Saturday, April 2, 2011

march of the phantom brigade, session 8: the grave of oldivya

Five players set out into the burning village of Inverness to rescue Faldyra during Session 8 of March of the Phantom Brigade at Total Escape Games. Doing battle against Salazar Vladistone and his spectral soldiers were Halitin (dragonborn paladin), Jarren (human wizard), Melek (tiefling mage), Thoradin Silverhands (dwarf cleric), and Treytin (elf fighter).

The adventurers’ search for Faldyra quickly led them to the old graveyard in town— the burial ground of Vladistone’s wife, Oldivya. At the small graveyard, the heroes discovered Faldyra being held captive by the angry ghost of Salazar Vladistone. At the heroes’ approach, several Phantom Brigade warriors moved to guard Vladistone, but they didn’t make any overtly hostile moves toward the heroes.

“Why won’t she appear?” demanded Vladistone, his blade poised at Faldyra’s throat. “What vile spell keeps my wife from me? Answer, wizard!”

Faldyra was understandably discombobulated by the entire situation and was unable to provide an explanation of what was stopping Vladistone from seeing his wife. Jarren, however, succeeded quite handsomely on an arcana check and deduced that the malignant presence of the Ghost Tower very likely had something to do with Vladistone’s inability to communicate with his wife.

As Jarren passed this information along to the ghost, Vladistone appeared to hesitate for a moment, as if he were considering the truth of the matter. But then he shrieked madly and said, “No! It is you trespassers who have cast some spell on this sacred ground to keep me from my wife!”

At Vladistone’s words, the ghostly soldiers standing nearby began to drift forward, weapons at the ready.

“The entire Nentir Vale shall pay for your insolence, fools. What chance do the living have against an army of the dead?” Vladistone said, his raspy voice echoing with conviction. “Comfort yourselves in knowing that your demise will serve as a warning to others of the futility of standing against Salazar Vladistone and the Phantom Brigade.”

Treytin, despite the fact he was armed with both a longsword and a longbow, opened the combat festivities by… throwing a rock at the enraged ghost of Salazar Vladistone. It missed.

Vladistone bopped Faldyra on the head with the hilt of his spectral longsword, knocking the wizard unconscious.

After Thoradin missed with Sacred Flame, the first Phantom Brigade templar charged him and did max damage (14) on the dwarf cleric, which bloodied him. The second templar used Righteous Strike on Treytin for 8 radiant damage and the elf was also slowed (save ends). The last templar also charged Thoradin, also doing max damage (14), which was enough to cut the dwarf down.

Melek next tried some illusion magic trickery, casting a Spectral Image of Oldivya Vladistone in the graveyard beside her husband’s ghost. The mage then used Phantasmal Assault to have the Oldivya illusion try to stab her husband. When that missed, Melek burned an action point to attack again, hitting with the second assault. After having a “ghost” (which looked nothing like his wife, by the way) calling herself Oldivya try to shank him twice, Vladistone was even angrier with the heroes, convinced that this deception was yet more evidence they were somehow keeping his wife from him.

Jarren used his turn to successfully stabilize the unconscious and dying Thoradin.

Halitin used a minor action to heal Thoradin with Restore Vitality. The dragonborn paladin then charged across the battlefield to attack Salazar Vladistone, but missed. Using an action point to attack again, he missed the wrathful ghost for a second time.

Treytin wanted to tie a rock to one of his arrows and shoot it at Vladistone’s head, but his companions instead convinced the elf to attack one of the templars with his sword. Unfortunately, the spectral soldier easily deflected Treytin’s blow.

Vladistone decided to use Vengeance-Driven Fury against Halitin, but the dragonborn ducked and the ghost’s furious assault missed him. (Furious Assault didn’t recharge during the course of the encounter, so Vladistone wouldn’t get the chance to use it again.) Using his action point to attack Halitin again, Vladistone landed a hit with his spectral longsword for 11 points of damage.

Thoradin spent a minor action to use his Dwarven Resilience. The dwarf used his move action to stand up. He then used Smite Undead to attack one of the templars, but the cleric’s attack missed.

Templar #1 attacked Treytin and crit’d the elf (14 point of damage), which bloodied him. Templar #2 moved into position so that, along with Vladistone, it was flanking Halitin, but it missed the paladin with its soulbound morningstar. Templar #3 charged Melek and hit the mage.

Melek hit two of the templars when a fierce blast of flame erupted from his hands and scorched the ghostly warriors (Burning Hands). When Melek’s successful attack didn’t do as much damage as he expected, the heroes remembered that an insubstantial foe takes only half damage from any damage source, except force damage.

Inspired by Melek’s pyrogenic attack, Jarren wove a fiery pillar that spun like a top (Fountain of Flame). With each revolution, it doused templars #1 & 3 with searing heat.

Halitin found himself in a tight spot. His rash charge had isolated him from his allies and then he was flanked by Vladistone and templar #2. The paladin used Valiant Strike to attack Vladistone, but it missed. The hard-pressed dragonborn then opened his mouth with a roar and the deadly power of his draconic kin blasted forth to engulf the two ghosts in fire. Actually, the Dragon Breath attack missed Vladistone, but did hit the templar. With his move action, Halitin shifted away from his foes.

Treytin opened the third round of combat by using his second wind. The elf then retreated a bit so he was out of the front line.

Vladistone taunted the heroes, telling them how he was responsible for the spread of the plague in the nearby Harken Forest. Happening across the corpse of a plague demon, he had his ghostly soldiers move the body to the pond where it infected the water supply. When Brother Splintershield left the protection of Inverness to investigate the cause of the mysterious sickness, Vladistone gave the command to spring the trap. Once Splintershield was cut down and the barrier had fallen, he led the assault on Inverness.

After listening to the ghost’s rant, Thoradin used a burst of diving energy to harm his foes and heal his allies (Beacon of Hope). The radiant energy lingered around his holy symbol and improved his healing for the rest of the battle.

Despite the fact that Treytin had tried to retreat out of harm’s way, one of the templars charged the elf and knocked him down to 4 hit points. Templar #2 attacked Halitin, bloodying the embattled paladin. The third templar charged Melek, but failed to hurt the mage with its soulbound morningstar.

Melek and Jarren both targeted templars with Charm of Misplaced Wrath, but the ghostly warriors— with their stout will defenses— resisted the mages’ attempts to turn them against each other.

Filled with the strength of his convictions, Halitin called upon divine power as he attacked Vladistone’s ghost. The paladin’s weapon filled with divine radiant energy, which burst forth as he struck the ghost. Unfortunately for Halitin, Vladistone deftly sidestepped the attack. The experienced warrior counterattacked the isolated dragonborn, doing max damage (14) with his spectral longsword and cutting the paladin down.

After the dragonborn fell, his companions finally started to get their act together and took out the templars one by one. Up until that point, the heroes had failed to focus their attacks on as few foes as possible and instead were spreading their damage out. Jarren finally scored the party’s first kill during the fourth round of combat, taking out Templar #3 with Magic Missile, and after that the other two templars fell in quick succession.

Once his soldiers had been defeated, Vladistone’s ghost began to slowly fade away. As the cold wind swirled ashes and cinders through the air, the ghost surveyed the burning, crumbling buildings of Inverness. Vladistone cast a sorrowful gaze at his wife’s grave and then turned his attention toward the heroes. Pointing his spectral longsword at them, he spoke in a voice barely above a whisper.

“You shall regret this day. I shall be reunited with my wife. You and the rest of the Vale’s living will suffer my pain.”

And with that, he faded away along with the rest of his troops.

With a gloomy dawn breaking over the burnt ruins of the village, the heroes healed Faldyra and filled her in on all that had happened since they had last seen her. The wizard mourned the loss of Brother Splintershield and the many villagers who died during the Phantom Brigade’s attack. Before leaving, the heroes searched the village and found some potions of healing and some magical items and weapons which they salvaged. As they withdrew through the gates of Inverness, they caught movement out of the corners of their eyes. When they turned to look, they observed the Ghost Tower shimmering ominously.

Just outside the gates, the heroes came across Malgram tending to some wounded settlers. The exhausted half-orc said that he still planned to move the survivors south to Harkenwold. He asked the heroes to travel northward to Hammerfast and let the authorities there know about the disaster at Inverness and warn the city of the danger the Phantom Brigade posed to all the residents of the Nentir Vale.

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