DGA8.21: Bad Fruul and the final skull

The Long Roaders for this session

In order of initiative

Phoenix, level 8 barbarian, in pact with Mocair his greataxe;
Cat, level 8 warlock, with Dis his familiar;
Seck, level 8 rogue

Ably and randomly assisted by Jer, level 5 beastmaster ranger with spirit beast, the alpine owl

The Long Roaders begin 17xp from level 9 and end on 9

The recent scene

Fresh from a decent rest in the Fireblaze tavern in Wolf Hamlet, the three Long Roaders meet chief Korva in his great hall, attended there by his armed retinue and his beautiful daughter Ioanna. As talks progress the hamlet’s chief druid Varane is called to advise, and he seems really ill. Ian, one of his two junior druids, is the culprit – and he abruptly transforms to a wolf-man and attacks! As the corpse changes back to Ian, Ioanna decides that Phoenix is just the man she’s been looking for…

Seck finds a horse

While Phoenix is still kinda holding hands with Ioanna and Cat is striking up a conversation with Garynn while helping tend Varane, Seck mutters that he’s going to take a sniff about.

Shunning the eastern option, which just leads to possible ambush by Bogdan or Bad Fruul, he takes himself back the way they came, towards the Great Tree. The idea, he muses, is to link back up with Vir and get word of the enemy werewolves.

The first thing to note, and it is very obvious, is the trail left by a wandering horse. Seck can see it’s riderless, since it has been sniffing about and nibbling any tasty-looking green, and because he can see a thin drag-line left by a trailing rein. It seems to have walked close in around Wolf Hamlet overnight, maybe smelling the other horses, and then carried on west. So that’s where Seck goes, the morning light making the Great Tree stand up in glowing colors.

A squirrel chitters far above on the nearest bough as he passes the Great Tree. That’s a funny time of year for a squirrel to be about? Seck scans the tree suspiciously but can’t see anything overtly menacing. Well, sometimes a squirrel is just a squirrel… but he marks it as something to mention to the woogie-merchant of the team, Cat.

Following along the trail, he soon walks down a sturdy brown: a little mud-spattered but looking fairly fresh. It walks right to his hand as he calls, and Seck begins checking its harness and brand. The harness is nothing special: its brand is a lazy J under an open A or maybe a peak symbol? Come to think of it, this beast was in the stables at Ravenreach.

Seck makes DC25 on animal handling, but a poor Investigate check and can’t immediately pick a reason for it to be riderless.

As he gathers the reins up to lead it back to Wolf, Seck kicks himself for just noticing now – one rein has been snapped short – the horse must have snapped a rein hitch and run off. “Ah well, let’s get you back to the stables – then think about your rider,” Seck reassures it.

XP: lvl9-16

Phoenix has little to say for himself

Phoenix decides to explain his dealings with the Plains tribes and his interest in Uilli, and recounts his adventures to Ioanna. The recounting is short, and mostly ends with the phrase “then I chopped it with my axe.”

Phoenix makes a poor CHA check to put some drama into the telling

Ioanna half-smirks at Phoenix’ hope that Uilli has been revived, but isn’t engaged enough to exert herself to explain.

Cat finds Garynn obliquely helpful

Having stabilized Varane and sure he is on the road to mending, Garynn invites Cat over to the fireside snug, for a better chat.

Timeline of the instigating incident
  • About 2 years ago war erupted between the hitherto-peaceable wood giants and the local hill giants, and the hill giants lost.
  • Bad Fruul drifted in past the Mourning Mounts, seemingly the lone survivor.
  • Not long after that, hobgoblin emissaries roamed the area.
  • An unlikely alliance was formed when bandits (Bogdan) made arrangements with the hobgoblins, and both received protection from Bad Fruul in exchange for tribute.
  • Rumor has it that one of the Hagsjaw hags might still be working her mischief, which might account for such an arrangement.

Somewhat out of nowhere (though maybe having Ioanna’s intention in mind) Garynn tells Cat he’d rather stay back here with his people but if chief Korva tells him to, he’ll be company to the north.

Garynn gives Cat a rough idea of the local geomorphology and Cat sees clearly that “the giants” Himmelganger has been directing them against, and which Jahia intends to attack, are not the same thing as Bad Fruul living in a cave locally. Wood giants, to the north, through a high pass.

XP: lvl9-15

Jer appreciates the rescue and teams up

Seck’s news interrupts the bonding and, feeling the need for clean cold air, all three hit the trail. It takes them roughly south along the track towards the Wailing Hills.

A cry for help! Well, it could be a trap… Cat stays comfortably on Gray Lady’s back while the other two circle in cautiously.

Jer, the ranger from Ravenreach, fell into a shallow ravine when his horse broke free – and jammed his leg up. He’s both astonished and grateful when the Long Roaders spot him a healing potion.

Jer’s actually here to see if he can help out – the small amount of map-work he did for them hardly counts. He’s tracked down and slain about as many bandits as he can, it’s pretty quiet; so now he’s at the Long Roaders’ disposal.

Speaking of Vir’s absence leads Jer to turn naturally to speak about women. He mentions pretty Alla, married; and Ioanna. He seems surprised she is interested in Phoenix.

Jer is trim-bearded and dark-haired, about the same age as the Long Roaders, carries his special longbow; wears light clothes for the weather since his bracers protect him from extremes; and moves at similar pace afoot as Seck.

XP: lvl9-14

A leprechaun is reminded of a favor owed

Now back at the hamlet Seck describes the matter of the chittering squirrel. Sure enough Cat does think it significant! Phoenix and Jer hit the Fireblaze and Seck and Cat amble out west. Dis smells leprechaun!

Addressing the leprechaun in fey-speech prompts the chap himself to open a wee door a dozen feet up. “I ain’t fergottin what we talked about an’ I do owe ye a favor!”

Diddle-dee-dee, indeed, ’tis as ye say

The leprechaun seems to know a lot about Cat’s plans – maybe Dis is gossiping behind lord Cat’s back? He offers a one-way trip in about 12 days time, just for Cat unless they can persuade him with gold!

XP: lvl9-13

Buying a few bits and pieces at Trader Flint’s

Back once more in the hamlet Cat stops by Trader Flint’s trading post. He buys a handful of tooth-cleaning sticks (especially for Seck, after all he does have hopes of impressing Gwen) and some furs, choosing ones that should shed the rain best. Phoenix and Seck follow suit with the furs. The former has wandered in after asking after healing potions elsewhere. There aren’t any here, either.

“I may not be a healing type of ranger, but I know well how to use healer’s kits,” Jer avers. That’s reassuring – unless he’s the one that needs one, of course.

It’s a clear, calm mid-day. There’s not going to be a better time to go a-giant hunting!

XP: lvl9-13

Jer gets the lay of the land

A short walk brings the adventurers to the trail east, and Jer offers to check the land ahead. Stepping off the trail to a sheltered nook he seats himself on a cold cold rock and asks the others to watch his back. On adopting the “sleeping kogoro” stance a spirit-bird pulls itself free of his back and flies up – roughly the size and shape of a large owl. It seems that of the three, only Cat can see it clearly.

Trevelyan Mage, The Circle, Tarot Card, Dragon Age

Nigh a quarter-hour passes, then Jer comes to himself and looks up:

The high hill or mount beyond drops down in three folds that form a three-foothill ridge. If the party uses the col nearest them, they can come around above Fruul’s lair. The latter is clear from above, a cone-shaped beaten zone overlooking the trail. And on the trail, a horse lies dead.

“Any sign of Bogdan lying dead with it?” – Jer shakes his head no.

The party plan, at this stage, is for stealth. Then a wolf howl comes on the still-barely-moving air.

“We better get moving!”

XP: lvl9-13

Death dance on the hill’s nape

Jer leads the way, easily picking the best routes so that even Phoenix in his half-plate and Cat in his thick furs have no great trouble keeping up. It’s a brisk pace nonetheless!

Athletics from Cat, no problem, no short-rest exhaustion. (Cat is the only character with lower base move than Jer)

Another howl. “No that’s a wolf, I’m pretty sure,” Jer answers as someone wonders if it’s a werewolf.

They descend from a stand of spare, bare-branch beeches: here and there snow sits, stark white on the winter-dark ground. Along the col – more snow. Up into the nape between Fruul’s own hill and the back-valley. Winds pick up a mite. Another howl.

“Stand or go for the cave?”

“Let’s go for the cave!”

Jer seems a little worried by this decision – he’s very much an at-range ranger – but runs along with them.

Then ahead and behind, a wolf is seen, bounding at pace to pincer the party. At the same time, over the brow of Fruul’s hill leaps a man-wolf, running towards them, occasionally dropping to all fours to gain speed! “You’ve come to claim your own death!” he howls at them.

“I smell hag, my lord,” whispers Dis.

“Dammit, too late! We’re making a stand!”

Inits: Phoenix, Wolfpack, Cat, Bad Fruul, Hag, Seck/Jer

Round 1: Phoenix picks his spot – nothing to mark it, it just seems as good as any – and braces, ready with Mocair. He’ll be lower than the wolf behind them, if it leaps.

At a wailing whistle from their leader, the wolves adjust their gait so as to all strike at once. Cat peers past the werewolf – something’s not quite right. He’s making tracks but they disappear – some type of illusion? A massive boulder appears from the seemingly-empty patch of ground!

“Heads down!!”

The rock clips Jer who is flung down, rolling over and over. Cat raises the Staff and summons a Wall of Water. A fiendish howl echoes around, clutching at hearts and souls!

A bunch of buttons are spend as some sucky dice hit the table! Cat and Jer take the Frightened condition. The good news is that with the Wall of Water in the way, they can’t see the hag.

Seck moves to a convenient Dash from Phoenix, and Readies. Jer rises to his knees by the water, also ready.

Round 2: Phoenix remains standing but takes the Dodge action. The wolves aren’t wolves – they are worgs! – and lope closer (no-one can see the werewolf any more, owing to the wall.) Cat focuses on the worg coming in ahead and double-Repels it: bowling it back tail-over-tip. There’s a <plash> as a boulder clips the wall top and bowls high over, and a second merely slogs to a stop at the wall and no farther. There’s a roar of frustration. Then everyone is skipping as best they can as adders strike at ankles! A grey spirit-shape rips the one menacing Jer. Seck is well back from the wall but still has no line of sight on the brow of the hill. He Readies.

Round 3: Phoenix casts about for a better stand-point. Nothing leaps to mind. [These are basic proficiency checks reflecting Phoenix’ experience.] The worgs race on. Cat Repels the same battered worg, and this time it does not rise again! He begins to move somewhat towards Seck and Phoenix, leaving Jer crouched by the wall. Attempts to rally his spirits. Nope, that hag howl is still scary. Then he’s caught by a huge boulder and is slammed down prone. Maybe staying prone is the way to go! He rolls away from the next snake, too late! – is bitten – but shrugs it off.

Suddenly the still noon is completely changed as a blizzard drops onto them from nowhere. Howling wind, next-to-no visibility. The hag taunting carries, and they hear fey voices singing in the wind. Cat sees tiny ice mannikins dancing. “Do we have a favor we could call in, lord Cat?” Dis asks. A longbow shaft leaps from Jer’s bow at the nearest and Cat recognizes the mannikin is an ice sprite, as seen in Ravenreach.

“Sprites! Change sides!” Cat calls, then (prompted by Dis) leans heavily into the “threaten them with Titania” diplomacy. Intimidation! The sprites waver and decide to stay neutral. Seck disregards the sprites, strains his senses for a foe, and takes the Dodge action.

Round 4: Phoenix judges that the wolf coming downslope on their backtrail will hit any time now: Bonus action Rage, Ready with Mocair: a huge worg leaps at him: Shield Brooch which thanks to the half-plate wards off the bite: the worg takes a huge amount of damage, kind of lands on three paws, and Phoenix steps over to it and finishes it off.

The werewolf, still in man-wolf form, races at Seck. One raking claw spoils one of Seck’s furs. Cat flicks his gaze between a worg lying bloody and this new target: decides to go for the definitely dangerous one. Two Repelling Blasts hammer him back: he rolls over and over and ends on the west side of the wall, some yards from Jer and Cat. Cat glances up: the sprites are just observing. A boulder rolls low and stops but a second one slams into Seck. Uncanny Dodge reduces the damage and Seck keeps his balance. “Gotta deal with that prick,” he grits. The hag, now that he has taken the UncDodge, appears right next to him and slashes. Jer’s spirit has been Readied for that and rakes at the ghostly form. Seck’s furs are slashed again. Then a Thunderous Howl hammers at him: he is slammed up into the air and drops 15′ back, flat on his back. The hag is gone, for now. Jer gestures vaguely in the direction of the east – “think she’s that way upslope,” and takes a hopeful shot into the howling blizzard. Seck clambers back to his feet, peers about and sights the vague dark shape of the werewolf. He closes using Cunning Action, then uses Flitting Step and gets behind it for Sneak Attack! Red Whisper stabs deep and Seck carries on a-runnin’ back towards Phoenix. The werewolf coughs up blood and scrabbles for footing.

Round 5: Phoenix races through the gray-out blizzard, feet thumping and crunching across the snap-frozen grass, and hammers Mocair into the semi-prone were. Misses clean! The backswing connects, the werewolf falls dead with a horrid whine. “OK how many more to go?” he calls.

Cat Readies, back to the wall, focusing on the quadrant nearest the east. Two huge hands reach through the water wall behind him! Dis screams! Cat throws himself back, using Repelling Blast to help knock the hands aside. He keeps his cool though and the wall stays up! Bad Fruul, enormous from Cat’s prone position, steps through as though it isn’t there. A Thunderous Blast hits Phoenix and it’s his turn to somersault back and fall. But Jer is Ready for that and his spirit-owl spears its talons through her ethereal eyes! With a scream she withdraws. With the breathing space Seck doubles back and leaps at Bad Fruul, slicing deep. Jer’s spirit-owl slices as well! Seck keeps a-runnin’ and rounds the wall behind the giant. Bad Fruul uses his Legendary Action to immerse every one of them in hag-slaved Servants! Necrotic damage rips at them, and phantom shrieks pound their ears!

Actually Seck and Cat take only half damage – and the fail costs Phoenix a Luck point.

Jer coughs black blood. “Might not be able to stay in this fight as long as I wanted…” the ranger grates. “You get away – take the hag if you can!” “OK I’ll do my best!” and Disengages and runs. Seck carries on clockwise but the treacherous ground costs him precious seconds. He has Cunning Action left as he rounds the wall. His comrades are both prone. Bad Fruul is about to stomp them into paste. “No problem, I have two charges on my boots,” he thinks. He runs, leaps and teleports above the spirits, grabbing a handful of stinking furs and stabbing Red Whisper into the giant’s back as a handhold. The shortsword rams deep! It’s a weird feeling, his feet are roughly standing on the wall of water!

Round 6: Phoenix rises from his muddy bed as a massive foot looms above them. He leaps through the ripping spirits, drives Mocair high into a thigh, and uses it as leverage to wrench himself up above the spirits. Despite his armor he rises level with a stinking groin. CON SV! Last Luck point spent! “Pah! I have stayed four days in a Coaster Sweat Lodge!”

Cat is still keeping that wall up! He Misty Steps away back west nearer the beeches. Casts Blight on Bad Fruul while he can still see the looming shape, then pulls back further into the sheltering storm. Bad Fruul’s bellow of pain rackets in their ears, looking about for the source. Snatches Phoenix up from his groin region and boots him high in the air! Phoenix lands with a sticky thump! The giant reaches his club around behind, trying to knock Seck off. Nope! Seck coils his inner strength as Bad Fruul utters a Fearsome Battlecry. No problem! Using the remaining charge in his boots Seck teleports up, and stabs Red Whisper into Bad Fruul’s ear! The giant screams with pain, clapping that hand to the ear and – nat 20 – miraculously grabbing Red Whisper out. As his victim jiggles and dances with pain Seck notices he wears a bone necklace, and suspended from it a skull, brown with age. Seck drops down to a safe right-kidney position. Stray thought: “say, how come Haro…”

(Out in the storm both the hag and Jer scream horribly.)

Round 7: Phoenix rolls clear of the spirits – taking some more necrotic damage – then rises and leaps in again! Groin shot!! Crit! Bad Fruul folds, clutching his groin and dropping to his knees!

Cat walks closer again, calling on his necrotic spirits: they spring from his hand like green vines, spiralling out then blossoming needle-like teeth! The giant falls forward, greenery already beginning to grow out of his skin.

Phoenix moves out and blunders around until he finds Jer’s fallen body, partly covered in snow already.

Seck walks down to Bad Fruul’s head, wrenches the aged skull free of the necklance, turns to Cat: “here, take care of this!” – tossing it over and loping after Phoenix.

As Phoenix bends over Jer, and Seck approaches, claws are poised over the barbarian.

The skull wobbles into Cat’s hands: “Shocking Grasp!” – the bone splinters into fragments…

Out at Jer’s body there’s a thin scream and the claws drift into dust. Phoenix starts up in surprise! Seck mutters: “that was fortuitous!” They apply a Healer’s Kit and Jer is stabilized.

The blizzard ceases as the ice sprites freeze bits of the wall and ice-write “I heart Titania” and leave.

Victory!

Bad Fruul’s cave contains a great deal of filth. But there is a Detect Magic specialist ready with a ritual, and the bear-furs used to line the walls are valuable – if heavy.

The cavern yields a magic cauldron used as a drinking vessel, with Enchantment on it. From Bad Fruul’s spoils, 400lb of fur, jewelry rock with 26 gold coin, some shiny rocks also worth 26 gold coin, and 30 gold coin worth of a big pile of mainly low-denomination coin. From the worgs, Jer retrieves teeth and claws. The werewolf has a magical curved dagger, vaguely similar to the cursed blood dagger of the hags but with only minor magic on it (+1).

Bogdan’s squashed corpse also decorates the cave and that, and his saddlebags, disgorge: a heavy leather belt with brass reinforcing, a battered gaming-piece set carved from jade, a gold earring with a little dull gray gem on it, a superior-crafted hobgoblin longsword, a superior-crafted scimitar, two perfectly-crafted rondel daggers, nearly 1lb of jinxed cigars, a well-made heavy crossbow carefully wrapped against the cold and damage, a case of bolts, and 347 gold coin worth of coin, mostly in gold.

XP: lvl9-9

Special loot details

Belt of Pankration
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
This dark leather belt is decorated with plates of patterned brass. While wearing it, you may use a bonus action to make an unarmed attack against any creature you are grappling, provided you have a free hand. If you already have or gain that ability through an ability or feat, you may make a Brawler’s Gouge attack as a reaction.

Knife of Fenrir: These heavy knives, snarling-wolf design on pommel, are both weapon and tool, and are balanced for throwing. They are curved with a broad blade at the end which can be used for slashing, stabbing or even chopping wood. Wielding these knives symbolizes rank in the Pack. +1 to attack and damage.

Superior-crafted swords: not magical but +1 to attack and damage when used by a Duellist specialist.

Perfect-crafted rondel daggers: +1 to attack ringmail or heavier armor, +1 to damage wielded against lighter or no armor.

Well-made heavy crossbow: up to 33% above book price.

Little dull gray gem: Resists scrying. You find this out by trying to work out something about it. It resists. Will interfere (not white-noise, but close to it) with communication such as telepathy, familiar links, totem whispers, divine augury etc etc.

Battered jade game set: hard to say, but it is semi-precious stone. May be more valued by a collector than a regular trader.

Magic cauldron: weaves a control similar to that wielded by the servants of the deep underdark, such as aboleths.

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