An Epic Battle!

Using some Clairvoyance spells, Father Neil’s party and the Cloud Giants chose the best time to sneak past the patrols and avoid detection by Swarven and the fire giants. The plan was to attack the guards at the cave mouth and then make a stand against Swarven and the rest of the Giants using magic and tactics. The party drank all the potions that the Despot of Melvaunt had sent, and several more of their own, until they felt they had the best defense and offense against the giants.

Using the Cloud Giants’ ability to levitate, they silently drifted up along the shadowy crevice near the cave mouth, reaching within 60 feet of the fire giant guards posted outside the cave mouth. When they were finally discovered, all H*ll broke loose, and the party exchanged missile fire with the Giants, finally engaging them in battle. They defeated two adult giants, five teenage giants (including two who had been invisibly hidden), two Ettins and four Hellhounds. After healing most of the damage that they took, the party moved a few hundred feet into the cave to set up a defensible position before the noise of their battle drew attack from within the cave.

As the horde of young giants, led by the giant clerics, four Ettins and eight Hellhounds thundered towards them, the party used their last preparation spells, including hasting themselves. The giants put up good opposition, including blinding Marielle, the sorceress and doing good damage against Cyrus and Headina Cloud. The party killed the giant clerics, the last adult giant, the last teenage giant and nearly all the ‘tween giants, and began to devastate the ranks of the nearly 50 younger giants behind them, but after less than a minute, their attention was drawn to their rear quarter. SWARVEN had flown into the cave!!! Using his tremendous speed, he bore down on the party and breathed DRAGONFIRE! He also used the Quicken spell feat to cast spells to protect himself and to Enfeeble and Daze members of the party.

After several passes at the party, Swarven managed to kill Marielle and her familiar, Copernicus, as well as the youngest Cloud giant, Seeda, with his infernal fire. Nearly every member of the party took heavy damage. But the party members rallied and pelted Swarven with rocks and missile fire every time he approached. Despite all of his magical protections, the party eventually brought him down and killed him. The dragon could easily have escaped, but his insane thirst for vengeance, coupled with his ego and vanity, allowed the party to finish him off.

Once Swarven was dead, the remaning three dozen juvenile fire giants turned tail and ran, pursued for a distance by some of the party, but the party was so bruised and battered that it eventually let them get away. They headed East into the mountains, presumably to try to find some of their own kind there. The party freed the dwarves from their prison and restored to them the wealth of their Citadel that had been collected by Swarven in his lair and that had been distributed to the giants. They had to use up all of their healing magic, potions and scrolls, and still they were in precarious shape until a night had passed and Brother Clement and Headina Cloud were able to heal everyone’s injuries to a safe level. Fortunately, no further attackers threatened the group that first day and night.

The dwarven Shaman, who had hidden his identity and powers from Swarven, readily identified himself. Combining the party’s magic and the Shaman’s, as well as magical items found in Swarven’s lair that he had stolen from the Citadel, the Shaman and the party were able to revive Marielle and Copernicus from the dead. Using his special powers, the Shaman was able to transfer experience from the grateful dwarves to the party, and the party soon felt his weird magic coursing through their bodies as they all progressed to the next level of power.

The giants wrapped up their dead daughter’s body the next morning; they needed to travel to their homeland to let their own high priests raise her from the dead. The dwarves rewarded the giants for helping to save them with wondrous magical items and gold. The Cloud giants bade a tearful farewell to the party and moved off in haste towards their homeland, justly proud of their contribution.

The dwarves stayed in Swarven’s lair for six days to pack up their treasures and many of them labored hard to reward the party. They gave each member of the party some special magical item or items:

For the stealthy Juno Nim, using Swarven’s hide and Juno’s own gauntlets of dexterity, their most skillful armorers crafted a special set of +3 Red Dragon Leather Armor of Dexterity, that has the following special powers: The total armor bonus is +5; The maximum dex bonus is +8; No armor check penalty; Arcane spell failure 10%; Even though it weighs 30 lbs, when donned, it acts for all purposes as if it weighs only 5 pounds; It grants a +2 bonus to swim and climb checks.

For the brave Tegan Ashmara, they forged a +2 Longsword of the Forest, crafting the blade from the rare native ores found only below Swarven’s lair, which grants the wielder a +5 bonus to Wilderness Lore checks. They also exchanged her old armor for her a +2 mithral chain shirt.

For the beautiful sorceress, Marielle, so recently returned from the other world, they presented a +3 ring of protection to replace her +1 ring of protection. The ring was ripped from the dead talon of Swarven himself. They also enchanted her Amulet with the dragon-like ability of Frightful Presence. If an affected creature has only one hit die (up to 1 die +3) then it becomes Panicked and must flee, with a 50% chance of dropping anything it holds (see DMG, p. 85). If the creature has up to 3 hit dice below the wearer’s level, then it must succeed at a Will save (against the DC of the wearer’s Intimidate skill roll) or become Shaken and suffer a -2 penalty to all attacks, damage and saving throws; if the creature has from two hit dice less than the wearer up to the wearer’s level, then it must succeed at a Will save (against the same DC) but with a +5 bonus; if the creature has from one to three hit dice more than the wearer, their Will save bonus is +10; above that, the Will save is +15. To “activate it”, she needs to 1) be clearly SEEN by the foes, so that they are awestruck by her enchanted aspect (not a gaze weapon; they just need to see her and get a sense of how frightening she is); and 2) take some kind of aggressive action towards the opponents or their friends, like an attack or spell casting or make a credible threat (DM to adjudicate whether action or threat are sufficiently scary – role playing is important). For example, if the wearer casts Hold Person, but the person makes the save, then the action would not be frightening enough to activate the effect against the opponent or its friends. The range of the effect is 60 feet and all creatures in the range who have a view of the wearer’s face are affected. Even if the wearer turns away, the creature is still affected once it has seen the wearer’s face. If a creature succeeds in its saving throw against the frightful presence, it cannot be affected again that day.

For her familiar, Copernicus, the dwarves enchanted his spurs so that, while worn, they grant him +4 bonus to his Wisdom ability and the feat of Flyby Attack. They are now known as “Spurs of the Shaman”.

For the plucky bard Billy Bartholemieux, the dwarves exchanged his old rapier for a +2 Rapier of Melifluous Swashbuckling. The wielder of this magic rapier must be a bard. He receives a +2 bonus to his charisma ability and +4 to his tumble skill and perform skill while within 5 feet of the weapon.

For the pious Brother Clement, the dwarves forged a +2 dagger. They also gave to him a +2 light crossbow and 20 +1 crossbow bolts.

In addition to these magical items, they gave each member of the party (not including Copernicus) 1,000 gp worth of gems and coins and one potion of cure moderate wounds.

After accompanying the dwarves back to their Citadel to begin their long effort to rebuild it and re-establish their community, the party began the trip back to Melvaunt.

Sneaking among the Big Boys
Gifts of the Magi; an Unwelcome Sighting....

Father Neil’s party tracked the giants, loot and captives into the mountains and finally found a cave entrance guarded by fire giants. Ducking the giant patrollers, the group cast invisibility on Billy and sent him to sneak into the cave and get intelligence, since he speaks Giant. Billy found large numbers of giant children in the cave, orphaned by the war. Several adults were patrolling or taking care of the children, with Ettin slaves and Hellhound pets in tow. Eventually, deep within the cave, Billy found a well-guarded prison where the dwarves are being forced to craft improved armor for the giants. Retreating from the giants’ lair, Billy reported back to the party.

After much searching, the party found an alternate entrance to the mountain – a crevice hidden well up at the end of a canyon wall. The party shimmied, scrambled and spelunked through the mountain along the crevice, eventually meeting the giants’ cave. Surprising a patroller, the party killed two giants and their hellhounds (who were so surprised that they forgot to breathe fire). The party then hid the giants’ and hounds’ dead bodies using a rope trick spell, and then used a polymorph self spell and some clever disguise to exit the cave pretending that Billy, disguised as a giant, was leading prisoners. Using alter self and enlarge, Tegan was transformed into a convincing ettin slave. The party ambushed the guards at the cave entrance, was able to kill them and throw them into the canyons and beat a hasty retreat to lick their wounds. Some minor intervention by Pelor himself was needed to save Brother Clement from an untimely meeting with his maker.

Keeping watch that night, some miles from the cave, Copernicus spotted the family of Cloud Giants angrily returning from Melvaunt. Father Cyrus, mother Headina, teenage son Storm, tween daughter Narya and young Seeda reported that they had been unable to convince the Despot of Melvaunt to send an army against the fire giants, because the Despot’s seers told him that it was too late to save the Citadel. The Despot was made aware that some dwarves survived, but he was not willing to risk his own men in an effort to free captives so far from his city. Nevertheless, when the Giants told the Despot that they had seen Father Neil’s party, the Despot had the Melvaunt Laboratories put together a package of magical potions and other items for the party’s use in any rescue attempt; see the link for more information. These gifts have also been added to each character’s inventory.

The Cloud Giants are eager to hit the fire giant lair immediately. The fire giants must be destroyed to the last crying baby, they insist, so that they will not again threaten their neighbors. The party explain that they are much battered and out of spells, that they must sleep, and that Clement must pray in the morning.

Thus, the night passes without incident. In the morning, Father Neil’s party and the giants take the potions and use any other appropriate spells and begin to move through the heavily forested valley back towards the cave entrance as stealthily as Cloud giants can move…. After perhaps an hour, with the party still about two miles from the cave, Copernicus, high above, sets off in Marielle’s mind a most urgent message: HIDE!!! GET DOWN!!!! Copernicus has seen, coming around the ridge of the massive mountain from the other side, two gargantuan black birds of prey: Rocs! The Rocs are bad enough, but they flank a smaller flying creature – a creature of merely large size. The unmistakeable reddish glint from a scaly wing identifies the flyer that they are flanking…. could it be Swarven?

An Old Dwarf Spills Beans
"Bonus Track" from DM Billy

Thus saith Billy—we get an extra mini D&D session in, woohoo!

After killing the four fire giants and four hellhounds, the party thoroughly investigated the death and destruction caused by the invasion of the Citadel by the army of fire giants and their minions. It appeared that the giant army had defeated the dwarves, despite their heavy fortifications and superior magic, and that the giants had been exceedingly thorough in killing the wounded and carrying off all items of any significant value.

The party magically questioned a number of slain dwarves and found that the dwarves were surprised and overwhelmed by the army of Giants, Ettins, Trolls and hellhounds. The evil giants of the mountains to the east were tribal, living in family units, and they quarreled among themselves. They never organized any kind of serious threat to the dwarves. Now, for reasons the dead dwarves did not know, the giants and other monsters of the mountains had organized into an army so numerous that even the strongest citadel the dwarves could build could not stand against them. However, the deceased dwarves who had lived until near the end of the battle were proud to say that the dwarves, with superior magic and war tactics had done almost as much damage to the giant army as the giants had done to the dwarves. Indeed, they felt, the entire population of adult giant warriors, both male and female, was nearly decimated. They felt that fewer than a dozen giants had survived the battle – perhaps over 90% had died. None knew what the giants would do with the dwarven captives. None knew whether the Shaman had survived. The party also noticed that nearly all the dead dwarven warriors are wearing destroyed suits of magnificent armor, as Tordor’s impression of the armorers would imply.

All signs pointed towards the road to the east, where large amounts of traffic and materials had obviously and recently passed back and forth. The ranger, Tegan, concluded that both giant and dwarven tracks (as well as wagons, etc.) leading to the east represented the freshest tracks. She concluded that the giants must have taken a large number dwarven prisoners. She could detect no other significant signs of activity since the battle, except for the tracks of the four patrolling fire giants and hounds that the party killed.

Just as the party concluded its investigation of the Citadel and was preparing to follow the eastern route, Copernicus, flying through the partially destroyed Citadel, heard a small cry. Following the sound, he saw something alive trapped in the rubble. He alerted Marielle who brought the party. A venerable dwarf, Alzheimus, lay under the rubble, limbs and ribs broken, dehydrated—at death’s door. Brother Clement ministered to the old dwarf, but he was frail from old age.

The dwarf had been an Elder of the Citadel, and he well remembered the days of the great Red Dragon, Clytemptra. She had threatened the Citadel and other fortified cities near the mountains for human generations, organizing the evil giants and other monsters of the mountains into an army. Over a dozen years ago, she mounted an attack on the Citadel. The dwarves detected the approach of her forces and were able to call in the help of neighboring settlements of humans and even an elven force. With their combined might, the humanoids were lucky enough to defeat and kill her and to deplete and disband her forces. Since then, the Citadel had been relatively unmolested by the tribal and quarrelsome monsters of the mountains.

Having imparted this vital history, Alzheimus expired. Juno Nim wiped away a single, sympathetic tear—which he denied heartily when Marielle teased him.

Clytemptra was dead. And yet the evil races were united, as only she had been able to do. Now, some leader had arisen to bring them together again.

...cue the spiky violins on the soundtrack, y’all…

And Now For Something Completely Different...
When the blonde's away, the mice will play...

Tonight, we met up at Tegan and Juno Nim’s place in Morningside Heights to play the alternate party. Marielle was absent. We missed her! Clement DM’d, and Billy played both Xilaphor and Lucinda.

As you may recall (if we feel like it, we’ll do another blog post explaining what happened in session one, way back in .. October?) most of what was left to explore in the demilich’s dungeon lay off of a single huge room to the west; the room featured a fresco of many animals and monsters holding colored spheres. Lucinda’s true seeing spell last time showed that several of these were illusions hiding crawlways or large sparkling steel rings (magical?). There is also an arch whose contents are obscuring by glowing mist at the end of the hallway.

So that’s how it began—checking out the relevant colored spheres.

Blah blah blah.

Giants Aren't So Nice
Trouble! Right here in River City!

The adventurers woke up in Sheepston on a drizzly morning, only to discover that during the previous night, many animals had been seen fleeing from the direction of the dwarven citadel. Heading to the East, the party eventually overtook a group of four dwarven traders. They were worried by the signs and portents but did not know anything that the party had not already discovered.

As the adventurers approached the citadel, the fog had settled in, and the air smelled acrid and sulphuric. The party eventually saw a fire giant, patrolling with a hellhound. With their magic boots, the party ran rings around the giant and killed it, scaring off the hound. But the giant had called out with its booming voice, and the hound brought help. Three more giants appeared, together with four hounds. The party backed off and looked for the dwarves that they had passed on the road, but the dwarven group was gone. Either they had been scared off by something or worse. Now evening was falling and the party camped.

In the morning, another foggy, drizzly day, the party approached closer to the citadel with caution. They formulated a plan to lure the giants into an ambush. This turned out to be an indifferent strategy, as the group was not prepared for the amount of damage that the giants were capable of inflicting with their gigantic swords and great strength. The party took heavy damage. But the party again used its speed to confound the giants and killed them, as well as the hounds.

None of the party members was killed (although one had been rendered unconscious during the fight), and the weather was improving.

A Trip to the Druids
It's A Nice Day to Awaken A Snow Leopard.

Marielle looks peaked. We went to see the druids. Some harpies intervened.

Trouble in Melvaunt

Father Neil’s party was approached by Truffles, Edgril and his ill-tempered but hot wife, Quervina, to help Edgril’s employer. After repelling an acid-breathing young green dragon, we accompanied Edgril to Melvaunt, where he currently resides with Quervina and the boar. Melvaunt is a major merchant city on the MoonSea. Its main rival, Mulmaster, sometimes sends assassins into Melvaunt.

Edgril’s employer, Woarsten Nanther, put the party up in the relatively lavish Crow’s Nest, where we stayed during the two or three days of our investigation.

We learned that the town government has recently been reorganized into a Council of Iron with 7 members. They include:

The Town Despot, who is the leader of the house of Marsk 1 member from each of the three most prominent houses: Bruil, Nanther and Leiyraghon. 1 from each of three guilds: Armorers, Weavers and Smiths

We learned that orcs have been kidnapping people in the Thar. The Thar is a wild area outside the gates of the city to the north, containing moors and swamps. We also learned that the Winter Ball was cancelled, and there is speculation that it was because one of the noble sons is missing.

Lord Woarsten Nanther offers us 1000 Platinum pieces for the safe return of his son.

Some information about the scion’s (transfer to their pages): Argens Bruil: a Paladin of Tyr; Bruil’s grandson. Lord Bruil’s son Halmath is the Keeper of the Keys. The bastard grandson has been made heir.

Kalman Leiyraghon: He has a drinking problem. He is the only one of the 5 missing nobles who is not immediate heir to his House. His family is unhelpful and rude – they are known to use a lot of magic items, and we suspect that at least some of them are rogues. His elder brother, Bremen (or possibly his father), tried to have us killed (see below).

Elaint Marsk: He is delicate in health and wears an Amulet of Health. He is having a relationship with Kara Calaudra.

Kara Calaudra: Has a Raven familiar named Esselios. Her family is all trained in magic use.

A search of each of their cribs revealed that they all had the same grey mud and thistles on their clothing.

House Natali has fallen on hard times. Lord Natali offered us 500 gp to prove his innocence in the disappearance of the youths. House Natali’s heir is crippled and feebleminded.

House Kannity has no blood heir, despite their happy and gay leader’s best efforts with his boytoys.

“Peri” the Mace led us to Lisette’s house. She is an old tarot card reader. While there, she was possessed by Pelor, and we received this prophecy:

“O City of stone, salt and gold. Your devourers await without. The Princely youths have blood so dear. Dear to parents but dearer to the dark. Heroes heed these words from above. The legend the ranger tells is true. The Thar will save the Thar. Through the flower of her knights; through the shining flowers.

Lisette’s son, Andros, runs a magic shop.

Temple of Tyr: Tyr is one of the new gods; very warlike. We learned from Father Jens that there are some Orc ruins 2 days north of the city. For 1000 years there was a Utopian society led by King Raburnum. Everyone lived in harmony until the orcs arrived. The King would shoot “shining flowers of gold” out of his hands. His marble castle was protected by a magical black fire.

Temple of Pelor: The friendly priest suggests that we will need silver or magic weapons in the Thar.

Temple of Oghma: God of Knowledge. There is a hidden chamber in the Orc ruins two days north of the city. We saw some Orc Tablets and artifacts some of which showed Orc erotic activities. The Cleric of Ogma gave us a map showing the road to the wild town of Glister; the GREY CITADEL OF XUL-JARAK lies off the road, two days to the north. There are many orc tribes and ruins dating from the era of orc dominance. The orcs seem to be getting more and more active, and are sometimes joined by ogres, etc.

Stables: We learned that Kalman Leiyraghon rented five horses and a pony. We soon learn that the pony was probably for Dorn Crownshield, a Dwarven fighter, who appears to have been a guide for the group of adventurers.

We found out that the group left by the north gate at midnight, a week ago.

We were ambushed in the streets by five thugs hired by the elder son of House Leiyraghon. They knew we were hired by Lord Nanther.


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