The war continues. After the initial confrontation at the Stone Bridge, the war reached its crescendo as the champions of Aldoria broke the line of mastodon riding hill giants. But first… we did all this stuff.
Merrowyn doing what she’s told
Merrowyn walked the battlefield looking at the bodies of her fallen warriors. 100 followers of Gorum, all of them rent and broken. Cut by blades, hewn by wyvern fangs, or pierced by arrows. As she walked across the battlefield, feeling like an imposter of a general and a failure as a leader, she heard a presence behind her. It was Santiago with a wolf smile on his face (not a wolfish smile, a wolf smile, because he’s a wolf). “Did you hear them last night?”
“100 Gorumites all singing of their glorious death in the halls of the boneyard.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t hear any of them. I just heard wails of pain and agony and death.”
Merrowyn wasn’t feeling good, and she took it out on those around her. In this case Santiago. However she thought there might be a way to rectify this sorrow, by going and killing Villamor Koth! Santiago was game, Imogen was ready to teleport her into his camp. But they didn’t know where he was. And Olivetta didn’t have a scrying spell prepared. And Savia kept reminding Merrowyn what a general should do. And Ovinrbaane wanted her to kill him on the battlefield in front of everyone. And. And. And. And. And….
The only person who was just ready to go with her was Miquela. All decked out and ready for a fight, but but that time Merrowyn had already given up and would fight Koth tomorrow on the battlefield…or the next day really, because tomorrow we’d probably be marching to Sellen’s Gate to defend it. Bleh.
A crisis of faith
While tending to the sick Olivetta and Imogen ran into one another. “So what’s the plan?” inquired Olivetta.
Imogen had lots of plans for lots of things, but she wasn’t sure what the witch was speaking of. “The plan to protect our families spirit realm after you fulfill your destiny. You know the plan to cheat Jonus the BALANCER.”
Imogen had no plan. She made the agreement in good faith, which upset Olivetta quite a bit as she was not only talking about destroying the home of her ancestors, but also the source of her power. And Imogen was just ready to let it all go.
This did not go over well.
Olivetta was angry as Imogen for deciding on her own to destroy the family home and Imogen thought it was selfish for Olivetta to desire to keep them for her own benefit. Neither one was really ready to budge.
Except Olivetta. She did make one change. Which was to give up her faith in Pharasma and change her alignment from Chaotic Neutral to Neutral. And doing that all just before war. Talk about putting your soul in a perilous place!
Tactical withdrawal – not fleeing at all.
In the morning Merrowyn commanded Arvin and his rangers to form our vanguard and protect the Swordlords Own, the 2nd Infantry, and the First Cavalry as they withdrew to Sellen’s gate to reinforce the Mivon Bravos against the forces moving up from the south.
The rangers used their knowledge of the nearby Narlmarches, the their speed, and deadly accuracy to harry the Cat’s Paw Marauders and the Pitaxian Horde, slowing them down, but taking heavy losses in doing so. At the end of the day Merrowny received a letter by raven that they had held them off as long as they could before retreating into the woods to meet up with the Red Claw and Sootscale’s Own (an army of Kobold infantry).
Status Report at Sellen’s Gate
When we arrived we found that Tad and Leccio had made their way to Sellen’s gate, and that many reports were coming in about the status of the approaching armies. We tallied them as
- A Pitax Regiment, 2000 strong, armed with bows.
- 100 Trolls
- 50 wyverns
- And something else they were using everything in their power to screen. Some scrying spells however revealed it was 100 hill giants on mastodons, lead by a Rune Giant, along with a regiment of Pitax Wardens led by Kasten Garess!
Fun times. And good that we had made it to Sellen’s gate. It’s wall and castle would be needed!
…a night later than you expected by someone else?
Merrowyn’s plan of teleport into his command tent and murder Villamor Koth, then teleport back turned out to actually be the plan, just a night later than she meant it. Leaving once we got back to Sellen’s gate meant the troops were safe (or safe-ish) behind the wall and that Olivetta had a scrying spell prepared.
Wave of Fatigue is the worst (read: the best)
Before jumping in Merrowyn found a temple which had a scroll of Wave of Fatigue. Being a barbarian herself, Merrowyn knew what a buzz kill that would be for Koth and his companions. Imogen cast invisibility on us, we teleported in. Merrowyn read the scroll and hit most of them in it’s area of effect, and then the fight was on. They all wanted to rage, but most of them were just too sleepy to do it. Yay!
The fight was cramped and awkward leaving us all pressed up against each other [without any dex bonuses]. Asses and elbows just like a rogue with lots of sneak attack dice likes it. Fun times with lots of sword slingers getting stabby and spellcasters being crafty!
After he died and alarm went off in the camp. The horde came rushing to their fallen commander’s aid. We shoved Koth and one of his commanders in a bag of holding, dropped a cloudkill spell, and teleported home. Yikes, Imogen is a fucking one woman army killer!
Loots taken off their bodies:
- Greataxe +2
- Hide armor +3
- Potion of Barkskin (+3) x 2
- Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (CL 9) x 3
- Ring of Protection +1
- Hide armor +5
- Potion of Barkskin (+5)
- Potion of Heal (CL 15)
- Ring of Protection +2
- Vicious Greataxe +2
- Koth’s head on a pike, to be displayed on the wall of Sellen’s gate before his troops when the came to attack us the next day.
Tired as we were from the fight and concerned about being prepared for the battle the next day, Tad helped us out with some pick me up alchemical concoctions.
A trip to the Tusk
Imogen, still having a few teleport spells as her disposal then went to the Tusk with Miquela, where they checked in on the kids, grabbed MikMek, met with Sootscale and ask him to guard the Tusk with his 2nd heavy infantry, bought a scroll of greater dispel magic, and then teleported back.
Still in the middle of the night we sent MikMek to go find the Rune Giant and place something on him, or take something of his so we could scry on him and break his control. Imogen then set to learning Greater Dispel. Just six hours of reading before battle in the morning. Tad, make that a double!
Gorum be praised there was a lot of death this day! To the south we had the forces mentioned above, lead by none other than Avinash Jurrg! To our north was the Pitaxian Horde (diminished and demoralized but not destroyed) and the Cat’s Paw Mauraders. Inside Sellen’s gate we had the Mivon Bravos, the Swordlord’s Own, and the 2nd Infantry. Outside we had Arvin’s Rangers, the Red Claw, Sootscale’s Own (who appeared later in the day, being carried by the rangers and druids) and the 1st Cavarly.
The battle itself was an ugly siege. The cities defenses are really the only thing that kept us alive, and allowed us to repel and destroy the enemy forces. As the armies battled on the walls, the heroes [read: PCs] made grand displays to bolster their morale, terrify our foes, counter their leaders tactics, or just outright destroy enemy forces. A few of the highlights:
- Imogen casting Circle of Death right in the center of the Pitaxian Regiment…countered by Avinash Jurrg.
- Merrowyn chanting the Gorumskagat as she fought along the wall to embolden the Swordlord’s Own.
- Miquela used her dragon-bane arrows to fell five wyverns before the reached our walls.
- Elara following suit and firing arrows blessed by Deadeye himself to slay even more.
- Olivetta attempted to dominate one of the enemy commanders, but he miraculously resisted her enchantments.
- Miquela meant to mutilate the body of Koth on the wall before the horde but Leccio though it would be more impactful to hit their current leader with the head of Koth, launched from a catapult.
- Merrowyn flew up to harass and distract Avinash Jurrg, first by chasing him down and attacking him savagely then when she had his attention, calling upon Ovinrbaane to counter his magic as he tried to summon another mighty demon to fight her.
- Avinash Jurrg casting a holy blight on the entire city of Sellen’s Gate, a horrific spell that would have killed most of the civilian population… if not for Imogen being prepared with her Greater Dispel Magic to counter it!
- Elara casting a blistering invective to terrify a group of soldiers and lash them with flames.
- Olivetta using a mass suggestion to divert the troll forces and block up the enemy ranks.
- Imogen casting cloudkill just outside the walls as the Pitax regiment was trying to scale them.
- Merrowyn flying over the Pitax Horde, waving Ovinrbaane over their heads commanding them to follow her or be destroyed… and then when they hesitated concentrating all forces on destroying them (which we did!).
Call out the Champions
As the trolls and wyverns fell to the ground with a thunderous crash, the horde was destroyed, and the Cat’s Paw Marauders furled their banners and retreated, we could feel first then see the rumbling dust cloud of death on our horizon. A look of grave concern washed over all of our faces. While our soldiers were loyal and well trained, they were not prepared to take on these kind of forces. There was a pause and then Savia’s 2nd in command (the brutal half-ork) shouted out in a voice that resonated across the battlefield. “Champions. Attack!”
And with that we leapt to action. All the great heroes of Aldoria vaulted over our walls and charged, flew, or rode out into the field to do battle! We had Aldo and Robillard, Arvin and the Twins, Savia and her commanders. And of course, the leaders of the realm [yeah, us, the PCs]. We charged in to break their line or die trying!
Fog of War
Elara and Miquela teamed up to tear down giants one by one. Imogen summoned a throng of gargantuan flaming woolly rhinos to traple the somehow smaller mamoths under foot and gor them with flaming tusk. Merrowyn and Olivetta used their hats of disguise to appear as wardens, infiltrate the front lines and get to Kasten.
And then we got into the fray and were lost in the chaos of dust and blood.
Elara and Miquela did indeed fight giants…including the Rune Giant who apparently had a real hate on for all of us because we killed Vordekai. Who knew ol’ vordo had a BFF.
He was deadly. Deadly as fuck. However, Miquela and Imogen and Elara are even deadlier. In two rounds of combat Miquela and Elara scored five critical hits on him. Thank you Battlefield Mind + Improved Critical + Critical Focus + Haste + Outflank + Precise Strike (the teamwork feat) + Precise Strike (the swashbuckler ability). 300 hit points of ugly buys you apparently two rounds in front of the meat slicers!
Amid all this confusion, Oliveta, who had first dispelled the compulsion spell on a Hill Giant, and then cast one of her own, and was amiably riding behind it on the mastadon, couldn’t spot the giant 60′ tree Merrowyn had dropped in the middle of the battlefield [Feather tokens are awesome] but she did find Kasten.
In a brief exchange between then she cast an evil eye on him, tried to hex him to sleep, was nearly decapitated by him when it didn’t work, and then – for the first time in this campaign – successfully used her ice tomb hex to encase him in ice!
Coming to a close
The giant’s leader killed, Kasten captured, and much of their forces wrecked in the face by our heroes, they fled the field. As we came out of the dust we saw the Pitax Regiment had finally scaled the walls and were about to break our resistance when an army of a thousand centaurs led by Xanthia swarmed in and destroyed them.
Inside our dungeon we talked some about what to do, then Merrowyn lost her patience and chopped off one of Kasten’s hands. After a tense moment, we saw the First World ring appear, and then Kasten’s stern face fall into tears.
Having our individual character actions during the battle made it a lot more fun for me and I think for everyone else. Simply rolling the battle dice is pretty unsatisfying. There just isn’t enough tactical nuance to make the mass combat system fun in it’s own right.
Messing with Avinash Jurrg was great. I’d never called on the swords 1/day Dispel Magic spell (Caster Level 20) so it was super fun to get to use it. Similarly, Imogen just countering his holy blight with a greater dispel and using her potent magic arcanist exploit was super cool.
Telling the Horde we would crush them and then when they paused, crushing them? Win!
The fog of war was a great complication. We had all these plans and it was cool to see us all scrambling to make them work.
Riding on the back of a flaming whooly rhino? What won’t Merrowyn try to ride? So good, even at 3d6 fire damage a round. Sooooo good!
Dropping a giant oak tree in the middle of the battlefield didn’t really do anything useful, but it was fun.
That rune giant. Man, he was rough. And I really liked him, for the three rounds he lived at least. Nice to see some tie in from earlier modules.
A lot of firsts for spells this time around. A herd of flaming whooly rhinos. Circle of Death. Cloudkill. Blistering Invective. Good stuff!
Oh that wave of exhaustion was good. I remembered when Vordekai used it in us. So much fun to use it right back!
The debate between Olivetta and Imogen was amazing. Possibly one of the best parts of the game. Then Olivetta abandoning Pharasma. AMAZEBALLS!
We all leveled up and our surviving armies all gain +1 morale and a new tactic. Woot!
What could have been improved
Merrowyn had a couple of false starts this game. I really wanted to go kill Koth and then totally got to exactly that, but the next day on other people’s terms. I feel like I should have just pushed, been vengeful and gone for it, but even my bloodthirsty sword said to wait. Killing him the next night was all good. I just wondered why my plan was such a bad one, when the good was was to do the same thing only a night later. Similarly I thought she’d have this show down with Kasten and as I imagined it he was about to murderate Olivetta when she charged on the back of his steed. They could have had an awesome battle. But she was 300 yards away and it was impossible to clear the distance… so she charged for two rounds and then went “oh well” as he was already encased in ice. Not really sure what to do about that, or if anything should have been done. I had plenty of good moments this game and sometimes things just don’t work out.
It’s too bad Elara didn’t have a more meaningful interaction with Katen. Olivetta and Imogen didn’t know him. I was pretty satisfied playing the much more callous Merrowyn who didn’t give a shit about him, or at least pretended not to give a shit. Miquela was in it for the intel he could offer about Pitax, which seems just right. But Elara has always has this attraction to him and she wanted to nurture him and I didn’t see that happen. Instead Rudolpho had the really meaningful connection of telling him he hasn’t quit. Which was cool to see, I just wish that had been Elara. Good news is that he’s with us now and she can have that scene (or scenes) next game.
Mass Combat is fucking rough when you’re attacking someone inside a city. I mean, we had +11 to our defensive values. It was just gross. The only way, that I can see to make it work is with siege weapons. Which is kind of great, I mean it make some sense. But they are bloody expensive (15 BP per engine). I think is just a guarantee though that if we want to take Pitax we’re going to need them. Sellen’s Gate isn’t half as fortified as The Tusk, so I can only imagine how brutal Pitax will be. And even then, siege weapons reduce DV bonuses from cities by 1d4 per round. So you’re likely to be battling them for a long ass time before their DV is low enough to hurt!
I change our strategy to “murderous” or whatever the most aggressive one is. I think for Mivon, that is what they call it.
“Stop embarrassing me!” The line that would have landed great if Merrowyn wasn’t 300 yards from Kasten and by the time she got there he was already frozen in ice and ready to be teleported into our dungeon for decapitation. As is she was just shouting into the wind.