Thursday, September 15, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: G2 The Frost Giant Barracks and an Exciting Cliffhanger

Recap from 7/29/2011

After resting up for the night, we set out the next day for the glacial rift of the Frost Giants.  Once again, we went in on the right cliffside up against the icy mountain and roped ourselves together to keep from falling over the edge into the rift floor far below.  We decided to skirt the sloping path down to the rift floor and continued along the main icy path until we came to more ice caves cut into the right side of the cliff.  We untied the ropes and decided to send the assassin in to scout ahead of the group.  One of the elves cast invisibility on Evelyn and Lucias lent her his magical dagger for light (magical daggers shed less light than magical swords and are better for sneaking around) and she went into the cave moving as silently as possible to look for any signs of trouble.  We waited at the entrance for some time until she came running out yelling that she was being pursued by lots of Frost Giants!  We found out later that she encountered a few frost giants, some of which were sleeping and then decided to keep going instead of turning back to warn us and found even more giants.  In Labyrinth Lord and B/X D&D high level monsters have a very small chance of spotting invisible opponents (like 5% per giant) but the more opponents you try to sneak through, the larger the chance of one of them eventually spotting the invisible character, and apparently, one of them got lucky and noticed her.

So the jig was up and multiple Frost Giants started coming at us up the hallways.  There was one large group of giants coming at us through the right hand passage and a couple on the left hand branch that eventually turned into another large group!  Apparently we had stirred up a hornets nest and inadvertently alerted the entire Frost Giant barracks and things were about to get very interesting.  While Lucias and Taleth fought to hold off the ones in the front, the arcane spellcasters in the back (three Elves and a Magic User) started throwing fireballs and lightning bolts on the large groups of giants coming out of both corridors behind the ones that were in the front battling the fighters.  To top that off, our cleric Kaira pulled out a scroll of Flame Strike and cast it on the group on the right and quite a few of them died or were badly burned by the magical attacks.  The burned giants kept coming and the fighters in front were cutting them down as fast as they came while the spellcasters kept up the fusillade of fireballs and started throwing magic missiles when their heavier firepower was exhausted. 

After an epic struggle, we eventually managed to cut down fourteen Frost Giants in that melee and only suffered relatively light casualties.  Kaira healed up the wounded fighters and we decided to search the barracks for loot.  We entered several caverns and found very little until we entered a large cavern with a crystal clear pool of water babbling in the corner.  One of the players spotted something shiny at the bottom and then we were attacked by a lone Frost Giant that we cut down without too much trouble.  We searched the pool and retrieved 200 low value shining gems worth 10 G.P. each.  After having searched the Barracks of the Frost Giants, we returned to the ledge and roped up to continue exploring the complex.  We were mostly out of offensive spells and had little healing left at this point but decided to press on anyway.

We continued down the icy ledge and had another close call with one of the characters slipping over who had to be hoisted back up with the rope.  The last cave on the ledge led to another tunnel into the icy mountainside.  The tunnel eventually branched and one branch led to a cavern with some runes written on the floor.  Taleth the Ranger knew how to speak giant and told us that it was a warning to the giants of some unknown danger and that they should avoid the place.  That was good enough for us and we went the other way.  We continued down the tunnel and quickly found ourselves confronted with another pair of frost giant guards that were throwing rocks at us from the cavern ahead.  Lucias, the Ranger and his hireling fighter Bellinorn the Sun Elf charged them and engaged them in melee while the spellcasters in the back cast what few magic missiles they had left on them, or fired missile weapons.  The two giants were quickly dispatched but we were starting to get pretty beat up at this point.

We continued down the hallway past this guard post and once again came under attack from a fusillade of boulders and both Lucias and Taleth were hurt badly this time.  The giants were so far away that they could see us with their infravision well enough to hurl stones but we couldn’t see them.  They shouted an alarm and charged down the hall towards us.  Since we were in bad shape at this point we decided to turn into a left hand branch of the tunnel to take cover from the barrage of boulders – this turned out to be a huge mistake!  Suddenly, we were confronted by three fire giants that attacked us from the left hand tunnel while the four giants on the right were charging at us up the other hallway! 

This quickly turned into a desperate situation as our two front line fighters were so badly beat up as to be useless in melee and we were under attack from two sides.  Teth-en-Aire, our Elven NPC ally, saved the day when he pulled out a scroll of Wall of Stone and cast the spell to seal off the right hand passage so that we would only have to fight one group of giants at a time.  Cyrcla the Elf cast invisibility on Lucias who only had a few hit points left at this point and he fell back to the newly created wall of stone to quaff a potion of Extra Healing.  Taleth also fell back to heal as best as he could while the rest of the group fought off the three very tough Fire Giants in a desperate struggle for survival.  They eventually killed them but only after several of the other characters were similarly beaten down including our other fighter Bellinorn and Teth-en-Aire who ended up fighting off the giants with the help of the others.

Once the fight was over, we realized that we were trapped in the cavern by our own wall of stone!  Since the Frost Giants to our rear had gone past the “Y” intersection into the passage we had just come from, Teth-en-Aire had to cast the spell on the entry to the Fire Giant cavern and effectively sealed us in.  After quaffing healing potions and using the last remaining healing that we had available, we explored our new accommodations.  The cavern held several large braziers that burned with fiery coals to keep the fire giants nice and warm and we also found a considerable sum of gold (9,000 g.p.) and a bear figurine with topaz eyes as well which appeared to be worth a great deal of gold.  We also found a thick and long rope in one of the giant’s bags.

As we searched the cavern further we realized that there was an exit but that it led out onto another icy ledge with no apparent way off of it except down or through the air.  We could see the ledge we had just come from not too far away to our left, but it was several hundred feet away and the rift floor appeared to be further down below than it was towards the entrance (in other words the rift floor was at a lower elevation here).  We also spotted other ledges on the opposite side of the rift as well that we hadn’t noticed before, that presumably led to other ice caverns on the opposite side of the rift.

In retrospect, we made several mistakes this session – the assassin pressed on into the barracks rather than falling back which ended up stirring up the hornets nest but the end result of that fight wasn’t so bad (we killed some 15 frost giants there and found some loot).  The real mistake was pressing on when we were mostly out of healing and arcane spells.  When we were assailed with the rocks, our third mistake was to turn into the Fire Giant’s lair rather than just falling back – that nearly wiped out the entire party.  The amazing thing was that we found a decent amount of loot and killed some seventeen Frost Giants and three fire giants and somehow managed to survive the session without anyone being killed.  All in all, it was a very exciting session as well due to the element of uncertainty and desperation.

We made a resolution to learn from our mistakes if we could only figure out a way out of our current predicament.  We knew the Frost Giants would be back and if they could manage to break through the wall and attack us in the Fire Giant cave we could be finished, so we had to find a way out through the rift or onto one of the other ledges before they could do that.  We ended the session there as a true cliffhanger as we contemplated our options and began to plan our escape…


Monday, September 12, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: Dungeon Module G2 The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl

Recap from 7/22/2011 (Part 2 of 2)

Taleth the Ranger led our adventuring party towards the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl through the deep snows of the Pillars of Defiance mountain range at the southern end of the Anvil.  It was easy for him to locate the way to the rift due to the many frost giant tracks left on the trail in the snow by the giants and other creatures moving to and from it with regularity.  When we arrived at the entrance it was really just a break in the snow capped peaks with a path leading to the left and a path leading to the right and a steep drop off down to the floor of the rift far below straight ahead which was obscured by wind driven snowy mists.  So we debated which way to go and went with the conventional wisdom that when confronted with such choices in a maze like labyrinth, that right is right and left is wrong.  So we went down the right hand path which was really just an icy ledge up against the sheer mountain and glacier wall on the right with the steep drop off to the rift floor on the left.  Since it was so slippery, we took the added precaution of roping ourselves together in the hopes that if someone fell over the edge that we could catch them and pull them back to the ledge with the ropes.

As we went further along the path, we eventually came to a cave mouth on the right and decided to explore it.  We untied the ropes and entered the cave and were surprised by a band of six Yetis!  A fierce melee ensued and several of our number were paralyzed with fear from the giant white ape like creatures including Lucias.  As we started cutting them down, another one attacked us from behind that was bigger than the rest and was wielding a glowing white sword.  After a brief but intense battle we eventually overcame all seven yetis and searched their lair.  In addition to the obviously magical sword, we found eleven huge ivory mammoth tusks hidden away in their cave which were worth a great deal of gold.  We pressed on and retied ourselves together to brave the icy ledge once again and again found another ice cave on the right face of the glacier and mountain. 

We entered this cave and found that it was filled with an icy mist mixed with steam that issued forth from a thermal fissure somewhere deep below the ground making it very hard to see.  It also made the floor very treacherous and slippery and we all had to fight to maintain our balance to keep from slipping and dropping our weapons and shields.  Unfortunately, Kaira slipped onto the icy floor and dropped her magical spear which tumbled across the slippery surface and into an icy chasm never to be seen again.  We decided to leave this room before we lost anything else and went back out onto the icy ledge where we roped up again and gave the newly found magical sword to Kaira to replace her lost weapon.  As we continued our march along the treacherous ledge, one of the adventurers slipped on the icy surface and nearly tumbled over the ledge to their death on the rift floor far below.  Fortunately, the rope saved that character’s life and he was quickly hoisted back up to the ledge by the rest of the group.

We continued along the ledge and noticed that there was what appeared to be a path/ledge leading down to the rift floor on our left in addition to the ledge that continued on straight ahead.  There was also another ice cave on our right that we decided to investigate.  As we entered the cave we were surprised by a pair of snow leopards that attacked us from their perch on a ledge above the room.  A quick but fierce melee ensued and the ice cats were quickly dispatched.  After this encounter, we decided to try the path to the left that led to the rift floor in the hopes of finding the entrance to the Frost Giant Jarl’s lair so we could retrieve the tome for the Surgeons of Hecate.  We went down the winding trail and eventually ended up on the rift floor below.  On the rift floor, vision was obscured and limited to 30’ due to the high winds and snow drifts that prevailed there on the snow and ice covered valley floor.

As we started forward we ran into what looked like a pack of seven white wolves.  We moved to engage them and then they breathed frost on us!  This caught us completely off guard since we thought they were just normal wolves.  They turned out to be Winter Wolves and hurt us badly since all seven of them had an icy breath weapon and most of the characters failed their saving throws.  During the second round of combat they breathed on us again and several of the lower level characters were nearly killed so we were forced to withdraw back up the icy ledge.  We threw some of our rations down to distract them as we made our getaway.  Had we realized how dangerous they were, we would have hit them with ranged attacks including fireballs but as it was, we were lucky to escape that encounter without any fatalities.  We eventually made it back to the safety of our ice cave hideout far away from the rift to rest and heal up our wounded comrades.  So we rested up and prepared for our next foray on the following day into the glacial rift.  The odd thing was, on our first outing, we didn’t encounter a single Frost Giant.  This was about to change however...


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Averlorn Campaign: Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl Prologue and Background

Recap from 7/22/2011 Averlorn Session (Part 1 of 2)

After our second foray into the Halls of the Blind we took some time off for the winter for a much needed rest.  After we split up the loot from the foray, each of the group members went back to their city or town of origin to ride out the winter before the anvil was completely snowed in.  Beorn the Bahkshanni dwarf returned to the deep Dwarven halls hidden away in the mountains of the anvil.  Gradwin, Evelyn, Asclepius, Cyrcla, Taleth and Kaira returned to the city of Medea’s Gate where they were originally from while Teth-en-Aire and Lucias returned to the city of Ptoleph on the northern edge of the Anvil to winter over.  It was here that Lucias was granted lands and a title having finally attained named level (9th level fighter).

Lucias was granted the title of Baron by the Duke of Ptoleph.  Previously, he had been granted the title of the Marquis of Stormcall Ridge in the Gorgon’s Trench for taking part in the events that ended up saving the region from being overrun by a horde of undead zombies (see previous recap The Midnight Opal of Shadar from the Barrow Mound of Gravemoor module by Expeditious Retreat Press).  The land was not worth very much except for the occasional turnip farm so he hadn’t spent much time there afterwards as a result.  Besides, it was so far away in a remote backwater of the trench that it was hardly worth the trip. 

The land that the duke granted him was north of the great city of Ptoleph off of the main trade road in the hills near the giant statue of Hephaestus that marks the northern boundary of the Anvil.  The main population center of the Barony of Dunweilding is located in the last village near the King's Road (the main north-south trade road) before one reaches the lands of the elves to the north.  This hilly region is close to the Fossmoor Grove to the northwest and the Whisperwood Hollow to the northeast which are the forests of the elves wherein reside the three great castes of elven society - the Star Elves, the Sun Elves, and the Moon Elves of Averlorn.  The village is known as Cool Rock Springs and is a very small town sporting only one tavern.  The previous lord of this region was deceased and the Duke granted the Barony to Lucias so that he could represent his interests there and act as the protector of the region which is also the northern border of the Duke's domain.  About four miles away from the road further into the hills is the site of the ancient Iron Age hill fort of Dunweilding that is still used from time to time for the local defense due to its strategic placement on the hill top.  It was also placed there to protect the nearby mines and is ringed on three sides by limestone cliffs making it very hard to assault since there is only one logical approach for an attacker.  The mine is an ancient Gnomish copper mine and it is not known if it is played out or not so it may yet contain additional mineral wealth.  Lucias was also granted a Manor House in the city of Ptoleph as is the custom of the region to take care of his affairs while representing the Duke in the city in the House of Lords.

During this time, Lucias heard that the nearest neighbor to the Dunweilding Barony is a Marquis to the south.  Lucias and Teth-en-Aire were staying at the Emporium in Ptoleph while all of the official business of the granting of the Barony was taking place.  The proprietor of the establishment, one Argus Norviadras, told Lucias to keep an eye on his neighbor to the south.  It was being taken care of by a Marquis who was the brother of a Knight who was usually away on quests and military missions for the Duke.  He told me the Marquis has a black heart and is in fact a petty villain who was using his title for personal gain at the expense of others but that his brother the Knight was actually fair and just when he was around.  He went on to say that their father was the Baron of the region but that he is now dead.  He explained further that should the Knight come to an untimely demise, the younger brother would undoubtedly become a greedy and avaricious neighbor. 

So during the official ceremony held by the Duke of Ptoleph Lucias was granted his official baronial title.  He was to be thereafter known as Lord Lucius Artorius Petreius the Baron of Dunweilding north of Ptoleph in the service of the Duke of Ptoleph, and the Marquis of Stormcall Ridge in Spirythol.  The last bit of official business to attend to was to name his younger brother as the Marquis of Dunweilding to manage the affairs of the region in the event of his absence.  This was a happy day for the Petreius family who had moved to Ptoleph when Lucias was a youngster to get away from the rat race that is known as the city of Grand Oryx.  His father was particularly proud as he was just a simple merchant who had built up his business from nothing in the City of Grand Oryx to rise above the squalor.  Once his business was established and prosperous he eventually relocated to the city of Ptoleph after he had made a name for himself as a successful and wealthy merchant.  Seeing his son named as a Lord was more than he could have hoped for from one of his offspring.

So after all of the official business had been taken care of and he had been given a tour of his new lands at the end of the winter in early spring, it was apparent that in order to earn enough money to build a keep, as was now his right, he would need to continue adventuring for the foreseeable future.  Once the group was rejoined afterwards in the city of Medea’s Gate, we went to see Marut of the Surgeons Guild to inquire about the debt they wanted us to settle with them.  When we fought the three Chimeras outside of the Shrine of Zingalis during the previous adventuring season, our NPC ally Teth-en-Aire the Elf had been slain (see recap Of Baked Ham, Horned Devils and Chimeras).  We all contributed gold to having him raised from the dead by the Surgeons of Hecate but such services were not merely financial transactions for them since they usually only cast them on members of their own order.  In addition to financial compensation, they required a debt be repaid which usually entailed some kind of quest or errand of the adventuring kind to be completed by the recipient(s) of the powerful magic.

So when we went to see Marut to settle up this debt, he told us they still had not found the book that they lost previously and required our assistance to recover it.  More than a year ago the surgeons had contacted us about possibly hiring us to attempt to recover a very powerful and dangerous tome that had been lost when an airship went down on the way to the city of Harbor Reach on the eastern coast.  The ship is believed to have been downed near the village of Chapoi across the Forger’s Runnel River in the Anvil.  The Ancient Tome has beaten brass covers and is 16” x 12” x 6” thick and was stored in a chest with a latch.  To the west of Chapoi, a two days hike, the Wild Moon tribe of goblins holds sway and may have had something to do with the downing of the ship.  They ended up sending someone else out to try and locate the book but it was never recovered.  We ended up turning down their offer of employment at the time in order to explore the Tower of Zingalis instead and the other group never managed to locate the tome.  This was before the Ranger Taleth Flavius joined the group and we were ill suited to attempt an overland adventure of this type at the time.  We would have had a hard time just trying not to get lost, much less trying to locate a lost book in the wilderness.

So through divination spells or perhaps even with the assistance of the Oracles, the surgeons managed to locate the tome and it had been moved a great distance from the original wreckage of the dragon ship which was later found near Chapoi.  The information they had discovered revealed that the book was to be found in the treasure trove of a great Frost Giant leader located high in the snowy peaks of the Pillars of Defiance – the great mountain range far to the southwest of Medea’s Gate which marked the southwest boundary of the Anvil of the Gods.  He also told us that we were forbidden to even open up the great tome as it could be dangerous to us.  Marut arranged for the group to receive a number of healing potions and we purchased enough provisions for two weeks and winter clothing so that we could survive the extreme temperatures of the snowy peaks.  We were then flown via dragonship to a site near the glacial rift and dropped off at the drop zone where we were lowered down to the snowy ground below.  We were told that the ships would return to pick us up every three days and were given the means and method to signal them at the site when we were ready to be retrieved from the barren snowy peaks one hour after sunrise on the pre-designated day of retrieval.

So, with our quest at hand we trudged our way through the snow to find the rift of the frost giants.  The ranger managed to find an ice cave nearby which we would use as a base for our forays against the frost giants.   The cave was highly defensible, particularly against giants because it had a small entrance and was hard to locate from the outside.  From the ice cave it was another 3-4 hour hike using snow shoes through deep snows to the glacial rift itself hidden within the valley of the glacier.  So after resting up from our first hike from the drop zone and establishing our base camp, we set off to explore Dungeon Module G2 the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.