Monday, November 25, 2013

On the Road to Jorgenfist (11/15/2013)

For the most part, the town of Sandpoint had been saved. The Red Dragon Longtooth had been vanquished, several of the dire bears and stone giants that had attacked the town had been killed as well, but Teraktinus had apparently found what he was looking for at the ruins of the old lighthouse, a site that dated back to the Thassilonian Empire from nearly 10,000 years previous. Now Teraktinus and the remainder of the stone giants were returning to their homeland with many prisoners and whatever loot they had managed to scavenge from the town.

The citizens of the town were in a high dudgeon, especially since almost everyone either knew of or was related to someone that had been taken prisoner. Many citizens crowded around the party and implored them to go after the giants and retrieve the captives. Nobleman Titus Scarnetti himself made an appearance and offered a reward – the contents of the wagon of valuables stolen from the Scarnetti residence in return for his precious granddaughter and an heirloom table that had also been taken. The heroes discussed their options – they were pretty beat up already and with few spells remaining and thus were in no condition for a further fight with the giants right now, but if they had horses they could begin to trail them now as they rested and recovered. At the word “horses” Scarnetti himself snapped his fingers and several of his henchmen immediately began to gather horses, so the plan was set.

Stone Giant
But before the heroes could leave town one of the dead stone giants was found to have only been unconscious. He was quickly tightly bound (they hoped anyway), and after a few drinks of water was roused so he could be questioned. The injured giant squinted, frowned, and then chuckled to himself. "Defeated by nosy little humans," it said in a deep rumbling voice. "Never thought this would happen to the Plateau People. Well, I can tell you this: My lord is mighty Mokmurian, one of the dark giants of old come again. His magic, the things he has made ... He has convinced the tribes that they will rule all the lowlands again, down to the sea. He has mastered the ancient arts.”

"He will certainly kill you all, run rough over your tiny homes with the army he has called. The fortunate few will become his slaves. You beat us today, but you won't beat us when there are a hundred or a thousand of the Plateau People marching together. Lord Mokmurian will make it happen. He's almost as smooth a talker as you are little ones." He scratched his nose. "Teraktinus - he was the leader of our scouting party. He convinced us that you'd be easy pickings and we'd all get rich. He obviously underestimated you, and he paid for his mistake. I've no interest in paying for that mistake as well - grant me safe passage out of your lands, and I'll tell you everything you wish to know."

WHO WAS MOKMURIAN? "I already told you - he's our lord and leader. He promised us glory and riches, and although our raid on your town didn't go so well, that's because Teraktinus was a fool. When Lord Mokmurian marches down from the Storval Plateau, he will take from you everything."

WHAT WAS MOKMURIAN? "I have only heard him speak from afar, and have only heard from others of the power of his magic. He is the rarest of us all, a child of the stones who has mastered the magic of the Ancient Lords. They say he can turn the living into immobile stone and can turn his own flesh into granite armor. I've even heard he can cause the very stones of the world to quicken and pull those who stand atop them into a tomb below the earth. And I'm sure he can do much more than that."

WHO WERE THESE ANCIENT LORDS? "They are gone now, but our elders tell us they once ruled over our ancestors, enslaved them, forced them to build the monuments that grace Varisia even today. Many of my brothers believe that Mokmurian is one of these Ancient Lords risen from the past to rebuild his empire."

HOW MANY GIANTS DOES MOKMURIAN COMMAND? "He has at least seven tribes of under his command, with each tribe numbering in the dozens. The number of lesser kin he's conscripted - ogres, hill giants, ettins, trolls – is not insignificant. He also enjoys the support of several lamias - degenerate followers of the Mother of Monsters."

WHEN WAS HE GOING TO ATTACK VARISIA? "I am not sure. He sent several scouting parties, of which my band was but one, into these lowlands to gather intelligence. He does this to prepare for his coming attack. His fury will come soon. Perhaps even by month's end."

WHERE WAS HE BASED? "Mokmurian has claimed a place taboo to my people: the Valley of the Black Tower in the Iron Peaks. He calls his fortress Jorgenfist, after the name of the fortress that guards the entrance to the afterlife. Our elders found the name blasphemous, but Mokmurian is powerful enough not to fear blasphemy."

WHERE WAS JORGENFIST? "Jorgenfist lies within the Valley of the Black Tower in the Iron Peaks. It overlooks the waters of the Muschkal River, but can also be approached by heading east from the Storval Stairs. Lord Mokmurian himself dwells deep below Jorgenfist - in hidden places he does not allow us to visit."

WHY WAS YOUR LEADER TRYING TO STEAL A PIECE OF THE OLD LIGHTHOUSE? "I can't say. He mentioned having a special mission from Lord Mokmurian, but didn't tell me what it was, didn't tell any of us. My people's elders have ways of prying secrets from the stones - perhaps that stone knew something that Lord Mokmurian needed to learn?"

With this additional knowledge to ponder over, the party gathered their gear and their new horses and began to follow the giants. The giants may have approached with some level of stealth, but in their haste to retreat all efforts at stealth had been abandoned. Wide swathes of tramped fields ensured the party to know the fleeing giants were heading back to the Storval Plateau, a trip of ~15 days, so the party made efforts to close in on the giants, but to not get to close until they were ready to fight again.

Along the way the party came across several battle sites that bespoke of a terrible fury, littered with shattered stones and pulped bodies left for the scavengers after every bit of valuable loot had been stripped away. Several camp sites were also found, at the center a campfire made of tree trunks that sat within a ring of boulders, the mostly eaten carcasses of various roasted beasts lying in the ashes.

The worst part was as they stopped at various towns and inns along the way. Every third person seemed to have either sighted a giant in the last few days or knew someone who had, and of these, at least half could tell stories of a friend or acquaintance who had gone missing. In almost every case the missing folks were merchants, soldiers, hunters, or travelers, and in all cases they feared they've been caught and killed by the giants.

The party stuck to their plan, pushing on every day, and ensuring they were indeed gaining on the giants. In the middle of the fourth day they stumbled upon a small scout party. Someone threw large boulders at the party from the woodline while three other stone giants roared at them from ahead. The party quickly whittled down the three giants in their presence, but the one who had been throwing boulders at them from the woods seemed to have slipped away. The party wasn’t sure if this encounter was an accident or if Teraktinus was just covering his escape by leaving behind a war party, but it certainly meant the party was likely getting close though.

Toward the end of the next day the party came upon a group of five stone giants and two dire bears sitting in a wooded glade. The party was able to successfully drop several spells on the unsuspecting foes before they could react and were able to quickly kill the two bears and two of the giants, the other three giants having escaped into the deep of the woods. As the party remounted their horses and began to ride away they rode right into the middle of four other stone giants that had been hiding amongst the trees next to the road.

This time the party found themselves at a disadvantage as the giants managed to pin the heroes in close quarters where the swings from their mighty clubs could do the most damage (DM Note: in other words, the DM finally inflicted some serious damage). Reynard managed to take to the air via his Fly spell, and Selinor slipped back up the road to escape the great club of the giant next to him, leaving Stike and Kheo to face the brunt of the giants attack. Kheo soon found himself unconscious though, leaving Stike flanked and reliant on Selinor’s healing. With the three giants that had run away previously now having returned to the fight, the heroes knew they were in a real struggle.

Reynard’s spells soon began to take effect and he managed to take out several of the giants, and before he too was knocked unconscious Stike managed to take out several more. Selinor and Reynard finished off the last of the giants, got Stike and Kheo back on their feet, and the party retreated to look for safe hiding, lest there be more giants on the prowl.

The party discussed their next actions. They were never sure how many stone giants were with Teraktinus, but whatever that number was they had certainly put a big dent in it today. By this point both the party estimated they were about half-way back to the giant’s homeland (DM Note: No, not San Francisco) so while an immediate attack wasn’t necessary, they were starting to run out of time if they wanted to stop Teraktinus from returning to Mokmurian with his prize.

And we’ll pick it up there next time. For tonight’s efforts the party earned 15,000 XP, giving them (140,000 + 15,000) 155,000 XP earned so far, with 155,000 XP required to reach Level 11 (Level 12: 220,000 XP).

Update: In the previous session's recap I went to all the trouble of relaying our discussion on the creation and use of Ballista's, but then never mentioned them again. The party decided to deploy them facing west (over the Varisian Sea), on a wall facing south, and on a wall on the north end of town, facing a north and east direction. As it was the book had the dragon arrive in town from a north-to-south flight path, effectively negating the use of the ballista's on him. The ballista at the northern wall managed to get off a few shots at the giants, but once the dragon swopped in to town many of the ballista crews disappeared into the chaos in town.

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