Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Session report - 14/7/2009 - The Ancient Enemy!!!

Before we get to the write up, I need to explain something. Amongst my players, past and present, the expression "Six Wights and a Flesh Golem" has become a byword for something that is grossly unbalanced or unfair. It has also been my personal cross to bear, as it was in one of my old games that this came to be.

You see, back in 2nd Edition AD&D the DM had to guess at what kinds of monsters would constitute a balanced battle, which was usually pretty easy. However, now and then, things went horribly wrong, and the player characters paid the price. One such instance happened when the adventurers were exploring a dungeon (I forget the specifics though I am sure my players could give them to you as if the game were yesterday). After some fairly vicious battles and traps, the group encountered a Flesh Golem and its six undead allies.

A massacre ensued, from which only one character escaped...and "Six Wights and a Flesh Golem" became seared into the collective unconscious of all players in my games - even those who never played in that era; bellowed at me when I was on stage in the old band days, brought up with sniggers numerous times over the years, and generally remembered with a strange kind of dread infused affection.

So, since I got to grips with 4e I have been determined to resurrect the old foes, if only to enjoy the reactions of my players when they revealed themselves.

I was not disappointed in the least!

Predictably, as soon as the Flesh Golem was seen, Craig warned the group to "look out for the six wights", and I had to fight very, very, very hard not to crack a smile (I had actually been into the lounge where my dear girlfriend was and done a little 'six wights and a flesh golem" dance prior to the encounter firing). I was a bit gutted when the fight triggered without the group advancing into the killing zone (the side corridors gave the Wights some pretty vicious access to the group), but was overjoyed at the sheer happiness expressed by all my veteran players (all of whom I think may have been there for the original encounter).

Anyway, the fight was incredibly satisfying, and the monsters gave a damn good accounting of themselves. The players also pulled out all the stops to work well together and overcoming what was a Party level +2 fight with only minimal harm and loss of resources.

So, now the ancient foes have been defeated, and from my players feedback, it was something they have been wanting for a long time.

With that explained, here is the game report. Enjoy!

* * *

As the group finish off the monsters, movement from a flight of stairs heading to the crew quarters signals the arrival of more souls...perhaps the crew?

After a few tense seconds, the flapping feet and croaking voices of Gorgryn are heard whispering harshly from above. A small spanner is also dropped by the unseen monsters as they, sensing the carnage below, turn and flee.

19:03 - The group give chase, charging up after them. Alas, they are unable (thanks to the indecision of Gyllithed and the raw clumsiness of Brundorson) to capture them before they flee the ship and raise the alarm.

Whilst running after the monsters, the Warforged notices, through one of the Wanderers portholes that the ship seems to be within some kind of vast port, contained within some kind of greater structure

The fleeing Gorgryn (who from the brief glimpses the group got of them seem to be a species they are unfamiliar with, with long ears, small muzzles filled with very sharp teeth and crested, cat like eyes) vanish and the chamber where the group stand is suddenly filled with magical fire!

19:04 - A sorceress and her warriors (all of whom bear crystal thorns in their foreheads and wear a distracted, blank expression – something the fleeing Gorgryn seemed to lack) attack. The group quickly slay the sorceress, though her bodyguard (some kind of mongrel with Gigorim blood) proves a deadly opponent. However with time, the group overcome the guards, and fearing more enemies, they fall back into the belly of the Wanderer to work out what's going on.

19:05 – 19:15 - Gyllithed finds some healing elixirs in the captains quarters, whilst Ormid checks out the engine rooms (he notices numerous signs that a vicious battle took place on board the ship recently, and also notices, in scribbled script, what appears to be salvaging marks all over the ships engines and artifice)

Whilst exploring the ship, Ormid observes the Gorgryn (who jumped overboard and held onto the exterior of the hull on ropes whilst combat could be heard), coming back on board through a porthole, and stuns them all with his artifice.

Llewellyn slips out of the ship to look around and sees that the Wanderer is chained to a jetty within a vast alien hangar. Other ships (mostly Gorgoth, though one ship, shaped like a Hammerhead shark is moored nearby under guard), are also here, mostly in various states of being dismantled by teams of the strange Gorgryn, and other slaves.

He spots three great doors leading away from the docks, the middle one (and nearest to the Wanderer) guarded by two looming Umber Hulks.

He also spots the heavily armed and armoured patrols (mostly consisting of blank faced Gorgoth and humans) that regularly sweep the docks.

Meanwhile one of the thorns has been removed from the slain sorceress (and Ormid has obtained her enchanted Staff – a Staff of Thunder +2). Ormid and Gyllithed identify the thorns as some kind of semi-organic construct, designed to amplify and focus psionic signals.

With horror, the half-ghost realises that one race in particular (his ancient knowledge of spacefaring comes to the fore here); the dread Neogi; alien slavers and scavengers – though he is vexed how so many individuals could be controlled.

With questioning the Gorgryn give some answers – Mind. Flayers.

19:20 – 19:40 - The group interrogate the Gorgryn (through Gyllithed who speaks their language - Little fact; many of the Greenskin languages are pretty similar, as they are taught through the various clans shaman and priests, who receive the languages from their Gods. In truth, Base Gorgoth is the closest thing to a true “common” language that exists, and as such, many who travel the planes or through space use it), and learn that only three Neogi are onboard this massive vessel, and that they are allied with two Mind Flayers.

One Mind Flayer stands by their side, and has something to do with the mind control (the monsters explain that they are kept as engineers and artificers, and so are not implanted with the thorns, as they tend to impede the bearers ability to undertake complex mental tasks), whilst the other works with “Marix”; a human in charge of maintaining the “Hibernation Suites”

The group discover that the Neogi tend to keep select individuals they deem “valuable” (which often includes officers of ships they capture, especially potent spell casters or similar and powerful warriors) in some kind of suspended animation until they can be sold on – usually to the gladiatorial pits in Dal'Shen

They also learn that those bearing the thorns – the so called “Mind Bound” - are linked to some low grade hive awareness, through which information can be passed. This information usually includes security codes etc, though individuals who need to move about the ship who are not linked to this system get given psionic keys which can be used to influence Mind Bound individuals to some degree, and to activate certain psionic locks

The Gorgryn ask the group if they would be able to take them away from the Neogi, adding that they are excellent at ship board repairs and maintenance. They offer to help the group find their allies (and a crew to man the Wanderer away from here), and to try and delay their “pre deconstruction appraisal” of the ship for as long as they can – they guess, about 12 hours

19:41 – 19:50 - The group have a big talk about what to do next. Some of them feel that they are outmatched here and that they should just take a Linked Portal back to Arbel'Verdaniss and pursue their own ongoing goals, whilst others cannot bring themselves to leave the crew – especially in light of their recent failure to rescue the survivors of the Skyship crash.

It is decided in the end to rescue the crew and liberate the Wanderer!

20:00 - With the Gorgryn's instructions the group head for the Slave Pens – the area where the Mind Bound are “stored” between shifts – as this area leads to the Hibernation Suites.

They are warned that a Flesh Golem guards the way, and that the whole area is heavily guarded. They are also told that they need to speak to Marix.

20:05 - After descending down several flights of stairs, the group enter a long corridor flanked by alcoves decorated with spidery Neogi script. At the far end the group spot a hulking construct made from Gorgoth parts, and augmented with artifice – the Flesh Golem.

20:08 - Another discussion as Ormid tries to discern what magical auras lie in the area, and the group discuss tactics...only...

20:10 - Llewellyn, bored, flings a dagger at the dangerous construct. It activates, and as it does, the backs of the alcoves slide silently upwards revealing gloomy corridors in which crouch six dessicated, grey-fleshed humanoid undead, with coldy glowing eyes, talon like claws and sharp, broken teeth – Wights!

Six Wights and a Flesh Golem!!!!!!

20:10 – 20:15 - A truly epic battle ensues. The group are initially caught out by the undead's ability to shift after a hit, but soon they form sound tactics. The Artificer enchants the Warforged's blade so it deals radiant damage – deadly to the undead but invigorating to the living construct, healing him with each blow landed, whilst the rogue utilizes his movement tactics to their best effect, allowing him to dart in and out of contact with the undead with the minimal repercussions. Brundorson blocks one of the side passageways, hacking any undead apart that come too close, whilst Gyllithed, wielding mostly Necrotic energy, concentrates on the Golem.

The Golem charges through the party several times, smacking heroes out of the way, and sowing mayhem, whilst the undead begin to experience a decline in their luck – and then numbers.

Eventually the group destroy the Wights, and after a spectacular crit from the Warforged (84 damage), the Golem becomes seriously bloodied.

But the fight is still far from over. The Golem is tenacious and even more dangerous when Bloodied, repaying strikes with reflexive blows of jarring force. Luckily, marked by the Dundorin, these attacks trigger opportunity attacks, and soon the Golem is hacked to pieces....

20:16 - ...Just in time for a wave of guards to swarm forth from the Slave Pens...

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