Monday, June 15, 2015

The Third Party: Session 30 (GMs notes)

1 Marpenoth

The party stepped out of the last auction of BIshop Braccio's lands, Grimnir sporting his smashing new gloves, to find a frighteningly angry Elissa Bivant waiting for them. As usual, the party dithered for quite some time before Ash threw down a teleport to get them away from the enraged presumed-deity.

They appeared in the central square of Hillsfar, just outside the Citadel. Apparently Ash thought it would be a good idea to check on the progress of the city, now that it lacked an undead army defending it. The undead army was apparently much-missed. The arrived to the smell of smoke and the sound of bombardment. The entire, much reduced, population of the city were up on the walls or running around putting out fires, and it sounded like a pitched battle was happening just outside.

Grimnir levitated up into the air, enshrouded in a cloud of ravens, to see what was up. An army, some fifteen-thousand strong, was camped in siege of Hillsfar, flying the banner of the city's long-time rival, Zhentil Keep. When Grimnir reported the situation, Ash and Mel admitted that they might have let slip to Manshoon, one of Zhentil Keep's rulers, that Hillsfar was basically undefended in their conversation with him a few weeks prior. Grimnir, seeming elated to have a morally-unambiguous target, floated up and began raining eldritch death down on the gray-skinned, Zhentish orcs outside.

In response to Grimnir's magical bombardment, five beholders floated up over the walls and began closing with him (much faster than one might expect such creatures to fly) in a reversed flying-V formation. Grimnir and Ash dropped fly spells on Morgianna and Experiment #321 who swooped up to Grimnir's aid. Mel, meanwhile, dashed to the highest tower of the citadel with longshot and Traithe headed to the walls to take command the try to disrupt the siege engines.

Morgianna was the first to engage with the beholders, flying up behind the left rear-guard, dodging a trio of eye-beams, and striking it with a blinding smite blinding the creature and completely incapacitating three of the eyes. Mel struck the same target with a pair of arrows from her vantage more than a half-mile away, severely injuring it with the first shot and taking out another eyestalk with the second.

Experiment #321 flew in to strike the right rear-guard, but narrowly avoided getting knocked out of the sky when the central beholder turned to catch her in its anti-magic gaze. As the beholder panned, she swooped out of the way and tossed a dagger at it, striking it right in the pupil of the big central eye.

Zorch then summoned a fellow radiant mephit and the two creatures flew head-first towards the right flank of the beholder lines, head on to the antimagic eyes to avoid the eye rays. When they had closed, they used their superior speed and maneuverability to stay just in front of the creatures and just out of bite range. Finally the two enraged beholders pivoted down, to bring all ten eye-stalks to bear on the mephits. The readied imps unleashed blasts of color spray as the eyes came to bear, but the beholders just blinked them off and unleashed a full barrage at each mephit. Unfortunately for the beholders, the mephits took the worst of the blasts, but they also bounced back off their reflective skin. Both mephits and both beholders were petrified by the rebounding beams, plummeting out of the sky like rocks.

Ash tried, unsuccessfully, to save Zorch using a new spell he had developed to reverse time locally to a single creature, but Zorch's spirit was beyond recovery. Enraged he lashed out with a blast of chain lightning, scorching the three remaining beholders. The point beholder sped up to close with Grimnir, but was blasted back, again, and again. Finally it gave up and pivoted down, centering its anti-magic gaze on Ash, rendering him blind and impotent.

Grimnir, meanwhile, opened an arcane gate and used his repelling blasts (from unpredictable angles) to play ping-pong with the blinded beholder, bouncing it into its friends to disrupt their formation. Turning it into an uncontrolled, rapidly spinning mass of randomly firing eye-rays. Morgianna continued to dodge the beams and she and Mel concentrated fire to bring the blinded beholder down.

The central beholder, deprived of its main eye, charmed Experiment #321 and sent her after Grimnir. She flew into the cloud of ravens and narrowly missed slitting Grimnir's throat with her poisoned daggers, giving his beard a very close shave.

Grimnir fell back, allowing his levitation to stop and plummeting towards the ground, only to arrest himself about twenty-feet up and blast the beholder that was pinning down Ash. The beholder was shoved up just enough to get Ash out of the range of its gaze. Ash, who had been waiting patiently for just such a chance, immediately unleashed another chain lightning, one bolt popping the eye-less beholder like a corn kernal, and the remaining arcs frying the last one.

Meanwhile, on the wall, Traithe had managed to destroy three large siege engines of the Zhent army, slowing the assault. In response, the Zhents sent a large,  boar-like demon, a "Lord of Woe" up the walls after him. The demon cleared the walls with its scintillating aura of horror, then tore into Traithe with tooth and claw, wounding him severely. Mel, from her vantage on the citadel tower, pegged the demon with an arrow and called to the flyers to help Traithe.

Everyone ran (or flew) to join the fight on the walls. Traithe blasted the corpulent demon with the icy gaze of the sword of halfrek, then Morgianna lept into the fray, smiting the creature. Ash tagged the beast with Wesley's Temporal Disjunction causing it to lose all sense of time or purpose and leaving it open to a quick, poisoned backstab from Experiment #321. Finally Grimnir called up his crown of runes and banished the thing, which chose not to return after taking such a rapid, colossal, and humiliating beat-down.

Still in the tower and siting in her magical bow, Mel spotted the next, and last, major threat the Zhent's had on hand: a massive, gleaming, Chrome dragon, complete with black-robed, slick-haired, goateed wizard riding it. Mel planted to arrows right in the chest of the wizard, knocking him from the saddle to his death, but drawing the attention and ire of the dragon.

The dragon swept towards Mel at full speed, slowing only long enough to strafe the top of the wall with its breath weapon: a blast of pure, magnetic energy. Dozens of Hillsfar's defenders, including Grimnir, Ash, Traith, and Morgianna, were blasted off of the wall, hurled dozens of feet through the air to crash onto the roofs of nearby buildings.

Ash recovered first, lashing out at the dragon with Murlynd's Void, pinioning its shoulder-blades beneath the saddle it wore by the powerful vaccuum of spell's singularity, significantly limiting the range of motion of the dragon's wings. Unable to do much more than glide now, the dragon zeroed in on Mel and the citadel and dove.

Grimnir hastily scribed a death rune on an arrow and sent it to Melastasya via one of his ravens. Mel dashed into the Citadel, running and shadow-jaunting from room to room, and sniping out of windows as the ravens dropped death arrows into her hands, dealing numerous grievous wounds to the beast. Morgianna and Experiment #321 flew around the dragon's backside as it closed on the citadel, harrying it with their swords and daggers.

Finally the dragon spotted Mel and crashed head-first into the castle, sending the entire west wing crashing down on its head. Mel dove out a window, and clung to the wall of one of the crumbling towers. Ash drew Morvian, called up its burning aura, and with the others.

The dragon burst from the rubble, much battered, but still quite alive, and lashed at Mel with tooth, tail, and claw. Traithe rushed in and dropped another tower on the still moving dragon with a shatter spell. Not seeing Mel, the tower he dropped, was, of course, the one she was hanging from. Mel jumped in the window, sprinted through the tower, and leaped out the far side as it tilted and came down on the dragon's head. Pivoting in mid-air, Mel grabbed the last death arrow from Munin's waiting talons and planted the arrow in the dragon's neck, opening its throat with the explosive force of the rune-enchanted projectile.

No longer conscious-enough to resist the pull of the void, the dragon began to implode, its body sucking inexorably into the nothingness created under its saddle by Ash's spell. As the dragon's tail and head got sickeningly closer together, Grimnir blasted the saddle into the air with a repelling blast and sent it hurtling over the wall. The void-saddle sucked in the last of the dragon and several bystanders on the wall before crashing into lines of the Zhentish troops, consigning dozens of them to oblivion.

With their siege engines smashed, their demon, dragon, and beholders dead, and the sucking darkness of the saddle in their midst, the Zhent army broke and fled, running for their lives, leaving their camp and arms behind. Any that might have thought of staying behind were quickly routed by the sight of the gates being thrown open and the party casually marching out, Ash with his elven blade and 60-ft. aura of golden flames at their head.

Once the army was routed, Ash and Morgianna set about looking for the body of the black-robed wizard that Mel had downed, while Mel and the lizard set about looting the camp. None of them found anything particularly interesting or valuable, save some possible fodder for Zhent disguises, and Ash pointed out that this had probably been the Zhent's "B" or even "D" team, poorly equipped and with only a small contingent of significant monstrous threats.

Grimnir, meanwhile called up the crown of runes again and communed with one of the slain beholders, asking where it kept its wealth. When the only answer was "at Zhentil Keep", Grimnir and the beholder came to an agreement, the simplest: life for service. Grimnir raised the beholder and dubbed it "Yggdrasil" (meaning "Odin's horse" or "Odin's gallows"). It is yet to be seen how loyal a mount the beholder may be.