DGA9.03: Stronghold of the Wood Giant Shaman, part three

The Long Roaders and allies for this session

Cat, level 9 warlock, with his familiar Dis;
Elderberry, level 2 rogue NPC;
Gwen, level 4 rogue/ranger NPC;
Jahia, level 9 paladin NPC;
Kuiper, level 7 ranger;
Phoenix, level 9 barbarian (NPC this session);
Seck, level 9 rogue;
Tastra, level 3 ranger NPC;
Vir, level 9 ranger

The Long Roaders begin 183xp below level 10 and end on 172

The fighting and the maelstrom die down

As the great ape falls (and fades: it is a summoned creature) those grouped around and above it look about. Cat allows his maelstrom to cease raging: he can see the last Squatch plunge into the river to flee. Far out across the wintry sub-alpine moor, Vir races after tracks… tracks that prove to be last night’s.

Kuiper checks an easterly course away from the river: “That giant fled this way… but he’ll have gone by now.”

“She too is gone my lord,” Dis updates, referring of course to the Bright Lady. “But there is a rodent of unusual size upriver of the squatches.”

Meanwhile Phoenix has begged Lesser Restoration from Vir – who, having returned, finds that Nature has indeed replenished his store of mana – and now makes his way to the river, declaring loudly that he has a natural way with water creatures.

“Haaallllpppp!!!! Gettimoffmeeee!!!!”

“Stop playing with your food Phoenix, we’re trying to have a serious talk!”

Eventually Phoenix escapes the playful, tree-crushing jaws of the Gicastor or giant beaver, and wearily packs away his ruined half-plate.

For indeed the cold is sapping everyone’s vitality, and those that slept in armor are feeling drained.

XP: lvl10-182, mainly for the humor

Pull back maybe? How many days left??

Naturally, since the wood giant and three squatches got away, the talk turns to strategy. So a general understanding of the region would be useful.

Tastra and Kuiper have sketched a general region map, but can’t quite work out where they are in relation to Scorton. And since there is more than one river birthed in the mountains south above them, Kuiper isn’t even sure if this river leads down to Ashford. He knows this can’t be next to Dalton’s Peak (just east of Scorton, but up in the hills) since he came from that way…

Kuiper rolls a pair of 4s for Keen-mind-assisted mapping!

“I’m not lost, I just don’t know where we are, exactly.” – Kuiper

Setting that aside, Cat believes he has a practical solution for avoiding being hunted to exhaustion:

“You know, they’ll be hunting us… but I bet they won’t expect us to head back up the pass and camp in the hill giant’s cave for two days,” Cat suggests.

“What’s our time frame?” Jahia asks, in a manner that suggests she doesn’t relish the idea of heading back up into the ice.

Seck calculates and holds up six fingers. “We definitely are not going away for any kind of days!”

“Oh, so no, give me an hour or so’s rest, I’ll throw down some more blessings of my lady for everyone, then we’re in!”

Cat’s declaration is met with accord and talk now swings to how they should rest, in some degree of warmth.

XP: lvl10-181

Sodding in before dawn

One of the girls has the bright idea of digging out soddies in the side of the gully, those that can, fetch tools and set to.

Equipment pool drops to 7d6

They end up making one for girls, one for boys. It’s pleasant inside, compared to the arid chill outside. Everyone takes a…

Short Rest: Seck, Phoenix and Jahia have lost two HD off their maximum owing to mild hypothermia. Cat loses 1HD. No-one was seriously hurt during the fight, so the rest simply allows Cat to recover his slots and a chat as to whether they ought to…

Tactics! and Timing!

It is past dawn. Cat utters his benedictions (including on Tastra), and the whole party readies to go… somewhere.

Seck is pretty insistent that the party should attack at the stronghold’s east tower. And not from the same woods as last time! There’s time enough, even with the short day, to work right around to the north-east flank.

Once there, how do they get to grips?

This is what they sketch out:

  • Cat: can Dimension door 500′ bringing Jahia right into the fight
  • Kuiper: can step through the planes and land in the fight
  • Vir: can misty step into the fight
  • Seck and Phoenix: can climb a rope swiftly

But there are one or two issues bringing Phoenix up a rope. Having told her followers that they are rearguard, Jahia kindly but firmly tells Phoenix that he is the reserve.

So the agreed tactic is an assault on the east tower, with Vir up first to drop a line down for Seck then signal a successful foothold, by way of signal arrow. Kuiper and Seck will be near, so as to rush. And they will need to circle round to the north-east.

Since they have very visible mounts and sumpter, it’s a wide, wide berth they take. The beasts seem glad to be moving. As they move – keeping to low ground where possible – there are occasional glimpses of high mountain peaks stretching ever eastward. The day is well through by the time the party has its mounts sheltered and equipment readied.

Five hours to dusk when a corral needs to be built; four hours remaining when Seck, Kuiper and Vir begin the advance. Cat has his Boots of Jumping Really High ready, but not donned.

“OK guys, remember the bug-out phrase is cabbage, let’s not get caught not knowing if we need to leave!”

XP: lvl10-178, this was (despite the casual seeming decision and long delay to get round) a smart choice, as was proven when they made the walls without being intercepted.

Blood on the boards: the east tower assault

Despite setting a good and careful watch, the pair of wood giant sentries do not see Seck, Kuiper and Vir as they drift through light cover such as leafless dwarf trees.

Kuiper casts Pass Without Trace. Only Kuiper and Vir need the rolls, but Seck shows off by rolling a nat 20. He jazz-hands his way across cover, completely unnoticed!

Round 0: Vir can’t tell from the quiet rumbles of two giants where they are. He crosses fingers and appears right beside the massive timber walls, each rough-shaped to a spike at top. He snags the readied loop of rope onto one, drops the loose coils down, and readies his bow.

“He-LLO?!” – Wood giant guard

“Hi!” – Vir, grinning cheesily

Seck begins climbing speedily, Kuiper ‘ports in, drawing both weapons.

The defensive towers are simple fighting platforms, offering no extra cover to a giant atop one. A human-size character may find some shadow beside an outer bulwark, depending on light.

Inits: Vir, Seck, Cat/Kotik(SW), Chartik(E), Botok(E), Kongtok(NW), Jahia, Kuiper

Round 1: Raising and drawing Vir first sends his prepared signal arrow whistling south. Then swings, Bonus Actions a Hunter’s Mark, and sends a second arrow thudding home into the nearest wood giant, Chartik.

Seck has popped up to stockade-top already and has a hand free: he’s pretty sure the giants can see him, so takes a Flitting Step behind Chartik, stabs the giant with Red Whisper and burns all five Sneak Attack dice to set Chartik a DC17 CON SV to avoid being Whispered! Unluckily, Chartik is up to that! Seck Disengages, drops off the back of the fighting platform, easily landing safely (amid a strong smell of pee). His neck-hairs are a-bristle, expecting to see opposition inside the ward!

Meanwhile Phoenix, who heard the phrase ‘500 feet’ and planted himself 500 feet from Cat, is not near enough to Cat and Jahia to provide any useful information from his eagle gaze.

Botok swings twice at Vir, but Vir’s Shielding Brooch stave off the worst, damaging the giant, who feels the ichor-worms stirring his blood. He swings his enormous club a third time, hammering past Kuiper’s defenses. With his other hand he claws his forehead open, and his Third Eye bathes both Vir and Kuiper in eldritch light.

Kuiper attacks Chartik, cutting solidly. The giant bellows, alerting Cat. Seck is aware enough of Kuiper’s cries to use his Skirmisher Boots, ramming Red Whisper into Chartik then ‘porting back down. Chartik coughs black blood!

Botok has a man-size rock ready and slams it down onto Kuiper, who is down at the second strike! His blood runs across the bare boards of the tower.

“Cabbaaaagggeeee…” – Kuiper

“No, borscht” – Botok

Cat Dimension Doors he and Jahia! Jahia immediately attacks, expertly picking out the bleeding giant and ramming Beast Slayer home! Chartik falls!

Round 2: The bellow of the dying giant has not gone unnoticed! Over on the south-west tower Kongtok sights in, and Kotik urges the two remaining guard wolves on. Vir drops his bow and attacks with Ulruf and shortsword, first moving his Hunter’s Mark.

Ulruf makes the SV against Botok’s Curse-Gaze and hammers home, as Vir straddles Kuiper’s corpse. Seck has eyes on the wolves, but moves a few paces clear of the massive tower footing, gets line of sight on Botok’s head, and hurls Maelsauga. The blade goes deep! Seck zigs back to the ladder and swarms up one leg, as though clambering a rough-dressed mast, gaining the fighting platform. He uses Cunning Action to drop into shadow.

Cat casts Spare the Dying on Kuiper as he sees, skin a-crawl, two slimy tails protruding from the giant’s neck, like those of gigantic leeches. Meanwhile Kongtok yells to ask if Botok needs help, and Kotik gazes warily around at the dock and river, just in case a raging barbarian riding a rodent of unusual size appears.

Botok smashes his greatclub into Vir, past his Shield but not knocking him off his feet. Vir grunts with pain. A second swing clangs off Jahia’s armor.

Vir’s elf boots resist Botok’s gaze.

Kongtok hurls his boulder! Jahia and Vir dodge and with the aid of Phoenix’ and his own Inspirations Cat does too! Botok steps clear, the boulder strikes the fighting platform and bounces up and away.

Jahia returns to the attack, slamming the spear into Botok and in deeper again, leaving the vast giant reeling.

Beastslayer resists Botok’s gaze.

Kuiper makes a SV just on the off-chance he returns to the fight, but remains supine.

Round 3: Vir runs at the reeling giant and shoulder-charges, sending him crashing over the stockade with a wailing cry.

Vir picks up Inspiration again, for thinking that having the slugs far away would be a good idea.

Victory!

Casting their eye about, the adventurers see that Kuiper’s sketch of the defenses is not completely accurate. The ward is muddy and icy, and snow clings to shade patches. The nearest building is a large crude-built shanty against the north inner wall. Beyond that – Kuiper’s sketch is fairly true – two standalone log cabins stand within the mighty wings of the vast L-shape main building. Aside from the two wolves, a further giant can be seen, clambering up the south-west tower.

A1: assault launch-point
A2: fortified docks
A3: Pit
A4: South gate
A5a: North-west tower
A5b: East tower (Botok, Kotik)
A6: shanty

Vir recalls that Kuiper has a healing potion at his belt, and…

Completely fails a Medicine check and burns his Inspiration, to no avail

Saying, “I can’t tell which hole is his mouth…” Vir pours the potion over the victim. Kuiper is back up!

And as they decide what their best move is, the session ends.

XP: lvl10-172

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