Tuesday, April 19, 2011

march of the phantom brigade, session 10

We once again had a great turnout for Wednesday night D&D Encounters at Total Escape Games and had enough players to run two tables. The guys at my table played Belgos (drow ranger), Halitin (dragonborn paladin), Jarren (human wizard), and Norward (half-elf druid).

After battling through the streets of Hammerfast in Session 9, the adventurers finally made their way to the Great Library this past week in Session 10. At the Library, they found Faldyra at a table piled high with books. Although plainly exhausted, she musters up a smile for the heroes but then cuts right to the chase. She says, “I have found something. It seems that Salazar Vladistone is a great hero.”

Or at least he had been a great hero at some point in the past. Now he was obviously just a big vengeful goob.

Faldyra had found out that Back In The Day, Salazar and Oldivya Vladistone had been adventurers. In fact, they were members of the famous Silver Company. While the group was exploring the Ghost Tower of Inverness, Oldivya died on the mission. After his wife’s death, Salazar’s behavior grew increasingly reckless. The final report of Vladistone’s adventuring career starts with the Silver Company investigating the duergar infiltration of a dwarven monastery. The Silver Company successfully cleared the area of evil, but during the encounter Vladistone sacrificed himself to save the other members of the group.

Faldyra told our heroes that she believes the key to stopping Vladistone’s ghost in the present is a powerful relic that the Silver Company took from the Ghost Tower of Inverness. The historical records call the item ‘the arrow of time.’ While the chronicles speak only in the vaguest terms about Vladistone’s death, Faldyra thinks the Silver Company left the arrow at the abandoned monastery with their leader’s remains.

“As far as I can tell, the arrow’s properties are completely untested. What we do know is that the arrow of time does not just slay an enemy. When the arrow is about to strike its target, powerful chronomantic enchantments embedded in the surface of the arrow send it back in time to a crucial moment in the target’s life. At that point, the arrow pierces the target’s essence, destroying it. The vicious weapon not only destroys the creature, but erases it from time, undoing much of what was done.”

Faldyra told the adventurers that the arrow will be of no use against Vladistone’s ghost, since the weapon can only be used against a living creature. But the elf wizard was still convinced that the arrow is the key to stopping Vladistone and the destructive march of the Phantom Brigade.
“As I see it, you have two options ahead of you. You can use the arrow to kill whatever slew Vladistone, destroying that creature in the past before it killed Vladistone and allowing him to die in his natural course. Or, give the arrow to Vladistone in the hope that returning the object to the Ghost Tower will remove the tower from Inverness and allow him to commune with his wife again. Neither option offers any guarantee.”

Faldyra sent our heroes on their way with directions to the abandoned monastery and the password they would need to speak at the doors to enter. The streets of Hammerfast were still in chaos when the party slipped out of the Great Library. They managed to round up some horses and depart the town, but Vladistone spotted them and gave chase. The heroes managed to stay just ahead of Vladistone as they crossed rough roads and winding paths deep in the heart of the Dawnforge Mountains. The harrowing journey took several hours, but eventually they reached the entrance to the ruined monastery.

Vladistone and his two companions, mounted on spectral horses, would not approach the monastery. “Were I you, I would proceed no further,” the ghost’s voice grates. “Inside you will find more than you bargained for. Trust me, I know.”

Guardians of the Mountain

After dismissing Vladistone as a big wuss, the heroes spoke the password at the entrance to the monastery and the stone doors opened with a scrapping sound. As Belgos cautiously made his way inside, he could see thick dust hanging in the air, and everything inside was covered with a fine layer of grit. The floor was tiled mosaic, damaged but still clearly depicting a struggle between a dwarf avatar of Moradin and the forces of Gruumsh. The room was nearly empty of accoutrements, as one would expect from an austere monastery.

Belgos thought his eyes were playing tricks on him when he saw movement in the far corners of the room, but then shambling out of the darkness came the rotting bodies of duergar, decaying flesh still hanging on their bones. As they shuffled forward, blue flames suddenly sprang up behind them, revealing a blazing duergar skeleton.

The blazing skeleton opened the fight by rolling a crit on Belgos, bloodying the ranger. Ouch! Belgos countered by carefully judging the skeleton’s stance and unleashing an arrow designed to send his enemy tumbling (Clever Shot). But it missed. Norward did the druid-thang, chanting “I am the seeker. I am the stalker. I am the storm.” and then letting loose with a bolt of lightning that speared toward the skeleton, charging the air around his enemy (Storm Spike). But it missed. Halitin finally got the heroes on the scoreboard by charging into the chamber and hitting one of the ghouls. The zombies must’ve thought that looked like a good idea because they both charged, attacking Halitin and Belgos. But they missed. Jarren hurled an orb of arcane power that exploded and engulfed a ghoul and a zombie in its electric embrace (Shock Sphere). The wizard then finished off the first round by using Spectral Image to create the illusion of a very fat man in the middle of the room. He hoped the ghouls and flesh-crazed zombies would ignore the heroes because they thought the fat man looked sooooo yummy.

The blazing skeleton opened the second round by rolling another crit! He bloodied Norward with that nat 20. Go, monsters! The two ghouls both ignored the fat man illusion and instead attacked and hit Halitin, bloodying the dragonborn paladin. Belgos put away his bow and took a swing at zombie #2 with his longsword. But he missed. So he used an action point to attack again. But he missed again. Bummer. Norward used Wild Shape to turn into a big ole bear, then used Pounce to attack the blazing skeleton. He also found out the hard way that the skeleton had a Fiery Aura (any creature that ended its turn in the aura took 3 fire damage). The druid ended his turn by burning an action point to use his second wind. Halitin attacked ghoul #2 and then he also used an action point to use his second wind. The zombies thought the illusion of the fat man was real and so wasted their attacks on Jarren’s spectral image. Jarren finished off the second round by using Arc Lightning on a zombie and the skeleton, but he missed them both.

The blazing skeleton kicked off round #3 by using Blazing Claw on Norward the Bear and knocking the druid down to 5 hit points. The ghouls both missed Halitin. Belgos went back to his bow and rocked the skeleton with 13 points of damage off a Clever Shot strike. At the beginning of Norward’s turn, the druid went down to 2 hit points after taking the ongoing 3 fire damage from the Blazing Claw attack. He attacked the skeleton, then decided that discretion was the better part of valor and shifted back to half-elf form. Halitin KIAd ghoul #2 on his turn. The zombies both missed with their attacks against Jarren and Halitin. Jarren sent a glowing blue bolt of magical energy hurtling from his fingers (Magic Missile), KIAing the blazing skeleton as his attack unerringly struck his target.

The fight took a grim turn for the heroes when Halitin went down in round #4 after being hit by both zombies. Then Belgos was cut down in round #6 after the remaining ghoul crit’d him. After that, the encounter turned into a nail biting, winner-take-all fight between two monsters and two heroes: zombie #1 and ghoul #1 vs Jarren and Norward...

And the heroes won by the skin of their teeth. Way to go, guys! Good job.

After taking a short rest, the adventurers will move deeper into the monastery, continuing their search for the powerful arrow of time.

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