Monday, 1 June 2009

4ed Campaign -- Session 24 -- 24th May 2009

In which they don't make carpets like they used to, the theory that dwarven beards always grow back thicker is put to the test, and hallelujah! It's raining duergar!
Azurami - Eladrin Wizard 4
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 4
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 4
Finial - Half-elf Paladin 4
Jonas - Human Ranger 4
Xavier - Dragonborn Warlord 4

The fight against Krand and his duergar allies heats up very quickly... not least because the expensive carpet with which he has covered the floor of his hideout bursts into flame at the slightest provocation, creating a conflagration which spreads rapidly across the room.

The fire sprites leap excitedly into the midst of the party, dodging several blows to get into position, and suddenly ignite into columns of flame which roar upward and singe the stone roof above. More than one of the adventurers is set ablaze by this attack, and the heat of the creatures forces them back, but Krand appears unphased as the sprites take up position either side of him, the sparks and flames of their auras obscuring the hobgoblin from sight. Meanwhile, the invisible duergar takes this opportunity to strike, phasing into existence alongside a distracted Azurami and dealing her a serious blow before vanishing from sight once again.

From here the fight is as much about avoiding going up in flames as it is about defending themselves and dispatching their enemies. The fire gradually eats across the room, pushing the adventurers further towards the ledge. As Xavier and the melee specialists do their utmost to pin Krand and his allies into position, Elumai ducks into the bedchamber to escape the heat, and spots a couple of interesting things.

In one corner is a patch of gellatinous slime, spilled out across the floor as if evacuated from a container of some sort. Amongst the thick, jelly-like humours are stringy ropes of matter like thin coils of pipe, and other fleshy masses float like large exploded blisters on the surface. In quiet desperation against the encroaching heat, Elumai splatters some of the jelly onto the expanding fire... where it immediately extinguishes the flames and hardens into a thin, transparent patina on the floor, keeping the flames a few steps at bay from the bedchamber at least. Apart from the strange goop, a wooden chest also catches her attention, and a quick look inside reveals a few coin and some gems. She doesn't waste time searching the entire thing for now.

Outside, a tenacious defense has dispatched all of their foes except for Krand and the duergar scout, now both retreating through the flames to a hidden escape route through the back of the fireplace. Berend charges through the inferno in pursuit, gritting his teeth against the heat and flames, and pins them down, allowing his allies to deal the killing blows from behind. At the same time, Xavier and Azurami heave what's left of the carpet back onto itself, rolling it up in a successful attempt to beat back the fire. Soon, the blaze is out, leaving only the scorched, smoke-filled interior of Krand's quarters... at least, what's left of them.

In return for victory, the wooden chest turns up an impressive pile of booty... but not before Elumai, unwilling yet to share the full haul with members of the party she does not yet fully trust, has secretly pocketed several gems. Otherwise, a set of Bracers of Defense go to Azurami, a Master's Wand of Magic Missile +1 goes to Elumai, gratefully received to enhance her staple attack, and Krand's Magic Longspear +1 goes to Xavier. A selection of potions is handed around, and a bundle of duergar beard quills, tied with string and sitting at the bottom of the chest, is a mystery to the company, but taken nevertheless.

Of separate interest is a sheaf of accounts, showing the dealings of the Bloodreavers over recent months. It lists individual slaves (quality rated on a scale of 1 to 5), codenames for their buyers, and the price fetched. "2 x Human female, Kingsblade" stands out amongst the entries, as does "1 x Elven child", a prize which was sold to a buyer codenamed "Arak" for 2500gp, a sum far in excess of any of the others, even the Kingsblade.

Finally, they find a collection of letters between Krand and none other than Kalarel, the scion of Orcus who was behind the plot to open the portal to the Shadowfell near Winterhaven. It seems Kalarel had promised to deliver the "expendable" occupants of the town to Krand once his plan had come to fruition, but annotations in (presumably) Krand's own hand reveal that Kalarel was foiled by a group of strangers staying in Winterhaven at the time. His final note, underlined at the bottom of the final letter from Kalarel, simply reads: "Find these bastards."

In a separate chest of drawers, the party discovers a selection of ceremonial outfits, all expensively tailored in Krand's size, representing characters from various religious festivals in support of all of the Gods of the land. What he used this garb for remains a mystery.

Fearing a visit from Bloodreaver reinforcements, or perhaps the Ordinator Arcanis after all the trouble they've caused, the party bolsters their position and takes a rest. Jonas enjoys the opportunity of spying on the activities of the Hall from the high vantage, seeing little of note except, perhaps, for what is presumably a mage, who appears in a flash of light on the teleportation circle and pays a lengthy visit to the Grimmerzhul Trading Post, an establishment which Jonas knows is run by duergar.

The group follows Krand's secret escape down a series of stairwells and chutes back to the Seven-Pillared Hall, where they return to the Halfmoon Inn to meet with Orontor (and, later, are forced to make a brief and somewhat sheepish return visit to the Chamber of Eyes to find and collect Rendil, whom they had left trussed up in an unexplored room).

Orontor meets them as promised, delighted to find them having returned in one piece from their mission, although he is somewhat sickened by the presentation of a bloody sack containing Krand's head. He innocently enquires after any "packages" which they might have found, any unusual artifacts delivered to the Bloodreavers which he suspects may have been destined for Paldemar, but the party chooses not to tell him about referenced they found to the mysterious Necrotech Coffin. Nevertheless, he pays them the princely sum of 350gp, and agrees to follow through on his promise to arrange a meeting with Paldemar... if only he could take the paper accounts they found, for study. The party promises to make him a copy, and Orontor goes on his way, dissatisfied but with no other recourse, and tells them to meet him back at the inn when the Trading Bell tolls later that evening.

This leaves the party with a sack full of unanswered questions, and an entire afternoon to kill...


Wedge said...

I'm a little tardy in this write-up, as we're already a full run ahead of this session, but this was one of those fights that ate up almost an entire session without the DM - i.e. me - ever meaning it to.

I wanted the fight with Krand to have a couple of surprises, notably the invisibility of the duergar scout and the fact that he could summon some crazy little fire sprites to help in the fight, and I also wanted it to have seriously hazardous terrain, i.e. the expanding flames. This would allow me to use Krand's Phalanx Soldier ability a little creatively (he used the sprites' flames to grant him his AC bonus), to hopefully make the players ask themselves the question of how he was immune to the heat, to reinforce my campaign-specific flavour for the duergar (heavily fire-based), and not least to throw an intense combat in a confined space at the group to see what they could do.

I achieved all of this, and the fight was fun, but I learned a few lessons in advertising situational features to the party (i.e. what the fire would do to them), and also in taking my own advice with regards to Krand, who I contemplated rebuilding for the encounter but did not. He therefore didn't make much of an impression, at least in combat, and the major enemy of the piece became the expanding flames, rather than the bad guy they were designed to help... ah well.

Next time... duergar everywhere, and where in the world is the Horned Hold?

Phil said...

This encounter was not an easy walkover. It may have seemed that the party dealt with Krand and his cronies with relative ease, but it took the use of plenty of powers and a group working well together to survive what could well have be a ill-fated death of one or more of the party members.

Nice one Neil. This was a fun and challenging encounter.