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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Feb 2008

    Default Re: DM's campaign log- Wrath Of The Righteous (PF & spoliers!)

    We played this Saturday, but I didn't have the time to start updating till now. It was a roller coaster of a session- fast paced, with the party taking the initiative, quite a few highlights and in general- it was a blast! We were having fun, so the session dragged on to a total of 11 hours of gaming! Phew! It was hard to run the session, but it paid dividends!

    Edit: I initially thought to post this in 3 parts, but I see the second and third part are fairly short, so I'll bunch them both to the second part.

    I'll be posting the session in 3 parts, due to the length. The first part deals with some traits developments and the deal with Commander John. The second deals with the events leading to and including the battle with Soltengrabbe and the last part is the final mass combat assault on Drezen itself! (And the consequences)

    I hope you enjoy as we did, here goes!

    Session 12, part 1- Nightly retaliation and John's "trial"

    The saboteur!
    Last we left Andera was up with on the north east tower, under the siege weapon, as the rest of the party retreated back. He decided to try and get to the other towers, and disable them as well. He used his trick Sudden Disguise (Enabling him to use disguise self effect for several minutes), and made himself appear as tiefling. Knowing Abyssal he made his way towards the second tower, trying not to draw attention from the tieflings and the cultists. He manged to get to the second tower, one of two over looking the bridge, and in a quik moment dove under the siege weapon and disabled it as well. He chose not to risk trying to get to the tower across the gate (The increased vigilance of the gate guards worried him. It's so long till he rolls really bad... This player is known for it!) and uses his disguise again to walk part wy back, then vanish and down the walls.

    However, in all of these wanderings he did notice a few things:
    - There were quite a few dretches in the keep, about 300-400 of them. Also about 200 tiefligns, and 200 cultists, both units seemed well armed and disciplined compared to the troops they've met so far. There were also about 100 Schir demons. Quite a few forces... More than their own army!
    - There were also a few... disturbing structures inside. First there were 4 big crystal concentration, glowing in a soft sickly red greyish light, around the citadel. Secondly just in front of it was a sort of a... twisted maze of a sort? It had white translucent light flowing in it, and strange moans coming from it. Lastly there was the citadel itself- it looked as if the same red greyish light of the 3 structures was glistening of it's walls, only deeper and more intense. Andera had no idea what these things may mean, but some other info partly hinted at it:
    - Andera heard quite a bit of dissatisfaction and division within the forces. Some were loyal to Aponavicius and Staunton, while others groaned that Staunton should have acted till now, and "why does he hide in the citadel all this time? We haven't seen him for weeks!" But others were afraid of him. It was apparent that the dwarf invoked quite a lot of fear...

    With 2 siege weapons dismantled, and some new information, Andera the sneak made his way back to the troops. Meanwhile, back at the camp...

    Spoiler: Drezen map

    Now, I used the bridge being approximately 200ft to measure everything else, the illustrated map in the module has no scale. I added a few stuff there, some of my own design to make the final battle more interesting, some due to my party's interest:
    - The 3 red rhombuses (I think that is how they are called). These are tools of command Staunton will use in the last part of this session.
    - The red squid/ start thingy near the gate and the entrance to the citadel is another surprise. Probably the most dangerous one, with a few hints along the session to it's meaning. The party faces it at the last session.
    - Note that the fort is quite HUGE, even for the 900 or so troops stationed here. I wanted to give the place a feeling of being vastly deserted, and also allow the party's armies place for stealth and clever maneuvering.
    - On the map, to the NE you may notice the broken bridge. The party thought of restoring it, so I positioned it if it comes in to play.

    Interrogation and visions

    As the party reaches back, Lann stops Sena. "We have scouted in the area of the south bank battle. Someone has been there after the battle. They have left a message". He gave Sena the short message "Wait for my signal. There have been delays. The Harvest is almost ready". I may have been too cryptic, but the party couldn't make heads or tails out of it, and ended up disregarding this entirely.

    Aravsh approached the party, and informed them that there were few survivors amongst the enemy, and that the commanders are interrogation them. As the party reached the main tent, they learned that Commander John has left upset, finding it difficult to stomach the interrogations, and Nurah left after him.

    The party decided to watch, as Arabeth and Bartlet took a few more aggressive "strategies" with the tieflings and schir. As Arabeth struck one, Julian suddenly had a vivid recollection: She remembered the demon who struck her at her youth (Exposed to awfulness), back when she snuck to the wardstone chamber. But this time she remembered a few more things:
    - First she remembered there was a woman there, elven woman, with a jade dress, and complementing jade eyes, speaking of "We need more subjects! Maybe those close to the stone could with stand it?" He eyes were cold, nd made Julian shiver deep inside. "No... this one is too weak, she won't survive the night".
    - But the more disturbing thing was the demon that struck her- It's spikes, build, look. It looked like a worse version of Mad dog in his transformations.

    Bartlet took a knife to one of them, and as this happened Mad dog has his own recollection- his entire village put to tests, checks, and the same green women. "Xanthir said it would work! Why doesn't it work!" He again saw her jade, freezing eyes, as she caressed him and his... brother... "These will do nicely. We'll make demons out of them yet!"

    Julian immediately called to stop this (Though the party joked about getting a lot of visions- Slap! => vision. Kick! => vision.) Arabeth was dismayed "They are but demons! They deserve nothing better, and understand nothing else!" Julian spoke "We shall not become as they are!" The interrogation yields some info though- Staunton and Aponavicius had a strange relationship- he was both her favorite commander, but she also treated him quite roughly. A sort of "I like you while you behave, or amuse" kind of relationship. She left him in command of Drezen though, but he has gone inside and... never showed his face again. Something has... happened to him, which scares everyone in the surroundings. Something strange and unnatural even in demon standards.

    Staunton was not the only one to go through the change. Aponavicius herself went through it, as well as her chimera Soltengrabbe (Cue in another roar), her red dragon (The party: "WHAT?", "but it died", "Phew!"... Just made me want to bring a mythic undead dragon ) and a few others. One schir snorted at the party "You are the big heroes? They said there were 5 of you, now 4! We'll have thousands! Vorlesh promises new age of demons!" This did worry the party, but with their usual ability to ignore anything that doesn't require direct dealing with, they put it aside for now.

    A few other rumors: Cultists going into the graveyard and digging a lot at night. And also something about a betrayer that they caught and is now held by Staunton Vhane forces. "They will soon break her, or boil her soul!" These lowly demons didn't knew who was the betrayer, but they confirmed she flew and fired a deadly bow (The party did make this connection, which intrigued them greatly.

    The trio (Andera was still on his mission), went and talked privately. Sena lucked and identified the green eyed demon- Jerribeth of the Jade (From the 3rd module). Here I messed up bit cause I forgot to reread the info about her, so gave only basic info, and her connection to Xanthir Vang. Julian was quite worried about Mad dog:
    "Someone like you nearly killed me years ago, and you nearly killed me with those swarms a few days ago. I don't want to risk a third incident!" Mad dog tried to beg forgiveness and swear it won't happen again, but this didn't go that far, but Sena again questioned how much was Julian safe, which she tried to deflect, and gave up her chase of Mad dog. They dispersed to their business...

    Spoiler: Interrogation and traits development
    The interrogation was there as a sort of a minor info dump.Give the siege a bit more context ,a bit more "personality/ life". I didn't do it well though- it didn't motivate action and protectiveness from the players. They were spectators here, and this usually leads to bad gaming. Same goes to the visions. I needed to perhaps play them out more, and give the party some sort of influence on them, a few defiant lines, maybe something they my have noticed back then, or so on.

    In short, this could have been done better. Not that much of a loss, but not good either.

    Mentor and student
    Sena went to visit John. As he came near he heard Nurah whispering to him " You know you will need to share this with someone. You can't burden this all by yourself. If you feel like it..." She noticed Sena "Ah! Splendid! Maybe you can brighten his mood." And then left.

    As Sena approached John he heard his haunting spirits (Haunted curse) much louder this time. Some calling "Betrayer, murderer, deserter!" and such. Sena's player's eyes looked at me with suspicion. (We had a deal that John won't be a sort of a Darth Vader when discussing his character). Sena set next to his mentor, father figure, dear friend whom he looked up to.

    John looked kindly, but tiredly at Sena. "Ahhh... You have returned from yet another successful mission, I am sure of it. It has becoem a habit- you try on impossible things, and triumph where others fail. Like in The Hall of Heroes, like in the Gray Garrison, like in the Temple of Welcomed Night, and leading this army into this forsaken land. I am proud of you." He put his hand on Sena's shoulder. "You have indeed surpassed all expectation, and I can fully say that I have nothing left to teach you. You have went beyond everyone's forecasts. I am proud of you, as proud as I can be!"
    Sena's ears pricked up. He didn't like where this was going apparently. "Well thank you, MASTER, maybe you feel I have surpassed you, but for me you will always be my teacher!"
    John sighed, looking more tired. "Well, that may be, but now I have been your teacher for so long, yet you show little need of me. I f at ll, you rely more on these new friends you have. As it should be. I have been a teacher for so long, ("Teacher? Betrayer!" went the spirits) that I have forgotten to take care of my own burdens... My spirits, they are becoming stronger now, demanding their pay. I have too long ignored them, and now they demand their price. I must attend to it. Fear not! I will remain your adviser and lead the Knights of Sarenrae, but I will attend to my own matters as well..."
    Sena looked somewhat respectful, somewhat pleading. "Perhaps if you will share this story, perhaps then I can understand what the spirits are all about, perhaps I can help?"
    John agreed. "I owe you this much, yes. It is not something I am proud of, and it... haunts me. Years go, I was part of a mission that went into the Worldwound, not that far from here in fact (This pertains to the lost settlement in the 3rd module), where there was some research to conduct. But something... went wrong, and the leaders of the excavation, who are Andrew's parent (I emphasized this to Julian's player, but was replied with "Not playing him anymore!") have called upon a harsh and terrible decision- execute most of the expedition's members."
    Sena's face reddened "But why?" John looked miserable. "I don't know exactly the full details, but they were part demon somehow, and becoming worse." (Oddly enough, no one made the connection to Mad dog and Julian's story )
    "Me and a few others were exempt, and carried out the execution, and ran off with whomever we could. But some demons pursued, and so me and a few trailed off, as a decoy, and were captured. We were then kept and tortured for a few years, with the demons using various techniques to control me to kill or torture my friends, till I didn't know if it was my decision or the demon's decision..." John seemed to take it hard here, Sena listened intently. "They... they follow me still."
    Sena tried to console. "But none of these were your decision! You were forced to it!" John smiled weakly. "I taught you better than that- we always hve decision. I could have disagreed with Andrew's parents, I could have chose not to torture my friends, but I think my real sin is... not trying to make amends when returning. Sarenrae has given me power to escape, but the curse followed me. When I returned to Kenbres the whispers followed me, and yet I would ignore them. I could have tried to make retribution to the families, commemorate the dead, but I... I just fled from the responsibility. And it is haunting me now."
    Sena looks confused, desperate, he did not like what he heard. "Maybe you cn make up for it now?" John replied "I am trying. The worldwound sends tests to test all. I must stand my own." (I tried to make it look like John wasn't telling the entire truth, but the player didn't want to question him.)

    Xena decided to leave the subject alone, give John some time, but brokw another subject. He brought up the note that Lann told him "Can we be the harvest?" and also brought up Jerribeth of the Jade. "What do you think?" John asked him. "I think we may have a traitor, but who might it be?" John looked at him wearily. "Whomever it is, it will be one of the lest obvious. Demon infiltrators are good at what they do! And as to the demon of Jade..." John wrceked his memory (He has a high history modifier). She is known as one ofthe most cruel, competitive, and elusive demons we know. She could get everywhere, and seduce her way easily, though we have ascertained she is not a succubus."

    Sena thanked John, and with mixed feelings, left outside.

    Spoiler: talk between Sen and John
    The idea was to give a bit more background, but also allow a bit more conversation place and roleplay before what is to come (See nightly retribution further along). I wanted to portray John as tormented, but that some of his choices re his own. I do not intend to go back on my deal with Sena's player (Make him aa betrayer/ blackguard), but give enough place for doubt on the matter. Mostly- I want to present the player with an interesting dilemma- how to treat his friend, even with facing some of the horrors he did? Albeit "mitigating circumstances".

    8th day summary and plans, before sleep

    By this point Andera has gotten back. As to the siege status, the party were at:
    - Start with 10
    - 2 battles won: +5
    - 2 enemy siege engins sabotaged: +2
    - Commander John, Siege engineer: +3
    - Nurah's sabotage: -3
    - 1 day passed: -1
    - Army lost: -2 (Not in the original module, butthen gain- it doesn't uses multiple armies)
    Total: +15.

    The army's moral was considerbly better than the start of the day, but they were still worried at the imposing walls of Drezen, and "we sttruck first, now it's their move!"

    As to the party? They allocated guards and decided on the following:
    - The engineers must first make the broken siege engine usable (1 more day), then go and fix the bridge.
    - they must explore the rumors about Staunton Vhane not being liked by the forces. Perhaps that could be used to their advantage?
    - They need to get hold of the bridge, in case fixing the broken bridge takes too long, and to keep options safe. (Mounted troops can only pass by those routes)
    - They need to create another diversion for Andera to take down the remaining 2 siege engines.
    - They need to find out about the prisoner in Drezen. Perhaps they could mount a secret rescue team?
    - Scouts to check out the graveyard and the darkness within better.
    - And last but not least- the question of a traitor. The party had various ideas. They agreed it needs to be one of the command staff (a bit through meta gaming, but also due to needing to be in a position of influence). Some suspects were Qulin Long shadow, John, and the most prominent one strangely- Aravsh?!? ("He always tries to be helpful!") but with no real ideas. Julian thought to have them all strip of their magical items and cast zone of truth or discern lies or such, but they knew no one will agree to that treatment. No, they will have to find the traitor the old fashioned way.

    So... a lot of options! They decided to tackle them in the morning.

    Dreams and visions

    Not to leave Andera and Sena out, I gave them some visions themselves. Yeah, I know dreams are really overdone, but couldn't come with anything else.

    Andera's vision: he feels himself making a feverish prayer, some of it in celestial, some of it in abyssal, alternating, fighting, his hand scratches the wall, the other tastes blood, icor burning blood. "Where are you? Where are my skies? I have lost the Bell of Heaven. Sky mother, I am so far from your light…"

    The party assumes this is the prisoner, only they think of an interesting interpretation- she is like Mad dog! She has become half demon and is struggling to contain it. The party now wishes to find her more than before!

    Sena's vision: He feels more than see... some sort of a light, chained, contained, Looks inwards… Inside there is a hardened shell, a statue, a core, a diamond. Sena is in a warm, comforting, wet place, (Julian's player: "The womb?!" Correct!) reaching out when suddnely the light reaches out, and a great shimmering power envelops…

    Sena's player seems confused, but answers "Where Sarenrae points, I follow!" (And Squeaky wheel gets the kick! Please tell me you know the references! )

    Niightly retribution

    But not all is over yet! For The forces of Drezen are sending combined efforts to bring an end to the invasion...

    The party were awoken (All were asleep by random rolls, so chain shirts) by this great buzzing. The Lucky Bastards (With Mad dog) and the Bartlets (With Julian) were guarding the bridge to Paradise Hill (The unbroken one) and the rest were up on the hill. Look out stations near the gorge alerted for the coming of a large vescavor swarm army (8 squares big, each square 100x100feet). The party asked "We got replenished right?" I replied "Not till morning!". Party "Damn!"

    The party's initial attempts to fight the swarm prove ineffective (Immune to weapon, and most spells are out). After a few rounds Sena luckily remembers the queen, and spots her! Only these few rounds prove critical:
    - The swarm descends upon the tieflings and Queen's knights. Not only does it do damage, but it destroys some of their equipment as well (Reducing DV and OM by 1 each round).
    - 2 ghoul armies from the graveyard sneak in (Ambush tactic and sneaky) and engage the lucky bastards by the bridge. The bastards fight back valiantly, destroying one army before the other retreats)
    - A ghoslty figure (The projection of the berbalan from the vault in the graveyard) comes and attack the Bartlets, sapping their strength! Julian face it solo, and scorches it well with her scorching rays. It disappears for now.
    - Most alarming however is the sudden explosion and fire from the working siege engine! followed shortly after by Nurah's shouts "Stop commander John before he reaches the other siege weapon!" (At which point Sena's player looks at me "You bastard!" )

    Sena is torn between going after John, and trying to take down the queen. He decides that his priorities for the army come first. At this point the plyers surprise me by not wishing to face the queen as PCs, but use their armies! At first I disallow pinpointing her from the army, but as Aravash (Played by Sena), successfully uses glitterdust on it, I allow it. After 2 mroe rounds of focused fire by the Bartlets, mongrelfolk and the tieflings (Who have disengaged) the blinded queen dies, and the swarm disperse.

    In the meantime, Julian has broken off her army, and come to face John, just before he reaches the tent. There is a strange maddened look upon his face, his chain shirt shows blood. Julian faces him, tries to web him between some tents, but he then pulls a wand and tries to activate it, suddenly going "oh sh*t!" and disappearing. Julian recognizes the spell as... teleport? (The party: "A wand of teleport? Pretty strong! We should get it! face palm! )

    The Silver Banner, led by Dumas find John at his tent, (With no signs of web Julin noted later) somewhat dazed and out of it, and bashed him "As appropriate for a betrayer!" Before Julian reaches the place and puts a hold to things.

    All in all the armies survived the attack. The Queen's knights suffered many injuries, and lost 3 DV/OM (They scavange equipment to make up for 2). The tiefligns similarly, and the Berbalang jumps in again(fully healed thanks to fast healing), and damages the Bartlets nicely.

    But all of this matters less. Now they have to deal with Commander John.

    Spoiler: Vescavor swarm
    The entire attack was meant to confuse the player, and force them to divide their attention. The swarm was easily made, with my idea is that they fight the Queen as a party. Their decision to use the armies took a bit of adjusting, but I allowed for it.

    Category Value
    Composition Large Vescavor swarm army
    ACR/ init 7/+7
    Size 8 squres
    hp 70
    Moral NA
    DV/OM 17/+7 (See gibber and immune)
    Tactics None
    Resources None
    Special gibber (succeed on moral or lose -4 to attack)
    immune to weapons
    traumatizing (Army moral vs. 20. Any below are lost to madness)
    ravenous: reduces OM/ DV by 1 every turn

    "Trial" of Commander John

    A music after the battle, nd for a bit of emotional tension.
    (Suggested by curious-puzzle! Thanks a lot!)

    The spirits in the camp after the last sudden attack, and the loss of the siege engine (For it was utterly destroyed), are in turmoil, rage, anger, seeking vengeance. Into this John, looking shocked, dazed, in grief and at a loss, His spirits churning accusations and hard things, is dragged by Dumas and two of his soldiers, towards one of the raised platforms of the hill. Upon it the various army leaders are gathered, in various states of emotion. The party heads straight there, just as Nurah () puts herself forward to speak with the crowd. "I have known John for sometime, and he is a good man, but I have seen him! In the attack, I ran towards the armies, when I heard something from the siege engine tent, I called two of the Knights of Sarenrae (The two stood there, at obvious discomfort, and were questioned briefly, sying the sme basic story), and we entered, seeing John working on the engine, talking to two tieflings and mognrelfolk, all of which ran. John cut me deep (She DID have a nice slice of her side. Sena healed her- apparently he trusts her?) and ran straight for the second tent. Thank Iomedae that Julian was there to stop him!"

    John himself looked miserable "Perhaps I have done it... reality, shadow, it is all a mix now. Perhaps I am a monster." The man looked broken. Andera called at him. "You admit it? What did you do?" Julian intervened "What do you remember? Not what you think, what you ACTUALLY remember!" John, not finding any more reason to resist, spilled that he has fallen to the use of the drug known as Shadow's blood. At which some of the more knowledgeable in the NPCs cursed.

    (Shadow blood is a drug used in the campaign to lower Aron/ John's mental defenses. Comes from shadow demon) Nurah looked at John pitifully. "It is as I feared, he has fallen under the influence of the drug, and has acted in it's evil influence." Sena interjected "Wait! But that means that he is tricked, that someone tried to influence him!", Nurah agreed. "Indeed, must be one of those mongrelfolk or tieflings that were with him, the half demons vanished into darkness, the other under the tent flap into the chaos. We should search the two armies well! But it matters not- Commander John has been security risk amongst us, and nearly cost us the crusade!"

    Accusations flare up against the tielfings and mongrelfolk (Due to the previous days and Nurah's efforts, the ground was ripe). Andera even questions Qulin, who's shadow envelopes around him protectively. Qulin promises to purge any betrayers from his camp with feverish admonitions!

    Nurah tries to sway the army more, but presenting her position as caring for the army, the queen's representative and to ease John's own soul and suffering. Sen seems torn, and can't decide. As Nurah gains favor, suddenly Dumas calls for a field execution. It is Julian that comes to the front. "Wait! This is wrong. Something is amiss here! This man is being used to divert us, tear us! I agree, he is a security risk, we will lock him up, and judge him AFTER the siege is over, and decide his fate properly, not in a hashed out manner like this!" The crowd hesitates (The party did mange to protect his name before. Julian continues "This hill has prisons, the bastards have seen the worst of them. We shall keep him there, and make sure that The Knights of Sarenrae themselves guard him."

    Julian's words resonate in the crowd, and John is locked down below. Andera begins a search with his scouts over the tieflings, and Sena leaves the command of the First ascendents (Mongrelfolk) fully to Lann. "I wished these were other circumstnces, but..." Sena's voice broke a bit, when Lann put his hand on him. "I understand brother Spirit". Sena then went to the Knights of Sarenrae, and took command of them. "I don't believe it. There is something else behind this. John's actions have disgraced us. I will command this force. This is temporary till brother John returns and redeems his name. I'm sure of it." This decision will prove most important later on in the session, in the siege of Drezen.

    Sena then quickly searched John's tent, and found 3 empty vials of shadowblood, 1 full. He went to his cell, and knelt before it, whispering to John. "These have made you do this?" John looked hollow. "They were a temptation, Sarenrae was testing me, even if through betrayer. THIS was my decision, and yet... I failed, I was weak, I gave excuses." Sena was angry "Stop this! You were under demonic influence!" John looked down, not meeting Sena's eyes. "They lower your defenses, but where are my decisions? Where does the demon begin, and where do I end? I am... I am sorry Senatef..." At that John went to the far end and would speak no longer (I thought this is an appropriate ending at this point, and the party wished to move along).

    Frustrated, grieving and confused, Senatef went up, to a troubled sleep. Tomorrow the siege continues... The player commented: "This reminds me of the story from Neverwinter Nights 1, where Arabeth's lover was killed, which started her descent into being an Antipaladin..."

    Phew! This took much longer than I've thought to write! I think this covers about half the session or so. Hope you're enjoying! I will be putting the second and third part together into one second part. No need for too much splitting.
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2014-11-21 at 02:49 PM.

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