Session report - PCs defeat Kas but cede the battlefield to Osterneth

pemerton

Legend
About 5 months ago I posted this actual play report: the PCs were fighting Kas the Betrayer, while Jenna Osterneth - supreme servant of Vecna - hovered overhead. The prize? Access to the Raven Queen's mausoleum, the resting place of her mortal body now itself resting on The Barrens in the Abyss, a place in which all things lost and ruined eventually find their place.

Because our 4e campaign is now at 30th level, and there is a sense that any session might be the last, we only play when the whole group can get together - otherwise we've been playing a Burning Wheel game.

So we've managed to get the whole gang together and (somewhat) resolve this situation.

As foreseen, the PCs beat Kas. And because he died inside the area of effect of the paladin Marshal of Letherna's Clarion of Sorrow, he will not be returning to (undead) life in any form - he is gone. (And the paladin has retaken possession of the Sword of Kas, which was ceded over half a campaign ago.)

During the course of this fight, Jenna used her Fly 10 movement to hover at an elevation out of the reach of most of the PCs. The archer-ranger could shoot her, but mostly focused on Kas. The invoker-wizard, upset at her "betrayal" of her rescue by the PCs (when they travelled 100 years into the past back near the end of Heroic tier), was using his Pelor-enhanced sphere of annihilation-and-sun to attack her. And she was dropping attacks on the PC - not at every opportunity, but trying to ensure that once they finished off Kas they would not be in a position to easily turn on her.

Her plan worked - with Kas down, they were not able to best her.

In the first round against Jenna on her own, the ranger/cleric spent the last of his healing: a Mass Cure Serious Wounds and a Word of Vitality. So all the PCs were at max hp, but there were only 4 surges left in the party (2 on the ranger/cleric, and 1 on each of the sorcerer and the invoker/wizard).

They did get her to the ground by way of a rather amusing set of tactics: the sorcerer and fighter/cleric both readied actions; the invoker/wizard then teleported them 10 sq straight up with his Astral Step; the sorcerer then used his Dominant Winds to fly the fighter up another 8 sq before falling back down to the ground (his Acrobatics negating about half the 5d10 falling damage); the fighter then using his close burst 2 Scattering Swing to knock Jenna prone (and hence out of the air) before falling back to the ground, taking 10d10. Because he hit with Scattering Swing, and hence was able to slide Jenna, I allowed him to ensure that he fell on her. So her damage was assessed at 5d10 for the fall (her fly speed negated the other half of the distance) plus 1d20 for the dwarf fighter/cleric landing on her.

Prone, and marked by the dwarf, it seemed that she might be trapped - very little gets away from the ultra-controlling dwarf, especially when (as in this case) he is wielding his polearm.

Unfortunately for the PCs, though, she had an unused encounter move action teleport, that allowed her to escape back up into the air without triggering an Opportunity Attack. And then, as an ad hoc GM-enbled action, she was able to take advantage of Orcus's death to assert control over lichdom on behalf of Vecna, and conjure forth the lich Harthoon from his phylactery, the Violet Solitaire carried by the fighter/cleric (which had been found in a secret chapel in Orcus's castle of Everlost).

Because her teleport also blinded those adjacent to her - the paladin and the fighter - Harthoon was able to touch them both with a paralysing death touch, then teleport the paladin away with Disdain. Which then meant that when the paladin eventually saved vs immobilisation he wasn't within 5 sq of the other PCs to buff their saves with is Heroic Poise. Which meant that Jenna was able to Trap the Soul of the invoker/wizard - he spent two rounds stunned, and when he failed the first save he lost his remaining healing surge.

The ranger got out his flying carpet to give it to the fighter or the sorcerer so that they might try to set up some sort of new combo for tackling the flying Jenna, but that came to naught.

Amid some mild recriminations - along the lines of "We had a deal with Kas, so why did you (dwarf fighter/cleric) attack him? We should have focused on Jenna from the start" - negotiations were reopened. There was an attempt to reach a truce with Jenna on condition that she not try to enter the mausoleum, but the trouble with this was that that was her main reason for being there, and the PCs had no real leverage over her.

The PCs decided to run for the mausoleum, to try and beat Jenna there. Up to that point the mausoleum wasn't on the "battle map" - an A4 page with 12 x 17 squares - so I had to decide on the fly that the entry to the mausoleum was on the other side of the cutting board holding the sticky bun that was next to the battle map, which seemed to have about the right feel. This gave most of the PCs a 10 sq or so headstart over Jenna - given their relative locations - plus the advantage of going first in the turn cycle. And we all agreed, after a rough eyeballing, that the cutting board was about 30 sq. I also decided, with the general upheaval affecting the Abyss, that the mausoleum had suffered some damage, forcing its door open sufficiently that any of the characters would be able to get inside without two much difficulty.

On her first turn in this race, Jenna flew 10 sq and swooped down within 5 sq of the ground, then flew another 10 sq. Her swooping down allowed her to cast Withering Domination on the sorcerer as a minor action, which was successful - I needed to roll a 16 to beat his rather strong Will and got a 17. On his turn, he dropped a Blazing Starfall on the invoker/wizard, dwarf fighter/cleric and paladin, and with a crit against the dwarf reduced him to 4 hp (and zero surges).

At that point the dwarf, who was already more sympathetic to Jenna than to the Raven Queen, resolved that he was not going to try and stop her entering the mausoleum, and mouthed her "good luck"! But kept running, because he didn't want to get blasted by Harthoon. Harthoon was chasing the PCs, not because he particularly wanted to fight them but because he wanted to get his phylactery back. The fighter/cleric, realising this but not wanting to get blasted himself, was keeping out of range while getting ready to shatter the violet solitaire with his hammer against the stone of the mausoleum - the plan being that Harthoon would then leave him alone (not wanting to die without a phylactery) while not posing the threat of turning up unexpectedly and attacking the PCs.

When Harthoon realised the dwarf's plan - as he swapped polearm for hammer and pulled out the solitaire - he decided that discretion is the better part of valour, grabbed the flying carpet (which had been abandoned on the field of battle) and flew off. The ranger/cleric let of a few arrow shots, but missed. (He wasn't able to roll over 10 for the session.)

The invoker/wizard was the first to actually reach the mausoleum. He asked how much residuum it would take to perform the Hallowed Temple ritual as a standard action rather than in the more customary 1 hour, so that he could ward the Mausoleum against demons and undead. Recalling the skill challenge advice in DMG 2, I decided 10% of the price of a 30th level magic item - or 312,500 gp worth - should do the job. He had a bit more than this on him, and so decided to go ahead with it - and we both agreed without even having to discuss it that the ritual turned the mausoleum itself into the hallowed temple, rather than creating a magical temple as per its literal effect.

Having warded the mausoleum against the lich Jenna, the invoker/wizard then stepped into it.

The sorcerer, who had been freed from his domination by the paladin using Divine Mettle, was next inside (being able to double fly at 18 sq per turn). He was followed by the fighter/cleric and paladin - who triggered his Ring of Regeneration to regain 1 surge plus get regen 10.

That left the ranger/cleric outside, 3 sq short of the entrance - partly because he had had the furthest distance to cover of any PC, partly because he had decided to take a revenge shot against Harthoon for stealing his carpet. Which let Jenna Trap his Soul, stunning him. He failed a first save, losing his two remaining healing surges. It was the invoker/wizard who came up with the plan for rescuing him: step out of the temple, blast the ranger/cleric inside with his Thunderwave (he needed to roll a 7 or better, and got a 10), then step back in. The fighter/cleric, continuing to vacillate over whose side he was on, then heaved shut the door to the Mausoleum with a DC 32 STR check (assisted by the paladin and sorcerer).

We ended the session there. The invoker/wizard, ranger/cleric and fighter/cleric are all suregeless (and the fighter is on 4 hp). The paladin and sorcerer have one surge each. The only healing in the party, I think, is the fighter/cleric's AoE battle cry, but that requires surge expenditure. Even with a short rest, no surgeless healing will be regained, though the paladin should be able to regen to max hp. And I think there are no dailies left, and most if not all the PCs are at their daily item limit also.

I haven't decided, yet, what they will find in the mausoleum, but I think there has to be something there other than just the opportunity to rest inside the (newly) hallowed temple. Plus Jenna has to work out a new plan, and somehow try to reestablish her rapport with the fighter/cleric, and perhaps even the invoker/wizard (although the latter did seem pretty upset that she had squandered her rescued life on becoming a necromancer).

Plus there is the issue of what to do with the Raven Queen's body. Plus also what the paladin will do with the Sword of Kas, which is already reminding him of how undeserving of his ongoing support some of his (so-called) allies are. Both the dwarf fighter/cleric and the invoker/wizard (who serves gods other than just the Raven Queen) are particularly easy targets in this respect. The Sword has even pointed out that in some ways his mistress, the Raven Queen herself, has not always done him justice - eg why does she shower such favour on the repeatedly backsliding invoker/wizard?

I'm not quite sure where all this is going - and there is still the Rod of Seven Parts and Miska the Wolf-Spider in the mix - and I'm not sure how long it will take to find out. But it's been fun to get back into this game after the very different feel and flavour of Burning Wheel.
 

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Raith5

Adventurer
I am hoping that within the tomb there is a fountain that showers the PCs with healing surges. One can live in hope!
 

EzekielRaiden

Follower of the Way
I am hoping that within the tomb there is a fountain that showers the PCs with healing surges. One can live in hope!

"Wow, this fountain is so refreshing! Who would've thought the goddess of death would have a healing fountain in her tomb?!"

"You do realize that this is the excess life-force left behind by souls that died before their time and have left this world, right?"

"...I'm drinking the un-lived lives of dead children."

"Yep, pretty much."

"...F**K."
 

Good stuff [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION].

Also,

"Wow, this fountain is so refreshing! Who would've thought the goddess of death would have a healing fountain in her tomb?!"

"You do realize that this is the excess life-force left behind by souls that died before their time and have left this world, right?"

"...I'm drinking the un-lived lives of dead children."

"Yep, pretty much."

"WELL WRAP THAT B***H IN BACON AND LET'S DO THIS!"

Fixed
 

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