Apr 22, 2018

21st Day of Goodmonth, CY 580 - The Falcon Attacks, Part 1

Going into today, I knew things would be a challenge. The Falconmaster module provides details (though not complete details) on 20 to 30 of the cultists forces, and about half that for St. Cuthbert's forces. The instructions in the module say to give the PCs a handful of enemies to fight that is appropriate for their level in one isolated part of the of the temple, and just narrate the end result of what happens in the rest of the battle, with some choices to pick from based on how well the PCs do, whether or not we plan to play the third module, etc. Well, I didn't like that idea. I wanted to play out the entire battle. After all, this series of modules came with 3-D buildings so you can arrange a massive battle. I pulled together every miniature, including Lego mini-figures, I could to properly put troops on the field. I spent a full week building character sheets, with selected spells, etc., for every single character depicted in the book so that I could distribute them to the players. I wanted to do something new. Something different. Something that would be difficult, but fun.

And boy was it ever challenging. We started at noon, as we always do, but for the first two hours we were just getting things organized. It really didn't help that two players were missing, and one player was dialing-in remotely over video conference (something that works mildly well, but it is limited in a situation like this). With only two players present, it was very slow to sort through all of the characters and select the best miniatures - some of which needed to be assembled from Lego parts. If I had more time, I would have had all of this prepared, but I just had to shrug and say that I can't do it all. I need the players to help. Once the fighting got underway, I knew it would be slow, because I wanted to do everything in initiative order, thinking that failure to do so might speed things up, but wouldn't allow people to effectively use spells. In the end, we had a long, exhausting battle, and we didn't finish by 5 pm. So once again, we end on a cliffhanger. . .

The party took control of St. Cuthbert's defenses, dividing themselves into two squads, with Jarrus leading one and Talasek leading the other. Four mages were placed on balconies in the north, south, east and west points of the temple, while Sarril planned to fly around invisibly, but waited until the attack started to actually cast the spells. They did some extra steps, such as covering all of the sewer grates with horse carts, making it so anyone trying to come up through the sewers would have a hard time. That turned out to be a pretty good tactic.

The attack came just before 2 am. First, a large cloud of over 50 ravens swooped in from the south (Claw Cloud - a specialty spell for priests of Iuz from the "Iuz the Evil" supplement). The ravens were instructed to harass and disrupt all spellcasters, and they immediately began dive bombing the mages on the balconies, who were forced to run inside. Next, about 20 rats started pouring out of each of the sewer holes - they were small enough not to be bothered by the carts over top of them. While both the rats and the ravens could do very little damage, if at all, they managed to keep everyone distracted and busy while the real attackers rushed in under the protection of a Wall of Fog.

This is where Sarril proved how versatile he really is. He was able to dispel the Wall of Fog, completely foiling that part of the plan and forcing the first wave of attackers to rush up the road toward the temple completely in the open. Because it was very dark outside, I still allowed the attackers to be up on the temple before anyone could act, but Sarril's familiar, Krek, was able to provide regular reports about numbers coming in, which was helpful. Sarril was also able to summon some flying creatures of his own to engage the ravens, and while he couldn't get them all, he made a serious dent in the numbers. Once down to a manageable number, the four mages were able to step back outside and use Magic Missiles to bring down the rest of the ravens. And while it took a few rounds, the people on the ground were able to get rid of the rats (with only a couple of first level clerics getting killed). This allowed everyone to fully focus on what was coming in.

At the same time, Eritai sent invisible messengers out. One to the citadel to alert the constable, and another to chapel in the the Old City to get clerical reinforcements. It was estimated it would take a turn for this help to arrive, though it didn't seem like they were needed, as the party quickly dispatched the first wave, which consisted of 1st level cultists, 2nd level fighters, and 4th and 5th level clerics leading. None of clerics were able to get any spells to land. Sarril must have had 6 to 8 "Silence 15' Radius" spells thrown at him and he saved against every one (DMs Note: I have a house rule for Silence 15' Radius. If it is cast on an object that is not on a person, then there is no save, but the caster can just move out of the radius. However, if it is cast at a person, then I give that person a save. If they make their save, they are able to dodge the spell. If they fail it, then the silence is stuck on them and it doesn't matter where they move to. In this case, because Sarril was flying, they had no choice but to cast it on him because casting in on the ground at his feet would not do any good). In return, Luapan managed to silence the only two clerics who had Dispel Magic spells ready, and they were planning to use them against Sarril. This is a common occurrence, where PCs rarely fail their saves, yet NPCs almost always do. It must be all of those rings of protection being passed around with the party. As a result, this first round really fell apart for the attackers.

The next wave was some much tougher guys. These consisted of 7th and 8th level fighters and clerics, backed up by 1st through 3rd level cultists of various types. There was even a magic user in this group. Also appearing was Nestor Morden, Deputy Constable, along with a handful of City Watch guards. They didn't engage the cultists immediately, which everyone found suspicious, claiming that it looked like Talasek had things under control and moved around to the back, where Jarrus confronted them. Janziduur detected evil on the regular guards, but not on the Deputy Constable, and Jarrus called him out on it. Nestor replied that they are obedient to him and that's all that matters. The two argued for some time, with Nestor reminding Jarrus that he represents the law.

The party did pretty well against the next wave of attackers as well. Very little injuries had been sustained by any of the good guys so far, but one of the new clerics was finally able to dispel Sarril's spells (which at this point included Flight, Fire Shield and Detect Invisibility). Sarril was now slightly more vulnerable than before, but still doing okay. The mages up on the balconies were able to blast with lightning bolts and fireballs. No one spell was able to kill anyone, but they quickly added up, and the next wave began to drop. In the front of the temple we were left with just two clerics and a magic user, while at the back of the temple Jarrus continued to verbally argue with the deputy constable, whom he assumed was actually a Falcon agent waiting to strike. Jarrus told Nestor to get his men back to the front of the temple where the fight was. That's with the deputy constable pointed into the sky at a Falcon flying in toward the rear of the temple and said "no, this is where we are needed."

And that's where we were forced to end. The Falcon landed at the rear corner of the temple, facing Jarrus and Janziduur, while Sarril, Luapan and Talasek continued to deal with attackers in the front. All four mages were still alive, and Eritai is inside the temple, so things are still looking good for our heroes. We will attempt to finish this battle when we reconvene in two weeks.

Apr 21, 2018

17th Day of Goodmonth, CY 580 - Seeking the Falcon

Not wanting to wait two weeks to pick up the dungeon crawl, we decided to play online to see how far we could get. Since some of the missing players would be coming back, everyone agreed it was important to try to finish this "side adventure" and get the group back together in Greyhawk. Unfortunately, online play is very slow because we are adults and we have lives. We did get further than I expected, however.

The party decided to turn left into tunnel where the otyughs came from. Avoiding the trap of a net on the ceiling, they were able to get there safely and explore that large, empty cavern. Two exits to the north were only 3 ft. high, and the party thought it best not to go crawling on their hands and knees just yet (little did they know they would be doing a lot of that soon). Backing up, they headed out to explore the first tunnel on the right that they were originally headed for.

This led into a series of caverns inhabited by a tribe of trolls. There were 10 "regular" trolls, and one big, mean, two-headed troll wielding a great sword. The party did not encounter them all at once. These trolls were hiding, waiting to ambush the party when then got further into the cavern so they could surround them and cut off their escape. It worked. The trolls attacked, starting with four, and with a new one coming in to the fill the ranks each time another fell. This kept the party locked in
place and, although Jarrus was dealing immense damage due to a previously case Strength spell, the sheer numbers of the trolls made the battle last a long time, and giving dead trolls an opportunity to regenerate before Sarril would have a chance to burn them. And although all three PCs were difficult to hit, each troll attacked three times per round, meaning a few critical hits were landing every couple of rounds, quickly wearing everyone down.

The one thing that really saved the party from a quick death was an Earth Elemental that Sarril had summoned earlier. The elemental needed magic weapons to hit, and the regular trolls didn't have enough hit dice to be able to affect it. The elemental itself wasn't very effective in attacking the trolls, but it managed to keep a few of them busy, and that was important. But soon, the two-headed chieftain came out, and immediately started hacking the elemental to pieces. Jarrus hatched a plan to clear a path so the party can move south and form a triangle, with Sarril and Luapan as the base, with the base of the triangle against a wall. This maneuver limited the number of trolls that could attack the party at one time, and gave Sarril and opportunity to cast some fireballs and flaming hands spells, with a Boccob's Rolling Thunder in there for good measure. A few rounds later, and the exhausted, wounded party enjoyed a hard-earned victory. After spending some time searching the caverns and burning any remaining troll bits, they headed back to the 3 ft. tunnels to see where they would lead.

Concerned about traps, they decided to tie a rope around Luapan and let him crawl into the first tunnel. It was a natural trap, as the tunnel quickly turned into a water slide that wound into a small pond below. The others were able to pull Luapan back up, thus avoiding an uncertain fate. The next tunnel appeared safer. The only danger being the small goblin creatures (Jermlaine) which had holes all along the tunnel where the party would be crawling. But since these holes were part of a tunnel network that Sarril had previously filled with cloudkill, all they could see were little dead Jermlaine bodies everywhere, in various states of horror, clutching their tiny necks, or frozen clawing their way out of the tunnels as they tried in vain to escape the deadly gas.

After a series of dead-ends, the group reached some vines hanging from the ceiling - Strangleweed. Jarrus got too close, and realized quickly that he could not cut down the vines faster than they could wrap around his body. Sarril was able to cast Flaming Hands to set the vines on fire, causing them to release Jarrus, but the party had to backtrack to escape the toxic smoke. After waiting for an hour for the smoke to clear, and losing the Strength spell and other buffs that were in place, the group was able to move again. The tunnel, while still narrow, rose between 4 ft. and 15 ft., making most of it
walkable. They eventually came to a set of double doors, which opened without trouble, leading to another set of similar doors a little further down the tunnel. The went through 5 such doors before coming to a 6th, which was trapped with a fire trap. Jarrus took the first one, but there was another behind that. It turns out there were many such doors through these tunnels, and the party realized that their best option was to have Sarril open the doors, as he could regenerate his wounds. So, at each door, Sarril would remove his clothing and all of this gear, open the door, then put all of his stuff back on - thus not having to worry about having his equipment destroyed. But this method took time, and the party soon decided they have to rest, and setup a Leomund's Hut in one of the many dead-end tunnels.

The next morning, Sarril and Luapan took spells they thought would help their situation best. Find Traps, Spell Immunity (for Fire Trap), and Dispel Magic. It was a good plan, but there were so many of these doors, and so many long tunnels with dead-ends, that, like the night before, they were burning through the buffs by running the durations out. During this time, however, they did come across what appeared to be a laboratory (complete with its own fire traps), but the lab provided little information about where the Falcon is or what she was up to.

More dead ends and rigorous searching eventually led to a series of secret doors (and more fire trapped doors), that revealed what was most likely the Falcon's living quarters. There were three main areas, connected by tunnels. The first area the party explored was a circular room with a nest on a pedestal. There was a hole in the ceiling that they determined led to a small tunnel going somewhere. The second room was full of tapestries and chairs, with a large round pillow on one side of the room.
The Falcon's bedroom - She collects skulls as trophies
Under the pillow they found an escape tunnel. Jarrus would later try to climb into the tunnel and get stuck, as it was too small for a human being. The last area appeared to be a bedroom. All of the rooms, including the laboratory, were empty of any living beings, and everything was covered in dust and deteriorated. The exception was a magically sealed bookcase with some well preserved books inside. Some of the books appeared to be missing. The party decided they should rest another night, and in the morning, do a thorough search of the entire place, checking for secret doors in dead-ends that were previously un-searched. And so they setup the Leomund's hut as they did previously.

They next morning, the party did a thorough search of everything, and unfortunately came up with nothing more than they had before (this was when Jarrus got stuck in the hole, but Sarril and Luapan were able to get him out). Having spent almost another whole day, and getting nowhere, the party decided to go back to the entrance to the cavern and look around there. When they got there, Sarril's familiar, who had been keeping watch outside, sensed Sarril's presence and flew in to tell him what he saw. A falcon flew out of hollow stump nearby on the previous day. He tried to follow but it was too fast. He then explored the hollow stump and described coming into the nest room, though before the party had entered, as the door was still closed and trapped. Not knowing where Sarril was (Sarril wears an Amulet of Non-Detection which makes it hard for his familiar to find him if they get out of telepathic range), he waited at the entrance for Sarril to return so he could deliver the message. Based on the description, it sounded like the Falcon was headed back to Greyhawk with some of her belongings. The party decided they needed to rest one more night so that they can get the proper spells for a quick return to the city.

The quick return took the form of Sarril polymorphing into a pegasus and carrying Jarrus and Luapan. Flying in a straight line, even slowly, reduced the 3-day walking trip to one day. They reached Greyhawk on the evening of the 20th. The scene in Greyhawk was chaotic. People were fleeing the city en-mass. Refugees from the war who had come to Greyhawk for safety, were now leaving, along with other long-time residents. After questioning some of the fleeing citizens, the party learned that a cult of Iuz was threatening citizens into joining, and those who went to the authorities were subsequently killed, along with their families. Apparitions and other supernatural things were seen around the city, scaring folks into leaving.

Citizens and refugees fleeing Greyhawk
The party went first to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, where the High Priestess, Eritai, met with them right away. She explained that the Cult of Iuz, led by the Falcon, was busy within the city. Spies working for the temple tipped them off that she was plotting an attack against the temple to get revenge for its part in imprisoning her so many years ago. Eritai explained that she sent a message to the temple paladins up north, as the siege of Admunfort had just been broken and they will be able to return. But the party knew they would not get back in time, and they would need to help Eritai. Jarrus also realized that if the Falcon wanted revenge on St. Cuthbert, she very well may want revenge against Tritherion's temple as well, for their part in disrupting the cult's activities a few week's ago. They then rushed to the Temple of Tritherion and found the High Priestess, Janziduur, decked out in her armor, carrying a spear, ready to defend the temple. Jarrus' former squire, Tonya, who normally serves as temple security, had her team out combing the sewers looking for the cultists. Jarrus took Janziduur and the refugees from the temple and, after Jaziduur placed a Glyph of Warding on the door, the group headed to the Bath House in the Foreign Quarter, where the remaining refugees under Tritherion's care were held. After gathering those refugees, everyone headed back to the Temple of St. Cuthbert, where they prepared for the coming attack.

It is midnight on the 21st Day of Goodmonth, CY 580, and something wicked this way comes. . .

Apr 8, 2018

15th Day of Goodmonth, CY 580 - In Search of the Falcon's Lair

After the feast with Dame Gold, Jarrus and Sarril decided they would like to head to Greyhawk to scout things out and take care of some business before they make their trip to Verbobonc and and the Kingdom of Furyondy. Cadwin, Pontus and Cassius stayed behind, and we played over online chat for a couple of weeks.

During this time, Jarrus and Sarril were able to confirm what Cassius had told them about the state of the city. It was overrun with refugees from a war between the Horned Society and the Shield Lands. Many merchants and nobility have already fled the city, and the good-aligned temples sent the bulk of the clerics and paladins to assist the battle, leaving a gap in the city's defenses and placing an extra strain on the city watch. This was causing an uptick in crime and an increase in the number of evil cults operating. Jarrus' former squire, Tonya, was still serving the Temple of Tritherion, and had gained some experience over the last year and a half, including spending some time on the front-lines of the battlefield. To help out the city, she formed a party and, together, they rooted out a cult of Iuz several weeks prior, and earned the favor of Derider Fanshen, the City Constable.

Sarril was able to meet with his now former master, Otto, who was working with Warnes Starcoat, the Chief Magical Councilor to Duke Karll of Urnst, to figure out a solution to the problem of Duke Szefrin of the Great Kingdom who now occupied Otto's home of Chathold in the Prelacy of Almor. Warnes believed he could convince Duke Karll to send assistance Almor, but only if and when the war between the Horned Society and the Shield Lands ended, since the Dutchy of Urnst is on the southern border of the Nyr Dyv and the Horned Society posed a much bigger threat than the Great Kingdom, which wa not on its borders (the Kingdom of Nyrond is between the Dutchy of Urnst and Almor, but Nyrond was pre-occupied with issues along its northern border). Otto declared Sarril a mage in his own right and no longer an apprentice, and returned to him all of the belongings that were stored in his house - minus one very important magical item. The Daern's Instant Fortress. Otto asked Sarril if he would give up that item for the greater good - which, in this case, meant that Otto and Warnes, along with some mages borrowed from the academy, could drop the Instant (and indestructible) Fortress, full of magic users with various wands, into the middle of the army that currently had Admunfort under siege. The overwhelming force would break the siege, and turn the war around to the favor of the Knights of Holy Shielding and the Shield Land armies. But Otto warned that exposing such a powerful magical item in such a high-profile way would draw the attention of powerful enemies - possibly Iuz himself, who is thought to be the original owner. Once Otto and Warnes completed their mission, the Daern's Instant Fortress would be turned over to the Guild of Wizardry in Greyhawk, to be locked away in their impenetrable vaults. Sarril not only agreed to this, he also donated a Wand of Fire to the cause.

While Sarril was taking care of wizarding business, Jarrus discovered that the cult of Iuz that was supposedly defeated, wasn't. Some of its members got away, and not only that, they managed to complete a ritual spell that freed their imprisoned leader - a dangerous cleric named the Falcon, who started the cult over 60 years ago, until she was magically imprisoned by mages and clerics of St. Cuthbert. Jarrus met Talasek Thraydin, a paladin of St. Cuthbert whose grandfather was part of the original party that imprisoned the Falcon. By reading his grandfather's journal, Talasek learned of a mage named Mizaab who was responsible for the magic of the imprisonment, and who had discovered a secret lair in the Cairn Hills that the Falcon had used to plot her attacks on the city. This prompted Sarril and Jarrus to research Mizaab in the hopes of finding him, or something he may have left behind.

The pair discovered that Mizaab was a mage obsessed with dragons and with magic related to flying. He is a member of the Wizard's Guild, but hasn't been seen in 20 years. After putting some other clues together, such as the fact that Mizaab was known to have drawn pictures of dragons so accurate that he must have been close to them, and that he was prone to disappearing for long periods at a time. This led Jarrus to theorize that Mizaab himself was probably a dragon, which, if true, might mean he is still alive - but also going to be that much more difficult to find.

Talasek's grandfather's journal also talked about Elliman, the cleric of the original party, who was a good friend of Mizaab. Elliman became the high-priest of the temple and fostered Eritai, the current high-priestess, when she was a young girl. Jarrus and Sarril decided to question Eritai, to see if she can provide any clues. Although she wasn't able to provide much information, she did have a way to contact Mizaab, if he was still alive and available, through the guild. She also said she would search through the temple vaults to see if Elliman had a copy of the map locked away. Two days later, Eritai sent a message to Jarrus and Sarril to come to the temple as she had found something important. On the morning of the 15th day of Goodmonth, the pair headed to the Temple of St. Cuthbert in Greyhawk, and thus began our bi-weekly game session. . .

Over the last week, Sarril had taken care of a lot of business with the Wizard's Guild and with Otto. One of those things was to have his newly acquired Staff of Power recharged - an expensive process that took several days, and to have Otto place a 6th level spell, Stone to Flesh, in his Ring of Spell Storing. Sarril then took care of both of these things on his way to the temple on the morning of the 15th - both picking up the staff, and using the Stone to Flesh spell to restore Luapan back to life. Jarrus, Sarril and Luapan were now a party of three (exactly the number of players we had this week). All three headed to the Temple of St. Cuthbert to meet with Eritai.

When they arrived, Eritai explained that she had her clerics combing the volumes of their library and searching their vaults for any clues to the map that Mizaab made. They turned up a scroll tube with a map inside that looked like what they needed. After making a copy for the records, the temple is turning over the map to the party so they may seek the Falcon's lair.

Mizaab's Map
After purchasing supplies for the trip, the group headed out. After calculating whether or not they could just use a Flight spell to get there quickly, they decided the best course would be to take up the river, then follow the path on the map by foot, using Flight at the end of the journey to get their bearings and try to find the lair. They started by hiring a Rhenee barge to take them north, which kept them safe from dealing with any wandering monster encounters. Once they exited the barge at the northern end of the tributary, things did become more dangerous.

DMs Note: For the most part, I rarely roll for wandering monsters. First of all, the player characters have expressed a dislike for slogging through terrain and just want to get to their destinations to start the dungeon exploration, or whatever it is they need to do. I get it, since we only play for a few hours every other week, random encounters really slow the game down, and often aren't very interesting. Additionally, most random encounters are low-level creatures - bandits, kobolds, etc., and just more of a nuisance more than anything. So I generally take the approach that most random creatures would see the armor and weapons the party carries and realize that it wouldn't be wise to bother them. But today was different. The search for the Falcon's Lair in the Cairn Hills is all about wandering monsters - and the things here could actually present challenges, especially due to the terrain. Thus, most of the adventure today was trekking through the hills fighting random monsters, and it paid some serious dividends.

The first random encounter was four trolls that attacked in the swampy land at the end of the river, which weren't much of a challenge. The second encounter was a manticore in the hills. While not normally a challenge, the terrain here gave predatory monsters a distinct advantage. As the party was winding their way between steep hills, the manticore was hiding in a cave about 60 ft. up, unreachable by the party. Since it was only watching them, the party decided to walk past it to see if it continued to ignore them. It did not. As soon as the last party member, Jarrus, passed underneath the cave, it struck from behind, throwing 4 of its tail darts at Jarrus, 3 of which simply bounced off of his armor. In response, Sarril cast Fly on Jarrus, who flew right up to the cave and eviscerated the creature.

This is where things got interesting. The 1st edition Monster Manual provides a treasure type (E, in this case) and tables to roll on to see a percentage chance for each type of treasure in the creature's lair. For the first time ever, we rolled on these tables, and just so happened to roll some crazy random numbers, giving the party 8,000 gold pieces and three random magic items. We rolled on the magic item tables and came up with a Ring of Truth, a +4 Staff/Spear and a +5 Defender Sword. That's right, a +5 Defender Sword. This is one of most sought after magical weapons in the entire game. High-level NPCs with massive wealth (retired adventurers and nobility) would pay dearly for such a weapon, and some spend their entire lives seeking one and never find it. It is one of the prizes available at the end of the infamous Tomb of Horrors - possibly the deadliest dungeon ever designed. The combination of die rolls required to obtain this randomly makes the chance exceptionally rare, so I couldn't, in good conscience, ignore it. The fact remains that even the highest-level, best equipped  hero can still fall victim to a deadly trap and lose their stuff. The last owner of this fantastic weapon must have had a truly tragic tale.

So I decided this sword will, indeed, be a +5 Defender, and the only thing left to do is to roll to see what type of sword it would be (short sword, long sword, broad sword, etc.). Jarrus, due to his double-specialization, can only effectively use longswords. Pontus was proficient in two-handed and broad swords, but preferred a two-handed weapon. The chance that anyone in the party would actually be able to use the weapon was slim, and this item was more than likely going to be traded for a castle somewhere. We rolled the dice again, and landed on longsword - just what Jarrus happens to be double-specialized in. Let's do the numbers for a minute on Jarrus:
  • Strength of 18/76 : +2 / +4
  • Double Specialization: +3 / +3
  • Defender Longword: +5 / +5
  • Total +10 To Hit / +12 Damage
  • Attacks twice per round for 13 to 20 damage per hit, and has an effective ThAC0 of 3!
When Sarril identified the +5 Defender sword, Jarrus decided the party should go treasure hunting in the Cairn Hills more often. The excitement over the +5 Defender sword was so big that it diminished the awe that would have saved for the +4 staff/spear (another extremely rare item that probably has a name and came from a well-known hero). Luapan took the staff/spear to replace his gnomish selecto-staff, which was a mechanical version of the same weapon, and much less powerful. Things were looking good for both Jarrus and Luapan.

Near the end of the day, the party found the first landmark from the map - a gorge with a dwarven bridge spanning it. The bridge was actually a trap by Galeb Dur who lived in the gorge. When an unsuspecting party tries to cross, they Transmute Rock to Mud on the bridge and everyone falls to their death. The party determined the bridge was suspicious, and Sarril cast fly so everyone can just fly across, thus avoiding the trap.

After crossing the bridge, the party camped for the night, safely inside of a Leomund's Tiny Hut.

The next day was less eventful from a wandering monster perspective. The trail eventually led through a gorge with fierce winds blowing through it. While it slowed the party's movement, the wind also kept wandering monsters out of the gorge. Near the end of the day, they came upon the faces of two giants carved into the cliff walls on either side. One of the faces had a Magic Mouth spell on it, which triggered when Jarrus passed through. The face said:

“Mizaab sends you who have traveled long and  hard a message. All the animals of the woods and streams, of the forests and hills know this  advice: Never follow a snake into her lair, for only she knows the twists and turns that it takes; and only she knows where a trap may be laid and sprung. travel safely and wisely, my friend, and heed this advice on your journey to conquer evil.”

After passing through the stone faces, the party decided to camp while still inside the gorge, using the Leomund's Tiny Hut to shelter them from the wind. In the morning, they set out again, coming soon to a fast moving stream, and crossing the path of some gnomes returning home from a mining trip. The gnomes didn't know anything about the Falcon's Lair, but they were able to provide a warning about water beetles in the stream - a minor threat easily avoided using a Quall's Feather Token that transformed into a small boat to ferry the party safely across.

Later that afternoon, the party came into a steep, mountainous area that they knew to be the area where the Falcon's Lair should be. Unfortunately, finding the entrance was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Sarril's familiar was flying overhead, but could not spot the entrance, leaving the party to climb around as best they could in the steep, rocky terrain. This opened them up for attack from a trio of Hill Giants, who began hurling rocks at the party below. Sarril cast Spider Climb on Jarrus, who began making his way up to the giants, dodging rocks along the way. Luapan used Levitation to get to the giants and, between Jarrus and Luapan, they made quick work of the Hill Giants, whose slow, lumbering movements just couldn't land a blow. Once again, we rolled for random treasure in the giant's lair, and the party got some gold and gems out of it.

There's a lair entrance somewhere among these rocks
DMs Note: This was an encounter that should have been far more challenging than it was. Part of the issue was that it was a wandering monster roll, rather than a planned encounter, so I didn't think it through. But also, the players and I both wanted to finish the lair and get the party back to Greyhawk before the day ended, so that we can have all of the party together for the next session. We were starting to run out of time for the day, and that was distracting me a bit as well. The first mistake I made was that while Jarrus was climbing, I not only allowed him his full AC (including shield), I allowed him to use the Defender Sword for defense as well, bringing his total AC to -6. First of all, the Defender Sword AC bonus should only be against melee attacks (that's my rule, even if it isn't printed in the books), but also, Jarrus should not have had either shield or sword in hand while climbing. He should have had his sword sheathed, and his shield strapped to his back while he climbed, making him vulnerable to the thrown rocks. And if a rock struck him, there would be a chance, even with the Spider Climb, that he would be knocked down, sustaining damage and having to start over. The Spider Climb allowed him to climb with full speed, but when he reached the top, he should have spent one round getting his shield and sword readied. That would make him vulnerable to melee attacks for that time. The party would still come out victorious, but Jarrus may have taken more damage and/or Sarril would have been forced to expend some spells on ranged attacks. But this is why I consider this to be practice for me as a DM. I can learn these lessons and get better.

After looting the giant's lair, the party went back to searching among the rocks. Slipping and falling was the biggest risk, and both Luapan and Jarrus took a couple of tumbles. Jarrus took the largest fall, tumbling a full 70 ft. on jagged rocks, mangling his body on a rock shelf. As he was lying there, waiting for the clerics to come help him, he spotted a small crevice low to the ground, covered by overgrown weeds. It was large enough to crawl into, and he suspected that it must be the entrance they have been looking for. As soon as the clerics healed him, the party went inside.

After crawling through a narrow winding tunnel for quite some time, the party finally emerged in a large cavern more than 100 ft. across, filled with mud. The walls of the cavern, like the tunnel walls on the way in, were covered in small holes only large enough for a rat to climb through. The party squelched through the mud to the center of the cavern, where their light revealed tunnels to the left and right. As they headed for the right tunnel, two Otyughs emerged from the left tunnel and attacked. The Otyughs were no match for the superior armor of the heroes, and were quickly dispatched. They decided to change direction and move to the left tunnel where the creatures came from. The Find Traps spell that Sarril had cast earlier alerted them on the ceiling overhead, which they were able to get around by staying close to the walls. This exposed the party the things that were inside the holes waiting for them. Tiny imp-like creatures with blow-guns and small spears started

shooting and poking at the party. Although they had trouble hitting, and and could do much damage, the sheer numbers of them that could attack while the party moved so slow in the mud made them dangerous. Sarril decided that a Cloudkill spell directed into the holes and the tiny tunnel structures behind should do the trick to fumigate these pests. It was incredibly effective, and the party could now move freely without being bothered by the creatures.

Unfortunately, we could not finish the lair in this session as time was now up. We pause here at the start of the dungeon. It is the evening of the 17th Day of Goodmonth, CY 580, somewhere in the Cairn Hills north of the City of Greyhawk.