Saturday, September 2, 2017

DM Report: Battle in the Ruins of Karkosi

I am going to try to summarize about 3 weeks of notes, talks, and short sessions and today's long session!

The characters:
Ursula 3rd level halfling thief
Athanasius 3rd level human cleric. has a 1st level paladin henchman named Edward and a 1st level    monk henchman named  Chun
Starkiller a 3rd/2nd/3rd half-elf fighter/magic-user/cleric
Greystar a 3rd level human mage with a 1st level fighter henchman named Karlsson
Telnar a 6th level human cleric and party leader
Greystar also has 4 hireling spearmen

Background:
- Former well-regarded baron of High Morath Lord Whitehill met a woman named Jacinth and soon after turned evil, killed his own (paladin) brother, ambused and killed the heir to Banath, the ruler of High Morath, as well as 2 court magicians, a bishops, and the top commanders of both nations, losing his own top lieutenants at the same time. He then fled to the wilderness east of Seaward where he is causing trouble.
- A three-way struggle for the hand of the only child of the ruler of High Morath, a 19 year old girl, threatens to descend into civil war.
- A three-way struggle to determine who will be the new heir to the 80 year old ruler of Banath threatens to descend into civil war.
- The fact that a Morathian noble killed the Banathian heir has led to border tensions and skirmishes which, you guessed it, threaten to descend into war between the two nations.
- The Red Maiden that haunts the mountains above the Briars seems to be sending monsters to High Morath and Banath.
- The various cults being put down in Seaward seem to have ties to Lord Whitehill and, through him, to the southern nations.

The Prep: Telnar, a senior officer in the Free Company, has been pushing for an expedition to the South for almost a game year. Many of the higher level members are variously in Skull Mountain, the Briars Mapping Expedition, or prepared to go into the Stone Hills to oppose the orcs. He gathered a team of skilled, flexible people who can work well in urban or rural settings and do well in combat or intrigue.

The Adventure:
The party arrived, with horses, in the northern port city of Mol. 
- Ursula made some connections with the local thieves' guild and learned that a certain 'Sir' Vlasko was causing a lot of trouble: raiding outlying villages and blaming other nobles; staging raids on cities to weaken their forces and make them paranoid; etc.
- Vlasko wears light armor and a shield, rides a swift horse, and fights with lance, sabre, and bow.
- Starkiller learned that there were assassin's bounties put on the lives of each and every baron, all with payment promised by Vlasko!
- Greystar learned that after the death of the chief magicians of both kingdoms at the hands of Whitehall someone had been killing other powerful casters and seeking out magic items that can summon creatures.
- A long interview with the bishop arranged by Telnar gave them more information about the ruined city of Karkosi and the devil-worshipping witch, Nagy, that had ruled there and died there.
- That night a brother-sister team of halfling thieves tried to kill Telnar in his rooms, but an alert Ursula thwarted the attempt then both were captured via Hold Person and a right hook, variously. In exchange for the thieves not being givin to the assassin's guild for accepting money for murder they talked. They didn't know much, but proved Vlasko knew the party was a threat.

The party travelled to Banalan, the capitol, and sent out more feelers. 
- The local thieves' guild traded information (and took some "fees") to explain that Vlasko had been exiled from the assassin's guild for 'something he had done involving Skull Mountain'
- The party had a double epiphany as they realized that of course an assassin could be a good light cavalryman and remembered references to a Vlasko in some of the correspondence they captured early on in Skull Mountain.
- They arranged a meeting with the Lord Duke. He was appreciative of their mission to help, but felt that the best they could do was stop Vlasko. He was using him own troops to protect the peasants and to intimidate the barons to prevent open war.
- In the midst of the audience Edward warned Athanasius and the party prevented a man from stabbing the Lord Duke with a poisoned dagger! Vlasko had blackmailed the man into the job.
- The Lord Duke gave the party temporary status as his own guards so they could travel freely.

The Party Travelled tot he City of Drenova
- Drenova is very central.
- They were able to gain a lot of information about Vlasko's attacks and movements and concluded he was probably based in the ruins of Karkosi.
- Karkosi has been destroyed about 80 years before when it was discovered that its ruler had become a devil worshipper and had corrupted hundreds of the city's citizens. There had been a siege, street fighting, and finally the city had burned.
- Just 20 years previously the city was burned again when it was discovered that Witch Nagy had made it her home. Another devil worshipper, she had put up a terrific fight but died when her tower burned and collapsed. Her 7 year old daughter had been spirited away by a whirlwind!
- The area near Karkosi is heavily patrolled. Four times in the previous 20 years one of these strong patrols had vanished into thin air. This most recently happened just a year before.
- There were rumors that lights and movement had been seen in Karkosi recently, but no one knew who had gone close enough to see them....
- The party guessed Vlasko was using the city as a base and pumping up the fear to keep people away, so they set out for Karkosi.

The Party approaches Burnt Karkosi
- Ursula used her cloak and boots of elvenkind to scout, finding that the main approaches were blocked, a tower in the middle of the city had a beacon, and that there was a well-used and maintained path to a hidden hole in the city walls on the southwest side.
- The party carefully staged close by Ursula searched inside: she found where the ruins had been cleared. there was a open stable with horses, a separate stone building where a mighty stallion was tied up with silver cords, and a barracks
- The party prepared an ambush and lured out the troops inside, quickly killing them.
- They moved the heavy warhorse and a medium warhorse off and released the rest.
- The bound warhorse was a nightmare! They used a disruption effect to send it back to Hades.
- Ursula was skulking about and was in the right place at the right time to see what looked like a beautiful human woman with scaly red skin become visible as she prepared to attack Greystar from behind. With lightning reflexes Ursula backstabbed her first!
And the fight was on!
 Because of how they party came in and how the villains responded it was essentially 1-2 rounds of fighting = a new villain appears.
The started fighting Vlada (who they later learned was Witch Nagy's second daughter, whose father was a greater devil) who put up a lot of fight. Then Vlasko attacked, but was almost immediately Held by Telnar! Then Vlasko's squire, Serge, arrived, who engaged Starkiller. Then Laranna, Vlasko's wife came to save him - the hireling's arrows and spears bounced off! Athanasius Held her. Vlada was still going after 7 rounds, although weakened.
Then she dropped Edward.
Greystar dropped Serge as Starkiller and Telnar finally downed Vlada.

Spells were perilously low and almost everyone was hurt. Ursula did another sweep as the party prepared to leave - and had a bad feeling.
She dove for cover and just missed getting blown to bit. The party ran to her and the clerics (who had Detect Evil, Traps, and Magic running knew there was someone there but couldn't find them. All they could see was bushes, and piles or rubble, etc. Telnar used a Dispel, got lucky and knocked out the Blending spell, revealing -
Witch Nagy herself!
She hurled some spells, the party realized witches are Hedge Mages with unique spells, and they dogpiled her with melee attacks. Before she went down she uttered a curse.
With her death the tower collapsed.
The party gathered everything, burned the bodies of the dead, and bolted.
Telnar spent days using Remove Curse to be on the safe side.

They learned a bit
- Jacinth is a daughter of Witch Nagy with a foreign wizard.
- Vlada was a daughter of Witch Nagy with a greater devil.
- Baron Samedhi his a son of Witch Nagy by a devil duke.
- Samedhi is the 'boss' of Jacinth (and thus Lord Whitehill), the Red Maiden, and someone called the Green Knight.
- Samedhi has a hidden base in the northwestern hills of High Morath.
- Vlasko was the man who ordered the devil-worshipping mage and her trolls to Skull Mountain.
- Samedhi has a man named Bertold causing trouble in High Morath similar to Vlasko.
- Bertold was the man who ordered the 'evil party' into Skull Mountain who died in the Deep, leaving behind a journal.

  The Lord Duke issued a patent to the Free Company for Banath.

More in the next few days!