Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Servants of Vecna: Kill the Solari

We're finally getting back to the GozarTD campaign in the nation of Sol Povos. This game started with one group of characters, flipped to a second (arguably more heroic) group, and then kicked over to a mostly-elvish party to get a bit of their perspective. At that point (just after Christmas), our DM took a break so I started running the Saltmarsh campaign; now we basically have three parties worth of adventurers, and we'll be switching off between them. In order to avoid losing focus (on the one D&D night where everybody can play) we're alternating storyline between the two campaigns. So, tonight we started in on the "bad guy" party; when we reach a stopping point with them, I'll run an adventure in Saltmarsh; and when we finish the adventure he'll run the next segment of Sol Povos with another group of our characters

Jenny, a human barbarian who collects men, from the original group of characters.
Chuck, our sorcerer from the original group, now a vampire.
Durest, a cleric with a serious interest in necromancy, also from the original group.
Hatch Firebrand, a halfling arcane trickster, new to the campaign. (This is 3.5, so to get to arcane trickster he's got a level of rogue, several levels of wizard, a level of assassin, and then the Arcane Trickster prestige class.)
Ramekin, Hatch's familiar, an imp.

We begin:
A Cassadia approaches Durest in the woods, where he's being cranky after being tossed out of a rather nice Chateau that the original group kept trying to lay claim to. Cassadia is a title among the worshippers of Vecna, so this one's name is actually Pascalina. She's come to recruit Durest to the Dark Army on behalf of Maodeus. He seeks to conquer Sol Povos and create a new, more accepting nation. She passes over a sack of black onyx, and Durest is in. (He needs lots of black onyx to make his undead.)

This is about the point when Jenny arrives with her harem, having received a letter about the invading army needing an elite strike force. She's brought Chuck in a large burlap sack, because he's a vampire and sunlight is bad for him and also because he got his brains scrambled in a magical duel a while back and is kind of a raving idiot right now. Pascalina (the Cassadia) is the chamberlain of the Baron of Springhollow. "Meet me at the Scarlet Queen tonight, and I will introduce you to the fourth member of your band and tell you of your mission. If you succeed, you will be well rewarded."

The Scarlet Queen is a bar/brothel/gambling den - basically your all-purpose House of Sin, very high class. There are a couple of fairly tough guards just inside the door. They're carrying magical greatswords and wearing mithril chain shirts. There's a counter with a guy behind it. "Can I help you?"

Chuck takes the lead, since he's A) a sorcerer, and charismatic, and B) a vampire and can basically make anybody believe anything. "You're probably expecting us. Chuck Dominguez."

Guy behind the counter, surprised: "We are, actually."

We are led to a private room. Inside is someone we've never met, along with Pacalina, two more of the guards, and a pair of jesters doing a very noisy act to discourage eavesdroppers.

Pascalina welcomes us. "Let me introduce the fourth member of your gang: Hatch Firebrand. He's a specialist."

Chuck: "We're not a gang, we're an organization. It's very important, for tax reasons."

This is not entirely true; Chuck actually does have a sort of criminal gang going.

Pascalina: "We needn't have the guards here for this, but they're expected for a private gambling room such as this one." She's a human woman, looking more than a little like Selma Hayek. "My master just moved a great army into this land -- some fifty thousand troops. But he doesn't have Solari. And the Solari are powerful. So he needs a group that can hunt Solari."

That would be us.

So the pay is good, plus we can collect equipment from them. And Jenny can collect some fine specimens for her harem.

The forces of Vecna have balanced the human army against the elves, then brought in their own army which has now split into two, with the evilized dragon Maodeus leading one, and the Hierophant in charge of Vecna's church leading the other. The human king, meanwhile, has assembled an army of Solari to forestall Maodeus' advance, while the Western Army was sent to deal with the elves.

Pascalina continues, "We're in a stalemate. We're well supplied, but we need someone to take down the Solari so we can proceed. So the first mission my master has for you is to destroy Springhollow. Take the castle, kill the Solari, kill the royals, turn them into undead. We're behind their lines; Let the army at Renfall know that they don't have us trapped. When you take the castle here, kill everyone inside and turn them into undead; we must strike fear into the populace." She produces a large chest loaded with black onyx.

Durest: "Marry me."

Springhollow has a famous enchanting school known as the Crimson Staff, where Chuck qualified but never joined. "The most powerful Solari here is the artificer Ann Varone, one of the prime teachers there. She was serving her month in the capital when the army arrived, so she was taken into the king's army. The two who remain are her apprentices, Violet and Amelia. There's a rogue named Angelique who's almost as strong, and after that a ranger named Florian, an Orc Barbarian named Durax, a monk named Sophie, and another ranger named Joelle. Seven Solari in Springhollow total. And two of them are in the room next door."

Amelia and Violet live in the Crimson Staff, which is nowhere near so powerful as it was now that Ann Varone is busy in the army. "So Amelia, her husband, and Angelique here, then go to the Crimson Staff and kill Violet, and then there's basically nobody left to protect the keep."

"There's a sphynx that guards the front door to the Crimson Staff; if it thinks you're intruders it will roar, and then everyone inside will know. The tower has four level, and your targets are on the fourth. The top is a giant dome, and there are windows.

Pascalina departs, soothing the guards on her way out. We drop some buffs on ourselves and then get ready to tear through the wall to the next room. Chuck casts Protection from Energy on himself, then uses Gaseous Form to slide through the cracks in the wall. Hatch and Durest, meanwhile, walk around to the door -- Hatch in a spectacular display of stealth, and Durst clumping along behind him like a steel elephant.

Angelique hears him yells for Henry to get under the table. She runs to the door and opens it. Durest waves: "Evenin', lassie!"

Her: "Oh! Um... sorry."

Chuck materializes from mist form and drops a fireball at his own feet. The husband is immolated; the rogue (Angelique) is untouched. The wizard is scorched, as are the guards. Ramekin zaps the rogue with shocking grasp, and Hatch blasts her with scorching ray and takes her down.

Jenny rages and smacks into the wall before she reels back, cursing. Durests cast Hold Person on one of the guards, while the other moves over and tries to attack Chuck, but Chuck basically blocks with his bare hand and doesn't take any damage. Hatch moves into the room, not as subtly as he could have. He sneak attacks the mobile guard with a scorching ray. It hurts, but he doesn't go down. Ramekin uses a wand to cast Grease on the wizard, badly upsetting her balance; she manages to keep her feet. Jenny smashes through the wall and charges up to the paralyzed guard, and just slams her chain down on him. Durest steps in and takes down the mobile guard with Inflict Wounds. Chuck jumps up to the roof and sticks there, spider-man style with his face down, and then casts Acid Arrow on the wizard. She's still dealing with the grease spell, so she's not at her best, balance-wise. She's now damaged and coated with acid.

She tries Limited Wish to reproduce Circle of Death. That kills the second guard... and Jenny... and some revelers out in the main room... and maybe a few other people, too. Hatch finishes the wizard and we loot the bodies.

The rogue had 2 +2 daggers, a +1 shortbow, +2 gloves of dex, +2 cloak of resistance, +1 amulet of natural armor, and a +1 ring of protection. (Magic items in 3.5 are fairly easy to come by; all part of the economy.)

Amelia had Bracers of armor +3 Headband of intellect +2 Amulet of Natural Armor +2 Ring of protection +2 Cloak of resistance +3.

The guards had +1 greatsword and +1 Mithril chain shirts, plus 500 GP apiece. (So basically all that, doubled.)

Pascalina is waiting for us in the hallway (having very luckily not died) and unlocks a door to lead us out. She departs, and now it's time to go to the tower.

We leave Bob the Frost Giant Skeleton out front with orders to kill anybody who tries to leave, then Dimension Door up to the top of the tower, where Jenny smashes through the roof and surprises Violette. Well, sort of surprises her; Hatch turns invisible, and Violetta throws Chain Lightning at Jenny, which then spreads out to the rest of us. Also, her prepared defenses kick in and mirror images of her appear around her.

Chuck responds by dropping a fireball on her and all her little images. This does not dispel them, but it helps. Durest casts Fly on himself, and Jenny leaps down into the room. She lands painfully, but crosses the room and attacks, dispelling an image.

Violette dominates Jenny; Chuck attempts to counter-dominate but fails. Durest hits Jenny with Hold Person, because even after raising her from the dead he really doesn't want her trying to carve us up. Hatch steps off the wall and drops to the ground, buoyed by his Ring of Feather Fall.

Hatch manages to hit Violette with a ray of frost.

She tries Bigby's Grasping Hand on Durest. It grabs him; he's grappled. Chuck drops an array of magic missiles, and wipes out the rest of the images. She glares at him.

Durest attempts to teleport free and fails. Hatch does an empowered scorching ray as a sneak attack, doing a hideous amount of damage, then follows it up with a quickened Ray of Frost and takes her down.

We loot her corpse. And honestly? We don't think anybody heard that, at least not enough to be alarmed by it.All the apprentices are still downstairs. Chuck, our vampire sorcerer, drains her. "Remember me?"

Bracers of armor +3, Amulet of Natural Armor +2 Ring of Protection + 2, Cloak of resistance +3, headband of intellect +2.

We start searching this lavishly appointed room: gold cloth, carved wooden statues, ermine tabard inlaid with oricalcum, a decorative silver broadsword; it's about 10,000 GP worth of art, and we take it. Hatch checks the first of two chests for traps, finding one; he disables it. He then unlocks it.

1. Arcane Scroll (Shocking Grasp (25 gp), Command Undead (150 gp), Knock (150 gp)) (total 325 gp)
2. Divine Scroll (Cure Light Wounds (25 gp), Animal Messenger (150 gp), Barkskin (150 gp)) (total 325 gp)
3. Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds (300 gp)

He moves on to the second chest, disables it and unlocks it: 2,750 in gold and gems.

We continue on, looting as we go but staying to the top floor. We find the married couple's bedroom; it's every bit as opulent as the last room, and the art is worth about 10,000 GP. Hatch checks over the armoires.

Fine nobleman's clothes and 410 GP worth of gems; the other has fine women's clothes , 5,000 gp, and an arcane scroll of ice storm which Hatch promptly claims for his spellbook.

The last door is *very* locked, but Hatch and his imp familiar manage to open it. The room beyond is larger and even fancier. Hatch searches the desk: 5,000 GP raven statue, ring of animal friendship 10,800 GP. Hatch takes them, and dragon statue shoots a bolt of lightning at him for considerable damage. The dragon's eyes are glowing, and Hatch heads for the door -- but not fast enough to completely escape the next lightning bolt.

Durest pulls the doors shut, and the dragon annihilates them. A few seconds later it blasts a hole through the wall beyond them. Durest heals him and then follows up with a bit of cure light wands.

Hatch goes back inside to try to disable the dragon. Chuck drops some elemental protection on him and he attempts to disable, but fails and sets the dragon off. It zaps his shield, but he tries again. He fails again, and flees the room.

He attempts to disable the thing at range (arcane trickster) and we cower in the hallway while the dragon blasts things.

Chuck heads into the bedroom in gaseous form. The bed is a levitation field: sort of a medieval magic waterbed.

Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, we decide to go take the castle and come back for this place. It's going to be our new headquarters sooner or later.

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