The level three heroes for this session
Dakeyras, wood elf rogue;
Garth, mountain dwarf fighter,
Lincas, human wizard with Puff his familiar;
Richlen, high elf paladin
The heroes begin 20xp from level 4 and end on 10
The story so far
On their way back to Phandalin from the east, the heroes take a swipe at Savras Shrine, clearing it of two factions – only for the master of one faction to show up at an inconvenient moment! Hamun Kost appears to hold most of the cards as he offers them a chance to earn a rez-value diamond, or a Ring of Protection, or some other bauble.
So it’s off further south into the winter uplands to Old Owl Well, surviving Cryovain on the way! The well, Kost’s previous camp, is merely occupied by the same pair of Akaros’ scouts they met at the shrine below. They sell a couple of Kost’s trinkets to our heroes. And in a writing desk at the camp an encrypted letter reveals Kost’s missions in the region! But this does not solve the problem of returning to Kost with a satisfactory story: so they are bound further up into the mountains, to Wyvern Tor!
Storm may delay but not prevent
The latter part of the night is disturbed by a storm. But they have the advantage of Kost’s nice tent, so stay pretty warm and comfortable. By dawn, the rain has eased, and Linc, who understands the region’s weather well, declares it will be a good day for hiking up. Rich, who is well-versed in the wilds, outlines a general approach to the Tor. With Puff available to check for flash-floods, there should be no issues.
It’s an auspicious start with a 23 from Rich and a 21 from Linc in their respective checks!
Vincent won’t be able to climb any further, even without the wagon. Garth and Kiro volunteer to remain behind – after all there’s a lot of gold (and silver) in that wagon! The other three set off, scrambling up steep gullies, across small quick streams, and around spiracle mesas. The Tor looms closer and closer. Owing to the night’s storm, it’s not possible to pick out tracks in the locality.
Cut-scene – back at Old Owl Well
Garth finishes hiding the valuables and wipes sweat from his brow. “I feel much better knowing someone would either need to have been watching, or torture you to find out where the loot is,” he assures Kiro, and, having clambered back into his armor, settles clan Ungart’s hammer and a few other necessary items about his person and, with a wave, sets off south.
That’s more orcs than we expected!
The three explorers expertly navigate the last uplands below the Tor. It’s been a hard day, almost all up, and by now into rarified air. At length, Dak smells smoke and, leading the others along a ravine, spots a dense shadow – a cave mouth!
Another round of excellent checks for Nature and Survival, and a 19 on Perception for Dak!
Dak creeps forward. In the shadow of scrub brush at the cave mouth, he catches a watching orc. They are ready to contact the denizens: willing to talk? Dak decides to check which of the trio will do the speaking. He turns to head back to Linc – and the edge of his gear catches the rock face!
The orc springs up and bellows a challenge!
Linc, failing to recall anything useful about orc patterns of hospitality, decides to be super-diplomatic:
“Look just run along and tell your boss to get out here, and we won’t tell him you didn’t notice us.”
The orc hurls a javelin, Dak (who has pulled back and Readied) responds with a longbow-shaft! Linc hurls a firebolt while Rich (with a curious gesture to his heart) summons a greenish field of protection; and as the orc retreats, a rising cacophony of war-cries from within suggests it’s time to make a retreat!
XP: lvl4-17, definitely the correct choice!
Down race the adventurers, making best pace across the same terrain they walked up so slowly! And after a delay of precious minutes, down race the orcs, spreading out to find the intruders!
I’m mentally picturing a chase sequence where faster-moving adventurers may get some distance ahead of Rich, who wears chainmail. But in essence separation is decided from one, two, or three d6 distances.DM
The first clash
Rich hears orcs about to cut him off, and turns back to strike them, activating Thunderous Smite. Realizing what’s happening, Dak bounds athletically across rock outcrops to bring his bow to bear.
The blades clash, thunder echoes around the gullies, an orc falls – then a second!
“Quick, take their heads!” Dak yells.
“Too late! – You’ve drawn more down on us!” Linc yells from off behind them.
Nice to for Rich to score a crit! It makes it so much easier to rule that Garth hears the thunder!
The eyes have it! Last-ditch slaughter!
Inits: Rich, Orc chief Dour, orc1, Linc, Dak/orc2/ogre, Garth, orc3
Rich has the advantage of higher ground this time, as with a challenge and battlecry of “Many Arrows” the war chief leads three orcs splashing across a coulain’s stream and at the adventurers. Not far below, Garth quickens his pace: “natural sprinters, we dwarves,” he grunts to himself!
While Rich stands his ground, Linc chooses to sprinkle a bit of vinegar:
“You know your so-called pursuit is pretty embarrassing – we already killed two of your fellows!”
Linc gets DC23 on raw CHA with a nat 20…
Enraged, the orcs attempt to charge past Rich! Compelled Duel on the leader, and Blade Ward again on himself! Dour cuts viciously twice at Rich’s legs but is expertly blocked. Sparks fly up as the blade is turned into the outcrop, suggesting it contains flint.
As the next-nearest orc avoids Rich’s back-cut and rushes at Linc, it meets the wizard’s gaze… and plunges skidding to its knees, looking up with rapt gaze! Yes, Linc is an enchanter, and his Hypnotic Gaze has great power against the weak-minded.
Dak arrives, scrambling up near Rich to get good line of sight. He focuses on the orcs that aren’t engaged, and his longbow soon takes its toll. Rich summons strange spectral vines to restrain Dour, but the mighty-muscled chief shakes free.
As the orcs begin dropping, a much larger creature comes plunging across the coulain: an ogre, looking so similar to the one slain at the shrine that it could be kin. But just in the nick of time, Garth comes racing up: “you’re mine!” The ogre swings, Garth ripostes, and the duel is on!
One orc flees: now the one enraptured by Linc, and Dour himself, are all that remains. Dak drops the enraptured orc, and Linc makes sure it stays down. Then as Garth continues to keep the weakened ogre on the back foot, Dak uses his longbow to snipe it. Just as Rich is staggered by Dour’s blows, Linc entraps Dour! Rich rushes to Garth’s side and crits the ogre – it falls!
“Quarter” Dour claims. “I can ransom myself with how to find my treasure. If I don’t tell you, even if you find it you will surely die.”
They do not find this entirely convincing. “How about you submit to Akaros, and live in peace?” “I would rather die – kill me now!” So they oblige. Four orc heads, and an ogre head. Pretty convincing!
The fire-ants of tender nethers!
It’s late by the time they make the cavern again. They’ll have to overnight here, or march back by night. Assuming there’s no rearguard? But no, the wounded orcs (two, from different fights) have gone entirely.
The cavern is a two-chamber complex, with a few off-tunnels for waste or storage. The right-hand area is ogre quarters. It also contains a green-painted wooden two-wheel hand-cart. No other loot, unless you count a huge tangled ball of rope as loot. There are a couple of lanterns with a trip-rope rigged with finger-cymbals between that and the left-hand cavern.
The orcs slept on bedrolls among the loot of many caravans. Beyond, a niche proves to be a full passage behind a rock column. And a large chest is concealed there.
Investigating, Rich can see that the rock column could be rigged to collapse. He calls in the expert.
“…I dunno, it looks as though the rock column might be rigged,” Dak pronounces.
Rich with a 20 to see the passage and a 15 to investigate is let down by Dak’s 5 to determine the trap’s nature!
“Look, it’s not a problem,” Linc assures all. “Puff can help drag the business end of a lasso around the chest, then you muscles can haul it out.”
This all goes as you’d expect. The trap is two-fold. The rocks fall, crushing the chest. The falling rocks also release a fire-ant nest! Which breaks apart, and angry occupants race out seeking revenge!
DC15 DEX SV to get well away from rushing fire-ants. Rich makes it, Garth does not.
Seldom has a dwarf shucked his britches so fast! Garth squeals as he pinches off all the fire-ants he can see! Let us draw a veil over who has to help with the less-accessible parts of his tender bits…
An actual cartload of loot
Even without worrying about barrels or other junk, a pile of saleable goods are placed in the hand-cart. But most important, Dour’s chest contained brocade and silk and thousands of coins. True, mainly copper, but still thousands.
Linc assists the search with Detect Magic, and they add a broken sword blade to the loot. It’s only missing its tang and shoulder, so could be reshaped to a shortsword. And with that and two one-shot expendable wands and a large compass that always points to the nearest concentration of silver, the magic loot is complete and the session ends!
XP: lvl 4-10