DGA12.01: Ironwood Gorge, part three – War-horns in the Gorge

The level 12 Elsir Vale heroes this session

In order of ranged attack

Cat, with Dis his familiar, range 240′;
Ulric, range 120′
Seck, range 90′;
Phoenix, range 5′;

and arriving wielding Ulruf as Mageslayer Glaive with 10′ range, Vir Onden, lranger/Hunter, Love’s Champion

While the heroes have made it to level 12, only patron-assigned miracles such as Warlock spells have been gained. They will need a Long Rest to fully benefit from the gain. They do still enjoy the effects of Potion of Heroism.

The heroes begin with 585xp and gain 2,810

Down below

Ulric finds that the waterside foliage he pushes through to get to the tunnel offers him concealment. This passage has at some distant past been worked and a wooden entrance installed. But at least to his senses nothing seems to have disturbed the area for a long time. The wood is rotten but the passage seems sound. He sits down to take a well-earned rest.

The rain hissing onto the river, and a distant heavier sound signaling that a waterfall feeds the gorge, lull him quickly into a relaxed state.

And very little disturbs that state. He cocks an ear a couple of times and thinks ‘mmm, thunder… we could be in for more of a storm.’

Then out of nowhere there’s a scream and a splash upriver! A man is face down and sinking! Ulric moves back down the natural (or maybe anciently worked) sloping ledge into the river once more, walks steadily upriver – the current is placid for someone of his strength – and catches the body in a princess carry. Then returns to where he can gain the air again. As he already half-suspects from the size, the unconscious man is a hobgoblin caster. He gazes up… and the session ends.

Meanwhile

Vir swings off his horse at the site the other horses are tethered and tries to interrogate Bestellen, but the warhorse tosses its head and acts dumb. War-horns from the west! “Ah, all going as expected,” Vir says to himself. Glancing around and choosing a best option sees Vir jogging quickly west on the trail of his comrades.

Meanwhile

As the water from Cat’s Maelstrom drains away the hobgoblin captain takes command, calling on his mage and reserve aerials. Potions are consumed. The loss of Abrithiax seems to have seriously shattered the morale of the eastern tower guards, so he will need to rally them in person. If he can play for time more reserves will arrive. It’s a scratch plan and desperately short of bodies, but will have to do.

Meanwhile

Cat Seck and Phoenix, once more under the double concealment of heavy rain and light scrub at the eastern edge of the clearing, cast their plans. These plans are as follows:

‘This heavy rain can’t last… we need to nobble the blinded soldiers, and loot all the potions. Go!’

Cat advances out into the downpour to where the target is not just a blur, hurls Repelling Blast, and hammers two targets back. Seck takes an aimed shot, and gets a good hit in with Maelsauga. Phoenix grits his teeth and walks forward, grabbing another potion from his dwindling supply.

The blinded soldiers call to one another, trying to adopt a reasonably supporting formation. It does not work! Cat skittles one onto the next and both fall. Cat advances again. Then Phoenix charges, with Seck sniping in support, and the four soldiers are slain.

Vir appears behind Seck!

Battle is joined

Three threats make themselves known in quick succession:

  • Lightning blazes horizontally, all except Seck take some damage;
  • Three massive wolves sweep across the bridge at the captain’s command and outflank the party;
  • A manticore swoops from above, slamming iron darts into Phoenix

A challenge from the bridge: the hobgoblin captain asks that a true warrior step forward and face him. There are no takers. The challenger orders the wolves to attack!

From his position reasonably close to the bridge, Cat struggles to pick out the caster, who is sneakily using the towers as cover. He calls on Dis:

“Fly to find Ulric! Let me know his fate as soon as you can!”

Then Seck calls the alert:

“Those are Winter Wolves! ‘Ware frost breath!”

Seck picks up Inspiration for remembering their properties and role-playing the event

Big guns: two heroes down!

Vir reinforces Phoenix in time to help against the wolves: lightning slashes along the line again! Cat Misty Steps away behind the advancing wolves.

Winter Wolf

Vir drops Fog Cloud between his position and the towers. Now the mage can’t target them directly.

Cat Summons Fey Brute to attack the mage, who leaps off into the gorge, comes flying up from under the bridge and hides in the northeast tower.

Vir, now close supporting Phoenix, uses his Sentinel to prevent one wolf from closing, and he and Phoenix are in melee with two more. Phoenix uses his barbaric resilience to stay on his feet and cleave wolves. But as soon as he draws breath, the manticore slams more darts into him.

The winter wolves close on Phoenix and he once again uses barbaric resilience to stay on his feet. The remaining wolf whittles more from Vir and he takes Frost Breath damage again. Phoenix eviscerates the wounded wolf and with Seck using his Skirmisher Boots to help slays the last.

Beginning to run out of good options the mage uses his biggest spell, Ice Storm, and Phoenix and Vir fall – or would do, save that Seck donates his Inspiration and Phoenix burns his final Luck point!

Cat is beginning to feel cornered as the captain, while engaging the fey brute (and nearly dying – would die save that Cat misses all three Blasts), calls down the second manticore to help! The desperately wounded fey brute tackles the manticore and drags it to its death into the gorge! Cat Steps the captain’s charge with a light scratch, returns with Repelling Blast, fails to knock him off the precipice: decides to go hide in the fog.

The first manticore drops Vir and Phoenix with well-aimed tail spikes. It still hasn’t noticed Seck.

Seizing victory out of the jaws of defeat

Seck runs to aid Vir with Keoghtom’s Ointment, and advises him to top up with looted potions. Vir has a lone Superior, and begins with that!

Cat begins some hide-and-seek on the fog cloud’s fringe. Gust of Wind (which betrays the mage’s position) creates a nice tunnel through it, pushing Cat back to where the manticore ought to be able to see him. Ironically the fog also gives the captain a much needed chance to swig his potions, both Superior. Cat manages to hold down the Egg of Recovery (a rare feat) and regains a spell slot. And even better, the manticore still can’t catch sight of him! The captain bellows Cat’s position. Seck registers this and passes it on to Vir.

Vir follows sounded hints of metal armor into the fog: wends through it: finds himself near the gorge precipice confronting the captain, who is back to full health while Vir is still battered.

20 Hobgoblin Legion ideas | hobgoblin, dungeons and dragons, fantasy monster

They exchange names and weapon names. The captain is named Hell and his greatsword is named Hellclaw. Then battle is joined in earnest! Vir is unimpressed with Cat’s aim, as three violet blasts streak perilously near him! It’s a tough slog without such ‘help’ but the glaive does its work! Piling on Hunters Mark and Vow of Enmity Vir downs his foe!

Seck eventually (2 death roll saves, 1 critical miss!) gets to Phoenix and uses Keoghtom’s Ointment again. Vir joins him as Phoenix rises and adds more healing. Finding that the hobgoblin dead carried Greater Healing is a nice bonus.

Cat, hard on the heels of his failed volley, goes mage-hunting to the tower, and takes a big Thunderwave in the face. But he nat20s the STR SV and in return Steps behind the mage, and Repelling Blasts slam the mage off the bridge, cartwheeling over the edge to fall screaming. And that brings us to where Ulric finally notices something!

Tap-back: Checking her fey powers I find that Dis has limited Sending. About the same time that Vir casts Fog Cloud, Cat receives this message:

my lord regret inform you holy warrior ulric sitting at ease in cave leading to passage up instead of hastening to serve you please respond

Cat can let us know what he Sends back, next session. Dis is strong enough to arrange pebbles to form a short message to Ulric, for example.

Further rules advice: Comparing notes I have learned that a Shield effect lasts until the start of the character’s next round, so that will be good news for Phoenix.

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