It's nice when the group learns from their mistakes.
No DM wants to spend meeting after meeting kicking their players into the meat grinder and watching them get chewed up. (Well, there are a FEW that enjoy that - but their groups don't last long) So when they actually seriously put a plan together and execute it, even if the details had to change after "contact with the enemy" was made - such skill and effort should be commended and noted.
Fengarth's Tower was nebulously designed as a 6-9th level short side adventure. The group has gone back every level since 3rd - determined to plumb its depth and reach its heights - and emerge with whatever treasure's they could find.
And to date - they've encountered and finally killed TWO (count them - 1...2!) denizens. :)
I can't wait to see their efforts on their return.
Write up follows:
Karis took a walk to Malcath's Traders to get some bed rolls, tents and provisions – talking with the gnomish proprietor for a bit before leaving. Detheron went to get Clipclop the mule from the stablery after going to visit Deidra – informing his friend that should they not return to town for 10 days, she was to take the black/silver charm (tower charm) and throw it over the side of the city into the midden.
From there we all gathered at the base of the lift and went to the Greengrocer Coalition – eventually to Altern Lamatous' domicile. The bugbear leader, 5 of his clan mates, and 4-5 humans from the coalition were inside the warm house drinking some sort of homemade liquor. Conversation followed and the group got to the point – they wanted the opportunity to bring one of the bugbears with them now. Specifically Flarg.
Minimal haggling followed and the party agreed to the last terms they had with the Drywood clan – 25 crowns up front plus a fair and equal share of whatever treasures were found. Also, should the unthinkable arise, an additional 25 crowns for funerary rites and burial.
Flarg was overjoyed to come with the party and the group headed off toward the west, tramping through the snowy grassland. We constantly looked behind us, but did not see anyone following (ie: Sheriff Phozarn). Eventually the sun was setting and the group had guessed they had put 5 hard miles behind them. Endurance spells were handed out to all (including the animals), tents were erected, rations were eaten and we talked about what was to come tomorrow.
We awoke the next day and broke our fast and studied – both Fabambus and Coruth'tae going through the efforts to not only refine their list of spells, but the elven illusionist had been turning the party invisible one member at a time so that when we did arrive at Fengarth's Tower – we would be able to approach and engage the Forest Troll with care and surprise.
Roped together we walked through the cold snow for another hour or two until the growing familiar sight of Fengarth's Tower loomed into view. It appeared to be abandoned, but we were still leery. Peering through the front doorway, the main entrance chamber looked undisturbed. We removed the ropes and with exaggerated care Karis whispered he would enter first. He stepped over the threshold.
A magical Alarm spell rang off from below his feet and then a shimmering ward slapped into place across the entrance behind him – sealing him off from the rest of the group.
And then the door to the basement levels burst open and T'Nagrath emerged with the Staff of Power brandished before him and a roaring cry…that died down as he beheld no one in the hall. He looked carefully, Karis holding perfectly still (and invisible), seeing no one. He backed down the stairs a step and there was some sort of crinkling paper noise – and then he was having a one sided conversation with someone. It went like:
"There's no one there."
"I'm telling you the hall is empty."
"Your spell didn't go off right."
"I'm telling you I don't see anyone."
"There aren't many charges left."
"Grrrr. Impudent human. Fine!"
Then the Forest Troll tilted the Staff towards the entrance and let fly a Fireball. Karis leapt away but was still caught in the blast that rocketed around the room (the ward preventing it from going outside), the stalwart half-ogre's mighty strength and fortitude keeping him vertical. He clamped his mouth closed to keep from screaming or complaining in pain – putting out the fires from his clothes with rapid pat of his arms. His invisibility was still in place.
Meanwhile, outside, Fabambus readied one of his few Battering Bolts into his crossbow taking aim of the troll through the ward – hoping that if the bolt did take the ward down, it might hit T'Nagrath who was still looking around the smoking chamber and muttering, "There is no one here, mageling!"
Then the gnome fired. His invisibility shroud faded and the missile slammed like a gong against the ward. The spell held – but the stones AROUND the doorframe failed! The entrance (still warded) slipped backwards into the tower and fell over – allowing entrance and egress from the tower.
T'Nagrath looked at the now visible gnome and laughed. "Another adventurer here to try their mettle against T'Nagrath? HAH HAHAHAH!" Meanwhile Gwyn was getting into position, readying his own magical bolt in place while Coruth'tae (out of visible range from the Forest Troll) prepared an Improved Phantasmal Force spell. Fabambus shouted, "Prepare to die Troll!"
T'Nagrath made to step forward but Gwyn turned visible fired his own Crossbow bolt. Coruth'tae used his illusionary powers to make the bolt being fired look like a Blessed Bolt of Thor! The troll screamed and tried to back away – but a few feet shy of hitting him the illusion was peeled back and only the bolt itself hit him. Fabambus and Coruth'tae looked at each other and groaned – Globe of Invulnerability! That meant no spells that any of them could cast could affect the troll. Including the Lighting Bolt Spell! Damn it! How long would the spell ward last?
The troll had been knocked down the stairs a bit and Flarg the bugbear ran in, grabbing the door handles and pulling them closed. Detheron had cast a spell of strength on the already powerful bugbear, making him a force to be reckoned against even the troll. T'Nagrath was screaming to open the door and let him out while Flarg held the handles closed. The party drew up into a battle line, most of them with crossbows and bows ready. Both Fabambus and Gwyn gathered some poisoned bolts together, readying them for an even nastier surprise.
Karis told the party they would have to kill T'Nagrath with brute strength and then cut his heart out – taking it outside and blasting it there away from the Globe of Invulnerability. The half-ogre and the bugbear barbarian drew themselves ready, Flarg using Gwyn's flaming Battleaxe “Blaze” for this engagement…and then they opened the door.
T'Nagrath leapt out, Staff of Power leading the way, trying to batter Flarg aside – but he was struck by arrows and bolts staggering and wobbling and howling. Then Karis' sword arched around from the side, cleaving the troll's chest open wide. Flarg's axe burst into fire and the bugbear started beating T'Nagrath in time with Karis – the two titans delivering terrible damage to the howling and warbling troll. He struggled to fight back but the troll was overmatched and began falling down. And then Smokey joined the melee and the troll was slashed open across his throat – the grizzly bear delivering punishing damage.
Once down the party went to work swiftly. His hands and head were removed with sword and axe while others carved his heart out of his still chest. Then it was taken outside and Detheron called on Frey to grant him the power to Call Lightning – the powerful enchantment building in the snow choked sky above. Until 10 minutes passed and the air was charged – and a single stroke of lightning slammed down like Mjolnir – blasting into T'Nagrath's severed heart. Ending the Forest Troll's chance at regenerating ever again.
Sundered Chains: 1. Forest Troll: 0. (A round of applause for the party for handling and defeating one of their nemesis)
From here they traveled into the tower and looked downstairs, hoping to see who the troll was talking to. On a whim, Detheron withdrew his silvered cage with the unicorn's horn in it – and the horn spun about within – and pointed straight down – very warm in his hands.
Damn. The unicorn's severed head was here. Here. Now. And below.
They ran to the door and went to run down to the 2nd sublevel but there was a blast of inrushing air and they arrived in time to see a teleporting portal rift shut in the dim light. And the unicorn horn spun slowly in the cage which grew cool – the horn pointing east.
In the basement were 3 new blood stains – and the body of a 6 year old street urchin looking boy. He looked just slain, and his fingers had been broken and bent back and forth. The party deduced that Vanir had been here, had been helping T'Nagrath, and was still pursuing whatever aims they were after. Detheron's geas was back in remission but the druid was seething – his desire to find the unicorn's severed head still alive and well. The party searched the boy over – finding a small handful of brass bits – with the "tails" side of the coins bearing Principia's stamp. They had some clue where Vanir was holed up and what he was doing.
The gnome took out his wand and held it aloft, activating it – searching for gold! He guided the party upstairs to the 2nd floor…the 3rd…and then the 4th. They went carefully looking around for whatever gold the gnome said was up here (they could not go beyond the 5th floor since they did not bring the charm with them). In one of the last rooms on this floor (which used to house whatever servants Fengarth had living here) they found a single large wooden iron bound chest with a nice lock in good repair.
Half the party remembered that it was a mimic and should be handled with care. Fabambus had an idea – taking a speck of webbing from his pouch he flung it at the chest and summoned a Web spell – encasing the mimic within! He then told Karis and Flarg to beat it while the webbing was in place. They ran forward and the mimic tried to come to life to attack them but it was bound by the web strands and the half-ogre and bugbear spent a few minutes hacking at the thrashing creature until it stopped moving.
Once dead, the party carefully opened the mimic and peered within. The question was posed, "Where does a mimic store its treasure?" and the gnome answered snidely, "Inside a dead human." Some of the party laughed uproariously at this. But there was treasure within: gold and silver and some jewelry bearing the marking of KS on distinctive bands (some of the history minded party members knew the rings to belong once to a warrior of renown named Kris Snorrith during the Ogre Wars), a silver dagger with a robin's egg sized emerald in the pommel, and a feathered gold leaf band that once belonged to the famed Griffon Riders of Rohn.
We gathered what we could and then left here, checking the other chambers with care – until we spied a raven in one of them. Detheron approached it carefully and then enacted Lavender's Ring – speaking with it. It said its name was Kevas and was spying on T'Nagrath for its master, Ssisska. Where was its master? Up. Ssisska ran the top of the tower and T'Nagrath ran the bottom of the tower. They hated each other. Kevas couldn't say what Ssisska was – just had two arms, two legs, a face…And wings. Then it said it had to tell Ssisska about the party and that T'Nagrath was not here.
At that the party felt they had to get out of Fengarth's Tower and left – not prepared to meet another other creatures in the Tower, to meet Ssisska, or to learn anything about it. They loaded up Clipclop and left Fengarth's Tower behind, looking back often to make sure they weren't followed and all was safe (enough) on their trip back to Orihalcus.