The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 24: Let The Games Begin

The Tanius Campaign Journal
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I want the reader to know that I truly did put my best foot forward to scout the first battle out for The Syndicate. Unfortunately the staff around the bloodworks were incredibly tight lipped when it came to the upcoming battle. But as luck would have it, I was able to overhear some workers discussing where the combatants were picked up. When I heard them mention The Forest of Broken Spears, I immediately went to the party.

In hindsight I probably would have received a better response if I would have said more than “you will be fighting orcs”. I am actually fairly well studied in traditional orc formations and battle tactics, but the combination of snark from the party and stern looks from Lilyth threw me off balance.

The good news is this lack of information didn’t really seem to bother our heroes. They happily donned their gear despite the fact that they were entering the battle with very limited information. Once the coliseum worker told the party their turn was up, Bellamy gave the party a rousing speech. Energized and optimistic, they grouped up and marched up to the arena gate.

A Glorious Introduction

Campaign Log Day 8 – Part 3
20th day of Kythorn – Dusk
Year of The Rebuked Storm – 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar – Coliseum

The Syndicate formed up at the arena gate. A few moments later the iron portcullis was lifted, exposing our heroes to the roaring masses outside. The syndicate boldly marched out, and did not waste the opportunity to energize the crowd. However, after a few moments as if on cue, the crowd fell silent.

It turns out I was relieved of my heraldic duties for this bout. The opening speech of the Endgar Games’ inaugural battle was is far too important for an unknown halfling. So this time around the party would be introduced by none other than Torin Highwind himself.

Endgar Lore: Torin Highwind

Torin Highwind is the undisputed ruler of Endgar. He was a part of the initial group of Dragonborn and Tiefling that settled on the eastern Edge of Tanius 60 years ago, and is one of the few that remains.

Although he is considered to be in his twilight years, there isn’t a soul on Tanius that would challenge his might. Despite his expertise in warfare, most of his time is spent behind the castle walls dealing with political affairs. However, despite his busy schedule he always finds time to speak at and observe the opening day of the Endgar Games.

Torin was perched on a balcony on the north side of the arena. Once all eyes were on him, he began his speech.

DM Note: Torin Highwind’s Speech

I actually have the full pre-written transcript of the speech I gave the players still sitting on my hard drive! So rather than make you settle for Milo’s paraphrase, I figure you might enjoy the opportunity to read the source material.

“People of Tanius!”

Within moments the crowds roar becomes a whisper, and you notice the voice is coming from the stands above the hall of heroes. You look up, and see none other than Torin Highwind, Head of House Highwind, and Lord of Endgar addressing the crowd.

“Welcome… To The Endgar Games!”

The crowd erupts, but after a few moments the crowd falls down to a murmur once again.

“This festival, while a resounding success, has not been without its challenges. A week ago, the city was in upheaval, and during this upheaval the entertainment district was ravaged by a group of Ruffians, who looked to profit from the chaos. Many people lost their loved ones to this senseless act of aggression, and many more are still coping with tragedy amongst their families. However, despite the horrible loss, their families, and this city have prevailed!”

The crowd erupts again, once they have hushed Torin continues speaking.

“Time and time again, The Tanius Festival shows us that the people of Endgar are the Kingdom’s greatest asset. While the city watch was trying to maintain peace all across Endgar, 8 new stars appeared in the sky, and 8 heroes rose to the task of taking the city back from the edge of chaos. These heroes, went face to face with agents of fear and death, and won. These heroes, rescued the men and women trapped fearing for their lives. These heroes, are the men and women you see before you now!”

The crowd booms, and you are able to feel a slight tremble beneath your feet from the sheer volume of their cheering. After a considerable pause, the noise eventually reduces to a dull roar.

“This group of warriors comes from all walks of life. Fighters and farmers, everyman and nobility. Their differences were meaningless, because when faced with a common foe, our individual histories are meaningless. When faced with a common foe, the only thing that matters is we all become the indominatable will of The People of Tanius!”

More cheering

“And this will, this fire, is what brings us here today. It is no secret that there are those amongst us who want to shatter the dream of a peaceful, and prosperous Tanius. There are many terrible men and monsters who threaten out kingdoms on a daily basis. However, today we will show Endgar, Tanius, and The world itself! Just how meaningless their attempts to break us really are. Today! The heroes of The Festival, will become ambassadors of our strength, and will deliver a message. Written in the blood of evil men, for the entire world to see!”

The crowd starts flipping their shit.

“The time for words is over! The time to show the world what happens when our society is threatened is now. Today the only creatures walking through the Bloodwork gates are those who have wronged our society. Those that fought and failed, will be forced to confront all they did wrong, and once again make peace with how futile their attempts to fight really are. From the Amber Plains, to the Stormbreak Mountains, from the Wyldwood, to the Forest of Broken Spears, the worst among us, will breathe their last on this day.”

“I implore you people of Tanius, I implore you to stand, I implore you to shout, I implore you, to show our heroes your unshakable resolve, and to strike fear in the hearts of our enemies!”

The crowds voice starts to rise, but Torin’s voice is able to continue to overpower the noise

“Rise up Tanius, may your voice be heard around the world, and your cheers shake the foundation of the world! Rise up Tanius! The Endgar Games, HAVE, BEGUN!”

Torin began by addressing the riots that nearly consumed the entire city at the beginning of this tale. He went on to describe the party as heroes, who despite their different backgrounds rose to the occasion of defending the city.

Torin’s speech resonated with the crowd. He acknowledged that there is still great evil that plagues Tanius, but assured the kingdom that the forces of good were stronger. As proof of this strength, he revealed that the Heroes of Endgar before them would bring justice upon the enemies of the kingdom. Today our heroes would be fighting men and creatures of evil who have plagued communities all around the continent.

At the end of his speech he called for the entire city to stand behind the Heroes of Endgar, and cheer them on as they bring justice in the kingdom’s name.

When his speech was done, the iron portcullis on the opposite side of the arena started to move. The crowd’s screams shook the stadium to its foundation, and when the forces of evil emerged our heroes did not hesitate to deliver the justice we all craved.

Roll Initiative

Party: Bellamy(Sor-5), Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-4), Kroul(Clr-5), Lilyth(Drd-5), Meesh(Rgr-4), Ungoldor(Rog-5), Rkard(Bbn-5)
Enemies: 1x Ettin, 1x Orc Chief, 1x Orc Lieutenant, 3x Orc
Base Difficulty Rating: Hard
Modified Difficulty Rating: Hard – Party is able to engage on even footing and use the environment to their advantage should they choose
Expected Outcome: Major HP Loss
Actual Outcome: Moderate HP Loss
Loot: None

Tactical Considerations: The party and the orcs start off on opposite ends of the arena. The arena floor is about 200 feet wide, and on the orcs end is a series of barricades. The party will be assaulting an entrenched position, but fortunately for the party orcs aren’t known for their patience.

How It Went Down: The battle began with the whole party charging the barricade. Lilyth turned into a bear and fulfilled the role of the meat shield. She ended up getting knocked out of animal form, but was able to shift back into a bear again before any major damage was sustained.

The smaller orcs started off throwing javelins from behind the barricade, but eventually they all charged. The party was able to systematically pick off the weaker opponents first, and eventually took down the war chief last.

Behind The Screen: This was meant to be more of a warm up encounter, and in that way it was a success. The party consumed a few spells and took some damage that would warrant a short rest later.

A group of orcs emerged from the gate with a monstrous ettin in tow. To make things more complicated the orcs also had a group of barricades set up near their gate, which they immediately took advantage of. Fortunately the battlefield was littered with wooden structures that the syndicate could take cover behind as well. However, it quickly became clear that the our heroes were not in a very tactical mood.

Rather than move from cover to cover, The Syndicate decided to charge in head first. Lilyth immediately turned into a large bear and lead the way. She took a few javelins in her side as she moved in, but this did not dissuade her. Ungoldor decided to sport a long bow for this fight so he could use Archey’s clockwork arrows.

The explosive arrow proved to be particularly effective. It gave off a loud burst of light that blinded the orc war chief temporarily while the party dealt with his lesser counterparts. Meesh was able to trip up his lieutenant with the bolas as well, fulfilling Archey’s request for the first round.

Kiddo was able to fire a particularly brutal set of eldritch blasts into each Ettin’s head while Josh held the massive beast at bay. Eventually with the help of Kroul, the trio was able to take the brute down.

With the supporting cast gone, they were able to execute the chieftan in dramatic fashion. The crowd responded to their brilliant display, and showered the party in gold.

The Endgar Games: Gold For The Victor

Although Endgar does not have a long history, many traditions have formed over the course of the years. One of these traditions is to shower coliseum fighters with gold when they put on a good show.

The city officials running the coliseum encourage the fighters to entice the crowd to throw their coins, since the city ends up taking most of it. However, the left over money does go to the victor, and the sums are great enough to lure warriors from all over the land to participate.

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to show off, our heroes used their remaining time in the arena to showboat. Most of the party tried to display their magical and martial skills, however the real crowd-pleaser was Meesh and her pet wolf Joey.

Much to the city’s delight the ranger and her pup started doing a sort of dance. Joey stood up on his hind legs, following Meesh’s lead, and the two scoot around the arena.

DM NOTE: Roll Performance

I figured this would be a fun opportunity to mix in a little roleplay in with what was slated to be a very combat heavy sequence. Throughout each battle whenever something particularly interesting was done I had the party throw additional bonus dice rolls.

The size of the dice rolled was determined by the quality of the showmanship. The more entertaining they were, the bigger the dice roll. So when Meesh rolled a 19 on her performance check while dancing with Joey, she ended up rolling a 20 sided bonus dice.

I kept a running tally of the numbers rolled, and at the end of the Endgar games this tally is used to determine how much gold they earned. Each tally represents one “bonus” CR 1/8 monster killed, which wasn’t a lot on its own, but when the party has over 100 tallies it can start to add up quick…

As the cheers turned to murmurs the party recognized that it was time for them to take their leave. So they waved farewell to the crowd, and marched back through bloodwork gates.

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