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1E Desiring a villianous perspective

Hello!

My players swatted the hornet’s nest two sessions ago and last session they kicked it down the road a ways. I’ve made my plan for tomorrow’s session, but I am a touch indecisive. I thought I would consult y’all for your thoughts.

Situation:

The players seek a great deed to earn a barony. Eliminating the Ivory Queen would be such a deed. The Ivory Queen resides in the ruins of a city. There are four main sites:

  • Ruins of Shodan City-State. She, her court, and her main force are here.
  • Necromantic Clay Pits. Here magicians, some warm some cold, are burying people alive and then gathering the clay post-decomposition for special clay golems. Also, living slaves are components for magical weapon manufacture. Southwest of the city.
  • Titan’s Skull. A gigantic skull, rib cage, and right knee emerge from the ground. The skull has been converted into a two story structure. There is a brain matter remnant which is almost rock hard. It is being slowly harvested for magical research and production. Southeast of the city.
  • Temple of the Dawn’s Twilight. A ruined temple of the Singing Flame, restored and reconsecrated by a priest of the Bright Temple (former PC). It has become an inconveinient staging area for harassment of the Ivory Queen’s forces. West of the city.
Timeline

-6 Days: Yet another assault upon the Temple failed. Access to the temple must be over a N/S bridge across the Longather River. The river itself cannot be forded. Ghoul scouts report that the high priest did lose significant forces, including a powerful (adventurer) archer. He was also wounded. However, he shattered the bridge. This makes the temple inaccessible to undead as well as hostile southern forces unless they travel a couple hundred miles out of their way to the East.

They also mention an adventuring group that was hiding in the nearby fungal woods. There was one person who approached the ghouls and spoke to them, who was both alive and dead and could be understood. (Previous adventure side effect) They were seeking passage and watched but did not participate in the battle. (The PCs)

-3 Days: A battered ghoul reports the Titan’s Boneyard fell to a group of adventurers. Included among them were a paladin, a warrior wielding the sword Drynwyn, and a powerful magician. There were “many” combatants. (eh, ghouls are dumb. More than “few”, less than “lots”; 12 maybe?) A powerful ally (a devourer) was slain, and the lore containing ossified brain matter of the titan is in jeopardy.

The Ivory Queen responds by sending out the defense unit guarding the necromancers. 50 ghouls, a mummy riding a nightmare with a Nine Lives Stealer spear, 6 wights on bone steeds, and a 9th level undead magician (a modified Eye of Fear and Flame Frost) were sent out.

(Dyrnwyn is a potent arm known amongst its foes. Much like "Biter" and "Beater", the more intelligent undead can recognize and will avoid it. The party has come against undead before who cried out the sword's name and fled. This generated no curiosity or follow-up among any of the players.)

-2 Days: The skull was regained, but the prize was lost. The brain matter and the ancient lore it stored was destroyed. The invaders had fled, but the force caught up with them at their camp on a hill three hours walk west (towards the Clay Pits). The ghoul light foot advanced with the wight cavalry flanking left. They have a druid, who was able to drop four bolt from a call lighting blowing apart half of the ghouls. They also were able to summon a platoon of the dead to intercept the ghouls and wights. The mummy captain was unable to control them.

A further complication is that they were able to summon a powerful gnome (12 HD Earth Elemental). Between the platoon of the dead, the elemental, and the strong bolts of lightning from the druid and magician, the troops were held and eliminated without substantive losses to the adventurers. This report comes from the mummy captain who, along with the two stronger wights and the bone magician, were able to withdraw to the Clay Pits.

Today: Scouts report the adventurers returned to the Temple by the long path. A body shaped bundle was being carried, a fatality may have been inflicted upon them.



The Ivory Queen is effectively a ghoul that is a 12th level fighter. She has magical access to a 9th level magician and cleric. There is a vast number of ghouls, but they are in positions to guard against the major local powers. She has about 100-200 available if necessary. There are about a dozen wights left, the captain and magician mentioned above. There are probably around 200-300 skeletons that could be animated, but the Queen is pretty sure they would be a speed bump at best. There are about 5 necromancers, but only one of 7th level is notable. The others either would run or be a speed bump.

She has two big guns, 3 necromantic clay golems and a spectre. The clay golems are mostly book standard but inverse. They fight just fine, but need to be controlled to do other tasks. They are slow, and a turning attempt may stun them for 1d4 rounds. The spectre is mad, and must be controlled by the magician- much like using the Conjure Elemental spell but the spectre is called up instead.

Known resistance includes a monk with Dyrnwyn, a paladin and 2-3 fighters with magical weapons, a magician, druid, lower level cleric or fighter (not sure), and some hangers on (other henchmen). The temple has a high priest with a hammer of thunderbolts. It is strongly believed that he won't leave the surrounding area, however.

The last time an incursion of this magnitude occurred, it ended with the removal of the Ivory King. The Queen does not intend to follow her predecessor into oblivion so quickly. But, the Pallid Emperor insists on maintaining this foothold in the mortal realms.

What would you do?
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Aleena died for your sins.
You know your enemy (scouted out) pretty well.

You are on your home turf.

You have a nearly inexhaustible and limitless supply of workers (skeletons, etc.).

I would create a series of fortifications and traps that funnel the party where I want them to do, and kill them off with increasing skirmish tactics (a la Tucker's Kobolds). Lots of missile fire and retreat.

As for the Queen, I would batter them and if they get too close, keep at least one spell in reserve to escape after the party enters the final death trap.
 


Marandahir

Crown-Forester
When you say a Monk with Dyrnwyn, is it a Kensei Monk using a flaming (and/or radiant) sword out of Welsh Mythology? Or is it the only weapon that could kill Arawn-Death-Lord a la Lloyd Alexander? Or do you refer to something else?

Sounds like the resistance are heavily set up for killing your endless supply of workers. You might want to set up some sort of anti-magic weapon/anti-magic field. You wouldn't have access to your 9th-level spells, but you're also 12th level fighter, and a ghoul, so you're probably okay if the Paladin can't smite and the Monk can't burn/radiant and the 2-3 (or 4) fighters can't use their magic weapons and the magician, druid, and lower level cleric can't cast.
 

CodeFlayer

Explorer
Kidnap someone very important to the adventurers but out of their current protection (scry?), then negotiate while preparing assaults on their weakest allies, and a more creative magical assault on the temple when confusion is greatest. Can I freeze the river? Form bridges of lesser undead?
 

When you say a Monk with Dyrnwyn, is it a Kensei Monk using a flaming (and/or radiant) sword out of Welsh Mythology? Or is it the only weapon that could kill Arawn-Death-Lord a la Lloyd Alexander? Or do you refer to something else?
"Yes"... It is certainly inspired by the Alexander stories and what stories I could discover with an internet search. The monk is not as courageous as he could be, and that will bite him soon, potentially. The Ivory Queen doesn't know that, however. It is definitely a flaming undead bane sword with a fearsome history.

It is late summer, so the river is low. A wall of ice or commanding some skeletons to make an "army ant" bridge would be possible.
 

CodeFlayer

Explorer
Orders

I corp - special units to prevent spell recovery by adventurers with harassment. They must not recover their major spell slots whilst I develop the next major attack. Siege and bridging units, and main human forces, to march on Temple and give every appearance of a protracted investment.

II corp - concentrate for spoiling deployment against weakest ally - maximize fear.

Heavy magical units to prepare stealth assault by unconventional bridges should the adventurers sally or move to assist allies. Can the river be damned for any period of time? If down river, would it be high enough to flood the temple?

Me - create several false copies of me (by multiple methods if available), and go into full paranoia mode.

Thanks for the fun thought experiment. Please let us know how it turns out.
 

@CodeFlayer - Creating a surge flood might be possible in winter or spring, but not now. They've also made it to the temple, so significant harassment will be difficult. A siege of sorts could start, however.

90% of the Ivory Queen's forces are south of the Longather as the city-states of Beryl and Zothay are to the West (sorta) or South. Amber is to the Northeast, but they haven't been much of a consideration before. She's going to move about 25% of her forces from the south to the north the long way. That'll take a week.
 

CodeFlayer

Explorer
Is there a place on the river, well upstream which includes a steep precipice, that my golems can 'attack' such that when undermined it will block the river enough to make it generally fordable? The golems chances of survival should be good but some loss may be acceptable.

If there were, and I could deploy them there in reasonable safety, I would do so. Siege to commence with low value units (but not too obvious) with sally ambushes set. Main forces to arrive fresh to assault with the falling river.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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