Monday 20 May 2024

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 66 (Machodor #32); Battle Braunstein!


The Bandit Mountains

Braunstein: A Diplomacy-like game where players take on individual roles either cooperating or else working against each other’s interests under a fog of war. The referee meets with them in succession and while the referee adjudicates interactions between players as they come up, the other players are free to engage in negotiations and diplomacy in the next room. 

Battle Braunstein: An application of the Braunstein concept to a single session of an ongoing campaign, usually involving one of more battles using the rules of AD&D. Thankyou Jeffro


Introduction

In the days after the PCs jousted with the Black Knight in session #31, our special little dog, Snowball, died from cancer. Although we knew it was coming, that foreknowledge did not help with the grief of loosing a member of the family who had grown up with my daughter, was a constant companion for my wife when I was at work, and was my reading buddy and so on. Though I had a lot of support from the Bros, I did not have it in me to play or DM for some time. However, right before this, quite a few Patron actions and some PC downtime requests had been put in train and were now due to happen during this period. So, when I began to pull myself together, I had to consider how to process all these things and allow the campaign to continue on in 1:1 Time. Thanks to Jeffro's example, and BDubs' bullying of Dundermoose, I was already looking for a way to set up a Battle Braunstein, and this seemed like the ideal solution.


Players

MM p69
Of the regulars only one declined to play a patron, instead imbedding one of his PCs with another patron in the hope of getting an easy ride to Minas Mandalf.

The patrons consisted of:
Four Merchant Companies generated from the Monster Manual entry under "Men". This classic case of BROSR low DM prep was taken up by the players to produce:

  • Magnus, Jerry & Reed, starting from the Valley of Fear
  • East Machodor Trading Conglomerate, starting from St. Raul
  • Commeatus Rusticorum, Starting from Schloss Ragnar
  • Ancestor's Spirit, starting from Guarda

Helping (or hindering) the merchants were three other players:

  • Oreb the Oracular (Secretly the KENKURIAN, leader of a large Kenku faction)
  • Connor MrGregor (leader of the the Irish at Castle Irish)
  • Sir Colias (Paladin Commander of the Machodorian Pegasus Corps 6th Company)

And, lastly, a special guess patron, Harold Wolfshead, played a faction generated from the bandit entry in the MM (p66). 

Patrons not present, but who had submitted various orders for the day were:
  • Master of Winter
  • Others still hidden in the fog of war




Preparation

As Fluid has mentioned, Braunstein scenarios need to be bounded in some way so as to encourage interactions between factions and to furnish meaningful outcomes. The below aspects were shaped by this necessity.

Map

If any one reading this is dedicated enough at reading my session reports (hi mum) they may have spotted a few changes in the Bandit Mountains map above. After bringing it up to date, the main difference is the encroachment of the desert from the west. This reflects the ongoing and, so far, barely explored phenomenon some PCs investigated one time and have since left alone. Acknowledging that it would be reaching the mountains by now also meant that the route from Schloss Ragnar to Minas Mandalf in that direction is now cut off to normal traffic, and this put paid to the many players who took one look at the map and wanted to go around the mountains completely to get to their destination.

Faction preparation

Starting about a week out from the session the Merchant players generated their forces and developed their individual takes and specialties. The Irish, Pegasus, and Kenku factions were told what forces were available to them and from all this, along with the Master of Winter and *others*, I produced a Faction summary sheet for each. (note to self, print each faction on its own separate sheet, or at least number the pages!)

Calendar

Printing one of these to mark off as the days passed was very useful. However, each day on the calendar didn't have enough space, I would make it bigger next time. I should also label days with appropriate holidays so I don't miss them when they crop up; St Patrick's Day actually fell at an opportune time but I didn't realise until after the session.

Rumors

To shake up any plans that might already have been negotiated by the players, in the lead up to game night I threw out a few rumours:

  • The town of Eigermatt exports necklaces with healing properties; such would sell for a fortune in Saint Raul.
  • The occupants of Castle Von Necro have allowed small parties to pass through their valley without attacking, but no large force has dared to cross it in many months.
  • It is said that there is an isolated town, marked on the map, that no one has contacted for years and that has not been reached by any known merchant companies. 

Some of these were followed up in the session.

Rules

  • Movement to be adjudicated daily. Within the Bandit Mountains:
    • Wagons: 3 hexes per day
    • Foot troops: 3 hexes per day (force marching possible according to the DMG)
    • Mounted troops: 5-6-8 hexes per day (for heavy, medium, and light horse)
    • Pegasus: 5 hexes per HOUR
    • Kenku:2 hexes per HOUR
  • General Battle Braunstein Scoring:
    • income (selling goods, hiring out guys, etc) 
    • minus a penalty for loosing troops 
    • plus bonus for defeating enemies 
    • plus possible one off bonuses.
  • Some patrons had special conditions that were not public knowledge.
  • Battles to be adjudicated in a similar fashion to that used here
  • Winner(s) to get a training voucher to apply to any one of their characters.


Now, I think it needs to be said that a BB does not at all require the detailed level of constraints and rules that I applied in this instance. However, once some of the decisions were made, some driven by patron orders and others driven by the choice to include merchant factions as players, the rule applications that followed were easy to derive from the PHB, DMG, & MM; and doing so saved time and confusion on the day. 

On the other hand, it would have been possible to just have the merchants as hapless NPCs that the Master of Winter and other hazards were attacking, and to just report the results of these events to the other players without binding them to daily turns in response; but I think in this case it was worth it and made for a better game.


Session Report

Day 1 Friday March 15

It was a clear day and all players were able to make moves unopposed, except for Magnus. Coming down from the Fortress of Fear, he found himself faced by the forces of Harold Wolfshead; would there be a fight straight away? 

No, instead a negotiation started, or at least that was the idea; but, when I jumped into the separate voice chat it wasn't Magnus but Oreb the Oracular who was in there with Harold. I'm not sure quite what was going on there, but this was a meeting the KENKURIAN player could have arranged so it was not really a problem. It was a good example of the DM loosing control almost instantly in a BB! 

Next, Magnus joined the chat and Oreb the Oracular went on his way. The humans negotiated a deal rather than fight it out, a win win situation for them; but disappointing for the Pegasus 6th Company player, who had brought some forces into the area with an expectation of attacking someone. I had thought that this might be the only interaction Harold would get with other players, given that there were no more Merchants in his immediate area; but he proved that to be very wrong. Rather than just waving Magnus through, his forces accompanied him to the vicinity of Castle Irish and from there hatched plans to elevate his standing in the region.

Meanwhile:

  • Commeatus Rusticorum forced marched from Schloss Ragnar and made it to Castle Irish. 
  • The Ancestor's Spirit moved east from Guarda without issues. This player had the most possible choices of routes, so it was interesting to see what he chose.
  • EMTC moved west from St Raul towards the mountains without issues.


Day 2 Saturday March 16th

Mel Gibson's head not visible from this side

The next day was also clear, and the Sky City launched! That one quadrant of the city had enough power to fly was something that the players already new, but they did not know when it would happen (I had decided that it would do so after two days of no rain). However, once launched, the subsequent shift in the terrain caused the quadrant on the opposite side, which had been hanging out in open space over the edge of the extinct volcano for a year, to loosen and then detach, crashing down into the valley below. This proved so enticing to players that we have subsequent had two sessions exploring the place.

  • Sheamus (PC Fighter Level 6) arrived from the Sky City with information for Connor McGregor.
  • The Ancestor's Spirit moved to the outskirts of the 'rumoured village' and made camp.
  • Pegasus 6th company scoped out a trap at said village and warned the Ancestor's Spirit to steer clear. The stymied a well laid trap.
  • EMTC moved west again, again without an issue.
  • Commeatus Rusticorum rested at Castle Irish from the forced march of the previous day.
  • Magnus arrived at Castle Irish.


Day #3 Sunday March 17 (Cloudy)

  • Market Day at Castle Irish. There was lots of interplay and selling done here while I adjudicated other things. The main result was that the two merchants there, Magnus and Commeatus Rusticorum, joined caravans and the latter also hired most of the the available Irish troops to go with them. The combined force numbered over 1000 men. 
  • In the evening Godleve (PC Cleric Level 5) arrived in a battered war wagon, one of the ones the PCs had captured in session #6 and were using in downtime to supply relief efforts at Gimmelwald. He had a horrible tale to tell. Earlier in the day some powerful force of cold enveloped the caravan, which was passing through the crossroads valley at the time, and only he managed to escape with his life.
  • The Ancestor's Spirit made camp in another ambush zone, below a huge snow covered peak on the opposite side of the crossroads valley. This time it cost them dearly. In the dead of night, the enemy: Ice Toads, Ice Trolls, and Yeti, surprised the merchants and their mercenaries in their camp. The entire force was routed almost immediately, providing the Yeti with a good supply of their favourite food. Only a few high level characters survived to be picked up by Pegasus riders the next morning and spread news of what happened.




Day #4 Monday March 18 (Windy)

  • EMTC moved west. I think we had established that they were warned by the Pegasus riders of the danger; but I'm not certain, anyway, they decided to push through the crossroads valley and were ambushed. They had a well thought out travelling formation and held their own at the start of the battle. The player chose some good spells and tactics, and actually could have won against the Master of Winters's ground forces; but, that was what his white dragon was there for. The thing dived down towards them and let the dragon fear do its work. The final result for EMTC was a loss of two units of heavy cavalry; with most of the remnant including cattle fleeing back to the east, and with their vanguard fleeing west to later warn the combined force just a few miles away.
  • When word reached them, I was thinking the combined force would hunker down and make a move in the morning, but the day had more in store. The Pegasus 6th company had gathered their full strength and moved to the reported location of the white dragon. The dragon's reaction to seeing 125 Pegasi bearing down on it was to head south; but, as it began its maneuverer, a black storm of feathers approached from behind the 6th company. Kenku! Two hundred of them. The dragon liked these odds better and was now prepared to engage. Was this going to be an aerial mass battle? No, instead of committing to serious losses, the 6th made use of their advantage in speed and tried to lead both enemies into a more favourable position. A deadly game of cat and mouse ensued until they lost sight of the enemy and landed at Wengen. They could bide their time and find them again tomorrow, or so they thought.


Day #5 Tuesday March 19 (Magic Storm)

a bizarre and freaky random weather occurrence

The storm trapped the 6th Company in Wengen and left the combined force with the choice of moving forward without air cover or staying put. However, when they chose to push on into the area they found no sign of any resistance (though they did eventually find the looted EMTC camp). The large combined group force marched all the way into Gimmelwald, and took up positions inside the walls of the town. Here they took great comfort in the knowledge that a great big beautiful wall now stood between them and the southern entrance to valley, from which direction the Master of Winter had invaded back in December.


Day #6 Wednesday March 20 (Rain)

The previous day's forced march required a rest, and the rain just emphasised the point. The session was nearing completion; but in a call back to Jeffro, there was still some icing on the cake.

Magnus was restless at the delay, and, when he went out to inspect the defences, the KENKURIAN struck via the 5HD Kenku with the Call Lightning ability he had embedded in the caravan. This fellow patiently mumbled to himself for 10 minutes and then waited for his chance. It didn't take long and Magnus, a level 0 human, was hit by a Lightning bolt for 29 Hit Points. The perpetrator was immediately given swift justice, but the KENKURIAN himself was able to figuratively twirl his moustache (lol, that has layers), turn invisible, and fly away. With this action he was practically the King maker.


Day 7-10 (Cloudy, Cloudy, Windy, Clear)

With a few days of passable weather, the combined forces travelled from Gimmelwald the rest of the way to St Raul without further incident and began to sell their wares. The Braunstein was over. I then adjudicated the scores, including the many shenanigans sent to me in chat that didn't get resolved in the session, and the clear winner was Commeatus Rusticorum aka Fluid the Druid. Congratulations! 


Conclusions

The AD&D rules, plus knowledge of the campaign you can create with them, are all you need to play a Braunstein. As is often the case, I don't think the session report does justice to how much fun we had playing. As a DM I thought it was great, and I'm pretty sure the players did too. 

What was achieved for the campaign?

One thing that can become a problem with 1:1 time as a DM is when Patron orders can't be implemented for whatever reason and then adjudication of everything else backs up from there. In this case, by having a Battle Braunstein, a bunch of pending Patron orders were adjudicated in an entertaining and fair way, taking life in the campaign beyond just the DM/Patron interaction; and those that had effect are now well known by the players.

The Master of Winter keeps on winning in his own domain, what can be done about him? By the way, I don't think it is giving anything away to point out that of all the forces he deployed in this session, most of them were not his to command when the player started running his domain, but were built up over time via shrewd play and negotiations. He had provided orders for when, where, and how long his forces would be in the field, such that it was quite easy to adjudicate this in the session.

Harold Wolfshead has staked a claim for his domain, filling a vacuum left by another Patron who has gone off the radar.

What could be improved for next time? Two things stand out; one, using co-DMs could certainly help when adjudicating a battle that takes a single DM's entire focus, however this would have to be organised so that the time taken for the DMs to get on the same page did not mean a similar amount of waiting around for the other players; and two, I implicitly treated the merchants as the main players to the detriment of the other patrons, and this was hard on the Pegasus player whose forces were capable of many more actions a day that I could easily cover.

Was the effort worth the pay off? Absolutely. Only slightly more prep than normal was required, but most of this I delegated to the players anyway, and the payoff has settled some things in the campaign that otherwise would be been non-engaging DM exposition, and no one wants that.

#ThankyouJeffro


In memory of Snowball


Wednesday 24 April 2024

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 62 (Machodor #31); The Black Knight

        





Timekeeping


This session took place on 07/03/2024, and the PCs adventured for 4 days.

Player Characters Present


Giuseppe (Level 6 Paladin of Rome, Brovenloft, E) with henchmen Bishoy & Tawadros (F2)
Sever (Level 6 Pegasus Corps Ranger of Machodor, E)
Deltacron (Level Dwarf 1 Fighter/Thief, E ) 
Red (Level 1 Paladin, E )
Gurt the Green (Level 1 Paladin, E )
Sheamus (Level 6 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft, E ) 
Bumblebore (Level 4 Magic User, E ) 
Slippery Pete (Level 4 Thief, S)


Introduction 


The party's travels through the Bandit Mountains finally start wrapping up some lose threads that had been kicking around for months. This was a really fun session where long time players explained obscure lore built up over the last year or so to the newer players.

Downtime


While at Minas Mandalf getting the captured notes from the strange clock-work-giant contraption under Gimmelwald magically translated; Sever ran into Treefingers, a fellow Pegasus Scout and former PC. He and Rhedgar, Almaricky, and others had just finished a mission for the Hawkman leader Luro in the crashed Sky City. They returned many energy gems from the parts of the city controlled by Kenku and Old Ones. "It was quite a blast." 

He warned Sever that preparations for Luro to lift off in his quadrant of the city were well under way, and part of this preparation will limit the projection of power from the city that helps power the Rocket Cycle and recharge the hand energy weapons the party have acquired. 

Without the power broadcast from the city the Rocket Cycle will need one hour to recharge for every three hours of flight, and the booster may only be used once a day. Energy weapons will only be able to fire at full power once per day.

Most of the party shrugged off this news, all except for Sheamus, the owner of the Rocket Cycle.

Session Report


First, a close by loose end from last session. They finished breakfast at the Gorgon's Head and made their way across town to the house with a basement that lead to the tomb of Sir Isaac the Brutal. The place was much like the two tombs they explored last session, a fairly simple stone box with a sarcophagus on the center of the floor bearing the name of its occupants, and also and an effigy of a knight in armour with sword, and shield with broken bones heraldry on it. The party used their various detection abilities without result and so felt no need to slide off the lid and peer inside. Slippery Pete argued strongly that they should make sure there was no undead inside, but he was over ruled by the three paladins in the party.

Having tied up the loose end, and with the clock work giant room safely locked and guarded, they put their minds to what they should do next. There were some big picture goals that they had left unattended for a while. Sheamus, owner and pilot of their captured Rocket Cycle argued they should go back to the Sky City for the first time since last year and "take it over".

In the end the consensus, including the new guys who had to take in a lot of history from the last year of gaming, was to make the trek north to the Valley of Fear, and down into the depths below the stronghold of the Robopriest, sometimes called the Gassy Fortress, which they had reason to believe was now passable after their efforts in Brovenloft. This could represent a short cut to the lair of Lord Inferno, the high value target much of their efforts had gone into finding.  

Thanks to having such a large party, and also with the need to take Giuseppe's mount Bonecrusher and those of his two henchmen along, they set off at ground level with Sever, taking point in the sky on his Pegasus, easily keeping pace. The day passed uneventfully, but as evening approached and they passed the crossroads valley south of Castle Von Necro, he spotted an usual sight ahead; on the floor of the valley below there was a tent pitched in the path of a patrol of men-at-arms from Castle Irish. Nearby, a Knight in black was setting up to joust a knight from the patrol. 

Finally after months of fruitless downtime searching, they had simply run into the Black Knight as a random encounter!

You don't see that everyday

As the party approached they saw the final bout between the Black Knight and Sir Rofolo from Castle Irish. The latter broke his lance and in return was unhorsed and knocked out. His men came to help him and the Black Knight rode his huge, black horse back to his tent and sat there impassively as the party rolled up. The PCs checked on the fallen knight and got the lowdown on what had happened from his men-at-arms, which was pretty much what they had just seen.

Then the Black Knight spoke up, "Who will challenge me? He who wins may take my magic armour!"

I wasn't sure who, if any, of the PCs would take up this challenge; but, after a few repeats and taunts from the Black Knight, Giuseppe accepted his challenge and prepared Bonecrusher.


the venerable Jousting rules from Chainmail

Once I dropped the Jousting rules in the chat the excitement soon ratcheted up; but I didn't expect the next development, Sheamus was certain there must be betting involved in such a contest, and announced 300gp on Giuseppe to win. Immediately Slippery Pete took that bet, and two of the Irish men-at-arms did too (I gave them a very low chance for this but the roll came up anyway).

We had a few practice goes at the rock-paper-scissors style of resolution, then started for real. Meanwhile Slippery Pete had offered to help Giuseppe prepare, but the latter's two henchmen shooed him away (and he tried to think of some other use for the Oil of Slipperiness he was trying to deploy to win the bet), probably earning their monthly pay right there.

Round 1: Giuseppe went for the top centre of the Black Knight's shield while leaning to the left. The Black Knight went for the middle left of Giuseppe's shield and kept a steady seat. This resulted in the Black Knight missing but Giuseppe broke his lance. As the two combatants passed each other on the way back to their starting places, the Knight offered to let the Paladin replace his broken lance with one of his own if needed. Giuseppe accepted the offer to replace his lance, but chose a spare one from the Irish men at arms instead.

Meanwhile, Slippery Pete was eyeing the mysterious tent; it flew a banner reminiscent of the one seen at Castle Von Necro.

Round 2: Giuseppe went for his opponent's helm while keeping a steady seat, the Black Knight repeated his first move and went for the middle left of Giuseppe's shield and kept a steady seat. This resulted in the Black Knight breaking his lance and having his helmet knocked off by Giuseppe, revealing a face underneath that appeared human, but was heavily drawn and whose eyes were startlingly red. There was a gasp from near Sheamus and one of the men-at-arms who had taken his bet blurted out, "That's Sir Gwayne, there's no mistaking it." It seemed that Sir Gwayne was a knight of Castle Irish who had recently gone missing.

As the Black Knight, who seemed oblivious to the discussion, again passed Giuseppe, he asked if the Paladin would return the favour of letting him replace his lance, and Giuseppe agreed. The knight rode back to the tent, went in, and shortly reappeared with a long lance, one that should have been longer than the tent could easily contain; was it a folding lance or something? Was there more to the tent than met the eye? Plans were soon hatched to find out. The slightly sketchy contingent of the party put their heads together and they decided that Bumblebore would cast Invisibility on Slippery Pete during the next round, hopefully when the knight was too distracted to notice.

Round 3: Although he had replaced his lance, the Black Knight had not replaced his helmet, and Giuseppe wasn't going to pass up that target. However, the creature that was once Sir Gwayne cheated somewhat and pulled a move that was only possible if he was wearing a helm! The manoeuvre caused Giuseppe's lance to miss, but the Black Knight was only able to again shatter his lance on the other's shield. 

Giuseppe of the low rolls had won the joust! 

Shaemus immediately started collecting his winnings while Slippery Pete, now invisible, snuck into the tent. The Black Knight congratulated Giuseppe and also went into the tent. A few moments passed as frantic words went back and forth over discord while I consulted the "Detection of Invisibility" table (DMG p60), then the Black Knight re-emerged holding another suit of black armour and shortly afterwards Slippery Pete reappeared. Even I don't know what he told the other characters about the  inside the tent.

With that done the Black Knight left the armour with Giuseppe. His black steed transformed into a Nightmare and went ethereal. The tent then also disappeared. When the wonder of this has passed, since night was soon to fall, they decided to camp in this location and went on to Castle Irish the next day. Here they explained the situation to the patrons in charge, Connor McGregor and Sir Troland, and for once I think I pulled off a pretty good Irish accent (to be shure). In returned they learned that a large mercenary force was ahead of them on the road to the Valley of Fear, though no one knew what its purpose was.

Next morning they set off for the domain of the Robopriest, passing sure signs that the mercenary company, who they had been told flew the sign of a coin set on a sword, had gone ahead of them down a wider valley than the narrower route they intended to use. The party decided not to follow but to continue by the narrow way, passing the settlement of Ringo Star and his misfit cavemen, and making the Fortress, before which the mercenary company were now camped, in the late afternoon.

They were made welcome by the Robopriest himself and had dinner that night with him and his guest, the merchant trader Mangus. This fellow hailed from Minas Mandalf and had travelled to the area with a large mercenary guild force to negotiate a business deal. At the time the players weren't too interested but things got more development on this front in downtime (and later in the Battle Braunstein). 

Having confirmed the truth of the rumours that the fear gas was now inert, the next morning the party set off accompanied by the Ed the Ranger, the Robopriest's henchman; who showed them the location in the dungeons below that lead to a vast natural cavern, at its end was a huge winding passage heading downwards. The ceiling here was covered in slow moving piercers and they were instructed to move swiftly to get past them and into the hole beyond; "You have thirty seconds to comply,"  Ed instructed. 


Click to enlarge this incredible piece of art


The party scampered to comply and some hours of travel later emerged into a natural cave system near to a stone wall of familiar construction, the work of Fire Newts. They traced this back Southwest to where a Fire Newt fort guarded the approach from a huge lava tunnel, apparently connecting to the very same one which they had explored in previous sessions. They were now confident that the route from the Fortress of Fear was a short cut that allowed them to bypass several forts. They reversed course and followed the passage Northeast until it terminated, revealing an incredible sight. Before them was a huge cavity in what must be the base of the volcano, a sea of lava of unknown depth filled this area completely. In the center of this sea was an island connected by a causeway to another Fire Newt fort near them on this side of the sea, and on this island itself was a Fire Newt city. Behind the city could be seen a column of magical fire that stretched all the way to the ceiling of the chamber far above. As best as they could reckon, this was quite likely directly below the lair of Lord Inferno.


Fire Newt City

However, other than the causeway, which was heavily patrolled, there was no obvious means to get to the city other than crossing the lava sea, which itself was patrolled by Fire Newts mounted on Giant Striders. They began working their way through the caverns to the east in the hope of finding something that might help. Here they encountered a (Hot) Water Weird and were very lucky not to lose someone to its embrace. The battle was a stalemate until Red, who had the magic hammer looted last session, smashed the thing so hard that it was disrupted long enough for them to loot some gems and coins that were sitting on a ledge just under the surface of the water. Now more than happy with the results of their recon, the party returned to the Gassy Fortress to make plans for another assault.


Treasure and XP



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 62 (Machodor #32)

Treasure & Items
5000sp
13 Gems sold to Magnus the Merchant for 6000gp
Black Knight Field Plate Armour 2000gp (the party treated this very carefully)

Total XP 8250

Monsters

actually none, the Black Knight and the Hot Water Weird were defeated but not killed.

Total 0 XP


8250 XP &  8250 GP Assignment weighted by level


Trollopulous Adjusted Session 62 (Machodor #31)
Giuseppe (Level 6, E ) 1478 XP & 1478  GP
 Tawdros (Level 2 hench, E) 246 XP & 246 GP
 Bishoy (Level 2 hench, E) 246 XP  & 246 GP
Sheamus(Level 6, E ) 1478 XP &1478  GP 
Sever (Level 6, E ) 1478 XP &1478  GP 
Slippery Pete (Level 6, E )1478  XP & 1478 GP 
Dundermoose (Level 4, E ) 985 XP & 985 GP
Deltacron (Level 1/2, E ) 370 XP & 370 GP
Red (Level 1, E ) 246  XP &  246  GP
Gurt the Green (Level 1, E )  246 XP & 246  GP


Graveyard


Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 61 (Machodor #30);

       

Foreshadowing

Timekeeping


This session took place on 29/02/2024, and the PCs adventured for 1 day.

Player Characters Present


Giuseppe (Level 6 Paladin of Rome, Brovenloft, E) with henchmen Bishoy & Tawadros (F2)
Sever (Level 6 Pegasus Corps Ranger of Machodor, E)
Deltacron (Level Dwarf 1 Fighter/Thief, E ) 
Red (Level 1 Paladin, E )
Sheamus (Level 6 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft, E ) 
Bumblebore (Level 4 Magic User, E ) 
Slippery Pete (Level 4 Thief, S)


Introduction 


Under the town of Gimmelwald a simple low prep encounter gets complicated.

Downtime


After successfully recapturing the town of Gimmelwald, the were signs the fanatic pilgrims who attacked them had been digging around the town searching for something. Since then three excavated basements had been discovered that lead to the underground tombs that predated the town and the castle it was built on: Baron Abel Alaric & Baroness Alaric, Sir Isaac the Brutal, and Monsignor Jorge de Burgos, 

Bumblebore, short on funds, had made a deal with the Wizard Sarumin for training; he would cast Magic Mouth 100 times on the big beautiful new wall the wizard was creating to seal off the south of the valley. He would also let the Wizard experiment on borrow his familiar, O'Malfoy, for some weeks.

Session Report



After breakfasting at the Griffon's Head, they made their way across town and started their investigation by going into the basement leading to the tomb of Baron & Baroness Alaric. The place was a fairly simple stone tomb with a sarcophagus bearing the names of its occupants, and also featured an effigy of the couple holding hands. The party felt the need to slide off the lid and peer inside, but after this and finding the bodies undisturbed and no: traps, secret doors, or monsters; they did not want to disturb the eternal rest of the couple and and decided to continue elsewhere. Slippery Pete was kind enough to help Shaemus slide the lid back into place.

They chose Monsignor Jorge de Burgos next over Sir Isaac the Brutal, and were soon examining a similar sized tomb, the main difference was that the lid of the sarcophagus was plain; with the only adornment being the name of the occupant. Giuseppe detected evil from the area, but it wasn't clear precisely where this sense was coming from. They cautiously slid the lid open and peered inside, finding the body in remarkable state of preservation (except it wore a hideous rictus grin) but was is actually fake, and hid a trapdoor down into a shrine below.

The shrine was roughly the same size as the tomb above and featured an altar on one wall with bas-relief inlays of dismembered human bodies and waves blood. A mural above the altar held scenes of devils lording it over large winged creatures. What really got the party's attention was 6 candelabra and a chalice, made of gold, all with similar motifs.

Using his spear, Red carefully swept the gold items off the altar onto the floor, deftly avoiding a very nasty trap. Someone followed this up by pouring holy water on the altar, causing it to fizz and dissolve, but one flask was not enough and there was some logistical juggling to get the loot out and more holy water in; but eventually the whole altar was cleansed and dissolved.

Bumblebore backed away from the sight into the opposite corner, as he did so a stone shifted under his feet. Removing the stone revealed part of a broad spiral stair going down deep into the earth. The party descended with Slippery Pete in the lead. The stair wound down and down and then spilled onto a landing at one end of a 60' long corridor. The corridor was lined with alcoves on both sides and, with his Continual Light coin, the thief could see that it terminated in very large bronze double doors. He checked the first alcove and found himself staring into the eye sockets of a bare skeleton; which immediately came to life and attacked. As it did so Slippery Pete heard the sounds of other clacking bones moving from behind him. 




Pete had a grand idea of grappling the skeleton in front of him and throwing it at the "one" behind him, but at the end of the round he found himself on top of that skeleton and with three more skeletons on top of him, with various holds from the grappling table in play. He did manage to get out a dignified call for help, so next round the party caught up to him. That should have been about it; but the skeletons managed to hang on through a turning attempt, and with their "half damage vs edged weapons" they took some putting down.

Sheamus went with his fists and once the last skeleton was pummelled to shards, the party reset and approached the bronze double doors. These proved impervious to their attempts to open them, until Bumblebore came forward with his latest spell: Knock.

The 15' tall doors swung open to reveal a large circular room about 60' in diameter with a very high ceiling. Evenly spaced along the wall of the room were six extremely life-like statues of giants. To the left of the door was a Hill Giant, this was followed by a Stone Giant, then Frost, Fire and Cloud Giants, and lastly a towering Storm Giant to the right of the door. In the centre of the room was a statue of an even bigger creature, towering over 25' tall, wearing a toga and with a huge shield at its feet. It was surrounded by a series of six cup like objects, also made from stone; these were like an egg cup attached to a long, wine-glass like stem which was stuck right into the floor of the room. 

The central statue held a huge stone book open in its right hand, and what appeared to be a set of lids for the cups in its left. Standing on its huge hands were three figures in platemail armour, two on its left hand and one behind the book on its right. Chanting emanated from the direction of these figures, and in the radius of their Continual Light it was also clear that the Titan statue and the "cups" stood within a circle of dung, twenty feet in diameter, inscribed on the floor.

No thought was given to negotiation, the players took up various positions and attacked. Crucially, Slippery Pete drew out his Hawkman Handcrossbow to shoot at the cleric standing in the right hand of the statue, who had 75% cover from the book in the statue's hand. The party lost initiative, and the three clerics were going to cast Spiritual Hammer; their initiative die roll was high enough that these spells would have all completed, except that Pete's high Dexterity reaction bonus improved his initiative to the point that he shot first. 

He missed, but I ruled that this was due to the cover provided by the stone book, therefore his energy bolt discharged into it (these weapons work in a similar manner to a Javelin of Lightening) and then projected out a bolt directly behind it where the cleric was standing. The cultist made his save for half damage; but still had his spell ruined, and so only two Spiritual Hammers were successful. Also, and I never anticipated this, by passing through the stone book the energy bolt caused the entire contraption to start vibrating, and begin to do what ever it was built to do. Giuseppe sent some arrows aimlessly into the room without effect.

After this the three two Spiritual Hammers crashed down into the party; what they didn't know at this stage was that these attacks were augmented by another cleric, hidden, Chant-ing, as well as a Prayer cast when the party Knocked the door; and the entire area within the circle of dung was covered by Protection from Good. Instinctively, no one wanted to cross that circle, and even if they did cross it their enemies were still 20 feet above them; which left the players with missile weapons as their main option to respond. Sadly, Bumblebore had already expended his Macho Mandalf's Flying Elbow against the skeletons; it would have been ideal for this situation.

Deltacron began to execute a cunning plan by sneaking off to the left behind the statue of the Hill Giant and readying his darts.

Next round the third cleric brought another Spiritual Hammer into play, and with the other two smashed into the players, those with shields tried to protect those without, but they were generally milling about wondering what to do; except for Giuseppe who lost another two arrows (no I don't mean loosed).

Then the hill giant statue began to slide forward towards the circle of cups, from its side it produced a long ladle-like object which it then "emptied" into the cup in front of it. Deltracron used this movement to his advantage as he climbed up the statue and then let loose with three darts, but they proved ineffective.

Having spent some time absorbing what admittedly was a complicated ToTM situation, now the party sprang into action: Bumblebore cast Invisibility on Sever while Shaemus provided cover with his shield, then the Ranger run forward with a grappling hook and rope. Red chose to try and hammer in some spikes to stop one of the other statues from moving (nice try but they were too strong for that). Slippery Pete had spent a round disguising himself as one of the clerics, and now moved forward, hoping in the confusion he could scale the side of the Titan statue unopposed.  Meanwhile, Giuseppe stood behind the shields of his henchmen and kept the enemy at least theoretically honest with his bow fire. The enemy Hammers came in again and Shaemus managed to parry one while another nearly ended Red's career as a Paladin before it had really started.

Sever reached a position behind the left shoulder of the Titan statue and let fly with his grappling hook, but it failed to latch on (I applied all the negatives from the overlapping spells to his roll, which might have been over doing it). He had another go the next round and this time was successful, so he began climbing to the top of the left shoulder of the Titan, as Slippery Pete climbed up its right. Bumblebore, with nothing else he could do, decided to take off his cloak and use it to mop up the circle of dung on the floor, he hoped that this would somehow effect the spell he guessed to be associated with it. Meanwhile, the various giant statues were continuing to move, and Deltacron stayed with them in an attempt to both not get hit and try to hit back with his darts.

Sever attained the top of the Titan statue's shoulder, ran for the two Clerics standing on its left hand, and with Weresh'bane dealt one a powerful blow; but on the other hand (literally) Slippery Pete failed to hit the Cleric standing near the open stone book. The clerics turned towards the attackers and pulled out weapons (incidentally cancelling their Spiritual Hammer spells). Their weapons were nasty looking flails, formed so that their heads looked like a fist with one finger stretched out (which finger this was I left to the players as a ToTM exercise). Two flails hit Sever; and, aside from taking damage, everything went dark, he was blind! The other cleric hit Slippery Pete, which brought him down to 1 hit point and Cursed him; the thief's Dexterity dropped to 3! These flails carried the ability to store and transmit touch spells when they hit! 

Initiative went his way, and Slippery Pete downed a precious quaff of Invisibility Potion and then dropped, grabbing onto the arm of the statue and holding on for dear life. Having seen the mixed success of Sever's attack; Shaemus, Red and Giuseppe's two henchmen went around to climb the still attached grappling hook (it having become visible after Sever had let go of it). They got up there just in time for two Hold Person spells to take effect, one of which came from below; there was a 4th Cleric in a cup beneath the Titan's outstretched left arm. The spells held Sever and the two henchmen, but Sheamus and Red were ok, the Irish Fighter dived down into the cup with the last cleric (who had to stop chanting to cast his spell, also at this time the Prayer had worn off and Bumblebore had finished ruining his cloak mopping up the dung, so now the overlapping protections and bonuses the enemy had were no more) and the new Paladin squared off with the two enemy clerics, hitting the wounded one and killing him.

The battle was on a knife's edge and things were looking really bad for the party if the enemy could manage any more Hold Person spells, but everything turned on some successful rolls. Sheamus cut down the cleric before him, Red overbore the cleric in front of him (who missed his chance to stop him with his weapon, which would have opened up a chance to hit him with his recharged curse flail) and sent him tumbling to his death below. Bumblebore, having scrambled up the rope on to the left shoulder of the statue, sized things up and charged across its broad chest, along its right arm (narrowly avoiding the invisible Slippery Pete there) and overbore the cleric leader, who had unwisely started to cast a spell and so was wide open, sending him to his death twenty feet below.

We'd had nearly twenty combat rounds in the session and with everything else going on it was well over time; but, fortunately, with safety very close by it was an easy extraction. The party had prevailed, but had also uncovered new questions: what was this cult and what was its purpose with this bizarre clockwork giant statue mechanism?


Treasure and XP



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 61 (Machodor #30)

Treasure
6 Candelabra and 1 Chalice 7000gp

Items
4 suits of platemail  (sold) 1360gp
1 cleric scroll (kept)
Potion of Healing (kept) 200 XP
4 "Fist Flails" (handed in in Minas Mandalf, sparking much interest in the clerics there) 8000gp
Hammer of Giant Control (kept) 500 XP

-350gp for Identify

16010 GP & 17,060 XP

Monsters

20 Skeletons 370XP

4 Cultist Clerics 3984 XP

Total 4354 XP



21414 XP & 16010 GP Assignment weighted by level


Trollopulous Adjusted Session 61 (Machodor #30)
Giuseppe (Level 6, E ) 3978 XP & 3150 GP
Sheamus(Level 6, E ) 3978 XP & 3150 GP 
Sever (Level 6, E ) 3978 XP & 3150 GP 
Slippery Pete (Level 6, S ) 3978 XP & 3150 GP 
Dundermoose (Level 4, E ) 2859 XP & 2100 GP
Deltacron (Level 1/2, S ) 1461 XP & 787 GP
Red (Level 1, E )  1181 XP &  525 GP


Graveyard


Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

Monday 26 February 2024

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 57 (Machodor #29); Goblins and oil don't mix

 




Timekeeping


This session took place on 01/02/2024, and the PCs adventured for 4 days. 

Player Characters Present


Lance Errant (Level 1 Paladin of Minas Mandalf, E)
Felangolol  (Level 2/2 Elf Magic-User/Thief , )
Larrinod "Larry" Blackmantle (Level 1 Magic User/Cleric, bastard son of an elf, E)
Comfort Rod (Level 1 Cleric, E ) 
Ignatius the Smiter (Level 1 Cleric of Minas Mandalf, E)
Elijah Blackwood (Level 1 Monk of TBA, E)

Session Report


Winter storms had cleared to a merely windy day when the party, augmented by some new members, set off by barge to the River Dungeon in the Bandit Mountains. They made it past Gnomesville without issue; but, as the river turned south the wind was in their faces, which slow the barge to a crawl. Late in the day something was sighted in the air approaching them, as they were still in an inhabited area this did not cause undue alarm, and soon enough the figures could recognised as a Pegasus Corps patrol. The magnificent creatures circled over head and then dropped a rock, steadied by a parachute, down onto the barge. A piece of paper was wrapped around the rock, and its message read, "Bears sighted moving north from the mountains."

Still being winter this was an unusual sighting, but as they were used to the idea of potentially dangerous wildlife in the area, the report had no impact on their plans. The first night and next day passed uneventfully; but, in the deep night that followed, Elijah, who was on watch, his first ever watch actually, saw something strange. Three huge bears crashed through the light woods to the west of the river, and rushed up to the water about 100 yards up stream from where they camped on the barge. He woke the rest of the party just as a pair of shrieking roars shattered the relative quiet and would have done the job for him. They peered about and could not yet see what made the noise, but what they could see was that the "bears" were transforming into humans and starting to swim across the river.




In pursuit of the bear-men were two White Dragons, large, but not yet grown to adult hood. As the party watched, one of the creatures breathed its icy breath over its quarry as the other, slightly younger, made to follow. The wounded were-creatures kept on swimming. As yet it appeared that neither hunter nor hunted had noticed the party, what to do?

In previous sessions there have been no dangerous encounters on the way to the River Dungeon, so I think this one caught the players off guard. If it had been their stronger characters they would have gone all in I'm sure; but, with mostly first levels, did they even have a chance against two white dragons? Who knowns, maybe? Ignatius was keen to do something, which prompted a discussion that led the question: are were-creatures all evil, or could some kinds be good?

But there was little time for philosophy and they soon decided to up anchor and row for their lives, which, although it was probably the percentage play, left Lance the Paladin with a sinking feeling in his alignment.

The next day, having started closer than usual thanks to moving in the night, they soon made it to the river dock and from there the sheer walls of the mountains closed about them and they reached their usual beach spot near the entrance to the River Dungeon.


River Dungeon Session #4



Because they had been here before they were able to quickly move about the dungeon at five times speed, in theory. In actuality, the first room had been restocked; with treasure! A huge chest stood before them in the far corner, and that wasn't something they were going to go past. As anyone who's read these River Dungeon sessions reports might expect, the treasure was trapped with contact poison; fortunately sniffed out by Felangolol. They carefully lifted the lid without touching the handle and then tipped out the contents; one thousand silver pieces. Having satisfied themselves that there were no hidden compartments or further traps, they refilled the chest and carried it out to their usual hiding place on the beach; then began again.

They continued west and into the familiar "Tapestry" room; but, what was this? The floor, wet at the best of times, was actually covered in oil! At the exact moment of this discovery ten goblins came charging and yelling down the corridor to western exit of the room. Half of these were holding torches, and half carrying oil flasks.

Dungeon floor, would you have spotted the oil?



The goblins in the dungeon have been working for weeks to counter the strong armour and divine protection of the adventurers who have been plaguing them, and this was their cunning plan. Unfortunately for them, their execution left a little bit to be desired.

Elijah elected to use his monkly speed to charge the goblins, Lance and Rowan the man-at-arms chose the same action (all be it more slowly) while the others sprang for parts of the room that were not covered by oil. 

It started well for the goblins when they won initiative. As the distance between the two groups was about 50' and the goblins were moving at 6" (not charging, they were "closing to engage" at 10' for throwing range), I placed them at G and E (see below), and allowed their missile attacks to go first:

a narrow channel of oil connected the area between the
goblins and the main room, simply waiting to be lit.


The goblins threw their oil and torches at Elijah who, having AC 10 (though I allowed that he was within Lance's Protection from Evil aura) was about to find out why rushing into combat as a level 1 monk might not be the best idea; except for this helpful class ability:

Monks make saving throws on the table used by thieves, but they gain certain advantages: Non-magical missiles (arrows, bolts, bullets, thrown daggers, thrown javelins, thrown spears, etc.) which would normally hit can be dodged or knocked aside if the monk is able to make his or her saving throw against petrification for each such potential hit. -- PHB p30

After rolling, Elijah was only hit by one flask and one torch and I ruled that the above rule applies to such things.  He was unable to avoid the flask, which broke and covered him with oil, but thanks to deflecting the torch the oil did no damage (yet). Now, all was not lost for the goblins, since direct hits with the oil wasn't really their plan, they wanted to catch the party with their splash damage. 

dmg p64

But here is where things really fell apart for the goblins; though some went long and would splash the party, the majority of flasks landed nearer to them. Torches landed all over and set every bit of loose oil alight; Lance and Elijah and Rowan were in the splash range, but Elijah dodged it all (fortunate, since otherwise the oil already on him would catch fire), and the other two received just a point of two of damage. The rest of the party were safety out of the oil covered area of the room.

The final cost of that round for the goblins' attacks were: nine of their own dead and one injured. All of this had happened in the missile fire part of the round and, since the PCs were charging with spears ready; I allowed Lance to skid to a stop and throw it rather than continue running into flaming oil, which he opted to do and then proceeded to impale the last goblin. So, a singularly ineffective tactic from the goblins, this time, but since none survived to report back, there is no reason the next lot may not try it again, right?

The party now regrouped and separated the fried goblins from their silver pieces. After checking the "Pallet" room and using the straw packaging to wipe off most of the oil from Elijah, they lit new torches and went south down the eastern most exit, which led to a long corridor only partially explored previously. After a time the way opened up to a 20' square alcove. Chained to a blindside corner of the alcove was a lone, but huge, Shrieker, which did its thing as soon as the the light of the party's torches fell on it.

The PCs set about trying to destroy the creature, but they heard the approach of many little feet from the southern exit, obviously attracted by the noise of the shrieker. Lance and Rowan took up position in the archway while the others dispatched the Shrieker, which thankfully had stopped shrieking even though it was still alive. Ahead appeared a dozen, foot long centipedes moving their way. Now, do centipedes charge? The little buggers are fast enough already, so I ruled that they moved at base speed to engage, given the party the round to prepare.

Unfortunately none of the spell casters could use this time profitably except for Ignatius, who got off a Bless spell before the front rank had engaged. At only 1 foot long, I allowed 10 of the centipedes to engage the front line (though in hindsight, since they are not nearly that wide, I could have let all 12 do so)  Half went for Lance and half Rowan, the former with his high AC was not damaged, but the man-at-arms was hit three times. The NPC made his saving throws vs poison, once I remembered to add the +4 bonus.




They are aggressive and rush forth to bite their prey, injecting poison into the wound, but in many cases this poison is weak and not fatal (add 4 to saving throw die roll). -- MM p. 14

I think the "weak and not fatal" description is fully covered by the +4 saving throw bonus, so watch out if you still fail it.

Next round two centipedes were killed while the shrieker was put out of its misery, freeing up the rest of the party to help. Then things turned chaotic as, realising that holding the entry was in effect reducing the number of friendlies who could attack while the enemy used their full force, the decision was made to pull back to let others have a go; but this resulted in one non-engaged centipede going right past everyone and attacking Felangolol.

The magic-user had Sleep & Burning Hands available, but didn't use the former when it could have taken out the whole centipede swarm. He did managed to use the latter to burn one down while the rest of the party bashed and slashed their way through more. Sadly, Rowan got bitten once more and this time failed his save version poison. Larry stepped up to fill the breach and Comfort Rod, who had spent two rounds retrieving an oil flask, now threw it right into melee, deliberated trying to target the centipedes with splash damage. This somewhat dubious tactic managed to get one of the enemy while Lance and Larry dodged any damage themselves (there were some words exchanged about this on the beach later while I was AFK) and the remaining beasties were slashed, bashed, and punched to death. 

Some centipede bodies were collected on a hunch that they may be able to work out if they were the source of the goblins' poison making.

In the end, due to random encounters and restocking rolls, only one new dungeon room was explored today before the party returned home somewhat worse for wear.



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 57 (Machodor #29)

Monetary Treasure

1093 sp

Treasure Total: 53GP 13 SP

Items

10 (somewhat singed) goblin ears

Total:  10 GP

Monsters

10 Goblins 160 XP
12 Giant Centipedes 396 XP
1 Shrieker 25 XP

Monsters Total: 581 XP



XP & GP Assignment 

Lance Errant (Level 1, E)   106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP
Felangolol  (Level 2/2, S)  106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP
Larrinod (Level 1/1 , E)    106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP
Comfort Rod (Level 1, S) 106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP
Ignatius the Smiter (Level 1, E) 106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP
Elijah Blackwood (Level 1, E) 106 XP & 10 GP 12 SP

Graveyard


Rowan the Rower (0 Level man-at-arms), poisoned by a giant centipede in the River Dungeon in session #57. Last words to Lance, "Kill some more goblins for...me..."

Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 56 (Machodor #28); Ogres in the morning, Catapults in the evening

      





Timekeeping


This session took place on 26/01/2024, and the PCs adventured for 1 day (before continuing in downtime)

Player Characters Present


Giuseppe (Level 6 Paladin of Rome, Brovenloft, E) with two henchmen
Sever (Level 6 Pegasus Corps Ranger of Machodor, E)
Deltacron (Level Dwarf 1 Fighter/Thief, E ) 
Godleve (Level 5 Cleric of Machodor, E )
Sheamus (Level 6 Irish Fighter from Brovenloft, E ) 
Bumblebore (Level 3 Magic User, E ) 
Gurt (Level 1 Paladin of Machodor, E)
Slippery Pete (Level 4 Thief, E+)


Introduction 


This report is a bit delayed due to illness.

Downtime



The harsh winter conditions saw two dozen griffins take to harassing the inhabitants around Castle Irish, including the evacuees from Gimmelwald; making aerial travel in particular hazardous. After Sever tried various methods of dealing with the creatures, they were finally scared off by some strange weather and lights in the night. Having dealt with the griffin is issue, Sever brought the orc battle wagons (captured in session #4) with supplies from Schloss Ragnar to Castle Irish. The leader of Gimmelwald floated the idea of using the wagons to help retake his town.

Sever then went to check on Gimmelwald and was surprised to find the place was now occupied by a large family of Fire Giants.

Sheamus worked around the clock constructing a tavern and gym near Castle Irish, while Slippery Pete went off the radar and was replaced by a certain Joe the Fighter.


Session Report


Having used the all important resource of session time to catch and interrogate a dragon cultist and wring from him the location of a nearby shrine, the guards that had been posted there in downtime had captured a travelling merchant leaving the area. After interrogating questioning this worthy, a man named Kenlin, he dropped some bits of information that may or may not have been relevant to the party's interests.

Would the PCs now finally take decisive steps against the Dragon Cult? Not at this time, instead they decided to clear the Fire Giants and try to retake Gimmelwald. When it was established that it would take a day to ready the troops and pack the civilians and supplies in the wagons, and then a further two days for this force to reach the town; the party decided to make use of its greater mobility and check the place over ahead of time.

There was just one problem with the plan, they could only take 6 on the Rocket Cycle with Sheamus, and with Sever on Convess someone would have to stay behind. In the end Godleve and Giuseppe's henchmen stayed to help with preparations and then travel with the caravan when it was ready. 

What should have been a journey of just few hours would turn out to be a bit more complicated.

While passing the mountains near the hidden passage that leads into the valley of Gimmelwald, Sever spied a group of large humanoids making their way up the steep incline. It looked like perhaps they were out hunting. Neither side were surprised, but the Ogres (you can't fool a ranger about this sort of thing) had no means of returning fire from the air, even if it was largely inaccurate fire, and they soon fled. However, their lair was only two rounds distance away, and they sped into a large hole in the mountain side.

Thrilled at the prospect of finding a lair and the loot that might be present, the party landed and immediately pursued their enemy inside; all except for Sheamus, who repeated his usual strategy of disabling the Rocket Cycle (it having nothing so convenient as a key) before following the others. 

As soon as Sever and Giuseppe went inside they saw two creatures even larger than Ogres, stepping out to meet them. The filthy creatures were carrying large rocks and were easily identified by the Ranger as Hill Giants; they unloaded their rocks and closed in.

The front lines clashed and Joe the Fighter (aka Slippery Pete) moved to get around the Giants; however he soon declared that instead of joining battle he should make sure the Ogres were not about to get away, so he followed them down a passage to the round cave that was their lair proper (and then, thief stuff happened). The largest Ogre, apparently the leader, was just getting them worked up to re-join the fight, so the thief hugged the wall and successfully avoided being spotted as they rushed back out.

By now Sheamus had taken his place in the line and along with Sever and Giuseppe they dealt great damage to the enemy while receiving significant blows in return, though most deflected off their superior armour.

Deltacron also kept a low profile and readied himself to sling darts at the enemy, while new player Gurt wisely took a position behind the front line and sought to disarm his opponents with his Spetum (or one of those other disarm type weapons).

The Ogres approached in four ranks of three, as they did so Bumblebore prepared himself to enter the fray. I was expecting a strafing run from his familiar O'Malfoy, instead he unfurled a scroll and cast Wall of Iron, targeting between the first and second ranks of Ogres. Now, as it happened, none of us were immediately sure how big such a wall would be; but, more importantly, we had to consult the rules for a level 3 magic user trying to use a level 5 scroll spell.

DMG p 128



This worked out as a 30% chance of failure; he was successful and the roughly 10' by 11' wall landed between the ranks of the Ogres. The second rank of Ogres ran right into the wall, knocking it forward onto the first rank, squashing two and nearly getting a third. This had some effect on morale since, having expected to join their bigger cousins, they were now not only fighting by themselves but had lost 25% of their number.

Another round passed with the Ogres getting the worst of it. Finally it was too much for them and they fled, only to be finished off in their cave lair. The party took stock of the situation as Slippery Pete, all pretence at disguise over, came forward with sacks bulging with coins and some minor gems he had found and acquired for "safe keeping".

A thorough search revealed no further treasure; but, another there was hidden exit, which led to a passage that doubled back on itself and terminated not far from the main entrance. The scouts returned and the party made to leave; but, beyond the exit could be seen the Ogre women and children that must have earlier used the hidden passage to avoid the fighting, the latter jumping up and down on the Rocket Cycle trying to get it to move, while the former were dragging a number of human slaves with them.

The situation proved to be no moral dilemma at all for the PCs, and soon both the human slaves and the ogres were ready to be reunited with their loved ones; all be it in a rather different manner for the latter.

Keen to move on, but logistically unable to do so with their new passengers, the party quickly decided to send Sheamus back with them to Castle Irish, which would take two trips (making use of the cycle's booster for the return trips). In the meantime Sever would return to Gimmelwald to scout. He found the place much as before, with the Fire Giants having claimed the town square, but this time he found that they had leveraged catapults onto two of the four towers that formed the corners of the square (the remains of the original keep, the partially collapsed curtain walls of which ran from tower to tower). This development gave the Ranger pause, and so it became the subject of much discussion when he had returned to the Ogre lair and explained the situation.

Given the passage of time, it would still take three days before their little army would be in position, a strike on the catapults before nightfall seemed the best course of action for now. This they achieved with a combined surprise attack from Sever on Convess and O'Malfoy.


Second Battle of Grindlewald (resolved in downtime)

Good guy's forces


Here is what happened with the mass battle (played according to the method used previously here):

Spoilers: the giants were a random encounter that happened to be rolled up as a lair when Sever went to check on Gimmelwald, and I intuited from some further die rolling that their lair was Gimmelwald. But why, were they working with someone? I rolled up Pilgrims with, as it happened, a matching Lawful Evil alignment, and I was scratching my head as to why they might be working together when I read this in the Giants MM entry: "It is not unusual for giants to agree to share in an undertaking with a group of creatures of similar alignment to that of the giant, for these huge monsters are eager for treasure." So it actually made sense from that perspective.

After two days travel Krellard arrives and opts to attack under the cover of the approaching twilight and overcast conditions. He also opts to approach on one front only, passing through the west gate. The mounted troops pull ahead, with the foot troops following in their wake trying to catch up as fast as they can.

The horses reach bottom of the hill before the town without incident; given the conditions and the position of the Giants, it seems unlikely you have been detected. The light cavalry stop and Slippery Pete examines the invitingly open west gate, incidentally allowing time for the foot troops to catch up a little. 

"No traps guys!" he declares.

The medium cavalry take the lead and ride in. In the relatively narrow street they can ride 10 abreast, effectively in column formation. As you go you see the devastation visited upon the town by the Master of Winter and his army. More than this, strangely, there are sections of pulled up cobble stones and piles of dirt to be seen near some public buildings such as the church.

Again, Slippery Pete is called on to examine these for traps. "It's just dirt guys!"

The allies advance until the main square is in sight. The way widens here and through the gap in the ruined curtain wall, Giants can be seen casually throwing catapult missiles to each other; they don't seem to realise anyone is there. Krellard calls a halt to let the foot troops catch up. He wants the the archers and heavy foot in position at the front.

Sever's Ranger senses tingle, saving the army from being surprised when, suddenly, from out of the nearby buildings scores of strange figures, clad in red robes and bearing wicked looking daggers, along with a tremendous, fanatical fury, pour out and attack the army before the foot troops can deploy to the front.

It's on like Donkey Kong.

The battle starts with the allies in this formation:

Hvy Ft

Med Horse

Long Bow

Light Cav

Militia

Round 1

The enemy appears to number around 60, and they win initiative

Over the blood curdling shouts of the enemy you can hear the sounds of chanting, then you feel the negative effects of evil clerical magic blanketing the area. Those around Giuseppe feel some of his protection from evil.

Hold person spells rain down on the Heavy Foot, freezing one square in place, but it could have been worse as another somehow resists the effect!

Dagger wielding fanatics fall upon the held troops and find the gaps in their armour, taking out square 3 (Sheamus is in 2).

Another enemy square attacks the militia, hitting twice and destroying square 3 (Gurt and Deltacron are in other squares)

The longbowmen unit is hit for 3 hp, The Medium Horse unit is hit for 3hp, the Light Horse unit attacked but missed. Medium Horse are hit again for 1hp 

Return attacks: The broadswords of the heavy foot destroy the unit of fanatics facing them. The militia miss their enemy. Med horse kill three enemy squares, freeing up the longbowmen to use their bows next round.

The Light Horse injure one square. Longbow injure one square with the help of Bumblebore and O'Malfoy.

Round 2

The heavy foot and militia make their morale checks, while the enemy don't seem to care about their heavy losses.

Oh boy, tied initiative, the fanatics are using daggers and so go first and get bonus attacks against the militia and light horse. Ok, do horses go even before the daggers? I'm going to say yes and some of the horses stamp the enemy near them.

The dagger wielding enemy attack was not coordinated with the Fire Giants, and so it takes a round before they notice what is going on. Then they use what ever is to hand, in this case catapult ammo. These smash into the Heavy Foot and destroy two squares, both Stafolo and Sheamus take 16hp damage and they move into the last remaining square.

The Irish start up their battle hymn (equivalent effect as a Chant Spell):

Armed for the battle

Kneel we before Thee,

Bless Thou our banners,

God of the brave

Ireland is living!

Shout we triumphant,

Ireland is waking!

Hands grasp the sword.

Who fights for Ireland

God guides his blows home,

Who dies for Ireland

God give him peace.

Knowing our cause just

March we victorious

Giving our heart’s blood

Ireland to free.


The spirit of freedom

Floats in the ether;

Souls of our heroes

March by our side,

Connor is our battle cry,

McGregor inspires us,

Those who for freedom fall

Never shall die.

Robed Guys breaking

Shout we exultant

Robed Guys beaten,

Ireland is free.

Charge for the old cause,

Down with the old foe,

Living or dying

Ireland to free.


Daggers miss the light horse and return hits smash the enemy square there. Daggers plunge down on the militia, but somehow the 3 remaining squares are undamaged and they return the attacks with interest, destroying the last enemy square with help from Gurt and Deltacron.

More Hold Person spells rain down from enemy spell casters in buildings; trapping the last Hvy foot, including Sheamus.

In the resulting chaos the Longbowmen fire at the giants and miss while the Medium Horse charge the Giants for 24 damage. Sever and Giuseppe combine with their lances and do 64 HP (scaled down to 6.4) damage.

Round 3


Fire Giant unit wins initiative and swings at the medium horse unit and misses! (A hit could have destroyed the whole unit). Again, the longbow fail to hit the giants at all. Medium horse riders get one  hit in for low damage.

Now the Medium horse mounts and Bonecrusher and even the grounded Convess get their attacks and these are devastating; there's not a giant foot that hasn't been stamped on.

Giuseppe rolls 1

Sever rolls 19, switching from lance to 2hs he does a modest 14 damage but that finishes the score for the Fire giants (running them as a unit didn't do them any favours at all in the end).

The light horse dismount and together with the militia commence clearing the buildings, but these are protected by glyphs, causing further casualties.

Finally the last of the enemy clerics are killed, they proved to be as fanatical as the dagger wielders. It seems they were digging holes around the town searching for something. Maybe more investigation is warranted? 

In any case the battered alliance, having retaken Gimmelwald, achieved their objective.


Treasure and XP



Trollopulous Adjusted Session 56 (Machodor #28)


Monsters

12 Ogres (and dependants) 



XP & GP Assignment N/A 

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 56 (Machodor #28)
Giuseppe (Level 6, E ) 766 XP & 354 GP
Sheamus(Level 6, E ) 766 XP & 354 GP 
Sever (Level 6, E ) 766 XP & 354 GP 
Dundermoose (Level 3, E ) 589 XP & 177 GP
Deltacron (Level 1/2, E ) 500   XP & 88 GP
Gurt (Level 1, E ) 471  XP & 59 GP
Slippery Pete/Joe the Fighter (Level 5, E+ ) 707 XP & 295 GP 


Graveyard


Jacques Ocular (Level 1 Magic User), a fat green worm burrowed into his head and turned him into a Son Of Kyuss in Brovenloft in Session #43

Pino (Dwarf Footman level 0), Killed by a Frost Giant axe in the head in session #39

Paro (Dwarf Fighter/Thief level 2/2) , Killed by Winter Wolves and frozen in session #39

Zabib (1/2 Elf Fighter/Magic User level 1/1), Killed by Frost Giant rocks in downtime prior to session #39

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