(These are the notes on the first session of the original Elania campaign which occurred in June of 2011)
After the initial awkward execution of the classic “your party meets at the tavern” trope, the party discussed their plans. Paxton was certain that a lady in black sitting behind them was eavesdropping and called her out on it. The lady denied the charge and rather abruptly told Paxton that if he wanted to have a private conversation, he should have it in his room, not in the open dining area. Paxton’s insistence of the social infraction did not sway the rest of the party, and Halmod apologized for the rudeness of his companion. Paxton also spent a good deal of time warning the rest of the group about his nemesis. It wasn’t clear if the group believed that the enemy existed, or was a figment of Paxton’s imagination. Stonehand ordered two dwarven ales, a rather stout brew, but nothing a well raised dwarf couldn’t handle. Talon found the brew a bit strong for his liking. The party then retired for the evening, with Paxton offering Mabel, the barmaid/waitress a gold piece to alert him if anyone was sneaking around in the inn. Mabel gladly took the coin and said she would oblige Paxton until her shift ended.
Nothing of interest occurred during the night.
The next day the party headed for the stables to rent some horses to take them to Elania after a short breakfast. The first two days passed uneventfully, with just a short meeting with a traveling dwarf with whom they exchanged pleasantries.
Towards the middle of day three, however, the party encountered a band of brigands whose leader demanded a toll to use the road. Halmod asked him upon the authority of which municipality the toll was being paid, and the leader replied “The municipality of me.” This convinced Paxton that the man was leading a band of bandits and he quickly drank a mutagen which modified his body in unpleasant ways. This alarmed the man who drank a potion (presumed to be a “vanish” potion) and disappeared. Thus alerted, the party avoided a surprise ambush attack and was able to engage the ambushing bandits immediately.
The fight was short and the bandits were clearly overmatched. Halmod’s two fireballs fried two bandits and a third was taken down by a combination of one of Paxton’s bombs, and a true strike enhanced arrow from Talon. At this time the remaining three bandits, including the leader, drank a potion, vanished and made their escape. Stonehand absorbed most of the damage as the bandits seemingly found an unarmored target to be too squishy to pass up.
After routing the bandits the party realized they had no real ability to track them to their presumed hideout, and so they returned to the road. The next day they came across the bloody scene of a ritually murdered dwarf and three dead humans. They quickly realized that the dead were working on the road, which was packed dirt to the south of the bodies, but was impeccably laid stone to the north. The dwarf had been beheaded, his head placed on a pike and was skinned and mutilated. The scene was so gruesome that even the stouthearted Stonehand was unable to keep his lunch down as he gathered the remains together for a burial. The party then buried the three humans as well.
Continuing north on the smooth as silk road, the party made great time the next day. Towards the middle of the afternoon they heard sounds of combat to the right of the road and ahead. Leaving the horses picketed at the roadside, they investigated on foot, interrupting the rout of a group of human soldiers by seven orcs. Dead soldiers and orcs were visible on the ground, and as the party attempted to join the fight, the three remaining soldiers were hit by javelins and went down.
With the orcs attention on the soldiers, the party was able to surprise them, an opportunity Halmod made the most of with a well-placed fireball which killed four orcs outright and left a fifth smoldering. Stonehand then raced to engage the remaining orc at ground level while Paxton and Halmod turned invisible and sneaked closer to the fight. Talon made effective use of his True Strike ability and nailed the orc spellcaster who was on top of a stone pillar. Paxton intended to hurl a bomb at the two orcs on the pillar, but Stonehand convinced him to instead try to save the soldiers who were possibly wounded, but not dead. As this was happening the spellcasting orc on the pillar nailed Stonehand with a vicious magical ray attack.
Stonehand found the remaining orc virtually impossible to hit, but received two well aimed strokes from the orc’s greatsword. Paxton healed a fallen soldier and then asked that soldier to use a potion to heal the other fallen soldier. The third soldier, apparently the leader, was not unconscious, but had taken refuge behind a large rock when his soldiers were facing certain defeat and death. Seeing his fallen companion mysteriously heal up and rise before his eyes, the leader rushed to that area and implored the apparently invisible healer to heal him. His pleas were ignored.
Halmod then decided that it was time for another fireball and unleashed a doozy on the two pillar orcs. However, they did not go down. In reaction the spellcasting orc unleashed another devastating ray attack, but this was directed at Halmod. Paxton finally managed to throw a bomb at the pillar orcs and killed one, leaving only the spellcaster, who was then promptly dispatched by Talon’s bow. That left only the remaining orc in combat with Stonehand, and it appeared very ill for Stonehand. After delivering a final but mostly ineffective blow to Stonehand, the final orc was dispatched by Halmod with an unmissable magic missile.
Once the dust finally settled, the leader of the soldiers informed Paxton that he was the grandson of Lord Rovell of Elania.
At this point the session ended for the night.
Just a few points to make. When Rovell’s grandson ducked and cowered from the orc party, all of his soldiers were dead, dying or unconscious, so none of them saw his reaction. One soldier, after healing from Paxton, did hear Rovell plead for a heal spell. But by then the battle was almost over.
The last surviving orc had an AC of 26, which was nearly impossible for Stonehand to hit with his attack bonuses. After looking at this AC I don’t think it was too high for a CR 6 semi-boss. Talon would have hit with a roll of 15 or better, which is a 30% chance, and with true strike, he could have only missed on an attack roll of a 1. Paxton’s attacks are against touch AC, which for that orc was only 17. And of course Halmod can always fall back on magic missile which is a guaranteed hit.
My feeling is that Stonehand will need to be buffed up before combat to be effective. I am also OK if JC wants to revisit parts of the build. I will look again at the extra spell issue that Jeff asked about for Paxton. Seeing the battle today, I think a few buff spells might be in order.
The first bandit encounter was a CR 5 encounter by design. You should have defeated it easily and you did. That gave me confidence that a CR 6 encounter would be survivable by the party and the orc fight was a CR 6 encounter. Other than the damage that Stonehand and Halmod took, nobody else took any damage. I play my NPCs as if they have the intelligence and savvy that their stats say they should. For that reason Stonehand looks to the NPCs like the easiest target to hit. Also Stonehand rushed into the battle ahead of the rest of the party in both encounters, which made him look not only like the easiest target, but potentially a dangerous foe, which doubly focused the NPC’s attentions on Stonehand.
Had Halmod not thrown the fireball at the orc shaman and berserker, it is likely that Stonehand would have at least been knocked unconscious. Up until then the shaman and berserker had already decided to take Stonehand down and another two javelins and a scorching ray were headed at him. It is quite possible that the fireball which changed their minds about the biggest threat saved Stonehand’s life.
To make things faster to start the next session, I’ll describe the loot for you. The shaman had three flasks that look like potions. He also had a wand, which he did not use. When you detect magic you will find that the Shaman was wearing magical gloves. The orc berserker beside him had his javelins in a large magical quiver which also was holding a large number of arrows and crossbow bolts. A lot more than it seems would fit in the container.
The orc Stonehand was fighting had magical armor with a more pronounced aura than Talon’s armor aura. He also was wearing a magical ring. You found only common hide armor and mundane javelins and blades on the other orcs. In all the orcs had 130 gold pieces worth of cash 100 of which was on the shaman’s body. In the same pouch the shaman had a metallic disk with the letter “C” stamped into it. This also has a magical aura, in this case evocation aura, but very weak.
The orcs were carrying some sort of meat which looked like it would sustain them for several days, and each had a waterskin. That’s all there was of note.
I do agree with JC that we need to do something to increase Stonehand’s effectiveness. I will work with JC to handle that. It was for me a fun session, I hope it was fun for all of you.
Update, I had neglected to list among the loot a magical belt.
The extra spell in question for Paxton is fine.
If anyone has any questions before Friday’s session, let me know. Rovell’s grandson had recommended that you come to Elania and meet with Captain Kane. You saw him writing in a ledger of some sort as well as making notes on a separate piece of paper after studying the sky.