Session 14

  By Shamus   Jan 2, 2007   21 comments

Having sorted out the problems at the Mages Guild and recovered some interesting books, they proceed to the Citadel. Endo takes Garret to an inn, where the boy can hopefully keep a low profile. It is unlikely that anyone will recognize him, but the Queen has many powers of perception and it seems like pushing their luck to get him too close to her. As the last remaining prince of the Lormanites, he would most likely be put to death before he could get any ideas about following in his father’s footsteps / seeking revenge / attempting to reclaim his throne. The Lormans have been a tenacious family over the last few centuries, and the Queen would most likely not pass on the chance to extinguish his bloodline forever.

The entire party is granted entry to meet with the Queen. They are all allowed in at once, which is unexpected. They report to the Queen that Fiore is free and the curse is lifted, but it is obvious she had figured this out. The mountain blew its top a week ago, and nobody could have missed that. If it weren’t for the two-headed invasion of the city this event would be the talk of the town. They do not tell her where the Archives are, or where the Orb is buried.

She explains that her mines collapsed and an avalanche covered many of the old ways in. The mountain is sealed now, and nobody will dare to set foot on it.

She offers them a new task: To go to the Dwarves and offer them a truce. She is prepared to offer them control of the mountain in exchange for their aid in repelling Mordan. The mountain, being pissed off and errupting, is not the prize it was just a few weeks before. But the Dwarves came to claim it, and it’s all she has to bargain with.

They reveal to the Queen the Dwarven food shortage. This might be an even better bargaining chip than the mountain. She could probably simply wait for their hungry bellies to prompt their surrender, but Mordan’s attack from the north and her own thinning forces do not afford her this luxury. She adds that she will give the Dwarves the provisions they need if they aid her.

They agree to this task and depart. A detachment of soldiers is sent along with the party, under their command. There are enough men to demonstarted that they come in the name of the Queen, but few enough that the Dwarves won’t mistake the group for a halfhearted counterattack.

They ride south under a flag of truce and meet with the Dwarven general. Thordek puts her offer on the table. There is some negotiation.

They wanted the Citadel too. How much food? What are the terms? How do we know we can trust her? How did Mordan get loose? Blah blah blah.

Thordek did well here. He’s a fighter and it’s not like he has much in the way of Charisma or diplomacy, but this was more about roleplaying than rollplaying so that didn’t hurt him.

This Dwarven general was a funny (odd) fellow and we had a lot of fun with this conversation as two Dwarves hammering out the details of the agreement. You can’t have this kind of fun with raw hack-n-slash players, and I am once again grateful that I have such good gaming buddies.

The Dwarves agree to pull up stakes, take down their siege machinery, and head north. A lot of their forces are concentrated in the south at Telwin Port, and it will take three days to regroup and mobilize. Thordek thanks him, and the group departs.

They return to the city, report the results of the parlay to Fulan at the citadel, and rest for the night. The next morning they leave the town heading east. They head to the bridge to give aid to the crumbling forces holding that last choke-point between Mordan and the lands of the south.

This was a great battle. The players were backed by Alidian soldiers and catapults, and I was going to throw handfuls of Grave Walkers at them until everyone had gotten their fill of combat. It had been a long stretch since we’d had a battle and we were due.

Sadly, this was just perfect for fireballs, but Dan wasn’t there that week so I was running his character. Now, this would have been his moment to shine, but Skeeve was an NPC this week and so I wanted the other players to take center stage. So Skeeve hung back and peppered the bad guys with magic missles and the tanks (Thordek and Thu’fir) stood in the middle of the bridge and gave the enemy a rightous beating.

Behind these two were some archers. Back on the southern shore they had catapults which shot huge loads of burning coals at massed groups of enemies. Enoch directed the catapults when he wasn’t healing. This gave him the fun of tossing “fireballs” around.

Of course, I had to adjust XP to reflect the fact that they were not fighting alone, so this wasn’t the huge XP jackpot it might seem to be. Still, it was pretty thrilling.

They hold the bridge for several hours. Midnight passes. Then suddenly the grave walkers retreat. This comes as a surprise to everyone. They usually keep up the assult until almost dawn. The soldiers brace themselves, expecting that this is the calm before an even bigger storm, but their fears prove unfounded. Mordan does not strike again that night. His forces were numerous, why would he signal the retreat?

Dawn comes and everyone rests. The puzzle will have to wait until tomorrow.

End of Session 14
20121 comments. Blackjack!


  1. SteveDJ says:

    Suggestion: Sometimes it gets a little confusing that some players are absent. Perhaps at the start of a “Session” post, you could just give a brief roll-call of who is present/absent for that session, if applicable?

    P.S. I love reading this. Many thanks!

  2. Mark says:

    These posts make me want to play D&D again. I haven’t played in well over 10 years, but I have all the materials (books, maps, miniatures, etc…) buried somewhere. I’ll have to dig that crap up.

  3. Deoxy says:

    Thinking about Mordan’s supply of grave walkers (sadly, it is essentially the entire population of the northern portion of the island…) reminded me of a question I would not like to be asked if I were DMing this:

    I understand why Mordan was locked up (the whole phylactory thing), but why oh WHY were there grave-walkers locked up, too? How hard would it have been for Mr. Super-Mordan-killer (the elf guy) to just have killed all the remaining Grave Walkers? The party (or fairly low level guys) killed one just fine by themselves.

    Also, if Mordan is weakened every time he is brought back and beat down again without getting his orb/phylactory, why not get Mr. Nifty elf (the guy who beat him once) and some other Fairly Nifty Guys together and beat him down repeatedly (like, on a weekly basis for a decade or two) – it should easier each time, and it would put him in a world of hurt if someone ever did free him (VERY likely that it would occur some century or other, eh?).

    Yeah, nasty, mean questions for the kind DM doing all the work. Sorry. :-p

  4. Shamus says:

    Re: Grave walkers locked up with Mordan:

    In a meta-game sense, they were there because dungeons need monsters. As for the EXCUSE I used to justify having them there, Forwinol (the elder) left them there to discourage would-be treasure hunters and grave robbers. After the robbers opened up a few coffins to find these nasties and no loot, then maybe they will move on to something more lucrative.

    The Nifty guy who beat him was Songmage Forwinol (his first name escapes me) who has since passed on.

    His son (Sagemaster Teerin Forwinol) is pretty much the most nifty guy so far, and he’s not quite the butt-kicker his father was.

    And there is the trick of asking him for help… they can’t get off the island right now.

  5. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    Well deoxy you see that was sort of one of our options. but it was a long and stupid unrealistic way to solve our problem. We weren’t looking forward to fighting him even once let alone 10 or more times.
    Besides we didn’t know how much his power decreased. Maybe each time after we killed him the only change was the amount of grave walkers he could raise up. So instead of 450 grave walkers we only have to deal 449 grave walkers and a malformed stump that should have been a grave walker

  6. Skeeve the Impossible says:

    and what the hell was Eomer doing

  7. Andre says:

    Curses, I just read through the whole lot of this story in one sitting, knowing about the problems with delays (I have those problems myself, and sympathize), but confident that as 2005 turned into early 2006, and then mid-2006, that the whole story would be dead and buried by now. Just my luck to stumble upon this gem of an RP story (and really, kudos to all of you!) just before it’s completed.

    Oh well, I’d like you (Shamus) and all of your RP buddies to know that you’ve kept a beginning role-player entertained for quite a few hours. (and, as I am not just a beginning role-player but also a beginning *DM*, a perfectionist whose approach his storybuilding is similar to your own, you’ve filled my head with countless ideas and have probably influenced the future of my D&D gaming in more ways than either of us can measure.) I’ve already had problems with setting the bar too high for myself. Now thanks to you it just looks impossible. :P (No worries, though, that just means more satisfaction and XP when I reach my expectations)

  8. Deoxy says:

    The meta-game reason I knew. The in-game reason is actually not bad, though I would think quite a bit more than twice before I used something that created more of itself when it killed something AND that would desire (if it has any desire) and likely has the capability to release mordan itself.

    As to having Forwinal beat Mordan repeeatedly, I didn’t mean for the players to go have him do it… I meant he should hav done it AT THE TIME. After originally defeating and imprisoning him, take a bit of a breather (like, oh, 48 hours, more than enough time for any amount of recovery ever needed with spells like HEAL around, but probably more lik a week to month to celebrate), thn proceed to lt him out and kick his pelvic bone repeatedly.

    Forwinol being a smart fellow, he could easily see that such imprisonment was stupendously unlikely to be permanent, so having the lich be as weak as he could arrange (when he was eventually released) would be an exceedingly wise thing to do.

    Of course, tossing the phylactory in the heart of the mountain (with it now released to protect itself) is likely to be about as permanent as most major artifacts (if not a good deal more so), so that’s probably sufficient (not to mention how ridiculously hard it would be to get in there to let Mordan out again for another beating), but My Songmage…. well, like I said, mean question.

    Oh, and the “malformed stump” comment from Skeeve was very enjoyable! :-)

  9. Shamus says:

    The reason why Forwinol didn’t beat Mordan down a few more times: I didn’t think of it. Doh!

  10. Patrick says:

    Skeeve… your memory sucks almost as much as your thirst for penis.

    Eomier ( with an ‘I’ dammit! ) was the ONLY one standing on top of the barracade that was across the bridge and DIDN’t fall off into the stream. Unlike those 2 clumsy idiots Thufir and Thordek. Hell even Enod fell off the bridge!

    You and Enoch brought up the rear…as usual… Homos

  11. Adrian Exodus says:

    don’t say you didn’t think of it, rather you did and it was in a epic back story that the players never revealed.
    something like Forwinol did release and beat down Mordan for many years till the odds(dice rolls) went against him and many good friends where lost and turned into grave walkers, sadden by this and unable to strike against so many of those that he was fought against he put them into special coffins that would give them some kind of peace and then left Mordan in his, hoping he had weakened him enough…or something :P

  12. Faentur says:

    Beating down Mordan multiple times has a very good chance of not working: all his power ends up in his phylactery, and he recovers it when he recovers the orb – which he is VERY likely to do if the people who break him out are his followers.

    And still could happen even if he’s weakened and the party is low on health, magic, etc. when they release him. Really, it’s just luck – and the stupidity of the mayor – that let them get away with the orb.

  13. Fnord says:

    Great story, but what I can’t figure out is why Mordan’s army got hung up at the bridge? They’re undead: they don’t need air, so why not just walk straight through the river? They could have put a pinning force at the bridge to draw the Allidian army (as they were doing anyway), then simply sent the bulk of their forces straight through the river up and down stream to flank the opposition. The only thing they would need the bridge for is to get heavy equipment across, but that could be easily done once they’d massacred/driven off the Allidian’s (and an ever-growing army of undead is unlikely to need heavy equipment anyway). They could probably have even attacked the Citadel directly that way.

    Of course the answer is probably that you, and by extension Mordan, just didn’t think of it (although, being locked up alone in a tomb for several hundred years may not have done much for Mordan’s reasoning capacities). I suppose you can just be glad that I wasn’t running this campaign :) . The party would have arrived back just in time for a significant chunk of the Allidian army to be killed (and turned into more cannon fodder), and the battle would be to defend the Citadel rather than the bridge. Now that’s a climactic battle :) . I’d have been nice enough to give the party enough time to enlist the help of the dwarves in defending the city, though, big softie that I am.

    You’ve got me thinking I’d like to run another game now, but I’m too much out of touch with the DM side of things and don’t have enough time :(

  14. Fnord says:

    Ooh! I’ve just read through the end of session 15 and I’ll have to take back some of what I just said :) . Mordan could definitely still have taken out a big chunk of the Allidian army by going through the river, but he wouldn’t have got any more undead from it, so the battle for the Citadel would be more even, especially with the help of the dwarves.

    Then suddenly in the midst of the fray, just as things look like they’re about to collapse (just after the walls have been breached, perhaps, and undead are swarming into the city), the entire undead army suddenly ups and disappears back into the river with no explanation! Now that would really confuse everybody :) . A bit like the ending the siege in David Gemmell’s Legend.

    Your plot is genius :)

  15. Just before the first DM note, “demonstarted” instead of “demonstrate”.

  16. Trae says:

    If Eomier was atop the barricade, probably using a long-range weapon to snipe a few targets. That’s what the rogue-ey types do when not picking someone’s pocket or failing to unlock a door; attacking from the longest distance possible so their brittle bones don’t get turned into powder.

  17. Gabe says:

    Chris, is that really the best you can do? point out one typo? I see way more than that one every installment, I just see that Shamus was in a rush and that pointing out his fairly common errors is pretty pointless.

    By the way, great story, I wish I had a DM like you. I only have two other friends that play dnd, and I’m a better DM than either of them, though I’m not very good. At least I don’t have druids cast area spells that affect themselves, which ended up ONLY affecting themselves since my whole party had good reflex saves, especially my elf rogue. That guy’s an idiot.

  18. Vallarthis says:

    My guess at why the grave walkers do not walk across the river bottom is that fresh running water is a problem for them, as it is with vampires. Rivers have associations with purity and cleansing, so I could see evil creatures not liking them.

  19. mazer says:

    @fnord
    Rivers are bad for undead, didnt you ever read Tolkien?
    Undead typacly dont float, so the fast moving water of what loioks to be the largest river on the island would sweep them off thier feet and bludgeon ( ha ha no DR for you!) them to death on the rocky river bottom over the corse of as many miles as it takes.

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