The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, XXXI

Good game everyone.

If I’d been clever I would have taken a picture of Noe’s paint job for Tersplink, which is really pretty great. I think it gets across a lot more Tersplinkness than the previous, diminutive and sober mini. This mini is way more out there – nobody puts Tersplink in the corner.

If I’d been really clever I would have jotted down a brief note of the order of those criticals.

And if I’d been really super clever, I wouldn’t have capped the night off with a Cynic ale, because now I can’t remember what happened. Alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells, but it does tell them it’s okay to down tools and take a long fucking lunch break. So to the best of my abilities…

We made an improvised house ruling on Coup de Grace with damage dealing spells too. Yes, it can be done, you have to be right beside a helpless opponent as per usual, but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t carefully apply, say Shocking Grasp to the heart of your opponent if they were helpless or cast Scorching Ray up their nostril. Mechanically it is kind of weird to have AoE spells used to Coup De Grace, but since a fireball actually starts off as a bead the size of a pea, I don’t see why you could shoot that in someone’s ear as a CdG. I’m not saying you’ll want to do that, for reasons illustrated below…

I’ve been listening to old Queen songs while I type this up. Holy shit: Ogre Battle? Dragon Attack? That’s some D&D music right there. I forget how awesome those early albums were. Do yourself a favour: Ogre Battle.

The courtyard of Jorgenfist to the Great Cave of Jorgenfist.

Having just slain the Roc, a Dire Bear and a Frost Giant – which seems like a decent set up for a Varisian comedian – the party regrouped. The kerfuffle outside had caused the mammoths in the stable to get a little restless. Smell of blood and what-not. It could also be that they were busy high-fiving each other. Traditionally, the mythical Roc carried off elephants to eat, so I can’t imagine they were too terribly happy to live right beneath one of the buggers.

Don, having calmed them once, went over to settle things down with Arradin’s help. Pretty much as soon as he opened the door though, the mammoths sensed that something was wrong and immediately started to face Don down. Solution?

BAMF!

Don turned into a Mammoth. Not just a Mammoth, but a dominating Bull Mammoth who wished everyone in the stable didn’t get all trembly at the knees just because he opened the door disguised as a human. Dummies. The Mammoths calmed down. This new Mammoth showed a lot of moxy and his idea about calming the hell down didn’t seem too bad. The  Mammoths returned to a chill state to await further instruction from their new herd leader.

Torgor, meanwhile wasn’t really interested in helping out with negotiations as he was in CLIMBING ONTO A MAMMOTH OMG! So he did. I bet it was kind of rad. By climbing up on MammothDon he also conveyed to the rest of the herd that the little two legs were cool too. So that worked out.

Tonight, we riiiiiiide!

It was kind of agreed that the Mammoths should be left as an escape route, for when the party needs to get back out past all the Stone Giants camped outside the walls of the courtyard.

Arradin, Don, Tersplink and Torgor formed the away team for the excursion down into the pit of Jorgenfist, travelling down in that order; Dagfinn, Albedon, Kerplak and Corwin keeping things under careful scrutiny in the courtyard.

The ledge around the outside of the pit wound around and down, with small alcoves and caves leading off from the ledge. The away team tried to move as quietly as possible past the first of the large caves but as Arradin passed it, Torgor noticed that the cave had all the warm fur-dung smell of a bear’s den. Investigating a little further it was confirmed that three dire bears slept the rest of the morning away here. The positioning of the cave made it fairly tactically important, if an alarm was raised, there’d be a trio dire bears blocking the line of retreat, waiting to kill them too soft, too hard and just right. The decision was made to go Ringwraith on them and stab them as they slept.

Sneaking in and readying to Coup de Grace them on the count of one two three, Arradin neatly severed the bear’s neck with her greataxe, while Don and Torgor dispatched another bear. Tersplink tried a Coup De Grace with Shocking Grasp and it very almost killed the bear. It didn’t though and an almost just been killed bear is a lot worse than a just been killed bear. And it was standing right next to Tersplink, which is the obvious drawback to casters attempting spell de grace. The bear lashed out, striking out at the people it suddenly found in its cozy den, but was quickly brought down. Not before it was able to roar, however.

The bear problem solved, the party reassembled and continued down the ramp, passing by more empty caves and alcoves as well as one that was not empty.

Nobody saw the Stone Giantess until she carefully reached out and touched Tersplink’s shoulder. Her other hand was raised in the universal gesture of peace, which confusingly, is also how you position your hand to cast a Searing Light spell and fry someone with the concentrated power of the sun. So that has to have led to some awkward negotiations/immolations.

Nonetheless, Tersplink played it cool and so did Torgor, which is impressive because he’s spent a good portion of his life studyin’ to kill Giants. Alert and on edge, but restrained, Torgor helped out with the translation when the Giantess’ Common let her down.

She introduced herself as Conna, an Elder amongst Stone Giants and she guessed that they had come to kill Mokmurian. That being the case, she proclaimed herself their ally and offered them aid. She asked that they follow her that they may speak more on it. Stealthily, they made their way through a short passage and into a small cave, Conna moving with ease amongst the tall stone walls of the complex.

The cave that she took them to was painted all over with crudely but consistently executed paintings of giants, mammoths, ogres and maybe humans. There were definitely dwarves painted here and there, mostly on the receiving end of some giant-inflicted doom. As they gathered in the room, Conna waiting, the temperature suddenly dropped and the largest of the cave-painting giants loomed out of the wall and appeared as a spectral image in front of them, as they watched, dozens of thin cuts appeared across his body, flaying him alive, exposing innards dark with blood. His face contorted with rage, he leapt at Arradin, his tattered legs stomping and flailing at her… aaaaaand she died of fright.

Right there and then. Thud. Dead elf.

I didn’t think she would (she was surely the least likely person to do that and had to blow to saves to do so) so I ran this haunt a little different than originally intended. Now I feel bad about that, so I think I’m going to retcon what happened: adjust your unreality accordingly. New stuff in bold.

While the vision had been terrifying in its violence, everyone else had simply held their breath. Arradin had held her autonomic nervous system and her heart stopped. Conna looked shocked. Attending to her, it was clear that she had suffered no damage from the ghostly assault, the terror had simply stopped her heart, so Don started it again. Then she was fine, a little shaky, but up and running again. Conna apologised, she had thought the apparition would have served as an instructive point since, she told the party that ghost was her husband, unable to rest since he was flayed to death by Mokmurian.

Mokmurian, she told them had been a Stone Giant of diminutive size (not mechanically – midget giants are just… people), but unusual ability, since he had mastered the ancient arcane arts of the old lords of Thassilon, those that enslaved giant-kin in eons past. That, she made it clear, was not their way. Stone Giants revered those who could call magic from the air and stone and channel it without need for books or runes. Tersplink knows what she is talking about.

Cast out of his tribe once uncovered, the exiled Mokmurian travelled far and when he returned he was wealthy and powerful beyond anything she could have imagined. He overthrew the Elders of the tribes of Stone Giants – killing those who defied him or refused to bend to his knee. While the Elders despised his abandonment of the old ways, the younger, more impetuous giants were caught up by his promises of great wealth and easily swayed by the rewards he dished out for enthusiastic service. He brought his followers to Jorgenfist, built the fortress and finally gathered his army to him. More giants arrive by the day, drawn by the temptation of sacking the decadent human lowlands and carrying off their treasure.

(  This is not the first time they’ve heard this story: http://www.dodecaheathens.com/?p=536 )

Conna believes that Mokmurian is too powerful for her to oppose, but regardless abides by the tradition that a deposed Elder may not challenge a new leader. She will not harm Mokmurian directly, but will aid the party with what spells she can cast and with what she can tell them of Jorgenfist’s caves.

She is not permitted into the lower level of Jorgenfist where Mokmurian resides and studies; few are. The only other Stone Giants on this level are four guards, one dreadful cook and Mokmurian’s General, Galenmir. Conna thought highly of Galenmir and seemed to hold his ability in high esteem. She was concerned that if she heard the party descending then Galenmir probably did too.

Other than that, the way down to the lower level of Jorgenfist, (about which she knows little save that it is much, much older than these caves and contains a library of some kind) is guarded by a pair of trolls. In an old room, probably part of the same complex as is below, a Jotunblood giant resides: a formidable throwback to an age before giants were ever enslaved. Two priestesses of Lamashtu, who have evidently swayed the majority of giants away from their traditional beliefs to worship the Mother of Monsters, have a shrine on this level, close to the lair of two dragons. Finally, the last inhabitant is a Kobold, a wild thing, to whom Mokmurian has given the task of eradicating pests that enter the caves here. She gave approximate locations for each inhabitant and agreed to create a hollow in the stone for the party to hide in while they recovered. She also supplied them with two Cure Serious Wounds potions, you know, just in case.

The party rested and in the early evening, emerged from their hollow, Conna having watched over them while keeping vigil at the wall  from which her murdered husband had appeared. Their plan was to take out the guards, who were stationed in the what Conna called the Great Cave of Jorgenfist. They were a short distance away, and before rounding the corner, Conna cast Mage Armor on Tersplink and Blink on everyone, which turned out to be pretty great.

Rounding the corner quickly and with pretense at speed, they caught the giants getting up from their snacking table. Don immediately summoned a swarm of bats, immersing the two furthest giants in leathery wings and sharp teeth. Arradin and another giant engaged, the giant battering her with a club before she unleashed some fairly devastating blows against him.  She damn near took his head off. Then she really got going.

With Torgor quickly finding his range, putting some nice shots in his favoured enemy and directing his allies to his opponents weak spots, Tersplink Hasted everyone and provided withdrawn support in the form of Shocking Grasps via Spectral Hand. The giants hit hard, but rarely hit their Blinking opponents, who shifted planes of existence just before the greatclubs left dents in skulls, reappearing just in time to counter.

Arradin brought one giant down, then toppled another on his back. She gouged out an eye. She disembowelled. Meanwhile Don’s scimitar was hard at work, scimitarring more effectively than I think I’d seen it do before, taking criticals and freezing the giants with its cold energy. When the last giant foolishly moved between Arradin and Don, they sliced him down in a flurry of bastard sword and scimitar.

As the last giant toppled, Tersplink cast Detect Magic and the party fell to looting the relatively paltry sums from the guards’ coinpurses. So no one heard Galenmir walk up behind them until he was pretty much right there, hefting a mean looking Heavy Pick. Conna had described Galenmir, so they knew what to look for and when Tersplink turned his magic detecting gaze on the imposing figure, he glowed like a christmas tree… Galenmir, not Tersplink.

Galenmir... not Tersplink.

Magic armour, a magic shield, a magic weapon, a magic cloak and magic potions, he came well kitted for this fight, which is probably why he seemed so confident. Tersplink tried to cast Hideous Laughter on him, but it wouldn’t take. Don tried to rust his armour, but with no luck. The giant advanced and quickly – almost effortlessly – struck down Arradin and Torgor, badly wounding Don. No-one landed a telling blow on him and when he spun to find new opponents, Don sank into the rock at his feet and Tersplink cast Invisibility on himself.

Invisible Tersplink, jazz-handsing silently to maintain his sorcerous mystique.

Galenmir stopped and thought for a few seconds, before taking Arradin and Torgor’s feet and dragging them to the bone pit. Tersplink ran over to the area into which Don had sunk and rapped on the stone, Don emerged, then they made their way to their fallen companions. Galenmir had left the bodies there and stalked off into the tunnels. As Tersplink and Don began healing the fallen duo they heard an altercation from the painted cave in the tongue of Giants. Although they can’t be sure how the argument went, they know it ended when Galenmir struck Conna.

And that’s how we ended.

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