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Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 11, Part 2

The Carealian conquest of Pitax had been derailed by the sudden arrival of a fey army! A couple of hundred nuckelavee had stampeded out of the river and cleared the city of attackers! But the horrific monsters had not gone beyond the city walls, leaving the PCs and their armies wondering what to do next.

From what they could tell, the nuckelavee remained in the city, filling it with fog and water and riding around screaming their terrible shrieks. None of the inhabitants dared to venture out of doors, leaving them trapped within their own homes. In my head, the nuckelavee were in a holding pattern while Nyrissa and Irovetti argued: Nyrissa wanted the sword Briar in return for having rescued Pitax as requested, while Irovetti knew Pitax was not secure until the rest of the Caerelian forces were wiped out. Any attempt on Irovetti’s own life would be answered with the sword disappearing once more.

When the mythical monsters did not vanish after a day or two, the PCs decided that maybe now it was time to go confront Irovetti directly. Finally! I had been trying to prod them towards this course of action for what felt like a very long time. After a couple of tries, Aakif the arcanist managed to scry the king of Pitax, and found him in his bed chambers making love to a beautiful woman. Perfect! The group readied themselves for a good old scry-n-fry, cast teleport, and… got spanked by a forbiddance effect. That isn’t in the published adventure, but for me forbiddance is standard issue for all mapped locations that it might make sense for, in order to prevent such shenanigans. With a sigh, and after some healing, they set themselves to going in manually.

I Got My Eyes On You

Irovetti’s palace is a strange building. For one thing, it’s a “palace” that’s only one story tall. When the players had previously been there, I didn’t bother reading too much about it as it was just set dressing at the time, which led the players to now wonder why there was no longer a 3rd floor, much less a 2nd one. And then looking at the map, one realizes that there’s a zillion rooms but they’re mostly 5’x10′ – glorified closets, more or less. The rooms that aren’t bizarrely tiny are used for storage or as barracks. What palace has no bedrooms?!? Then we have the main hall / throne room, which is both rather large and really oddly shaped – the throne faces a wall instead of the length of the space.

Anyway, once the players wrapped their heads around the palace’s true configuration – covering a massive area, only one story, and having several rooftop platforms that held guards – they decided to beat down a guard and gain entry that way.

Using the thick pea-soup fog created by the nuckelavee as cover, they flew into the city and over to one of the rooftop guard posts. They quickly dispatched the Pitax herald, and Satampra the swashbuckler nimbly leaped down from the carpet to catch the falling body before if could make a sound. He then picked the lock on the trapdoor. So far, so good.

The swashbuckler was made invisible by the arcanist, and then crept down the ladder. He found himself on a balcony in the great hall (Q3). Seeing light and hearing voices down towards the throne, he quietly headed in that direction and found Irovetti, the king’s bodyguard Koth, and General Jurrg the ogre mage in conference, with several Pitax wardens and armored trolls standing guard. More trolls were patrolling the vast empty space. From what Satampra could overhear, the Pitaxans were frustrated with the nuckelavees’ reluctance to take the fight to the Caerelians.

After reporting on what he found, the group decided that there was no way they could take such a group. Which in my opinion ignores the massive advantage of being the only side in a D&D conflict that has buffs going – they probably could have totally beaten them if attacking with surprise. But instead, Aakif cast prying eyes, a handy spell that lets one map out the easily accessible parts of a dungeon. That was fine by me, as it meant I could just show them the map without having to try and hide portions of it.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much of interest in the palace that isn’t hidden behind a secret door, so having the map didn’t do them much good. The arcanist disintegrated a section of ceiling over Q18, a stairwell going down into the basement. The party all went inside at this point, and they wandered around for a bit with detect secret doors going. The divination was constantly registering the presence of concealed portals, but the ones they opened didn’t go anywhere they couldn’t already get to anyway. They headed over to the study (Q15), but didn’t find anything of note. Frustrated, they resolved to cover the place with a more methodical search in the next session.

Next: a secret room!

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Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 11, Part 1

With the gates of Pitax forced open by the PCs, the battle of the armies commenced! But, I didn’t really want to play that out. The players had 5 Colossal armies, lots of siege weapons, and some other assorted forces. They were almost certainly going to win regardless, so I went with more of a big-picture narrated view.

The Caerelian armies charged through the broken gates while the trebuchets smashed holes in the walls. Meeting the charge were giants riding mammoths! And wyverns! And a lot of regular soldiers as well.

As the fighting raged, King Irovetti’s voice boomed out over the town. “Take heart, my brave warriors!” he proclaimed. “Do not falter! We are not alone! I summon forces from beyond to aid our fight!

Now, this was me prompting the players that Irovetti was doing something and they really should go after him directly instead of mucking around with the armies. But having been beaten by not killed the Pitax General, Avinash Jurrg, had left them scared of going to the palace. After all, if they couldn’t kill Jurrg all those other times, how were they going to (finally) kill him with Irovetti in the fight as well?

So they stuck with the armies. By the end of the 1st day I declared that they had gotten a foothold in the SW section of the city – the gate and the theater district.

What was Irovetti up to? The adventure says something about him beseeching Nyrissa for aid. I was figuring that, with the desperate straits that Irovetti was in, he would cash in his last chip: Briar. He had been hiding the sword from her, but he needed some serious help and knew how badly she wanted it. So my take was that he was promising her the sword, which he had in his possession, in return for an army to save his bacon.

Day Two

The defenders had regrouped around Calistria’s cathedral. After examining the map, the rulers of Caerelia opted for a direct assault. Once again Irovetti’s voice rang out over the battle: “Relief is coming! Allies will arrive to wipe out these Caerelian barbarians! Our fair city will survive!” By this point I had decided that some fey army would arrive on day three, unless stopped by the PCs. But the players once again refused the bait and pressed on with the campaign.

Despite their king’s cheerleading, the defenders at the cathedral were overwhelmed, and the Caerelian soldiers poured into Troutmouth. The armies were ordered to secure the docks and the north gate, cutting off the Shattered Ward and Irovetti’s palace.

Day Three

The rulers of Caerelia were feeling pretty darn good about their situation. Or at least they were until they woke up to reports of a bank of dense fog enveloping the river. The mist began to roll forward, covering the Devil’s Tusks and then the Moondock. As the fog advanced, unholy shrieks echoed out of its depths! When it overtook the suddenly unnerved forces occupying northern Troutmouth, the clang of blades and human screams joined the terrible shrieks.

The PCs got on their flying carpet and went to see WTF was going on.

Humanoids riding horses were dimly seem through the mist, galloping out of the water and swarming the streets, cutting down anyone in their path. The group readied their arms and flew down into the fog, where they got a better look at these new arrivals. The invaders were skinless, gore-covered equine monstrosities. They were a single creature, a terrifying horse-like thing with the upper half of a demonic person growing out of its back. The creatures carried spears and swords that they were using to stab and slice the Caerelian forces, shrugging off all blows in return. The common Caerelians broke and ran away as best they could from the horrific wave of murder riding towards them.

Aakif the arcanist identified the monsters as nuckelavee, a CR 9 aquatic fey that I had selected as Nyrissa’s assistance, after asking for a short break to review the options. Several of the creatures noticed the flying rulers, and stopped to breathe clouds of disease on them. Aakif and Kwin the dwarven cleric were badly hurt, while Satampra naturally took no damage, probably by using the dwarf as cover. The PCs hurled a few spells back at the nuckelavees, but the creatures were pretty tough. The group flew back up and watched the fog slowly expand throughout the city.

They estimated the number of monsters at a couple hundred. No sweat for 5 Colossal armies, even if they were all 1st level, right? But from a mass combat perspective, the nuckelavee hit outside of their already impressive CR 9. Spell-like abilities added +4 to their mass combat rolls, and DR 10/cold iron translated in a +10 to defense against those without the proper weapons. They also caused fear. After looking at the numbers, the rulers concluded their 10,000 soldiers had zero chance. And more than that, their armies were on foot while the nuckelavee were effectively on horseback, so they couldn’t outrun them, either. It was decided that they would sacrifice one Colossal army (fighter 1’s, as they had two of those) to buy time for the others to retreat.

Kwin chose to aid the sacrificial lambs for a combat phase as an army of one. He rolled very high (17 or 18, I forget) and did just a 2 points of damage to the nuckelavees! He then retreated with the others.

They pulled the remaining armies back out of the city, discovering in the process that the monsters occupied Pitax but did not ride out of its walls. And then they waited, and wondered what to do next.

Next: into Irovetti’s palace!

Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 10, Part 2

The battle for control of Pitax’s gate continues…

End of Round 5

Avinash Jurrg, the ogre mage bard General of Pitax, appeared at the newly-created hole in the gatehouse wall (on the “stealthy” side, thanks to a wayward disintegrate) and targeted Aakif the arcanist with an Incite Rage bardic performance. Aakif made his save against the enraging sound, which should have made him immune to it for the rest of the day but I didn’t realize that at the time. The giantish bard then cast a confusion spell, although it only affected the un-suggested troll and a warden.

Round 6

Satampra the swashbuckler finished off the confused troll while Aakif shot an enervation at the ogre mage. The spell penetrated Avinash’s Spell Resistance, but only inflicted one negative level. The arcanist used his move action to move his Dazing aggressive thundercloud onto the bard (Avinash saved) and then cast a Quickened glitterdust (saved). Avinash retaliated with another Incite Rage attempt (Aakif saved) and a blindness spell (saved, thanks to his Prescience ability).

In the other gate tower, Kwin the dwarven cleric freed up Orseen the gnoll warpriest by taking over at the winch. The warpriest used Fervor to heal himself and rushed up through a trap door in the ceiling, where he was promptly crit by a waiting warden. Ouch!

Round 7

While the spellcasters dueled, the swashbuckler disposed of the confused warden. Aakif tried another envervation and rolled another 1 on the d4, directed the thundercloud onto the ogre mage again (saved), finally used his Metamagic Rod to try a Quickened suggestion (saved, and then some, as a bard vs. a language-dependent spell). The ogre mage hit Aakif with his Incite Rage a third time, which finally worked, and then tried to dominate the troll working the winch. Which should have been an easy success, but the troll improbably made its saving throw.

The cleric paused in turning the winch to stone shape the roof access opened by Orseen, closing it shut again. He wasn’t worried about the warpriest coming back down, because Orseen’s plan was to… jump off the roof and grapple Avinash in mid-air! It was a very Bill sort of plan, and also the sort of plan to which 3e/PF is generally very unfriendly towards. But dammit, he keeps trying!

In this case, Orseen suffered three attacks of opportunities from wardens on the roof, who had a lucky streak and hit the warpriest for a total of 84 points of damage. Then he rolled a grapple check against Jurrg, which badly missed the mark, and he plummeted to the ground. The fall, at least, did minimal damage!

Round 8

At this point, Satampra figured the portcullis had probably been raised enough, and used his Disable Device skill to break the control while locking it in place. The arcanist, who could not cast spells from the range engulfing him, still had access to his myriad of special abilities, and used Dimensional Slide to transport himself out of range of the Incite Rage performance. Incidentally, there’s no hard limit on being able to hear a bardic performance that I could find, so I figured 100 feet would do the trick.

With the gate winch now locked, Kwin made his way down to the base of the tower, while Orseen picked himself off the ground and started to furiously heal himself.

Round 9

His goals accomplished and the room empty save for the suggested troll, Satampra zipped outside and jumped up to the flying carpet. Aakif dimensional slid closer to Avinash, who had switched songs, and tried another enervate, though that one failed to get through the ogre mage’s SR. Avinash tried another blindness on the arcanist, but Aakif made his save. Orseen got out his ebony fly wondrous figurine and hopped on, while Kwin quietly unbarred the ground-level door leading out of the gate tower.

Round 10

Now on the flying carpet, Satampra flew above the heads of the soldiers inside the gates, distracting them while Aakif disintegrated a 10′ by 10′ hole in the middle of the massive barred wooden gates. Kwin came out and used his Might of the Gods domain power to fling one side of the gate open, and he was soon joined by Orseen who pulled open the other side. Avinash attempted one final blindness, which failed yet again, and dimension door‘d away.

Horns sounded from the besieging army. They had been told to make ready for the assault when the gates opened, and that time had arrived. The battle of Pitax was to begin in earnest.

As a side note, how the hells does one defend a castle, keep, town, etc. from wizards over 11th level? Disintegrate in particular is an “I win” button against any sort of conventional fortification. I suppose a reasonable precaution in such a highly-magical world is an army of low-level wizards armed with wands of dispel magic, trying to dispel anything an enemy caster does. One of them will roll high enough, right? Though in that case the attacking wizard just has to clear out the dispellers with long-range fireballs first…

I would love to see the evolution of magical warfare in D&D land. In the real world, new technologies and tactics enjoy a time of domination until effective counters are developed. Then the cycle begins again. There should be a rich history of countermeasures that keep mages from running amok in times of war, but I’ve never seen a D&D setting or treatise that actually grappled with the implications of high-level magic in warfare.

Next: the sacking of Pitax!

Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 10, Part 1

The armies of Caerelia were on the march! And, as the city of Pitax was so close to the border, it didn’t take them long to get to their destination. They found Pitax ringed by armies of its own – regular soldiers, Tiger Lord barbarians, even giants riding woolly mammoths. And so they encircled the city, cut off river traffic, and prepared for a siege.

Or not. As it happened, the players were too impatient to wait this one out, but also too wary to commit to the assault. After trying to stir up unrest within the city and cutting deals with Irovetti’s dissident nobility, the party settled on a plan that had served them well before. The PCs would assault one of the gates personally, force it open, and then signal the assault.

But, I had expected something like that, and figured Irovetti would have as well. The gate houses were guarded by Pitax wardens, heralds, the king’s elite trolls, and Gedovius the gargoyle. Avinash Jurrg, the ogre mage bard and General of Pitax, would also be on the lookout for any such attack and respond after a few rounds.

The battle for the gates ended up taking up the rest of the session, and I took detailed notes, so let’s get on with it…

Warmup

The PCs were mostly buffed and on the flying carpet, inside an invisibility sphere. Orseen the gnoll warpriest had also summoned his Battle Companion, a two-headed sun elemental. The controls for the portcullis were in two separate gatehouses on either side, so as before they dropped the cleric and warpriest on one side while the swashbuckler and arcanist took the other.

Round 1

Satampra the swashbuckler flew the carpet over to the other gatehouse door after dropping off Kwin the dwarven cleric and Orseen. Aakif the arcanist then used knock to open the portal quickly. The divine characters had less in the way of instant “I win” buttons to press, however. Kwin prayed for the strength of a bull and Orseen tried to bust down the door with a break check. Which failed. The funny thing is he probably could have hacked the door to pieces with his sword with no problem; the break DCs in 3e/PF are very swingy and unpredictable unless you have a truly massive Strength bonus. The frustrated warpriest ordered his sunhawk to attack the door, and the trio fended off attacks from wardens on the wall behind them.

Round 2

Satampra hopped off the flying carpet and out of the invisibility sphere and raced through the now-open door and into the gatehouse. Where he ran right past two elite troll guards who were waiting on either side of the doorway. One of the trolls’ axes cut into him, and he struck back with his blade, hurting the giant badly. Aakif also jumped down to the wall, where he stood out of the trolls’ reach and cast a Dazing aggressive thundercloud. The undamaged troll, naturally, failed its save and was dazed.

It had only been one round and Kwin had already had enough of trying to bash the door open. He peered through the keyhole, grabbed Orseen and the sunbird (ouch!), and Dimension Hopped into the gatehouse. The divine duo were also faced with two trolls, and the dwarf fired a searing light at one of them. Orseen followed that up with a liberal application of his flaming, lawful greatsword. The wardens attacked and missed Aakif on the one side of the wall and pounded on the door on the other.

Round 3

Satampra and the un-dazed troll traded axe and sword blows while the Hiding in Plain Sight Gedovius the gargoyle rogue maneuvered into flanking position. Then he appeared out of the stonework to attack! And missed! Of course! The arcanist suggested to the un-dazed troll that he start turning the winch to raise the portcullis, which naturally worked.. Aakif then moved the aggressive thundercloud to the gargoyle, who easily made the Reflex saving throw.

The cleric called down a holy smite, followed by Orseen killing the troll he had been laboring to slice up and moving on to the other one. The wardens continued to try and strike down the door separating them and the divine PCs on the one side, and continued to miss Aakif’s sky-high AC on the other.

Round 4

The suggested troll, being rather strong even for a giant, began to push the winch handle around, even though no one was moving the one in the other gatehouse. With one dazed and the other under an enchantment, the swashbuckler was free to focus on Gedovius, and he did so to the tune of 158 points of damage, just shy of downing the monstrous killer. Gedovious hid in response! Aakif moved the thundercloud back onto its original target before it became un-dazed but for once I made a saving throw. Then the arcanist disintegrated part of the opposite wall, hoping to catch the gargoyle. He didn’t, but he did open up a big convenient hole in the side of the tower.

Meanwhile, Kwin healed Orseen, who at this point had taken some serious poundings from the trolls. Orseen also used Fervor to heal himself, then dispatched the last troll and ordered his sunbird to burn the bodies. The pair of PCs saw their winch moving on its own, signaling to them that the other side had made more progress.

Round 5

While the ensorcelled troll pushed at the winch, the recently un-dazed one managed to tag Aakif with an axe, triggering the arcanist’s contingency and mirror image. Satampra spun around to strike at the giant and cover the wizard’s retreat, while Gedovius (still unseen) fled through that convenient new opening in the wall. Aakif backed away from the troll, defensively summoning a stinking cloud outside the doorway, as wardens were starting to pour into the already-crowded chamber. One of them made it through and dispelled a mirror image.

Back with the priests, Orseen ran to help with the portcullis winch while Kwin looked at the splintering door in alarm. He bent down (but only a little, being a dwarf had some advantages) and prayed for a blade barrier to appear on the opposite side of the door. Much screaming and slicing and wet meat sounds followed, and the door was attacked no more.

But just as the group collectively felt that they had a handle on the situation, a flying General Avinash Jurrg, ogre mage bard, appeared at the gap in the tower wall that Aakif created with his disintegrate spell…

Next: rematch!

Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 9

Fresh from severing the connection between their world and the First World, the adventurers emerged from the mountain lair to find a land still blanketed in winter. Aakif the arcanist theorized that it would take time for the winter incursion to “die” off, and that they should keep in touch with the Nomen centaurs to monitor its collapse. In the meantime, though, they had a were-whale-wolf to catch!

The creature in question was an akhlut, a wolf/orca creature from Inuit legend (and Bestiary 3). I was looking for weird winter monsters that could be considered fey when I stumbled upon it, and thought it was perfect for the occasion. The players seemed to think so, too, because they wanted to add it to their menagerie back in the capital, which had recently been depleted of its creatures. But, after studying it, the arcanist declared that the monster had the ability to create blizzards around itself, and so it was probably not a good idea to house it in their capital city.

I thought that would be the end of it, but the players were concerned about what to do with the beast. They felt that they couldn’t leave it in the southern Tors of Levenies, but they also didn’t want to kill it and couldn’t return it home (the First World not being reachable via plane shift, which we had only recently learned). In the end they decided that that the plane of Elysium, being untouched wilderness, was pretty close to the First World and resolved to try and send it there. This involved a ridiculous amount of buffing, the rolling of initiative, and then Kwin the dwarven cleric swooping in, touching the massive creature, and it failing its saving throw. POP. And it was gone. Take that, snooty azata!

10,000 Maniacs

With that excursion concluded, the group returned to Stagfell and the immediate matter of the war with Pitax. Since the defense of Fort Drelev Heptamus, the Caerelians had deployed several Colossal armies in the vicinity but had not seen any more action. Spies reported that Irovetti was gathering all of his forces near the city of Pitax for another assault, which led to the rulers wondering if they had enough. So they resolved to gather more strength in turn.

At the next kingdom turn, they raised three new Colossal armies – one of fighter 1’s, one of cleric 1’s, and one warpriest 1’s. Or, as Drew put it, fighers, clerics, and fighter/clerics. The new armies set out for the western border to join the others – more than 10,000 soldiers in total! The council also laid plans to start having casters with wands or scrolls of sending at key locations, so that they could have instant warning of further attacks.

While the recruiting and marching and planning was going on, the council was also in talks with their southern neighbor, Mivon. It was agreed that both kingdoms would attack on the same day in order to keep Pitax from effectively defending one or both fronts. Mivon was allowed to keep whatever it took, which was probably land that lies off the edge of the official map anyway.

Tiger Troubles

With the kingdom turn done and the armies in motion, the PCs turned themselves to a more personal task: REVENGE! The spellcasters tried to repeatedly scry on Avinash Jurrg, PItax’s General who had frustrated the group a couple of times at the Battle of Fort Drelev Heptamus. But the divinations never worked, owing to Avinash’s high Spell Resistance and saving throws.

Undeterred, the party switched targets to Alisen, the weretiger that had killed their previous cleric. Alisen, being a normal 14th level NPC without any particular magical protections against scrying and possessing a middling Will save, was soon spied upon. She was out in the field, apparently in command of an army – the Catspaw Marauders, normally location O on the map. Buffs were cast, the PCs teleported in when she was in her tent in the evening, and she was quickly taken down by a suffocation spell. She got off one attack which, of course, missed.

Alisen’s marauders came after the assassins, but they quickly grabbed the weretiger’s body and teleported out. The next day, Kwin attempted to speak with dead, and Alisen failed that saving throw as well, because why succeed at anything at this point! But she didn’t know much of interest to the group. Avinash was with the main army and the armies were ordered to defend the capital.

In truth I wasn’t sure what else Irovetti could do at this point. Striking at Caerelia again either meant smashing against the wall of armies at Fort Drelev Heptamus or trying to go around. But one had to go a long way around, and because of the swamp there was only one way to go. Any attack would be met with the PCs teleporting in to save the day and having the armies arrive afterwards to mop up. I maybe could have come up with some clever plan, but I just didn’t have it in me. The PCs are armies unto themselves that can instantly move anywhere they need to be – it’s tough to combat that with conventional forces. Also, I think I was just ready to get this adventure over with an move on to the finale.

And so with that, the date was set for the march on Pitax to commence!

Next: the siege of Pitax!

Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 8, Part 2

While investigating an outbreak of winter at the height of summer, the party came to the entrance to a dragon lair in the Tors of Levenies.

The icy cave tunnel extended far into the mountain’s depths. The noise of the howling wind outside soon faded into nothingness as the group’s flying carpet floated down the stone passage. But soon after the silence descended, it was lifted by the echoing sound of someone crying. As the group proceeded, the impossibly sorrowful sound became louder and clearer, with the arcanist and warpriest failing their Will saving throws, leaving them shaken. The PCs looked around as the carpet took them forward, looking for the source of the unnerving sound, but it was bouncing off of the stone, seeming to come from everywhere at once. Satampra the swashbuckler called out, “Who is there? Why are you crying? Show yourself!”

A beautiful yet grief-stricken voice responded, “I weep for those who will soon be dead. I weep for those who will be lost because of your hubris, Emperor.” Satampra scoffed and the party, sensing some animosity here, readied for an attack. “So many will fall because of your incalculable pride. So many souls collected by the reaper. That is why I cry, arrogant human.” The tunnel then opened into a massive cavern containing the icy corpse of a silvery dragon! Its head appeared to have been melted, its chest rent open. A large draconic heart floated in the air above the corpse.

“That must be the anchor point!” whispered Aakif the arcanist. Orseen the gnoll warpriest directed the carpet up towards the organ and reached out to touch it.

“I weep,” said the echoing voice of the still unseen crying woman, “for those that I am about to kill!” And with that, a beautiful (aren’t they all) elfin woman with black eyes that streamed a river of tears fell onto Orseen and stabbed him in the back!

Longtime readers may recall the Weeping Woman, a fey assassin I had created a while back but had not gotten the chance to properly use. As the campaign inches towards the end, I’m trying to clear out my folders of NPCs that I’ve made for the game. The Woman encountered here has a few more levels, and is now a lampad assassin 9/unchained rogue 3. With the new levels, she’s gained Hide in Plain Sight and a limited ability to do Death Attacks without spending rounds of studying the target.

Orseen made his saving throws this time, against death and poison. The assassin won initiative and stabbed the warpriest again, and again he made his saving throws against death and poison. Then she leaped off of him and vanished from sight, thanks to Hide In Plain Sight.

The gnoll used his Fervor to staunch the bleeding wounds while he activated his ebony fly figurine and hopped onto to it. Then he started summoning his Battle Companion, a two-headed sun bird, as the others fruitlessly looked about for their attacker. Aakif lucked out and rolled very high, and in doing so actually beat the Weeping Woman’s Stealth total. Which was enough to hit her with a glitterdust spell. So much for Hide in Plain Sight…

The faerie dropped down and used her innate ability to meld into stone, but that was foiled by the arcanist’s disintegrate. Satampra and Orseen converged on the assassin, who was now at the bottom of a 10′ cube. The swashbuckler broke out his fey-bane spear (from the Lonely Warrior’s tomb) which had not been used in a while, and stabbed the would-be killer with it while hasted (boots of speed) and flanking. The spearhead flashed repeatedly as it stabbed into faerie flesh, and with a cry the Weeping Women fell.

Heart of the Matter

After healing the warpriest and looting the body, the group assembled around the floating heart. Touching it had no apparent ill effect, so Satampra struggled to push it back into the dragon’s body, thinking that would end the First World incursion. But the organ would not budge. After some time spent discussing theories and plans for action, Orseen said “screw it,” and prayed for the magic surrounding the heart to be dispelled. And he rolled a 20 on his caster level check.

I had no firm plan for what this was or how it could be undone. My vague thought was that the BBEGs are trying out different ways for the rituals they will unleash in book 6 to work. The first real attempt was unstable. This one was probably self-sustaining, but when Orseen aced his dispel check I thought it must have been dependent on the “anchor.” By the time book 6 comes around, the incursions will be trickier to stop.

All of that is to say that I wanted to reward the players for their success here, and had Orseen’s prayer end this proto-bloom (this led to an ecstatic Bill chanting about how he had dispelled a planar incursion all by himself). The dragon heart fell to the ground and shattered into icy shards, and although it was still cold in the cave, the group could feel a shift in the atmosphere that implied the unnatural winter was over.

A further search of the lair revealed that the silver dragon’s hoard had probably already been taken. With no further treasure to find, the adventurers headed back for open air, hoping to capture the were-whale-wolf for their menagerie…

Next: where walks the were-whale-wolf!

Kingmaker: War of the River Kings, Session 8, Part 1

Following up on a tip from a dead man, the party conducted a scry-n-kidnap on one Liberto Scarpelli, officer in Pitax’s army and the one who led the raid on Whiterose Abbey. They wanted to know where the thorn-wrapped sword and the nereid’s shawl went to, though their prisoner was initially confused. “Shawl? What shawl?!” was his response to their questions.

“Was there any pieces of cloth with the sword?” asked Satampra the swashbuckler, more than a little exasperated.

“Well, the sword was wrapped in an iridescent blanket…” Liberto confirmed that both shawl and sword had been handed over to King Irovetti.

With that out of the way, the rulers of Caerelia went on to the next pressing matter: a First World incursion had evidently taken root in the Nomen Heights. The centaurs reported a zone of winter (the red hexes) that had descended out of the southern Tors, despite it being the middle of summer. Aakif the arcanist had come up with a theoretical framework for magically locating the origin of such incursions, but it would take a few months to perfect a spell. In the meantime, Satampra was convinced that these attacks were somehow tied to “corrupted” areas and assumed the center point was somewhere in the cyclops graveyard near the tomb of Vordakai the lich. The only problem was, due to PC turnover, there were no teleporters who had been there before! So the swashbuckler ended up buying a scroll of teleport and Use Magic Device’d it to bring the party there.

Snowplace Like Home

The PCs found themselves knee-deep in snow, with a fierce wind blowing ice and sleet into their faces. Dimly seen through the precipitation were towering and crumbling gravestones poking up through the drifts and extending to the limits of their vision. After passing around prayers of endure elements, the flying carpet was unrolled and the adventurers climbed on.

Because of the strong winds, they had to stay low while flying, so that they were floating just above the tops of the gravestones. After some time, they stumbled across a trio of ice giants (frost giants with the Icy Creature template) who were throwing boulders of ice at them. Dazing aggressive thunderclouds, create acid pits (which the giants, surprisingly, were unable to climb out of with their measly +10 Climb), flame strikes followed. Satampra and Orseen the gnoll warpriest leaped down and engaged the in melee only to get paralyzed by the giants’ extreme cold. But the monsters were soon dispatched regardless.

The group realized that they weren’t going to find what they were looking for just by wandering around. After racking their brains, someone recalled an encounter with a silver dragon who was looking for her brother, which they had never followed up on. That led to the idea of using find the path to take them to the brother dragon’s lair, thinking perhaps that was a likely location for the incursion’s origin. Which was, indeed, where I had placed it! So they hunkered down until happy hour, when Kwin the dwarven cleric could change out his prayers.

Soon the dwarf was directing the carpet up into the mountains as they headed towards the heart of the blizzard. The group figured it was probably nighttime when they reached their destination, though it was impossible to tell given the storm. Through the driving ice and snow, they could barely make out a cave in the side of the mountain… and a massive quadruped patrolling the entrance. What was it? Aakif the arcanist cast an invisibility sphere and they got closer, revealing a… killer whale/wolf hybrid? The rulers dubbed it a were-whale-wolf (it was an ahklut, a creature from Inuit legend) and slipped past it to enter the cavern.

Next: the heart of the problem!