SC6.06: Into Icespire Fortress

The level six Silvers for this session

Dakeyras, wood elf rogue/Assassin, wielding his longbow, Whisper;
Garth, mountain dwarf fighter/Battle Master, wielding the Ungart Hammer;
Vernon, human wizard/Conjurer, wielding spells

Accompanied on a random basis by the NPCs this session:

Richlen, high elf paladin/Oath of Glory, wielding the longsword Alagondar;
Gundren, hill dwarf rogue/Thief, wielding a small knife, then a heavy dagger

The Silvers begin 48xp below level 7 and end on 30

The story so far

Ever since the white dragon Cryovain swept a donkey off the High Road and away, Garth and Dak have meant to get around to doing something about the menace. When Cryovain strikes at their adopted home Phandalin, it’s personal! And Daran Edermath fears that Cryovain may be about to lead a land based assault and occupation!

But first things first – Garth leads them in a race to claim the now-dead manticore’s loot. Below its lair, they unexpectedly find Wave Echo Cavern, long sought by the Lords Alliance. And what’s more they find that dodgy dwarf Gundren Rockseeker.

With some reluctance, but not trusting him out of their sight, they load Gundren up as pack-bearer and make a difficult march up to Icepire Peak, and around to its south-east flank. An ancient fortress!

Cunningly circumventing its bastion and possible hostiles, the party gains the inner curtain of the fortress itself!

XP: lvl7-45, the payoff for picking the best entry

Door to door

Richlen acting as rearguard, Garth moves west to where he can see a door. The cold has gotten to it: ice has locked the latching mechanism.

Here, there is some debate. They don’t trust Gundren to work on it, and Vern doesn’t have anything super-handy. Rich urges caution and quiet. Garth sets his pack down, takes out a torch, and melts the ice away. It takes quite some time – but he is rewarded, and the door eases open with merely creaks and scrapes of rust. And it opens… onto rubble.

The fortress here too, has had its curtain wall collapsed. North, past the icy rubble, lies a shattered door lying in fragments into what appears to be a broad chamber. Garth pushes north, Gundren eagerly following, or crowding behind Dak.

This chamber has lain barren for many a year by the look of it. Archer’s posts allow firing all round, but these have allowed drifts of snow and ice in. One passage east lies open, and again that is because the original door has been shattered.

“Something big went through here,” Garth mutters in an uneasy tone. Gundren stoops and lifts a broken white scale from a timber. “I’ll take that,” Dak says sternly, confiscating it. Gundren shrugs and scuffs about, looking for fallen treasure.

“So something like a white dragon has crunched its way through,” Garth puzzles, as Dak shows him the scale. “But Cryovain was way too big wasn’t it?”

Dak scratches his head. Vern muses: “I read somewhere of a ritual where someone made a wyrmling… can’t recall any detail though.”

Eastward, Garth finds a stairwell up, a door east, and a passage south. He pushes on…

“I really think we should check the back-trail,” Rich says in a nervous undertone. Vern drops back to be rearguard. He raises his eyebrows at Rich. Shamefaced, Rich urges him on back to the middle of the party. But the paladin remains by the stairwell as Garth pushes on south, finding two more doors.

I use an aggression d6 vs a defense d6 when deciding what NPCs are doing – Rich kept rolling 1s on aggression throughout the early part of the session, or tying on low both.

DM

A faint smell of spoiled food leads to a large galley and smaller pantry. Both seem to have been searched for edibles, and there are ogre-size bootprints leading east to another door.

Rich’s urging has some effect at this point. The party searches back towards him, finding an armory just north of the galley, and a commander’s office east of the stairwell. The armory seems to allow access east as well.

Gundren wastes quite a lot of time searching the armory for useful weapons. He is disappointed. Rust has gotten into all of them. As for the commanders’s chamber, it tells a grim story of death and loneliness, with four skeletons, but has been searched at some later date, and has nothing of value. Even the papers strewn about have faded into illegibility.

Garth returns to the galley and heads east to the far door. It seems to have been used enough that it is not rusted solid. Easing the door open with just the faintest screech, Garth spies two ogres snoring slumped over a massive common feast-table. He signals to the others to be very quiet…

“Hey, where’s Gundren?” Vern bursts out.

(Gundren, innocently re-searching the pantry in case of hidden treasure, looks about, startled, at this point. Way up here in the fortress, with no rations left, he will need to stick with the party unless he meets a better prospect.)

In desperation Garth leaps in and smashes the slumbering ogre with the Ungart Hammer! His move has opened the door enough for Dak’s line of sight, and the rogue uses a seldom-seen talent and deals an automatic crit!

The ogres bellow, sounding the alarm, which is answered from somewhere beyond two north-facing doors in the dining hall!

XP: lvl7-40

They have drakes!

And what answers the call are two massive white lizards, rather like a white dragon, but without breath weapon and without wings. And two more ogres!

The ogres are smart enough to open other doors to get at Garth, but Rich has been waiting for that. The fight remains in the party’s favor, especially when the Ungart Hammer causes great fear in the drakes!

Garth uses Menacing Attack twice and each time the drake concerned gets a nat 1!

The battle reaches its height as Rich is barged back and an ogre gets between Dak and Vern (supporting from the galley) and Garth (defending the eastern dining door). But by that time the ogres are both severely battered and Vern drops one with Magic Missile, Dak the other with a longbow shaft to the back of the head.

Gundren, who has been busy looting ogre pouches, does offer to help from time to time and does throw his only weapon, a small knife, scoring a fine hit, during the battle.

As Dak leaps out of the armory, yells “surprise!” and drops the last drake, Garth looks sternly at Gundren.

“Dak, help me shake this guy down.”

“I was just holding the loot for us all! Even shares, that’s what I say!”

The most interesting thing among the junk is a smooth pebble that, when Vern casts his ritual, proves to have a very faint Abjuration magic about it.

“No, it’s nothing,” he lies, tucking the pebble away in his own loot.

The other slightly interesting thing is a skull-adorned gewgaw, maybe a broken brooch.

Meanwhile, the party searches north into the great hall. Skeletons – much stamped about and disjointed – are strewn around. Ogre mess lies over all, partly obscuring a heraldic design on the floor. The main door east probably leads across to the bastion, and that seems to be it. The fireplace boasts a massive cauldron.

XP: lvl7-35

The crypts beneath

The careful search approach pays off! Both Garth and Vern find walls that knock hollow. Vern uses a couple of charges on a Wand of Secrets. Yep, two doors. The eastern one simply allows access to the curtain wall, but the western one – ah, that’s a different story! It’s a hidden access to the fortress undercroft.

Garth takes the lead once again, Gundren and Dak hurrying to catch up. Vern pulls the curtain access shut, then he and Rich follow.

Three crypt chambers lie off one central chamber. The stonework is solid and well-worked. Remarkably, no wight or haunt has made this area their home. The surprise is of a different nature. The southern crypt has not been used… for bodies.

“What… is this? Dak wonders, plucking strange bits of wood out of the central sarcophagus.

Gundren matches a seat to two side-pieces. “It’s a toboggan.”

“A what?”

He explains.

“Why would anyone hide a sled thing here?”

Garth looks around for inspiration. The southern wall has a stone feature that hides a removable panel. An escape tunnel!

Dak peers down the tunnel. An ogre, peering away from him back over its shoulder, is blovking most of the tunnel. It doesn’t move. And never will – something has frozen it solid. Dak squeezes past the ogre and finds himself out on the ledge he spotted, on the south face of the fortress’ spur. That’s… really steep.

“So, worst case, we slide down?”

“Let’s assemble the thing on the ledge, ready.”

“And move some vital supplies down,” Rich adds.

“Well, let’s make a proper thing of it, and rest up here.”

“I’m fine,” Dak says, “I’ll guard you all.”

XP: lvl7-30

Short Rest, thanks to warm clothing and bedrolls. Rich rolls 1 HD and is back to near full health. Vern recovers slots.

Atop Icespire Fortress

Stretching and working out their order again, the Silvers have to decide between heading back and up the stairwell, or heading east to tackle the bastion. Rich’s preference for making sure of their backtrail has had a psychological effect on the others, and the vote is for heading up.

Once again Garth takes the lead, The stair winds up to another smashed door, beyond it an icy vault that must once have been a gracious chamber. Whatever shutters once protected the room from blizzards have been torn away, and drifts of snow and ice have blown in from the many arrow-slits, blanketing whatever furnishings it sported. A single door, smashed out from the inside, leads east.

Gundren picks through the drifts, kicking up a large, well-balanced axe. A greataxe, in fact. He knocks at a lump on its haft, grunting in disgust as it proves to be a frozen hand.

“Heh, could be magical? How ’bout another ritual, Vern?”

“No, we don’t have time for that right now.”

Dak suddenly wheels from an arrowslit that allows a view east and gestures them violently to silence.

Cryovain is sleeping on the roof outside!

XP: lvl7-30

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