View Full Version : World's Transformation Campaign Journal [D&D 3.5, E6]

Fable Wright
2013-01-13, 02:25 PM
The group that I've been playing with for the last several years now recently finished its first campaign, and we've started up a new one. The twist is, we've picked up 53 years after we left off: The old party gone mad with the power of 5th level spells and making a power grab for the entire campaign world. Since one was a Necropolitan, one was a semi-undead Warforged thing and two were elves, they're still alive (well, sort of in two cases) and kicking in the world.

First, let me introduce the (new) main characters:

Thom: A human Cutthroat (a homebrewed upgrade to the rogue; basically a Rogue with free Martial Study and a few other goodies) ex-theif who speaks in a thick rogue accent, who's decided to take up adventuring to kill the player's old character (an Elf Swordsage named Faelon) because he besmirched the reputation of adventurers.

Arianna: A Star Elf Fey Warlock (again, a homebrewed upgrade to the Warlock with a bonus invocation and some nifty special abilities) dipolmancer/ultimate party face (+18 in Bluff at level 1) who has a mysterious pact that she worked out with a fey entity. All we know about it is that she:

She can't lie
She has to honor all contracts she makes
She's getting cantrips and Charm Person a few times per day out of her Contract
There are penalties for you if you owe her a favor and don't return it when asked, and vice versa.

She played an Elf Beguiler names Ariel in the previous campaign.

Garruk: My character. A Human Duskblade who studied the Grimoire Arcanamacha and decided to hunt down Jephton (a Necropolitan Dread Necromancer, my old character) for his crimes against Edeth (the campaign world). Of note, he has the Deceptive Illumination feat, which grants him the ability to use Silent Image a few times per day.

Mercury: A Human Factotum, and all around crazy old guy/cuckoo cloudlander. Fights by slinging around alchemical objects, acid/alchemical fire, and so on. His player is also slightly new to the game.

Some relevant houserules:

We're using Action Points
Everyone has free Acrobatic Charge
We're using Test-Based Prerequisites (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/campaigns/testBasedPrerequisites.htm) as an optional way to get things like skill tricks and other minor bonuses.

The First Session.
At the start of the game, each of the players had been contacted by a mysterious elvish Ranger called "Higrel." We had all been in town for a few days, but only the Duskblade and the Cutthroat had met up before. There was a play in the middle of town, sent by "cultural researchers" from the Northland states and the Order of St. Farza, both of which (though we don't know this in character) are controlled by ex-PCs. As it turns out, it's a laughably bad propaganda play glorifying our two of the ex-PCs, Ariel and Jephton (those with the godly magical power of 5th level spells) bashing Faelon (the one without the godly magical power of 5th level spells).

After the play is over, we each head our separate ways to try to find Higrel, eventually all meeting up and finding him. Apparently, he has a job for us: There are some poachers in the nearby woods, and he wants them dead. He'll lead us to them and aid in their defeat, and in return we get a share of the pelts. We agreed, and off we went.

When we arrive at the camp, we're in for a nasty surprise: This isn't just a small operation. Below the bluff we were hiding over, there were nearly a dozen orcs, half a dozen elves, and 3 Goblins in the camp, spread out over several hundred feet of room. There were a number of wagons, containing pelts, supplies, and what appeared to be live animals; Bears and Leopards. While this wouldn't be much to a high level adventurer... we were level 1. This wasn't going to be easy. Right when we arrive at camp, the Duskblade steps on a rather loud twig, alerting the camp to our presence. He quickly throws up the illusion of a tree surrounding the party, and the Warlock casts Ghost Sound to make the sound of a deer running off when someone comes over to investigate. They buy it, so we're in the clear. We begin strategizing on how we're going to take these people down.

Eventually, we send the Warlock into the camp to act as a distraction, where she pretends to be sent by their boss. With a +18 to bluff, she manages to get in the camp and hold everyone distracted while the Duskblade creates a fake extension to the bluff for everyone else to sneak down through. We manage to sneak up behind the camp, and while the Warlock is keeping the leader of the camp talking, we take out some of the orc guards one by one when they're drawn off into the woods. Eventually, it's down to two adjacent orcs and an Elf nearby our patch of trees. The Duskblade and the Swordsage try to take out the Orcs in a surprise round, but they can only manage to take down one. When the regular initiative order came around, the party won, and managed to take down the other orc before he could make a sound. The only problem is that the elf was still there, staring wide-eyed at the people who just took down two Orcs like it was nothing. He begins trying to get the attention of the leader of the camp, who's brushing him off right now because of a debate with the party Warlock. Trying to take advantage of the elf being ignored, the Duskblade casts Swift Expeditious Retreat, launches himself over the wagon he was trying to hide behind, and one-hits the Elf. Unfortunately, the leader was paying attention to that elf... cue the start of combat.

Fortunately, the Beguiler could goad the leader into trying to accept a duel with the "Warblade" that took out his man. Fortunately, he falls for it, and sends out one of the Goblin Mages to see if the "Warblade" was really worth it. Another one-shot later, and somehow passing off the spell "Blade of Blood" as a maneuver, the answer was shown to be a 'yes.' Unfortunately, when the leader did accept the duel and get one-shotted with Blade of Blood like the Goblin, the Orcs in the camp did not stand dumbly around in confusion. Fortunately, only one of the attacks hit. Unfortunately, due to the Duskblade paying 5hp on the Blade of Blood against the leader, he was down to 2hp. From there, the battle commenced in full; the Duskblade would Charge and bisect Elf Rangers while the Cutthroat started stabbing up the Orcs from the shadows, the Factotum slung acid at high-priority targets, and the Warlock quietly began opening the locks to the cages of the animals and providing Flanks for the Swordsage, all the while convincing the enemy that she was on their side. One by one, the orcs fell to the efforts of the bears and Cutthroat, the Goblins were taken out when they joined the combat, and the Duskblade systematically bisected all of the Elves. After we killed most of the poachers, we found that a Halfling Paladin was up at the north end of camp, and had taken care of (and distracted for us) three Orcs by himself.

After combat, we got some heals from the Paladin and began dividing the loot. As it turns out, the party had unintentionally agreed to bury 80% of the valuable pelts that the poachers had... everyone, including the Paladin (who, it turns out, was a Paladin of Freedom, and a very stereotypical adventurer) was against that. Except for the Warlock, and later we figured out that it was part of her pact (which we don't know about in character). After many debates, the Paladin, Cutthroat, and Duskblade agree to just knock him out and take the pelts, so the Cutthroat bashes him on the head in a surprise round and in the normal round after winning initiative (due to the Ranger being flat-footed), staggering the poor fellow, but after that no one could land a hit. He couldn't hit us, and his AC was just too high. Eventually, the Duskblade steps back and casts Ray of Frost, dealing exactly one damage to him and knocking him unconscious. The paladin was shocked that the spell actually did something for once. After all was said and done, we had 875gp in loot, and had won exactly 1000xp. We headed back to town, sold off everything, and had a bit of downtime while the Factotum began whipping up some more Alchemical items, the Duskblade bought some stuff and joined the Paragnostic Assembly (and planning to get immediately kicked out, after getting the knowledge bonuses), and we began planning, at the Warlock's insistence, to take out the base of operations of the poachers. Apparently, what we took on was just an outpost for a MUCH larger operation...

Fable Wright
2013-02-12, 05:41 PM
The Second Session

We come back about where the first session ended; after selling off the pelts we got and picking up our supplies, we were considering going after this Bolgros character and taking out his operation. However, our intentions were waylaid when we discovered that there was a circus in town! Sideshows, fortune-tellers, plays, the works. No clowns, though, at least none that we saw. Good times were had by all; the Cutthroat was convinced that the Factotum was a Wizard, and was trying to make him admit it, while the Duskblade made an illusion of obvious magical effects fly out of the Factotum's beard. Meanwhile, the Warlock went off to find a fortune teller, believing that knowing the future would be a rather useful. However, as the Warlock was raised by fey, she didn't know that fortunetelling isn't actual divination into the future, and started demanding a guarantee that the future predicted would be accurate. Meanwhile, the Factotum, hearing the commotion, decided to play a prank on the fortune teller by hiding in the tent and acting as ominous voices from the other side. At this point, the fortune teller was obviously spooked, and started packing up. At this point, the Duskblade heard about the commotion and started wandering over there, and by the time he got there the Warlock had the fortune teller's lockbox, which she said she would return after she got the future that was predicted. The Duskblade was not cool with that, and got into a heated argument with the Warlock. In the meantime, the Paladin went off with the woman and recompensed her for what she lost in the lockbox, and by the time the argument was over, the fortune teller disappeared.

Afterwards, the party decided to quit the circus, and start planning for taking out Bolgros. We had captured one of the orcs that were with the poachers last session, and we started grilling him for information, which went about as well as one could expect when he didn't speak common and we didn't speak orc. We eventually got out of him the name of the town that Bolgros was in; Zer der grow-milk. Or, as we eventually figured out, Zer de Grolais, a relatively large town that was a few days' trip off to get to.

On our way in one of the wagons we took from the poachers, we came across a caravan wreck, with only one survivor, incapacitated, who was ambushed. After we put him back on his feet, we learned that he was a fairly skilled Warblade, who specialized in the thought to be extinct Witch Hunter discipline. Before we had time to grill him for more information, we ourselves were ambushed by a group of bugbears. The Duskblade went before them, and bisected one of them on a charge in the surprise round; the Bugbears mentioned amongst each other that he had to be the Warblade they heard about. Which was strange, because he only picked up the moniker a few days before, when we were taking out the poachers. And then it clicked; these people were sent to finish us off. After a bloody battle similar to the original assault on the poachers (though with 100% less angry bears), we found out a bit more information on the survivor. As it turns out, he was a member of the Sanguine Order, a vampire hunting organization. His caravan wasn't attacked by bugbears, but by some vampire spawn who got the jump on them; he was the only survivor.

Wary of an attack on ourselves, we set up camp a while a way, keeping the Duskblade (who could cover our camp with an illusion) and the Warlock (who, being an elf, could see very well in the dark and needed only 4 hours of sleep) on guard. Sometime around midnight, we saw attackers off to the North. While the Warlock started waking the camp, the Duskblade started attacking them, but they were remarkably tough. While we were preoccupied with that, though, we soon discovered that those weren't the main threat. After a cry of help from the paladin, we discovered that we were under attack by vampire spawn; the same one that attacked the Witch Hunter's caravan. He started attacking it, but before he could finish it off, another one came in from another direction; the rest of the party had to hold it off. Unfortunately, being newly minted level 2s, we weren't well equipped to do so. Our attacks could barely get through the DR, and what did get through was healed by fast healing. The Duskblade's main source of damage, Blade of Blood, doesn't work against undead, so that was a non-option, too. Eventually, though, the Duskblade remembers about his Healing Belt, and expends all of the charges, dealing a crippling blow to the Vampire Spawn, who went Gaseous to evade him. The Warlock started plugging him with Eldrtich Blasts while his fast healing was down, and he fell soon enough. Unfortunately, though, the Paladin did not survive the fight; the level drain killed him during the attack. There was nothing we could do.

Finally, we managed to get to the Zer de Grere, where the Witch Hunter offered to accompany us and teach the Duskblade and Cutthroat Witch Hunter maneuvers. We welcomed the new addition to our team, and took him up on his offer. While in town, though, we heard some rumors that Bolgros might not be who we thought he was... apparently, he kept the town safe from monster attacks. Still dubious about him, we restocked and continued planning our attack.

Fable Wright
2013-02-13, 09:06 PM
The Third Session

So, this is a week late and a bit shorter than the other recaps; we had a lot of connection issues this session, and that cut down the amount of time we had a lot.

Picking up where the last session left off, we arrived in the town of Zer De Grolait, where Bolgros lived. We restocked in town, and hired a private investigator to investigate Bolgros for us- Harvey, an Urban Ranger, who was to become the 5th member of our merry band. After Harvey got the scoop on the place, the Warlock led us to set up an "ambush" for Bolgros, who, as it turned out, was a Hill Giant. Whoops. After a somewhat disastrous first volley of attacks, Bolgros demanded to know why we were attacking him before returning fire. As it turns out, Bolgros wasn't who we thought he was; he wasn't the leader of the poachers, he was a Hill Giant who protected the town and enjoyed furs. (His cave gets very chilly in the winter.) He even tried to make sure that he only bought legally obtained furs, after his contacts in an inn (the Slooping Dog) cleared them. The operation that we came upon, as it turns out, was not the sort of thing Bolgros likes investing in.

After making our apologies and healing Bolgros up from the few first volleys, we decide to make our way to the inn that was mentioned; the Warlock wanted to find out exactly who was responsible for the attacks on the animals; Bolgros mentioned that it was a "Southlander" who made the deal, but we didn't get many more details. As it turns out, the Sanguine Order had their outpost stationed in the basement of the inn, too; the Cutthroat, Duskblade, and Factotum went down there to learn more about the order, and get information about a few mysterious items in our possession. As it turns out, they were Legacy items, though they work somewhat differently than they do in a normal game. As we continue to discover the history of the items and reenact the history of the items, we gain more powers from them.

While the information sharing is going on in the basement, the Ranger is contacted upstairs by a bunch of Elves, who want to hire him to find the location of a group whose descriptions were suspiciously similar to ours... after accepting their money, he went downstairs to pass on what just happened to the rest of the group, as a tip. We decided that it was time to go. As we started to walk out the door, we discovered that the way was bogged down with guards, and a few elite Elven Warblades. As it turns out, Higrel, the elf we betrayed and left for dead in the first adventure, was back for his revenge. After a few attempts to move the brawl to the streets, a massive-scale barfight started. The Factotum fled; as it turns out, he went outside to negotiate with the soldiers surrounding the place to not weigh in on the fight. Meanwhile, on the ground floor of the bar, the Duskblade was outnumbered 6 to 1 by the soldiers and Warblades down there, which he eventually managed to fight his way through. Meanwhile, the Warlock started gunning down Higrel with Eldritch Blasts, scoring a critical and a regular hit against him, eventually taking him out. Afterwards, she started trying to Diplomance the rest of the Elves attacking us into working for her; efforts were going surprisingly well. Meanwhile, the Cutthroat was duking it out with Elves at the top of the stairs, and the Ranger was assaulting one of the Warblades with his fisticuffs. A few of the bar patrons got involved; one Paladin put the Cutthroat back on his feet after a lucky blow took him out, a Glaive-wielding adventurer came to the rescue of the Duskblade, and the bartender took out an enormous ax and started downing Elves with one hit apiece. It was an epic fight, and as we were nearing the bloody end of the fight... the internet went on the fritz. Of course.

Fable Wright
2013-02-14, 10:23 AM
The Fourth Session

After the connection issues of last time, we picked up a few days in the aftermath of the fight. After we collected our wits, we realized that we had no idea where Higrel had got so many mercenaries on seemingly such sort notice. After a bit of quick digging around, we discovered that there had been a poster advertising large sums of money for each person willing to help take us down, right outside the tavern. Even specified a date. How we missed this, I have no idea. However, that wasn't the interesting bit about it. The interesting thing was its actual text:

"Those with justice in mind, help me catch thieves, muggers, and attempted murderers. Let's meet up at 11 P.M. Payment is 50 platinum. The Slooping Knight Inn. Bring the murderers, and the illegal Sanguines to justice--"
It was cut off from there.

That last bit was interesting, though. The Sanguine Order is outlawed in only one country on the planet, known as the Order of St. Farza. (Whose name, BTW, makes talking about the Sanguine Order and the other Order a pain.) The interesting thing about this is that we weren't in the Order of St. Farza; we were in a neighboring country. The fact that the Order's influence extended this far was disturbing... mainly because the leader of that country happened to be one of the old PCs, a Dread Necromancer named Jephton. In case it wasn't clear from the second review, the Sanguine Order hunts vampires and other undead; the fact that they're being driven out of non-Farza towns means less resistance when the undead start rolling in.

Nonetheless, now that the Sanguine's locations were known and they were officially outlaws, they had to set up a new base, probably at Bolgros's house, as soon as possible. However, at around the same time, the Sanguine Order got a tip about dead bodies disappearing in the University District of town. As they were preoccupied with the move, they sent us to investigate. Meanwhile, the Ranger, Factotum, and Warlock were looking for jobs on the stack of posters on the pole outside the inn, finding ones for a lost cat and the first Adventurers' Union Meeting. They decided to follow up on returning the cat, and in doing through, went through several obtuse conversations with a highly confused cheese shop owner and a ransom note for a wheel of cheese. (To clarify, they did not talk to the ransom note. They did however converse occasionally with a wisecrack talking pipe.) They were only pried away from the shenanigans when the Duskblade created a herd of illusionary cats to herd the adventurers over to our destination.

When we arrived, we that the way was barred by a magical, riddle-spewing gate. The Duskblade approached the problem by using Swift Expeditious Retreat to get a boost to his jump and launched over to the other side, sending a rope over. The party Warlock decided that it was too much hassle, and just hacked the gate with Use Magic Device. Go figure.

In the area, there was a shadowy person who asked us for identification. The Warlock used Charm Person on him (an ability granted by her pact) and managed to avoid him siccing 30 skeletons on us. We had him point them out, and the Duskblade started digging into the walls looking for them, managing to find a troll skeleton and a human skeleton to kill. We also discovered that a messenger was coming that the boss was expecting in about 5 minutes, so we camped out for half an hour waiting for him. No show. After a while, we get bored, and start snooping out the main entrance. After ransacking the place, we found about nothing. No loot, no undead to smash, nothing. So as we dug closer into the place, we were entirely blindsided by the 5 guards who randomly decided to take a lunch break right when we entered what appeared to be the dining hall.

Unfortunately, our little, rather quickly turning violent chat was interrupted by 3 Troll skeletons and a Human skeleton that shattered on impact dropping through the ceiling. No wonder we couldn't find them earlier! At the beginning of the fight, the Duskblade bit two AoOs trying to make his way over to drop one of the trolls, nearly taking him out, but dealing a huge chunk of damage to the troll in the process, while the Warlock tried to convince the others to stop fighting the PCs, downing one of them in the process. The Factotum whipped out an Alchemical Flare Stake and gave some marbles to the Cutthroat, who went to work on a troll, tripping him up and causing him to burn to death from the single flare stake. (If it was intelligent, it could remove the stake with a Standard action. Because it's mindless, though, it was a death sentence.) After some brutal negotiations with the guards and the bisection of one of the Trolls in two hits and some friendly fire by the Trolls, the guards decided that maybe the living people were less of a threat to their personal safety. Eventually, though, the trolls went down. Afterwards, we helped patch up the downed guards, and sent them to the Sanguine Order for sanctuary; crossing the Order of St. Farza isn't exactly the best career move or life choice one can make. Afterwards, we investigated the scene some more; as it turns out, the messenger that we wanted to intercept was from the Northland States, the suspected location of the second spellcaster from the old group, a Beguiler named Ariel. At this point, everyone knows OOC that they have teamed up, but this was solid proof of the matter. We also discovered a mage in one of the other rooms, that was thankfully unaware of the fight that had just taken place. He was run through by 3 characters in the surprise round. On his desk, we found an encrypted letter that he was presumably going to give to the messenger; fortunately, we got it first. (For the crypto nerds out there: It was a 8-letter Vigenere Cipher on a short message.) It was asking for reinforcements to take out the Sanguine Order's base. Turns out that the relocation was a good idea...

Afterwards, the party followed up on the Adventurers' Union meeting, as the concept was rather suspicious; rounding up spare adventurers, and turning them into a faction rather than freelance agents. As it turns out, the place was just full of level 1 adventurers who hadn't done any real adventuring yet. While the organizer droned on about what they (he) wanted, occasionally interrupted by the Duskblade and Warlock on how the policies wouldn't work while the rest of the adventurers placidly munched on free refreshments, the Cutthroat, Factotum, and Ranger started snooping around the place, eventually finding incriminating documents that tied the Magistrate to the Order of St. Farza. After the Warlock confronted him about it, he broke and spilled the beans; it was free money, and he didn't think that there were strings attached. After telling him exactly what was going on, he decided to stop accepting the money. No unionized adventurers under Jephton's thumb, thank heavens.

And then the Cutthroat starts firebombing the place with the Factotum's Alchemists' Fire.

This took everyone for a loop. Adventurers were running around panicked, some were down, and the place started to catch. The Duskblade started doing damage control by smothering the fire with a Legacy Item (a shield that apparently felt rather miffed about being a fire blanket), the Cutthroat kept on chucking bombs until a swift nonlethal blow with a greatsword knocks him out. A few rounds later, the Clerics arrive, healing up the injured, which unfortunately included our firebomber, who woke up in a panic and wanted to keep trying to burn the place down. The Ranger, who was by trade a detective and private eye, threatened to call the police to arrest the Cutthroat. The Duskblade, who was friends with the Cutthroat since before the campaign started, didn't like that, but agreed that he didn't want the Cutthroat to do anything like that again. After a high-tension negotiation between the Duskblade and the Ranger, the Cutthroat made a break for it, and was taken out once again by an AoO from the Duskblade, who picked up the unconscious body and Expeditiously Retreated off with it into the night.

Cut to later. The Cutthroat is a wanted man, the party is split in half, between the Factotum and the Ranger in one group, and the Warlock, Duskblade, and Cutthroat in the other. After a high-tension scene with the Cutthroat's life on the line, he finally swears to never do something like this again.

The ironic part is that earlier in the session, the DM was complaining that the players never tried to escaping the railroad tracks he laid down.

Fable Wright
2013-02-21, 10:26 AM
The Fifth Session

Our Ranger wasn't here this session, as we had some connection issues and had to move the game to a later date, and the Ranger didn't mention that he couldn't show up.

We start this session after the aftermath of the last one; after the firebombing, the Duskblade, Cutthroat, and Ranger made up after the Cutthroat donated a sizeable amount to charity. The party was back together, the sun was shining, and the Ranger had discovered a very old and seemingly plot relevant box in the Order of St. Farza building that we raided. What could possibly go wrong on a day like that?

Inside of the box, we discovered a message from ancient, ancient times; about two thousand years ago, actually. It was a Cleric's call for help for whoever got the message, telling them to seek out the Divining Pool of Truth or something like that. It was located in a grotto filled with monsters, lorded over by the Black Dragon, who was, despite the name, just a powerful Troll.

In other words, our first proper dungeon crawl.

We headed out, but were stopped by guards who, as it turns out, weren't looking for us from the firebombing incident. Apparently, the country had just gone to war with a neighboring nation, so everyone entering and leaving the town had to be cleared on official business. After doing an alignment check on the party (two chaotic members, two evil members, including one Chaotic Evil member), they forced us to swear an oath to tell the truth inside of a Zone of Truth so they could clear exactly what it was that we were leaving for. Soon enough, we were on our way.

We find ourselves later camped nearby a river. As we actually had a map for this, the party was wary of an ambush, and arranged the same setup we had for defense that we used in the vampire ambush, earlier. After a while, the Factotum's donkey became thirsty, and the Warlock led him out to get a drink. When they finally got down to the river, we begin to hear wolves howling in the distance, and a little while later, much, much closer. The Factotum, scared for his Donkey, runs out of the camp to try to get him back safely. Right as he meets up with the Warlock, wolves prowl out of the woods.

The Warlock, having a fey pact and in tune with nature, doesn't really want to kill the wolves. Inevitably, she crits the wolf and causes it to explode in one shot. The Cutthroat hurried out to them, while the Warlock thinks that the Warlock and Factotum have the wolves under control, and guards the camp suspecting that the wolves are just a distraction. Soon enough, his suspicions are confirmed as three more wolves burst into the camp, and another three ambush the Cutthroat on his way to the Warlock and Factotum. The Warlock and Factotum soon finish off the original wolves, and go to help the Cutthroat with his, while the Duskblade clears up the wolves at the top of the camp. After the wolves were cleared out at the top of the camp, the Duskblade soon found himself making Will saves; a Vampire spawn had also entered the camp. Having joined the order of vampire hunters, he makes short work of the undead hunk of flesh, and heads off to the rest of the party to try to help them with the wolves, thinking that that was the only spawn.

If only.

While the Duskblade was dealing with the first Vampire Spawn, more wolves, and now some Dominated fighters were coming out of the woods, attacking the rest of the party. As the Duskblade finally gets in range of the party, a Vampire Spawn appears behind him and tries to Dominate him, and as the Duskblade turns around to deal with the new threat... He, the wolves, and the Dominated fighters were caught in a massive, 20th level Fireball.

As it turns out, the Factotum decided that now was a good time to use his Legacy item, a flask labeled "DO NOT TOUCH," that creates a random effect when it is thrown. Whoops.

The Duskblade then proceeded to walk straight out of the blast radius and bisect the now-terrified Vampire with one blow.

As it turns out, the massive fireball was an illusion, and that the Duskblade, being on the Factotum's team, was immune. The wolves and fighters were down for a few rounds, but started shaking off the illusion after a few rounds, only to be downed by the Warlock's incredibly lucky dice.

Meanwhile, the battle continued much as it had. The Cutthroat was kept on the ground by a wolf and failed to strike it from prone, the Factotum's Legacy Item got stuck on a wolf, and another Vampire Spawn appeared around the camp. Most of the problems were solved in short order, with the Vampire being hit by a Channeled Lightning Blade and the Factotum's regular alchemist's fire, the Legacy item blew up when it was dealt damage in a blast radius, releasing a tiny thundercloud that flew around zapping wolves, and... the Cutthroat continued struggling to fight from Prone.

And then an actual Vampire came in, with one more spawn in tow. With a sinking feeling, the party recognizes the Vampire: It was a high level member of the Sanguine Order. Was, of course, being the operative word. Apparently, the person was turned, and no one how or even by whom.

The Duskblade recklessly charges in, channeling a Shocking Grasp while expending all of the Healing Belt's charges, and managing to do some damage to the Vampire, and it seems that the party might actually be able to take the Vampire down.

And then the Duskblade fails his Will save vs. Domination.

Cue "Oh Crap (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OhCrap)" moment. No one, DM included, saw that coming. So, to sum up the situation:
Our Cutthroat is being taken out by a wolf and can't get up.
Our Ranger is asleep in the tent due to not being here this session.
The Warlock is at dangerously low HP from the Wolf attack.
The main damage dealer of the party is Dominated, despite his high Will save.
We're facing an epic level Vampire, and the one nova we had didn't even bring him to half health.

Cue dramatic exit stage left by the Vampire, complete with delivery of such lines as "Give a message to my friends..." and "This is what happens when you cross us!" Fortunately, the party was in such dire straights that no one really complained of the cliches. Through an incredibly lenient interpretation of circumstances (letting a Vampire, and a traitor at that (both things that the Duskblade hates very much IC), to go without doing anything, despite having no orders) the Duskblade is granted a reroll for having to perform actions against his nature. Fortunately, he manages to snap out of it after the Vampire leaves, and the party manages to kill off the Vampire Spawn remaining, the last of the wolves, and the last Dominated fighter.

With the bloodbath behind us, a subplot finally introduced and our first dungeon ahead of us, we end the session.