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Kingmaker: Rivers Run Red, Session 25, Part 2

July 5, 2015

Thunder rumbled, rain crashed down, lightning flashed, and a fierce wind blew as Caerelia’s troops slowly advanced into the muddy clearing. Facing them was a small group of enslaved humans, armed with spears and driven forward by the slavering trolls at their back, and a larger group of troll warriors, led by a terrible two-headed mutant. Yelling to be heard over the gale, Satampra the swashbuckler ordered the commander to avoid harming the slaves, clapped him on the shoulder, and rode off with the rest of the council. None of the PCs wanted to be stuck leading the battle and missing out on the real fun, and so they promoted a generically capable officer to handle matters on the ground while they went after the boss.

They rode around the edge of the clearing, heading for the spire and the crowned troll that stood near its top. The troll king, Hargulka, saw them approach and retreated into the spire with his guard.

At the base of the spire, the group located a path that led up, built so that it was nearly impossible to see from afar. They left their horses and quickly proceeded up the trail, until they came to the ledge where the king had just stood. Set in the stone cliff by the ledge was a concealed door that, once upon a time, would have blended seamlessly into the rock. But it had been broken open, and would no longer close properly.

Mestinous the elven wizard, Iofur the druid, and Remesio the cleric doled out spells, invocations, and prayers, giving great strength and size to Boliden the barbarian, amazing agility to Satampra, and supernatural speed to all. Boliden then kicked in the door and they stormed inside.

Da Da-Dun Dun!

Rivers Run Red 25cThey immediately ran into two trolls and a trollhound, a big ugly beast that shared the uncanny regeneration of their namesake. Iofur started to summon a tiger, but all three foes were beaten down before he could even finish the spell! The party rushed forward, ignoring a passage on the left, into a large meeting room, where they encountered more evil giants and their pets. A troll hiding in that ignored passage came up behind the group as they fought, but was felled by an extraplanar tiger summoned by Mestinous. More trollhounds rushed into the large chamber from the passage to the party’s right, and then Kargadd the rock troll and some more regular trolls charged in from the other direction. As each new group of foes appeared, they were quickly put down by the magically enhanced PCs.

“This is crazy!” exclaimed Mestinous’ player. “When did trolls get so weak?!” The others replied that the party was just that much more awesome now, and there is some truth to that – trolls are CR 5 and the party has six level 7 PCs. But also, in previous engagements they were usually taking on multiple trolls all at once, in open terrain, and often without the benefit of buffing ahead of time. Not to mention that within the stronghold, the trolls were caught at chokepoints and entered into the fight in drips and drabs. Also, the trolls had no magical support this time around.

It was not all milk and honey, however. When Kargadd appeared, Breen Everstead the monk zipped across the meeting chamber, leaping over the stone table, to do battle. But the monk had been clawed and bitten a few times already, and had received no healing – Remesio was busy torching the fallen trolls and hounds while the others ran rampant. Breen’s jump over the table turned into a flying kick, straight into the rock troll’s snout, but then monk was snatched out of the air and torn apart by two claw attacks and a rend. And a bite, I suppose, but the monk was already in pieces by that point. That’s four PC deaths so far, although only two players (Travaris/Simon and Salar/Breen) have lost characters. I sense a pattern forming…

Rivers Run Red 25dNo more trolls appeared. The group slowed down as their haste spell expired, and they said a quick prayer for the monk before advancing. A bit of searching led them to the throneroom of Hargulka, king of the trolls. The troll king sat upon his crude throne, alone, awaiting this final confrontation.

Heavy is the Head

Hargulka began to speak, but the players were worried about their spells expiring, and immediately attacked! Mestinous had a summoned tiger that had one round left, and he ordered it forward. It pounced on the surprised king, just as he was standing up from his throne. For maximum embarrassment, all five of the beast’s attacks hit, as did its grapple check – have I mentioned I hate these damn tigers? But as the king fought off the tiger with one hand, he tore a fiery-colored bead from his necklace with the other and tossed it at the party, who were clustered in the entryway. The bead exploded into a 8 HD fireball, although almost everyone made their save. The tiger then vanished as its spell ran out. Mestinous pulled out a scroll and hasted everyone again, and Satampra and Boliden charged forward to engage Hargulka.

Hargulka brought his spiked club down in a savage arc towards Satampra’s head, intending to do battle king-to-king. But Satampra’s blade turned the blow aside at the last moment – a swashbuckler parry – which threw the troll off balance. The rest of his attacks missed, and then Boliden lopped off his head with a greataxe crit. That’s two-for-two on the BBEG-downed-by-greataxe-crit front.

The adventurers grabbed the troll king’s head and rushed back outside, where they held it up high and proclaimed Hargulka’s reign to be over. No one could hear them over the howling wind and thunder, but they were noticed all the same, and the troll warband broke and fled into the forest. The enslaved humans threw down their spears and sobbed with relief. The soldiers, weary and bloodied, would have cheered had they the strength. Nevertheless, victory was theirs!

Epilogue

After patching up everyone that could be patched, the council members performed a leisurely looting of the stronghold. They found several BP worth of goods and materials, along with the coin and gems that had been taken in the trolls’ rampages. On Hargulka’s finger, they discovered a ring woven from green hair, clasped in impossibly fine gold, a larger twin to the one that still hung from Mestinous’ neck. As they held the band, it shrunk down from troll-finger size to human-finger size. Iofur wanted to wear it – it functioned as a ring of protection +1 – but was talked out of it by the others, who feared that wearing the ring let the Green Lady (the adventure path’s BBEG) spy on them. Instead, the druid claimed a rose-colored ioun stone that was found in one of the caves.

In the morning, everyone set out in good cheer for Stagfell, and after several days of travel they returned home without further incident. But when they reached the capital, they found that it had been attacked in their absence! A giant owlbear had stormed the town, trashing the barracks and (“Not the brothel, not the brothel!” they cried) the brothel! The group succeeded in the Stability check to limit Talonquake’s damage to two plots, instead of 1d4+2 plots, which was fortunate. 2 ruined plots meant +2 Unrest, for a total of 9, which is bad enough. But 1d4+2 Unrest would have probably pushed them into death-spiral territory.

Next: the hunt for Talonquake!

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