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msherman
Giant
(8/28/03 4:08 am)
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The Restocked Earth Temple
Next wednesday, my party will be fighting the restocked Earth Temple. Here's the timeline/plan (please poke holes in it!) :

May 15: Sacked main gate
May 16: Sacked Earth temple, stole Sword & keys, but left Altar and Drum intact
May 17: Returned to Rastor, spent 10 days nursing many tanbrosh adicts out of trouble with low maintenance doses while casting Neutralize Poison on all of them.

During this time, Naquent raised Uskatoth and The Swordmaster from the dead, and ran them through The Infernal Machine. IMC, the Swordmaster was advanced to a 7th level fighter, so he could be an interesting one-on-one challenge to the Barbarian in my party -- he's now 6th level with a demonic right arm, while Uskatoth is now 5th level with a demonic familiar.

Uskatoth raised an undead honor guard (skeletal Manticore and 4 Trog Zombies), and they left the mines to recruit more muscle to defend the temple. Meanwhile...

May 28: Party returns to main gate, discovers it (and the earth temple) abandoned but bodies have been cleared out (dragged northwards). Party kills Dire Apes, sacks NBC. Party stashes their cart, horse, and all their treasure from the NBC in the Howler room in the main gate complex.
May 29: Party parlays with Water Temple.
May 30: Party joins Water Temple strike force, Water Walks across Stalagos to eastern bridge, sacks Fire Temple, destroys altar. Nilbool and Urlurg escape with Word of Recall.
May 31: Party escapes Fire Temple through the chimney, stashes Fire Temple treasure in a hidden cache in the rocks outside the mines, and hikes around the mountain back to the main gate to get their cart and horse.

During that time, while the party was deep in the mines, Uskatoth returns to the gate complex with a band of Kobolds he recruited. The advance party of kobolds (2 weeks worth of restock for both Earth Temple and Main Gate) consists of 30 warriors (as per the MM), 6 Sor1, and a Sor6. The rest of the tribe is expected to arrive over the next 3 weeks. They discover the party's treasure cache, and take it -- the Swordmaster is now wearing Oamarthis' armor and shield. They kill the horse for food, and leave the cart in the howler room, which the Kobolds rig up with a collapsing ceiling trap (CR6).

Uskatoth sacrifices a prisoner they brought with them, to summon a Xorn. Meanwhile, the kobolds send an emissary south, to parlay with Vranthis. Vranthis is much more comfortable with Kobolds than he was with either humans or trogs, and agrees to help the Kobolds defeat the vile Barbarian that stole their Sword and Keys, in exchange for the bodies and his pick of the treasure (less those keys and sword, of course).

On the 31st, the Sorcerer, who has been using Locate Object to track the location of the Sword of Earth, lets them know that the party approaches. Vranthis is flying lookout above the Main Gate, with two kobolds strapped to his back (one warrior w/crossbow, one sorcerer w/magic missile). When he shouts the alarm, Uskatoth will send the Xorn out to assist him; they will attempt to drive the party into the ambush in the main gate, concentrating attacks on the Barbarian (though the kobolds will probably concentrate their attacks on the supporting party to provide cover fire).

Here's the twist in their plan; Vranthis' shout (in Draconic) attracts some unwanted attention; Trogdor, the white dragon on the wandering monster list, considers this his hunting territory, and doesn't want Vranthis eating lunch and stealing treasure that is righfully his. He'll arrive in 3 rounds after hearing the shout to join the fight -- 800' per round is a hell of a flying run speed!

So, we've got a 3 way fight between the party, a xorn and Vranthis, and Trogdor, with a secondary fight with the two trogs and the kobolds. The two dragons are going to be played by two irregular players who occasionally join us to play NPCs, which should make things both a bit more interesting and easier for me to manage. The dragons have very different fighting styles; I gave Vranthis hover/multiattack, while Trogdor has flyby/improved natural attack (bite)/weapon focus (bite). Also, Vranthis has spells, while Trogdor has SR and frightful presense.

Does anyone think this is a potential TPK (or, on the other side of the spectrum, boring) for a well-equipped 9th level party?

Infiniti2000
Verrik
(8/28/03 6:12 am)
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ezSupporter
Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
Sounds like a great plan to me. The one question I have, though, is that the white dragon is weaker than Vranthis and probably knows this. Did you increase it's HD any to compensate for such a reckless action? Also, I'm not sure a territorial dispute would be enough to get the white dragon involved that close to the ToAC. IMC, I've decided that the white wants to join the temple and therefore was to remove Vranthis and eventually that big red. I've even had the white approach the party and offer a reward for the head of Vranthis. Perhaps you might have more of a RP opportunity here if the white and/or party hears about the ambush and they can talk about it before hand.

In any case, it's certainly not a TPK because the dragons will be fighting each other, not the party.

msherman
Giant
(8/28/03 6:55 am)
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Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
Do you think Vranthis is tougher than the white? Vranthis is juvenile, while the white is Young Adult (they're both CR 8 ) . Also, Vranthis is full attack optimized, while the white is flyby optimized, so Vranthis won't be getting his best attacks off a lot, while the white will.

The white will probably be concentrating most of his energy on Vranthis, while Vranthis will have his concentration split between the White and the party (particularly the Barbarian, who he has promised to defeat). The white should definitely act recklessly -- he's white, and his wisdom is even below average for a white (I moved 2 pts from Wis to Cha). He is, after all, Trodgor. :)

My goal here is to end the fight with both dragons flying off, heavily wounded. Vranthis may try to give chase, but the White is faster (200' vs. 150'), so he should be able to escape.

As for advanced warning, that's not really likely at this point; we broke last session with the party hiking towards the main gate, having just spotted Vranthis (and he spotted half the party, the Cleric and the Barbarian).

One question about dragon combat -- both dragons have Power Attack. According to the MM, the Tail Slap attack gets 1.5xStr bonus, like a two handed attack. Would the Tail Slap also get double damage from Power Attack?

Edited by: msherman at: 8/28/03 6:56 am
msherman
Giant
(8/29/03 4:17 am)
Reply
Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
Bad news. The two players who were going to play the two dragons aren't going to be able to make it to the game, so I've had to drop the two dragon idea; it's just going to be Vranthis working with the earth temple folks, no white dragon. I think running two dragons in a single fight working against each other is just going to be too tough for me to do on my own.

That'll make the fight tougher for the party, since they'll have Vranthis' full attention. I'd planned the fight to take place about 100' down from the main gate (within Magic Missile sniper range from the gate itself), but to compensate and make things a bit easier for the party, I'll move the fight down another 200' to ground level. That will seperate it out into two distinct fights, one with Vranthis, two kobolds and the Xorn (EL9), and the second with the two trogs, the undead, and the rest of the Kobolds (EL10.5). Unless the party does something really foolish like trying to take shelter from the Dragon in the main gate...

Edited by: msherman at: 8/29/03 4:25 am
Killiak 
Litorian
(8/29/03 8:58 am)
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Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
Which you know they will do, because fighting a dragon that can hover on open land (along with a Xorn that can tremorsense them in the dustcloud) is suicidal.......

msherman
Giant
(8/29/03 9:10 am)
Reply
Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
To be fair, it's not open land; it's tree-spotted mountainside. Last time they fought a hovering dragon (Utreshimon, using the much nastier 3.0 hover rules), they killed him by bull-rushing him into a stand of trees, where he couldn't hover, and then grappling him so he couldn't fly away. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same tactic used this time (though Vranthis is smarter than Utreshimon, and will avoid hovering in an area where he can be easily trapped like that).

Infiniti2000
Verrik
(8/29/03 7:11 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: The Restocked Earth Temple
Wild thought. If you really wanted the White to be Trogdor, perhaps you should make him really a red dragon, baneful polymorphed into a white dragon. Imagine the humiliation he must feel. Perhaps he was a past lover of Chymon's and hangs around the CRM because he is still pining for her heart. Or rather, wanting to shove a piece of pine through her heart. Maybe Vranthis knows this and will use it to taunt the white dragon.

Entropius
Faen
(9/2/03 8:07 am)
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Trogdor...
Trogdor, the Freezinator?

I love Infiniti's polymorph idea. :D

deafdungeonmasterRIT
Litorian
(9/2/03 6:44 pm)
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hmmm..
This come out of the blue, but I think Hedrack will behave like Hitler manner. During the Russian front of WW II, Hitler order generals NEVER to fall back and to keep the lands at all cost. Of course, we know what really happens. In this case, Hedrack will give a harsh order that earth temple will suffer on their own. Hedrack WILL not give this temple any supports. That temple is not his baby. In realitiy, none of them really are, but given Imix's reign and Triad's imminent interests, fire temple is probably be the only one that Hedrack will pay at least some attentions to. Otherwise, Earth temple will be on their own and must use their resources to bring in more recruits. That will be a difficult, difficult tasks. Given the times (especially within a month), it can be done.

msherman
Giant
(9/4/03 6:59 am)
Reply
How it went down
Well, we played this one out last night, and all did not go according to plan, but it was still fun.

As I mentioned, the players I'd pegged for the dragons didn't join us, so only Vranthis was involved in this fight. The first fight (Vranthis, 2 kobolds, and the Xorn) was pretty much uneventful. Jurikath was dropped in the first round by dragon's breath. Cyr, the rogue with the Demonstone, then went and _healed_ him with a potion. I had a chat with the player about not being evil and sadistic enough, but I'm not sure what to do to really play up his evil nature. I really want him to do something that he's going to end up regretting once the DS curse is lifted.

The party blew a lot of resources on this fight; in particular, the Cleric (who is the main blasting spell caster, now that Cyr's used up his wand of Lightning Bolt), threw a Holy Smite at the Dragon and the Xorn (nearly taking out the Xorn in a single shot, since he got the Evil Outsider bonus dice). Then, Jurikath cast a Suggestion on Vranthis that retreat was the wisest course of action in the face of such overwhelming power; Vranthis was already down to about 40hp, so the suggestion seemed reasonable. Before Vranthis could fly away, the Barbarian got in a full attack, taking him down to 4hp.

Vranthis bolts straight up out of his hover, and then arcs south-east towards his entrance into the mines (I decided he's got his own cliff-side crack that he uses to get to his cave, since it doesn't seem likely that he was on the best terms with either D'gran or Mereclar's people). The Cleric asks me how far away he is, I say oh, about 200'. He asks for an exact answer, he wants to cast a spell with a 190' range. I pull out the calculator -- he's 187.5' away! The cleric throws a Flame Strike at him; he saves, but the damage is still enough to knock him unconscious. He falls from the sky, and the falling damage is enough to kill him; snapping his neck on the side of Mount Stalagos, and tumbling down to the road-side.

That last shot to kill the dragon cost them dearly, though, when they got up to the main gate. Cyr was being cocky, trying to walk up to the gate and parlay, when all the kobolds wanted was the barbarian and the keys. He took about 8 magic missiles through the arrow slits before he realized that talking wasn't going to get him anywhere. Once they broke in, the fight got nasty; even with the Trogs staying in the background, not entering the fight, and basically repeatedly demanding that the party just leave the sword and the keys and their lives would be spared, the party looked like they were in for a TPK. The kobold sorcerer chucked a couple of fireballs at them (and yet they still stayed within 40' of each other), and the Cleric went down to 0hp; luckily, he had a CSW left for himself.

Then, the Barbarian was Charmed to trade the sword for her life. She was about to do so, when two interesting things happened; the Cleric dispelled the charm, and then Cyr, who had cast Inivisbility on himself and snuck down the hallway past the kobolds to the doors of the Howler room where the Kobold sorcerer was chucking fireballs from, picked the sorcerers pocket, getting his Wand of Lightning Bolt. I decided that since Cyr had just finished burning through one of those, he recognized it for what it was (I know, a gift for the party). Cyr then did something brilliant; from 5' behind the kobold sorcerer, he fires the wand at the kobold and Uskatoth; the bolt drops the kobold, and Cyr bluffs and hides, dropping prone right behind him. Uskatoth shouts, "Swordmaster! The kobolds have betrayed us!" I decided this was enough to break the kobold's spirit, and the remaining kobolds and sor1's dispersed down the North/South halls. At that point, they were able to mop up the rest of the fighters, without losing anyone.

Infiniti2000
Verrik
(9/4/03 7:55 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: How it went down
Dratted flame strike! ;) Thanks for the recap, msherman. Cyr's gonna be talking about this one for awhile, and that's gonna be great for the campaign. Sounds like a lot of fun. :)

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