Spires of Xin-Shalast 6

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This was a session of relatively straightforward loot and slaughter. It begun with the questioning of General Stom about what was below the steading. She described (and even provided a rough map) of the tunnels below, and also told them of the hill giant chief Jubbek. She was more than happy to break her alliance with Jubbek though (and with the dragon), and called for her own giants to leave Jubbek and his kind to their fate.

Much of the wealth that was up here also belonged to Jubbek – so now it belonged to the group, who, despite their heroic attempts to save the world, often just in it for the loot.

The route into the tunnels was now unguarded, and there were only a few hill giants toiling at uncovering more of the ruins. Some diplomacy was tried initially, which persuaded one of them to head upstairs to report to General Stom (which ‘off screen’, resulted in him discovering the general slaughter, and deciding that he really didn’t want to stick around). The others went back to their digging, then Grodok decided he couldn’t be bothered with this diplomacy thing and quickly killed them (with a bit of help from the others).

Heading further in, the group found a long passageway tastefully decorated with the limbs and heads of fallen foes, with three hill giants down the far end. The hill giants had been told to guard the passage against any strangers, and even given some tactics. They each stood behind pit traps in the floor, and were to throw rocks at anyone who approached.

Except their careful plan was broken by a Confusion spell. Two of them decided that smashing the rocks against their foreheads was much more fun than chucking them down the passage. The other may have done better except that Harsk, who hates giants, decided to just shoot him with his crossbow. Maddened, the giant charged forward – and fell into the pit.

The rest were quickly dispatched or sent tumbling into pits, and their cries could be heard through some doors to one side, since the pits contained chutes dropping the giants into large cells next door.

Attempts to sneak quietly into that room were thwarted by some Rift Drakes, whose special ability was to spit acid bursts at everyone huddling in the doorway. The drakes had a nice ability to do a move as a swift action three times a day, which allowed them to move into a good position, then charge or pounce on people. Unfortunately, half the party were invisible and attempts to move into position were thwarted when they instead bumped into PCs. We quickly switched to using my ‘invisible’ figures for everyone who was invisible, so that it was obvious who could be seen, and who couldn’t be.

The drakes weren’t hard, but they were probably the toughest fight on the level. A lot of time was spent trying to angle spells to also catch the giants (and trolls) stuck at the bottom of the 40ft deep pits, and I had to keep on pointing out that they really weren’t a threat in order to keep things moving.

The final “boss fight” was against Chief Jubbek himself, along with his bodyguards, concubines and dire sabretooth tiger named Skullcracker. The fight was an impressive show of tactics and organisation, and the poor giants never stood a chance.

A chain lightning started things off, which hit pretty much everyone and seriously injured them all. A Holy Word followed, which paralysed everyone except for the chief and his pet, and even the pet was blinded. That allowed Grodok and Solassar to concentrate on the chief, killing him pretty quickly – though not quick enough that he missed witnessing his tribe get killed with a second chain lightning. I think the whole combat lasted two rounds – three at most.

It was a successful conclusion to the evening, meaning that the level was now cleared. Rather than playing out the exploration of the final few rooms, I described the route to the Mage’s Private Sanctum that leads down into the level below ready for the next session.

I had expected this level to be reasonably easy, but even so the killing of Jubbek went quicker than expected. Which nicely balanced out the former parts of the level which went a bit slower than expected. The party probably have enough XP now to level up to 16th level, but I’m not going to give that to them until they’ve finished the next level. Partly because I want them to continue on without wasting time resting, and partly because they might find something which affects which skills they go for when levelling up, so finding that information first would be helpful.

I’ve also added a little something to the next level which will be a great place to rest up for the night, so it would be a shame to waste it.

Samuel Penn