Tuesday, October 15, 2013

DM's Log: Blackstone Campaign Group 1- The Pack parts 3 & 4

Part 1 &2 can be found here
  After moving to a new camp site and resting the party picked new spells and headed out, again, in pouring rain [I will put weather rules here eventually!].
  They re-crossed the river in their stolen longboat and decided to bypass the fortress this time. They were soon on the path leading through the valley toward the mountain. The theif made her danger sense roll and was on the ground when the first telephone-pole sized arrow slammed into Doomsman. After a bit of confusion they took cover from the sniper. Stardust and Mournglow slipped off, invisibly, to look for the attackers and a duel between the two invidible characters and the invisible female jungle giant stalking them began! After a fair amount of maneuvering, cover, use of Stardust's Gem of Seeing, etc. they were able to attack the jungle giant and were almost surprised by the mountain giant with her! Luckily Mournglow had been communicating with the rest of the party with his Arcane Servant familiar, so the rest of the party was close enough to save their bacon.
  After some healing the party continued until they saw a rather large bonfire ahead. Moving cautiously they saw a massive fire giant tending the fire. While the party was still far off he laughingly challenged their champion to a duel to the death, prompting Doomsman to begin to trot forward. When Soomsman was within range the fire giant reached into the fire, pulled out massive iron bolas glowing red with heat, and hurled them! With an excellent (read: lucky) throw Doomsman was entangled and taking fire damage while the giant charged the rest of the party, hurling boulders as he came.
  Mournglow and Darkwalk made short work of the giant with spells and Doomsman had freed himself by the time the party arrived. After more healing, they continued.
  After a time the party was on the long switchbak up the mountain. By mid-day the rain had stopped and they were above the treeline and heading into the clouds by mid-afternoon. Hoping to pierce the layer of clouds before camping, they stopped when they heard a rumbling - a boulder was coming down the trail. This began another encounter; fighting in the clouds with a fog giant. he rolled boulders down the trail, released rock falls on the party, had rope snares to toss party members off cliffs, erected barried that the party had to climb but that he could step over, etc.
  The party began to call out to him, bantering a bit and when I replied I did so in a posh British accent - I have no idea why.  The party enjoyed the banter during the duel (I did, too) although it ended when Stardust was able to locate the giant in the fog and use her rope of climbing to get Doomsman behind him and the party in front. After it was over the kids told me that they now envision ALL fog giants as mannered, polite British types who just happen to be trying to kill them.
  The party pierced the clouds right about sunset and saw that the cloud island was attached to the mountain by a bridge arching 100 yeards over a sheer drop. A 10' wide bridge. With no rails. Beat up, tired, and out of many spells they healed up and then camped in the fog.
  The party took a 1 week break in between session, finishing with a short session.
  When they returned they crossed the bridge,\ - carefully - and passed through the outer clouds to see a massive castle (I used a picture of the Disney castle) in a lush, garden-like setting 2 miles on each side, a square with gardens, fountains, orchards, etc. all 4 times normal size. Massive oaks lined the gravel path between the bridge and the castle entrance, although there was a large grove of normal sized oaks by the entrance, where they were.
  As the party was discussing their possible actions the local grove transformed into a squad of 20 Verbeeg with a frost giant leader.
  My son, J., immediately slapped his forehead,
  "Massmorph! The normal sized trees should have warned me!"
  That's my boy.
  The verbeeg opened with a salvo of giant-sized heavy crossbow bolts (2d8+1 per bolt) with a LOT of hits - everyone in the party but Doomsman was hit with Mourglow and Ember reduced to single digits and Darkwalk close to it. Doomsman closed with the frost giant leader, trading blows, as the verbeeg split - 1/2 drawing swords and charging, the other half reloading. Mournglow and Stardust went invisible to get some distance while Darkwalk drew his weapon and Ember decided to go ahead and cast.
  A Fireball from Ember wounded many of those with crossbows and Darkwalk surprised me by using an item to erect a semi-circular Wall of Fire between the party and the verbeeg crowwbowmen. Stardust realized another giant, a fomorian, was coming across the bridge behind them and prepared for that. Mourglow killed the frost giant with a Chromatic Orb allowing Doomsman to wade into the verbeeg like the incarnation of Death.
  The fomorian had one arm just 1' long and another 25' long - carrying a halberd. Heavily armored he was a hideous sight. Mournglow tried to Ploymorph him - the spell failed and a bolt of electricity from the fomorian hurt Mournglow down to single digits.  The fomorian finally closed with the party and attacked with his halberd. Because of his massive reach and height he coul strike virtually anyone within 30'.
  Stardust opened with a backstab, only to learn he had an eye on the back of his shoulder and being just missed by the halberd. 3 rounds of combat ensued with more damage being doled out and the fomorian going down.
  During this time Stardust noted that the cloud the fortress was on had turned into a thunderhead and was drifting away from the mountain. The party healed up as fast as they could and prepared spells for when the Wall of Fire went down.
  When it did the space beyond was filled with more verbeeg and the leader of the Pack - Lord Thundercloud. A huge cloud giant dressed in black plate mail with a shield and sword. He greeted the party politely, if coldly, and asked Doomsman to duel with him, to the death, with the party to go free with 3 boons if Doomsman won, the party to be enslaved if he lost. Doomdman accepted.
  [If you aren't familiar with Player's Options: Combat and Tactics, I suggest you get it for ideas if nothing else.]
  The duel went on a LONG time. Doomsman and Lord Thundercloud were high enough level and had enough bonuses that misses were uncommon. Doomsman had more attacks and did more damage per hit but Lord Thundercloud had a free parry from his enchanted shield and his weapon was an Unholy Drinker - every point of damage he did to Doomsman healed him the same amount. Pretty soon both were parrying as often as attacking in an attempt to wear down the other.
  In the end Doomsman's grand mastery won through and he squeaked out a victory - again.
  The boons the party received were; a letter from the leader of the Drow to Lord Thundercloud; the return of Starwing (Darkwalk's henchman) from capitivity; a rocback ride back to their fortress.
  The letter (plus research and divination) releaved a few key facts - the Drow leader is actually an exile from the Drow capitol; she has a great deal of influence over the leader of the Redcaps; she essentially tricked Lord Thundercloud and the pack and the 3 giant Lords into starting a war with Blackstone; the Drow leader is a high priestess of the Lord of Evil Earth Elementals; Lord Thundercloud was an anti-paladin of the Lord of Evil Air Elementals; the Flaming Skulls tribe of hobgoblins to the far West are worshippers of the Lord of Evil Fire Elementals; some as-yet-unkown group in the sea follows the Lord of Evil Water Elementals; these groups are attempting to destroy all Human kingdoms.
  This ends an arc that has been the focus on 20 real-world months of gaming. When I first started dropping hints on this arc my son N., who plays Darkwalk, was nine. Because of the high average level we are probably going to mostly retire the entire party except for political intrigue and the occasional high-level adventure.