DGA1.12: Giantslayers

The characters for this session:

Seck the senior man on the team: L3 rogue/scout, enemy of the red dragon, doom of Gleekmound, friend to Elin Barad, hag’s bane

Phoenix the relative newcomer: L2 Tlinget barbarian, hag’s bane

Vir the older and slightly bitter hand, L2 half-elf ranger, hag’s bane

Cat the ever-quipping L2 warlock, friend to Elin Barad, hag’s bane

Layton the NPC L2 fighter, enemy of the red dragon

We pick up the action as the five lovable misfits and Sholt the local hunter escort Jahia, aged hero, and now wearing her full armor, the last few yards to Frickley. They are tired, but the rest while at Jahia’s has been enough to prevent exhaustion.

The dawn-kissed village of Frickley, under threat of plundering from the giant Yegor Bonecruncher, is in a state of turmoil. Pack-beasts are being loaded, and light carts are standing ready. Cat immediately joins those villagers exhorting them to stay – the departing folk seem to be the hunters, Tastra Fleetsong the red-headed huntress among them. Seeing this, Jahia nods as though to say ‘carry on’, heads into the village, and is greeted by Pello the halfling innkeeper, who bows low before her.

“Village meeting! To the Blue Duke!” – Pello

Cat’s voice alone is insufficient to make Tastra pause [9 persuasion even with advantage] but as Seck adds his voice: “she comes to aid you – and this is how you repay her?” – Cat spins a wily tale of Jahia having a plan [23 on deception] and the hunters grudgingly join the other villagers:

“Well – it’s at least worth hearing the plan” – Tastra

“Town meeting!!!” – Pello

During the early proceedings Cat buttonholes Pello and demands his payment, family jewels promised for bringing Jahia. Pello puts him off, for the time being. The others cluster round Jahia, who asks:

“So, what’s the plan?”

The villagers file in, many looking skeptical when they see Jahia’s age. Grigor the stalwart farmer bustles in, eager, slightly pig-smelling, but does a double take when he too sees the paladin.

“Honored lady…” – Grigor

“You distract his attention, I’ll hamstring him” – Phoenix, sotto voce

“I think the idea is to win them over” – Jahia, sotto voce

“I meant the giant” – Phoenix, sotto voce

“There’s a time and place for everything” – Jahia, sotto voce

Jahia now mutters to the four leaning near:

“We have hunters with bows… so they could… shoot things… and farmers, who I suppose are good at digging things… they always used to be…”

“We have a plan! The wise Jahia has shared her plan” – Cat, aloud

“Let’s hear it then!” – Tastra, challengingly

Cat calls for a wet for Jahia’s dry throat, Pello produces a large goblet, Phoenix gloms it, Pello produces a second, and while this comedy is mimed out, Cat plausibly pretends that he’s just repeating Jahia’s plan. Hunters will drive arrows at Yegor who will then stumble into a pit farmers have dug:

“He is a dumb brute, so he will act as we cofefve” – Cat, concluding

Pello chips in, agreeing that Yegor is bound to follow the same path he took three days ago. He came out of the south foothills, past the windmill in the grainfields, and around to the gate.

Jahia stands, pretending her knees haven’t carried her through the night:

“Let’s see this field”

Vir and Seck, and Grigor, debate pit height and use of spikes, as they all filter out.

The south field is stubble, dominated by a windmill (red block on map) and somewhat compressed nearer the village by woods on the right (west), and orchard and copses on the left (east).

They’ll need to get Yegor stomping in a predicatable line, if the pit-and-trip plan is to work. And the crucial decision is made: Jahia believes that if she challenges Yegor, he will indeed come storming towards her. So she proposes to stand just south-west of the village wall, gate-side.

Sod-cutters are instructed to cut layers of fallow, out of sight of the main field, ready to lay over pits. They walk the field, sizing up the windmill and the woods directly opposite it.

As plans mature Jahia’s stand is moved further south (red heart on map), to draw Yegor between windmill and woods. With that decided, Tastra and the hunters are asked to hide in the woods, and Cat decides to stay with the hunters.

Vir and Seck examine the windmill while the other peer in the narrow door. Complex gears, currently disengaged, connect the sails to a vertical shaft and that to a huge grindstone, which rotates around an upright and phallic pillar.

“I thought so… this used to be the maypole… maidens would dance around it… it was shaped like an enormous dick… the church was broader back then… they honored Chauntea” – Jahia

As Jahia warned, the windmill-as-sniper-nest is pretty disappointing. Aside from the door, the gear-floor high above offers a platform, if one were to smash tiles and lathe away, from which to snipe. Seck decides to do this, making arrow slits, and an even bigger exit on the east side, from which his fine silk rope dangles.

Once that’s done he heads down, wishing he had a convenient regiment of mounted archers, to where Grigor’s dig-teams have been hard at work. Laborers are hammering a stake deep into each pit. Seck works with the meager amount of sturdy rope available and attempts to rig an even cleverer trip-rope. [First attempt with the Scout’s doubled proficiency, but a poor result, 5 total] He walks away and looks back:

“Well, at least you can’t see the rope… OK bring those sod covers over!”

The front-liners now make their call. Layton declares that he will stand with Jahia. Phoenix, debating how to get a dash-and-hamstring, asks Jahia abut her own abilities and whether he would be better off standing with her.

“That’s very true… ahmmm… in past times people fighting near me have not been so… likely to be scared. Giants can be terrifying. I remember when we fought the White Wyrm we were all shitting our breeks, but… I managed to keep my feet.”

“As long as I rage, I should be right… unless I stay next to you… but if I rage I need to be close to something I can hurt” – Phoenix

“When I fight, it’s a just a matter of give and take until one of us falls: and, it will be me: it’s a giant” – Jahia

“Well, we’d like to make it the giant that falls” – Phoenix

“Nice thought” – Jahia, pessimistically

“Luvly last day this is” – Cat

The sun is already nearing its zenith as the adventurers organize their fighting gear and the hunters crouch in the forest, selecting favored arrows and nervously smoothing flights. Cat joins them, trying to appear confident. Opposite, Vir waits at the windmill doorway, bow ready. Seck clambers up to his sniper stand and double-checks the escape line! Phoenix makes a final decision: decides to lurk in the nearest forest edge no more than 60′ from Jahia.

Cat suddenly realizes he needs to die rich! He dashes the 300′ around to the gate and rushes through, to the Blue Duke.

Pello takes some persuading, but at length slips behind the bar, snips off his buttons, and shows Cat that under the fabric of each button hides a large pearl. Assuring Pello that if all goes as expected his corpse can be looted of them, Cat runs back. Just in time!

Yegor’s head comes into view over the hills, then his shoulders, then his whole gross corpulent 12′ height as he strides towards Frickley. One hand holds a huge club, the other a vast flapping sack, sporting ugly dark stains. Thick greasy furs protect much of his body.

The hunters wait for Cat’s word. He waits for Seck to open up. Seck waits for Jahia.

As though she heard him, Jahia holds her honking great longsword up and bellows:

“Giant! I am Jahia! This is death!”

She points the sword at him as though it weighs nothing, and raises her other gauntlet on high. Nothing much happens… except, perceiving that the village is not going to render goods (and juicy farmers) unto him, Yegor roars angrily, and his pace changes from plodding amble to purposeful stride! In seconds, he is within bowshot of the line of pits!

Cat decides to walk out as Yegor passes, so as to get really close with his first spell, Faerie Fire. But as he begins moving forward [perception, using inspiration] and away from the hunters, he hears rapid padding through the trees and hastens back. Two terrible worgs, seeing they have been spotted, bay horrendously and the fight is on!

Inits: worgs, Vir, Jahia/Layton, Seck, Cat/hunters, Phoenix, Yegor

Round 1: the worgs pounce and two hunters are slain. The screams from the woods tell Vir and Seck that the hunters and Cat are distracted or possibly dead. Vir decides to wait for Yegor to present his back, and holds fire. Seck looks back: if he swings out now, he can get north away from Yegor. He lands clumsily [Acrobatics 9 on DC10] and skin crawling, steps close to the windmill wall, out of Yegor’s line of sight. Cat steps forward, screwing his nerves to the sticking point, and uses his presence to cow the worgs [12 and 11 on DC13]! The eight surviving hunters loose, panicked, and a couple of arrows sink home. Yegor nears the 120′ gap between windmill and forest.

Round 2: the worgs leap back behind cover. Vir stays put. Seck, seeing that Yegor is still making a beeline for Jahia, slides around the opposite side of the windmill to Yegor, and waits for a shot. Cat follows up with a deceiving speech:

“Worgs! Your giant runs to his doom – we have a mighty paladin – stay and be pincushioned or hunt elsewhere!” [one worg craps out on insight and flees, the other stands its ground]

The hunters move in the general direction of away. Cat drifts back with them, though separated now.

Yegor seems almost to sniff the air as he nears the pits. [uses his smell a rat power]

Round 3: The worg returns to the battle, working around Cat and killing a third hunter. Vir and Seck ready their arrows again. [Insight – Seck clears DC13, not enough to figure out what Yegor did] Cat reveals his power as a caster, hurling a searing Eldritch Blast [crit] onto the worg. The blast knocks it 10′ away. It looks badly hurt! Cat’s nervous reaction leaves him shaking [one level exhaustion] but he’s in the fight!

Yegor walks past the pits as though he knew the right path. Vir brings up Hunters Mark and looses, but his arrow simply bounces off thick fur.

Yegor utters a hideous roar!

[Owing to his flaw Vir has disadvantage on the WIS SV, the others are in cover and have advantage; but even so, it’s DC20. The roar has occurred at a very poor spot for the defenders! Vir and Seck are both frightened, and Phoenix is too.]

Round 4: The worg still in the field leaps around Cat, between he and village, and slays a fourth hunter. Vir again finds greasy fur, not giant. Seck holds again. The six remaining hunters manage to loose enough accurate arrows to kill the worg.

“Take heart! Save the village!” – Cat

Phoenix races to Jahia’s side and attempts to take heart. Layton nods encouragingly. Yegor strides on. [Attempts to recharge his smell a rat power, fails]

Round 5: Vir finally lands a shot, first blood on Yegor. [Vir’s player gets confused about which spell is in operation but Yegor takes minimum damage] Jahia and Layton close a few yards. Seck decides he may as well shoot, and misses. Cat is now a good few yards behind the advancing Yegor and attempts Faerie Fire: the giant moves as he does so [DEX SV] and the fire does not envelop him. Phoenix closes up with Jahia. Yegor, closing on the trio, smashes his foot and club down in a massive concussion: Phoenix staggers, Layton falls, Jahia stands her ground. Yegor swipes his club sideways in a vicious scything motion: she catches the blow on her left arm’s steel armor.

Round 6: Vir’s arrow again finds fur. Layton gets up and he and Jahia make coordinated attacks: Jahia cuts the giant’s leg and Layton’s glaive [crit] lances deep! Seck takes himself out of line of sight, and tries to shake his fear. It doesn’t work. A hail of arrows, loosed at short range, catches Yegor (and a couple bounce off Layton and Jahia) while he side-steps another Faerie Fire [using legendary succeed roll]. Phoenix rages and throws off his fear, hurling himself to the attack! [reckless attack, great weapon] He focuses on the tree-trunk-like leg opposite Layton but his reckless power is too clumsy for the stroke to tell. Yegor heeds him not, and overhands a blow on Jahia, who again catches it. She looks rocky, but sidesteps the next stroke.

Round 7: Vir’s arrow goes wide. Jahia strikes true but Layton stumbles and completely messes up. Seck steps out again and this time his arrow merely finds greasy fur. Cat holds, awaiting Yegor’s stroke, and the hunters, taking their cue, pull back. Phoenix snorts a tiny bit of straw, sneezes, and his axe-swing goes wide. As Yegor’s swing begins Cat unleashes a good Eldritch Blast and Yegor, knocked off guard, misses, only catching Jahia with a spiteful back-swing. She’s on her last legs.

Round 8: Vir again finds fur. Jahia cuts deep, Yegor almost stumbles. Layton’s glaive strikes a wrist-brace and does no damage. Seck again steps out from cover, lands a good shot! Yegor staggers and drops to one knee! Cat again waits, but the hunters, reassured by the giant’s slumping, unleash and Yegor falls…

“Your honor – the last blow is yours” – Phoenix.

Jahia clambers on Yegor’s chest, draws her short sword, drives it under his sternum, rams her gauntleted hand in and pulls out a fistful of heart. And swallows it down! And holds her bloody gauntlet up! Clouds suddenly roll over, and lightning jumps from them onto Jahia’s upraised fist.

[DEX SV all round for those clustering around Yegor – and amazingly they all make it!]

And as Jahia eats and the giant’s essence is subsumed, her powers return.

Lay on hands! One hunter can be revived and is saved.

In the aftermath the comrades discuss who ought to be holding the healing potions (but do not decide).

They are now known as giantslayers. Jahia makes her way over to Vir:

“You aren’t kin, but I see your terrible struggle against things that are too hard to bear. Take this, and when you meet things that are too terrible, think of me, and it may help.”

Vir dons the Giantslayer medallion, light for silver, with a dwarf rune on it.

[While it does not remove Vir’s flaw he will be able to SV normally when confronted by hideous giant monsters]

During the village celebration, Jahia suggests to Pello that perhaps Yondalla would be an acceptable local saint.

On the journey south, they visit Biddypoint. Frida has been unable to resume constable duties, but otherwise things are as well as can be expected. Trade is expected to resume, since goblin fever is now survived. Phoenix describes the old temple west of Biddypoint, and since it’s just a day into the woods, she agrees to head in with them.

Jahia identifies the veiled female statues as Shar, night mistress, and one of the senior-most of the old gods. She relates a great deal more of the fall of the gods than Cat had expected to hear, but he files it away as best he can. According to Jahia, as the Teulon expansion reached here some 300 years ago the One True Faith swept all the old temples clear, be they dark or light.

“Are you elven?” – Cat

“I have that blood in my veins…” – Jahia

It seems that Jahia once married, but their line ran thin and only a great-granddaughter remains: Tastra, the red-haired huntress. She is the reason Jahia settled back in the area.

Phoenix’ next inspiration is about the dragoneye gems linked to Yazol’s necklace. Two remain hidden. Where else has Yazol lurked? When the necklace is brought near Lightwatch Tower ruins, the remaining two are duly found. Jahia is interested in the circumstances, and agrees that the holy symbol with ‘Roweena’ inscribed on it is the holy symbol of the fiend-saint Roweena, blessed of Lathander. And Yazol’s notes on the curse explain much:

“So there was a demon under there then…”

But that is a quest for another time, and the six travel on south: to Stiglehold!

All these five characters are Level Three. 

This set-piece largely follows writer MT Black’s outline. Because the characters were stronger than design level, I added some legendary powers to Yegor. And two worgs rather than one dire wolf. I play-tested, to make sure it wasn’t a death trap. A couple of tests suggested that seeing the south field acts as a lure, drawing characters south, when the smart money will keep everyone right beside the village, with Jahia. The windmill could even become a death-trap if Yegor swings his club at it. 

In the event, characters scored an amazingly high proportion of hits into the giant’s  armor cover (AC10-12) but scored often enough at the business end. No-one thought to give Jahia’s backup guy, Layton, one of the three healing potions, but she lived anyway. A very good finale!

Thoughts for the future, from Stiglehold: Vir is most interested in using their knowledge of the Red Blade – Barkskin orcs to intervene south. What may be needed is someone that can speak fluent orc, and/or disguise infiltrators…

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