a pretty big difference. I noticed far more misses during this fight, and while there were fewer giants here than in the frost giant Jarl's throne room, the ante seemed to be upped quite a bit, to the point where I had planned to bring in another set of giants and servants from another chamber, but decided against it. Up until now, the Jarl's throne room had been probably the most difficult battle of the campaign, but this go round with the fire giants was even harder.

Of course not having their storm giant ally, Laurali, in this fight, coupled with Edran's disappearance for three or four rounds didn't help matters at all.

Then there were the dreadnoughts.

I have finally had time to dig into my Volo's guide, and after reading the section on the dreadnoughts, how could I not introduce a couple of those bad boys into this module? They were custom made to serve as Snurre's personal guard!

It was great fun watching the players sweat as they fought the fire giants, knowing full well that those dreadnoughts were just waiting for their opportunity. And when they entered the fray it was brutal. Even more hit points and a 21 AC, not to mention their devastating shield rush made them truly fearsome opponents. If not for the wand of paralysis, things could have gone much differently.

A word about that wand: As you might know, the entry for the wand of paralysis in the DMG is in error, so I went with it as best I could, ruling that it required a successful attack role to hit an enemy, which resulted in a round of automatic paralysis, after which we treated it like a Hold Monster, giving the paralyzed foe a reoccurring wisdom save vs the users spell DC.

I've since looked up the errata on the wand, and obviously a giant's con save vs DC 15 makes for a much greater chance to ignore or break the effect. This oversight was a boon for the party, but that's on me. I intend to use the correct version of the wand from here on out.

But the players did have an awful lot of fun rolling handfuls of auto crit dice against the paralyzed giants.
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 12


We begin the session with the gang just having ported back to Pellak. First things first, Thoradin, Krote, Sai, Joshua and Selendra head for the temple of Clangadin in search of Restorations to rid them of the exhaustion they've built up during the last fight. The priest there has to charge them this time, although he does so at a considerable discount, given Thoradin's status.

Krote stays behind afterwards to have a quick chat with Clangadin, which Black Metal is less than pleased about. Once again, the axe's orcish side demands that Krote embrace his orc self and head back to the Black Bone tribe to claim his rightful place on the orcish throne. Krote declines, and things are tense between barbarian and weapon.

On his way back to their inn, though, Krote has an interesting moment when he spies a group of children playing in an ally. They are arguing over who gets to play Krote in their games. An obviously half-orc child claims the right, given his heritage. Soon they spot the real Krote, and they are rightfully awestruck. Krote gives them a bit of heroic advise (stay in school, kids!) while Black Metal whispers in his mind to slay them all. Krote ignores that.

Meanwhile, Edran is off doing Edran things. He gets his finger Regenerated again, and then sets off to find something to spend his money on. He wants magical armor, but Temple Urzinine is not in the city at the moment, and the wizard's guild isn't interested in talking to him. So he heads to the seedy part of town and proceeds to throw gold around until he gets the attention of a rotund fellow named, Tiny. The pair become fast friends and Tiny assures Edran that he knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy that has some enchanted studded leather for sale. Only 30,000gp! A price suggested only after Edran assures Tiny that he has 30,000gp. Edran eventually hands over a down payment of 10,000gp and happily watches Tiny disappear with his gold, sure that he will soon have his armor.

Once Edran gets back to the inn and explains all this to Krote, and that he needs another twenty thousand, Selendra laughs uproariously and Krote is less than convinced. Edran, still short the final sum, heads out again, first thinking to rob the temple of Clangadin, then the bank of Pellak. He reconsiders both ideas and winds up giving away what gold he has left to street urchins, along with his shoes, cape, and most of his clothes. With no money left, he eventually curls up in the ally next to the Gold Flute and dreams his own weird dreams.

Later that night he is awakened by a presence in the ally. It is Joshua, come to find him. Joshua pulls up a bucket to have a chat with Edran, wondering why the boy treats the only people who can really relate to him like such garbage. Edran, of course, denies doing any such thing. Joshua shrugs and tells Edran to come inside, that he has purchased a room for him. Ever obstinate, Edran chooses to spend the rest of the night in the ally.

Thoradin, meanwhile, has sought out a dwarven bar and spends the night getting drunk and lucky. Come the following morning, he is in much better spirits, having spent some quality time among his own people. He is in too good a mood to let even Edran's tale of Tiny and armor and ridiculous sums of money get him down. He shrugs and agrees to lend the gold to Edran, and they all head off to find Tiny.

Which they do, after a bit of asking around and spreading still more gold around. They find a sleepy Tiny in a back ally apartment. He tells them that it will be a couple of days before the armor can be found but that he needs the gold up front. After a few menacing threats as to what the party will do should Tiny try to screw them, they hand over another 20,000 gold, sure that Edran will have his armor in two days.

At last, they are ready to head back into the giant lair. Sai gathers them near and casts his Teleport, zipping them back into the throne room.

The throne room is weirdly quiet and empty. The heroes head back down the secret escape tunnel used by King Snurre, but this time Thoradin spots a footprint disappearing into the solid stone. Soon they find another secret door and follow the revealed tunnel down stairs into Snurre's treasure chamber where they are immediately attacked by a guardian hydra. But at full health and power, the hydra is no match for the party, and two rounds later the beast lays dead.

Edran sets to work, checking nearly twenty chest, coffers and trunks, setting off a few traps, managing to poison himself and Sai, and even getting bit by several snakes. And while there is loot to be had, it is obvious that someone has picked through these chests, likely taking the best of the lot.

They find yet another secret door that leads into the rear of an armory full of giant sized weapons. Exploring further still, they find a room, it's douple doors open, that must have once been the pen of some sort of monster. Near that room they find another cache of weapons, only this time they find a human sized bow that radiates magic. Selendra realizes with distress that it is her brother's bow. She is newly worried for him and urges the party to make haste.

Leaving the armory they find themselves in a wide east/west hallway. Edran takes off to the west and the rest follow until Sai lets out a warning yelp. The rest turn and see the Chimera running toward them.
Already around a corner to the west, Edran sees a fire giant, and the fire giant sees Edran.

Krote and Edran take on the fire giant while the rest fall back to deal with the chimera, but soon Edran realizes that he is still poisoned from a chest trap and is unable to sneak attack.

Meanwhile, two more fire giants and two more of their servants round the corner, following the chimera and the fight goes from manageable to deadly very quickly. In short order Selendra and Joshua are both taken down. Sai piles on Ice Storms and Thoradin follows them with devastating spells of his own. Edran races back to Thoradin, yelling at him to get rid of the poison in him, which Thoradin does. Edran happily jumps back into the fray... only to find that he is STILL unable to sneak attack. Something is terribly wrong!

A hasted Krote finishes off the first fire giant and charges at the remaining giants as Sai unleashes a maxed, 6th level Lightning Bolt through them, doing terrible damage.

Back and forth the battle rages until the final giant falls. Thoradin quickly casts Mass Heal, but Selendra does not move. Thoradin is forced to use a Revivify to save her before she crosses over to the other side for good. She is grateful, thanking the dwarf for saving her life a second time.

Battered and bruised, but not yet ready to retreat, they gather for more healing (except Edran, who runs off down the south tunnel.

That's where we broke.

It is Harvester 13, roughly 9:00am

Post session notes: A bit of bad news for our group: Ryan, Sai's player, got a new job that has him working on our game night. He's trying to figure a work around or tinker with his work schedule, and we can but hope for the best. For now, I am running Sai as an NPC while taking input on what hhis actions might be from the other players. It works, but obviously it would be better to have him at the table.

A bit of a milestone was reached in this session. When we played AtG 3.5 so long ago it was in Snurre's treasure room where we met our collective end. Fortunately this group survived it.

I've been a bit perplexed over the course of this module about my players general lack of tactics. Up until this adventure the campaign has seen it's share of tough encounters, but I made a conscious decision to ratchet things up considerably with these giants. I've seen plenty of ENWorld forum comments advising not to be afraid to throw very hard encounters at high level PC's; that they are way tougher than most DM's think they are. With that in mind, I've been running the giants as strategically as possible, not to mention maxing out every creature's hit points.

The advice on the boards is, I think, generally correct. This party has faced some extremely robust foes who generally strike from ambush, and have survived thus far.

But... it's no thanks to their own tactics. Every session I sit behind the screen, bemused, as they hurl themselves, headlong, into yet another giant ambush. Given how hard this module has been I'd have thought by now that they'd start to come at it with a little more forethought. After all, they have a powerful wizard and one of the sneakiest beings on the planet with them. I keep waiting for Edran to have Sai turn him invisible so he can go running through the lairs, mapping the whole thing out, noting points of ambush, and giving the party the info they need to either catch the giants flat footed, or circumvent them entirely. Instead, they are fighting tooth and nail through every inch of this thing.

Which is fine. And to be fair, while they are actually in combat, their tactics are pretty good, with the obvious exception of Edran. And that might be the issue: maybe they all just assume Edran is such a loose cannon that they don't even suggest that he recon the place.

I'm at a bit of a quandary regarding this because of Selendra. She is a knight, a professional soldier. Discipline, tactics, and smart combat are her meat and drink, and it's silly to think that she wouldn't suggest such. But still, she's an NPC, and I want the PC's to come to smart conclusions on their own. Having her suggest too much feels a bit like spoon feeding, and at least two of these players have played this game way too long to need a spoon.

I suppose as long as they get through it, it's their choice as to how to do so. For now I'll arbitrate and watch.

On another note, Edran had a dream while in Pellak wherein he was visited by Mad Malexi, a witch of considerable power with whom he is under magical contract. Long story short: she saved his life at one point, and now he owes her. And she is ready to collect.

This whole campaign has revolved around the collection of nine of Tiamat's teeth with which their patron wizard, Annabelle Zane, will construct a scrying artifact that has the ability to scry anyone, anywhere, regardless of magical protections, and can even glimpse the future. Currently the party is in search of the final tooth, which lies somewhere in the giant's lair. Malexi, one of Annabelle's rivals, wants the last tooth, and has commanded Edran to get it for her once they find it or suffer dire and final consequences. It'll be interesting to see what he does.
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 13

We start the session with Thoradin gathering the group around him for a healing ritual, although Edran is already on the run. Thoradin shrugs, unwilling to let Edran dictate his actions and begins to cast anyway.

Edran sneaks down the southern hallway and spies a group of gnolls down a westward tunnel. Letting them be, he continues south, back to the throne room, then circling around to find the group once again. He does a little more searching to the west, but finally stays put long enough for Thoradin to cast his ritual and benefit from healing.

Hearing Edran tell of the gnolls, they head down to deal with them, calling out a warning to surrender. The gnolls are having none of it and respond with crossbow fire. But in the end, they are just gnolls, and the party wade into them, soon killing five of them in short order. The last two gnolls drop their weapons and cower for their lives.

From a nearby door comes a call for help, and soon the heroes meet Obmi, the dwarf prince, who has been held prisoner here lo these last twenty-five years. The party is suspicious, but with no good reason not to trust the dwarf, they welcome him into the fold.

From there they head south into the council chambers where Edran attempts to disarm a trap on a chest they find in a hidden alcove. He fails spectacularly and is hit by all six poisoned arrows, taking a gawd awful amount of damage.

After a bit more searching, they decide to move on. Edran tries to open the door to the west, only to have it pulled open as he does so by a fire giant on the other side. The giant pounds Edran mercilessly. Krote steps up, but the giant scores a critical hit, piling on around fifty points of damage. The heroes do manage to kill the giant, but a short rest is called for.

After the rest they head out again, stepping around the dead giant and turning south, discovering the kitchen and storage room. Edran lowers himself via rope down the garbage chute in the kitchen, but at fifty feet the rope isn't long enough to get him to the bottom. Smelling truly terrible, he has Krote pull him back up.

They head north now, following the hall as it then angles to the north/west. Down a side hall they discover a barred door holding another prisoner. This is Gerit, a merchant from Ulek, held here for the last three weeks after his caravan was ambushed by giants. He promises the heroes a hefty reward if they can get him to safety, and so he joins the group. He isn't much of a fighter, but they set him up with a crossbow and tell him to stay towards the rear.

Next they find an empty barracks, devoid of much else but giant belongings. Edran decides to use a recently found wand of Detect Magic, powering it on and racing off to backtrack, searching for any magic they might have missed. He goes full circle through territory they've already trod, but then decides to have a peek behind a set of doors they'd passed earlier. He manages to open the heavy doors, but hears giant voices beyond. In a rare moment of discretion, he hot foots it back to the party, telling them what he found. Thinking to deal with the giants, they follow Edran back to the doorway.

Thoradin, Krote and Edran step through, and are immediately spotted by a giant. The fight is on.

These are the remnants of the upper level giants. The fire giant cook is there, calling out orders to nine fire giant servants and seven gnolls thralls. The servants are not nearly as tough as their fire giant brethren, and Sai takes out most of the gnolls with a well placed Fireball. But under the command of the matron she giant, they use tactics that make them dangerous indeed, falling back to draw the party deeper into the room, attacking from both sides. That, and the fact that Edran is still unable to sneak attack, make the fight much harder than it probably would have been otherwise.

But then things get even worse. Obmi, hanging towards the back, suddenly lashes out at Sai, dropping the wizard with a single axe blow! Krote, meanwhile, is Dominated, and has no choice but to attack Thoradin. It is only when one of the giants hit Krote and cause a lucky save against the spell that he comes out of it.

Edran manages to swipe a healing potion from Krote and races to Sai, dumping the potion down his throat. A very confused Sai Misty Steps back down the hall, trying to get his bearings. Heeding Edran's warnings that Obmi and Gerit are villains, Sai tags Gerit with a Firebolt, only to have it splat against the merchant with no damage at all. Gerit, in fact, merely smiles evilly at Sai.

We had to break there, unfortunately, as it was 11:30. We will start the next session in mid combat.

It is Harvester 13, roughly 11:00am.

Post game notes: An interesting night with the introduction of two nefarious NPC's, and a little bit of error on my part for not properly thinking them through.

Obmi, the assassin dwarf, is fairly easy to deal with. Given his “cell” and all the items he had in his secondary cell, it was a bit of a tough sell to make the PC's buy his story of having been held captive for twenty-five years. Certaily I could have made that shorter, but again, not enough forethought on my part. Still, he was convincing enough that the PC's let him come along.

Gerit is a whole other ball of wax. He is a Rakshasa in disguise, and I am utterly guilty of not having delved into the 5E version of what those guys can do (it's been a busy couple of weeks, give me a break already!). So when I decided that it was time for him to strike, well, it could have gone better.

As a side note, I decided that Obmi and Gerit were at least familiar with one another and snuck in a few hushed conversations as they trailed the exploring party. Gerit is obviously the boss here, and Obmi is firmly in the minion position, at least for now.

As the fight with the giants developed, I had the pair of them hang back with Sai. When it looked as if the battle was at that tipping point where the PC's were set to prevail, they struck, hoping to shift it the other way in hopes of getting into the giant's (and ultimately the drow's) good graces. Obmi scored a crit against an unaware Sai. The doubled sneak attack and poison damage was just enough to put our wizard down.

In the meantime, Gerit used his Dominate Person on Krote, which would have been fine had Krote not been hip deep in giants at the time. His wisdom save is terrible, but what with getting smacked around by giants, he got about three chances to save in the first round of his being Dominated and eventually passed after only beating on Thoradin for a single turn. In hindsight, I should never have had Gerit use that big gun in that situation.

Gerit's second attempt was a Suggestion against Krote, which took hole, but then we got mired in the discussion of what constitutes “reasonable” with regards to what he could actually suggest that Krote do. In the end, he Suggested to Krote that Thoradin was an enemy, secretly in league with the giants, which is very unsatisfying, and not up to Rakshasa standards, I think. It was getting near the end of the night, and right after this discussion we wrapped. I'm actually thinking abut retconning Gerit's last action after doing some more research on rakshasa in general, and digging into Suggestion, which I can't believe is still so poorly and vaguely worded. With forty years to work on it, you'd think a decent version of that spell would have been written by now.

But the problem is largely mine. Rakshasa are obviously not toe-to-toe combat monsters, and Gerit should have way deeper aspirations and machinations than I've given him credit for. In hindsight, I can see that the best thing to do is to have him Planeshift himself and Obmi out of there and reappear later as a much more interesting reoccurring villain. I'd love to blame the module for not hinting at his real motivations, but really, it's on me. The module provides the bones. It's my job to flesh them out.

Oh well, live and learn.
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
One other note: I half expected Edran to just jump down the garbage chute in the kitchen. That chute empties into a pool of lava on the second level of the lair, and I'd already decided that if he was reckless enough to do something that dumb it would mean the end of him. He's 14th freaking level, after all. He's been chaos embodied for two years of this campaign, and while I'm all for playing your character as you see fit, at this point the gloves are off. If he kills himself doing something easily avoidable, so be it.

Fortunately, he showed rare caution and actually roped himself off.
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 14

We start the session mid-battle against the fire giant matron, her servants and her wards. We had to retcon a bit when it was discovered that Gerit could not have cast Suggestion against Krote as he was out of range. He instead switched his target to Edran, suggesting that it was of vital importance that Edran kill the matron, which caused Edran to turn his full attention upon her. Krote broke away from the giants to deal with Gerit and Obmi only to have Obmi first deal a heavy wallop to Krote, and then Gerit cast a spell which caused them to disappear.

With the two unknown villains gone, they turn their full attention on the remaining giants and it turns into a very difficult battle indeed, largely because of Edran's inability to sneak attack. Joshua dies, Thoradin is put down, Krote is at a single hit point and is up and down several times, and for a brief moment it looks as if the PC's might have met their match. But they rally, with Selendra cleaving away at giants as Sai exhausts nearly every spell at his disposal, piling on damage.

When the dust clears, the giants lay dead, but the party is forced to hole up in a tiny hut and rest, after which they teleport back to Pellak for even more recuperation. Thoradin Raises Joshua, but it will be a few days before the stout dwarf will be back to full capacity. Even so, he insists they not let him slow them down. So after another day to recover, they teleport back to the lair.

They also finally figure out that it is a collection of six cursed statuettes found in Snurre's treasure chamber that have been causing Edran such grief. He'd been carrying them around with him after their discovery. Thoradin narrowed down the possible culprits at last and quickly tossed the offending relics down the garbage chute.

They follow a downward trending ramp that leads to the lair's second level and are immediately ambushed by ettins, more fire giant servants, the remains of the hill giants who fled with Chief Nosnra, a pair of fire giants, some fire giant young, and Chief Nosnra himself. The giants attack from three directions, strategically pressing and retreating as needed, but the heroes, at full health and capabilities, give as good as they get.

There is a bad moment as Thoradin is grappled by a fire giant who carries the hapless dwarf all the way to their forge, which contains a pool of bubbling lava. Thinking to toss the dwarf into the pool, he very nearly does. It is only with Krote, Edran and Thoradin himself hampering the giant with attacks that the giant goes down mere feet from the lava. A close call indeed.

By the time Thoradin returns to the fight it is all but over. The giants gang up on Krote and take him down to a single hit point, but there is no putting the stout barbarian down completely. With Edran at full sneak attack and Selendra rolling crits right and left, not to mention Sai being able, at last, to heap Fireballs on the many non fire resistant foes, the giants and their kin drop one by one until only Chief Nosnra is standing.

He runs!

The party give chase, hampering him as best they can, but the wily giant makes it to a room down the hall. He staggers in and slams the heavy, iron door, sliding the bolt into place.

The party is furious, especially Thoradin, who rages at the giant chief, calling him every name in the book and threatening horrible consequences if he doesn't come out. Of course Nosnra, safe for the moment, answers with taunts.

And that's where we broke, with the PC's gathered around the door, scarcely able to believe that such a simple thing can stymie them.

It is Harvester 15, roughly 12:30pm
 

cthulhu42

Explorer
Session 15

We start the session with the crew gathered outside the door behind which Chief Nosnra is hiding. The hill giant hurls taunts at the party and for a moment they seem at a loss until Edran rummages through his bag of holding and finds his Marvelous Pigments. He immediately sets about painting a door on the locked door and in a few moments he swings the new door open to let Thoradin march through and confront a very surprised Nosnra.

There is a bit of negotiation which involves Nosnra surrendering and the rest of the party trying to keep Edran from stabbing their new captive, but at last Edran wanders away to explore while the rest of them interrogate the chief.

Nosnra tells them that he no longer has the tooth. He's given it to Snurre, who, in turn, has given it to Eclavdra, a dark elf who, apparently, used it in some sort of mystical rite in a hidden temple. Nosnra explains that the temple is not far away, hidden behind illusionary walls. As much as Thoradin wishes to slay the giant, he's true to his word and sets him free. Nosnra, scarcely able to believe his luck, turns tail and runs up toward the lair's upper level.

In the meantime Edran has discovered a giant burial chamber full of sarcophagi, but much to his dismay his gem seeking sword and magic detecting wand reveal nothing. The rest of the party show up and mention the hidden temple with it's altar, chimes, drum and bell, and Edran takes a keen interestt, first demanding to go directly there, and then demanding to return to Maldrave. The group refuse both demands, electing instead to take a short rest and withhold the information on the temple's whereabouts. Edran shrugs and heads out again to snoop around.

He finds the hall of prison cells and comes first across Jef, who is singing happily behind locked doors. Edran ignores the ogre.

Further investigation finds a young female, human prisoner who names herself as Farrah Gallows. She tells Edran that she had come to the giants lair to steal their treasure but was instead captured. Edran picks the lock of her cell and frees her. She happily follows him back to the rest of the party and introduces herself to their untrusting stares.

With their rest over and Edran's information about the prison hall, they head that way, checking the cells. This time, they free Jef, and he is ecstatic to see Edran again. Edran, not so much.

They find the stairs down to the torture chamber and engage with the torturer and the king's headsman. Selendra is tossed down a 90' well and Thoradin is thrown into an iron maiden. I believe this turn of events upset Ron almost as much as it did Thoradin!

But the pair of giants is no match for the rest of the party, and Krote keeps frustrating the giant's attempts to grapple him for another well toss. In seconds, the two lay dead and the crew quickly free Thoradin and rescue Selendra.

On they go, opening still more cells, releasing a pair of centaurs, eight elf men and an elven noble. They instruct the freed prisoners to await their return, promising to get them back to civilization as soon as they can.

Following the hall, they find a doorway covered with sickly tentacles. It is disconcerting, but they make short work of the things by standing well back and pummeling them with cantrips.

In the meantime, Jef leans against a wall and falls right through it, revealing the hidden temple! Edran is all set to charge on in, but he sighs and heeds the pleas of his friends to deal with what lies beyond the now dead tentacles first.

The revealed rooms are posh and expensively adorned for human sized folk, but otherwise empty. A search finds some treasure and enough clues that the PC's believe this may have been Eclavdra's chamber.

And then it is time to deal with the temple. With a sigh of resignation they follow Edran into the massive chamber and are soon struck with unease at the grizzly wall carvings and the general pall of evil that hangs in the air.

But there is the altar, the drum, the chimes and the bell that Edran has sought for so long. He remembers the words of Annabelle Zane: Edran, do NOT touch the altar, then beat the drum, then strike the chimes, and at all costs, do NOT ring the bell!

Edran rushes forward to do just that.

The rest of the party stand well back, watching in horror, pleading with Edran to stop. Only Jef and Rufus join him near the altar. As he strikes the bell, a resounding tone pierces the temple and reverberates them all to their bones. The far wall goes cloudy, and a gigantic eye breaks through the fog, peering without mercy or soul at the ones who have summoned it.

Madness and death permeate the room. It's effects attempt to take hold of all who are within it. Selendra begins to babble helplessly, staring wide eyed at nothing. Sai is suddenly wracked with pain and his flesh erupts in bloody slashes. He drops to his knees, barely conscious. Jef is overcome with fear and flees back toward the entrance, leaving only Edran and Rufus to face the Elder god.

Tentacles writhe behind and around the eye as it bulges inward, threatening to tear the very fabric of reality. A tentacle whips toward the pair at the altar.

In the blink of an eye, the mottled, grey tentacle wraps itself around Rufus and pulls the dog through. Rufus does not even have time to yelp as the infernal gate closes behind him. All who are able to realize it understand that Rufus, their loyal mascot and canine friend, is gone forever.

“Name your wish!” An otherworldly voice intones.

“I want my dog back!” Edran cries.

The voice is without reason or pity. “The sacrifice has been made. Name your wish!”

And that's where we ended for the night.

It is Harvester 15, roughly 4:00pm.
 

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