|new rock feature in the Valley of Fear|
Player Characters Present
The early consensus was to do more over ground exploration, to try and find a route north to the active volcano. With the player characters spread around the mountains (literally in one case), there was a bit of logistical sorting out before they could begin. But with a Pegasus and a rocket cycle to work with, it didn't take long to get everyone together. Well, nearly everyone. While passing over the valley, they noticed what looked like a recently and hastily constructed cairn near the hidden mountain passage; and just like that they where side tracked for the session.
They returned over the mountains back to Ringo's camp and enquired as to their missing companion Zabib. Ringo, in my terrible liverpoolian, said he had last seen the adventurer when he had left to return the meet them. He also said that it wasn't his people's way to build cairns for the dead, they left their dead to the animals with whom they shared this world.
Slightly grossed out, but now sure that something bad had happened to Zabib, the party left Ringo and returned to examine the cairn (see pic above). A sandaled foot was sticking out from the rocks, easily recognisable as belonging to their former companion. His body had not been there long.
Ranger tracking is practically automatic in these circumstances, and, with a clear trail of huge boot prints to follow, the party decided giant hunting was going to be the first goal of the night. The trail lead south, pretty much directly towards the extinct volcano. After a mile or so the trail, which had been ascending steeply, stopped at a cave entrance.
The cave was easily wide enough for the Rocket Cycle enter. They saw that from the entrance it ran approximately south west into darkness. Sheamus was pained to suggest they land and continue on foot, worried that the noise of the vehicle would alert whatever was in the cave. This was one of those uncanny times where I had already decided exactly that would happen if they simply flew in. As it happened, the tunnel was in fact the only possible landing place nearby.
|"Boss I can't see for nuts in here."|
Bumblebore cast Invisibility on his familiar, O'Malfoy, and sent him out to explore the tunnel. It went on for some distance and then turned south into an oval shaped cavern that was very dark and cold.
With no infravision and not wanting to risk a light, O'Malfoy was ordered back, and the Dwarf, Paro, went forward.
The fighter/thief scouted ahead and found the that the opening was at the top of an oval shaped cave that was aligned from north west to south east, its ceiling went up beyond the extent of his infravision. He proceeded forward and saw natural pillars of stone here and there at the far end of the cave and also thought, perhaps, he could see a narrow exit tunnel in the south west. Just as he was taking this in, several large shaggy heads popped up, peering from around the pillars; big wolf heads with glistening white fur.
|PG13 version of the scene|
Paro ran. Fortunately he was not surprised, but neither were the wolves; six of them were coming out to play. I could think of no earthly reason why they wouldn't chase him down for a snack, but decided to roll on the reaction table anyway; maybe they had already eaten? With a result of a 03, the reaction was "violently hostile, immediate attack", so maybe they hadn't eaten at all for a while.
Alerted by Paro's shout of warning and the tell tale growl of wolves, the party declared that they were going in to attack. They won initative and Paro ran as fast as his stumpy little dwarf legs would carry him; O'Malfoy flew in and lit up the wolves with his fiery breath; Sever flew in on Convess and threw out a gem with Continual Light on it, illuminating the area and revealing a gallery of alcoves to his left, about 60 feet up off the ground. Noting that for later, he plunged down and impaled one Winter Wolf with his lance, killing it. But it was not enough, the remaining five wolves caught up to Paro and inflicted terrible wounds; reducing him to exactly -3 hit points. Yet, his constitution bonus meant that he was somehow still alive!
|we use the Con HP bonus to determine the above|
At the end of the round they all heard the bellowing roar of what they guessed were giants; coming from above in the alcoves. The sound wasn't far away. Next round Slippery Pete moved up to bravely pull Paro out of danger (apparently the dwarf owed him money), with Giuseppe and Sheamus taking on the wolves. I'd decided in the first round that the wolves were more interesting in a meal than in using their breath weapons to kill Paro; but, now that they were in the thick of battle, what would they do?
|I'd call that a special defence|
There was no time to mourn as now a huge rock smashed into the melee, killing one of the wolves! All eyes looked up and saw the giant responsible, apparently unperturbed by his poor aim, readying another rock. At the same time, Sever, who had discarded his lance and launched upwards on Convess, found a giant in the first alcove above. This one dropped the rock it was holding and took a swing at the ranger, who responded in kind. The others exchanged blow for blow with the winter wolves.
Next round Giuseppe ordered a Fall Back manoeuvre (the one in the PHB that's not in the DMG) to take the fight back out into the entrance tunnel and away from Giant missiles. It was a good plan, but initiative was tied, and another rock smashed into the melee; but, fortunately, again hitting and killing a wolf. That giant was looking at an MVP award. For those engaged with wolves, since they were not attacking, initiative didn't have much effect, and they completed their retrograde movement with the wolves snapping at them. Paro's footman Pino, who was still with the Rocket Cycle, came up to help them.
The party won initiative and Sever got out in the air and reached the climbing giant while it was still vulnerable, delivering a solid blow with his sword which caused it to fall off the wall and land heavily - 60' and 6d6 damage - down on the floor below. The others killed two more winter wolves, leaving one remaining that breathed its fetid chilled breath over Giuseppe.
Next round the enemy won initiative and failed their morale, the giant got to its feet and ran for the exit in the south west of the cave. The last winter wolf fled, exposing itself to a barrage of strikes from behind from which it could not escape.
Sever gave chase to the giant, and was able to prevent it from getting out of his sight for long enough to evade; it finally ran off down a stone hewn corridor leading east. The ranger kept up the pursuit, avoided an elevator trap by gliding over it with his Pegasus, and finally caught up to the giant and downed it.
The party regrouped and, once they confirmed that there was no treasure in this area, set off looking for trouble and the other four Frost Giants. They found them screaming and charging at them from down the corridor the giant with poor aim had fled down earlier. After a pitched battle in which many a HP was lost on both sides, and several PCs could easily have been killed had the dice so dictated, the brave footdwarf Pino was dead, and so were the four giants. Their lair was found not far away.
Although I love Appendix A and I'm pretty comfortable now using it cold in session, once I could see where this session was going I wanted something with more flavour than I had time to improvise, something suggestive of the Frost Giant's living conditions. This map I image searched was perfect for my purposes. The first area would be the lair of the wolves, and beyond that the some of giants, but beyond that would be the remainder of the giants and Appendix A.
I decided that the tracks lead to the main entrance, but the alternate entrance on the top right was detectable if the PC's looked for it. If they had Slippery Pete may have come to the fore again, but in the end they chose to fly in through the front door. When the party went after the four last giants it could have been a long fruitless search; but, I rolled and came up with a 20 first time; wandering monster, and so I just thought: well that's the giants. Gotta love random rolls.