DGA7.12: Stoney Creek part two – blackest night

The characters for this session

Phoenix, level 7 barbarian;
Seck, level 7 rogue;
Vir, level 7 ranger;
Cat, level 7 warlock

Ably assisted by Piego, Phoenix’ sidekick

The Long Roaders are 10xp from level 8

The story so far

Two side-quests set in the woodland-marsh-stream tangle cradled between the Razor mountains and Matian river, adjoining Cloverford, take the Long Roaders off their path south. They seek a circlet that is also a scroll-case; and young Liam, son and heir of baron Trewalyn and baroness Aghed of Cloverford. So far, a torn-up red woolen cloak and some footprints suggest they are on the right track. But on discovering a hidden cavern, the “away team” is mauled by a freshwater scrag. Now, they have rendezvoused with Piego and Vir in order to rest. Firewood is fetched and a warm fire helps dry off Seck and Phoenix, who are soaked and cold.

Short Rest! Cat sticks on his few points stirge-damage, Phoenix and Seck roll HD

He who fights and runs away…

I won’t detail each Perception check, but they pretty much all sucked from here on until near the end of the session. Combined with a no-starlight night, it led to severe tactical limits. So we begin with three characters surprised.

DM

Twilight has deepened around the fire to near-dark; cloud cover has increased. As they consider their next move Vir, who as usual has had less to say than others, draws and in the same move looses his longbow at a large furtive shape back in the woods!

CON SV DC16 all round! And only Phoenix misses!

Inits: Phoenix, Seck/Vir/Cat, spellcaster, scrag

Round 2: Seck becomes aware that where Phoenix was there is only a large lump, while Cat – looking away from the fire – sees undergrowth writhing and thickening. Vir sees the large furtive figure fade back, deeper into the woods. As for Phoenix, he finds himself held fast!

“F**k f**k f**k!” Seck curses as he Investigates where Phoenix was, finding only a tangle of vines. Vir looses at disadvantage, adding Smite, and the flare of divine energy reveals the target to Cat, who in turn hurls a Shatter at the area. A shocking clap of thunderous noise smashes twigs and leaves off the trees. With a howl the creature lopes away, retreating rapidly towards the waterfall.

Round 3: Seck leaps from his hiding place and races towards the fleeing figure but is soon Restrained by the tangling vines.

Round 4: Seck uses his Skirmisher boots and Acrobatics to escape and race back. As he does, Vir shoots what he takes to be a hobgoblinoid creature! Seck dodges to one side, avoiding the worst of the damage.

“Guys – we are in a poor position here – should we think about pulling out?” Cat asks.

Round 5: With a roar, Phoenix wrenches himself free, tendrils tearing his flesh away. Rage! Grab Mocair! “Guys! What’s going on? Where’s the enemy?!” he bellows. No-one can answer this most vital of questions.

Then a hateful cursing voice whispers into Seck’s brain, and he staggers at the Psychic damage! He stumbles back to the fire, using a second Skirmisher charge to get clear of vines.

Vir and Cat can do naught but hold fire. Thoughts of retreating are canvassed.

Round 6: “Yeah – pulling back seems like a plan…” Phoenix begins then he Vir and Seck feel a draining weakness, making the idea of swimming out to Piego seem much less plausible!

“Here – hold my axe” Phoenix growls to Cat, preparing to support Vir who of course, has no magic gadget to help swim.

Rounds 7-11: Piego moves the Slippery Eel closer as best he can while the four Long Roaders paddle out. The brawny Coaster hauls them aboard one at a time.

“I’m sorry Phoenix, I had to let the axe go,” Cat apologizes.

Phoenix takes a line of sight back on the campfire trying to guesstimate where the axe may have gone down.

XP: lvl8-9

Rounds 12-13: With sturdy adventurers on the sweeps and Cat’s Fey Sight to navigate them, the Slippery Eel swiftly traverses the short haul back to an islet – once a hillock – in the flood. It boasts a few trees and little else.

Rounds 14-16: The weakened Long Roaders feel their strength return as they briefly discuss what to do next. They are outside effective hunting-bow range of the beaver dam, but Spell Sniper (240′) and Longbow-shot can still reach it.

Round 17: Again it is Vir, who has said little but kept his eyes peeled, who sounds the alarm. Arrow-shaped ripples, heading towards the islet from two directions, catch the dimming campfire-light!

Inits: Cat, Vir, Phoenix, hag, Seck, scrags

Cat chooses to make the scramble to the islet. Splash! He completes his move up into the limited cover and solid footing, but loses his action. Vir for his part can barely see the incoming ripples so Readies Action should a target emerge. Phoenix makes the scramble to shore as well. He has Disadvantage for unlike Cat he can’t see anything. Splash! Phoenix too scrambles up onto dry land until his head comes in contact with a tree, and he too has lost his action. Seck sways to one side as a sibilant hiss alerts him and an icy dart or bolt of some type misses him. Vir’s bowstring booms and the nearest underwater swimmer is hard-hit. Seck decides that he too will make the islet, slides over the side and splashes up, groping his way to what he believes is cover.

Round 18: Cat sees the scrag rear up from Vir’s deft shot, and can also pick out the other underwater swimmer by the ripples. But more bizarrely he can see, at the edge of his Fey Vision, a small pretty fairy, clad in a diaphanous veil, floating just above the water, with mist rising behind her. She smirks evilly at him. Cat drops Banish on the wounded scrag, and it disappears. Gazing at the fairy he spots at least one more arrow-shape ripple part-hidden by the mist.

Vir looses at the next underwater target but the arrow skips up like a flicked stone. “I can see diddly up here guys,” Phoenix complains, “anyone got any light?” Piego starts rummaging in the stowage. The fairy floats or darts, widdershins. The mist is now a full fog, covering the approaching ripple-arrows marking scrags approaching! Looking direct at Cat she curses him, in the name of all that is evil and all that revolts against Titania’s rule. Cat winces at Psychic damage but maintains his Concentration.

Seck readies both Maelsauga and Red Whisper.

The nearer scrag dives deeper, as do the others as they swim in closer.

Round 19: Cat hurls Repelling Blast but he is Counterspelled. He gropes his rod out of his scroll case, taking what cover he can. In the boat, Piego passes Vir a torch and lights it with his flint and steel. With the improved light, Vir can see the pretty floating fairy, though she is opposite the Slippery Eel across the islet from him. He considers doing something crazy to get out to her, but (with a nat 20) instead leaps off the gunwale onto the islet, thief-rolls while planting the torch, and rises Readying Action. Phoenix seizes the torch up and moves up next to Cat, Readying Action with the Sea Dragon Fangs. The fairy moves further widdershins but takes no offensive action. Seck Readies Action.

Three scrags erupt next to the Slippery Eel; Vir drops Bane on them, Phoenix jumps forward and punches one – feeling as though his fists are punching mud – and Seck flings Maelsauga. Troll claws smash heavily into the Slippery Eel and timbers crack. Piego yells in alarm and brandishes a makeshift club.

Round 20: Cat retrieves a spell slot using his rod, then gazes, part-blinded by the torch, around for targets. Vir slams shots into the nearest scrag. It seems to stagger under the arrows. Phoenix advances deeper into the water and attempts his Vortex effect, but is ignored. He wades back out clear of being grappled. The fairy laughs mockingly but remains mist-cloaked. Seck looks for targets but finds nothing useful. The smashing sound of the Slippery Eel’s hull being breeched tells him where at least two scrags are. He Readies Action. The barge rocks, jumps and lists a little.

Round 21: Cat attempts to fake-out the fairy’s Counter, but she reads him well and mocks him a second time! He has to content himself with passing on her direction to the others. Vir slams another accurate shaft into the weakened scrag and with a gurgle it sinks. He casts an eye about, beginning to get a line on the fairy. At the other end of the Slippery Eel from Vir’s stance, Phoenix returns to the attack, plunging out, critting. His fist sinks deep – it is like punching mud! He realizes that the third scrag is invisible in the water! Cat resists the next Curse from the fairy, but still takes some Psychic damage. Seck leaps up onto the Slippery Eel’s gunwale, grabs a rope for balance, and flings Maelsauga. It goes straight through the mud scrag, but the shock of the damage does seem to weaken it. Phoenix calls the invisible scrag’s location. The Slippery Eel lists further as the invisible scrag punches a plank loose.

Round 22: Cat clambers into the Slippery Eel and slams Repelling Blast down. The barge’s side is lit up by the violet flashes. Vir, having now caught sight of the fairy, moves Hunter’s Mark and looses at her, and the fairy laughs mockingly, though to be sure the shot does seem to find a mark. She continues to track widdershins, and successfully fakes-out Cat as she draws a Counterspell off him then throws a real spell at Seck. Who has a sudden urge to run away down the barge and leap off, but shakes it off! He remains balanced on the gunwale, with advantage on either scrag. Meanwhile Phoenix, passing the torch to Piego while swimming, continues ripping into the mud scrag with the Sea Dragon Fangs. Maelsauga once again tears a huge hole in the mud scrag and it sinks with a muddy gurgle. Phoenix is left with only one – invisible – scrag.

Round 23: Cat swallows his Egg and regains a spell slot. He has no line of sight to the scrag, but can sight on the fairy past Piego and Seck. Vir’s link to his Hunter’s Mark allows him a WIS SV and he senses that the fairy is an illusion. He keeps shooting, with no visible effect. The fairy makes no overt attack. Or at least none they can see… Phoenix slams the poison Fangs into the invisible scrag, weakening it. Suddenly Vir is toppled from his stance and dragged into the water by two long tendrils as the “fairy” advances to about 80′ away. Seck takes a wild chance and flings Maelsauga out into the darkness. And hits! The “fairy” illusion disappears and in its stead Cat sees a hideous crone, carried sleigh-like by a tangle of two trolls or scrags. Below the waterline the invisible scrag flails futilely.

Round 24: Cat slams the crone with Repelling Blast twice: she manages to hold on, but the scrag-sleigh is pushed back. One tangling vine holding Vir underwater is loosened. He keeps his grip on his bow, and holds his breath. Seck halloos him on, spending an Inspiration, but he is still stuck fast. Phoenix dives at near-random to grasp around, finds the vine, and tears it free (picking up an Inspiration)! Vir surfaces, gasping for air. Phoenix punches him in the face to keep his rage fueled.

Having taken some damage and with only one scrag attacker remaining the hag retreats, as Cat sends random Blasts after the general direction she went in. The other scrags – invisible and newly returned from another dimension – retreat despite Seck’s best efforts with Maelsauga.

Victory!

Despite being low on spells the vote – Seck objecting – is to follow up while the scrags are badly wounded and while the hag is down on her spells. The Slippery Eel limps across to the closest promontory, a Detect Magic is cast, Phoenix retrieves Mocair, and the session ends.

XP: lvl8-5

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