Monday, September 5, 2022

Session Report: War in the Stone Hills!

   The most recent sessions took place in the Stone Hills west of Seaward.

The heroes were:

Carlton - 6th level paladin. The Hero of the Battle of Eagle Valley. Famed as a master of the lance.

Fiona - 4th/4th Fighter/Magic-user. Elf. Known as a tactician and for her keen senses.

The Sparrow - 8th level Thief. Through magic and cunning fights with a two-handed sword. One handed. Senior thief in the Company.

Akira - 7th level monk. The Man with the Eldritch Fists. 

Conrad - 6th/5th Fighter/Cleric. Dwarf. Champion of the Innocent, Defender of the Downtrodden, hammer of Foes.

Henchmen brought the party to a total of 11 members with levels. The Hills are rugged and empty so they brought a dozen mules loaded with provisions and gear, 2 drovers, a cook, and a camp guard to hep the henchmen.

    Since the destruction of the Regalia of the Orcish Overking and the purification of the Temple of Gramaash the shamans of the local Orcs had lost their powers as the Duke of Hell they all worship punished them. There were rumors that the various Orcish City-States of the western plains had been at war, but that is almost always true.

  But rumors were thick that Orcs were again in the Stone Hills so some of the senior members of the Company of the Dark Moon (the heroes) got together for a scouting mission. After fully supplying themselves at Wyvern Keep they set out on the Hill Road, the only path through the stone hills capable of carrying even a pony cart.

  The weather was good for the heat of Summer and the road relatively clear for the first few days, but on the 4th a thunderstorm drove them to shelter. While out of the rain Akira noted a hillman (barbarians from the Stone Hills descended from the followers of a would-be lord who was killed before his fortress was complete). The hillman, Gregg son of Gregg, told them of 'clouds of dust' north of the Hill Road to the west near the Massif (a large cliff along the road) and that there were Orcish lookouts on the Massif. he also told of an Orc strong point guarding the road about a day west. The party thanked him and when the storm lifted kept on.

  The next day the Sparrow and Akira scouted ahead, spotted the Orcish strong point, ambushed the guards, and quickly killed everyone but the leader, a sergeant named Ortok. Ortok was more than willing to speak once oaths were made and he was baptized(!). Ortok explained that the Orcs of the City-States were overwhelmingly loyal to the Cult of Gramaash and the Kings, but a few, especially among those that were literate, knew of the Faith and yearned to leave the Cult. 

  Ortok sketched out a map and explained that the King Grak'Tar or Hranath'Kor  was furious that the Company of the Dark Moon stopped him from becoming the Overking by mere hours. He had staged raids into the Plains of the Horse Keshi and had even destroyed the Orc city-state of Lamat'Kor to gain enough sacrifices to allow his shamans to regain their powers. He had outmaneuvered his foe, the king of Gramak'Kor, and was sending his best Princeps (subchief) and top officers with the troops from Lamat'Kor to build and man a strong hill fort in the Stone Hills. His goal was to put more pressure on Gramak'Kor and prevent humans from Seaward from interfering with his second plan, which Ortok didn't know. The party also learned that the main troop column, coming with food, supplies, siege engineers, and a horde of slaves, was to reach the site for the hill fort in a few days and then the only way to stop them was to besiege them!

  Ortok was released to go to Goblintown with a tunic of the Cross, a spear and dagger, and a letter for the garrison at Wyvern Keep letting them know what they had learned and asking for Ortok to be taken to Goblintown.

  The party knew that after the Ogre Magi Raid on Wyvern keep less than a month previous the garrison was too undermanned to send assistance so they pressed on, cutting overland very slowly to get north of the Old Road but out of sight of the Orc lookouts on the Massif. The weather continued to cooperate and, almost miraculously, they didn't get lost in the trackless hills. Careful scouting revealed;

  1) A massive hilltop was being prepared as a fort that would eventually contain the entire 950+ acres of the flat hilltop. Orc overseers were supervising the construction of a ditch around the hill.
  2) Another group of orc overseers were forcing 100 slaves to build a dirt road from the fort to the Hill Road
  3) The massive Orcish column was 4 miles away (about 4 hours!) and had over 300 warriors types in it.
  The road would never be done in time and the party realized that it would take days for the slaves with the column to haul the goods and such from the Hill Road to the track being built. This also meant that Orcish forces would be heavily bottlenecked on the narrow, unworked trail between the Hill Road and the fort road, leaving them at most 9 - 10 wide. They got into position and prepared and, as the colum was arriving at the trail to the hill road, they sprang their attack.

  Carlton, Conrad, and Akira attacked from the direction of the fort (over a ridge from where the slaves were working) and rode down or drove off the Orcish overseers.The rest of the party warriors followed behind freeing slaves while the party spell casters took position near the favored chokepoint on the trail. The second wave of warrior types from the party helped organize the slaves and found that one of them, Keith son of Keith, was a hillman and put him in charge of getting them to a spot off the trail but defensible.

  The front three warriors closed through a storm of heavy crossbow fire and the party cavalry hit with a lance charge as the monk used his abilities to vault over the front element of heavy infantry with bardiches and hand axes and engaged the second element with footman's flails and clubs. The front ranks were in total disarray and were totally unprepared for the second wave to hit them.  In short order the party had punched through the first two units of orcs and were pressing on. The Princeps himself, on his enchanted palanquin and with his 24 personal bodyguards, was closing fast as the Orcish forces in the rear tried to struggle forward through the baggage train and slaves to get to the main fight.

  The front cavalry engaged the bodyguards and were bogged down in one Hell of a fight since they were immediately almost surrounded. Theses PCs did a fighting retreat to draw the bodyguards off a bit and just barely avoided being enveloped completely. The second line was mopping up the heavy infantry and Akira, doing what monks do, bounded to the palanquin and began fighting the Princeps one on one!

  About this time Fiona's wu-jen henchwoman warned here there was a 'large flying creature with a rider' passing over them invisibly! The spell casters got to work and in short order were able to get the thing visible,(revealing it to be one of the King of Hrantah'Kor's personal retinue, called a Champion, on a dragonnel) and force it to land with magic. Carlton immediately disengaged with the bodyguards to fight the Champion.

  Akira killed the Princeps but the presence of the Champion gave the orcs the will to keep fighting. The remaining first and second wave of PC warriors were now together wiping out the last of the Princep's bodyguards and Carlton dismounted to face the Champion in honorable combat. After three more rounds of combat the Champion fell at about the same time as the last bodyguard. The party now effectively had control of the baggage train with the food and water and the leadership of the column had been devastated. The survivors of the Orchish column, over 200, promptly surrendered (about 40-50 fled). At the same time the familiars/etc. watching the distant hill fort to be reported the shaman leader flew away to the West and the Orcish garrison fled into the hills, abandoning the slaves.

 The party gathered the approximately 375 total prisoners and rescued slaves together, secured all the Orcish weapons, took command of the massive Orcish supply wagons, and started for Wyvern Keep, sending ahead riders. It took weeks to get there, but the Orcs had come prepared to stock a fort, so there was ample food and enough water. One Orcish sergeant noted that fewer orcs died in the prisoner column in 20 days than died on the 20 days they'd marched as warriors! By the time the group reached Wyvern Keep about 50 Orcs had requested joining the Faith and had taken to cross tunic. 

  About a week into the march a war band of hillmen encountered the column and volunteered to help escort - the 60 barbarian warriors made it a lot easier. One of the hillmen went off and in week two another 40 of them joined to help, as well. Losses to disease, encounters, and those fleeing into the hills were minimal and the Commander of Wyvern Keep sent about 140 Orcs to the mines and another 50 to Goblintown. Over 200 slaves (overwhelmingly humans, mainly Horse Keshi, with a large group of dwarves and a lone gnome) were freed and helped to their homes or set up to settle in Seaward.

  The loot was impressive and the magic items nothing to sneer at. Several party members leveled up and went into training.

No comments:

Post a Comment