Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rise of the Runelords: The Battle for Jorgenfist

Saturday the Runelords group assembled to keep pushing deeper into Jorgenfist in the hopes of breaking Mokmurian's forces and eventually breach his inner sanctum and confront the tyrant himself.

I would say the party is approximately 2/3 of the way through book four at this point. Depending on how they handle themselves they will either get to Mokmurian at the end of the next session or the beginning of the one afterwards.

But who is 'the party'? Here's the refresher on them:

The PlayersBruce - Marcellus (Human fighter 10 / damage sink / constantly hungry / Aerodus older brother)
Mike  - Seoni (human wizard 1/ cleric of Calistria 9 / Marcellus' girlfriend / scary lady)
Jim     - Aerodus (human sorcerer - destiny bloodline 10 / too willing to commit murder for his own profit)
Matt  - Nicholai ( half-elf bard 10 / wanna-be playboy / skill whore / Wren's....boy toy)
Jess   - Wren (human rogue 10 / pie thief of Sandpoint / linguistics master / Nicholai's lord & mistress)
Brian - Zatara ( half-elf barbarian 10 / damage monster / the party's conscious / afraid of Seoni/ saved AGAIN from death by a plot twist card!)
Me  - DM (slightly grumpy DM / storyteller / had a headache through out most of the night / master of the circle game)

In a bit of meta-DM'ing I had Jess triple check the party's treasure they have accumulated over the course of the four modules they have played in to check to see if they still had the Wand of Knock I know they got from an earlier book. Thankfully my wife doesn't throw out any of her notes and did find they still had the wand and didn't sell it either. Good for them as it expedited opening the ancient locked scroll case they lifted from the Black Monk ( a mummy/monk that was guardian over the ruins below Jorgenfist). Really I was glad they still had it because it would make a long process even longer as Wren needed to make 5 DC 40 skill checks in succession to open the locks. Failure meant they reset and they couldn't take 20 on the checks either. However each use of Knock opened 2 locks. 3 charges off the wand later and success!

A bunch of curse scrolls, a bunch of divine scrolls and one scroll with the password needed to get into the library under Jorgenfist...well to pass its guardian anyways. And my original idea was to give them the XP for now being able to bypass that hazard but I ended up forgetting until after the night was over and people headed home.

Now some people wouldn't give them the XP for it, well not until they reached and successfully passed the guardian. I'm not that type. I know the characters won't forget this information so there is no reason to penalize the players for a brain fart. Its just stupid and detracts from the fun of it. I'm not going for realism, I want enjoyment.

At this point in the session its really up to the players to dictate where they wanted to go. I mentioned that they would not meet Mokmurian tonite...at all. Not that they wouldn't be ready (well....they could possibly get slaughtered) but I forgot to print out his info before they arrived and didn't have time to fetch it after we got going. The party decided to explore the other structures on the ground floor within the walls of the fort.

The first building they ventured into was a building dedicated to various nature totems (mostly bear totems). On a successful perception check they hear voices within. Four stone giants and another speaking giant in a strange dialect. Kicking open the door they found out this was also the resting place for a frost giant envoy to a frost giant tribe that is en route to join the war against mankind. And the battle began. It was a rough one and if it wasn't for a well placed plot twist card Zatara would have been a smear on the ground. The card (played by Bruce after I confirmed a critical hit on Zatara but before damage was rolled had the giant drop his weapon negating the attack...that's how I ruled it anyways). It was a giant sized great axe. That's 3x damage on a crit. I had 9d6 in my hands ready to roll.


Oh well, while I didn't like that cause I like rolling large amounts of dice, I knew the next building has a much worse encounter ahead. And I'm glad they plowed on ahead, down some of their resources from this fight.

So the next building, the feasting hall, the party did the same tactics. They snuck over to the building successfully, set up their attack formation outside the door and then rolled their sneak to open the door slightly and look inside. This time they were noticed by the head of the giants army, Mokmurian's general. He flashed a hand gesture to the giants inside after the party closed the cracked door to cast spells & buffs on themselves. Now the giants were expecting them. And now so was the building's guardian. A awakened dire bear named Embers. Embers was the real threat in here. The others baddies I was expecting to die fairly easily....not Embers though.

Now it was all up to the initiative rolls. And for a bit the party was handling the fight pretty well. Wren however got tangled up with Embers who pinned her to the ground getting ready to maul her next round. Nicholai, not wanting to see his honey-pie bite it, cast 'grease' on her so she could escape Ember's grip. And she did but she was badly hurt. While this was going on Aerodus was slinging lightning bolts at the giants while Marcellus and Zatara waded in swords swinging. Then Zatara got toe to toe with the general. He did a lot of damage to him with his three attacks (confidentially he almost killed him) but it wasn't enough & on the generals turn all hell broke loose and the desperate portion of the battle began for the party.

The general unloaded hell upon Zatara. Three attacks. One was a crit. The general was packing a heavy pick. 4x damage on a crit. He pushed 75 points of damage into the barbarian on the second attack and Zatara fell into the negatives. Then the pushed on with the third strike on the fallen barbarian ending his career of adventuring.

Knocking Zatara down made the players sweat. Killing him made them panicky and upset. And now risks were starting to be taken. Some worked and others didn't. Somewhere in the fight the party started to figure out that Embers was what they *should* have focused on first. He started with over 200hp and was a monster built for dealing a lot of damage. At one point he got his paws on the bard and damn near killed him but the bard was saved after a combined effort from the surviving players to unleash a full out assault on him, killing the bear.

After living up to the party moniker of ' by the skin of our asses', they survived and collected their fallen friend and retreated to their 'safe house' in the cliffs. By now they are preparing to plans to revive Zatara. The following day Seoni cast 'Raise Dead' on him and one application of 'restoration' to negate one of the two negative levels Zatara had. The next one could be removed a week later with another casting...providing they survive that long.

And after re-evaluating their plans they decided its time to go into the lowest levels of Jorgenfist. They didn't get too far into the lowest levels but they have started to encounter the more ancient and weird parts waiting for them. So far they fought a runeslaved hill giant in a trapped room that shrunk some of the party members (Wren did disarm the trap after it reset a few times). After about 10 minutes the shrunked party members returned to regular size. Then into the last room of the night the party battled a stone golem guarding a 12ft tall cauldron with the seven pointed star emblazoned upon it. When the fight ended I called it for the night.

I do want to add that I like how golems (and other creatures previously immune to precision damage) are now effected by it. Now rogues are no longer useless fighting constructs, plants or undead. When flanking they can still sneak attack. And why the hell not. EVERYTHING has a weak spot. And rogues are great at exploiting them. Its one of many corrections the PFRPG fixed from the 3.0-3.5 D&D rules.

All in all it was a good night. I believe the players all had fun. Everyone survived but there is a loss of supplies and some lingering battle scars. And now they are in the end game for book four. Which means that soon the Runelords game will be on hold for a little while. Then when break is over its onto the final two books. And its just gets harder from here on out. For both the players and myself updating an older rule system into the newer one. And I will touch upon that horror of DMing when we get to book five: conversions.