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D&D 4E Running Commentary on Rel's 4e Campaign (Complete 8/2/10)

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The party successfully navigated to the elven village and returned the farmer to his grateful family. The elves were rather awed and pleased to have these heroes from the sky suddenly announce that the bird-men who'd been terrorizing their village for months were now destroyed. The asked the Dragonborn in particular, "Are you part of the Dragonborn group that is helping Enmur?" (Enmur is the capital city of the elven lands on Enmurinon)

Astavian told them that they were not but this was a rare reference to groups of Dragonborn and he was curious to see who this group might be. Fortunately Enmur was their next scheduled stop. But first they spent a day and a night in the small village where they got the scoop on the fact that the "swamp tribes" of Lizardmen and Bullywugs had been raiding the border villages and taking slaves for most of the last year and their attacks were becoming more wide ranging and frequent than ever. At this point there was effectively a state of war and Enmur was calling for all volunteers to report to the city where they were forming an army to fend off this menace.

Meanwhile a few of the local lads had taken a keen interest in the beautiful (and slightly exotic) Llyra, who was posing as an Elf. She mentioned to the rest of the party that they could certainly use some extra hands on board the ship, especially if the PC's planned to leave her aboard while they went off adventuring in the future. After some debate they decided to take these Elves on as crew, at least for a trial trip to Enmur. They departed the following day.

Astavian was eager to get moving and hoped their stop in Enmur would be brief. His deity, Ryukaar, had tasked him with bringing the strange Seal of the High Priest (that he'd found on that dragon skull in the depths of Karak Tor) to the High Temple in Alboa to the west. So far there had been many delays and distractions but he was becoming more anxious as they got closer.

The trip to Enmur passed quickly and without event. They spent a few days there undertaking various items of personal interest:

Zanne found a local embassy to the Empire of Vond (her homeland) and dispatched a message regarding the brewing troubles between the Arcanon Confederacy and the Dwarves of New Karak Tor as well as the kingom of Opkhar. She urged her superiors to establish friendly relations with Opkhar and Karak Tor as soon as possible to cement an alliance against the expansion of the Confederacy.

Mialain made a trip, accompanied by Llyra, to the village near Enmur where her parents lived. They were pleased to see her but found the trappings of Melora as well as this...follower she had acquired to be rather odd. That was until it was revealed that Llyra had met Selerain, Mialain's brother, in person. At that point all her parents wanted to do was ask about his safety and whereabouts. They admonished Mialain for not doing more to locate and rescue him from the pursuit of the Eladrin who considered him a heretic. Mialain told them that she was doing all she could for the time being, considering that Selerain was on another plane of existence. Mialain left her parents home feeling that she had much to live up to, as usual.

Eshik and Astavian both visited a "temple" that had been set up by a band of Dragonborn that were recently established in Enmur. The temple was dedicated to Gorunaga, who represented the more protective/defensive aspects of Dragonborn religion (as opposed to Ryukaar who represents righteous vengeance). They met with the priestess, a Warlord named Kava Scaleshield. She had been in Enmur for several months and led a band of Dragonborn who were trying to aid the Elves against the raiding swamp tribes.

Her office in the temple was papered with maps and she was clearly harried by the daunting task before her. She exchanged pleasantries with them, especially Astavian who clearly bore the symbols of his faith. But she indicated that if they really wanted to be of use to her that they could help out on a rescue mission she was planning. They were particularly well suited to the task given that they had their own airship since the village in question was located deep within the swamp. The Dragonborn listened and said that they were willing to help, pending the approval of the rest of the crew.

Meanwhile the Elf lads they had recruited in the village, Peren, Carric and Varis, were taking turns guarding the ship and venturing off to explore the sites in Enmur. Although Enmure was rather sprawling and sparsely populated compared to many cities the party had visited, it was the big time as far as these young Elves were concerned. During this time the PC's also had spent some of the coin they had accumulated recently on commissions for a few magic items that would aid them in their further adventures.

During this contact with the local mages guild, Zanne also asked them to take a look at the mysterious book they had found in the tower on the tiny plateau where they had encountered Blackbreather/Steelslicer. With the insight of the Elves added to that contributed by the Dwarf sages of Karak Tor, she began to make a bit of sense about some of the contents.

(Here is a cut and paste from the handout I gave Zanne's player, minus some of the fancy fonts.)

The Mysterious Book
The dwarven scholars pore over a few of the passages and determine that they appear to have been copied from earlier accounts of the Dragon War. Pieces of different passages (possibly by different authors although this is unclear) speak of the "warriors of wood, stone and light" having gathered on the "shores of the Icy Ocean".

The Icy Ocean is the body of water that laps at the base of what were once known as The Bitterpeak Mountains, that is the high cluster of plateaus that comprise the known surviving world today. The tales that survive today among the dwarves tell of a shaky alliance between dwarf, elf and man that banded together briefly in order to bring down the Empire of Arkhosia. They think this would roughly correspond to the passage about the warriors of "wood, stone and light" as the human contingent was spearheaded by the followers of Pelor.

The elf sages agree with this interpretation as well. With their greater understanding of Arcane magic they are further able to uncover another page of the manuscript that reads as follows:

"...gathered armada braved the frigid waters, ready to cast down the Dragon overlords of the Isle.
As we made our last approach the legends were proven true as the gigantic beast defended itself. Its claws were each the size of one of our boats. With each swipe a hundred men died and whole ships were thrown into the unforgiving sea. The flotilla dissolved into chaos.
Above this fray could be seen one of the High Priests, his huge, red wings catching the pale sunlight. His breath engulfed one ship after another in flames. It seemed all hope was lost.
Standing large in the prow of our vessel, the Aspect of Corellon drew out his mighty bow and nocked a spear-length arrow. He let fly at the Isle itself, his aim true. But before the beast could be struck dead the High Priest swooped into its path and the arrow knocked him dead instead. His body fell, broken, onto the spiked shores of the Isle.
As it swam away we regrouped our remaining ships and retired to shore, our small victory won at terrible cost. Before I had even hung my bow up in my tent I heard the dwarven axes felling more trees for new ships. Those timbers would never ride the ocean.
The Mist came across the ocean three days later."
 

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Riggs

First Post
This sounds much awesome with lots of win sauce.

You mentioned something about a character death, Rel. I am eager to hear of that! :D

Oh. BTW. Since DP has come out, has Astavian retrained anything cool from that book?

He'd better not have!

Actually we're using nothing beyond the PHB thus far except for Paragon Paths. This isn't because I think anything is "broken" or "overpowered". Just decided to keep it simple for our first 4e campaign. So far no regrets.

It's just the Man keeping the Dragonborn down!

That series of fights started with a lot of "If I could just get to that jerk, I'll fix his breathing problem" but having stuff in the way, like the cliff (Astavian climbed up the 30' but got kicked off once) or the slowing mental attacks from the spider guy. The Umber Hulk was substance and annoying since he could Confuse and hit hard. Astavian actually did well resisting overall, but didn't escape the Confuse very often. If you get a meal of "Annoying Git Baddies" and then are offered Umber Hulk for dessert---pass!
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The PC's navigated their way deep into the swamp and located the lizardfolk village where the elven slaves were supposedly being held. Landing the ship in a clearing a short hike away from the village, they approached with as much stealth as they could muster and managed to avoid any patrols on their way in. But they were spotted by guards as soon as they set foot at the edge of the village proper.

The group held up well under the continuous fire of blowgun darts from the tops of the guard buildings. But they also found themselves confronted with much larger, black-scaled lizardmen with greatclubs. These brought them to a halt and the battle was soon joined by a Lizardman mystic whose magic enveloped them with clouds of swamp gas.

Astavian charged into a group of the enemy near the western guard post while Zanne and Eshik dealt with the ones to the east. Mialain used the magic of her new bow to set the roof of the western guard post aflame. Zanne waded in among them with her Armor of Agathys harming all who came near and the last of them near the eastern guard post fell to Eshik's twin blades. They then pressed to the western post where Astavian was hard at battle against foes who were replaced by more minions faster than he could fell them.

Finally, pressing ever closer to the palisade cage where they could see the elven prisoners, Eshik dodged between the groups of enemies and with a pair of powerful strikes he felled the Mystic and then sliced through the door of the cage. Their spiritual leader slain, the Lizardfolk lost their nerve and retreated beyond the edges of the village.

Upon their release, the Elves told the PC's that they had been frequently bled by their captors. This blood was collected in large buckets and these were taken from the village approximately once a month by a trio of blue-scaled draconic centaurs. Upon searching the party discovered that some of the Lizardfolk warriors wore leather thong necklaces with a single, large, blue scale strung on them.

There was little time for talk however as they needed to evacuate the dozen freed Elves as quickly as possible. They armed them with a few spears they gathered from the dead Lizardfolk and grouped the Elves into a column for the march through the swamp back to the airship. Formed up like this and with Eshik acting as a rear-guard, they headed back into the swamps.

They were barely beyond sight of the village when they were ambushed by another pair of blowgunners, one of the large, black-scaled warriors and another Mystic. Zanne almost immediately engulfed the Mystic and his Blackscale bodyguard with the Hunger of Hadar, but they quickly retreated from it and were able to use it as cover. Cancelling the spell revealed the Mystic doing some sort of ritual. Mialain allowed him to complete only part of it before his concentration was disrupted by a pair of her arrow.

Eshik and Astavian found it nearly impossible to close with the enemy. A combination of the shin deep water and mud beneath as well as the poisonous darts of the blowguns making them lethargic meant that they were sometimes only lurching forward a couple steps at a time. Finally they managed to cover the distance and engate the Blackscale and Mystic while still under fire from the blowgunners. Their combined might with that of the spellcasters was able to fell first the Blackscale and then the Mystic.

No sooner had the Mystic's body fallen into the swamp than it began to bubble and seethe with greenish energy. Seconds later a massive form of vines and roots erupted from the muddy water and attacked them. Eshik was pulled entirely inside the creature and his unconscious body fell beside it after a moment. Mialain rushed to his side and channeled her healing magic into him while Astavian chopped at the swamp thing. Zanne continued to hurl fiery blasts at the creature and finally it fell back into the swamp.

Exhausted and wounded, they dragged themselves back to the airship and got the Elves fed and given fresh water. They took to the air but it was far from a comfortable flight. In order not to interfere with Llyra and the trio of elven crewmen, most of the rescued Elves were crammed belowdeck. Still, fatigued from the slog through the swamp and shaking off the effects of the Lizardfolk poison, the PC's fell rapidly to sleep.

Their awakening was rather rude as the ship bounced and crashed along the treetops of the swamp. As they cast about for what was causing this, Astavian immediately sensed that something was wrong. His pack lay open beside him and many of the contents were laying on the deck. The Seal of the High Priest was missing!

They bolted up on deck and found the crew trying to get control over the ship. Grabbing one of the nearby Elf crew they demanded an answer.

"Peren was on watch! I don't know why he lost control of the ship but I saw his eyes glowing a weird green color! He went over the side on a rope!"

Llyra quickly got the ship under control but Astavian was at her side in an instant. "Take us down, NOW! That Elf took something of mine and I'm going after it!!"

*******

Ok so a good bit of stuff to comment on this time.

So I came up with this notion that the most interesting part of the "rescue the prisoners" situation was protecting the fragile (minion) prisoners on the way to the airship. So I made a Skill Challenge where, if successful, they could simply pay a couple Healing Surges to have already made it to the cage where the prisoners were held. Then the rest of the fight would be them fighting a running battle from the center of the village to the airship. Sound cool? It did to me.

They totally failed the Skill Challenge.

They made like one successful roll followed by three really bad ones in a row. I said to myself, "Well, they are busted." And so they battled their way into the village rather than out of it. Ah well, the best laid plans and all that.

I still got a bit of what I was after by ambushing them in the swamp by a smaller force of Lizardfolk. The somewhat amusing (if you're not my players) part of this was that they fought probably around 18 enemies in the village fight with no real problems. About 8 of the 18 were minions, who would show up every round, 2 at a time, to join the fight until the Mystic was dead. Regardless, they were up against tough odds and came through it fine.

Not so against the 4 enemies in the swamp. The Difficult Terrain combined with the Slow of the poison and the Immobilize and Daze effects the Marsh Mystic could unleash meant that the melee types had a hell of a time trying to close with the enemy. Added to that was the fact that the dice went very cold on them. It was a big pain in the butt and rather frustrating to the PC's involved.

Then of course was the Shambling Mound. Fortunately I decided that since Mialain had disrupted the ritual (including a crit from her bow) that the Mystic failed to actually summon the Shambling Mound and instead would turn into one upon death and that it would only have half normal hit points. Still Eshik would have died if he hadn't made the save vs. the Shambling Mound. Finally they made it through that fight and got back to the ship.

The bit with Peren stealing the Seal of the High Priest was handle via exposition. That was pretty frustrating to Astavian's player, especially on the heels of that fight. In retrospect I might have handled that differently given the circumstances but I reasoned that the PC's were really tired from all the fighting and also, with all the Elves crammed in around them, they wouldn't notice somebody rifling the pack. Also I had the advantage of knowing that this was going to lead to some really cool stuff coming up while the players (especially Riggs) didn't.

So it was a bit of a mixed bag from a GMing perspective but live and learn I suppose.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The PC's followed the tracks that Peren had left as he made his way through the swampy forest. Thankfully the ground wasn't as wet as it was near the Lizardfolk village. In fact it turned out that they were further west of the village when they were supposed to have been headed east. It seemed that Peren had steered them off course before abandoning ship.

The tracks led eventually to the banks of a river and ran alongside it. But Eshik could also tell that they were losing ground on their quarry. The heavy armor that he and Astavian wore slowed them down and Elves were fleet of foot in any event. The Dragonborn hastened their pace to close the distance, knowing that it would leave them tired but feeling the need to press forward.

Soon they came to the scene of a fight, and one that seemed bizarre and disturbing. A pair of large creatures, roughly matching the description the Elves had given of the dragon-centaurs, lay dead by the riverbank. Their heads appeared to have burst from within. The party exchanged nervous glances but none knew what could have inflicted such wounds. Peren's tracks continued past the scene of this massacre and they followed.

Gradually they became aware that they were being followed in turn. They spotted movement away from the bank within the treeline and they formed up by the river. Moments later a trio of the dragon-centaurs burst from the woods. As the battle unfolded one of them knocked Eshik into the swiftly flowing river with a bat of its monstrous tail but he managed to scramble back up the bank within a few moments. But Zanne in turn hurled one of them into the water with her Diabolic Grasp. Astavian stood toe to toe with a pair of them trading tremendous blows and the group finally claimed victory over their enemies as the remaining Dragon-centaur ran for the safety of the woods.

Examining their foes they saw that they bore dark skin but it was unevenly patched with scales and their features looked rather warped and misshapen. Astavian worried that these might be creatures tainted by the Mist but he'd never encountered their kind before. With still more questions than answers to be had, they pressed on down the riverbank.

Ahead they began to hear a roar and soon came to a waterfall where the river plunged some 500 feet into a vast sinkhole. At the bottom it collected in a small lake before flowing around an island shrouded in both mist and Mist. Beyond they could see a break in the side of the sinkhole where the water plunged again out into the distant vastness at the edge of the plateau. A narrow path cut into the side of the sinkhole made its way around the perimeter and it looked to lead to a cave around the far side of the huge hole. They took a moment to catch their breath and decide what to do next.

Then everything vanished in a flash of golden light...
 



meomwt

First Post
There's some good stuff in this 'ere Journal, and I especially liked the continuous combat in the Kenku/ Neogi lair (there's a set-up to try in 3.5E and see what happens :devil:)

Also I had the advantage of knowing that this was going to lead to some really cool stuff coming up.

Yeah, and we haven't got to that yet, either... :.-(
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
Astavian found himself aware of being in a white, featureless void. Before he could speculate that he was dead he sensed an approach and saw a large, golden-scaled Dragonborn. Ryukaar. He knelt before his deity.

"Stand Astavian, and well met. I have little time and things hang in the Balance."

Astavian stood but could think of nothing to say.

"Your service in my name has not gone unnoticed. You have done well and your faith has been steadfast. But events are about to unfold, terrible events, and ones I had not foreseen. That faith will be tested."

Astavian found a way to stand up even straighter than before.

"May I hold your sword?"

Astavian reverently drew his weapon and offered it. Ryukaar examined it with a smile, noting the chisel tip that had resulted from Steelslicer's claw. Ryukaar held up his left hand and it seemed to grow much larger as both the fingers and claws extended. Suddenly he flashed the blade down and cut off one of his own fingers. Astavian gasped and Ryukaar, for all of his divinity, winced in pain.

Ryukaar then bent and retrieved the large claw. His mouth moved with whispered words that Astavian did not understand. But he watched as Ryukaar pressed the golden claw against the blade of his sword and the two became one. The sword now held the same shape as before but had a slightly golden color and nimbus, stained slightly with red smears of blood. Ryukaar handed the blade back to Astavian who couldn't help but kneel again as he received this gift.

"You have placed your faith in me, Astavian. And now I place my faith in you. Whatever happens I know that you will do what is right. I look forward to our next meeting."

The roaring in Astavian's ears was that of the waterfall and he knelt still holding the sword. It's faint golden glow was barely discernable in the sunlight. But it was there, as were the bloodstains.

"What happened?" asked Eshik.

Astavian turned to see his companions all sprawled on the rocky ground as though they had fallen there. One by one they awoke and got to their feet in confusion. Astavian, still trying to internalize what had just happened, explained simply, "We were visited by Ryukaar."

None of the others had any sort of vision or recollection of anything besides having seen a bright golden light. But they couldn't deny that they felt rested and refreshed, which was most welcome as they hadn't properly slept since before their attack on the Lizardfolk village.

With steely determination, Astavian led the way down the spiraling pathway into the mists below.

*******

Ok so I consider some of my strengths as a GM to be designing fun and challenging encounters and spinning diabolical plots by my powers that be. The method acting...not so much. So here I had to portray a deity addressing one of his flock and I knew that it was important that it seem like a Big Deal without it feeling hokey.

Riggs can tell you whether I did a good job or not (he's a better roleplayer than I am) but I think I made the right call in pulling him out of the room with the other players. It removed any distractions or potential for wisecracks by the other players. And it also diminished any sense of stage fright for either of us.

The actual speech I gave was probably a bit less smooth and cool than what I've posted above but the details were essentially the same. If Riggs remembers any major departures then I'd encourage him to post about them.
 

Riggs

First Post
Re: Deific visitation

I thought you made the right call. We don't often get called away from the group, so it's no hassle, and it did set the scene better as we were the only ones there as the characters were. As you said, no distractions and for me, no feeling that I was hogging the spotlight there. It was easy enough to picture Astavian in awe and so honored he would have run through a wall at a mention.
It also worked well because I could RP that passed-along info as I chose, and could try and translate the feeling that this paladin got called for a meeting and gift from his deity. I have tried to keep that going a bit as you have seen he hasn't tried to contact Ryukaar or even consider it except for spells, as he feels empowered to get a job done and doesn't need to ask why (or even what, as he doesn't know much what to do yet).

And as far as your speech goes, I think it was just fine. I think I would have been stabbing you with your insulin if you had dimmed lights and stood on a chair and boomed down at me!

Back to the called away for private RP stuff, when it happens later with Eshik, there was no problem by us out there at all, so it's cool as needed.
 


Rel

Liquid Awesome
The party were protected by a batch of newly brewed Mist Milk as they entered the fog that clung to the lake below. As they reached the bottom of the giant sinkhole they could vaguely make out the shore of the island in the lake. Disturbing shapes moved in the Mist but nothing they could discern very well. They began to ascend.

Climbing out of the Mist they found themselves at one end of a stone bridge that spanned the roaring waterfall that plunged from the lake off the side of the plateau and into the abyss below. At the far side, waiting for them, were a trio of the Dragon-centaurs, similar to those that they had fought by the river. The party did not keep them waiting long.

As they approached they could see that these were not misshapen like those they had battled earlier. They stood tall and proud, wielding mighty halberds. The PC's charged forth to the attack.

As they fought on the narrow part of the bridge, any false step could spell death as there was little chance of being able to recover from the raging torrent of water below. The party tried everything in their power to send their foes over the edge but to no avail.

As they fought the guards, the third "Dracotaur" stood back hurling elemental assaults at them. Wind, ice, acid and lightning lashed them as they felled the guards and then closed with this Sorcerer. It made a last ditch effort to retreat into the cave behind it but was laid low by Eshik and Astavian's blades.

The group caught their breath and readied themselves to enter the foreboding lair. They crossed the threshold and smelled the coppery scent of blood filling the air. Four large pits dominated the center of the room, each filled to the edge with what could only be the accumulated blood of hundreds if not thousands of creatures. Near the furthest pit they saw the slumped and lifeless body of Perren near a stone table. On the table rested the Seal of the High Priest that Perren had stolen from Astavian's pack.

The Paladin took a step toward the object of his quest when light and pain exploded among them. From his perch above the entranceway the enormous blue Dragon blasted them with a blast of lightning that was unlike any force they'd ever encountered. It was close to killing them outright.

The party desperately scrambled back into the mouth of the entranceway, gasping in pain as Mialain shakily called out a prayer to Melora for healing. Their respite was short lived as the Dragon leapt to the ground and turned to bring its claws and jaws to bear upon them. Astavian, the primary recipient of Mialain's healing, leapt to the fore and confronted the beast, trying to parry the mighty blows with his sword. Staring into the enormous jaws of this beast his fate seemed sealed.

A disturbing, gravely voice echoed into the minds of the party. Speaking Draconic it said, "His name...is Baelthrax."

Astavian pieced together every shred of confidence he could muster and called out in Draconic, "BAELTHRAX! In the name of Ryukaar the Righteous I challenge you to answer for your evil deeds!" He leapt forward and sank his blade into the creature's leg. It hissed and burned, eliciting a growl of pain from the huge creature. But it too recovered from this momentary setback.

"Your bones will crack and your blood be added to that in my pits, whelp!"

It's claws and jaws were no less fearsome as it struck back, nearly bringing Astavian to his knees. But the rest of the party leapt to attack as well, each in turn invoking the name of Baelthrax with their attacks. This seemed to make their attacks more accurate and vastly increase the damage inflicted when they struck.

The Dragon was a proud and arrogant creature, but it knew when to call in help as well. With a booming call, laced with Sorcerous magic it summoned aid.

"RISE UP my creations and serve your MASTER!"

Large, horrific forms stirred in the blood vats and began to claw their way out. The PC's could see that these were more like the deformed versions of the Dracotaurs that they had encountered by the river. Black skin with few scales clung to their bodies that had not yet formed properly. They lumbered forward to the attack.

Zanne knew that the fight hung in the ballance. Without more time for Mialain to heal them they would surely fall to the combined might of the Dragon and his minions. She called out to the dark forces of the Far Realm and the Hunger that dwelled there. Using all her strength she bent that Hunger to her will, creating a black, consuming wall in front of them. It didn't stretch the entire width of the large cavern but it should slow their attackers.

Eshik dove beneath the Dragon's legs and came up stabbing along its flank, calling out the name of Baelthrax with some trepidation. His blades carved through the creature's scales more easily than he'd have thought possible and he understood the power of knowing the Dragon's name.

Mialain continued to split her efforts between firing arrows at the Dragon and calling out healing prayers for her allies. They were back from the brink of death now but still vulnerable to the deadly attacks of the Dragon.

The Dracotaur minions began to make their way around the edges of the wall of void that Zanne had erected but she was ready for them and hurled an attack the nearest deformed creature. The blast of fire shot through the newly formed flesh as the beast cringed, wailed and died.

Seeing his minions were not going to cause as much damage as he'd hoped, Baelthrax crouched and prepared to launch himself into the air. But Astavian was ready and sprang onto the Dragon's haunch and then back, slashing at its neck with his blessed sword. Baelthrax roared in frustration but got into the air anyway, out of reach of Eshik at least.

It clung briefly to the ceiling, writhing and lashing about with its wings. This was enough to dislodge the annoying Paladin who fell to the cavern floor with a crash. Meanwhile, with their primary target out of reach, Eshik, Zanne and Mialain made quick work of the remaining Dracotaur minions. Eshik felled the last of them and turned back toward the Dragon only to find himself utterly engulfed with another blast of lightning, this one nearly as devastating as the last. His scales charred and he fell to the ground twitching.

Baelthrax landed and pierced the body of the fallen Dragonborn with claws the size of scimitars, roaring a triumphant roar of challenge. Astavian answered by charging back at his foe, slashing open a gaping wound in its side, and standing above the fallen body of his friend. Mialain Consecrated the Ground where Astavian and Eshik were in a desperate attempt to heal the both of them. Astavian felt some of his strength returning but Eshik was beyond help. Zanne stepped forward and unleashed the power of her Howl of Doom, hurling the heavily wounded Dragon away from her friends and through the wall of soul devouring blackness.

All fell silent.

They stood gasping for breath, barely keeping their feet, and heard the sound of scraping metal. Zanne banished the Hungry darkness and they saw the lifeless body of the great blue Dragon. Smoke rose from its skull where the Seal of the High Priest had buried itself...

*******

More to come in this, the most intense and epic session of the campaign thus far. But wanted to hit some of the highlights thus far.

The "Dracotaurs" guards had stats based off of Ogres but I added a Tail Slap ability they could use against anybody who tried to flank them. This pushed the target 2 squares and I figured it would be scary stuff on the bridge. Both times it was used the PC in question was lucky enough to either have room before reaching the edge or else make the save in order to fall prone rather than go over the edge. I note that the PC's also used every single trick the could muster that did forced movement that would force a guard over the edge and the Dracotaurs made their save every time. I guess it's better to be lucky than good.

The Dracotaur spellcaster was based on a Dragonborn Elementalist. It is also noteworthy that "Sorcery" is pretty much unknown in the world as it stands right now (we're not using any PHB2 classes for PC's). Zanne identified that this was a strange and chaotic form of magic.

Ok now the Dragon: This thing was a modified version of an Elder Blue Dragon. I know, it's CRAZY throwing a level 20 Solo against a party of 7th level characters. I'm a bastard for doing it. It's just not fair!

I did it anyway, but with some modifications.

I cut the Dragon's hit points in half so it ONLY had 480. See how nice I am? But the big factor was that when they invoked the Dragon's True Name then it was Vulnearable 20 to those attack AND they were +10 to hit. So that gave it an effective AC of 26 (still not that easy to hit) and their attacks were doing lots of damage to it. They were doing around 150 HP per round for a couple of rounds in there.

Unfortunately for the PC's the Dragon could also crank out some damage. And it did. Notably on the two breath weapon attacks. The first one did ONE point shy of max damage, hitting for 52 points of damage. The second did only 48 points of damage. "Luckily" it could only hit three targets at a time. And it missed Zanne on the first attack IIRC by rolling a natural 1 to hit, thus only dealing 26 points of damage. Happy Day!

Anyway, it was that second breath weapon that killed Eshik by 2 Hit Points. And Mialain would have moved the Consecrated Ground onto him on her next turn so he'd probably have been fine if I hadn't rolled so damn well on my d12's. Ah well, them's the breaks.

Would I recommend throwing modified opponents that are 13 levels higher than the party at them on a regular basis? No. But there are some pretty specific story reasons why I did in this case and I don't regret doing it. The players have really learned to work well as a team and I think that this incredibly nasty fight shows that. I'm constantly amazed at the sorts of challenges they are able to overcome and this was a notable example. Kudos guys!
 

Falkus

Explorer
I' stumbled across this topic the other day, and I have to say, I have highly enjoyed reading it. The combination of story and mechanical information is very well done and quite inspiring. It's giving me all sorts of nasty, evil ideas to use on the group I run :)
 

Rechan

Adventurer
Very intriguing. How did you handle the XP for such a thing? Full XP? You even threw minions into the fight, you bastard. :)

I assume Zanne making the Hungry Wall was a power stunt?
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
Very intriguing. How did you handle the XP for such a thing? Full XP? You even threw minions into the fight, you bastard. :)

I assume Zanne making the Hungry Wall was a power stunt?

I don't use XP. I usually just have the PC's level up every three sessions.

And yep, that was a power stunt.

Astavian also stunted to make it easier to jump on the Dragon's back like that as I recall.
 

Rechan

Adventurer
I don't use XP. I usually just have the PC's level up every three sessions.
Oh, right. Far easier. Also explains how they jumped in level so fast. ;)

I'm dying to know what happens with Eshik, if he gets raised or a new character comes.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
It came to me just a while ago that there was a rather significant omission in the last update. I was so intent on the battle with the Dracotaur guardians and the Dragon that I kind of glossed over something important about the Mist down in the sinkhole.

The PC's could distinctly see that it was swirling and roiling inwards toward the center of that island. They could also tell that while the waterfall was flowing down off of the side of the plateau that the Mist was flowing in through the same gap, counter to the direction of the water flow.

The PC's already know from Llyra that the Feywild is being slowly flooded with Mist (which is why the Eladrin made a reappearance some 30 years ago after being gone for nearly 500 years). And they also know that there was at least one gate to the Feywild located in Enmurinon. They speculate that this might be a gate and that it might be the one polluting the Feywild with Mist.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
The PC's watched in confusion as the charred scales fell from around the edges of the Seal of the High Priest. The the lifeless eyes of Baelthrax blazed with green fire and the corpse rose from the floor. Its massive head turned to regard them.

"You've done well," it growled in Draconic. The voice was familiar as the one that had spoken Baelthrax's true name to them.

The group backpedaled and held their weapons at the ready. Mialain knelt by Eshik, knowing that he was beyond her help now. Astavian raised his voice in challenge, "Who are you?"

The undead dragon reared up to its full height as some of its scales along with chunks of flesh began to fall to the ground around it. "I am the High Priest of Ryukaar! The REAL Ryukaar! Not that false effigy that you bow to!"

Astavian gritted his teeth in anger. "LIES!"

"Oh no my little whelp, I assure you that I speak the truth. You can hear it in my voice. I am he who stood at the hand of a true god! Not this usurper of his name that you follow! Even the ideals of Ryukaar have been perverted! 'Mercy'? 'Justice'? These are the crutches of those unwilling to wield true power to its fullest. Ryukaar, the REAL Ryukaar, represented one thing above all: Vengeance upon those who dared oppose him. And that legacy is one that I intend to honor."

Astavian knew not what to say.

The Dragon lowered his head and voice, "I will need those who can aid me. Now that you understand how you have been lied to and misled all these years, I expect that none has a greater desire for vengeance than you do. Join me and our crusade for revenge can begin! Bring along your friends as well! Those who would stand and face Baelthrax, even though I gave you an unfair advantage against him, are individuals that I would find useful."

Anger flared in Zannes eyes and hellish magic played across her fingers. She thought to herself that it might be possible to rip the Seal from the creature's skull if she acted quickly and decisively...But the consequences for failure would be certain death. She would bide her time.

Astavian gathered himself in the face of the mighty and evil beast before him, "I still doubt the words that drip from your evil tongue. But I know this: The ideals of my faith are worthy and true, no matter who extolls them! I will not turn my back on them now, or ever!"

A moment of frustration crept into the voice of the High Priest. "Unfortunate." In a moment it changed to evil mirth, "Well as I've said, you've done me a great service and that requires a reward of sorts. Therefore I grant you another minute of life, beginning...now."

The PC's looked at each other. The High Priest began to count.

"ONE."

"TWO."

"THREE."

"FOUR."

There was no chance of them getting much further than the far side of the bridge if they ran for it. Zanne began to mentally prepare herself for a battle she did not think she could win. Astavian and Mialain did the only reasonable thing they could think of. They prayed...
 



Rel

Liquid Awesome
"Heroes Release Agent of Apocalypse They Are Supposed to be Stopping"


That's my favorite headline as a GM.

You're mean. (golf clap)

It's such a theme in Piratecat's games that his players have a stock phrase for it:

"Everything is terrible and it's all our fault!"
 

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