Sounds like consensus is to make a run for the causeway, but let me know if I'm mistaken. Also, I think Jorr is without a mount at the moment, could someone provide a lift?
After your brief discussion, Jorr points the way towards the causeway, and Helaku and Cayenne spring forward followed closely by the rest of you.
You ride hell for leather through the trees, over fallen logs and splashing through increasingly soggy marshland. Jorr takes the lead with his shaggy but surprisingly quick little pony, his three dogs sprinting ahead. The wolf howls seem all around you now, coming now from your right, eastern side as well as from the west and south. Soon they will have you boxed in, if they can get ahead of you. However, your horses are fleet, and seem to be outdistancing the wolves. If not for the fact that more seem to be closing in on you, you might have a chance of outrunning them. Do worgs really only have a speed of 30ft/round?
Occasionally, you catch a glimpse of your pursuers through the trees and undergrowth: small, leather-faced goblins in hide armor riding large wolves with gleaming red, intelligent eyes. At one point, a couple come close enough to loose arrows at you. The mounted archers find their mark, hitting both Jorr and Leonar. Shaylar answers in kind, not hitting but forcing them to keep their distance. Elsewhere, you are surprised by a worg and its rider leaping at you from over a boulder. He tries to cut you down with his scimitar but finds his way blocked by Ambrose's huge horse Smoke, and his flashing axe. After a few noncommital swipes, the goblin edges away. You are sure though that he will be back with his fellows. 2 points damage each to Jorr and Leonar from arrows.
Suddenly, one of the worgs near you gives an anxious yip, and the howling dies away. The sounds of pursuit seem to fade as well, and just as you realize you are once again on your own you reach the road, and the causeway is in sight. As you race towards it, you see before you a wide expanse of dark water that has flooded a low valley. Trees still protrude from the calm, dark waters here and there, but many large reaches seem to be little more than open pools of algae-choked water. The trill of frogs and the whine of insects fills the air. The forest road leads right down to the edge of the flooded section, up to a rickety-looking causeway made of thick planks of wood lashed together with mossy rope. The wooden causeway runs for several hundred feet through the boggy patch, only a foot or so above the water. Up ahead, you can make out the wreckage of a wagon, lying on its side and half-sunk in the flooded forest, about thirty feet from the causeway. You also see, half-submerged in the mucky water, the remains of a wolf, or is it a worg?
1d7 ⇒ 2
arrow 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20 @Jorr
damage 1d4 ⇒ 2
1d7 ⇒ 1
arrow 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (18) + 7 = 25 @Leonar
damage 1d4 ⇒ 2
Shaylar bow 1d20 + 10 - 2 ⇒ (7) + 10 - 2 = 15
1d20 + 4 ⇒ (5) + 4 = 9
Ambrose axe 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (5) + 10 = 15
Perception Aleste 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (4) + 9 = 13
perception Ambrose 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13
perception Helaku 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (17) + 1 = 18
perception Keliwyn 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (19) + 10 = 29
perception Leonar 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (12) + 12 = 24
perception Shaylar 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (4) + 11 = 15
perception Jorr 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
init Aleste 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
init Ambrose 1d20 ⇒ 19
init Helaku 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (8) + 7 = 15
init Keliwyn 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
init Leonar 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
init Shaylar 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (18) + 8 = 26
init Jorr 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (11) + 7 = 18
stealth 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
perception 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (7) + 11 = 18
init 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (15) + 1 = 16
Despite my initial incling to fight the goblins, I turn Dapples to follow the others as we make a break for the causeway. As the worgs suddenly back away from the waters, my eyes dart towards Fang, looking for signs of danger that the wolf might have picked up where I missed them. Seeing his hackles standing up, I quickly slow down Dapples and bring the horse to a complete halt. My gaze turning towards the still water, I notice bubbles rising to the surface and quickly point them to the others. "Look! Over there! There's something there! In the water!" Even as I call out to my friends, Leonar's warning comes at the same time. Immediately unslinging my bow from my back, I nock an arrow, drawing a bead on the the place where the bubbles continue to burst upon the surface of the water. My knees working to control Dapples, who is acting a little skittish, I manage to maintain a steady aim at my target.
You slow your flight over the causeway, as Leonar and Shaylar point out the odd bubbles rising in the water to your left. As you look around warily, a sleek, serpentine body rises out of the water. Seven writhing, angry-looking snake-like heads of a hydra whip around to focus on your large party. The heads hiss savagely as the large creature wades towards you.
The hydra is 40ft to your left - see map. I don't think anyone's surprised, so we'll start with round 1. The wooden causeway is just about a foot above the water, and is somewhat uneven and slick, which requires a DC 10 Acrobatics check if you want to run or charge. It takes a move action to scramble up onto the causeway from a square of shallow bog.
According to the key on the map, most of the swampland consists of weed-choked water averaging about 2feet deep and is depicted on the map as shallow bog; characters can move three-quarters speed, and the DC to use Acrobatics to tumble through a square is increased by +2. The squares that are illustrated as deep bog hamper movement even more; characters can move at half speed and using Acrobatics to tumble is impossible. Finally, a deep creek cuts across the map, with water about 15feet deep. Characters must swim if they enter these squares, and characters wading in the bog might not notice the drop-off before stumbling into it. A successful DC 15 Survival check allows a character to notice the peril before moving into a square of deep bog or deep water.
26 - Shaylar & Fang
24 - Leonar
22 - Keliwyn
19 - Ambrose
18 - Jorr & dogs
16 - hydra
15 - Helaku
7 - Aleste
Y'all's initiative bonuses are far too high! :)
Ambrose casts his gaze at the beast rising from the water, his eyes quickly setting on the terrain and causeway. "We should get off of the bridge and across!" he calls out. "The ground here favors this creature. We are ducks in a row here, with no way to outmaneuver, especially not while mounted!"
Going to delay my actual move to see if the others agree with the plan. If they start moving across, I will on the next round. Going to keep on the bridge for now and cover anyone who wants to get across. Switching to the lance for reach and then total defense actions this round for both Ambrose and Smoke. Will also be using my Saving Shield feat on any adjacent allies to give them +2 AC if they happen to be attacked.
AC 25, Touch 10, FF 25
AC 26, Touch 12, FF 23
CHH, reasonable for me to have put mage armor up at some point during our madcap ride? Otherwise, looks like I'm one of the few to go after the beast so I'll wait to post actions. Hopefully the rest of you can drive it back into the swamp.
Sure Helaku, I'll buy that explanation, a caster probably would cast a protective spell if they could. Because of the riding swiftly though, Helaku should make a concentration check to see whether or not the jostling caused him to lose his spell. The DC for mage armor is DC11.
Reacting quickly, you spring into action at the sight of the giant hydra. Shaylar takes a shot at the creature with his bow, scoring a hit. Leonar also moves up towards the far end of the causeway, and casts a fire spell.
Keliwyn also brings his bow to bear on the approaching hydra, managing a glancing shot on the hydra's flank. The elven rogue is about to dismount to get a better position to face the beast, but Ambrose urges everyone to get off the causeway. Keliwyn stays in his saddle.
Jorr's pack of dogs snarl and bark at the hydra while he unslings his bow and shoots at the hydra. The hydra moves towards you, easily sliding through the water, its seven heads hissing at you threateningly.
Shaylar ranged attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (8) + 10 = 18
Shaylar damage 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
Keliwyn ranged attack 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (15) + 7 = 22
Keliwyn damage 1d8 ⇒ 4
Jorr ranged attack 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Jorr damage 1d8 ⇒ 7
Helaku holds his ground and takes out a wand. Speaking the words to activate it, he conjures the illusion of a doe from the foliage on the opposite side of the river. He sends it dashing toward the river as if in a panic and has it pull up wide-eyed just short of the hydra's reach as if preparing to bolt the other way.
Casts minor image with wand
Urging Dapples forward to make it for the end of the causeway and giving the others room to move there as well, I draw another arrow from my quiver, guiding the horse with my knees. Turning sideways in my saddle, I draw a bead on the hydra, while calling out to Fang to run as well. As I take aim, I suddenly see a deer crashing from the foliage and I thank Ehlonna for sending that distraction. In the heat of the moment it takes me a moment to realize Helaku is wielding a wand that just might be the source of the perceived divine intervention. Not wasting time to ponder the validity of my assumption, I release the arrow to strike the multi-headed lizard in the chest.
Attack, Longbow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28
Damage, Longbow: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Status: AC: 19 - HP: 26/26
I apologize for my tardiness in posting. Slight case of writer's block, which I hope to have killed with the same arrow ;-)
Seeing his allies making a stand on the causeway, Ambrose forms up to stand his ground as well, holding his lance ready to skewer the beast when it approaches.
Ready action to stab when the hydra approaches within 10 ft. of me. Still using Saving Shield to grant any shieldless adjacent allies +2 AC if they are attacked.
Finally, a chance to post!
Round 1 continued
Near one end of the causeway, Helaku produces a wand and conjures an image of a doe dashing on the north side of the water. One of the hydra's serpentine heads swings towards the apparition, then turns back to you, its eyes narrowing. Hydra rolled a 22 on its Will save to disbelieve.
Aleste meanwhile throws a bomb at the hydra, briefly engulfing it in flames. The heads shriek and hiss at the alchemist as he falls back along the causeway. 17 points fire damage to the hydra.
Confusion is everywhere. Jorr's dogs begin barking furiously at the monster, while Shaylar does his best to urge Dapples and Fang along the crowded causeway and away from the deep water. As he does so, he sends another arrow at the hydra, striking it in the chest. At the same time, Leonar hurls a ball of fire at the hydra, burning it a second time. 4 points of damage to the hydra from the arrow, 7 points of fire damage from Leonar's spell.
Keliwyn leaps down from the saddle, urging his horse onwards even while he tumbles over the side of the causeway not facing the hydra. Knee-deep in the bog, he eases himself down into the deeper water, swimming under the causeway towards the hydra. I think Kel's player is still catching up with things, so I'll continue to NPC for the moment until he can come back to the game.
The hydra, hissing at all the prey on the causeway, for a moment seems torn by those congregating at the south end of the causeway and those caught in the middle on the north bank of the deep water. It suddenly decides on the latter group, and it lunges forward, avoiding Ambrose's ready lance as its heads snap forward. Hydra walked into Ambrose's readied attack, but it was unsuccessful. Three of the heads lunge at Leonar and the druid's deadly fire, inflicting grievous wounds. (26 points of damage to Leonar!) Another two heads snap at Ambrose, their sharp teeth managing to punch through the knight's armor. (12 points of damage to Ambrose.) Another head snatches one of Jorr's dogs and savages it terribly; Jorr has time to turn around and shout to his dog, "Mugs, no!" before another hissing head closes on his shaggy pony. Jorr is knocked from his saddle, and the shrieking pony receives some terrible wounds.
11 points of damage to the pony, 9 points of damage to Mugs the dog.
hydra will save 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Keliwyn swim 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (18) + 1 = 19
Keliwyn stealth 1d20 + 19 ⇒ (1) + 19 = 20
Keliwyn survival 1d20 ⇒ 8
Ambrose lance 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (1) + 10 = 11
Ambrose damage 1d8 + 4 ⇒ (4) + 4 = 8
7d7 ⇒ (6, 2, 2, 5, 4, 6, 2) = 27
hydra perception 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (12) + 11 = 23
head 1 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30 @Leonar
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
head 2 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23 @Leonar
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
head 3 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22 @Leonar
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
head 4 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13 @pony
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
head 5 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (17) + 10 = 27 @dog
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
head 6 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (12) + 10 = 22 @Ambrose
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
head 7 attack 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (18) + 10 = 28 @Ambrose
damage 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Helaku mutters under his breath, "Stupid creature actually figured out the deer? Going to have to get nasty." He urges Cayenne ten feet back toward the Hydra to bring himself within range. He raises a hand toward the hydra and spits out a series of arcane words with a sound like crackling timbers. A bolt of fire lances toward the hydra. Casts scorching ray
Ranged touch attack 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Damage (Fire) 4d6 ⇒ (5, 3, 4, 5) = 17
Practically doubled over in pain, the Druid staggers 5' to the north. He readies an action for when the hydra attempts to attack him agin, hoping to burn it even more before it takes him.
Melee touch 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
Damage 1d6 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
From the far side of the causeway, still mounted, I draw another arrow and take another shot at the hydra, again aiming for the beast's chest. With Dapples having calmed down now that we are away from the monster's snapping heads, my shooting platform is much more stable, resulting in a well-placed shot.
Attack, Longbow: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (20) + 10 = 30
Crit check: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (14) + 10 = 24
Damage, Longbow: 1d8 + 2 ⇒ (2) + 2 = 4
Crit damage: 2d8 + 4 ⇒ (1, 5) + 4 = 10
Status: AC: 19 - HP: 26/26
"Jorr, get your dogs off of this bridge!" Ambrose again attempts to drive his lance into the hydra. "I mark you for dead, beast!" Declaring a challenge on him.
I assume it is staying outside of 5 ft melee reach range, so I can't get close enough to try and do slashing damage on a head with my axe.
Lance attack 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (1) + 12 = 13
Damage 1d8 + 9 ⇒ (5) + 9 = 14
Round 2 continued
Helaku and the well-singed Leonar lay down a cross-fire of fiery magic, terribly burning the hydra in the process. The creature's heads begin to sway weakly, and obviously it's realized that it hasn't just found an opportune snack but a group of powerful adventurers!
Shaylar, finally able to steady his horse Dapples, draws a bead on the hydra. It is an excellent shot, and it strikes the hydra straight through the heart. The creature crashes down into the dark water, and Ambrose is just able to shift Smoke to the side before one of the heads crashes down onto the causeway, shattering several planks of wood. You see Keliwyn surface from the water, where he was trying to sneak up on the hydra. "What happened? The thing nearly fell on me!" The soaking elf hauls himself back onto the causeway, as you all rally and swiftly make your way across to the other end of the causeway. Shaylar's critical shot reduced the hydra to -10hp.
Once on the northern bank, you take a moment to catch your breath and make plans. Jorr is anxious about his wounded pony and dog Mugs, examining their wounds closely. With effort you bring him back to the task at hand. "Yes, you're right. I suggest we keep moving, those goblin riders aren't going to be scared away for long."
Well done, that hydra could have been a tough encounter. I'm surprised, for a creature with such tough melee skills, it sure didn't seem to have much in the way of hit points.
Leonar takes a knee to catch his breath. "Thank you all...that thing was on me so quickly! One more bite and I would have been done for.". He pulls out the wand of healing he had with him, and set about healing himself.
Charge One 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6
Charge Two 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
Charge Three 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
Charge Four 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8
"Anyone else need healing?"
Whoever needs healing, just roll for CLW charges until you get full. When you do, just remind me how many charges to take off the wand, if ou don't mind.
Leonar pulls his healing wand and makes sure everyone is ready to continue before heading on out.
While the rest of you are eager to move on and put some distance between yourselves and the causeway, Aleste takes a few moments to look around. You don't find a lair as such that the hydra was using, ( Anyone trained in Survival is welcome to make a check and read the spoiler below if you get a 10 or above. ), but you do find some things of interest. Around the wreckage of the wagon you uncover a number of partial hobgoblin skeletons in the mud. Most still wear their armor; in most cases the armor has been chewed up by the hydra, but breastplate of one hobgoblin seems to still be in good condition. You think it might be made of mithral.
@Shaylar: Keliwyn sputters as he tries to return the laugh, wringing out his cloak. The bedraggled elf reclaims his horse and moves on.
@Leonar: If you wish to heal Jorr's dog and pony, 4 charges total will bring both back up to full strength.
@Helaku: Riding on, you reach the far end of the causeway. The path continues north.
Once his dog and his pony have been seen to one way or another, Jorr remarks that the keep is not far away. "Any plans how you want to approach the place?" he asks.
CLW 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
CLW 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
CLW 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
CLW 1d8 + 1 ⇒ (7) + 1 = 8
Survival 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (6) + 11 = 17
Leonar fills the group in on the hydra's movement patterns Read DM's spoiler.. He also cures the pony and the hound. "Ive got them all healed up, Jorr. Should be good as new. So long as no new hydras come out at us."
Took the four charges off my wand.
"I'll stay back. Staying quiet is not one of my better talents. But, it might be good to have us close enough to reinforce you if you run into trouble. Perhaps Jorr can help with which approach to take to see the entrance and if there are any other areas on the outside of the keep you should look at."
"Well, you've seen me throw a bit of fire at the hydra. And use my wand to heal Jorr's animals and myself. I'm also handy at summoning creatures to help us in battle. I seem to have a special talent at calling large felines..."
Ok, how far ahead is your scouting party going to go? I have for scouting ahead Jorr, Leonar, and Shaylar. Keliwyn as well?
Jorr confirms that the keep is about four miles further down the road. The keep itself is on the top of a low hill; Jorr could lead a scouting party through the woods to the far side of the keep. It might allow you to get a closer look at the keep with less chance of being spotted. However, in the scout's estimation creeping up to the keep stealthily might take the rest of the afternoon.
In the distance, back down the road towards the causeway, a cautious yip sounds through the forest. Other howls answer, beginning to sound more confident.
Could everyone scouting make Stealth checks please? You may also wish to make Perception checks.
Read the spoiler if you decide to scout ahead and approach the keep stealthily in the forest, which it sounds like you want to do. If you decide to do differently, disregard spoiler and I'll post a different update.
Circling carefully around the old keep you see it is in very poor repair. The gatehouse is partially collapsed, as is a section of wall to the south. A small wooden building sits next to the remains of a long-abandoned garden in front of the structure. The walls surrounding the keep are about fifteen feet high, with a two-story tower looming in the southwest corner of the courtyard within. Large boulders lie strewn amid the ruins of the two watch towers, and a massive humanoid skeleton slumps amid the ruins of the northern one. This skeleton still wears tattered fragments of hide armor, and a large club lies next to its bony arms.
Jorr stealth 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (4) + 13 = 17
1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
"Tenacious little buggers aren't they? I hope we don't get ourselves caught between two forces." Helaku follows the scouts at a considerable distance, hoping not to interfere with their quiet approach.
Stealth 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Perception 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
For those scouting ahead, you can make out that the outline of the keep is like so - Map
You don't see anyone watching on the walls, though as you are approaching the keep you do see a band of worg-riding goblins riding up to the keep. You see most of them leave again, but a few must still be inside. Leonar, at least, can tell that some of the riders were the ones pursuing him through the forest.
Jorr suggests tieing up the horses in the woods some way back from the keep. They might give away your position.
Once the scouts return to the stragglers, Helaku heeds Jorr's advice and ties up Cayenne. "How many did you all see? Does the group remaining at the keep look like a small enough group for us to handle? Or should we just scout things out and try to determine the situation?"
I hang back with Helaku, "Once we've got an idea of numbers we can decide what to do. I wouldn't mind caapturing the leader here, so that we can get a real idea of the big picture."
stealth: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (14) + 8 = 22
perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (13) + 9 = 22
"I'll stay behind...I've never been once for a quiet approach. Raiders could fall on Helaku and Aleste, as well if they remain here, so I'll help set up ground here. I bid you swiftness and silence."
"I agree with capture. We need information on this army and their plan. Once we are privy to their tactics, we might be able to come up with some of our own to counter their advance and better steel the people against the advance."
Perception: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19