Wednesday, 12 May 2010

4ed Campaign -- Session 49 -- Sunday 25th April 2010

In which two prisoners is two too many, and the dragon-queen of the Forbidden Forge finally gets to meet her maker...

Roster (Party Level 10th)
Berend - Dwarven Fighter
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard
Finial - Half-elf Paladin
Jonas - Human Rogue/Ranger

Jelia's keeper, the hobgoblin Bladebearer Valsath, who has made his own deal with Calmachia, makes his move on the party as they rest following their exertions earlier that day. He brings what's left of his payroll to bear, including two flail-wielding bugbears, a hobgoblin bard whose discordant hymns unsettle the senses of his enemies, and several of his front-line warriors.

The company is awakened by sounds of the bugbears smashing down the door to Jelia's recluse. They form a defensive line at the door and are held there while Jonas slips past and leaps over the pool of molten metal to gain a distant advantage. He's pursued by several mercenaries, but whether through inattentiveness or because they simply haven't been told, they fall through the catwalk trap and plunge to an immolated doom below. Jonas sets about dispatching what's left of that force.

Jelia hides out of sight, perhaps afraid that Valsath will focus on her if given the chance, and although the hobgoblin and his compatriots fight ferociously to protect their claim on the fortunes of the forge, they are hard pressed to achieve victory. The party is bloodied, but the mercenaries are squeezed into defeat in the confined combat.

Valsath himself trakes tremendous punishment before finally succumbing to his better sense and offering surrender, but the party is taking no chances, and continues to pummel him into submission.

"Boys, boys! I've surrendered! There's no need for--"
-- Valsath, just before being smashed in the face by Berend.

Jelia distracts the party and tries to take the opportunity to finish the hobgoblin off, but she's frustrated by the ephemeral force which prevents her from leaving the lower level of the forge, and so settles for a bargain with the party that when they interrogate him, they'll make him beg for his life, just once or twice.

Jelia stands by with an amused smirk as Valsath awakes, struggles with his bonds, and realises what trouble he's in. The party asks whether feeding him to Calmachia will help or hinder their efforts, but he just spits at Jelia and sneers at them.

"It's real easy. You want the secrets to the forge? Feed that bitch to the dragon. She thought she could waltz in, flick a few switches, mutter a few incantations, and walk out with an army of warforged behind her... sell it to the highest bidder. She hired me, but the dragon made me a better offer. Made me promises I think she could have made good on... a new dawn for the Bladebearers, everyone else marching to my tune..."
-- Valsath, under interrogation in the Creation Forge.

Valsath explains that Calmachia is busying herself creating dragon-like "children", and that those without dragon-blood are impure and fit only to die. He is pragmatic about his future, and quick to admit defeat at the hands of the company. The party seems about to release him, but Jelia is not so forgiving, and once again lunges for the hobgoblin, leaving the party no choice but to defend the Bladebearer from the artificer. "What are you doing?" she screams. "If you're all too feeble for the deed, I'll do it for you!"

Chaos spreads. Valsath is soon dead by Jonas's hands, and Jelia finds herself in the sights of his crossbow, arguing for her life. It's Elumai, however, who loses patience with her, and unleashes magic intending to take her out of the picture before she can cause any more trouble. Defended by her iron cobra, Jelia makes a break for the deeper rooms of the Forge, and the party decides simply to let her go, although the construct is not so lucky, giving its life so that its master can escape.

The room to which Jelia fled turns out to be a laboratory, of sorts, with the company looking down from a catwalk which runs around the perimeter. There's evidence that Valsath and his men have used it as a berth, with loose blankets and assorted junk lying around the place. Assorted arcane contraptions, some of them animated, some of them being tended to by small, wheeled constructs flitting to and fro, stand bubbling and wheezing in the room below. On the opposite catwalk, two double doors stand slightly ajar, and a ruddy light emanates from within.

Elumai immediately sets to understanding the devices and within a few minutes, discovers that they have the capability (and remaining alchemical reagents) to imbue one weapon and one suit of armour with powerful new abilities. The company considers it worth the risk to take the time to activate these boons, and luckily they are left undisturbed.

When they eventually push-on, they find a dimly lit room, clearly the forge itself. In the center of the room is a large half-sphere with a surface of what looks like undulating basalt and a flat glass frontage smeared with ash. The interior floor of the forge is carpeted with black and gray coals, the very heart of which is smouldering like the embers of a campfire. However all of this pales next to the huge metallic dragon curled up on top of the forge, its tail swishing lazily back and forth, it's huge needle-toothed maw nestled in its claws and looking straight at Jonas as he peeks inside the door.

He gestures for the rest of the party to approach, but the dragon speaks in a metallic, and distinctly female voice. "I can't hear you if you whisper in the shadows! Come inside, and let us talk. I have no quarrel with you. I will live for centuries in the greatness of my forge, and though you may have killed my children, thousands more will arise to take their place. Come, let us discuss your futures..."

The party has no patience for such discussions, however, and sees only a future in which they stand victorious over Calmachia's shattered corpse. "No, we fight!" declares Finial, and leaps to the attack.

Calmachia rises to her full height, fanning her wings and filling almost the entire room, while the forge begins to pulse in sympathy. Jonas jumps and leaps at her throat, tearing at the machinery of the dragon, but the damage causes some kind of feedback which blows him onto his backside in an explosion of static blue light. Elumai's freezing cloud cakes both the dragon and the forge in ice, which almost immediately begins to melt and run into rivulets down the side of the device.

Berend charges into the creature, smashing his axe into her flank and sending a spray of metallic shards and red, rubber-like tissue into the air. Calmachia rears around on Berend, and rasps "Obey!" at the dwarf, who is immediately filled with nothing but the desire to please his new mistress. Metal scraping on metal, she launches herself into the air above the party, the downdraft from her wings beating onto the heads of the company, and unleashes her breath onto Finial and Jonas. The air seems to fracture, sending splintered shards of force into their flesh, and blowing them painfully back into the walls of the forge. In answer, Finial calls down Bahamut's wrath, burning Calmachia from within whenever she attacks the party.

At this point, the glass front of the forge splits and rotates inward. Two malformed drakes, barely alive and mewing pathetically, heave themselves from the coals and into the fray. The dragon roars and shakes its head as Elumai's phantasmal force sends it into a panic, unleashing another breath weapon which sends Jonas stumbling backwards... into the forge. The glass front slides shut, trapping him.

Focusing on Finial, she bites down on him, picking up the paladin in her huge mouth, snapping her neck around and spinning him haplessly over the top of the forge, leaving a trail of blood through the air.

By this time the company has done huge damage to the machinery of Calmachia's body, and it starts to take its toll. Even powered-down, the forge builds more drakelings quickly but in their half-formed state they are largely ineffective against the mobile company. Jonas cuts his way out of the forge and brings his blade to bear, while Elumai maintains her assault on the dragon's mind causing it to literally attack itself, ripping a knot of complex gears from her own back.

"The claws of Arkhosia will sweep away your nations!" she promises, defending herself desperately against renewed assaults and attempting to grab Finial again, but her movements cause jets of murky liquid to spill from various wounds and the paladin easily smashes her attack away. The dragon attempts to take to the air again but is simply too weak. and she falls beneath the magic and weapons of the party.

1 comment:

Wedge said...

Lots of fun to be had in this session. There seems to be a murky heart to this party which is starting to come through when they have prisoners to deal with. It's all very cool and we'll see to what dark places it takes us. :)

Like many WotC adventures "The Forbidden Forge" is rife with combat, but I have to say that the only one that felt a bit workmanlike was the scrap with Valsath. All the others had a decent place in the story and pushed the adventure to a new place, but Valsath was just a roadblock, and for that he will never be forgiven! Calmachia, of course, turned out to be a fun and unpredictable villain. If the party hadn't de-activated the forge by then, it could have turned very nasty indeed.