The level seven Silvers for this session
In order of initiative
Richlen, wielding the longsword Alagondar;
Dakeyras, wielding the longbow Whisper;
Vernon, wielding a staff focus and a one-use wand;
Garth, wielding the Ungart Hammer
Ably supported by Taba, wielding a longbow
The Silvers begin 65xp below level 8, and end on 15; they also gain the moniker “Rusted Silvers”
The story so far
Leilon’s wagon came back – but no driver, no team, and no escort guards! Sgt Yorum thinks Private Jessup may have kept a level head and kept his patrol alive. For now. Given the urgency, the already-tired Silvers ride out along the High Road, on the fringe of the Mere of Dead Men, guided by half-sea-elf Taba Norley. They are ambushed by Fast Zombies, and two buccaneers, members of Rega Swarn’s Chimera Gang. Richlen falls to a buccaneer’s sword. Once revived, in an extremely bad mood, he kills the prisoner and rides – fast – towards the idea of shelter for the night. The others follow as best they can.
Beans Spilled! Causeway Battle!
At the canter, Rich has no chance of noticing a pitfall: a washout fracturing the High Road’s surface. Beans’ forelegs go in, the beast tips nose-down, and Richlen kicks free, rolling along the roadway with a metallic clatter but keeping his grip on sword and shield!
Vern focuses on not falling into the same trap, bringing his steed Pants to a stand. Something catches his eye: as it does Dak’s: a weird flying beast, with too many heads! Given the context and recent reveal by “Wayne” the slaughtered buccaneer, they can guess that this is Rega Swarn’s chimera!
Meanwhile Garth, bringing up the rear on his slower pony Dorner, scans the right flank. A rough line of undead, two of them large, wade south towards an equally rough line of huge snails. On a causeway extending most of the way to the road, a massive lizardfolk warrior is ready to defend against two Fast Zombies. He can also see the scuff of arrows zipping into the combat from somewhere up among the low bluffs overlooking the road, off left.
Inits: Ashbreath/Rega; Rich, Taba/Dak; Undead; Vern; Lizardfolk Subchief; Rega’s 2-i-c the bandit captain, gang archers; Kristoffen; Allied lizardfolk and soldiers; Garth
Battle notes: Rega is a Master Thief, using matched shortswords but no special FX; her gang archers are rated as Scouts which means that if they take a full round, they get two shots; the undead are Greater Zombies and Undead Ogres; the sub-chief begins a few spells down but most importantly, only once gets a random result of “advance”; Kristoffen holds back until it looks as though his allies have a chance then gets an all-out-aggression result.
As for our heroes, Vern has a slot or two for AOE, and a couple of attack wands; otherwise everyone is just a mundane weapon-user. They have some healing potions and a capable ranger in support. Taba uses the Horde Breaker feature giving him one extra arrow against an enemy adjacent to one he has attacked.
Phase one: Under Fire!
While she has no reason to guess that these are the Silvers and have just killed two veterans of her crew, Rega can guess that they are here to interfere. She guides her pet Ashbreath to make a fly-by attack! Vern, Taba, Dak and Garth are in the cone!
With a modified Ride check the team have a chance to get their mounts out. Vern fails. He himself wears a Ring of Evasion and takes half damage, but Pants fries, screaming.
Everyone takes cover! Most leap into the gulches left of the road, some squirm under scrub growing out of the ditches. Rich sees that Beans is managing to get back to its feet and details it off to corral the other mounts and lead them away.
Ashbreath sweeps up and over the main battle, recharges, and flames the westernmost lizardfolk allied group. The Flail Snail protecting two smaller figures flames and dies; one of the figures is a Leilon soldier, who also dies even as he attempts to douse the flame in the swamp. The survivor, a lizardfolk warrior, scrambles away from oncoming undead towards his next allies, nearer the causeway.
Phase two: Reckless Attack!
“With me!” Rich snaps, leaping along a gully leading towards the archers.
Since Dak intends doing something else and Taba intends shadowing Dak, I ask Rich to make a Persuasion check. “That’s what I’m good at” his player brags, rolling nat1 for a 4 total. “I will never say ‘That’s what I’m good at’ again,” she vows.DM
“Uh sorry Rich, I’m gonna do something crazy,” Dak apologizes, and “what do we do, Dak?” Taba asks, so Rich carries on alone. He is immediately in trouble. A harsh voice directs the archers to nail him, and with a crit and two hits, he is heavily wounded.
Dak leaps out of cover, looses at the chimera, and shouts and screams at it! Taba more prudently remains concealed but supports Dak.
Vern lends his own firepower, sending a firebolt into the creature’s nethers! Garth guffaws crudely: “Har! Right up the poop chute!” He dismounts from Dornar, readying weapon and shield. “That’ll scare ’em off,” Rich agrees. But on the contrary, Dak’s taunting has its effect!
I use a d8 instead of a d6 as the aggression die to simulate the added chance as I roll for what Rega does nextDM
Dorner the pony panics and charges Vern, who avoids it (nat20): “I’ve been waiting for a revenge attack from Garth,” he laments. “Dornar’s gone rogue!” Garth blusters, “he’s trying to murder me! And you Vern.”
As Ashbreath loops sharply back, playing no favorites, Rega cuts an undead ogre as her mount barrel-rolls. This exposes her to an unseen (to this point) lizardfolk sub-chief: she hurls a javelin, activating Jaws of Semuanya, seriously injuring the chimera.
Arrows slam into the winged creature, Rega unable to parry them off: she has misjudged the rate of fire. With arrows slamming home Ashbreath arcs down, dead, into the swamp some forty feet shy of the road. Rega acrobatically rolls up, still clutching both swords.
“Nice shot Dak!” Vern encourages, remaining well hidden.
“I’m gonna gut ya, ya skinny elf, an’ use yer tripes as lace undies,” Rega swears, “so every time I leave a skidmark it’s gonna remind me of you!”
Vern hurls Scorching Ray: two of the three rays sizzle onto Rega, but seem merely to dry off her leather armor:
“Thanks for the assist! Yer next!” – Rega
Mud-covered, Rega is nonetheless very agile: she reaches the road in no time at all! She cuts viciously and Dak is down! Taba chooses that moment to use a higher-level Ensnaring Strike shot, and Rega is Restrained! Vern produces the disposable Wand of Magic Missile and the three force darts hammer her into unconsciousness!
“Woot!” – Garth, from part-way towards Rich’s position.
Phase three: the wily bandit captain
“Mumble stupid ranger doesn’t wanna flank with me mumble mumble” Rich gripes, peering out from behind a sandstone pillar. He dashes across to a clump of concealing foliage: in which something moves. Garth decides to back Rich up, acrobatically leaping into the gully and racing for cover too. The bandit chief pulls back (not realizing how injured Rich is) and Rich chases him down, critting with Alagondar! In response the captain Disengages and several arrows cut Rich down!
“Look out Rich, Garth is coming for ya gold,” Vern encourages. Rich’s unconscious hand clutches his coin-pouch.
Garth bursts out of cover, rushes to where he saw Rich fall, and reaches there just as the captain is about to vault down. With no time to waste Garth drops Ungart Hammer, snatches out a healing potion, and throws the contents on Rich’s face. Then with a mighty leap he goes breast to breast with the captain atop the sandstone height!
“I danced this dance many a time – one us walks the plank, ye lubber, and it ain’t be me!” – captain optimist
Like the previous two buccaneers, this fellow’s jewelry and clothes suggest the life of a privateer. He uses a scimitar and dagger, belaboring Garth and stabbing underhand, but is unable to penetrate Garth’s adamantine flanks.
Rich comes to (with 3hp) and leaves the Ungart Hammer lie – instead, he leaps to flank the captain! Two good strikes, but then the captain bounds away, and arrows slam home!
“This is the worst time to be a 6’5 shiny target” – Rich, falling unconscious again
Garth is torn for a moment, but if he leaves Rich there’s no telling… he leaps down after the body, hauling out his last and best potion as he drags Rich, the sword, and the warhammer, into cover.
Rich blinks awake again (with 12hp):
“Rich! I’m a cleric now!” – Garth
“<groan> a better one than me, that’s for sure” – Rich
They both hear the sneering voice of the captain, yelling for his archers to nail the elf…
“I’m gonna loot that paladin!” – captain optimist
The “tall fighter and short fighter/cleric” combination once more takes to the sandstone stacks, and this time the captain is too slow to Disengage! Garth crash-tackles the man’s knees, bringing them tumbling down. Rich rises and keeps to as much cover as he can as he stalks closer.
“Halp, cover me!!!” – captain optimist
“May the sea-gods favor you cap!” – retreating archers
Alagondar crits and the captain falls!
Phase four: sizzling swampy zombie
Meanwhile Vern has picked out one of the shrub-covered bluffs the archers are using. He raises his staff and a mighty cylinder of hail descends! Although one archer is seriously discouraged, the other two brush a light sprinkle off their shoulders. Vern sighs and blames the mysteries of the dice gods.
But the idea that someone has massive AOE capability does play its part in the archers’ decision to pull outDM
Time to turn his attention to the swamp battle, where a second group of lizardfolk/human/Flail Snail has had the worst of it. The two ogre zombies and fast zombies remain there, chowing down on juicy flesh… but two knots of struggling folk remain:
On the causeway, Private Jessup uses his spear to good effect, supporting a lizardfolk warrior and a mighty lizardfolk scaleshield. The latter stays in the fight despite being swatted many times by two fast zombies! Radiant blasts of Guiding Bolt miss over and over as the remote help of a lizardfolk sub-chief goes to waste.
Then up from what appears to be a decayed tower or gatehouse jumps a mighty dragonborn: pale blue scales, fine armor, standing taller than even Rich. He bellows in draconic and charges forward! The causeway defenders are heartened and redouble their efforts.
Dak and Taba send longbow shafts unerringly home. An ogre zombie falls. Vern hurls Scorching Ray. Though accurate, they seem to do very little, merely sizzling dully on the soggy zombies. Finally, a change of luck: a Sacred Flame from the sub-chief is not dodged by the other ogre zombie, and one of Vern’s Firebolts does decent damage! The dragonborn hacks the badly wounded creature so hard that it cannot recover. That leaves only one fast zombie, soon dealt with, before the now-full four undead reach the causeway.
Meanwhile the last battle, farthest from the Silvers, has gone unexpectedly well for the defenders, probably because it is three to one. The Flail Snail survives long enough to lock the fast zombie up, and the soldier and warrior hack it to pieces. They do not pause to mourn the snail, but quickly wade over to the causeway.
Meanwhile, unseen by all, Rega Swarn has made a nat20 on Death Saves, shed the remaining tangling thorns, and headed for the high breaks! Vowing revenge!
Phase five: finale
No doubt the battle would go very badly for the dragonborn without reinforcements: but he, Private Jessup and a badly wounded lizardfolk warrior are now joined by the two victors from their right flank. That makes it five defenders, plus Dak, Taba and Vern (and the sub-chief spamming Sacred Flame) at range, against four undead.
With a final triumphant bellow the dragonborn hacks the last, arrow-festooned, fast zombie apart and the last ogre zombie fails to dodge Sacred Flame: the undead are done!
Private Jessup looks hopefully towards the oncoming Garth, and somewhat slower-advancing Rich:
“Hello! You saved us! Who are you?”
“We’re the Silvers, out of Leilon – you Jessup?” – Garth
“Yes… I’ve kept my squad alive,” Jessup says, leaping down to wade over to see if the two fallen can be saved, “in a sort of alliance.”
The dragonborn finishes whatever he has been saying in draconic to the lizardfolk – it all sounds very hearty, whatever it is – and turns to the newcomers:
“Shiver me timbers! Me thanks, mateys! Ye may call me Kristoffen! And ye be?”
Note on XP: there are three sets of bonuses on offer, each worth 5xp. One is bringing the patrol report and survivors back to Leilon; the second is clearing Rega and her survivors out of Iniarv’s Tower; and the third is to do with the Lizardfolk – why did they attack Leilon and what is going on?
Wow. Epic. Sufficient brainpower deployed by the players, sufficient luck by the dice. Frustrating for Vern with his lower damage output, but he is one step closer to the legendary item I have hidden in the AP.
I prepped using DND Beyond’s encounter builder basing the “sides” off what is described in Storm Lord’s Wrath and Sleeping Dragon’s Wake. Rega got an extra captain, because that made sense, and Kristoffen is visiting the lizardfolk, because Talos.
Then I made 200 d20 pre-rolls with a dice roller app. I just crossed them off as needed. My usual random aggression vs defensive d6 were in action all the time, except for Taba who I pre-rolled as ‘stick with Dak’ except that one time Dak did his war-dance in plain view. I ran out of pre-rolls so used the same plus-minus d6 concept for knots of fighting.
Next session, diplomacy as the Rusted Silvers take the chance to get further forward in the mystery of Talos’ plans for the Leilon region. Stay tuned!