The Long Roaders for this session
Cat, level 9 warlock with his familiar Dis;
Phoenix, level 9 barbarian in totem pact;
Seck, level 9 rogue;
Vir, level 9 ranger in pact with Erzlie
Ably assisted by the NPCs:
Jahia the paladin, Gwen her squire, Tastra her hunter, and Elderberry her messenger
The Long Roaders begin 198xp below level 10 and end on 190
An ally from Haranshire
As Seck and Vir spread out and begin working their way pincer-fashion, a familiar face appears! From the shade of spruce and fir, Kuiper signals to Vir. With many a pause and uneasy delay the long caravan coils in, and the various elements are introduced to one another.
Kuiper, level 6 ranger/horizon walker, wielding longsword+1, dagger+2, equipped with Studded Leather+1, Water Cloak, and Ring of Free Action. Bond: “So long as I have this Garlstone pendant from Haranshire, I can face any adversity in this strange land.”
They learn that Kuiper, long uneasy as to the giant raid on Tauster, is but recently arrived here. He seems to have half-expected to see Vir. And Kuiper learns the names of four women of different fames and sizes.
XP: lvl10-197, nice roleplaying
Flashback: the aftermath of Tauster’s burning
As Tauster burns, Vir and Kuiper team up to pursue the retreating ogre-kin and avenge the fallen. The few ogres they encounter are easy prey. Then they catch up to a strange and huge hairy ogre. It can only be a legendary squatch. By the time it falls, its fighting abilities and toughness reduce the two to an exhausted state.
“There may come a time when I take up the trail again after those things,” Kuiper states as they turn back. “And in that time, we may find ourselves shoulder to shoulder again.”
The steading’s area
In brief – with the help of Kuiper’s sketching on the ground – the new arrivals learn that if they half-circle counter-clockwise down through the nearby small evergreen woodland they’ll arrive at a fairly level clear area south of the wood giant steading, a fortified compound with one great principal building. It has its western face on the same broad, swift-flowing stream they’ve already seen from above the tree-line.
But the wood giants have become aware of Kuiper’s study, and have begun patrolling; moreover, the wood-felling noises they’ve heard come from a timber-gathering work party immediately on the other side of the woods – hence the need for quiet!
A Gordian knot of plans is easily solved
There are so many doughty warriors that a plan is hard to come by. Some say one thing, some another. If Kuiper is right and the Squatches are thralls, can they be subverted? The day draws on and the westering sun, hidden the while behind a glaze of high cloud, sinks to tree-height.
Jahia draws her honking great sword, leaving Beastslayer with Gwen. Strides directly towards the woods.
“Oh, right, so it’s on then!”
Vir throws up his master-stroke, a sphere of Silence that will move along with he and Jahia. Cat details off Dis to keep aloft and alert, and joins them. Seck and Kuiper follow along.
“Mind how you go!” Seck calls back to Gwen and Tastra. Gwen gives him a wave… was that a wave?
The women begin mustering the mounts and mules. Elderberry, legs furiously pumping, attempts to keep up. Phoenix, having donned his half-plate, easily catches the lead group, scoops the halfling up: she wriggles free and keeps running.
XP: lvl10-196, for the Silence and Dis scouting, definitely not for expertly roleplaying a bunch of tier 2’s with no ability to arrive at a coherent plan
The work party
Some time passes. Thanks to Vir’s silence, the only difficulty is bush-crashing the undergrowth while keeping pace with one another. Everyone loses sight of Elderberry.
After some minutes, they all find their way clear to see two red-brown-furred ogre-like beings, loading a cart with split timbers. Each is about nine feet tall! Some few dozen feet away idles a massive green-hued, long-headed being. It stoops habitually, great hands reaching near the ground. Its shoulder-height is equivalent to the entire height of the ogre-kind. A whip at his belt suggests the master-thrall relationship Kuiper has spoken of.
Inits: Phoenix, Seck, Vir, Elderberry, Cat, Jahia, Kuiper, wood giant parties
Round 0: The action kicks off with Cat, who casts Synaptic Static the moment that the three foes are near enough one another. The squatches are badly affected! Jahia and Kuiper keep moving forward – Jahia still struggling with the springy undergrowth, Kuiper chuckling at the prospect of up-close action! The latter makes a Dash that brings him within 70′ of the nearest squatch.
Round 1: Phoenix uses his totem dash, and charges the remaining 50′ to contact! Mocair thuds uselessly off rank matted hair on first swing but cuts deep on second – Phoenix is sprayed with a foul musk taint! Seck runs and Dashes to get within Maelsauga handy range, and hurls. Maelsauga burrows through the target’s hair and Seck feels its frustration as it fails to bite very deep. Seck pulls back. Vir drops the Silence sphere, scanning the battlefield to measure up dangers: as a Bonus action throws Hunters Mark at the squatch being dealt damage to, and brings Boar’s Charge up as he readies Ulruf and Dashes forward to Seck’s position.
Elderberry – hidden, hitherto, amongst the undergrowth – sprints across the felled area, hurdling small ferns and swerving around stumps. She finishes up quite close to Vir.
Cat shifts forward to scan around as well. The massive hand-haul cart the squatches have loaded is open fore and aft, a two-wheel affair piled high with split timbers. The pair of squatches face Cat’s allies hard by it. To the 9-o’clock of that, relative to Cat, a massive shaggy green “giant” seems to be fumbling with its whip. He Dashes forward, ending behind and left of Vir, Seck and Elderberry. Jahia continues stomping forward, and her clear ringing voice sounds across the field:
“Giant! I am Jahia! Face me!”
The giant seems not care, or even notice. Kuiper makes another Dash to make Vir’s position. “Keep spread out,” Seck says uneasily, “boulders…”
Thanks to Cat’s Synaptic Static the squatch swings at Phoenix ineffectually! He burns a first charge off his Brooch of Shielding as the second squatch nearly connects with a huge wood-ax! And – the giant summons eight enraged squirrels on Phoenix – and they squirrel up under his half-plate!
I rule a negative d6 effect on Phoenix from squirrel-tickles. The injured squatch fails to shake off the spell effect, but a d12 tells me that the other squatch is a bit special…DM
Round 2: Powering up with Rage, Reckless Attack, and Great Weapon Power, Phoenix hammers Mocair again! A deep cut, then the second swing slides off the matted hair. He evades the musk squirt this time. Seck advances again and hurls for the Sneak Attack: the squatch falls!
Vir races past Phoenix, shifting his Hunter’s Mark. Hacks Ulruf at the ax-armed squatch. There’s a flare of magic as Ulruf hits home, but Vir is not in pact with Ulruf, so that’s all that happens. Elderberry keeps her athletic run across the field to the point where she’s within perilous range of the giant, and starts playing the pennywhistle! The giant begins a little dance!
Cat hurls twinned Eldritch Blasts at the squatch: they clearly land, but fizzle out!
“They didn’t work, my lord!”
“So I see, Dis. Can you tell why?”
“I can’t understand it, this has never happened to me before…”
“Don’t let it get you down Cat, you’re still as much of a man as you were before,” Jahia calls as she stomps past. Kuiper races forward to assist Vir, hacking with longsword and dagger. The squatch seems weakened. It swings at Phoenix and he burns a second charge off his Brooch – the ax-blade whishes narrowly past!
Round 3: Phoenix, still squirrel-perturbed, connects once. Now the squatch is clearly very weak. Maelsauga once more weasels its way through the thick hair… the squatch falls… then with a surge of arcane energy it leaps back to its feet! But it sprays blood and taint, obviously still on its last legs. Vir hacks Ulruf through and downs it for good: avoids a last spurt of taint. But Kuiper ruefully sniffs and wrinkles his nose in disgust – he’s caught one. Meanwhile Cat sympathetically hurries forward to help Phoenix with the squirrel problem. Kuiper uses his dagger to slash two squirrels.
Jahia stomps past the fallen squatches, while Elderberry keeps playing and the giant keeps dancing.
Round 4: Phoenix retreats to Cat, who uses Shocking Grasp to annihilate two squirrels and damage Phoenix. The barbarian manages to grapple a fifth. Seck, chuckling and already beginning to think of a new title for his friend, scans about and decides that the wood-cart will afford him the best view. Vir moves past Jahia to Elderberry, who ceases playing the pennywhistle, and grins up at him. He Bonus Action moves Hunter’s Mark to the giant. Cat Readies for a hostile giant move/Jahia reaching the target. Who in turn wheels slightly left, to bring herself closer to Elderberry. She looks grim. Kuiper continues skewering squirrels. The giant continues to dance.
Round 5: “Let’s make sure it can’t flee,” Seck advises.
Beaming, Elderberry turns to Jahia and says “Now that’s what I call a five-minute working day!”
Phoenix tosses his captive squirrel up and one-hands Mocair to dispatch it. He burrows his spare hand up into his nether regions to try for the last squirrel – but his contortions are unsuccessful! Seck climbs high atop the cart and espies a two-giant, one pony-size wolf patrol. They are ambling, and at that pace, may take a quarter-hour to reach the cart’s vicinity. He relays that. Aside from that, he can see that the compound was the source of that trace of smoke seen from afar. Vir strides past Elderberry, right up near the giant, and Readies Silence in case Jahia attacks. Elderberry tucks the pennywhistle away and heads for the two corpses. Cat calls in Dis to inspect the squatch that was proof to his spells. She begins a ritual. “You’re leaving it tight, if you are going to wait here for a whole ritual,” Seck warns. Jahia keeps walking. Kuiper leaves Phoenix to burrow for that last rodent and walks on to Jahia, Readying in case the giant stops dancing. It does not.
Round 6: Phoenix catches the final squirrel! He heads on towards the giant, still one-handing Mocair. Seck leaps down the far side of the cart and loops around behind the giant, relative to the others. In Vir’s judgment Jahia ain’t gonna stop so throws up Silence again.
The smell from the loathsome corpses has dissuaded Elderberry: she heads for the woods. Cat Readies for the expected charge.
Once again Jahia’s breath steams in the chill upland air, though her sigh is Silenced. She reaches her “off” point, about 25′ from the giant. Checks the battlefield to register her allies’ positions. Kuiper maintains his Ready. Cat grins at the humor of the situation, maintains his Ready. Phoenix one-hands Mocair to bat the squirrel – away from the giant! The mocking laughter of his friends – “One of his toughest opponents, ever,” Seck laughs, and: “Phoenix squirrel-bane” Vir mouths Silently. Phoenix strides into the Silence so as to hear no more. Seck checks around, no sign of more than the tippy-tops of the giants’ heads still. Vir mutters Silently “rightyo, lightup time” and Boar’s Charge extended, rushes and hammers the dancing giant! The woody grain of its hide resists Ulruf’s first swing but a second strike hits home! Seck activate his Opportunistic Strike and sneak attacks at the same instant! Cat hammers two Eldritch Blasts, one strikes! There’s a sudden twilit gleam as Jahia pushes a Divinity Smite through her sword as she lunges it into the great greenish being! Kuiper charges home, and the giant coughs black blood! As a Reaction it attempts to grasp Jahia but, wise to that game, she steps in close.
Round 7: Two-handing Mocair Phoenix Rages and charges, using all the extras! He hammers Mocair in once, the other strike, like Vir’s, is turned by the hide. Seck has chills down his spine – there’s no way the patrol will have missed that starry brightness. He hurls Maelsauga, bringing the giant down. It falls silently. He waves his hands vehemently and indicates the danger’s direction. Vir drops the silence.
“What have we got coming in?” Jahia asks. Seck explains. She looks about, and seems to be considering the cart and forest, especially the latter. “Woods?” asks Vir. “Go back there and…” Phoenix begins – “…surprise?” Vir finishes.
“I think so, Phoenix,” Jahia says. “Hack me off that head.”
XP so far: lvl10-193. This is the only time that using the pennywhistle as a combat effect will count.
“Hey Cat, do you think I should use one of the Icy Strand shards on the giants?” – Phoenix
“Yep” – Cat
“My lord – this is but a tentative conclusion – I believe the thing was naturally immune.” – Dis
Battle at the wood’s edge
A short while later the hidden adventurers see a massive wolf loping towards them, with the pair of giants not far behind. They do see the giant head, balanced up a low tree at the wood’s edge! They pause only long enough to summon more creatures: one summons a pair of dire wolves, the other a woolly rhino! And one has the presence of mind to hoot a loud warning!
Round 1: Range attacks aren’t as useful as they could be – the angle of the cart allows the attackers to come within 100′ before becoming a target. Since the alarm has sounded, Vir casts Lightning Arrow, misses with both! But the lightning still harms the winter wolf. Cat, from roughly treetop level, hammers a pair of Repelling Blasts, hurling it back a little with one success. But that just means all three wolves arrive in the woods together.
As the wolves race in Jahia lunges Beast Slayer through the winter wolf and Kuiper adds his sword-cut. Ready-action Maelsauga adds more damage; It falls!
Round 2: Phoenix charges the rhino! With two strokes he staggers the creature, and then avoids its goring counter with the aid of an Inspiration and a Luck charge. Seck’s bad memories of wolves hunting him cause his next throw to miss. Vir casts Haste and sends shafts into the nearest giant. Cat Readies for the giants to get within 30′. Jahia decides to ignore the wolves, yanks Beast Slayer out of the winter wolf and readies for receiving giant! Kuiper lays on at a dire wolf, and avoiods its trip attack. The other wolf locks onto Jahia but can’t make her lose her stance. Cat drops Blight on the nearest giant. It resists, but is still badly hurt. The other giant rushes straight onto Beast Slayer! The wounded giant is a little smarter or cautious, works around her cover and slams Jahia! There’s a huge clang, but she maintains her stance, skidding sideways and keeping Beast Slayer impaling the first.
Round 3: Out away from the woods Phoenix uses a last Brooch charge before felling the rhino. He checks about: the giants are a totem dash and move back. This he does! Seck hurls Maelsauga into the wounded giant, and it is ready to fall.
Vir has to move right out of the woods as he no longer has targets, and takes three shots, only one hits. The giant coughs black blood over Jahia. Cat’s blasts miss everything. He howls curses at the uncaring void. Jahia rams the spear deeper – the giant falls – and kicks the wolf off her arm, knocking it back. Kuiper keeps hammering his wolf, and fells it. He stabs Jahia’s wolf with his dagger. In response the wolf has no luck getting purchase on her armor, and the remaining giant misses her as well! She yanks Beast Slayer out and yells up at it: “in your face!”
Round 4: Phoenix hammers Mocair home twice, staggering the giant. Seck hurls Maelsauga and the giant is looking very weak. Vir decides to get rid of the wolf, and this time the first shot drops it – so he hammers the last two into the giant, and it falls!