Sunday, October 2, 2022

Massive Session Report: from West to East

       Hello, folks, it is time for a massive update! There were two sessions recently, both played on a weekend. In the first one we had

      Hans Shrek, World's Strongest Halfling and his henchmen

      Ingrid, Fighter and her henchmen

      Thorin, Fighter/Thief and his henchmen

      Starkiller, Cleric/Fighter/Magic-user, and his henchmen

     Graystar, Magic-user, and his henchman

  The party was returning from the Four Counties area and wanted to follow up on rumors from the Barony of Copperhill. They arrived early in the morning. Having sent word ahead they were met by the brand new First Baron of Copperhill, Archibald. Elevated to the nobility by Count Orion that very week as ruler of Copperhill the party met his wife and three children. A half-orc (as is his wife) Archibald is a 3rd generation citizen of the Copperhill area, his grandparents having converted 70 or so years ago.

  The party was intrigued by Copperhill, a town that is 90% humanoids that have converted to the Church and are loyal to the King. We had a lot of fun cracking jokes about what kind of food carts they have.

"Old Man Johnson's rat on a stick is better than One Tooth Gorgo's - Gorgo doesn't use fresh rat."

  The discussion with the Baron was a bit grim. The prison mine, now called Goblintown, is where the prisoners who do NOT convert to the Church (about 90% of captured humanoids) are held. The prison, with double walls, looms over the town of Copperhill. The outer walls protect against outside attack (the Stone Hills are just a few miles away) while the inner walls prevent a prisoner revolt from getting out. Archibald explained how all mining tools are left in the mines and the humanoids are cycled in and out in small groups with overseers to prevent armed rebellion. Food is also tightly controlled to prevent prisoners from escaping.

  The mine was designed to have a minimum of 400 guards and 1 overseers per 10 humanoids. But the massive influx of goblins and kobolds from the Scouring of the Briars as well as the recently mass capture of an entire Orc tribe army had massively increased the prisoner count so that they were down to 1 supervisor per 35 miners and they had cone from under 600 prisoners to more than 2,000 in just 3 years!  90% of the profits from the mine went to buy food for the prisoners!

  Realizing that the entire growth was from PC activities they realized they had put a massive strain on the economy of the entire West as well as dropped a potential bomb in the mountains. They proposed resettling 50% of the prisoners to an abandoned garnet mine deep in the forests south of Eagle Valley to split them up and generate more income. Archibald was very open to the idea and promised to draft a letter to the Count to seek permission. Then the party decided to continue with their main mission - investigate the odd happenings in the mine.

  The first interviewed all the overseers. Three acted oddly or triggered a Detect spell. so they were pulled aside to interrogate. The first one almost killed Graystar with a hidden poisoned dagger! They subdued him and sent him to the gaol for the guards to question. The second Detected as Evil so he was sent away. The third swore that the other two were paying him 10 GP a week to 'look the other way' and ignore a section of the mine. While ESP was telling Graystar this was true they heard a report - the second overseer had killed his guards and was fleeing! 

  Hans leapt atop his steam-powered mechanical warmoose and took off at full speed for the gaol, correctly deducing the second man was trying to free the first. He arrived in time to see them both leaping out of a window and began fighting them both. He was soon joined by the gaol guards, but the two fought hard with swords and poisoned daggers before they went down.

  The party had just linked back up with the gong from the Goblintown Mine was sounded - prisoner revolt! Ingrid activated her ebony fly and headed for the walls, the rest following on horse/mooseback. Ingrid arrived to find the Male Orc section charging the walls with scaling ladders (the various races and sexes are all kept separate within the prison complex). All had swords, slings, and shortswords and outnumbered the guards atop the wall 6 to 1. 

  The guards dumped a vat of pitch onto the western ends of the wall and lit it, killing many orcs. Ingrid observed a massive orc covered in tattoos directing the rest.  Ingrid dismounted and helped hold the wall as she ordered her ebony fly to knock down all the ladders it could. With Ingrid's help the first few that had gotten atop were killed and the ladders were down - except for one magically held in place! The tattooed orc and his 6 tattooed companions stormed up and began fighting Ingrid, very skillfully. The battle atop the walls was hampered by the ongoing sling attacks of the orcs below, but that ceased around Ingrid because of the orc leaders.

  The remainder of the party had charged in and taken the lead from the 80 guards heading to the interior of the male orc holding area and outstripped them, easily arriving first. Hans and Starkiller split off to check the mine entrance and the rest were let into the male orc area by the guards.

  Thorin and Graystar arrived behind the rioting orcs and Graystar immediately cast Fear driving most of the orcs into a fear-fueled frenzy, all hiding in the corners or behind their small huts. They had abandoned the ladders and long boarding planks in their gibbering terror leaving only the magically-stabilized ladder in place. Thorin scrambled up the ladder and killed orcs on the way, eventually dropping behind the survivors of the 7 orcs fighting Ingrid.

  Ingrid was doing well, especially with help from her magic-user henchman and illusionist henchman from below. Between Chromatic Orb, Magic Missiles, and Ingrid's broadsword Thorin only had 1 assistant and the leader left to fight. In short order they both dropped. 

  Below 12 of the orcs had surrendered and Graystar ordered them into the huts as the guards arrived. The prison has a 'no mercy' rule for riots and the guards began cutting down the magically frightened orcs, ignoring the ones in the huts as Graystar asked. 

  Meanwhile! Hans and Starkiller arrived at the mine entrance as a black cloud of smoke knocked out the guards. Emerging from the mine were 12 orc shamans leading a total of 60 zombies and an orc master shaman with a ghoul on a leash. Hans immediately charged on his warmoose, slamming through the ranks of zombies and killing the ghoul. Starkiller got bust cutting down zombies as their henchmen (three of whom were clerics who could turn!) assisted with undead slaying. It was a little dicey for a few rounds for Hans, surrounded by zombies and shamans, but the round after round of turning undead and the combat power of Starkiller cut through to him as Hans slew the shamans. A very tough fight, and close to being a loss, but they pulled it out.

  Back in the male orc compound the orc leader got up and began climbing down the wall on a rope! Ingrid remounted her fly and flew down, cutting the rope and dropping the orc leader 30' to the ground. She landed and, while he was stunned, cut his throat. She began to return to the wall when he got up again and almost tore her eyes out! She cut him down for the third time and decapitated him. She stripped his body (finding an invisible ring) and had his head burned in one fire, his body in another.

  The party went into the mines to check out the section ESP had revealed was being hidden from the guard. They found hidden quarters for the shamans, piles of preserved corpses for future zombies, and...
   ...a teleporter. With great care they were able to find out that the teleporter connected with the summit of Skull Mountain a hidden room under a hut in the make orc area. THAT hidden room had another teleporter! It connected to a bare rock in the Demon's Tears islands and the Teleporter Junction in Skull Mountain. They found evidence that the 9 assassins (the orc leader and his assistants plus the two overseers) were working on a paid mission so they - contacted the Grandfather of Assassins and asked (for a nominal fee). Since his employer hadn't paid to keep the information secret if someone asked and paid to know he willingly told them that yes, he was paid to set up a riot in the prison leading to the orcs controlling the fortress.

  The party realized that their investigation had forced them to 'go early'. In another 12-18 months the prion would have been able to field over 1,000 orcs and goblins in armor, shields, sword, slings, and more along with 240 zombies. The tunnel they found would have been used to travel to and from the Stone Hills. Combined with the Duke of Bandits (who was expected to control the entire Eagle Valley by that time) and the capture of Wyvern Keep whoever was paying the Grandfather would have had his allies control the entire Western third of the Kingdom of Seaward, forcing the Duke of Timberlake and King yo march west.

  The party wrote their theories into a message for the leadership of the Company and for the King and headed East.


  The players were pumped! We had started early and had plenty of time so they told me they wanted a short adventure for the afternoon. They realized they'd been worried about strange things in Eastford for over a game year, so they decided to take the adventurers in Seaward and have them ride North to check out the city-state of Eastford, perpetual rival of Seaward.

  They took:

      Clint the paladin and his many henchmen
      Brigid the barbarian and her henchmen
      Athanasius the cleric and his henchmen
      Talner the cleric and his henchmen
      Starfalcon the ranger and his henchmen

  A pretty tough team, but they expected this to be diplomacy and investigation.

  When they got close to Eastford they saw that all the villages of that realm had put in anti-cavalry stakes and their militia were out! Coming to a fortified farm they asked the yeoman what was afoot.

"The Lord Mayor is insane! He's hired a thousand mercenaries, called out his nobles, and the entire army is marching on Tirgalen! The Lord Mayor rides in some strange iron chariot that moves by itself and shoots fire! Its evil, I says!"

Stunned, the party changed direction and rode hard to where the army should be if that was true. In just a day and a half they found iut it was no exaggeration. The 400 soldiers of the nobles of Eastford led 1,000 mercenaries and they were already burning the watchtowers of the outer ring of Tirgalen's forces. The PCs rode hard toward the rear guard and saw a conroi ride out to face them. It was six knights, their heraldry showing six of them to be the mightiest knights and highest-ranking nobles of Eastford and they were led by the near-mythical Green Knight - said to be undefeatable in battle! Far beyond, a mile away, came a force of 60 light cavalry and, behind them, a massive iron wagon, moving on strange belts of iron rolling overer wheels, with a crystal dome on top. Within sat a man.

As the conroi approached Athanasius cast Dispel Magic and the six mighty knights all drew up on confusions. They were shouting to each other,

  "Where are we?!"
  "How did we come to this place?!"
  "I-I saw the Lord Mayor kill the Lord Mayor and then I remember nothing!"

  Undaunted and unpausing the Green Knight Couched his lance and bore down on Clint, who responded in kind. The clash of lances unhorsed the Green Knight, but he arose completely unharmed. The PC and henchmen warriors surrounded him, striking many mighty blows, but he merely laughed, unharmed, and his fierce return cuts wounded many. Henchmen mages cast damaging spells that cannot miss and they melted away. he was, truly, unstoppable and incapable of being harmed. The metal wagon and the light cavalry grew closer but they feared many would die at the hands of the Green Knight before they arrived.

  Then Talner struck with his mighty Flail of Disruption - it struck the armor and flashed with the Holt Power of the Angels and - the bright green armor of the knight screamed in agony, transformed into a demonic creature, and vanished back into the foul Abyss from whence it came leaving the Green Knight unarmored, wearing only his armor's padding. To his credit he did not flee but fought but kept fighting hard, but now that his supernatural defenses were stripped from him he fell before the Company of the Dark Moon's mightiest warriors.

  By now the cavalry was encircling the Company at a distance, obviously intent on preventing them from fleeing from the iron wagon. Inside the dome the drive shed the illusion that made him appear as the Lord Mayor of Eastford but revealed his true self - Baron Samedhi, half-demon son of the Handsome One, Scourge of Nine Nations.

  The Company had a mere moment to prepare, but prepare they did! Talner read a long-hoarded Scroll of Protection from Demons, Graystar prepared a Dispel Magic, and Brigid drank a Potion of Heroism so that she might berserk again so soon. The henchmen cast Bless, Prayer, Protection from Evil 10' radius, and one began to Chant in case the battle went so long. Those wounded grievously by the Green Knight received at leasy some healing. The mages noted that the iron wagon was surrounded with a shimmering aura - it was protected by a Minor Globe of Invulnerability.

  Closer and closer came the iron wagon and then the long pole in front of it billowed smoke and launched a great cone of demonic fire - which Graystar Dispelled! At that moment Clint used his magical boots to leap onto the top of the wagon as Talner flew up above the crystal dome, merely 20' above its top. Brigid, and Starfalcon and the others sprinted forward, eager to clamber up on the wagon's top to fight. Drawing his mighty holy sword Purifier Clint smote the crystal dome and shattered it, destroying both it and the Minor Globe. Samedhi responded by drawing his gigantic sword, two-handed to anyone less than his 8' height, one-handed for him, and sorely wounded Clint. The rear of the mighty wagon opened and 20 heavy footmen began to pour out. And the fight began in earnest.

  It hung in the balance - Purifier was forged to fight creatures from the Abyss but Samedhi was a swordmaster and wielded a might blade with demonic strength. Brigid's henchman Byron threw down a Staff of the Python but Samedhi cut it in twain instantly. Minutes of intense fighting meant that one more blow from Samedhi could kill any one of them when Talner dropped his own Staff of the Python - and it struck, entangling Samedhi! Samedhi tried to fly away, but the sphere of the Scroll of Demon Protection pinned him long enough for the party to cut him down!

  His death broke the Charms on the various leaders and the army stopped, its leaders confused and frightened. The Company stripped Samedhi as his body dissolved into ichor. Well prepared for the Three Curses all Cambion Princes cause when they die the Company spent three hours casting Exorcism three times where he fell, avoiding great evil. The demonic wagon, no longer controlled by its fell master, fell into rust. The Company told the various leaders they had been controlled by demonic forces and headed back to Eastford. 

  The next day Byron tried to Raise the slain archbishop of Eastford, but he was already welcomed into the Gates of Heaven. Athanasius Raised the Lord Mayor and explained what had happened. In gratitude he knighted them all in the Order of Eastford and gave them a large jewel each.

  After resting, casting various protective and curative spells the Company rode hard to Tirgalen to let the King of the Elves of Tirgalen know that the war was ended and hat had caused it. Met with great cheer the Company was let into the King's own throne room. There they spoke and the King promised great rewards. But then Athanasius asked what connection they had to the Tombs under Skull Mountain.

  The king's wrath was great. His soldiers drew swords and bows and the King ordered them out of Tirgalen, never to return on pain of death, swearing that they only lived because he owed them a boon. The mightiest warriors of Tirgalen escorted them beyond the borders of that elvish realm and swore terrible oaths of vengeance lest they ever return.

  The Company rode hard for the capitol of Seaward, arriving just one day after Clarence's return from distant Yashima. Clarence used his messenger genie and sent out letters calling for the first meeting of every member of the Company since its founding, years ago. The next day they attended a Mass of Thanksgiving in the Golden Cathedral in celebration of the death of the half-demon.

From the player of Athanasius

"So, actually, my hot take from the day that this happened, which I'm likely to expand into a blog post later: Because of it being a player-driven campaign, categorizing Baron Samedhi as "big bad evil guy" is inaccurate. The Baron and the Company were both independent actors with multifaceted goals, which they pursued in various, intelligent ways. The Baron was the most frequently occurring antagonistic force we faced, but that's only because of the scope of his power and goals. The encounter resulting in his death was a stroke of luck, but it was also an inevitability. Both sides had played to a point were direct confrontation in the near future was unavoidable, but both sides were also trying to continue an indirect approach for as long as possible in order to weaken the other. It just happens that when we did finally meet, we outplayed him. It could've just as easily gone the other way.

The feeling of the party now that he's out of the picture isn't a sense of completion, but a sense of relief. We've been given much more space to pursue the other goals that were on our minds- primarily exploration of heretofore untouched facets of the Graywall Hazard Sphere, and the beginnings of a potential diplomatic resolution to the Orc problem- without having to worry about the Baron proactively messing with us on his own time.

And there's still a lot more to do in order to keep the results of his previous activity off our backs.The real "big bad" of the Seaward campaign is the Unknown, which possesses both an allure for the adventurous, and an inherent hostility to civilized life."

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