Jan 27, 2019

1st Day of Patchwall, CY 580 - Into the Glacial Rift and. . . tragedy

This week we return to the "main" party continuing to explore the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.

After resting for two days to heal and recover spells, the party decided to trek back into the glacial rift. They knew if any frost giants were left, they would likely be better prepared - maybe even setting a trap, so the party took extra precautions. Sarril cast Fly on the three strong fighters, each of whom then were able to carry Sarril, Cadwin and Luapan on their backs. He also cast Invisibility 10 ft. Radius, rendering the entire party invisible, as well as Detect Invisibility on the fighters so they could communicate with each other with hand gestures. It consumed a fair amount of Sarril's daily spellpower, but it was worth it. They used the invisibility to float just above the surface of the ice, ignoring any slick areas or traps while making no noise at all.

At the entrance were posted two very cold hill giants - some of those who had escaped from the burning hill giant fortress. The party slipped right past them and began exploring the caves. Most of the caves in the northern rift were empty except for two area where the hill giant champion and few others were camping out. The hill giant champion would have been extremely tough as he was of higher hit dice than the other hill giants, wore plate mail, carried a shield and had a huge sword. But the party has a specialized double-wielding drow fighter/thief named Bukro with them now, and Bukro does what Bukro does, which in this case meant flying invisibly behind the hill giant champion and completely eviscerating him in one attack. As if three backstab attacks for x3 damage wasn't enough, he also rolled 2 natural 20s on the die. The resulting bonuses and multipliers resulted in over 160 points of damage to the hill giant before he even had a chance to scream. The other hill giant in the room, who just watched who he thought was the toughest fighter in the world get cut to ribbons by a flying, now visible drow, failed his morale check and panicked. But before he could act (it was still the surprise round), Pontus struck at him and Dalron tossed four daggers into him and, with Dalron's giant-killing bonuses added, they were able to drop him before a sound came out of his mouth. The party then went into another nearby cave where three more hill giants were located, and quickly took them out as well.

After Sarril re-cast invisibility on the visible fighters, they party headed further south, into unexplored territory. They came into a room with five stone giants, whom they decided to ignore. In another room they found three fire giants, and decided they needed to take them out. Following a similar plan to before, they started with Bukro doing an invisible backstab, with Dalron and Pontus following-up on a surprise round. This time Bukro came close to a kill, but not quite, so this fight actually went into round 2, where the giants got to hit back. Still, the fight was over quickly and those wounded were able to get healed, but the three fighters were now permanently visible. The party found three large sacks of gold - payments received or payments to be delivered, though it was unclear which.

The party decided it was time to fly down into the bottom of the the rift. From the map they had recovered from the hill giants, they could see semi-circle wall at the southern end of the rift that would be worth exploring (7D on the map below).

The icy mist was heavy down here, so even in daylight they only had obscured vision for 30 ft., and could see nothing further than that. The party carefully stepped into the enclosure, which was about 60 ft. across its diameter. They could see human and demi-human skeletons piled along the interior wall. Suddenly, are large shadowy figure moved across their peripheral vision before disappearing back into the fog. As everyone tried to ready their weapons and get their bearings, anticipating where an attack might come from, in the confusion there was quick flash of something blue and scaly that struck out like blur before disappearing back into the fog. Where Pontus was standing, there was now an empty space. As soon as he could determine where the thing was, Cadwin cast faerie fire and lit up an outline of what Sarril determined was a remoraz. The party launched an all-out massive attack, hoping to kill it quickly and rescue their friend from its belly. Sarril thought he had read somewhere that these beasts regurgitate their victims when killed. Unfortunately, that was not the case, and two rounds later, when they had felled the beast, Luapan and Bukro started immediately cutting open its abdomen. A burning hot magma-like substance poured out, melting a hole into the ice. A magic shield and sword were found inside, white hot, but resisting the magic of the items were resisting the heat. There was no sign of Pontus. May the great Fruztii warrior be remembered.

RIP, Pontus of the Cold Crow Clan

The party had no time to grieve their fallen comrade however, as a shadow loomed overhead and two of the living party members were stricken with fear. Sarril, realizing a dragon was upon them, immediately flew straight up into the air in the hopes of avoiding its breath weapon. Dalron did the same, about 30 ft. in front of Sarril, hoping to get a couple of good head-on attacks in. The dragon released its breath weapon on both of them, but, due to the Endure Elements spell Cadwin had cast on them earlier, the already weak white dragon breath damage was halved before saves, and they both took only superficial wounds. But while white dragons may not be the strongest, they are the fastest and most maneuverable of their kind, and the dragon flew past Dalron and swung around to attack Sarril while getting pelted by thrown daggers from Dalron. One more round of fighting and the party thought they had the upper hand when the second dragon came in and released its breath weapon on Luapan, Bukro and Cadwin on the ground. Sarril released a numbers of offensive spells at the dragon, many of which did not get through its magic resistance, but there was some effect.

The first dragon then managed to hit Dalron with both of its claws in mid-air and get him into a hold. That's when Luapan rushed at the dragon with a heroic acrobatic move. Using the Jump spell to leap off the top of the ice wall, right at the dragon with this +5 staff spear, plunging it deep into the dragon's side in mid-air, then held on for dear life as the dragon sped away with its prey. The dragon flew past the rift and far out over the glacier, making bite attacks against Dalron as it flew. But Dalron is incredibly strong, and was able to make a Bend Bars check to get free of the dragon's grip while Luapan managed to pull himself up onto the dragon's back and pull his spear free. The dragon wasn't stupid. It knew that Luapan would us that position on his back to drive that spear in, and it was already severely injured from Dalron's first assault at it. The dragon went into a nose dive, spinning as it flew and sending Luapan into a free-fall. Dalron kicked himself free and since the Fly spell was still active, he stayed airborne while throwing another volley of daggers at the dragon. The dragon continued its nosedive, straight into the glacier below - dead. Luapan, who was slowly descending with the use of a Feather Fall spell, was picked up by Dalron and together they started flying back toward the rift.

In the meantime, Sarril, Cadwin and Bukro were dealing with the second dragon. Cadwin unleashed two lightning bolts at it, doing considerable damage, but he was very limited with what he could do on the ground. Sarril wasn't having as much luck, and was getting quite frustrated that his spells were not penetrating the dragon's weak magic resistance (it was just unlucky rolls of the dice). Sarril had cast Mirror Image on himself to buy a few rounds against the dragon's claw and bite attacks, but he was nearly out of images and things were starting to get desperate. Finally, in a last ditch effort, he cast Polymorph Other on the dragon, which failed its magic resistance and its save, turning into a sea bass and falling to the bottom of the rift below. The fight over, the party gathered back in the Remoraz nest to search more thoroughly. Although they found a few magic items on the skeletons, they found no sign of Pontus' body.

DM's Note: The question is likely to be raised at this point "why are there skeletons if the Remoraz leaves no trace of its meal?" I had to ask that myself. I am using the 2nd edition Remoraz description which says that anyone swallowed dies at the end of the same round in which they were swallowed due to the extreme heat within the Remoraz. The heat is so intense that any non-magical metal weapons striking the creature melt (and I did forget to say that, so technically Dalron should have lost his daggers that he threw at it, which would have resulted in the dragon killing him as he would have been without throwing daggers to deal with it, but I'm not a perfect DM and the party often benefits from that). I decided that since Pontus had a Ring of Fire Resistance on, I would give him one round to be saved, even though there is nothing in the rules about that. It took more than a round to kill the beast, however, and in that time, even minor magic items were destroyed inside (I did roll saves for the items). Pontus is not only dead, his body has been utterly consumed by the volcanic heat inside the remoraz. There is no resurrection from this. So what were all of the skeletons? My best guess is that this was originally a lair for something else and the Remoraz moved in - possibly eating whatever was here before that created those skeletons.

Jarl Grugnir
After Cadwin and Luapan healed everyone up, the party decided it was time to go again. They were out of spells and in no shape to fight. Only Sarril could fly at this point, so they decided to walk north along the bottom of the rift toward a set of stairs along the northwest wall. Little did they know that the bottom of the the rift is a dangerous place, full of all kinds of foul creatures, like that remoraz. The first thing they ran into was a pack of 7 winter wolves. These weren't so bad. At 6 hit dice, they could only land attacks on a natural 20 against most of the heavily armored party, and their ice vreath was nearly useless with Cadwin's protections in place. The party made short work of the wolves. But the wolves weren't the problem. As they were fighting, they heard a horn blast in the distance, and then felt the ground shake. After they killed the winter wolves, the party continued north to find the stairway they were looking for collapsed, trapping them down in the bottom of the rift. That's when the Frost Giant Jarl, Grugnir, stepped forward, flanked by 6 of his his strongest warriors. He addressed the party "You have beaten my warriors and killed my pets. That earns you my attention. Tell me who you are and why you are here."

And with that, we have ended the session. It is mid-day on 1st Day of Patchwall. The party is out of spells and short one melee fighter. How will they deal with the frost giant jarl? (it probably involves Dalron sticking him with daggers, but who knows).

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