Overzealous Characters

Legacy of Fire

Playing Howl of the Carrion King - my group of 2nd-level players has gotten in a little over their head, and I'm trying to decide on the response of the defenders of Kelmarane.

Avoiding giving anything away...:

The group infiltrated Kelmarane on the night of the first day, after a successful scouting mission. They've made friends with Undrella, killed the snake, and made a camp in the manor house by the docks.

The next morning, they woke early, and made their way up the hill. They already knew about the dire boar (from the scouting mission, knew exactly what it was), and lured it into a trap, killing it handily, but not without taking a few lumps that were easily healed.

They then headed up the hill, leaving most of the buildings un-explored. They skirted around the backside of the battle market, meeting a gnoll patrol along the way, which actually managed to get the drop on them. Didn't help them much - the party won hands-down - only one member was even scratched.

Rather than fall back and regroup, they continued on, and got right up to the back door of the battle market. There Kezurkian appeared, with some extra gnolls, responding to the noise of the previous battle. During this fight, more gnolls appeared, with the pack of hyenas from the guardhouse. All told, Kezurkian, 6 gnolls, and 3 hyenas (one had been killed during the scouting mission, by the boar no less!). The party went toe-to-toe with this group, and after a long battle, managed to defeat them with a few very lucky blows (the monk stunned Kezurkian, allowing the rest of the group to really beat up on him). However, two of the party fell to the demon's attacks (stabilized short of death); the players retreated all the way back to the monastery to heal up.

Now here's the problem. The party retreated in full daylight, directly back to their stronghold (I had pity on them, and let the dust-digger be sleeping during the mid-day heat). There's no way that Kardswann doesn't know they're out there. I'm tossing around two choices for his response: Either he sends a scouting mission that day (in force, not just a single patrol, since he knows the group was powerful enough to defeat Kezurkian), or he does a full-scale assault the next day, with the entire company in the battle market.

The first option is doomed to failure - the party is more than a match for any gnolls sent against them. Even wounded as they are, I wouldn't give the gnolls much chance, especially with the guards and mercenaries in Almahs party.

As the party is only second level (still, we're using medium progression), the second choice would probably be a TPK, even with the reinforcements that Almah can provide. I *could* have Almah intervene, and have them abandon the monastery for another stronghold because of their mistake. She'll have their report (they learned the number of gnolls and the fact that Kardswann is a genie from Undrella, and know about the bugbears as well), so she'll have a good idea of the strength they'll be opposing. She won't be pleased with them for the frontal assault or leaving an obvious trail. The problem with this tactic is that the party is heavily wounded; they're out of healing, and would have to rely on Father Zastoran to beef them up (he's an alchemist in this game).

Anyone have any additional options, or better suggestions for Kardswann's response?

You could play out the battle, instead of a total party kill, they could be captured for questioning. While on the route back, that dust digger you had sleeping? It wakes up and causes havoc; facilitating a party escape. They might not make it away with all their gear and will need assistance but at second level, its not like they've a ton to lose. It sufficient enough as cautionary tale against poor decision making without totally ruining your adventure path.

Some things to think about:


Were gnolls actually out and watching the PCs return to the monestary? If not and it takes the gnolls a little time to realize what's going on and track back that way, that could conceivably buy the PCs a little time.

If the peryton is still alive, maybe Kardswann sends it to scout and that buys a day -- if I remember correctly it scouting the monestary is what ultimately precipitates an assault on the monestary in the "if nothing else happens first" timeline.

If you think Kardswann still would/does hit the monestary and force and would be too overwhelming, maybe move up the timeline of the Three Jaws gnolls.

Letting Father Zastoran have and reluctantly part with as many healing potions as they need would probably help a bit.

Finally, something to play around with (if it helps you nudge things in a direction you prefer) is that even though Xulthos is a daemon, the deaths of the PCs probably wouldn't be his top priority -- he's a daemon, but he's a trapped daemon, and he may urge a less heavy-handed initial response on Kardswann's part in order to find out what the Pactmasters' lackeys are doing poking around in Kelmarane after so long and if this event can somehow be turned to his freedom. (Which, since Almah has the interdict key, it actually can.)

Shadow Lodge

Just Pete wrote:

Playing Howl of the Carrion King - my group of 2nd-level players has gotten in a little over their head, and I'm trying to decide on the response of the defenders of Kelmarane.

** spoiler omitted **...

I've just got one thing to say. Legacy of Fire and previous paths were written for 3.5. The closest XP progression is the fast progression. If you stay at medium, they'll constantly be behind in the level of power that is assumed for each adventure. Unless you're planning on running many side adventures, they'll be toast.

What about Kardswann have the harpy scout the ruined church. She can taunt the PC's and Almah about the terrible death that is comming for them.

Assuming the PC's or NPC's are watching the town, they'll see Kardswann starting to assemble his full force attack. It will take time (gnolls are lazy beasts, and it will take much kicking and shouting to get everything together.

Make sure the PC's understand that death is looking them straight in the face and it isn't nervous about it's ability to wipe them out. Than, have Almah "suggest" that they can't make a stand in the ruins and fleeing is their only real option.

Make it a memorable chase scene. Have the healthy (or healthier)PC's form a rear guard. Give them several opportunities for heroic actions as gnolls mounted on hyenadons range ahead of the main force and make foolish and taunting attacks. Have the harpy dive bomb the wagons carring the wounded. Make them sweat, but in the end, the let them outrun the lazy gnolls.

Sure Almah probably isn't going to be happy, but if they can get back to the starting oasis in one piece, there is always another chance on some other day.

I would go with your first option to give the PCs a bit more time to heal and prepare if needed. This will also give them a heads up that a big battle will be coming. In one of my games, the PCs did the exact same thing. They knew is was coming and there was quite a bit of excitement as they made plans for a stand. There was a good battle at the monastary, but not even close to a TPK.

Just in case a spoiler is needed:
Remember, Kardswann has rather limited resources. If the PCs killed off most of the gnolls and hyenas outside of the battlemarket he is even more limited. If they befriended Undrella, she may hold back or pull punches. And if he waits to gather more gnolls, that gives the PCs more time too.

Eric Clingenpeel wrote:

I've just got one thing to say. Legacy of Fire and previous paths were written for 3.5. The closest XP progression is the fast progression. If you stay at medium, they'll constantly be behind in the level of power that is assumed for each adventure. Unless you're planning on running many side adventures, they'll be toast.

This was understood going in; the characters were built using a very free-handed approach to power; they're vastly overpowered for their level (we rolled stats, they're very high - not sure of the equivalent point-buy, but it's probably off the charts).

I'm using as many side-treks as I can find, and the conversions for pathfinder as well.

I am a little concerned about the later chapters; getting through the first book should NOT have been an issue for them. If they make level 3, they'll probably be able to beat Kardswaan, and Xulthos by level 4. Possibly even earlier.

I'm not too concerned about the party fighting the gnolls. The gnolls are having a tough time even hitting the PCs! It's the heavy-hitters that will be an issue, once the final battle starts.

I like the idea of Kardswaan telling Undrella to scout the monastery. The party has befriended her, and the group's bard is actively flirting with her as well; she's besotted. She'll probably give them plenty of advance warning.

Dashki's trip to the Five Jaws tribe is now more important; I'll probably move up their visit. They can arrive during or shortly after the monastery invasion - it really depends on how the party reacts to Undrella's warning, and how they fare in the battle if they stay.

I'm going to have to think some more on Xulthos' motivations. That could really change the game a bit.

Let us know how it goes. My PCs were having an easy time with the gnolls in most encounters too. As I said before, it was a nice fight, but not close to a TPK.

Gray wrote:
Let us know how it goes.

I always meant to follow up on this...and truly, since we only game once a month, I'm not slacking off on the response.We finally continued the game this past weekend.

The Saga Continues...spoilers abound:

The group made it back to the monastery in one piece, as was previously mentioned. There, they reported to Almah, who was quite pissed off at them. However, she ordered Father Zastoran to bring them around (two cure L potions for the unconscious party members), and allowed him to sell them more potions,which they used to heal themselves up.

Later in the afternoon, Undrella came a-calling. She told them she'd been sent to scout them out, and wanted to warn them that Kardswann knew where they were. She also told them that Kardswann wouldn't be able to mount an attack until the next day, at least. However, Kardswann didn't know about the rest of Almah's group, so the party sent Undrella back to tell Kardswann that they were badly wounded, two unconcscious, and that they'd sent "the fast one" for reinforcements.

That evening, the Quickling ran out to the old fort (he heard the dust digger on his way, but easily out-ran it) - he got there before Dashki, and spent some time searching around for it (during which Dashki caught up). The Quickling tussled with the hyenas at the gate, and then ran off when the gnolls inside started pitching arrows at him. Because of the noise, Dashki was able to hide from him while he retreated.

At the same time - Dashki made his rendevous with his tribe, almost completely un-noticed. One of the party members on watch did see his altercation with the dust digger - but couldn't figure out what it was, since it was dark. This worked out well, since the dust digger was alert from the quickling's passage.

As the quickling returned to the fort, the Howl of the Carrion King went off - this time, it was much longer as Kardswann related his position, asked for reinforcements, and got a response (still debating on the response).

The next morning, Father Zastoran spoke to the party's cleric (conveniently, he worships Nethys also), and told him about the abandoned shrine. Father Z also said he was low on potions and supplies, since he'd sold his stock to the party, and asked that they investigate the shrine to see if any supplies remained.

The group took this to mean that the GM wanted them to go to the shrine instead of back to Kelmarane. Don't know what gave them THAT idea!

So..they headed out to the river, skirting the pesh fields to get to the river. They sent the quickling on ahead to see what was going on in Kelmarane - he ran up through the town again, past the guard that replaced the dead Dire Boar - getting smacked around a bit in the process. He witnessed the gnolls torturing the captured prisoner, then ran away before they could catch him. Since he had the ring of feather falling, he just jumped off the cliff, crossed the bridge, and ran back down to the group, who was waiting on the other (original) side of the river. They threw a rope across, which he secured, and they all crossed over.

They headed out to the shrine, and found it easily. They made short work of the inhabitants, and had no problems with most of the traps (even thought they set them ALL off), mostly due to their Cleric of Nethys. Haidan was in the mists, and was a fun encounter, as half of the group had failed to save, and were acting confused all during the fight. Haidan managed to bite three of them - haven't resolved the saves yet.

That's where we left off for the evening. Now, I've got another dilemma...I'm very tempted to have Kardswann attack the monastery while the group is away? Most likely, he'd send 9 of his remaining 19 gnolls, with Ugruk to lead them. This could very well mean that Almah would be captured, and the group's supplies as well - meaning they would HAVE to attack the battle market to survive. Yeah, I think that's what's going to happen. Almah will be even MORE pissed. <queue evil GM grin>

Oh...and Almah has the Interdict key...if she's captured...Kardswann will be able to free Xulthos. This may be where Kardswann tries to resist. He surfaces enough to warn Undrella, who warns the party...this is shaping up nicely.

That was an odd decision by the PCs, but it does look like it could be interesting turn of events too.

And by decision, I mean when they chose to go to the hidden shrine rather than protect the monastary from an attack they knew would be coming. However, as you wrote, it may work out. Maybe, not in a way that the PCs want. . . .

Thanks for sharing. I like reading about how other games turn out.

Hi everybody,
I’m currently running too Howl of the Carrion King (just finished freeing the monastery). I’ve added few minor changes: sometimes wishes take place randomly (the wish-torn continuum) and tempest is a weapon of legacy much more powerful than the one described.
I’m happy to find people doing the same in order to share the developments.
The party is composed by a fighter, a ranger, an oracle (heavens) and a sorcerer (air elementalist)
I’d like to ask a suggestion.
Hoping that none of my players discover this post, I’m concerned about the near future: they’re 2nd-level, very overzealous and they’re about to encounter the dust-digger: last words were: “Yes, easy: we’ll approach Kelmarane through the pesh field…”.
Now, don’t you think that, even if rated CR 4, this foe could be a really serious threat (I mean easily 2 deaths) for four 2-nd level characters? Perhaps, have you had this problem?

I wouldn't be too worried about it. I'm pretty sure that both of my groups encountered this creature at 2nd level. There are a few things in the PCs favor here.

Just in case, I'll use a Spoiler


* It is only 2 CR higher than the party, so it should be a good fight but not epic.
* It is only one creature. If your group does decent damage, it may not last long.
* The encounter is in the middle of nowhere which means if they are hurting after the fight, they should be able to easily hightail it back to safety.

Agreed. It'll be tough, but not unsurmountable. If you're worried about an insta-kill, do what I did - let the party hear it coming. There's a rumbling sound, and dust starts flying as the creature approaches underground (a la Tremors).

With a movement rate of 10', even a semi-smart party will find it easy to escape.

Hi everybody,

yesterday the party met the dust digger... potentially a massacre and only a hero point expenditure (APG new rule) saved them. I’ve planned to use hero points as an extremely rare resource, one point is given at the begin of each module, while the official rule states one per level.
It must be said, indeed, that they weren't lucky. Saeraenre's light abandoned the group since their departure from the monastery early in the morning.

In my setting, the old Pugwangpi-infested temple is on a ridge towering the valley where the pesh field and the town are. In order to avoid being spotted from gnollscouts in Kelmarane, the party decided not to use the winding path to reach the valley below. So they planned to rope themselves together and to lower themselves down the cliff, ‘landing’ in the far west of the Pesh field. This was planned considering heavy use of the ring of father fall they had found.
Even if climb checks were just DC 5, two members were able to repeatedly fail, overall getting down with 4d6 of damage… Two of the three potions of CLW provided reluctantly by father Zastoran were used to partially restore the situation. Shortly after, cutting across the field of Pesh, the group reached the clearing used by gnolls to invoke the dust digger. The ranger 10 ft. preceding the other 3 members (oracle, sorcerer fighter) who all remain (what a shame !) clustered in a 10 ft. square just the size of a dust digger mouth...
The foe perceived them immediately, moving hidden at half speed, rolled 18 + 5 stealth = 23, and here, bad luck: all failed perception checks. The foe positioned itself beneath the 3 members and…….... panic!
Everybody tried to save and EVERYBODY failed -> entangled! Moreover, the three above the mouth found themselves prone! I couldn’t imagine such a bad start…
1st round: the fighter tried to hit from prone position, failed; the oracle tried to cast sanctuary (defensively), done, ah yes, you're entangled too, another concentration check please (DC 16)... failed; the sorcerer tried to cast, please 2 concentration checks, failed; the ranger tried to get closer, but difficult terrain + entangled = 1 / 4 speed, he covered only 2 squares with a double move action, the dust digger did its AoO, hits, the ranger is 9 hp left; and now it was the beast turn: 3 guys can be swallowed, randomly 1d4, 1-2 the fighter, 3 the sorcerer, 4 the oracle ......... 4! ......... Hit, grabbed, 2 hp left, the oracle (with a kitchen knife as only slashing weapon) was already a swallowed corpse in my mind... then 5 tentacles, two hit the sorcerer, left with a miserable bunch of hp, one misses, two hit the ranger, 3 hp left, another potential dead...
2nd round: the fighter got up, monster AoO… missed, the fighter missed too; the already dead oracle cast another sanctuary as last desperate act. Two concentration checks, the first done and... the second … done!!!!!!!! A miracle…; the sorcerer got up and moved one square out. The ranger hit and landed the first 7 hp of damage to the creature, which was about to swallow the oracle but, due to the sanctuary spell, lost hopefully its round letting him free.
3rd: as a desperate DM I had to start to prepare psychologically the poor ranger: "you know, you've been brave ... however you'll realize that you're the only one who has done damage to the dust digger ... I fear you'll be the next target ... do you understand,… it's logical ... I'm sorry ...". I mean, the creatures was still there with 30 hp.

Finally, The Goddess of Sun had mercy of their poor lives and, when everybody was beginning to plan for his character, the fighter landed a 20 with his falcata (x3 critical) ............. confirm please confirm!!! ... 7 .................. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ................. 7 +7 = 14 not enough, but here the hero says: "I use my hero point to confirm...". Moved by such a sacrifice I allowed his blow to be a x4 critical and he managed to kill the beast with a tremendous powerful blow.

Now, I was a bit verbose… I want to conclude saying that I thought, sincerely, everything lost. They weren't lucky, that's sure. All players treated me as a crazy DM for letting them face this monster at 2nd level…
That’s definitely a hell of a menace especially if you consider all negative environmental conditions. The ECL is not really a 4, in my opinion.
Or perhaps it's my fault, I don't know.

PS thanks for your advice, Just Pete, too late, I read your post this morning!

"All players treated me as a crazy DM for letting them face this monster at 2nd level… "

Did you make them walk across the Pesh Fields? :)

This is amusing, really, because now they are in no shape to do what they set out 4 minutes ago to do. Go after gnolls again.

I love it.

Why Zastoran so reluctant to give them potions? Especially if he's an alchemist in your game?

I was a player in this AP.

I played a monk/rogue.
My wife was a Paladin. (mold speaker)
and a friend played alot of things that kept dying (half elf rogue/ranger, a saytr fighter, and finally a gnome barbarian..."ill bite your legs off!") every character had the 'gnoll killer' trait.

so we only had three of us and like you no front line healer.

The paladin was a two weapon fighter with a double sword.
but she did a good job at healing, but couldnt be any worse than your oracle.

We never did a successful scout on kelmarane. We were spotted and had a pitched battle that involved the giant pig that almost killed me.
The ranger was able to wild empathy a giant snake in one of the buildings and I think we charmed it (scroll i believe) and it used it pretty effectively, we never went in where the harpy was, we didnt know what was in there, we tossed in alchemists fire, smoked her out and xbowed her to oblivion.

We were alot less prepared than your party, one less member, less NPC support and we did better?

Im trying to figure out the difference here.

Does your party have low AC?

Seems like lack of HP and healing are their biggest issue.
Almah has alot of resoruces, couldn't you have her send for and get say a wand of cure light?

Edit: alternatively if Zastoran is an alchemist why not just give him the discovery that lets others use his extracts? infuse extract i think?
Then just have him use his daily extracts (or most of them) on healing.
The PCs can then carry those extracts with them. As they are used up (assuming the party is gone more than a day) they will be useable by him again the next day and he can start on brewing potions.
If they come back all beat up in the same day, Zastoran can infuse more healing extracts for them.
Shouldnt cost a dime with the extracts and would be a good mechanic to the pcs the healing they need.

Actually, father Zastoran is a cleric of Nethys in my game.
He's an alchemist in Just Pete's one.
He's reluctant just because the AP says so. Anyway he's already given them 10+ potions (lesser restorations, cure light wounds), nearly for free.

Anyway you probably pointed out some issues about the party/game: characters were build with a 15 point buy system (against the typical 25); there're not power-play characters because we agreed about it; no CLW wands were given because of the setting which, at the beginning is clearly scarce-item based; some of them has really few hp: bad bad luck on the dice roll leveling up...

Herr Malthus wrote:

Actually, father Zastoran is a cleric of Nethys in my game.
He's an alchemist in Just Pete's one.
He's reluctant just because the AP says so. Anyway he's already given them 10+ potions (lesser restorations, cure light wounds), nearly for free.

Anyway you probably pointed out some issues about the party/game: characters were build with a 15 point buy system (against the typical 25); there're not power-play characters because we agreed about it; no CLW wands were given because of the setting which, at the beginning is clearly scarce-item based; some of them has really few hp: bad bad luck on the dice roll leveling up...

well its too bad you don't have him as an alchemist, that would be perfect. Might I suggest having almah hire an alchemist, she DOES want the mission to succeed.

15 point buy isnt bad, i think we were 20 point buys.

My monk was less than satisfying stat wise.

That being said, kelemarane was reasonably easy for us. Almost disappointingly so.

You have two full bab classes, they have done really well in fighting to begin with, seems like they have a stroke of bad luck,
No reason to not DM Fiat here and stride away from the stingy hand out of healing. Maybe have them rescue an alchemist from kelemarane that is being held prisoner by some of the gnolls?
If they can't manage it, you could have the alchemist 'escape' by making a smoke bomb or something and run for it, the PCs spot him running toward their safe house on the cliff, pursued by a few gnolls and their hyena, they must fend off the gnolls to aid the alchemist with his escape.
Once he reaches the safety of the company of PCs, he no longer wishes to adventure back towards those gnolls but is content and grateful enough to supply them with infused extracts....

blah blah blah.

Finally got back to this, after a month-and-a-half break. Damned multiple busy schedules....

Beware my long-winded-ness...:

The party returned to the Monastery in the evening to find a bunch of dead gnolls outside, and a bunch of dead Pactmaster guards inside. Scouting out the place, they found Father Zastoran hiding in the catacombs - he informed them that Almah and some others had been captured by a gnoll/bugbear raiding party after the pactmaster guards were killed. Father Z also gave the party his last potion of healing to help them rescue Almah.

The group, being wounded and depleted, decided to rest the night and mount the attack in the morning - especially considering that they knew Gnolls have ultravision, while the party has a couple humans, and only low-light vision amongst the metas.

Plans got foiled early, though - just as night was falling, they saw a band of gnolls dragging a prisoner out to the pesh fields. Fearing it was Almah, they rushed out to the rescue. The quickling snuck up (quickly), while the rest of the party prepared - by casting enlarge on the cavalier and her mount. The attack was timed with an oversized charge...the cavalier skewered and trampled the first gnoll, while the quickling rushed in to rescue the prisoner - and was very disappointed to find that it was one of the mercenaries from Almah's troop, and not the merchant princess herself. He untied the prisoner, hoping to get him loose before the gnolls closed in - only to find that they weren't! And at that point, the dust digger struck with it's sinkhole attack. The poor mercenary was grappled and dragged down almost immediately, and while the quickling avoided the initial sinkhole, a lone tentacle snaked out and wrapped around his ankle!

Meanwhile, the rest of the group closed in. The druid and his faithful wolf companion charged and attacked a pair of gnolls, taking them down quickly. The Bard took out another. The cavalier, shaking a dead gnoll off her lance, wheeled and charged another, scoring a massive critical hit - not just killing the hapless gnoll, but killing him FOUR times over! Quoth the cleric's player "That's the first time I've seen chunky salsa OUTSIDE."

The quickling easily extricated himself from the dust digger, and even the mercenary managed to break free, although the digger did grapple him again immediately. The weapon master bard decided to throw caution to the wind, and jumped into the sinkhole, scoring a deadly strike against the digger. Joined shortly by the druid, they made short work of the sand worm. The mercenary crawled over to the cleric, begging for healing, and the last gnoll ran for it. Unfortunately, he couldn't escape the quickling monk, who, due to an incredible move speed, barely strained himself while strolling to catch up. He subdued the last gnoll easily and turned him over to the bard for questioning. The bard cut a deal - tell them all about the Battle Market, and he'd let the gnoll go. The gnoll gave it all up - even drew a map for them ('cause it made the next part much easier for the GM).

Later that night, the gnolls from the Three Jaws tribe arrived with Dashki, who convinced the party to accept them as allies. The group them spend some time planning their assault.

Here's where I had the most fun - I'd spent a couple hours (and about $10) creating the Battle Market map a la Dave Dostaler and Sean C. MacDonald. Pics are here.

The group planned on a direct assault, but got derailed completely when the goblin at the gate just 'invited' them in. Once inside, Kardswaan asked them their business, and the group's leader (the druid) responded that they had come to trade, and had money. Kardswaan welcomed them as long as they were peaceful, and started the bidding on the current slave auction - Almah, who was shackled and gagged up on stage.

The Druid started bidding on Almah - haggling against Hurvank the Strangler, who intimidated everyone else (the human merchants) into submission. Just before Hurvank was about to completely lose his cool, with the price up to 300GP, Karswaan put a stop to it, and let loose the hounds with his promise of a 500GP bounty on each head.

The battle was pretty epic. There were 12 gnolls (4 on the ground floor, 4 archers on the second floor, and 4 more guards in the guard room on the 3rd level). I'd added a gnoll shaman, and with the 3 bugbears, Hurvank, Ugruk and Kardswaan, the stage was set. Undrella was also present - she didn't get involved until the bard that she'd fallen for was directly attacked.

The party actions were somewhat predictable. The Cavalier stood her ground and fought off all comers. The Druid went toe-to-toe with Hurvank and the bugbears, aided by his wolf companion. The druid waded forward to help. The cleric stayed centered on the group, and tried to hide by the stage, to keep his healing positive channeling most effective. The quickling snuck up to the second level, and circled around the backs of the archers up there after find the way to the third level locked. The rogue/sorceror snuck back through the prisoners' cells, and let out the camel drivers - and Haleen (did I mention before that the cleric was 'seeking Haleen'?). Dashki and the 3 jaws gnolls split up - half for the gnolls on the ground floor, and half for those on the second.

Haleen came out to join the fight - finding her 'adopted' son in the midst of it, she joined up on the party side, and started attacking gnolls.

Kardswaan went invisible, and floated down to the group - tried to cast reduce person on the cavalier, but it fizzled. Deciding brute force was better, he stopped on the stage above where the cleric was hiding, and nearly took his head off with one swing!

The sorceror finally finished with the cells, and cast enlarge person on the cavalier instead, and followed that with enlarging Haleen as well! Kardswaan decided two could play that game, and enlarge himself, before beating both the cavalier and Haleen into the ground.

Meanwhile, The Druid and Bard were hacking up Hurvank, the bugbears, and a gnoll or two. Undrella got in on the action, swooping down with a fly-by attack to brain a gnoll, and then alighting on the balcony level, where she fell prey to a hold spell cast by the gnoll shaman. Ugruk had just made his way down with the guard room gnolls, and sent them on down to join the melee - but he took a moment to bash the paralyzed Undrella with his flind-bar, knocking her off the balcony to the floor. The Bard, seeing this, rushed over to defend her, for the few rounds it took to recover. Once she did, tho - the battle changed. Undrella was pissed off enough to start singing.

Strangely - none of the party failed their saves. Even Dashki, and one of the 3 jaws gnolls made it. Kardswaan did as well, but poor Ugruk did not. The shaman and one of the archers on the second level also saved. But none of the human merchants did, nor did the other 4 three jaws gnolls, or the remaing 2 archer gnolls (who promptly walked right off the balcony to their deaths) or the guard room gnolls. Undrella let them all come to her; not knowing the difference between them, she coup-de-graced one of the 3 jaws gnolls, and when Ugruk got close enough, she proceeded to claw him to death as well.

Kardswaan got pissed at this, shouting that he would not forgive Undrella for this betrayal. Abandoning the cleric, he waded through the battle after Undrella. On the way he smacked the Druid, throwing him 20 feet against the wall and practically killing him. Then he stomped the bard, knocking him down and nearly killing him as well. Undrella had to make the ultimate choice - flee for her life, or stay to defend the life of someone she loved. The dice decided for her, and she turned to attack Kardswaan.

Those who are keeping track have seen that the only standing party members at this point are the quickling, who has been running around the periphery of the battle (literally), but not really having much affect, the cleric who is badly wounded, and the rogue/sorceror, who has exhausted his spells and is trying to un-shackle Almah.

The cleric uses the last of his healing to revive Haleen and the Cavalier, who both charge Karswaan. The cavalier arrives first and trades blows - dealing heavy damage, but taking enough in return to put her back down. Haleen arrives later, unaccustomed to her new size, but with the increased strength does enough damage to finally take the big, bad Janni down.

The rest was just mop-up work. The party finds the cowardly bartender still behind the bar, and the 3 jaws gnolls declare that he is to die. The monk, being lawful, decides that he should not - since he was a non-combatant - and challenges the 3 jaws gnolls. After a short battle, he defeats the 4 remaining gnolls, and Dashki as well (who had joined the fight after the gnolls demanded his help).

Almah declares that the gnolls and Dashki should be put to death for their betrayal; and the bartender as well. The monk again refuses, and Almah decides that the monk is now responsible for the cowardly gnoll.

After a night's rest, Almah gathers the group at a table and tells them the rest of the story - giving them the interdict key (which she had given to Father Zastoran for safe-keeping), and instructing them to finish the job - once they'd healed up, of course.

All told, the game session lasted 7 hours. The Battle Market battle took up the major portion - getting through a round of combat with that many different monsters took FOREVER! But everyone enjoyed it greatly.

tl;dr - Almah got captured, the party rescued her and killed everything in the way.

Just Pete wrote:
Finally got back to this, after a month-and-a-half break. Damned multiple busy schedules....

Sounds like a memorable battle and really fun. I like the battle market and its setup, you can do lots of good things with it ^_^

Finally got back, and held session 5 tonight. Pretty straight-forward session, the players were mostly very smart. We were down one player due to some out-of-game issues,

Read on for the continuing saga...:

Almah decided to send the quickling monk back to Katapesh to deliver word of the liberation of Kelmarane, since all of her Pactmaster guards were dead, and her mercenaries were also dead or fled. Since the quickling could actually run all the way there, only needing to rest at nightfall, he could avoid most problems on the way. Plus, he could make the ~200 mile trip in a day and a half!

The rest of the group (whose players were all present) recuperated another day, then went to investigate the ruined church. The rogue/sorceror scouted around invisibly, and found Halruun - but got away (barely) undetected. He alerted the rest of the group, and led them back to confront the fallen priest.

There was a small debate over who should do the talking; the bard (who could pretend to be holy) or the actually holy cleric (who really didn't want to be point, anyway). The bard approached Halruun, who let him get within melee range before turning and delivering his short welcome speech, and attacking. I threw in a half-dozen skeleton archers to keep it interesting, since the group was already overpowered for the poor Huecuva.

Combat was fairly quick - the bard sparred with Halruun, dancing around the undead priest and trading sword blows with claw strikes. The Druid and his wolf closed and took out two skeletons, the rogue-sorcerer blew his cover and took out another. The cleric hung back from the actual fighting, trying to stay centered on the group. The cavalier, waited for his moment, then charged Halruun when the bard danced out of the way, doing some massive damage with her mace - figuring the lance would be useless against what appeared to be a skeleton.

Thanks to the charge-through feat, she cleared the battle, allowing the druid and his wolf to close in on the fight. Halruun clawed them as well, maneuvering a bit to prevent another charge from the cavalier, who chose to take out another skeleton instead. The sorcerer did for another, leaving just Halruun and one buddy. At this point, the bard slipped on blood and guts and went down, falling on his sword, taking minor damage - our critical failure rules get worse with the worse rolls.

The druid and wolf flanked Halruun, bracketing him in position for the cavalier to make a final charge. The resemblance to a polo match was almost perfect as she knocked Halruun's skull out of the cemetery! The sorcerer closed with and took out the last skeleton for good measure.

Since most of the group had taken damage, and since the bard had succumbed badly to filth fever, the group decided to rest a day, and get some restoration spells to fix him up before entering the church proper.

In the entry chamber with the well and gong, the group quickly decided the gong was the key to going further - they set up a battle line near the stairs out, and threw a rock against the gong. The three elementals came out, but were no real match - they did some damage, managed to set the wolf on fire, but fell hard to the bard wielding En-Nebi, and to the cavalier - who was wielding Tempest, and learned that the sword now had the frost ability.

In the main crypt, the cleric quickly cued into the fact that this place was still sacred to Sarenrae, and persuaded the rest of the group to leave it alone. They looked around anyway, and the druid found the secret door to the reliquary room. Here, they straightened things up, cleaning up the mess! The cleric kept a close eye on the items because the rogue-sorcerer had a greedy glint in his eye - but missed it when he swiped a necklace, and used a spell to fool the cleric into thinking it was still there when they left.

The group went back, and down the well, casting enlarge on the cleric, who was wearing slippers of spider climbing, so that he could carry the other players down without worrying about climbing down and falling. The cleric was then able to wrench the portcullis open, due to his increases size and strength.

The moved cautiously down the hall, checking for traps as they went. At the corner, the rogue-sorcerer, who was leading the way, threw a pebble with light cast on it down the hall, triggering the coffer-corpses to come out and attack. They missed the one behind them, which snuck up on the rear-guarding druid and grapped him around the neck! The front two put up a fight with the cavalier and bard. The tide turned a bit when one of them dropped to the group and got back up, panicking the Cavalier and the rogue-sorcerer, who cowered in the corner. The bard then went on a rampage - running from 'corpse to 'corpse, he tore them apart with En-Nebi in just a couple rounds.

The fight with Xulthos was pretty incredible. The cleric was tossing buffs left and right - prayer, bless, divine vessel, and healing. The cavalier charged into the room, but fell prey to Xulthos' droning wings, becoming confused. The bard, however, fixed that by beginning a counter-song performance as he entered, doing well enough that everyone made the save. Xulthos did manage to fascinate the wolf with hypnotic pattern, but the Druid ran forward and confronted him directly.

However, the druid made a fatal mistake - he ran right up to Xulthos (who still appeared to be Kardswaan) without leaving enough action left to attack. Even though the rogue-sorcerer cast grease on the ground beneath Xulthos, that didn't stop the monster from shedding his disguise, and using a full attack on the Druid. All four attack hit home - one of the claws was a triple-critical (house rule), doing a total of 51 HP damage. The druid dropped like a rock. The whole party was shocked.

There was some talk of retreat, but the cavalier wouldn't back down, and the bard wouldn't abandon his friend. They both formed a battle line at the bottom of the ramp, getting set for a charge, and the sorcerer buffed the cavalier with bull's strength. However, the dice gods smiled on them as they hadn't for the druid, and as Xulthos turned to charge them, he slipped on the grease and fell prone.

The two warriors took advantage, and charged. The cavalier did massive damage, but didn't notice that Tempest's frost wasn't, well, freezing. The bard flubbed his attack. But when Xulthos rose, hovering the next round, both opportunity attacks sunk home, the bard doing massive damage with En-Nebi, partly thanks to another bull's strength buff from the sorceror. Xulthos did manage to bite the cavalier, but their counter attacks did so much damage that Xulthos decided discretion was the better part of valor, and tried to make a run for it. Once again, both attacks of opportunity struck true, and Xulthos collapsed to the ground, dead, as his illusion dissipated around them.

The final fight was short, brutal and fierce, lasting only 5 rounds. The druid was revived only due to the healing powers of the cleric - who was blessed by Sarenrae. I ruled that although Xulthos' attack brought the druid immediately to -22, 8 points below his CON/dead threshold, the cleric's healing channeled which occurred only 2 initiative counts later and restored 9HP caught him before he bled out completely, due to Sarenrae's blessing them both for not desecrating her crypt and reliquary (and because the cleric also cleaned up her shrine in the monastery). What can I say, I'm a softy - and the druid's player won't make that mistake again.

tl;dr = The player's did everything right, and still almost lost a member, but managed to save the day again. Kelmarane is free!

I award XP to my players for game contributions, mostly write-ups and map-making, and similar things. The cleric's player is especially good at this - I'm really looking forward to his game journal for this session.

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