Konshu arrived later than expected at the adventuring company’s office, entering the foyer to find Jarrett Barclay conversing with what appeared to be a blind fisherman leaning on some exotic walking staff. Barclay gave Konshu a thorough grilling for his tardiness and ordered the ronin to take this newcomer and catch up with the rest of the party at the Ironbeard dwarfhold.
As the team members collected their breath and mourned the loss of Zardrae, Konshu and the company’s newest recruit arrived on the scene. The group seemed puzzled that Barclay would send them a blind man to assist on the mission, and Liana in particular seemed to take an instant dislike to him. While Konshu created illusory masks to hide their identities, the group piled up their loot outside the mausoleum and proceeded downward into the dwarfhold.
At the bottom of the stairs, before the imposing doors leading into the dwarfhold proper, the party was confronted by the ghostly apparition of a Kazik man with a long, flowing mustache. The spirit spoke to Seye in their shared tongue, introducing himself as Seong Chow, a former martial artist whose remains had been unceremoniously exhumed from this crypt by the Ironbeards years ago. Fiona approached him with her holy symbol in hand but her True Faith did not drive him back, suggesting that the ghost was not evil and bore the party no ill will. After learning that the team intended to raid the complex, Seong offered to assist by possessing one of the party members in order to impart some of his many skills. [Rob’s character] agreed, and after allowing the ghost to enter his mind, he received a boost to his acrobatics, stealth and unarmed combat skills.
After learning from Seong that two soldiers typically stood watch on the other side of the unlocked great doors, Nakar blanketed the area under a Silence spell before Liana and [Rob’s character] blasted open the doors with powerful blows, pinning the guards against the walls. The team observed a well-lit great hall and grand staircase beyond, at the bottom of which stood two sinister-looking iron statues, while two dwarf guards with crossbows on the far balcony immediately took aim and called out to Lear in an attempt to raise the alarm. While Liana struck both of the pinned soldiers down, a Hasted Seye and crouching Konshu moved across the foyer toward the staircase, Fiona threw a fireball at a guard on the balcony and Arthur shot the other in the face with his crossbow, and a Great Hasted Nakar cast Invisibility on himself before moving toward the doorway leading to the rest of the soldiers’ barracks.
Unseen by the party, the shadowy rogue Lear Ironbeard took aim at Seye from the balcony and shot him in the back with a poisoned crossbow bolt, afflicting the martial artist with a numbing concoction that hampered his speed and coordination. The thief simultaneously shot his second pistol crossbow at the gong on the upper landing of the great staircase, sending a mystical reverberation throughout the dwarfhold that seemed to awaken the constructs at the bottom of the stairs (and unbeknownst to the party, also activated the traps inside the complex). Lear then faded back into the shadows as Liana, Seye, Konshu and [Rob’s character] stepped forward to take on the golems. Seye was hammered and knocked back by a maul swing and Konshu was grazed in the torso with a blade thrust, but in short order Liana’s enchanted sword and a power blow from [Rob’s character] eliminated the constructs.
Nakar, meanwhile, cast Shape Earth to warp the stone doorway around the soldiers’ barracks just in the nick of time, forcing the dwarven reinforcements to hack down the wooden door with their halberds and buying the team some precious seconds. The halfling then ran over to Seye and administered some minor healing before casting Flight on himself. The martial artist then made to run up the grand staircase, but the bottom steps were armed with a series of cunningly concealed poisoned blade traps that sprang out and slashed open his foot, dropping Seye unconscious. Fiona rushed forward to remove the toxins from his system and awaken her team member while Nakar cast a Deflect Missile to protect her from a dwarf soldier’s crossbow shot. Konshu stuck close by and threw up an illusory curtain (depicting dwarves shamelessly delivering their gold to a gnome!) to conceal the group while they patched up Seye. As the barracks door burst inward and a phalanx of armed dwarves emerged, [Rob’s character] rained down a devastating series of power blows that knocked back entire lines of soldiers and threw their formation into disarray. After Nakar floated over and blanketed them under a Darkness spell, the troops stood little chance against the blind staff master, who shattered shields and used the dwarves essentially as projectiles against each other.
Arthur spotted the dastardly Lear skulking around up on the balcony and fired a crossbow shot at him that barely missed (shearing off a portion of the poisoner’s mustache!) before executing an acrobatic run and jump, flipping up over the banister to confront the rogue, who in turn attempted to throw poisoned knives at D’Bruin’s feet to little effect. Arthur threw his empty crossbow back at Lear before fast-drawing his blade and readying his shield, Lear unsheathed his own shortswords, and the two cautiously faced off while vying for position. Lear’s initial probing strikes were parried aside; Arthur’s counterattack shield rush was expertly evaded; Lear’s attempt to slip around behind Arthur was rebuffed; but then a critical hit to the face by the paladin dropped the thief to the ground with a pained grunt. D’Bruin intimidated Lear into releasing his swords and spotted a key hung from a chain around the rogue’s neck, which Lear stated would open his personal strongbox.
During the confusion, Zarek Ironbeard emerged from an upstairs hall with more soldiers and immediately began weaving spells, first shielding himself with a Force Dome and then casting See Invisible on himself. Not to be outdone by Arthur, Liana attempted to vault up to the balcony, failed embarrassingly, then lifted herself up on her next turn. Balancing expertly atop the banister, she moved around a pillar and attempted to charge Zarek, but was turned back by his Force Dome. Realizing that her magic sword could pass through the barrier, she attempted to slash at the wizard with her superior reach, but he continually Blinked away before afflicting her with an Agonize spell. Zarek also attempted a Flesh to Stone spell on the nearby Nakar but his blessing of Obad-Hai protected him, and the halfling gasped with relief “I’m alive!”
Seye, meanwhile, regained his feet and moved up the grand staircase. He was confronted by another soldier, but the Blood Moon warrior parried a halberd swing and executed a swift judo throw on the surprised fighter, tossing him onto another section of trapped stairs where a set of poisoned blades snapped out and rendered the dwarf unconscious. Nakar lanced out a Most Excellent Force Missile, catching another dwarf in the eye and dropping him half-blind and stunned to the floor. Fiona cast Armor of Flame before ordering the few soldiers still standing downstairs to submit; given the vicious battering they’d suffered at the hands of [Rob’s character], they quickly accepted and made to withdraw.
Seeing his minions defeated, his constructs destroyed and his son prone beneath Arthur’s leveled blade, Zarek gave Liana and Nakar a cold stare and rasped, “You have made an enemy this day!” With a snap of his fingers the wizard then teleported away, leaving the heroes to find the iron flask and make off with their loot.
+3 cp for the session and another +4 for essentially completing this mission, for a total of +7 cp. Three-way MVPs for +1 cp each were Seye Tieg (for taking a lot of poison damage for the team and his badass judo throw on that dwarf on the stairs), [Rob’s character] (for his ridiculous and hilarious staff strikes to throw the downstairs soldiers’ formation into disarray) and Arthur D’Bruin (for his acrobatic leap up to the balcony to take on Lear Ironbeard in single combat). There was the potential for another +3 cp or so on top of that, but we didn’t complete a “clean run” (Zardrae’s death) and did not achieve the bonus objective (Zarek got away with his staff).
And man, this party has some serious badasses haha. I set up the whole Ironbeard mission to be what I thought was on the tougher side – a dangerous weapon master + his vicious dire boar mount up top, magic-resistant constructs + traps + poison + a strong wizard inside the dwarfhold, but this gang steamrolled right through it. Good tactical play and solid teamwork from the group of course, combined with well-built characters who all have their useful specialties. And of course we did lose Zardrae, which was a serious blow to the adventuring company, but even that was just freak bad luck.
I am cooking up a few new ideas now … but since we’ll be at a reduced party with DJ and Rob leaving early next time, the coming session is going to be a little change of pace, I have kind of a humorous one-shot for our heroes in mind.
Interesting thought for the group – is it feasible to sell this dwarven loot in Fallkeep? Those soldiers you released are going to tell the authorities in town that a group of masked raiders stormed their embassy, maimed a number of guards and made off with their stuff. If the next day we come whistling down Merchant Row with a wheelbarrow piled high with dwarven armor and weapons, someone is probably going to put it together. To the city watch we’re probably no better than armed brigands! Even if they don’t just execute us out of hand, Nakar for one cannot do time – do you have any idea what happens to halflings in human jail?