Dec 2, 2018

5th day of Brewfest, CY 580 - Now to pay those frost giants a visit. . .

The party had to decide what to do with nearly 100 freed orc slaves, an elf and human prisoner, and a ton of paperwork - evidence of what the giants have been up to. They also knew that some of the hill giants escaped, and could be on their way to frost giant jarl to warn him. They estimated the giants would get there in a couple of days and the party had no way of catching up to them, but they could beat them there if they used the teleportation device they found. Doing so would leave the prisoners at the mercy of the orcs, who could not be trusted, and no one reporting back to Lashton in Istivin about what was found. They toyed with the idea of sending the orcs after the escaped giants, but again realized that not being able to trust them was problematic and they didn't want to replace raiding giants with raiding orcs. In the end, they talked to the orcs, who agreed to return to their tribes, and decided to send the elf and the merchant prisoner to Lashton to report. It turns out the elf prisoner, whose name is Oaklock Gilderlief, is a capable fighter/magic user and the party had plenty of extra equipment to give him, including a spellbook for which he was forever grateful and indebted (its good to have allies in the world). With Oaklock on his way to report to Lashton, the party used the magical chain they found to teleport to the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl Grugnir. They hoped that getting there before the hill giants arrived would allow them to sneak in unexpectedly.

The plan seems to have worked. They found themselves high up in the southern Crystalmist Mountains standing on an ice shelf with cold wind whipping through their hair, but otherwise nothing around. Giant tracks were obvious in the snow on the ground, telling them they must be in the right place. They followed the ice shelf as it sloped down along a fissure. This must be what was meant by the Glacial Rift on the map they found. Speaking of maps, among the papers they found in the hill giant chief's war ready room was a map of the rift itself. (The map didn't tell the players much, but it sure made the DM's job easier).

When the party realized that any one of them could slip and fall on the ice and potentially fall to their death, they decided to tie ropes around their waists and connect themselves to each other. At least several of them would have to fall in order to for the whole party to go. Pontus, who was used to these conditions, pulled out a pair of manticore spikes to use as ice picks should he slip. The only one who had trouble was Dalron, and after several slips and the party struggling to get him to his feet, Luapan decided to cast levitation on him and pull him along like a balloon. That worked fairly well.

The shelf continued down some stairs near, but not quite all the way, to the bottom of the rift. From there, the shelf continued around the rim of the rift and led to a series of caves to be explored. Sarril cast Invisibility 10 ft radius and they all went, invisibly, still tied together, into the first side cave. They found a total of seven frost giant guards, not quite on duty. Four in one room, three in another. Guessing that fireballs and other massive area of affect spells might cause a cave collapse, they decided a sneak attack by the melee fighters was in order. They wanted to see what the drow could do. Unfortunately, the drow, even with his attack bonuses for backstabbing, couldn't hit the first frost giant. He was, however, now visible, and the rest of the party had to cut the ropes connecting them and leap into battle. Of course, Dalron is still a giant-killing machine and Pontus can still take a ridiculous amount of damage and, between the two of them, they soon took out the three giants in the first room.

The noise brought the other four, but Sarril and Cadwin were ready with lightning bolts, which seemed safe enough with the ice. It wasn't enough to kill them all, but it did enough damage that Dalron finished them off in short order. Seven 14 HD frost giants down - easy peazy.

Exploring further they came across a winter wolf mated pair and their three pups. Cadwin sprung into action, casting Animal Friendship on the male and asking it to communicate to its family that the party are its friends. It worked, and the party now has a whole family of winter wolves for now. Around the corner were eight bodies frozen in ice blocks, each holding something of potential value. They understood the breaking or melting these blocks could cause a cave-in. Not only that, but the chance of collapse would be cumulative for each block destroyed. If the party wanted something, they needed to prioritize the order. Luapan cast Detect Magic to determine which blocks contained magic and Pontus used his newly acquired flametongue sword to melt those first. One body looked like a cleric, but with a holy symbol no one recognized (a hand clutched around an eye), and was wearing a ring of fire resistance. Another body had a wand and another a scroll. The party had the smart idea to have the smart idea to have the winter wolves re-freeze the bodies after the melted them to restore the ice column and fill in the cracks that were forming. That actually worked and reset the percentage chance of collapse after the first two bodies were recovered, after which the winter wolves had exhausted their breath weapons for the time being. The last body they were able to recover was wearing a full suit of magical plate mail, but just as Pontus got the body out (he was sliding the bodies out of the room), the room collapsed on his. Pontus took considerable damage, but the party was able to dig him out.

After this, the party headed back to the stairs and crossed over to the other side of the rift. They entered a cave that had a foul, musty smell. As they moved closer to explore, a horrifying creature carrying a magical longsword leapt at the party to attack. This foul beast was intelligent, had white fur and piercing blue eyes drove fear into everyone who looked at it. But no one had to look at it for
long as Dalron quickly dropped it where it stood. It's tremendous howl, however, brought six more from the other room. These were not carrying swords, instead swiping ferociously with their claws. Pontus soon learned when these things got both claws on someone, they grabbed and squeezed, doing both physical and cold damage. The cold damage was reduced, thanks to a Protection from Cold that Luapan had earlier cast, but that was little comfort when being crushed to death. But the party was soon victorious again, though starting to burn through healing spells.

And there it was that another session reached its scheduled end. It is the morning of the 6th Day of Brewfest, CY 580 and the party just killed 7 yetis. This fun is just getting started.

Nov 18, 2018

4th day of Brewfest, CY 580 - Trapped beneath the hill giant fortress

The party rested in the dungeon below the hill giant's stronghold. Sarril had a rough night, being haunted by strange dreams of purple and green mists, tentacles and the feelings of insanity. In the morning, both Sarril and Luapan discovered that their connections to their respective gods is more difficult and prayers for spells took twice as long. Additionally, clerical healing spells seemed to be weakened (possibly other divine magics as well).

Once rested and healed up, the party decided to search the dungeons thoroughly, hoping to find another way out. In a previously unsearched room, they found a secret door leading to a hallway full of levers. Another secret door at the end of that hallway led to a large room with portcullis gates, which they assumed the levers controlled. Behind one of the portcullis gates were a pair of insane manticores which attacked the party with their spikes. Although the spikes don't do a lot of damage each, the two manticores were throwing 16 spikes per round, most of which were hitting Cadwin.

Pontus began carving the beast up for a trophy as the rest of the party searched the room beyond. Another room to the north appeared to have some chests within, guarded by two more manticores, calling for another brief fight. Once the maticores were dispatched, Pontus opened the chests, taking on the traps with his superior poison save. Dalron managed to recover some of the spikes and throw them right back at one of the manticores, killing it. As easy as that was, for some reason the party thought the best course of action to kill the other manticore would be to open the gate, causing the large beast to leap on top of Dalron and claw and bite at him. Fortunately, Dalron's superior armor class prevented the manticore from doing any damage and he was able to finish it off as well.

Sarril had earlier cast "Detect Traps," showing that two of the chests were trapped. Not having a thief who could disable traps, however, the party chose to have Pontus open the trapped chests, using his superior hit points and poison saves. The first trap was a blade on a spring that nearly severed a limb, but a lucky roll of the die meant he only took damage. The nest trap was a poison needle, which, thanks to his barbarian constitution, didn't manage to kill him. There were seven chests in all, filled with platinum, gold, electrum and silver coins as well as jewelry. All seven chests went into the portable hole.

Continuing to explore the area, and using Sarril's Find Traps spell to avoid several traps, the party was able to find another set of secret doors leading to another treasure room. This was turning out to be quite the lucrative adventure. In this other room, they found a map and a magical chain, with instructions written in the giant tongue. Since Dalron could read the giant's language, he was able to determine that the chain would transport up to 6 people to the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. Based on earlier documents found, it seems these frost giants were co-conspirators in the attacks on Sterich and Geoff. The party discussed this and decided not to immediately make the trip, but to finish searching the dungeon, specifically an area where the hallway had been intentionally blocked off. They first spoke to the orc slaves they previously freed, asking if they knew what was beyond the blocked off area and if they knew what the giants were searching for with all of the digging. Although the orcs could not say what the giants were looking for, they did say that a strange temple was uncovered on the other side of the wall and that troglodytes had been attacking and harassing them, hence why the tunnel was blocked. The party asked the orcs to help unseal the tunnel while they explore the other side, which the orcs only agreed to do if they could seal the tunnel behind them.

And so the party began exploring another area of the dungeon. They didn't get very far before they found the temple that was alluded to. Cadwin began feeling his way around and was immediately chilled by the cold walls. Pontus could see to the far side of the temple, behind an altar was a wall with shifting, amorphous/swirling purple and green hues that induced nausea to look at. Remembering a similar wall in a temple the party had found in some caves between Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil, which nearly drove the barbarian insane, Pontus decided to leave the room rather than deal with anything inside. Cadwin, who became overwhelmed with nausea just by touching the walls, also decided it was best to leave. And so the party left, not even exploring the rest of the dungeon area, but clearing the blocked hallway and returning to safety on the other side.

It is worth mentioning at this time that the day was nearly over, and we had a new player in the group whose character was not yet introduced. The group was fairly confident that this player's character would be found somewhere in the dungeon and the player, who had grown impatient, blurted out a clue that led the party back to explore a cistern that they previously only partially investigated.

In the cave that held the cistern was an opening in the south and north wall. Water from a stream flowed from the north, into the cistern, which then overflowed to another stream that went out the south end of the cave. Cadwin had previously explored the south tunnel and part of the north tunnel, but this time decided to explore the north tunnel further, finding that it opened up into a large natural cavern with an underground river flowing through it. The stream that filled the cistern flowed from the larger river. The party decided to all crawl through the tunnel and explore the cavern beyond. The river flowed from the northeast, where another chamber of the cavern could be seen, but there was no way to walk there. Using a combination of levitate spells and spider climb spells, however, the party was able to make their way over the river and through.

On the other side, they saw a carrion crawler with a drow elf in its tentacles, about to eat it for dinner.
The party sprung into action, doing what they do best and killing the giant bug, freeing the paralyzed drow. Before they were safe, two more of the things popped up out of the ground, paralyzing Pontus before themselves being killed. The party decided to disarm and tie-up the elf before making camp to rest.

That night, the elf awoke during Sarril's watch. Sarril questioned him and he explained that his name was Bukro Shrazino from the hidden drow city of Ust Natha. He explained that he serves the wizards of Ust Natha, who do not worship Lolth, and was sent to spy on the noble houses of Erelhei-Cinlu - specifically House Eilservs, who seem to have tapped into some great unknown power. Unfortunately, Bukro was discovered, and inadvertently revealed (due to ESP) the location of Ust Natha, which was destroyed by magma a few months ago in what seemed like a natural disaster, but with suspicious timing. And Bukro was not the only one suspicious. There was one lone survivor from Ust Natha, a human sage who lived among the drow wizards who went by the name of Lucas. Lucas told Bukro that he suspects House Eilservs was behind the disaster, and that it was more important than ever that someone discover the secret to their power, which threatens both the underdark and the surface world. Lucas told Bukro that House Eilservs is orchestrating giants to attack the surface world as part of a larger unknown scheme. If he could find out the purpose of the giant attacks, it may lead him to some much needed answers. And so, Bukro came up from the underdark seeking the hill giant chief's stronghold when he was attacked by a carrion crawler.

The story was interesting, but it wasn't until Cadwin cast Detect Alignment to confirm that Bukro was not evil that the party decided to trust him. They invited him to join them as they share a quest to investigate the giant menace. Not wanting to travel into the underdark, and not wanting to explore the rest of the caves beyond the uncovered temple, the party decided it would be best to dig their way to the surface. Since another day had passed, the raging inferno upstairs was little more than smoldering ash. Using the Dig spell, Sarril was able to remove the collapsed rubble at the top of the stairs and make a path back to the surface. It was the first time that Bukro had ever seen sunlight, and it blinded him and burned his skin. Cadwin gave him a cloak and helped protect his exposed skin and his eyes eventually adjusted (for the most part).

It is the morning of the 5th Day of Brewfest and the Badass Motherfuckers are now a party of 6, standing in the foothills of the Jotens where the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief Nosnra once stood.

Oct 21, 2018

2nd Day of Brewfest, CY 580 - Round 2 with the hill giants

The party ran through the double doors from the hill giant's hall and into the courtyard, shutting the wizard-locked door behind them. They decided to run up into the watch tower to take a break and discuss their next steps. While up there, Cadwin and Sarril were able to cast a few healing spells on the fighters, giving the party a fighting chance. Feeling strong now, they decided to rush back in and finish the job they started, before the giants could heal up and regroup.

Dalron took a peek behind the double doors to look down the hall and he saw two hill giants in armor, carrying swords and talking to a third hill giant in much nicer armor, carrying an even nicer sword. This giant was fairly handsome, especially for a hill giant, and not at all out of shape like the others. This giant spotted Dalron peeking through the doors and decided to call him out. "Are you your party's champion!? Come face me alone, one on one." Dalron shut the door as the giant called out that he was a coward. The party decided to make a hasty retreat.

Unfortunately, the time spent in the tower was long enough that four remaining ogre guards, led by two hill giants, were able to leave through a side door and come around to the front. They were intending to chase the party down the road, but were able to determine they were in the courtyard and approached the entrance. As Pontus opened the door to escape, he was met with two of the ogres who immediately attacked. The ogres were easy, but the two hill giants behind them took longer to bring down, giving the three hill giants inside time to go around the wizard-locked door and approach them at the rear. While the party struggled to finish off the last giant in front of them, they sustained a volley of boulders being thrown from behind. They were able to finally bring the last one down and break into a full run (with Cadwin, of course, turning into a bat). Sarril stopped just outside of the doors, however, balancing on some of the rocks beside the road. When the two giants emerged and prepared to throw more boulders at him, he started to prepare the Meld to Stone spell. One rock crashed nearby - miss. Then another rock crashed nearby - second miss. Then Sarril flipped the birds and disappeared into the stone. The two confused giants stared at the rocks, trying to figure out where Sarril went as the rest of the party ran as fast as they could down the road. Shortly thereafter, the handsome giant emerged and yelled at the other two "Nevermind him! Kill the others!" At which point, they threw some more rocks at the party, but the rest of the party was soon out of range and disappearing into the wilderness.

Having a druid, a barbarian and a ranger pretty much guarantees the party will have an easy time out of doors. They easily found a small cave where they could safely hide while they heal up and figure out their next move. They decided to spend two days resting before heading back. The first day was to maximize healing and the second day to prepare their next assault. They decided on return to approach the compound under the protection of an Invisibility 10 ft Radius spell, bringing a summoned fire elemental and earth elemental in tow. They sent both elementals at the front door, while they all headed to a side door. Although the remaining giants were now fully armed and armored and keeping watch, they still weren't quite prepared for this. Boulders were useless against the elementals that require magical weapons. They did see the handsome hill giant and several more come out another side door and head over to confront the elementals, guessing that it is possible he might be able to handle them, but even so, it will be a distraction long enough for them to get inside and explore the place. For the most part, they had unfettered access.

The first thing they discovered was a kennel full of 14 dire wolves. Cadwin cast animal friendship on one of them and tried in vain to have it convince the others to join the party (the selected wolf was, unfortunately, not the alpha). They decided to keep the dire wolves locked away and come back later after exploring the rest of the fortress. As they made their way in, looking into empty storage rooms, dining rooms with some raid maps and other papers (which they collected) and a kitchen where some hill giants were cooking a meal, they started to smell smoke. After a few more turns of searching, the smoke was getting stronger. It was clear that the fortress was now on fire.

As they continued to explore, looking for the chief's bedroom, they came across some stairs going down and decided to take them. This led, unexpectedly, to a lower level dungeon with many passages. Following one of the passages east led to a hall full of dungeon cell doors, with bugbear guards keeping watch. Still under the invisibility spell, the party slipped past, following the sounds of hammers on metal coming from the end of another hall. There they saw six dwarves chained to forges making giant sized weapons. Directing these dwarves was another dwarf in plate armor wielding a vicious battleaxe. Guarding the room were two fire giants with flaming swords. The party decided this is where they would drop the invisibility and get into a fight. While still invisible, the party moved into a semi-circle around the dwarven task master. With Cadwin facing north and Sarril facing west, they both unleashed a lightning bolt at the same time, one at each giant, criss-crossing in the middle to get a double hit on the dwarf. The dwarf failed both saving throws and the damage was devastating. As the dwarf stood, clinging to his last breath, he swung twice at Sarril, making him feel the full force of his axe before Pontus appeared and finished him off. Now the party only had the two giants to worry about.

The good news about the fire giants is that they only attacked once per round. The bad news is that they never missed, and they did about 25 points of damage per hit. They also had 80 hit points a piece, so even with all of Dalron's giant-killing bonuses, it took a few rounds to bring them down, during which Pontus took a lot of damage. After killing the giants, the party started to heal themselves up and free the chained dwarves, at which time four bugbears appeared at the end of the hallway. Sarril immediately threw a fireball, killing three of them as the fourth started to run away. Dalron threw a dagger into its back, dropping it before it reached the intersection and alerted more guards.

The party learned from the dwarves that this dungeon houses orc slaves that the giants use as labor. There were another three rooms down this hallway that contained 48 orc slaves that were ready to turn on their masters. The party decided to give them the bugbear's weapons and send them on their way. After opening a few more cell doors and adding to their numbers, the orcs charged ahead to the bugbear guard quarters where a massive fight broke out. The party used the distraction as an opportunity to explore some more of the underground passages.

One hallway led to a passage that was walled off by boulders, which the dwarves said the giants walled it off for some reason. The dwarves stated they had seen troglodytes at one time, so the wall was most likely something erected to keep them at bay. Another hallway led to smaller 10x10 jail cells, one of which held a crazy man and another of which held an elf who claimed to be part of an adventuring party that came after the giants but got captured instead. The rest of his group now dead, he would be very happy to join the heroes if they would have him. Dalron decided he could not be trusted, and sent him to hang out of the freed dwarves.

One room opened up into the quarters of what the party assumed is the hill giant torturer, based on a torture chamber they had come across earlier. As Pontus opened the door, he was immediately jumped by two carnivorous apes who started tearing into his flesh. The apes were brought down soon enough, but their master, a wicked old hill giant, hunched over with only one eye, followed right up. He carried an especially sharp axe that he was able to do a lot of damage with. Pontus stood toe to toe with him in the doorway to protect the rest of the party while Dalron did his thing with throwing daggers. The fight was over soon, but the party was starting to feel a bit rough and decided to go back upstairs and out so they can rest up.

Heading upstairs, they quickly became overcome by smoke from the fire. The fortress was fully engulfed at this point. They had to turn back downstairs and look for another way out. Aside from the blocked passage, there were still two more unexplored passages to check. The first led to a cistern which the party decided was best not to investigate. The second had several branches, each of which led to a dead end where it looks like laborers had been recently digging - for what wasn't quite clear. A few of the dead ends widened out into large rooms and in one of the rooms was the giants from the kitchen taking refuge from the fire. The party left them alone and moved on.

This is where we left off. It is the 4th day of Brewfest, CY 580, and the party has to decide whether to find a way past the blocked passage, or wait things out down here until the fire burns out upstairs.