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Kingmaker: Blood for Blood, Session 14, Part 2

February 16, 2018

When the party exited the fog, they found themselves in a large natural cavern (D10). On their right was a tall rise, the edge of which was littered with tall stalagmites. Satampra the swashbuckler, armed with true seeing, spotted a set of doors set into the stone far to the left. As the group moved into the room, skeletons clattered forward to stand among the stalagmites, bows at the ready. But the tomb raiders were still invisible and silent, and could not be detected.

On the other side of the doors was more fog. They were able to follow the wall without getting confused at the junction, and soon found themselves at yet another web-filled stairwell. But this time there was light on the other side! After burning their way through, instead of finding a blank wall or doors covered by illusions as they had before, they discovered a huge room filled with columns (D11). Fountains burbled on either side of them, and two large braziers blazed away at the far end. The light of the flames danced from behind the columns, casting lines of shadow over the walls.

Standing between the braziers was a giant of a man, dressed in ceremonial armor and holding an iron-tipped spear, positively thrumming with divine power. Despite their invisibility, it seemed like he was looking right at them. His mouth moved, but they heard nothing until they covered the stone that was radiating silence.

“…Zorek, chosen by Gorum himself to guard the resting place of Armag the conqueror,” his voice thundered. “Only the faithful may pass, and you are no servants of our Lord in Iron.”

“Did the new Armag – y’know, the Twice-Born – did he pass?”

He passed the tests, unlike you cowards!”

The players figured there was going to be a fight, so they might as well get it over with. Zorek the divine guardian (rebuilt as an oracle, not that it ended up mattering) won initiative and called forth a wall of spinning iron blades (blade barrier) between himself and the PCs. Remesio the cleric responded by using dimension door to move everyone to the stairway behind Zorek – which I had decided, perhaps mistakenly, not filled with webs from the guards and wards effect. Satampra got to work on unlocking the doors at the top of the stairs. Zorek flame strike’d the group, only hitting the casters, but then Skala the arcanist created a wall of force, walling off the stairs from the guardian. The oracle didn’t have any way past that, aside from his spear, and Skala was feeling pretty clever.

The swashbuckler quickly got the doors unlocked and swung them open to reveal a chamber similar in size and shape to the one that they had just left (D12). Many braziers were scattered around the place, providing plenty of light that illuminated a grisly and bizarre scene. Dried blood was everywhere, which apparently came from the hacked up and decomposing Tiger Lord bodies that lay all about the room. Two rows of skeletal warriors stood guard, and drew their weapons as the doors opened. Behind them sat a large, muscular barbarian, kneeling on the ground, a huge sword cradled in his arms and laying across his lap. His eyes sprung open at the sound of the skeletons moving, and his face curled into a hateful snarl!

Measure Once, Murder Twice

The PCs’ invisibility spells were about to wear off, and so they decided to dispense with the sneaking about and leapt to the attack! Satampra bounded forward, trying to maneuver around the skeletons – which he figured were the cleric’s job – in order to get to Armag Twice-Born. Remesio called forth a holy smite, and Skala summoned some Evard’s black tentacles. While the grasping tendrils did a good job of containing most of the skeletons, Armag easily shrugged them off and moved up to slash at the swashbuckler for a lot of damage! Skala then hasted the PCs while the cleric tried channeling energy to destroy the undead – though by that time they were realizing the skeletons were tougher than normal. The Emperor unleashed a hasted full attack on the barbarian, which did some damage, but when Armag took his full attack in response, Satampra was left with the realization that he could not survive another round of that.

The arcanist figured they could drop Armag in an acid pit and either deal with the skeletons or run away, but Armag made his Reflex save. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do here – I rebuilt Armag as a full barbarian, and gave him the Superstition rage power which provides a save bonus against all spells and spell-like abilities. Did that bonus apply to a spell that created a thing, like the pit spells? I couldn’t quickly find an answer either way, and decided that it did, and that bonus actually made the difference. The warlord leaped back as the pit opened up beneath him.

Meanwhile, Remesio was getting chopped to pieces by the skeletons! He tried channeling again, but was unable to destroy the one skeletal warrior attacking him. On its next turn, it struck the cleric with its sword, bringing him to -15 hit points out of a possible -16. Then Armag made his save against the pit again (for starting his turn standing next to it) and ran around it to attack Satampra, which left him also at -15 hit points out of a possible -16.

Skala didn’t have any way to get healing to either of them before they died, and really his character couldn’t have known exactly how bad of shape they were in. With Armag and the remaining skeletons about to tear him to pieces, he wisely chose to grab his two companions and teleported them all back to their capital. Both Remesio and Satampra failed the (almost impossible) stabilization checks, lost another hit point, and died.

Deaths so far in this adventure: Remesio, 1; Satampra, 3.

Next: revenge!

  1. Pinkius permalink

    Ah yes, the old “Let’s bypass an encounter and get sandwiched between the boss and his sub-boss strategy.
    That was unwise.

    • But pretty clever all the same! Zorek really didn’t have any way of taking down the wall of force, and IIRC could only do like 7 damage to it per strike, after hardness. Their main mistake was not thinking that the skeletal warriors were a threat, and not bringing along their meat shield. And not being buffed. If they had, for instance, used the opportunity of getting safely to the other side of Zorek to prepare for battle – they knew Armag had passed him – things would have gone differently, I think.

      • Not buffing before a high level boss fight does seem like a pretty bad idea.

      • Pinkius permalink

        Mm, I usually prepare wall of force, it’s such a handy spell to screw over martial characters with, even if they can fly. But when my party did Kingmaker our wizard didn’t have it here. This guy liked his Heal and Harm spells. Brutal against a strength based, melee centric group.

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