Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Wrath of the Righteous: Sword of Valor: Part A and B
Eliska invited a few Shelyn acolytes (who had recently arrived from Vigil which is only a few days march away in my version of the game) to lurk in her temple so that those who came to make dark pacts with Zon Kuthon could be turned back to the light. Meanwhile her allied Nidalese engineers (Expert 1, Rogue 2) turned their efforts to digging survivors out of the rubble with a precision and dedication that led some to wonder if they were truly Pharasmins instead.
Still the racial intolerance of the city reared its head and there continued to be mutterings about Alfie's success, some finding even that as a sign of some deeper demonic scheme.
When Queen Galfrey arrived, she immediately summoned Alfie to her side and requested that he lead a small army of paladins to lay siege on Drezen, believed to be weakened by the redistribution of demonic forces following the fall of that first wardstone. He accepted the mission, nominating Commander Irabeth to lead the army. He also sought out Eliska and Lex to join him - with Eliska came her 17 followers. The Mongrelfolk also were willing to send fifteen forth to re-take Drezen (seeing it as connected to their history) led by Lann. Finally the tiefling rogues he'd turned to Kenabres' aid saw it as an opportunity for greater distinction -- and failing that, plenty of loot. They were led by Michael Rapscallion.
Basically his efforts and the plot so far meant he got a Tiny Level 2 Army ACR 1/2 that turned out to be quite handy in the battles ahead.
Due to a string of exceptionally lucky rolls, he kerb stomped the various armies with no casualties. Funnily enough, his ragtag army (called the Rosethorn Army) kept gaining tactics and morale while the official paladin army (called Heirs to the Wardstone) gained no additional morale or tactics. Sometimes the Rosethorns wiped out the opposing army during the ambush before the Heirs could even react - a good justification for why their morale wasn't as high. They were being outdone by ragtag rogues!
The temple encounter worked a charm and was a nice break from the marching army tale. So was the demoralised ex-paladin. He even picked up on the shadowblood addiction though he didn't see *spoiler warning* Nurah do it. He started running Lex and Eliska during combat as well and quite enjoyed using all three to great effect.
The swarm queen was more of a risk as it was CR 9 with several swarms for support so I had the Kuthites (expert level focused on alchemy and engineering) jury-rig a fancy alchemical bomb out of chemicals they had brought with them. The bomb was terribly unstable, necessitating the characters use some of their previously acquired potions of invisibility to not set off a swarm early, but it dealt 8d6 Cold Damage in a 30-foot radius. As Lex the Umbral Dragon is immune to cold damage, she was nominated to drop it off. The swarms were wiped out and the chief queen was damaged but not too severely, allowing for a tight battle before the other swarms arrived (rolled a 7 on a 1d8).
Finally he arrived at Drezen shortly before nightfall and made camp. he was immediately set upon by the ghoul army. He managed to wipe them out before they could retreat. At this stage I started creating mini-boss battles at the end of each army encounter to show what Alfie, Lex and Eliska were doing. The only one that truly threatened him was the Vrock, Pozlixt.
The final encounter involving the watchtowers would normally be a party only affair but since he had a small army of rogues that could be split into three conveniently similarly sized groups (as he had added on an additional five tieflings - 2 from a conquered army, 3 were among 5 prisoners in the temple that I had added to the adventure; various high Diplomacy checks had made all but one of them friendly), he could have them attack the three other watchtowers.
I determined what the enemies would be rated as in terms of 4-monster armies and calculated the attackers as level 2 rogue / level 1 expert 15-person squads. Since two of the groups managed their stealth check to catch their opponents unawares, they won without casualty. The Kuthites failed and were attacked in turn, losing 2 of their individuals but managing to win through in the end.
Alfie had a significant battle ahead since Eliska couldn't climb the watchtower and had to be left behind. She still had a part to play, though, because at one point Alfie took so much damage he turned invisible to hide from the bad guys and left it all up to Lex - who got damaged and had to fly down for healing from her (via inflict potions) before coming back up to finish the job.
Once the main party were down and healed up, I unleashed the Mythic chimera onto them. Realising that he was a non-mythic Level 6 three-person (er, creature) party with only one level worth of bard / rogue abilities on top and they were going to be up against a CR 9 chimera with three Mythic tiers, I did some fancy thinking and realised that the Kuthite expert level in Rosethorn Army had an engineering focus. I mean, heck, Rosethorn had their own siege weapon!
So naturally I allowed the four watchtowers (as some of them had crossed to the one Alfie had cleared) to make a hit with their standard catapults. Three hit and did an impressive amount of damage. Fortunately I forgot the creature's Mythic Initiative (i.e. two turns per turn) the first time around, which I later justified as it toying with them, and then had it play right. It dealt loads of damage to them all, focusing on Lex to begin with but then wishing to keep the dragon as a toy for later, it attacked Alfie with both heads (dropping him to negative hit points) and then flying off with him.
It took him to the Eyrie, put him in manacles, and left him there as a trophy with the reasoning that he would slowly bleed to death while his armies fought in vain to get to him. He stabilised, regained hit points through natural healing enough to wake up after a day, slipped his manacles, and used one of the +2 magical beast bane arrows with the +1 flaming longbow to coup de grace the sleeping mythic chimera (after making a stealth check). The coup de grace just managed to kill it with but a couple points of damage to spare leaving Alfie in its treasure lair.
He quickly looted the place and upon hearing the sounds of battle outside, he climbed out onto the edge of Fort Drezen and started making his way back to them. At this point, the player took control of the armies under the guidance of their two commanders (Rosethorn is commanded by Eliska due to her higher Charisma), and led the way to victory with another smashing success! Damnable high rolls took down the other armies with ease.
And there ends Part A and Part B of this lovely adventure. Next up ... some downtime and then Part C.