Sunday, February 28, 2016

FR #5: The Black Wyrm's Revenge, and Fall

Life is short; game together.

29 Tarsakh, midmorning

The day following the discovery of the fallen dragon in the hills, a solitary dwarf lumbered in from the east, making his way to the castle gates. He introduced himself as Lincoln, a wayward locksmith escaped from a band of highwaymen operating near the crossroads. Hired on for his vocation, Lincoln fled the group when he learned the true nature of their activity, and was now hiding.

The PCs rightly assumed the thieves to be the same group that robbed them several days ago, though Lincoln wasn't party to the incident. The dwarf revealed what he knew about the band, mainly that they numbered less than two dozen; that they recently had captured a hill giant after plundering its cave in the forest; and that they were led by a rogue called Whisper and a Calishite wizard named Jhakine.

The party spent the better part of two days debating its course, having agreed to allow Lincoln to accompany them on whatever path they chose; the locksmith was discernibly good-natured, and his skillset admirable. In convening with Deidre, the Lady of Brithem expressed a desire to cede control of the fiefdom in the coming years to someone more capable of seeing to its needs. If not for the return of Berwyn with his allies, the castle and its outlands would likely already be forfeit.

In the early morning hours, two nights following the dwarf's arrival, a horn-call sounded from the north. Soldiers and PCs took to the towers, readying themselves for battle, but no enemy arrived. Some time later, Riwyn's owl and the two dwarves set out from the castle to investigate, learning that the northernmost of Brithem's farms had been decimated; there were no survivors. The ensuing hours were laden with debate on how to react. The day that would otherwise be recognized as the spring holiday of Greengrass instead was consumed by frustration and despair.

A battle horn sounded again the following night, this time from the northwest. Its low droning echoed a handful of times over several minutes, but the soldiers that rode out to meet its calls were too late: a second farm and its inhabitants had been destroyed by the surviving dragon.

The constituents of Brithem's remaining farms were bade to sleep within the castle walls until the menace could be dealt with.

2 Mirtul

Two days after the loss of the second farm, the party committed to a plan that depended on correctly guessing the next location to be attacked. The PCs staged themselves, four soldiers, and one of the castle's two remaining ballistae behind cover and hidden under piles of straw at the fiefdom's northeasternmost farm, now closest to the Witherwood. Merlin was instructed to keep watch at the border of the marshlands, and at fulldark the owl alerted Riwyn to an approaching threat. Soon after, the PCs spotted the winged, black form speeding toward them amid the darkness.

Their assault came quickly and without warning. The first ballista arrow missed its mark, but the second struck home. Two castings of magical light blinded the enemy once more, and volleys of bowshots hurtled across the sky.

This was the dragon's worst nightmare. Pilfering the outlying farms had proven fruitful and effortless following the death of the wyrm's mate. Vengeful and arrogant in its lust to destroy, it underestimated its adversaries' ability to execute such an ambush. In an instant, its mind was returned to the failed assault against the castle. It felt its eyes blinded, felt the impalement of the ballista missile in its breast, the piercing sting of arrows throughout its hide. There was no possibility for escape, this time. There could be only death...
The dragon attempted to spew its breath weapon at the half-concealed siege, but the acid mostly sprayed out the side of its maw. Its neck reeled back, ere an arrow from Riwyn's bow cut its throat. The beast fell from flight and plummeted to the ground, meeting Wren's blade when it arrived.

DM's Commentary

And so it was ended. The PCs struggled to find a course early, losing two of the fiefdom's farms in the process, but once a plan was determined, its timing proved to be perfect. Initiative rolls again were key, with the party winning every round. I've no dismay for their success; good fortune will always be an impermanent thing, so best to relish in it while it persists. Lincoln's player was a surprise guest for this session, though if Jason can make the scheduling work for any future games, his attendance will surely be welcomed!

XP

A decent bit of XP earned for this adventure:
  • Black dragon - 756 XP
  • Story award - 1,000 XP
The story award here is more tempered, since a number of lives were lost before the party managed to prevail. That's 439 XP each, before bonuses. New totals (Berwyn was not present for this game):
  • Arendeth - 8,020
  • Riwyn - 4,010/4,010
  • Wren - 3,645/4,010
  • Lincoln - 5,983
I elected to start Lincoln at 5,500 XP, the minimum necessary for his starting level plus incorporating the 10% prime requisite bonus. No new levels gained at this time.

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