Spires of Xin-Shalast 17

Having defeated the ice devil Gamigin, the party decides to head up to the fortress of Shahlaria to take on the Rune Giants up there. This could have turned out to be quite a dangerous fight, since a couple of rune giants plus a dozen or so cloud and storm giants should have been more than the group can handle.

As it happens, things when completely in the other direction. They scouted ahead with some prying eyes first, to get an idea as to the layout of the place. Having located the main feasting hall where the giants were having breakfast, they buffed themselves with spells (including haste and greater invisibility for almost everyone) and teleported pretty much into the middle of them.

Since it had been an hour from when the prying eyes had seen the room, several of the giants had left and the others were standing around discussing the day’s plans. I figured it would be about 5 rounds before the others heard the fight and made it back to join the fight.

With the entire party invisible though, only the rune giants could actually see any of them, so most of the giants were automatically surprised, and pretty confused as to what was initially going on. Grodok started cutting into the nearest rune giant, who tried to hit back but missed entirely. By the next round, the giant was dead, but all the other giants could see was blood spurting from cuts being made out of nowhere.

Esheire cast confusion on several of the giants and some of the orc servants, and the rest of the orcs scattered in terror. When Serena summoned a Zuishin it gave the giants something to see, so some of them grabbed giant-sized plates and hurled them at the kami.

Esheiri and Serena dropped fire across the main hall, which the rune giants were immune to but the others weren’t. Attacks against Grodok mostly missed due to some bad rolls on the part of the rune giants. The second one was unable to get in close enough to use its breath weapon against multiple targets, so tried to chop Grodok with its sword, but soon went down. Solassar darted in and out, stabbing at the smaller giants and taking them down.

Within 5 rounds everyone had been killed or had fled. The other giants were ready to turn up at this point but decided it was best to just keep on running past.

For the party, it had pretty much been a cake walk. They were well prepared, but even so the rune giants had been unable to do much more than a few points of damage. They could have used their spark shower ability, but could never get more than one target in range at once. With Grodok doing about twice as much damage in every hit as a rune giant could manage (with a much higher attack bonus, and more attacks), they weren’t much of a challenge.

With the giants gone, the group found some orcs and demanded to know where the rat was. Grodok had been looking for rats to kill since the very first adventure, so it was time for him to find one.

The rat was in the stores beneath the kitchen – and the kitchen was run by the orc woman Thura, a tough cook who all the other orcs were terrified of. She also made really good pies, so it was almost love at first sight for Grodok.

The rat was described as having sharp pointy teeth, which was a big clue that it was in fact a vorpal rat, capable of decapitating a foe with a single bite. The creature was a unique beast that I created especially for this encounter.

Lair of the White Rat

It had spring attack, so was able to surprise and attack Grodok and spring back down the corridor, but once Grodok was able to close with it, there wasn’t much it could do other than bite and claw. It was more effective than the giants, but never managed to get it a vorpal bite. In hindsight, it may have been better for it to withdraw and prevent Grodok’s multiple attacks by running around the corridors, but I didn’t think of that.

Grodok got it down to 4 hitpoints without any help from the others, then Esheire dropped some magic missiles on it which finished it off. It had ended up being more capable that the rune giants, but in the end wasn’t much of a challenge.

It is definitely getting hard now to come up with challenging fights which fit into the campaign. Gamigin was a challenge, because I deliberately selected spells and items designed specifically to go against the party (specifically Grodok, who can take down most things in a round or two unless it has an AC up in the high 40s, and can’t be hit in melee by anything that can’t hit back at the same level). It’s not something I like to do too often, especially since it can make things impossible for the others to fight.

Though they group will most probably level up once more before the end of the adventure, I’m not sure that they actually need to. With the fortress of Shahlaria now taken care of, there’s not going to be a lot more left to do in the city itself, since Gyukak will be able to persuade a lot of the giants to leave.

I think the city would have been a lot more interesting at a lower power level, since there would have been more options (and need) for politics between the various factions. As it is, except for some of the side regions (such as the ravener dragons) there’s not many factions they can’t either just take on, or teleport away from if things do happen to get dangerous.

The players seemed to enjoy the session, but for me it was a bit boring not having anything that could really hurt the PCs. Next session they are planning on returning to the Heptaric Locus to try and find Gamigin’s loot, where they could be some chance for roleplaying depending on how things go. There is also the blue dragon Ghlorofaex which might be a threat if played right and maybe boosted a little bit.

We’ll see how things go.

Samuel Penn