« January 2005 | Main | June 2005 »

May 20, 2005

Felix Summary #3: Mutiny Defrosted

Party Roster:

Felix, 8th level half-orc fighter, 81 hp, played by Alex
Rathbane, 5th level dwarven fighter/cleric of Clangeddin, 45 hp, played by Katherine
Donald Collins, 8th level human mage, 43 hp, NPC
Gates, 6th level dwarven cleric of Moradin, 39 hp, played by Aaron Schweinsberg
Hendel, 7th level dwarven thief, 38 hp, played by Joel
Nakumanu, 5th level orc fighter, 32 hp, henchman of Felix, played by Jay Bates
Psue, hit dice unknown but rising, unclassed mimic, “pet” of Rathbane

[events of March 11, 2005 in Manhattan]

(For orientation and background, see the previous Felix summary, I’m just jumping right back in here.)

We last left our party recovering from slaying two out of the three fomorian giants in their lair at the top level of the ruined dwarven city. We knew the last giant would be back from his hunting fairly shortly, and camped protectively in a place that the giant couldn’t directly reach if the worst occurred and we were ambushed. The noblink ex-slaves remained with us for the time being until we could clear a path to freedom for them.

Hendel scouted the corridor up ahead and lay hidden, waiting for the giant to approach (most likely having driven off a number of giant slugs in the corridor). Hendel spotted him approaching (or at least another crazily deformed giant), and ran back to warn the party. Hendel, Felix, and Nakumanu were turned Invisible, Nakumanu and Rathbane were Strengthed, and Prayers were cast. The stage was set for a devastating ambush.

The fomorian entered the room and was immediately hammered by spiritual hammer and handaxe from the clerics, a Lightning Bolt from Donald, and was caught completely off-guard. A Darkness spell was intended to screw the giant up further by blinding him (by dropping the ball of darkness at the height of the giant’s head it affects only the giant and not the little shrimps pounding on him), but it actually didn’t even finish casting before the fight ended. Felix and Nakumanu buried their weapons in his gut, and Hendel jammed his daggers into the creature’s back. Unfortunately the giant didn’t fall, and slammed Nakumanu to his knees in a single blow. Rathbane started a Cure while Nakumanu fell back, and the fomorian collapsed under the rain of blows shortly thereafter.

Searching around the lair we found quite a bit of gold and gems. We decided to hire the noblink as porters to transport our treasure back to Shabrund. (This was ultimately cheaper than storing it with the local xenophobic dwarves at somewhat extortionate interest)

Heading back through the tunnel to Shabrund -- paying another hundred gold piece toll to the bridgekeepers on our way out of the ruined city -- with our haul and noblink porters in tow, we were confronted by a bugbear demanding the wild sum of fifty gold pieces in toll! We remembered having been confronted by this group before, and they had our Continual Light coins! Bring ‘em down!

But sense momentarily prevailed. Hendel used his excellent hearing to determine that there were likely a number of other creatures nearby, and we dropped the money on the ground, and stepped past.

And just as soon as we were out of sight, Donald Invised Hendel and Felix, who snuck back to observe the bugbear. The hapless creature picked up the money and moved to a stool he had set up on the side of the corridor. The pair moved carefully and looked into the various holes in the walls to locate the ambushing bugbears. Sure enough, Hendel spotted a half-dozen of them hiding in little niches on the far side of the corridor walls.

The plan was simple: Donald spun back around the corridor and hurled a fireball into the hidden passages while Hendel and Felix brought down the bugbear on the stool with extreme violence. It was over in little more than an eyeblink; nine bugbears dead, a thousand gold pieces and a magical spear (off the toll collector) netted for the party!

The rest of the trip to Shabrund was uneventful, and we arrived safely and cashed in the loot. The spear was +1/+5 vs. regenerators… which is amusing as Nakumanu already has a sword +1/+3 vs. regenerators. Well, we’ve really got that covered.

We ended up trading the spear +1 that Nakumanu used for the salvage tax difference plus a non-glowing dagger+1 for Hendel, who was actually using a normal dagger in his off-hand prior to this. Felix trained to 9th level, gaining 6 hp to stand at 87, and picking up Natural Leadership as a feat and spear specialization and dwarven etiquette. Felix is now capable of leading an army of several hundred men (or dwarves) and can attract fairly powerful henchmen with some luck. Certainly some nice upgrades.

We also ended up doing some research on the “flying mattress” creatures that had mesmerized most of the party in our only encounter with them. These dangerous creatures generally live much deeper beneath the earth, so the dwarves have had little contact with them to this point. They are called “lull” and because of their weird effects have generally been noted only a distance. Even then people slow down, reactions varying from terror to stupor, to nonchalant disinterest. They are about the size of a bed, about seven feet long, and they seem to inflate to one foot thickness—some sort of floating gas bag? They are also known to have significant powers over sound and light.

In addition, Rathbane got some training for Pseu, the mimic, and taught the still growing creature how to speak basic dwarven. We can communicate with it in a limited fashion now.

Thus boosted, and noticing that Gates had a Potion of Frost Giant Control on his character sheet, we felt confident enough to tackle the frost giant group we knew to be in the ruined city. The giants were one of the two groups that had slaughtered the original dwarven expedition that had lost the Belt of Dwarvenkind (that Felix was seeking as the whole point of this adventure, if you recall).

We set off back toward the ruined city, but stopped to defeat a purple worm that tried to slink by us. Figuring we would have to deal with it at some point anyway, Hendel shot it to get its attention and the party readied for the charge. The creature swooped in and bit Felix, and its tail lashed into the middle of the party, striking Hendel and then Gates. Donald unleashed a nasty lightning bolt on it, and Prayers went off. Gates decided to Slow Poison himself, which proved crucial later on. The party quickly brought down the creature, and Hendel shirked what appeared to be a fairly nasty poison by virtue of his dwarven resistance. Although we weren’t particularly worried about Gates, Rathbane slept for a second Slow Poison. This was fortunate, as Gates succumbed to the poison and collapsed! We fed him the antitoxin we had made from the first purple worm we’d killed, and he was cured… but it was a close call.

The trip was otherwise uneventful, and we got back to the ruined city and paid the toll once more. We asked the dwarves in the city about the gatekeepers, and the dwarves theorized that it was the darkling greebley guys who were extorting the tolls from us, but they weren’t sure. Armed with this knowledge, we then we headed up the stairs to the old fomorian lair and decided to keep circling the lake with the gigantic fish in it, figuring the frost giants might also hunt out of it. Continual Light was out so that Donald could see, which proved fairly important…

We spotted a single frost giant on guard in front of a passage… and he was slowly turning in our direction. We were spotted and we had to act fast! Donald cast a Wall of Ice, blocking the giant’s retreat, and Gates tossed a Silence stone past the giant to block the sound of his warning to his cohorts down the passageway behind him. The party charged and brought the giant down before it could even finish drawing its weapon!

We moved the body to the side and Donald dismissed the Wall of Ice. But we were in a quandary—there was no way the giants would miss this. And it would take us hours to regain spells and prepare an assault, and the giants would be forewarned at best. Why not attack now and push it? We had the Potion as a backup plan in case things went sour.

Donald cast Invisibility on the party, and Hendel scooped up the Silence stone. Together we advanced up the corridor toward the lair. Hendel peered cautiously around the corner, and there he spotted four frost giants in hides and two frost wolves. There were two corridors exiting the room behind the wolves. Realizing that we couldn’t sneak past the animals without being smelled, we had to attack brutally, and right now.

Hendel tried to wave everyone back. But then he remembered they were all invisible and silenced, so he instead dropped the Silence stone on the ground (allowing it to become visible) and pushed the party back out of the Silence radius. After a brief consultation and planning session, we utilized the Silence stone to block the sounds of our preparatory spellcasting. Rathbane and Gates cast Prayers and Spiritual Weapons, and Rathbane was Aided by Gates. Ready as we could be, Hendel scooped up the Silence stone, ready to throw it, and Donald triggered the attack with his new favorite spell… Fireball.

With a roar, the fireball blasted in waves over the unprepared creatures, one of which was actually still sleeping. Hendel tossed the Silence stone perfectly and blocked one of the corridors, hoping that it might delay any possible reinforcements.

One of the frost wolves was completely incinerated by the Fireball, and the three awake giants were hammered as well, although bizarrely the sole sleeping giant was only modestly affected by the blast. Felix and Rathbane held the corridor while Hendel fired crossbow bolts from behind.

One of the giants threw a boulder at Gates but missed, while the other two awake ones closed and smacked the unlucky Felix and Rathbane, holding them at bay. Unfortunately the living frost wolf took off down the non-silenced corridor, although it was unknown whether it was going to get help or simply trying to escape death.

A second Fireball from Donald dropped the boulder-throwing giant and hammered the others. The last giant had awakened and was now throwing boulders. The giant in front of Rathbane hit the poor cleric again, but Felix’s missed and the fighter struck back powerfully. Nakumanu moved up to stick his spear into Felix’s giant as well. After Rathbane had been struck a third time, Gates dropped his held Cure on the battlecleric, and Rathbane withdrew to heal herself as well. A boulder struck Nakumanu, but Rathbane was healed and stepped back into the fray, this time being missed. Rathbane swung viciously at her giant, while Felix finished his off.

The last giant drew his axe and moved forward toward Felix, but Hendel slipped through the gap and hid in the room. When the giant closed, Hendel sank his daggers into the Rathbane’s giant’s back, to devastating effect. Gates was healing Felix, and Rathbane continued to hammer her giant into the ground. Shortly thereafter Felix and Rathbane brought their giants crashing down.

Momentarily elation gripped the party. Now to finish off the stragglers…

At that moment two more frost wolves entered the room and breathed frost onto the front of the party, blasting Hendel, Felix, and Rathbane with cold. Still, this might not have been an issue, as Hendel moved to backstab one of the wolves, but then the thief spotted four giants coming down the corridor with weapons drawn behind the wolves. With a gulp, Hendel backed off to the party’s defensive line once more (“screaming like a little girl”). The two giants in front reached the party and pummeled Rathbane and Nakumanu. Donald tried a Charm Monster on one of the giants, but he resisted the effect. Felix charged and smashed a giant, while Nakumanu began frantically using charges from his Shield of Healing. Unfortunately, moments later a boulder struck Nakumanu and dropped him to the ground. Bizarrely, he had just finished discharging the healing ability of his shield, and so awoke a moment later and stood back up.

Rathbane cast an Aid on Nakumanu, bringing him back up long enough to be healed by the shield once more. Gates realized the situation was getting dire and pulled out the Potion of Frost Giant Control.

The results were spectacular. Three of the giants (all uninjured) became slaves to Gates’ will! In fact, the only one not affected was already on his last legs, so this went about as well as possible for the party. The enslaved giants turned and bashed the two frost wolves, to the horror of the creatures. Felix stabbed viciously and dropped the only remaining uncontrolled giant.

Once again, elation swept through the party. That was a pretty nasty fi…

… and four more frost wolves dashed into the room. As the frost giants turned to confront them, Hendel advanced once more into the room and scanned down the corridor to see if any other reinforcements were left.

To his shock, he saw four giants in full battle armor regalia stomping down the corridor.

Uh oh. Even three regular controlled frost giants plus the party would have a tough time with four battle-armored elite guard types.

One of the four frost wolves tried to breathe on Hendel but barely scratched the squirmy dwarven thief. Nakumanu helped the frost giants against one of the wolves, and the giants swung, dropping two of the four wolves. Felix killed a third one with Magic Missile help from Donald. There was one wolf left, but the battle-armored giants arrived and there was no more time to deal with the creature.

The giants faced off in a massive confrontation in the center of the room; Gates’ three controlled ordinary giants against four battle-armored warrior giants. This was unlikely to go well for our giants.

Hendel moved to backstab one of the giants but couldn’t hope to penetrate his armor. Nakumanu retreated to Rathbane in an attempt to pick up the Token of Bridge. At this point it became clear that if we had to retreat, our best option (as Donald had already cast his Wall of Ice) was to drop the Bridge as a barrier to slow down pursuit. The plan would be to have Nakumanu drink the Potion of Flying and drop the Bridge from high above the combat, damaging some giants and causing a firm barrier to delay them in killing us as we ran away.

While this was going on, the giants crushed each other brutally, wounds springing up all over the place… blood was flying everywhere throughout the chamber as the bodies piled up. A fifth and noticeably ancient giant appeared in full battle armor and charged straight for Felix. Felix stood his ground… and was blown down with incredible force from the giant (over 40 points of damage in a single swing!). The old giant was the deadliest adversary of them all!

At this point, the party was pretty panicked. Felix was barely even standing, bleeding to death in front of us. The final wolf was actually already behind the unfortunate Felix. The half-orc fighter took a deep breath and dashed passed the wolf… who fortunately missed Felix as he escaped back to the party for healing. We knew Gates’ giants could not hold long at all against these odds, and we could only hope for as much brutal combat as possible before we fled. But no one in the party could survive much more than a blow from the ancient giant.

At this point, when all seemed lost, Donald whipped out his scroll of Charm Monster and caught the ancient giant in its mystical grasp! Donald pointed out that the elite guards had betrayed the old man, and he needed to punish the usurpers. Amazingly, the charmed old giant bought it and leapt at his own guards, bashing one of them quite severely. Suddenly the odds seemed a little better. Nakumanu stopped pulling out the Bridge token and instead handed off his Shield of Healing to Felix, who began activating charges on it while being healed by Rathbane.

Just to add to the total chaos, about this time Hendel noted that there were even MORE giants down the corridor—a female giant appeared to be talking to several frost wolves and there were two small giants hanging back, wondering whether they should interfere with this mutiny amongst their ranks…

At this point, the entire party had disengaged (other than Hendel, who was still trying unsuccessfully to backstab one of the elite guards). Everyone fighting was a giant versus another giant, and the wolves were still circling.

The dominated giants began collapsing, one by one, as the party healed up. Donald hurled Magic Missiles as fast as he could from memory and from scrolls, hammering the elite guard the ancient giant had targeted. After that guard went down, Donald again managed to convinced the giant to go after a second elite guard. But two of the dominated giants had died as well. It was going to be close…

The last dominated giant collapsed, but moments later the third elite guard was dropped by the ancient giant.

Hendel noted that eight ogres were waiting in the Silenced tunnel, also apparently choosing not to interfere just yet.

At this point we were really hoping the elite guards got some good hits on the ancient giant to get him bleeding, because whenever he broke that charm we were all dead meat.

Which happened at this point. The charm broke, and the ancient giant was free, and knew that Donald had controlled him.

But the last elite guard didn’t know his master was free of the effect. Years of chaotic evil tendencies and slavish service under the ancient giant came to the forefront, and he attacked his master anyway, bashing him brutally. The ancient frost giant swung back, returning the blow even more devastatingly, and forgot entirely about the party as he determined to kill his own elite guard.

Felix moved to assist the elite guard (yep, we switched sides AGAIN), but at this point the female frost giant charged toward him. With a yelp, Felix turned to back away. At this point, the ogres yelled out, in Dwarven, “We help for 20% of the treasure!”

“Go for it!” shrieked the party. The eight ogres swarmed out of the corridor and immediately bumped into the four frost wolves that had sallied out with the female giant. A new battle erupted on the other side of the room.

Yes, that’s right. The ogres were battling three of the frost wolves and the juvenile giants. The old giant was battling his own guard. And NONE of them were charmed anymore. The party was just stupefied by this turn of events.

It gets even worse.

The frost wolves breathed and dropped two of the gores. The ogres killed one of the wolves with spear hits. Felix stepped back out to engage the female giant (the queen, perhaps?). Out came the rest of the party, and Nakumanu and Felix attacked the giantess. She recoiled and tried to retreat, but she moved past the waiting Hendel, who sank his daggers messily into her back, and she collapsed onto the floor.

Felix, Rathbane, and Nakumanu turned to attack the ancient giant, who was handily slaying his own guard, who suddenly couldn’t seem to hit anything. Hendel and Gates engaged the other much less armored female giant (the milkmaid, we theorized). The ancient giant finally slew his own bodyguard and turned to kill Felix.

Meanwhile the ogres had hurled their spears to some effect, inflicting more damage on the burly frost wolves, but they were slowly losing the battle. It seemed we would soon have to deal with the remaining frost wolves and the juveniles as well, so we started cheering for the ogres.

Felix had drunk the Potion of Fire Giant strength and swung back with enormous power, blasting the giant over and over. Still the old man stood, and raised his weapon to bring down the half-orc fighter.

Sensing it was yet another Moment for the Absurd, Donald read his high-level scroll of Shocking Grasp, activated his Ring of Jumping, and sprang through the air toward the ancient giant. Drawing his longtooth dagger from its sheath he raised his sword and slammed it home (inflicting almost 30 damage in the stab including the shocking blow!) and crashed into the ancient giant. Go Battlewizard Donald!

But the ancient giant still stood. He raised his weapon to slay someone… and collapsed from wounds inflicted by his own bodyguard early in the fight.

Donald then turned to help Hendel and Gates finish off the milkmaid giant.

Meanwhile, the ogres had nearly all died to the frost wolves, but took down the final wolf with two of the ogres still standing. At this point, Hendel noticed a dozen noblink waiting in the corridor behind them…

“15% of the treasure if we help you take THEM out!” the noblink yelled in Common, pointing to the ogres. Nakumanu, who was the only one who could hear this and understand Common, yelled back, “Ten percent!” This would cause some grumbling later, but the noblink started to charge. Nakumanu yelled, “No, stay back! We’ll handle this!” and the noblink backed off again, terrified.

The juvenile frost giants brought down the final two ogres (neatly removing a moral dilemma for the party—sure, we might have killed the frost giants just a little slower than we otherwise would have to make sure… don’t look at Hendel like that, he’s a thief you know…) and then we in turn killed the two juveniles and the milkmaid without too much trouble.

And the epic battle was over.

Lying dead on the ground were eighteen frost giants, eight frost wolves, and eight ogres. The carnage was incredible. And the entire party was still alive and kicking.

And there was treasure. Ho boy was there treasure. Some of it was behind a collapsed section of passage (apparently the ogres had cut off the giants’ escape). There was also a door in the complex that would have been hard to get by normally, being opened only by burly frost giants, but Felix simply busted it down with his Potion-enhanced strength, knocking the door down.

We again had to hire the noblink as porters (at the extortionary rate of 10% of the treasure pre-tax!) but we still made quite a haul.

We staggered back to Shabrund uneventfully and everyone but Felix trained a level! After all the training was over, the party looked as follows:

Felix, 9th level half-orc fighter, 87 hp
Rathbane Hardaway, 6th/6th level fighter/cleric of Clangeddin, 53 hp
Donald Collins, 9th level human wizard, 48 hp
Hendel Hardaway, 8th level dwarven thief, 47 hp
Gates Hardaway, 7th level dwarven cleric of Moradin, 44 hp
Nakumanu, 6th level orc fighter, 42 hp

Note that Nakumanu gained sixth level… which released him as a henchman from Felix. He’s now a full party member and will adventure as such for at least a little while. Eventually he plans to pursue a full-time career as a scholar of orcish and dwarven cultures.

Donald picked up Cloudkill, Wall of Force, Animal Growth, and Teleport for 5th level spells (did he get a new one for gaining 9th level from Wicker?). He also spent a lot of money rebuilding the scrolls he had used. We initially had about 85000 in gold (after salvage tax), platinum and gems, but by the end of the buying spree (which isn’t done yet) it had dwindled to about 28000 in real buying power. Still, a handy profit.

In addition, there were a couple of magic items:

Giant-sized sword+0 of Detect Magic (once per round, just a yes/no)—very nice, but really heavy (150 pounds), so we gave this up in salvage tax

Staff of Defense (grants wielder AC 5/5) – this was sent with Donald when he went to train—unknown what he gets for it in Petethal or at the School of Wizardry

Handaxe+2 – for trade for something of more direct use to the party

Robe of Pockets (16 pockets)— put on Gates for now

Potion of Invisibility (seven eighths), a second Token of Swanboat (whee!)

Non-magical random gear with values if we paid salvage tax on it:

Gold amulet of office (faintly magical, might be a key to something) (9000 gp)
Gold jewel of office (4500 gp)
Silver Medal of Office for Dwarven Merchant Guild (120 gp—given to dwarves)

On the Jarl’s wife—Silver jeweled belt (800 gp), gold necklace (1000 gp), gold bracelet (1000 gp)

Jade idol (450 gp) – sold already to a collector
Ivory box (300 gp)

In the robe of pockets when we found it:

Small silver box (150 gp)
Fine spyglass (200 gp) – we’ll probably keep this
Vial of Extremely Corrosive Acid
Folding utility knife (10 cw; 4 tools) – I think Rathbane wanted this

Totalling all that up (except the magical gold amulet of office) plus the remaining 281 fire giant pp, 242 50 gp garnets, 5 100 gp garnets, a 5000 gp spinel, after training costs and scroll library replacements we have 20,410 gp in cash/gems, 7750 gp in items we intend to liquidate, and a random set of good dwarven gear (including at least one suit of dwarven plate) that we don’t yet know the value of nor have paid salvage tax on.

In addition to that, we have a large amount of dwarven gear we found in the giants’ lair that hasn’t been identified to us yet (we need to do this at some point, Edwin, and pay salvage tax on it as well). We also have a number of items that are interest to the dwarven governments—badges of office, etc. We even recovered a copper door to a temple of Moradin and donated it to the church in Shabrund.

The noblink were sent packing with 12000 gp. We wonder how civil wars that would start. Also, Hendel is definitely thinking about letting the Hardaways know about this and letting them decide if they really want this treasure to be let loose in the hands of evil humanoids. Hendel certainly doesn’t, but he knows Gates and Rathbane and Peacemaker would oppose and so he doesn’t mention this to them. I’m honestly not sure how the dwarves will react—I put it at fifty/fifty whether they let them go or hunt them down. That’ll be next time…

And finally, a bit of interesting history about the deceased frost giants. Their leader was an exiled Jarl (king) from the main frost giant kingdom. So this was an actual remnant group, rather than just some rogues like we had assumed. Obviously their power was several times what we had anticipated, but we turned the tide and earned the most XP I’ve ever seen in a single game session.

For the first part of the adventure (fomorians etc.) we netted about 10000 XP for the main people and a few thousand for Nakumanu. But for the frost giants we got between 25000-30000 XP for the main five, and 15000 XP for Nakumanu (which is a record for a henchman, I’m certain). Even though most of the party had barely begun their new levels at the beginning of the game, everyone leveled during it!

So now we’re much better prepared. Donald had Cloudkill and Wall of Force available to wreak havoc (and potentially another spell, and maybe some new magic items). We’d like to trade the handaxe+2 and Felix needs to consider new armor options if he becomes a dwarf after this.

Unfortunately the Belt was not amongst the treasure. So next time, we have to tackle the flying mattresses. And then possibly the beardless evil dwarves that are known to hang out there. And, if we have time and the inclination, we can kill all the dungeon mites.

Should be fun!