|Aotrscommander RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32|
Episode 41: Left Axe, Right Axe
Welcome to the final - for the moment - installment of this bit of Rise of the Runelords, Aotrs Style!
The party, refreshed and forewarned, girded themselves. Gavril cast Elation. Abbondio cast Ice Axe and Light of Lunia. Galmard cast Barkskin and shared it with Sungmanitu, and Flame Blade upon himself. Kevkas dropped into his brand new Island of Blades stance. Kaddo cast Sonic Weapon on Thrôllgar's right axe.
Ruamaini gestured to Thrôllgar, who was first up the stairs. The dwarf reached the top... but saw nothing. Kaddo followed cautiously, beginning his new song about burning things, and the party's weapons leapt aflame.
A disembodied voice that neither dwarf nor bard could locate rang around the rooftops.
"You have caused me quite some trouble, vermin! I will take great pleasure in sending your souls to my master!"
They could not see the dark, serpentine shape, invisibly, silently raising her last defensive spell, behind the statue.
Regis moved up behind them, waiting patiently for a chnace to strike.
Galmard cast Blindsight in himself and Sungmanitu and then moved to the rooftop.
And there he beheld Xanesha - five of her - floating about five feet off the floor, with a great shield of force before her, covered with glowing armour and other glittering lights of active spells, and moving far too quickly.
After a gulp, he pointed out the location to the rest of the party. Abbondio, Kevkas and Gavril moved up and spread out. Ruamaini moved up carefully, casting an Invisibility himself from a scroll.
And then Thrôllgar charged! Impressively, despite her invisibility, his swings managed to pop two of her images.
Kaddo kicked up Inspirational Boost, causing blades of the party to burn twice as hot and then tried throwing a vial of Alchemist's fire. His aim was impressive, again popping an image despite the invisibility.
Xanesha for a moment thought about using her mask... and then realised that Thrôllgar couldn't see her. Oh well... she thought and instead struck Thrôllgar three times with her spear and the dwarf's limited brains began leaking out of his head as the blood poured out of his body...
Regis stepped in, using Steel Wind on the now-visible Lamia and manging to take out another image. Galmard and Sungmanitu paused, waiting.
And Abbondio made the most important action of the battle: Dispel Magic. Desna was with him indeed. He dispelled her Mirror Image. He broke her Haste, shivered her Shield and wiped clean her Mage Armour.
(And thus dropped her AC from 34 to a still considerable 26...)
Galmard now sprang into action and moved forward as Sungmnaitu rushed in to strike, jaws aflame. Galmard himself put down a Wall of Smoke in the hopes of nauseating the lamia, but Xanesha, girded against poisons, simply ignored it.
Kevkas deftly moved in, and showing that he'd clearly been paying attention to Regis used Emerald Razor to land a vicious vital strike.
Gavril jogged up and started her own song, now making a inspiring counter point to Kaddo's song of fire.
As Xanesha was contemptuously considering simply flying out of the cloud and into a new positon, Ruamaini sealed her in with his own Dispel Magic, taking her flight and her Divine Favour. Thrôllgar enraged himself into a frenzy and began to strike blow after blow, landing only half of his strikes, but doing considerble damage between Elation, rage and the twin bard songs.
Kaddo moved in to attack, but failed to gain perchase against Xanesha's armoured hide.
Xanesha angrily forgot her mask and simply lashed out at Thrôllgar and Kevkas, striking each once and further deplated Thrôllgar's limited wisdom.
Regis struck hard with an Insightful Strike while Abbondio moved up and unleashed both beams from his Light of Lunia, though only one beam hit and the damage was minimal. Galmard called a Flaming Sphere, but Xanesha again simply shrugged it off. Sungmanitu's flaming jaws found her mark in the Lamia's hide, though Xanesha was simply too big and too strong to be pulled down.
Kevkas struck again, darting between Thrôllgar's blows, using his Burning Blade technique and Xanesha again felt a sharp stabbing pain.
Gavril tried to use her Bone Fiddle spell, but Xanesha again resisted.
Ruamaini struck in with his Seeking Ray, making his job of attacking easier now Xanesha was nicely highlighted. Thrôllgar continued his heavy, deadly swings and shearing away at Xanesha's vitality. Kaddo stepped into the spot Regis had just vacated for him and using his new fire breath, breathed... a rather disappointingly small steam of fire, which stil nevertheless tickled Xanesha's hide.
Xanesha concentrated on Thrôllgar now - perhaps unwisely foregoing her spells to hit him twice more, hoping to drop or incapacitate him, but though the dwarf was starting to have difficultly, he'd been blind drunk often enough it didn't seriously impede his abilities.
Regis struck wildly and missed, but florished his blade to ready himself to strike insightfully again. Abbondio now stepped in, striking the Lamia with a Sudden Maximised Inflict Serious Wounds, and though Xanesha shook off the worst of the effects, the damage was starting to tell.
As Sungmanitu bit again, Galmard used Mass snake's Swiftness and everyone struck the Lamia hard.
Kevkas landed another painful blow, while Gavril moved around to cast a healing spell on Thrôllgar, ready to get into melee himself.
Ruamaini hurled a Ray of Enfeeblement as Kaddo's sword bounced off Xanesha's hide. The weakening Lamia - perhaps a bit panicked and no longer thinking straight - again lashed out at Thrôllgar, but only managed a single stroke, and Thrôllgar's axes continued to land flaming, sonic blow after flaming blow.
Regis lashed in with another Insightful Strike, and truly insightful it was, sending Xanesha reeling from the strike. Abbodio struck with his Ice Axe. Galmard tried now a Sunstroke, which again did little, but Sungmanitu's flaming maw continued to strip through Xanesha's flesh. Kevkas again slammed his short sword between Thrôllgar's blows and widened every wound with murderous precision. Gavril waded in with his own sword, but found no avail against the Lamia's skin.
Ruamaini struck once more with a Scorching Ray, burning the Lamia, whose thoughts were rapidly turning to escape.
But before she could even half-form the idea Thrôllgar, with a roar, took a running jump off the statue next to him.
And right axe swung.
And left axe swung.
And right axe and left axe met in the middle.
With barely time for a last gurgle, the mighty Xanesha fell to the ground in twain.
* * * * * *
And so this part of our story ends.
Xanesha could have perhaps done a little better, though had she risked a defensive cast Dimension Door it might have only gained her a round: perhaps two as the party's buff were just starting to come to the end of her time. But with her defences shorn and the party themselves fully buffed, it was just a matter of time - even with Defiant 3 and thus 600 hit points! The party were at +1 for Elation, +2 for flanking, +2 to bard song and on damage +1 from Elation, +1 from Kaddo's Power Aura, +2 from Gavril's song and +2D6 Fire from Kaddo's Dragonfire Inspiration. Island of Blades gave Kevkas an easy flank from the first round as he stood next to Thrôllgar. Thrôllgar, of course, probably did the largest amount of damage - on top of all the rest of the buffs, he had his own rage bonuses as well. One round he hit three times (right axe, left axe, right axe) - 3 x +11 +3D10 +6D6 Fire +2D6 sonic - and did about 80 damage. Regis got a natural 20 on his second Insightful Strike's concentration check and did a good seventy or so himself. The party could see why Xanesha earned her reputation as a TPKer though - had they not been able to dispel her so roundingly successfully, they'd have been in much more trouble. As it was, they managed it in but a single session.
Next week we're carrying on with a 4E game as a bit of a break (I had said that I was quite happy to carry on to do the next book if they were, but that after 41 sessions (and what must be most of a year of real time) this was a good point for a natural break to do something different.) We shall wrap up the loose ends (do the looting and the information) next week, but essentially, this is the last part for a while.
* * * * * *
So, final thoughts for this portion.
It has been an excellent pair of modules to run. Only really the Clocktower gave me some map problems, as there is a bit of inconsistency between the RotRL source, the Magnimar sourcebook, the floorplans and the pictures... The players picked a bit of fault with the Seven Sawmill as well, starting off with asking how in the heck a watermill on a tidal river would work. (For which I had no real answer other than "well... um... maybe the wheel goes up and down with the tides..?") But otherwise, it has been flawless and great fun.
The players seem to have thoroughly enjoyed it. I think Thrôllgar has pretty much cemented himself as the centre of attention (largely because the player often is, he's just that sort of person!) and I mean that only in a positive way. Thrôllgar's social bumblings have constantly entertained the rest of the group and as I said at the start - he couldn't have handed me a better way to tie in Aldern and the murders at the start if he'd tried. I don't know what it is, but when he comes to strike the final attack, he always seems to hit with both axes. Go figure... I think he must has used that double-axe finishing blow on the majority of the boss monsters!
I haven't had many sin points awarded in the last half of the game, but I think partly that was getting out of the habit and partly the slightly lesser amount of NPC interaction roleplaying - but I think I've got enough of a measure of the characters to assign seven of the eight of them an appropriate sin. I haven't actually counted, by the by, but I'm pretty sure Thrôllgar has got more sin ticks that the entire rest of the party combined...!
I hope you have all enjoyed following this insanity here. I may take up this thread or start a new one when we come back to the Hook Mountain Massecre, time depending, but in any case: thank you for reading!