July 13th, 2014
Weather: Hot, humid, storms threatening.
Characters: (approximate net point total)
Bern Brambleberry, gnome artificer (265 points)
Mark Strawngmussel, human laborer (62 points, NPC)
Dryst, halfling wizard (349 points)
Father Keef, human initiate (125 points, NPC)
Red Raggi, human berserker (?? points, NPC)
Vryce, human knight (439 points)
Still in town:
Borriz, dwarven knight (308 points)
Christoph, human scout (258 points)
Chuck Morris, human martial artist (303 points)
Galen Longtread, human scout (360 points)
Galoob Jah, goblin thief (256 points)
Honus Honusson, human barbarian (302 points)
Gort of the Shining Force, dwarf adventurer (unknown point total, NPC)
We started, as always, in town. The group gathered rumors, including one about the cone-hatted cultists bribing their way past the orcs to go live in the dungeons. The cultists apparently bragged they had the keys to the depths of Felltower.
They also got some research on dragons, and on 12-legged wyrms. First, the wyrms. Apparently they speak, and are cunning. They like riddles, wordplay, and talking in general. But they aren't really very smart, nor are they trustworthy beyond a point. They also have breath weapons (to which they are immune), and "beware their coils." Second, dragons. Lots of divided opinion here. Some claimed dragons are normal animals, just smart. Others, that they are pure chaos . . . forces of destruction and the physical representation of destruction. Other legends spoke of dragons being slain by great heroes with special swords, others by powerful magic or being driven off by armies. Of course, one rumor spoke of dragons being slain with a single special arrow, but Galen had already scoffed about that last time.
They headed up the mountain, out of the north gate, across Stone Bridge over the Silver River, past the statue of Sterick's Landing with the statue of Sterick mounted on a rearing horse with his sword and axe upraised, through the slums, and up to the ruins.
They approach the orc-held castle ruins, and the orcs let them into the gatehouse, and closed the portcullis behind them. This time, however, the orcs called down that the toll was 1000 sp to enter. Or, 200 sp to leave. Heh, heh, heh. The party tried to bargain them down to 500 sp, but the orcs said they'd take weapons in lieu of cash if the PCs were broke. They ended up paying 200 sp to be let back out. Grumbling, they headed back and weighed their options.
Worried the bugbear caves would be a deathtrap, they elected to go in through the dragon's cave. They climbed down the steep goat's path to the mouth of the dragon cave that Galen had found scouting.
It was as he said - partly overgrown, smelling a bit of sulfur, and wide but low. They sent a Wizard Eye in to scout, using Dark Vision. The eye zoomed through a long, wide, 18-20' ceiling cave until it came to a U-shaped split. Dryst sent the eye down the left side, passed a right turn and past a narrow gap to a larger cave. There, something fluttered - maybe a big bat? - and the eye disappeared.
"Mobats." Dryst's opinion.
A second eye was sent in, and this time staying to the right it saw some wreckage and coinage, with a sword sticking out. It took the right side of the U, hooked up with the side passage, and turned right. There it saw some small red winged lizards and two big eggs. The lizards were frolicking.
They pulled the eye back and sent it along - it, too, met its destruction, with not a clue why.
The group decided to head in, after an hour's rest to recover the energy expended on the spells. They moved in, leaving Father Keef and Marc Strawngmussel at the entrance. They made their way into the tunnel, until they reached the coins.
There were a lot - they estimated between 60-75 thousand coins. More than half copper, but lots of silver, gold, and gold eagles (coins worth $100, not $20, apiece), and that sword. They set the Wizard Eye to watch, summoned their hirelings to come help, and started loading treasure.
They had a servant grab the sword, of course. The servant quivered, and started speaking in an unknown language. Gift of Tongues let Dryst understand - it was saying something about "Having returned" and "killing dragons" and whatnot. It couldn't explain itself, though, so finally Vryce decided to grab the blade.
Worried it would compel him to go and fight, Dryst insisted on Vryce drinking a strength potion and getting ready for combat. That done, Vryce stepped up and took the sword from the hapless servant.
Vryce felt the sword communicate with him, not with words but with feelings. It was a dragon-slaying sword, and it could detect dragons and dragon-kind but (and, naturally, Vryce too) was obsessed with slaying them. It was pretty good at it, too - a fine, balanced sword, but also Accuracy +1 (+3 vs. dragons), Puissance +1 (+3 vs. dragons), the detection abilities, and max damage on any critical (3x max damage on a 3). Needless to say, Vryce was well pleased, even if his Weapon Mastery doesn't include this kind of blade . . . yet.
The sword itself was a plain-looking if well-made bastard sword, with the name "Sigured" burned into the sheath. When drawn, it had runes along the ricasso. The runes on the blade could be read two ways - either as Balmung, or as Gram. Yes, Gram. (This is not a coincidence.)
Armed with the blade, Vryce used its detect and located, yes, those lizards - baby dragons. They first spent 30 minutes gathering treasure, and then headed over.
They barged into the cave and attacked. The hatchlings fought back with fire, but Resist Fire took care of that, and their claws were fairly easily fended off. They hack two to death and wounded one to unconsciousness. They decided to salvage bits. They took the heads of the slain, and Vryce scooped up the wounded one in the hopes of getting it back alive. When Raggi was tasked with getting feet (for the claws), he got some blood splashed on his arm . . . and the flesh started dying. Poison! Virulent poison, at that. It took quick work by Bern to get a poison-curing salve going (with Gizmo) and Raggi was cured.
They decided to head home, half-expecting trouble on the way.
They got it. Laden with two baby dragon heads, a baby dragon, two eggs (each 25 pounds!), and almost 300 pounds of coins heaped into every bag they could find, they headed out.
But then they head flapping, followed by a muffled and surprisingly quiet "thud" outside. The sun was darkened as something crept into the cave.
There was a dragon, in all its majesty.
It moved in, and the fight was on. The dragon saw, and smelled, the wounded dragon, the eggs, and the blood all over Vryce . . . and went into a great fury. It charged.
Vryce stood his ground, as did Raggi, and the group behind started to disperse, fearing a breath weapon. The dragon moved in and dodged Vryce's strikes and bit and clawed at him. Vryce tried to parry but the weight of the strike was too great, and - if not for luck - his new sword almost snapped! Moments later luck bailed him out of falling from a failed Dodge, and turned it into a luckily successful one. Raggi put a big gash in the side of the dragon, and barely avoided a spray of toxic blood!
The dragon stayed in close, using a tail swipe to cripple Raggi's leg and send him flying into the wall behind. It breathed a cone of flame on Vryce, but Resist Fire was proof against that, and Vryce dodged its claw.
The fight became a general melee. The dragon's breath lit Father Keef (who tried to turn it with his holy symbol, hoping it was a demonic being) and Marc (who panicked and ran) on fire. The dragon kept turning to try to maul Vryce, who tried himself to get it turned back to the party to keep it from toasting them. Dryst hurried and Shielded Vryce and cast a (critically successful) Resist Fire on Raggi.
Vryce kept at it, slashing at the dragon and hitting quite often. Raggi stayed conscious and concentrated on chugging healing potions until his leg was able to support him (no problem - he rolled a 4 on the crippling check). Bern moved to take a shot with his crossbow, occasionally pausing to throw anti-venom grenades and fire extinguishing grenades at wounded compatriots. A tail swipe put Dryst out of the action for a few seconds, hurling him 8 yards!
The dragon saw its breath - which it would spout out for 2-3 seconds at a time - was useless. So once it got a chance, it started to spit 21' across splashes of caustic napalm. Resist Fire stopped the burn, but not the corrosion, which started to burn up Vryce's armor and sizzle him beneath it. A second blast hurt Dryst greatly.
The fight continued, with Vryce - and then a recovered Raggi, who willed himself Berserk - slashed the dragon dozens of times with strokes that in Vryce's eyes should have slain it by then. He kept managing to dodge the dragon's attacks thanks to Shield and his own Dodge. As Raggi re-engaged, the dragon turned on him, allowing Vryce to put his sword away, crush a Gem of Healing, and then re-draw and re-engage. Raggi was bitten and lifted up by the dragon (20 damage and 10 CP!) but he fought free by smashing it in the head twice with his axe. Meanwhile, Bern put a crossbow bolt into it - but even his siege bow barely injured it. As it let Raggi go and turned, Vryce had decided to trust some rumors he'd heard and went for stabs to the vitals. He missed one as the dragon dodged, but the second landed home. It didn't do much, but it was enough (perhaps because of the incredible punishment they'd done!) and the dragon dropped, dead.
All in all, it was a rough fight, but no one died. It was close, but Vryce's solid tactics and the refusal of the PCs to let the NPCs just burn stopped that.
The group began to heal the wounded, de-tox Raggi (who was now at -57 HP!) and check the dragon. But they heard the sounds of big bats. They didn't want to flee, despite their horrid damage, because they wanted the dragon's corpse for loot! So Dryst set up a whirlwind in a narrow point, and Vryce called out (with Gift of Tongues) to threaten the bats. One responded - some kind of intelligent leader! It wasn't impressed by the threats, and two bats attacked. Vryce killed one, and shrugged off the poison gas stench it gave off. Since they'd buffed up Vryce - ahem - Shield, Blur, Resist Poison, Flight (x2 speed), and more, he was too much for them. They wouldn't back off so he flew at them, Great Hasted. He chased them down, killing about 10-12 of the bats before the rest had fled beyond his reach.
Having made their point, they looted the dragon. They took the head, the paws, and the wing spikes. They had plans to take more, but a lack of time, skills, and Resist Poison abilities restricted them. They expended a lot of healing magic, too, to get functional, and still took almost 2 hours to get out of there. Nothing else came in, since they'd torn up the only nearly monsters willing to take a shot.
Once they returned to town, they counted up the hundreds of pound of coins and jewelry. Some, sadly, was damaged badly when Marc was lit on fire and doused with acid. A magical scroll - some kind of protection scroll - was destroyed. Still, all told, they had two magic potions (Giant's Strength and Treasure Finding), almost 120,000 worth of coins and jewelry (including a crown that interests them mightily), a magic ring (of Animal Friendship), and two dragon eggs. The dragon eggs sold for 14000 and 18000 at auction. The rest of the dragon's bits will wait for tomorrow, when I have more time to write up the details.
Ridiculously profitable trip. After splits, each person took home north of $29K, plus the group has several magic items.
I ran Shield as conveying the knockback only for slams. I probably should have done it for all strikes - Vryce is strong, and was at ST 25 for the whole fight - but the dragon was dealing strikes doing 6d+6 or more, so it would have mattered.
The twin dragon breath types? Just because "Resist Fire" shouldn't make a dragon a melee machine against you.
MVP was Vryce, decided by a die roll. Huh.
I have to price out the value of the dragon bits they took home. They include its entire head, its four clawed feet, its wingtip spikes, and a jug of blood.
Oh, and this was the first dragon that showed up in my game in maybe decades. Finally, people faced one instead of either a) me saving them too long or b) running away. It was a tough fight, but I'm glad it happened. Their research and determination to take on the dragon helped immensely, both in making the fight happen and in them winning it. I'm a bit sad the dragon didn't cause more casualties, but hey, it's just an adult dragon. There are more out there. Bigger ones out there, too.
Finally, the dragon mini? $2 at Michael's, on sale, from the "Alien Force" series of cheap-o nonsense collections of figures. Yes, "Alien Force" and a dragon. I bought a few, because, at $2, why use the same mini over and over?
Editing Later: Doug Cole had some flattering and interesting discussion of this session on his blog. I figured some of you might want to see it, and my players might draw some value from it too and I'm not sure they all read Gaming Ballistic every day. In any case, it's very nice to know my tired post-game writeups are letting on how much fun it is to run the game. Three hours of fighting the dragon (I'd thought it would be much shorter, either way), and it was so tense and interesting I had to force a break just so I could go the bathroom. No one wanted to look away from the table no matter who went!