Kolstaag Albrek never knew what hit him. Continuing from part two...
It has always been true, but it is especially true of 5E
that rolling low on initiative kills bosses dead. Between being blasted by the party's wizard and cleric, sneak-attacked by the rogue, and having a ghost-possessed troll flip a desk on him then pick him up and go all TROLL SMASH, Kolstaag Albrek didn't even get a spell off before the party had wrought their revenge. The pair of drow he was meeting with decided that was their cue to call it a day, and the wizard's vicious gargoyle pets were quickly dispatched. The only other occupant of the house was a cranky old coot named Xzyyzx, the wizard's housekeeper, whose opinion was that the wizard's death meant it was his house now.
The party were not inclined to debate the legalities of property ownership in Three Roads, but instead reclaimed their gear (jamesbarrett
was quite jazzed to discover that Togar was the owner of a suit of adamantine plate), read Kolstaag's mail, and headed back to town. Kolstaag, it turned out, was working for a drow by the name of Nezannar, which triggered deja vu
in players from my previous Silver Coast game
(Since that game is actually set 50 years in the future relative to the current one, the events of that
game are history repeating itself, even though it got played first. Wibbly-wobbly campaigney-wampaigney.)
They also fetched Xerlo the stone giant out of the basement. He was quite surprised they were no longer in their cells, but on being informed that his former employer was dead, he adopted a very c'est la vie
attitude on the subject. The party invited him to come along back to Three Roads with them, with the plan of setting him up as an 18' tall Lurch-like guardian angel.
Lord-Protector Shendrel of Three Roads was a bit taken aback by having the party come back two days later from the opposite direction the fire giants had gone, with a troll and stone giant in tow. However, when shown the evidence of Kolstaag's shenanigans, took them at their word. (Having a paladin in the party really does wonders for the group's trustability.) She installed Xerlo in a barn outside of town, but took pains to point out that the job she'd hired them for– make sure the fire giants don't come back– was still not done.
So they set off north, tracking the fire giants. Even two days cold, the trail was fairly easy to follow for most of the way. They ran into some Calladganger hunters from the Clan of the Eagle, who seemed to think that Nikki was a nature spirit, but eventually found a cave complex populated by orcs herding axe beaks.
Their attempt at scouting the caves was thwarted when Rina botched a Stealth check. The orcs thought she was just a random wood elf in the forest and were going to bully her for fun, but the rest of the party came swooping in and disabused them of that notion quickly. A general alarm was raised and it turned into a huge furball with orcs, maddened axe beaks, fire giants, and their fire elemental pets/familiars/adds/whatever they were.
In 30+ years of playing Dungeons & Dragons
, I would have never guessed I would see opposed Animal Handling checks be a factor in combat. Achievement unlocked.
Hathas, his time "bonding" with the troll seeming to rub off on him, waded into the fray with more bloodlust than one generally expects from a paladin, even a fallen one. The fire elementals damaged the troll so badly that Hathas abandoned it and joined the fray in ghost form instead. While the troll retreated to a cave in the back where it could munch on dead orc and regenerate, Hathas attempted to terrorize a fire giant (not unlike the librarian in the prologue of Ghostbusters
). The fire giant was not terrorized... but members of the party were. Nice jorb, Hathas.
The odd thing about ghosts in D&D
is... they have hit points. They resist nonmagical damage, but in order to interact with the world they must manifest on the physical plane. Fire giants do an average of 28 points of damage with a single hit and their attack bonus alone equals a ghost's AC. The fire giant made short work of Hathas, much to everyone's surprise (including Hathas).
The fight was a tough one, but the party rose to the challenge. Brother Drang finally got to use the call lightning
he'd been itching for, and Togar entered a new phase of his career by being the tankiest ever but not
getting one-punched in the first round. When the dust settled, the party was battered and bruised but victorious. They retrieved the giants' rod of the vonindid
, a kind of dowsing rod for adamantine golem parts, and also discovered that these giants had found the vonindid's entire left hand. They rather hastily buried this where it was, as it was way too big to haul anywhere, and headed back to town.
The troll survived.
It turned out there were developments with their new stone giant friend, which will be revealed in part four