The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 19: The Eye of The Storm

The Tanius Campaign Journal
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Renlia’s tone shifted as she began recounting this portion of the tale. It was subtle, but she went from sounding exasperated to sounding invigorated. I sat in continued amazement of what she was able to endure, and this shift of tone seemed to indicate that the tide was about to turn.

The Hunted Become The Hunters

Campaign Log Day 7 – Part 5
20th day of Kythorn – Night’s Heart
Year of The Rebuked Storm – 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Outskirts – Blackheart Manor

After some words with the trapped ghost, Kroul beckoned the party back. Initially the party wasn’t too keen the follow the drunken dwarf’s plan, but once Sturgis laid out the details the party slowly came to his side.

This plan itself was simple. If they set Sturgis free, his ability to shift between the material and ethereal realm would allow him to attack the hag irregardless of what plane she was in. In fact, Sturgis believed that if her minions were held at bay, he could bring down the wench himself. The party informed the ghost of the minions they had felled thus far, and after some discussion Sturgis told them he believed that the worst of the minions had been defeated.

With a plan in place the party used one of their scrolls of dispel magic, and freed the ghost from his magical prison.

DM Note: Under-leveled use of a Scroll of Dispel Magic

Dispel magic is a 3rd level spell, which meant that at this point in time none of the party members could consistently cast the spell from a scroll. Fortunately the party was able to realize this issue, and took the proper steps to maximize the odds of success. This included Kroul using guidance and Renlia using bardic inspiration. Between those two and the available inspiration dice(which weren’t needed), the party was able to successfully use the scroll of dispel magic.

They were battered and bloodied, but our heroes reformed with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose. With their new ethereal ally leading the way, the party marched down the stairs. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairwell everyone saw the ghost’s neck snap towards the game room. With a bone chilling wail he charged under the archway and suddenly vanished.

Fight or Flight

The party did the best they could to form up around where Sturgis disappeared. They hoped that their trust in the ghost wouldn’t result in betrayal. Fortunately for them Sturgis kept his promise, and moments later a besieged hag was forced back to the land of the living, and was frantically trying to escape through a nearby window.

Roll Initiative

Party: Bellamy(Sor-4), Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-3), Kroul(Clr-4), Lilyth(Drd-4), Ungoldor(Rog-4), Rkard(Bbn-4), Renlia(Brd-4)
Enemies: 1x Night Hag, 1x Nightmare
Base Difficulty Rating: Deadly
Modified Difficulty Rating: Hard – Nightmare only arrives when Betty Blackbottom is under duress, and even then is only aiming to escape. Plus the party picked up a ghost ally.
Expected Outcome: Moderate HP Loss and the Hag escapes
Actual Outcome: Minor HP Loss and the Hag is purportedly defeated
Loot: None

Tactical Considerations: In a direct fight the party has a great deal more firepower than the night hag. Furthermore many of her minions have already been dealt with, but the party does not know what other tricks she has up her sleeve.

How It Went Down: Sturgis was able to reach the night-hag and force her out of the ethereal plane by the end of his second turn. During this time period the party formed up around where the ghost disappeared and prepared to strike. When the night hag re-appeared she leaped through the window that Ungoldor used to enter the manor during the previous battle with the gargoyles. The party attempted to follow the night hag outside of the window, but Lilyth in dire wolf form bungled her athletics check and ended up getting stuck in the window for a turn. Fortunately at this point most of the party was able to make it through, and she was able to squeeze through on her next turn.

The party was able to put the night hag on the ropes, but the moment things seemed to be turning in their favor a nightmare suddenly shifted out of the ethereal plane and started charging towards the party. Renlia was able to buy the party some time by casting a dissonant whispers spell on the nightmare, but eventually the flaming steed was able to reach the hag.

With a pop suddenly the horse and the hag disappeared, and Sturgis quickly followed. After a brief but tense moment Sturgis reappeared near the party, and the nightmare followed suit. Sturgis and the party were able to finish the nightmare off, and once the dust had settled Sturgis told the party what happened to the night hag.

Behind The Screen: There were a lot of different ways this battle could have taken place, and this was by far one of the easiet combinations. Had the party not enlisted the help of Sturgis they would have likely never had the ability to kill the night hag. Furthermore they would have been subjected to her harassment the entire dungeon which would have greatly complicated matters, especially when fighting her minions. However, with the help of a ghost ally they were able to nullify her ability to plane shift, and as a result forced the night hag to fight on their terms away from her minions. This gave the party the upper hand in the engagement.

Our heroes immediately gave chase. The humanoids in the group deftly vaulted through the window after her, but the bulky dire wolf had a few… complications making it through the window. Lilyth barked and howled as she wiggled her way through the narrow window. Had the stakes of the situation been lower, it would have actually been quite amusing. Fortunately for her pride, the party was focused on launching spells and arrows at their misfigured foe, and paid little attention to her momentary display of ineptitude.

The battle seemed to be going in the party’s favor initially, however suddenly what can only be described as a flaming steed burst out of thin air and started charging towards the party. Renlia was able to see it out of the corner of her eye, and whispered a series of enchanted words that seemed to spook the creature, which momentarily sent it it running in the opposite direction. However, the hag was able to claw her way away from party, and eventually reached her nightmarish ally. The moment her hand touched its molten mane, both her and the steed disappeared into the night.

Without a moment’s hesitation Sturgis shifted into whatever maligned plane their foes had moved to.

DM Note: Sturgis’ Turns In The Ethereal Plane

While I was enjoying the opportunity to bring interplanal combat into the campaign, it did create a few relatively dull moments in combat as I was adjudicating turns of NPC vs NPC action. To keep the tension up I allowed the party to move their characters around on their turn, forcing them to speculate on what would happen next and position themselves accordingly. I was very happy with how this approach worked out, and as far as I can tell the party was as well.

The party stood there waiting in the driving rain, uncertain what fate had befell their ethereal ally. A wave of relief washed over the party when a somewhat faded, but intact ghost of Sturgis appeared by their side. However, this relief was immediately quashed when in a flash of light the flaming steed was immediately upon the ghost.

Despite the mounting fatigue, the party dug in their heels and rushed to the aid of their incorporeal comrade. The party landed blow after crushing blow on the hellish beast, but eventually it was the ghost who drove his necrotic hand through the stallion’s chest. With a final echoing neigh the creature hit the ground with a thud, and the fire from his mane went cold.

The Storm Breaks

The party stood in silence for a moment catching their breath. Renlia approached the ghost of her former love and asked him point blank what happened to the hag.

Sturgis remained in somewhat of a haze for a moment, but after collecting himself he turned to Renlia and said what I can only imagine were the only two words she wanted to hear.

“She’s Dead.”

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