Lords of Whitecliff
July 13 2014
Opening the door, we spied the 6 figures, presumably vampires. I was the first to enter the room, and then Fortes quickly past me. The details of the battle escape me, and now having said the word, battle does not fit. It was a slaughter. We were ripe grain to the harvest. They had their way with us. When we entered the room we came under some planar effect that caused us to be in the same place, yet separated. I was with 2 of the figures, and the other 4 moved past me as if in a dream. Kelly entered the room and was behind me, but 2 of the monsters went past me to attack her. One passing through me! She was 10 feet away, and yet i was powerless to help her. I heard not the screams as they drained the life from her, leaving her body little more than a memory of the fey creature that was always so full of life, always so close to nature. She was 10 feet away and I was powerless to save her. I know that there was nothing I could do to prevent her death, and yet I cannot help but feel responsible.
After suffering a crushing defeat, we regrouped to try our hand at attacking the keep again. Being prepared for this battle would hopefully give us an edge, though our efforts could be challenged by additional defenses from the vampires. Getting my spell selection right would be important. There were a number of considerations, but I settled on the following:
Level 1: 5 spells: Hide from Undead x2, Detect Undead x2, Divine Favor. Anticipating sneaking in, hide from undead may be useful, and detect undead could help with finding the vampire’s coffins. The 2nd hide from undead is in case we need to make a hasty retreat.
Domain: Protection from Evil. Magic Weapon not be used as frequently, now that the party provided a Long Sword +1.
Level 2: 4 spells: Spiritual Weapon, Bulls Strength x2, Close Wounds. 2 Spiritual Weapons is better than one, Bull Strength for a pre-fight buff on Fortes, and one for a secondary buff, after use of divine power.
Domain: Spiritual Weapon. Aid is beneficial; however, the potential for doling out force damage may be more beneficial in the coming fight.
Level 3: 4 spells: Mass Aid, Prayer, Stone Shape, Remove Curse. Mass Aid as a pre-combat buff, Prayer as an in-combat modifier adjuster, Stone Shape to entomb one of the vile creatures after it becomes gaseous.
Domain: Magic Circle Against Evil. Magic Vestments would provide a +2 bonus to AC, but the variety of benefits from Magic Circle continues to make Magic Vestments less attractive
Level 4: 3 spells: death ward x3. This was a tradeoff. There are a number of powerful and situational 4th level spells, however, ultimately encounters would be decided by the most insidious abilities of our enemies, their negative energy abilities. 1 each for Fortes and me, and 1 additional backup (possibly for a fighting retreat)
Domain: Divine Power. Holy Smite would provide a nice area of effect damage against undead, but ultimately I decided on the shock and awe damage buffs.
Spells cast so far:
1st: Hide from Undead, Detect Undead, Divine Favor (1 round left)
2nd: Bulls Strength (on Fortes, 6 minutes left)
3rd: Mass Aid (7 minutes left, +10 temp hit points), Stone Shape (on the outside door), Magic Circle Against Evil (dispelled)
4th: Death Ward (on self, 5 Minutes left), Death Ward (on Fortes, 6 minutes left), Divine Power (just expired)
This time when we returned, we waded in with all of our spells cast, all of our defenses up. Ironically, we spent so much time discussing our strategy and planning our moves that we all but walked though the hallway of the allips without having prepared. we scrambled to put up a few defensive spells, and then completed our preparation prior to entering chamber with the alleged vampires.
My goal was to cut them down as quickly as possible, caution to the window, before they could mount an effective counterattack. I took up my sword with both hands, and charged into the room, my companions behind me, left to determine which phase of the room I had entered, and adjusting themselves before committing to the battle. A horrific scene, though, was before us. A giant corpse, thankfully transparent to me, was dragged into the room as a monstrous zombie melee battery. I ran through it’s translucent form as quickly as I could, but needed to stop within it’s corpse as I charged an archer. I will not recount the sights of feelings of fighting from within the corpse.
Thankfully, much of the rest of my fighting was with the vampires, and the zombie behind me, out of sight. I felt that they may have resistance to my swings, even with the silversheen in effect, so I felt taking the maximum advantage of strength swings would be best. While my two handed swings seemed to be a powerful, and connected mightily against the foes, none withstanding more than 2 blows, the swings were wild and erratic.
Though from afar, I suspect, the battle looked well fought, I know the truth of the matter. Were others of the Glorious here to see I would be ashamed. Heironeous teaches daring and valor, and I attacked as a half-orc barbarian. Swinging wildly and hoping that if any blow lands that it will fall my foe. With all of the blessings of Heironeous that were upon me every one of my sword blows should have found purchase. Never did I have so many blessings, and perhaps I was drunk with the power? In the future i will strive to place valor over slaughter.
As the hobgoblins crested the hill we noticed their were over a dozen of them in good formation. Lots of bows, lots of missile weapons. I wanted to get between my companions and the foes, but with the remorhaz on the field that would be all but impossible. He was crippled, and I needed to do something about it. He was stalwart in his ability to stand up. very brave. I knew there wasn’t much luck for me to draw their attention.
Up the hill they came. They fanned out and rolled about on both our flanks. With the remorhaz it was neigh impossible for me to get their attention. I cast mass aid to support the group, and then they were upon us.
We fought for a few rounds, then I found myself in a silence spell, at a time when our wizard seemed to be in need. He was drawing attention to himself by effectively damaging lots of the foes with area spells.
I felled a foe, stepped from the silence, and then engaged a couple others. While fighting I kept an eye on the remorhaz. He was supporting our entire left flank, and it was only the fact of his thick hide that was keeping him alive. His hide was proof against most of the arrows, but the couple that landed were very damaging, as under the hide he was quite frail.
I reached in to one of my higher level spells, prayer of all things, and pulled the positive energy from it to cast outside of the silence. I knew this was coming… I stepped into the silence, opening up to the enemy. The hobgoblin’s blow rang true and I felt the sting of it. , though the aid reduced the impact. Laying hands upon the remorhaz I transferred the positive energy to heal him.
Our new companion seems to be a machine. Throwing eldrich fire at the enemy, relishing in the battle. As the battle wore on he seemed to gain in strength and determination. He seemed to be made to fight.
As our party continues to evolve, and take part in these combats, I am more and more learning my place in the group. Standing up in the front to absorb damage, at times to inflict wrath upon our foes, and at other times to support the rest of the group. There are moments when the skills of others shin in different roles, and my role is often to make them better. Whether it be with an aid, or healing to get them standing more steadfast, or applying strength to help their blows ring truer.
During the combat one of the foes blew a horn. I stepped to the back to chase down one of the hobgoblins, having put their cleric in the ground, I found one of the others to subdue for interrogation. To determine the meaning of the horn. Unfortunately he got away.
While walking back to the group, lo and behold, there it stood. Father’s bane. A basilisk. A hill giant came up the hill with it. Of us all, I was likely the one with the most fortitude, the one most likely to resist it’s stoning gaze. I successfully attempted to get it’s attention, blasting him with a holy smite. and the beast headed toward me. My plan was simple, draw it to me while my companions damage it from range, ask for blessings from Heironeous, and charge into combat trying to end the foe as quickly as possible. And then an opportunity presented. The giant grapped my ankles with a chain whip, digging deep into my calf. Instead of fighting the pull I allowed i had a quick thought… let him drop you and count on your companions to end the beast. And so I did. The chain grabbed my ankles and pulled me to the ground. He whipped back and with a mighty blow rent flesh from my back. I kept my gaze averted and my companions dropped the basilisk. Shattering the spiked chain, the ogre took off down the hill.
Enter Jack, and exit the ogre.
On the way back to white cliff we scouted 2 groups, of more than 2 score each hobgoblins. As we prepared our strategy spoke into a skull and stepped away. Coming back he informed us that father had succumbed to his illness. I knew father felt shame when he saw me. Blaming himself for my deformity. He was a good man and a fair leader. And White Cliff shall miss him.
Heading back home we ran into my brother. Rode with 6 paladins back home ,wave after wave of hobgoblins.. 4 waves… sword, long spears, then accompanying ogres, then battle next to trebuchet. Perfoect spell rode up to the top just in time to fall down. Last round couple good swings, hobgoblin, then defensively to hold off the right flank… ½ dozen hobgoblins and a giant.
Used cure moderate before I showed up… helped lauren, arm was withered
Joined fray, bamfed by hassan next to f-bod. Was able to get in a few good hits, Garrick kept agro… between 2 of us we dropped it.
Headed to fbod manticore to size it up. Got butt wooped by it, proceeded to go defensive. Shadow of the iron golem was comforting, but decided to disengage to heal or let iron golem take brunt of damage… only couple spells left.
With the siege broken, the enemy routed, the noise of the battle slowly faded. I tended to the wounded for what seemed like days, then retreated to a quiet chamber in the nearest temple and wept. For the city of Whitecliff, for its people, for the warriors that fell defending her, for my father, for the souls we could not save, for the souls we should have saved, for Kelly. I know I had fought bravely, and demonstrated competence in combat and war, but it was not enough. I was unprepared for the trials that we had gone through these past couple weeks. My days had been spent cloistered away, or hidden behind deformity, but I cannot afford to hide any longer. I prayed then to Heironeous for the strength to overcome. Even now, I can feel my power increasing, yet cannot escape the burden of the past. The chamber again quiet, I left to seek atonement.
May – August
Heading into fight the step dragon, Hassan encountered it earlier on a scouting mission. We sought the aid of a copper dragon. It provided us with an arrow that would weaken the step dragon. Heading into the lair we first encountered a group of rust monsters. Being clad in metal completely from head to toe I felt I would end the fight unarmed and naked. However, our only loss was Fortis’ armor, for which Hassan provided a substitute.
Moving further into the cave we encountered a large cavern with a chasm across the middle and sand ever pushing into the chasm. It seemed home court advantage was going to go to the dragon. An ever increasing size of earth elementals was our first obstacle in the cavern. Then came the dragon.
A number of prepared spells to both protect us from the dragon as well as assist Kale with the shot of the arrow. For much of the fight I worked on positioning and trying to get in some damage, but my blows were largely ineffective. In a dire straight, the monster heavily injured but still very capable, it turned to put an end to Hassan and Fortis. In was an opening that allowed my blow to strike true. A grievous injury, with Heironeous’ Might behind it, that sent the creature to its grave. I had cast to allow me to absorb more damage than normal. I was critically wounded and needed to attend to my injuries lest I succumb to the wounds following the expiration of the magic. Styg had been damaged by a cave wyvern poison, but deus ex machina prevented his untimely demise.
We were wandering through the swamp, following the ghost that was leading us on, and found a place to camp that was reasonably dry. As usual, removed my armor prior to resting. We were awoken by a number of ghasts coming out of the swamp. We only had a few seconds to react. Not being in armor I figured I would be in trouble, but thought my strength of body would hold out against their vile abilities until I could cast a couple protections. However, it turns out that it was not enough. I was paralyzed by their claws, rooting me to the spot. I was only able to get one spell off, a ring of blades. Styg was about to be overrun, so I stepped over him, to try to defend him from the ambush. Though paralyzed, the spell worked effectively and tore apart the group that encircled us. One tore at my throat until the stalwart pact protected me, too close for the ring to affect it, and then dragged me out toward the swamp. As I lay there, dragging upon the ground, I swore that I would destroy this creature as soon as my limbs responded to my commands. Once able to move, I destroyed the one, and the gave another a free swing as I positioned to defend companions from the last couple. Hassan had managed to distance himself from the main group, and he was able to keep others from being overwhelmed. between his efforts and the circle of blades, most had been dispatched. How vulnerable I feel now that they are dispatched. I will have to consider how to provide for more defense at night.
Walking further, we encountered lights shining off in the distance. Fortes went off in the swamp to investigate these glowing orbs, that I now know to be Will-O-Wisps. The were far off in the distance but charged at the Fortes at very high speed. In the swamp we would not be able to make good time, but the rangers horse has horse shoes that allow him to tread above the waters. With the wizard also in saddle, we charged as fast as we could to the defense. Casting a couple spells, I was surprised to discover they were impervious even to the divine wrath of flame holy smite. Weapons seemed marginally useful, but seemed to be our best option. After some effort they were dispatched.
Into the cave we ventured, and encountered a spider’s nest. Heading down the 20 foot wide corridor behind Fortis, ready to heal him if need be. The webs got thicker, and a sound was heard up ahead. I cast repel vermin, though fully expected only huge specimens that would be but slightly inconvenienced by the barrier. As it turns out, it was a rare opportunity of the perfect spell for the situation. Thousands upon thousands of tiny spiders came at us from the front and behind. the barrier held true. Though i was not able to participate in the attack, as the barrier was centered on me, preventing me from doing anything but shielding a few of my companions. The group struggled to dispatch them, almost immune to melee attacks they resorted to magic, burning through must of the days ration of spells. Of all things, a couple of flaming spheres turned out to be most useful.
Larger spiders charged in, and flung webs at us, like gladiator nets. Fortes was doing well, so I headed back to the center of the group and dispatched one of the large arachnids.
Surefine told 2 jokes, 1. that natural armor would help her touch AC, and the other, even better, that she was a combat cleric! Fortes then decided to join the comedic fun, by claiming to be an archer! Those rascals!!
Kale was captured, and while I was fumbling with a spider, to try to get back to assist him, broke free from it’s grasp by polymorphing into a manticore.
A larger, evil looking armored spider then came down the hallway. I suspected that it would have webs to use as a weapon, so cast freedom of movement.
As I attacked, i considered additional buffs, but thought to conserve them. Thinking that we may have other encounters today. I question the wisdom of that decision. I fumbled repeatedly, and with the exception of one blow that struck true, was ineffective at hitting the creature. It’s hide proved resistant, to our magics and weapons. It seemed immune to lightning.
It talked to me telepathically, trying to convince me to stop our assault. While I did not fear letting it know our intentions, I did not believe it to have credibility in providing us with the information we sought. I wish I knew what it was, that I might deal with it more appropriately in the future.
Overall, I was again ineffective in the combat. I will need to draw more heavily upon the gifts Heironeous grants. Without magics I am not as effective a combatant. Either I must grant the party additional strength, and draw more upon the might on my own.
Reflections on adventuring…
In the aftermath of the fight with the Babilith, reflecting on the many combats that the group has endured, Hogren felt he came to a turning point. During the combat, he tried to fight has Hogren, preserving the teachings of Heironeous until the were needed. Sparingly using the power of his will. In so doing he continued to be just Hogren. Barely competent. Unable to carry his wait to support the team. He looked back on the times when he had been successful with supporting the team, and that had been the times when might of Heironeous was released. To transform him from just Hogren, failed heir to the thrown of Whiteclff, disappointment of his father, failure of the Paladin order. And he became the avatar of Heironeous. That is when he was successful. From here he would not rely on his own skill, nor would he wield it for his own defense. He recalling standing at the front of the group, casting defensively to protect himself and Fortes from waves of spiders, the members most able to defend themselves.Leaving those left able to defend themselve, Hassan, Kale, Syrefine, Styg, to fend for themselves. What is he doing, he cursed himself. Yes, his place is at the front of the party, but not as Hogren. He needs to transform into the Avatar of Heironeous. And looking forward, he vowed to see that the avatar arrives.