Friday, December 23, 2011

Ice Ice Baby (or "Seeds of Chaos," Session 3)

Even as a pre-Christmas storm was dumping a foot or more of snow on the Denver-area, the PCs in our D&D campaign— by an odd coincidence— also found themselves journeying through a landscape covered with ice and snow.

At the end of the last session of our “Seeds of Chaos” adventure, our heroes had claimed victory in a skill challenge and successfully navigated their way through an unnatural blizzard north of the small village of Loudwater. Well, almost everyone made it through the blizzard… As the unnatural storm subsided and the PCs took stock of their situation, they realized that Silas was missing. Oh no!

Visibility was limited, but they could make out the stark gray silhouette of Draigdurroch Tower still some distance away, so the party decided to use the few remaining hours of daylight to proceed to the tower and hope that their lost comrade would catch up with them at some point. (Drew was already out-of-town for the holiday, so his eladrin vampire Silas would be missing from this Thursday night’s session.)

Frost Goblin Ambush

As our heroes drew nearer to the tower, they reached an area where several hills came together with dangerous ice between them. Suddenly, a mass of goblins leaped up from the hills! Most of them brandished javelins and crude short swords, but a few of them wore better armor and carried crossbows. From the highest vantage point, another goblin clad in robes waved a rod and made arcane gestures.

  • 3 Frost Goblin Sharpshooters (Level 2 Artillery)

  • Frost Goblin Cutters (Level 1 Minion)

  • Frost Goblin Hexer (Level 3 Elite Controller)

Gaultis succeeded on a Nature check and realized that these goblins appeared different than normal. Their blue skin was highly unusual, and the fact that they weren’t dressed for the bitter cold indicated they had somehow adapted to the unnatural weather. The PCs guessed that whatever was causing the strange weather had also affected the goblins living in the area.

Blake kicked things off by boldly charging up one of the hills. Unfortunately, none of his companions could move up and support him right away (they rolled very poorly on initiative), so he was targeted by most of the goblins on their turns (they rolled very well on initiative). He was quickly bloodied during the first round of combat, and although he used razorclaw shifting during his second turn to call on the primal power of the beast within, it still wasn’t enough to prevent him from going down as he was once again targeted by multiple crossbow attacks. Dagon then bravely rushed up the icy hill and swiftly administered a potion of healing to his unconscious friend.

Once Blake was healed by Dagon, the crisis point of the battle was passed and the party then went on to slowly but surely defeat the frost-touched goblins on the three hills. At the end of combat, the PCs managed to capture the last goblin sharpshooter and interrogate it. Before it succumbed to its wounds, the goblin told them that its tribe had been hired by Deneith and Thaliost to keep people away from the old, abandoned wizard’s tower. Just before their prisoner died, it said that “some big strange magic” had happened the previous day and it had not only affected the weather, but also transformed the goblins.

Searching the battlefield before moving on, the characters found 50gp, a potion of healing, and a nifty shield of deflection that was claimed by Gaultis.

DM Tip: I picked up some of these 1-inch boundary tokens from Litko Game Accessories. They’ve proved to be extremely useful when marking out areas of effect and whatnot. You get a pack of 16 tokens in four different colors.

Draigdurroch Tower

When the party arrived at the tower, they found it encased from top to bottom in a shimmering cocoon of pure ice. The fading sunlight was reflected in all directions by the angled planes of the frozen barrier. A palpable sensation of bitter cold emanated from the tower.

The tower’s only obvious entrance was a single door at its base, but a foot-thick sheet of solid ice stood in the PCs’ way. Rather than simply having Boojum use one of his fire spells to melt the ice, our heroes decided to chop their way through the frozen barrier. It took a while, but they did it. After clearing their way to the door, the PCs found it was locked. Blake tried to pick the lock with a toothpick, but it broke off in the lock. The shifter next attempted to break down the door, but failed. Gaultis then stepped in and with one mighty blow smashed in the door.

Once the PCs entered the tower, they found that the conditions inside were not much better then those outside, except that the howling wind and driving snow mercifully ceased. The temperature remained below freezing, and a thin layer of frost covered every surface inside the tower. The ice that coated every surface reflected and amplified a strange magic light, so the entire interior of the tower was brightly illuminated.

Boojum was the only member of the party interested in exploring the tower’s first floor, while the others headed straight for the staircases and for the second floor. Boojum’s solo exploration revealed that several of the first floor rooms contained fireplaces that still had frozen blue flames within them. From a couple of the fireplaces, Ice Warrior Shardlings (Level 1 Minion) emerged to attack the pixie.

Meanwhile, Blake was once again charging ahead of the rest of the party, up the stairs and to the second floor. As the impetuous shifter reached the top of the staircase, a featureless elemental creature made entirely of translucent blue ice stomped forward. It wore heavy armor and carried a huge maul-shaped chunk of frozen ice. Behind it, a more slender version of the same creature created long, sharp missiles of ice, ready to throw. Yet another version of the same basic monster, this one wielding a wicked blade of glistening ice, glided across the floor, jagged shards of ice crystallizing out of thin air all around it.

  • 2 Ice Warrior Icicle Hurlers (Level 2 Artillery)

  • 2 Ice Warrior Raiders (Level 2 Soldier)

  • Ice Warrior Frostling (Level 4 Controller)

As Gaultis and Dagon pounded up the staircases to join a battered Blake, Boojum was left to follow along behind as best he could. As I said something about the ice warriors’ resistances and vulnerabilities, the feisty pixie shouted, “Everyone’s vulnerable to Boojum!” Which, of course, just had to make it into the blog.

This turned out to be a difficult battle for the party. Combat ranged across both the first and second floors. At one point, an Icicle Hurler took a special interest in Boojum and pursued the gravely wounded pixie down the stairs. Boojum finally decided enough was enough, whipped out a daily (Slimy Transmutation), and turned the pesky monster into a tiny toad. Despite that moment of humor, midway through the encounter every PC was bloodied and things were looking grim for our heroes, but they persevered and finally overcame the elemental ice monsters.

Once the party caught their breath and could look around, they saw that the entire second level was taken up by a huge laboratory. An alchemical workbench stood against one wall, while another table was covered with bits and pieces of warlock implements. Some crates and barrels containing various magic and alchemical supplies lay scattered about. The bitter cold and the ice that covered every object and surface had ruined most of the supplies and equipment, but Dagon discovered three small ceramic flasks of alchemist’s frost that were still usable.

As they poked around the laboratory, the PCs were puzzled because the tower was clearly at least eight stories high when viewed from outside, but inside there was no obvious way to reach the third floor from the second floor. But then, with the clock rapidly ticking down to closing time at Total Escape Games, Boojum made an important last-minute discovery: The pixie wizard found a section of floor in the southeast corner of the room that he thinks will act like a Tenser’s Floating Disk and take the party up to the next floor of mysterious Draigdurroch Tower.

Tune in next week to find out if Silas finally shows up and to see just what the party will discover as they explore the upper floors of the tower!

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