The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 14: Lights and Fires

The Tanius Campaign Journal
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I looked over at Josh, who was holding and shaking his head. I imagine the member of the City Watch was a bit disappointed by the party’s continued propensity for theft and arson, but I was relieved to eventually hear a couple of stifled laughs underneath his groaning. Renlia smiled at Josh’s reaction, and waited for things to quiet down before continuing her tale.

Something Seems Off Here…

Campaign Log Day 6 – Part 2
19th day of Kythorn – Dusk
Year of The Rebuked Storm – 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Outskirts – Ajenar’s Hut

The party was able to make it the rest of the way to Blackheart Manor without incident, but they noticed the land around them changing. The sky had grown unnaturally dark, a light amount of rain was falling, and the trees and plants now seemed twisted and strange. Fortunately, Renlia was familiar with the area and she led the party to the base of the hill leading to Blackheart Manor.

There was only one path the party could take to easily approach Blackheart Manor. The sides of the hill were too steep to easily climb, and the summit of the hill was easily 100 feet high. The party opted for a path winding around the perimeter of the hill, and readied their weapons to offset their unease.

As the party rounded the corner, they noticed three large glowing lights floating further up the path. They were beautiful to look at, but Kroul was unnerved by the faint children’s voices he heard from their direction. Suspicious that some evil magic could be at work, he used a spell to detect good and evil, and approached the creatures.

His suspicions were confirmed.

Roll Initiative

Party: Bellamy(Sor-4), Kroul(Clr-4), Meesh(Rgr-3), Ungoldor(Rog-4), Rkard(Bbn-3), Renlia(Brd-4)

Enemies: 3x Will-O-Wisp
Base Difficulty Rating: Hard
Modified Difficulty Rating: Hard – Standard encounter
Expected Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Actual Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Loot: None

Tactical Considerations: The party pretty easily determined the Wisps were bad news. The pathway itself was fairly wide, and the drop on the left side was not fatal. They should be able to engage the wisps directly, granting no major advantages to either side.

How It Went Down: Bellamy, not knowing what the creatures were, tried to open the fight with a sleep spell. The Wisps simply laughed off his attempts at sorcery and immediately engaged the party. The electric shocks originating from the Wisps dealt a fair amount of damage, but the party was able to decisively win the fight by unleashing several powerful spells during the encounter.

Behind The Screen: Renlia ended up being a major asset in this fight. Her Cutting Words ability and Dissonant Whispers effectively worked around the Wisps’ high dexterity. The party had some issues landing hits early on, but once they could connect, they quickly worked through the Wisps’ low HP pools.

Kroul immediately fired a magical salvo at the Wisps, but their erratic movements made it difficult for his spells to connect. Lilyth transformed into a ferocious Dire Wolf and fearlessly engaged the dancing lights while the party supported from behind. Renlia’s Bardic magic was particularly effective at discombobulating their foes, which helped her allies avoid multiple magical lightning attacks. There were some tense moments as the Wisps came in and out of invisibility, but in the end our heroes prevailed.

With the Wisps dispatched, everybody agreed it would be wise to take some time to recover before pressing forward. The party headed back down the hill and found a discreet overhang to use as shelter for a rest until the late hours of the night.

DM Note: Transition from Session 8 to 9

Session 8 ended with the party resting at the foot of the hill. Meesh and Rkard had gained the experience they needed to reach level 4, so the party opted to take a long rest. Everybody but Bellamy was able to make session 9, so for RP purposes, Bellamy was watching the camp while the party pressed onwards.

Eight hours passed without interruption. During this period Lilyth and Kiddo were able to catch up to the party. Fully rested and now reinforced, they formed up and resumed their trek up the winding path. Cresting the hill, they could see the Manor dimly lit in the distance. The wind continued to pick up and the air grew colder with each step towards the mansion.

Occam’s Lighter

The shortest path to the Manor was through one of the nearby fields. Whether due to bad luck or something darker, a large cornfield had clearly fallen out of use, but four old strawmen still stood dutifully at their posts. Our heroes decided weren’t in the mood for surprises, so they handed out torches and set the field ablaze.

They watched the fire quickly spread across the field, but before the hay-stuffed creations could be enveloped, their eyes began to glow.

Roll Initiative

Party: Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-3), Kroul(Clr-4), Lilyth(Drd-4), Meesh(Rgr-4), Ungoldor(Rog-4), Rkard(Bbn-4), Renlia(Brd-4)
Enemies: 4x Strawmen
Base Difficulty Rating: Medium
Modified Difficulty Rating: Easy – Scarecrows being walled off by fire.
Expected Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Actual Outcome: Minor HP Loss
Loot: None

Tactical Considerations: The growing wall of flame gives the ranged-heavy party a serious advantage against the melee-only Strawmen. As long as the party keeps the Strawmen in sight, they should have an easy fight on their hands.

How It Went Down: The Strawmen did their best to approach the party from stealth. Using a combination of dodge and dash they quickly closed the gap, but the ranged attacks and fire damage from the burning field reduced their health considerably before they could apply any serious damage.

Behind The Screen: In this day and age, the evil strawman trope is pretty common, so I wasn’t expecting the party to be caught by surprise. However, I should have known from their previous behavior with flammable objects that the field would get ignited sooner rather than later.

The strawmen sprung to life, but the party was prepared. They fired an barrage of ranged attacks at the constructs, and their aim was true. Their attackers tried to charge through the flames, but those who emerged found a swift exit from this plane at the end by Rkard’s Maul.

Attempts to claw the Half-Orc fruitlessly rolled off his glistening green body. Hiding proved no more useful, as those taking cover in the weeds were found by Lilyth’s Flame Sphere. Before long the entire field was ablaze, and the evil constructs spent their last moments enveloped in flames before the sinister lights in their eyes flickered out.

Our heroes let the fire burn so as to ensure the threat was extinguished. Eventually the flames began to recede, and as the smoke cleared they saw the facade of Blackheart Manor looming menacingly in the distance.

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