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Kingmaker: Intermission #1, Session 9, Part 2

April 29, 2016

After stepping through the faerie ring, the four adventurers – Aurelius the fighter, Mestinous the elven wizard, Remesio the cleric, and Satampra the swashbuckler – found themselves on a snow-covered hill, surrounded by tall trees and enormous gravestones. There was a giant-size mausoleum in one direction and a crooked tower in the other. Thick clumps of snow drifted down from the grey sky.

Everything about their surroundings was big. The snow was piled in drifts up past their waists. The pine trees towered far above their heads. And the stone grave markers were at least 10′ tall, with carved letters almost as large as the explorers.

“If I were a giant, where would I keep my treasure?” wondered Satampra. He guessed the tower was their best bet, and the group started to make their way over to it, using Aurelius’ tower shield to plow a path in the snow. That was ultimately too slow for the swashbuckler, though, and so he hopped atop the snow and nimbly danced over the drifts, thanks to his elven boots.

The ramshackle tower was about 200′ tall and leaned over at a precipitous angle. Naturally, it was sized for a giant. Its massive door was either locked, or too stuck for Satampra to budge. Looking up the length of the tower, he noticed several windows higher up, and he set to scaling the side of the spire while his companions struggled through the snow.

Groot!

Everyone’s efforts were interrupted by a loud grooting sound, which the party knew meant owlbears (part growl, part hoot – groot!). Soon an owlbear with snow-white feathers and icy translucent beak and claws (icy creature template) waddled down the path that the party had plowed. The creature angrily grooted at them again before charging, but was quickly dispatched by a fireball from Mestinous and Aurelius’ sword. Satampra saw that the others were able to handle the beast, and swung through a window into the tower. The inside was empty, save for a giantish spiral staircase that wound its way to the top of the edifice. He began to climb.

As the others got close to the tower, a voice boomed across the graveyard: “FIE! WHAT WRETCH HAS INTRUDED UPON OUR DOMAIN?” Three large silhouettes could be seen approaching through the thick snowfall. In a very Salar-like moment, Aurelius’ reaction was a desire to make friends. “We are only simple travelers from Caerelia,” he called out in giantish, “here to seek peace between our people!” The ice giants didn’t know where or what Caerelia was, but after that was clarified they wanted to know what became of their brethren who had ventured there. “Um, we killed them,” Aurelius was forced to admit. “But only because they were raiding our farms and mines!” The giants didn’t care for his answer, and readied their tremendous two-handed axes for battle.

When Aurelius had started talking, Remesio and Mestinous ran and hid behind separate grave markers. But now that a fight was imminent, the elf rushed back up to the fighter and sprinkled about 250 gp’s worth of diamond dust on him while uttering a stoneskin spell. Remesio remained concealed while he fervently prayed to the gods for a battle blessing. Satampra continued to climb the spire.

Aurelius met the first giant’s axe with his shield and then followed it up with a sword strike that chipped away at the creature’s icy hide. The other two giants came around the sides in a simple flanking maneuver, and Mestinous, seeing that he was about to be exposed to danger, ran off into the snow. Remesio prayed that the closest giant be held, and it was! Now Aurelius only faced two of the towering warriors. His shield absorbed another greataxe blow from the first, rattling him greatly – the giants’ attacks were so mighty that even the stoneskin barely protected him. Then the other giant came forward to swing at Aurelius, and cleaved the human in twain. Giant + power attack + greataxe + crit = dead PC.

Finally Satampra reached the top of the tower, and he was greatly disappointed to find there was no treasure up there. It was just an observation platform, it seemed. From that height he could see across the weird and warped land that they found themselves in – an impossibly thick forest, a lake consumed by a whirlpool, a tall rocky spire with an enormous raven perched atop it – it was more than a little crazy. And then a flash of red caused him to glance down, where he saw Aurelius spattered across the snow.

Mestinous and Remesio both cast spells of flight, and took to the air to avoid the giants’ axes. So the giants pulled large rocks out of their bags and threw those instead! The wizard flung fireballs and flaming spheres at the frozen marauders, while the cleric flew to the tower to grab Satampra. The two then dive-bombed their large foes with flasks of alchemical fire. One giant fell, and the others ran off in opposite directions. Mestinous chased one, firing magic missiles as he went, until the warrior dived into a snow drift and hid himself from view.

The group reconvened at the mausoleum. If there was no treasure in the tower, reasoned Satampra, surely there would be some in the tomb! But its entrance was blocked by a massive slab of stone that had been pushed into place; there was no conventional door to open. While they pondered how to get inside, a new voice resounded across the yard: “INVADERS? KILLED MY MEN?!? I, KARGSTAAD, WILL FLAY THE SKIN FROM THEIR BONES AND THEN EAT THEIR TOES! TO ME, MY WARRIORS!” That was a bit of improv bluster on my part, but it turned out well I think – kinda gruesome and kinda cute, and the players complimented me on my almost-rhyme. 🙂 Maybe human toes are like popcorn to giants? Soon the form of powerful four-armed giant could be seen coming towards the adventurers, backed up by several more of the two-armed variety.

The players quickly abandoned their quest for loot at that point. Aurelius’ body was scooped up and flown to the faerie ring. Everyone hastily stepped through, and once they were all back home they stomped and burned the toadstools that comprised the ring with extreme prejudice.

New Arrivals

Apparently, Aurelius’ last will and testament included instructions to reincarnate him if he should die, because it worked out so well for Iofur’s mother, right? The dice were rolled and the Councilor came back as… a halfling! Salar was back! Oh, how we laughed. Salar had always wanted to be a halfling tank, anyway. But Bill, the player, was not enthused about losing 4 points of Strength (-2 from losing his human bonus, -2 for being a halfling) and having to replace or resize his equipment, and opted to retire his character instead. There was some discussion that perhaps halfling Aurelius might continue as Councilor while the player brought in a new character that did not sit on the council.

In happier news, in the spring of 4716, Mestinous’ wife Tamara gave birth to healthy half-elven baby boy that was named Hadric. In the summer of the same year, Empress Sojana birthed a human baby boy named Jantiff. The throne finally had its heir – and a buddy for him to grow up with!

Two Heads Aren’t Always Better Than One

Brevoy_symbolYears passed by, and Caerelia flourished. Varnhold slowly beat back the Nomen centaurs and pushed east into the plains of the Dunsward. To the north, however, tensions between the Great Houses of Brevoy (and Restov) intensified. Brevoy had been formed by conquest, but all who carried the conqueror’s blood had vanished overnight back in the Vanishing of 4699, and the constituent parts of the country were gradually coming apart in the wake of that event. And as Regent Noleski Surtova felt his hold on power slipping, he tightened his grip.

In Restov’s case, that led to renewed suspicions surrounding the Swordlords’ motives in founding the Stolen Land colonies. In each case, there were good reasons for the expansions – driving out the Nomen, putting down a would-be bandit lord, establishing safe trade routes with the River Kingdoms – but the outposts would also presumably join on the Swordlords’ side should the city make a bid for independence. Eventually the Dragonscale Throne leaned on Restov to cut off all ties with its client territories as a show of fidelity. And Restov, not wishing to start trouble just yet, complied.

This had unfortunate consequences for Fort Drelev, the colony most heavily supported, and most in need of support, by the Swordlords. Without Restov’s aid, it was feared that the struggling barony might fall before the Tiger Lord barbarians, and Baron Hannis Drelev personally reached out for new allies. But the rulers of Caerelia had little love for their western neighbor – they always suspected Fort Drelev of being responsible for Grigori in some way – and refused to lend a hand.

Some time later, in Lamashan (October) of 4718, eight years after Caerelia was founded and 19 years after the Vanishing, disturbing rumors began to filter in from the east. The town of Varnhold, it was reported, was no more.

Next: the second vanishing!

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16 Comments
  1. Mei Yu Lian permalink

    The bit about Drelev reaching out to the PCs, did you just dictate that, or did you actually run it by the players? Because if they did reject him, that’s just beautiful! 🙂

    • It actually didn’t occur to me until I was writing this up. It is a nice bit of serendipity with later events. isn’t it? But I will run it by the players next session. The thing is, they really do think Fort Drelev had some involvement with Grigori, and their general is a Tiger Lord, and Hannis is a bit of a jerk who thinks he’s better than they are, so I feel fairly confidant in predicting their response.

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        Beautiful! 🙂

      • As expected, they did indeed turn Drelev down. They did, however, offer to build a road connecting their kingdoms to facilitate trade. Mostly because Bill (Salar’s player) really really wanted to make friends with him. As he does with everyone.

  2. Pinkius permalink

    Drelev didn’t really do that much wrong in our campaign, other than general underhandedness.
    He shouted a challenge out to our party through a closed door, so my cavalier eagerly kicked the door open and accepted the offer of a duel, whereupon two guys tried to stab him through his armor and bounced off. He was a very annoying duelist, he refused to stop disarming the cavalier, and kept trying to run over to attack the rest of the party instead of getting destroyed in 1v1 combat with a melee specialist.

    • That was foolish. As a high-level melee specialist himself, his only real hope vs. your typical D&D adventuring party is to get into a 1-on-1 duel with a non-caster. Though as a fighter/rogue, he’s definitely on the weak side. My Drelev is 100% swashbuckler…

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        100% Swashbuckler? Satisfied with the result?

      • As much as one could be satisfied with a high-level martial NPC that has to take on a group of PCs. He’s supposed to be a lightly-armored duelist, and no other class comes close to doing that effectively. Either way, he’s much better as a Swash12 than the F6/R6 in the book. He can do 1d8+30 damage with a regular strike, or 1d8+42 if he spends a panache to double his extra precision damage. Also gave him a bunch of stuff to make him effective vs. spellcasters (disruptive feat, distracting weapon).

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        Seems… not horrible 🙂

      • The big issue with Drelev is that I don’t have enough feats to do everything I want… For example, he’s a master swordsman or whatever, so shouldn’t he be able to disarm? But jeez it takes a lot of feats to make that a useful tactic. Needs to be able to screw with spellcasters? Another bag of feats needed. Terrible Will save? and so on… Right now my inclination is to just drop the disarming – it’s a neat trick in a one-on-one duel, assuming you’re even able to pull it off, but not so great vs. a group.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Ah, well, thing was the cavalier had like, 3 swords, and a blinkback belt, so the disarming was only an inconvenience. Also the rest of the party was busy beating the snot out of his mistress, one Lady Maray.
        Who then apologized and eventually married her beater, the Cleric-king of Gorum

      • Mei Yu Lian permalink

        Stockholm syndrome?

      • Pinkius permalink

        I think she was just an opportunist

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Kingmaker: Intermission #1, Session 9, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  2. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 1, Part 1 | Daddy DM
  3. Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 3, Part 2 | Daddy DM

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