Friday, August 3, 2012

Carrion Crown: Ashes at Dawn pt. 5

(This session involved Edgar the human cleric of Gond, Mutt the human barbarian, Kia the human sorceress, Colin the halfling the paladin of Lathander and Galfur the dwarven inquisitor. The average party level was 12).

The heroes wiped up some of the mess around the stables and got their bearings together before advancing into the abbey. They were even so lucky as to be greeted by Kia, who now returned from her wounds suffered at the tailoring store. Being on their track for some time, the sorceress had finally found her way to the abbey and was ready to jump back into action.

It turned out the be the case rather quickly, as not long after the heroes spent some time talking - looking out at the heavy rain, and then noticed a swarm of spiders making its way across the floor towards the door. Immediately remembering their research, Galfur pointed it out and shouted "Kia! Blast it!"
Not really sure about the fuss, Kia fireballed the swarm and blew half the smithy to pieces along with it. The heroes pretty much assumed that this had to be part of Oothi and that this part was pretty much dead by now.

Ring, ring, ring goes the trolley
They decided to move swiftly from there and head towards the small door. On their way they heard the sound of nervous footsteps and speculating voices saying "Be careful, that explosion was rather huge. They must be right out there!"

The heroes moved out of the stables and tried one of the other doors, realizing it was locked. Instead, Kia turned invisible with greater invisibility and moved down to check. Six armed mercenary-guards were moving out, armed, nervously looking around. Judging from their clouded gaze they were dominated.

The first one of them to spot the heroes yelled "Halt! Lay down your weapons and surrender!"
With Kia still invisible, with an empowered fireball left, things pretty much went:

(Paizo, you made my players very happy by placing this bunch of CR 7 guys here for my level 12 party to play with : ) )
One they managed to capture alive and dragged him off to have a little chat. As they cured him up, he immediately punched the cleric in the face and ran away, screaming for reinforcements. Mutt and Galfur immediately tried grappling him but smashed into each other with a thud, meaning he got a strong head-start. Eventually they tracked him down in the forest and brought him back in shackles. At this point, Kia dispelled the dominate person spell, meaning he instantly panicked and flew into a rage once he heard the heroes had killed his friends. Through some sweet talking he softened up and told them he and his friends had been ambushed by the witches, appearing as innocent young ladies at first, up the coast. They had then been brought here and charmed to keep the abbey clear of intruders, along with the glabrezu outside. He could describe very little besides the first of the abbey. Some rooms upstairs, two witches, and a monstrosity clad in darkened armor, dripping with blood.
They afterwards decided to let him go and head back into the building, actually through an unusual entry: Skipping most of the base-floor and instead going right up by the green terrace. 
Well, she turned me into a newt!
As they arrived up there they took in the scenery for a bit. Apparently, someone had made sure to keep this place well maintained with potted plants, some trees and even a small stone-table with benches and a tiny chess-board. The rain was dripping happily away on the patches of grass, but didn't manage to elude the inquisitor's gaze that instantly spotted a swarm of spiders trying to hide (my party in general has very, very good perception-checks, making the spider-game somewhat meh). Repeating success, he ordered Kia to take care of it and another fireball tore up a massive hole in the wall along with splattered spiders across the terrace.
Going inside they found themselves in a small study-chamber along with several books and three doors. Investigating the eastern one first, they found only some old guest-chambers and bed-rooms along with a couple of secret doors between them. Nothing spectacular and they wondered it was so very quiet up here.
The answer revealed itself when they stepped into a large alchemist workshop in the west-wing. Three large tables with vials dominated the middle of the room, whereas a bubbling cauldron with a red substance was placed far to the northwest. The heroes pondered this for a bit and then went to investigate the cauldron. Immediately, another four mercenaries appeared from hiding and attacked, while a cackling erupted from above the ceiling as one of the sisters revealed herself.
Hetna REALLY likes riding her broom...
 The heroes scattered out for cover, and on her first turn, the witch used her waxen doll to take control over Mutt, making the barbarian jump through the window with his poor will save and crashing to the ground outside. In her surprise round she also unleashed her elemental gem and summoned a large air elemental to aid her. Galfur drank a fly potion and Kia made use of her overland flight to meet in an arcane shoot-off with the witch. She cast a disintegrate at her, which was saved on a well rolled fortitude save. Colin, however, with his smite evil inflicted plenty of pain, making the witch order her minions to fully focus on him. Soon after, all four piled on top of the poor halfling in a bundle-grapple.
The witch decided for Kia to be too dangerous and hurled a baleful polymorph at her. As her fort-save was very low, Colin instantly used his paladin-sacrifice power to take the fall, and was immediately turned into a turtle.
The air elemental charged up and caught Kia within its whirlwind and Mutt climbed back up and through the window with his grappling hook and rope. As he entered, Egdar blocked off the windows with a wall of stone to avoid any more thrashings. Kia made her best to escape from the whirlwind but to no luck at all, and Galfur charged in to beat on the witch. As her cloak of dreams popped he made his save nicely and inflicted a moderate amount of wounds on her. (In general, neither her cloak of dreams or prepared poison-spell did that much in this fight).
On her turn, the witch hexed Kia with bad luck, took some more beating from Galfur and ordered her goons to grapple Edgar instead. Mutt came to his rescue and started mowing down some of them, while Kia kept struggling with the whirlwind. Following that, another baleful polymorph set in, now with forced dual rolls for lowest result on the fort-save, instantly turning Kia into a sheep. Luckily, she maintained her mental-state, which dramatically altered the course of the battle on her turn. With a still silent dispel magic the sheep managed its caster level check in the whirlwind and dispelled the turtle's state, bringing back the paladin. As Mutt was well on his way making short work out of the thugs, the witch soon received a barrage of do-good'er arrows, which brought her to -18 hit points. Not long after, the party mobbed it up and celebrated.
 
They tore down the stone wall and poured out the remaining blood brew, outside the window. As they searched the lab they found some bottles labeled "Youth Tonic" and as Kia picked one up she had the sudden urge to drink it. Resisting with her willpower, she gently decided to put it down again and instead concentrate on a special flask with a few drops of golden liquid. Mutt recognized this as the vial of youth inherited down in the Caliphvaso family. As far as they could judge, the remaining content would be able to grant the one imbibing it a solid handful of additional years. They decided to simply bring it along for now.
The mood was good as both the witch and her companions had brought along some good loot.
(If you've played or read this part, you will likely notice I changed the witch's spell selection a bit, such as giving her two polymorphs and so on. I've never tried using witches in my campaign, so I didn't know that much about them, and with very little time to read up, it mostly involved what spells she was going to throw at my players. I'll have to say that the mass pain strike approach seemed not only weird, but also useless against my group. It would do so very little difference, compared to everything else I could throw at them. So instead of adding spells to her which I was unsure about her even having access to, I stocked up on some she already had. It was a very interesting and to me surprising fight. She seems like the stronger one of the two sisters so far, but it's too early to say. The fight also states, I believe, that she shatters her gem upon escape, which again seemed odd as the whirlwind was an awesome factor in this fight. I was very curious to see what would happen if the sheep didn't get the chance to turn spells, with a grappled cleric, a barbarian out of reach and only the inquisitor against her in the air. She could very well have won, as he didn't hit that hard at all.)  
...I got better?
To the south the heroes found the sleeping quarters in which the soldiers had resided and to the north a very interesting study-chamber containing an old skeleton of a hag, apparently stitched together by several small pieces of string. From what Edgar could judge, only the skull was missing. On the shelf, the heroes found an old tome of necromancy and blood magic, apparently describing the process of reviving dead tissue and notes on inflicting vampirism upon oneself. Kia was immediately interested.
With focus on the skeleton, the heroes agreed this was likely the remains of Oothi; now to decide what to do with her. They agreed someone should take a finger bone from it for starts. Colin had the honor. As soon as he did, four invisible blades cut deep into his back.
Panic erupted, everyone flailing wildly with their weapons, Galfur attempting to invisibility purge without luck, Kia flying to the ceiling and casting, yet another, fireball with selective blasting. The skeleton was smashed into a million pieces and the invisible foes immediately turned their attention to her. Colin, near the brink of death, healed himself while Edgar cast True Seeing on the inquisitor who saw four invisible stalkers hovering around Kia near the ceiling (Interesting topic, does true seeing enable you to see invisible stalkers? I'm not entirely sure, but decided yes). The dwarf jumped on to his flying carpet and Mutt on to his newly acquired flying broom and raced up there. Kia took a full round worth of invisible slams and with a shriek encapsulated herself in a resilient sphere. With a true seeing and Mutt's blind-fighting feat, the stalkers were downed quickly.
With the skeleton out of the picture, they only needed to terminate the remaining spiders. 
Ding, ding, ding went the bell.
In the final chamber the heroes found the old bell-tower in which stairs led both up and down, and of course the immediately spotted a spider-swarm on its way up the stairs. Kia, this time thinking reflectively, hurled a fireball at it and tore up the tower. Including the bell that instantly came crashing down. With everyone but Mutt failing their reflex-save, the entire party crashed to the floor below for a smashing amount of damage.
Having learned for whom the bell tolls, it took them some time to heal up and get back on track. Luckily, none had been killed. Instead they decided to investigate the ground floor fully, seeing as they were there and all.
Not that there was much to find except some old rooms, a kitchen, a larder and some very old flasks of wine for the heroes' cellar. Two stairs, however, led downwards to the basement and they decided to take the first one, on their way naturally spotting another spider swarm being blasted into oblivion.
The halls downstairs were covered with bloody runes and symbols, a strong presence of evil emanating from every direction. As they headed south they arrived in a very old, large room containing skulls and desecrated tombs all over. In their midst was a desperate, pale soul digging and mumbling to himself all the time. They recognized the almost faded symbol of Tyr on his breast-plate and concluded this was the paladin mentioned in Radvir's journal. Calling him out, the almost deranged human revealed his vampiric features and clumsily stepped towards them. Before he could get that far, however, Edgar noticed his obvious signs of dominance and cast dispel magic. As he returned to conscious, he presented himself as Halloran and thanked the heroes for freeing him from his bonds. He also told them how he had eventually been caught by Radvir and turned into this monstrosity. Already now he had been feasting on several of the guards and lived the unholy life of the nocturnal. His shame had overpowered him, and now he wished for nothing more than to redeem himself before suffering his final death.
 He pledged himself to Edgar, the holy father, asking whether he would grant him a quest so he might die with a pure heart. Edgar reluctantly instructed him to accompany them in the fight against the remaining witch and whatever this towering, metal-thing might be. The paladin eagerly accepted and offered to take them north to the creature.
Bloodbath!
As soon as they entered they saw the grim monstrosity stand before them. A towering blood knight clad in armor, dual wielding bastard swords and constantly bleeding in a slippery cascade, ready to take them on in a challenge.
Kia flew up towards the low ceiling, Edgar buffed and Galfur did some more; then he charged in and unleashed his blood-fountain on the entire party, with only Mutt and Galfur saving. Everything now covered with a slippery substance didn't interfere with the heroes. Colin unleashed a series of shots, shaving off the top of the blood knights hit points, and in a sudden burst of extreme aggression, Mutt scored a critical hit with his x3 undead bane halberd while fully buffed up and in rage, for a well total of a 100 damage.
And thus the blood knight was no more.
(Seriously, what a let down! With everyone making their second saves against the poison and nobody failing the reflex save on the greased weapons there is just so little one can do. Especially with a power crit like that. Ah well, at least he got to save himself a sweet reputation beforehand.)  
At this time the heroes and their vampiric companion heard a faint clapping up in the end of the room. A vampiric witch stepped out of the shadows, ready for battle...
To be continued next week.

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