Spires of Xin-Shalast 19

The question for tonight’s session was whether the party was going to spring the trap that Khalib had set for them, or whether they would go after Ghlorofaex the blue dragon. There was quite heated discussion about that, with the final decision to go for the option that was more likely to take them closer towards their goal.

Whilst they were discussing how Karzoug and Khalib might be spying on them, it occurred to me that some of the people they had spoken to in the previous session may have been wearing a Sihedron Medallion, which meant that Karzoug could have been listening in. I figured that the high priestess Atheisha most probably had worn one, but since I never gave anyone the chance to notice, I figured it was unfair to use that against the party, so as it happens he hadn’t been. But I gave people a simple Intelligence check to realise that she had been wearing one, and let their paranoia run away with them.

Somehow the conversation drifted into the topic of body locations for magic items, nipple rings, and the fact that if Esheire were wearing nipple rings then they would not be very secret. I can’t quite remember how we got there.

Anyway, eventually they decide to find a new place to rest for the night, and teleport back to the orc pantry where the giant white rat had been. Putting up a Magnificent Mansion there, they are able to rest up for the night and recover their strength. Fortunately for them, they didn’t talk to the orc cook Thura (or anyone else for that matter), otherwise they may have given away their location.

Pharast 24th

The following morning, after some prepping of spells, they make their way over to Ghlorofaex’s lair, an ancient keep set several hundred feet up a cliff face. Working their way down some side passages, they prepare some final spells – at which point I remind them of the fact that spell casting is not quiet. As it happens, Ghlorofaex had heard them, so had some chance to prepare himself.

Led by Grodok, they head through some old deserted passages in a random direction which happened to lead them directly to the dragon’s lair. Grodok pushed open some rusted doors, which made a terrible noise and gave even more clues to their whereabouts. Solassar took the lead at that point though, so by the time they stepped out to confront the dragon, he was actually surprised and hadn’t had a chance to put up his short duration spells.

The room they entered was massive, maybe 200ft long, and a mix of worked castle walls and natural stone. The floor was covered in warm sand, and coloured silks were draped over the walls. A hot desert breeze filled the air, a stark contrast to the cold temperatures outside. But this was all an illusion – an hallucinatory terrain put up by Ghlorofaex to remind him of his original desert homeland. The party could also see two dragons looking in their direction – but the nearest was also an illusion.

Fortunately for them, they had True Seeing up, so saw through these tricks. Solassar ran quietly and quickly into the room, whilst Grodok charged in with a bit less finesse towards the real dragon.

Esheire opens up with a Sirocco spell, hitting the real Ghlorofaex with a burning wind. It penetrates his spell resistance, but he makes his save and it bounces off his fire resistance. He responds by breathing a bolt of lightning at her, getting a very low roll (which still hurts, a lot), and then unfortunately for him rolls a 4 for number of rounds before he can breathe again (effectively preventing him from breathing again). He retreats back into the Sirocco to give him some protection from Grodok.

Ghlorofaex, and his illusionry twin

Solassar continues to sneak up, going from pillar to pillar, to close with the dragon and use his spring attack, whilst Grodok tries to get close but stops just of the dragon’s bite range.

Ghlorofaex though casts a quickened True Strike, moves forward and bites Grodok, hitting him with a critical that actually does significant damage. As Grodok moves in to attack, Ghlorofaex almost criticals a second time, but just about fails to confirm.

Esheire dispels the abjurations on Ghlorofaex, making it far easier for Grodok to attack him and return the favour of a critical hit, seriously injuring the dragon in a series of attacks and taking him down to just 19 hitpoints (I’d given him maximum hitpoints – a total of 440). At this point Serena, who has previously summoned some Zuishin to provide healing, summons a small horde of Tyrannosaurs, and Ghlorofaex realises that he is in over his head and needs to leave.

Solassar tries a spring attack to finish him off, but just misses. I suggest the possibility of using a Hero Point, but it is decided against. I do run through the options for Hero Points since we don’t use them that often. Esheire tries a dimensional anchor, which is the right spell but it fails – and Ghlorofaex uses dimension door to get out.

At this point my decision is on where Ghlorofaex goes. The safest course of action would be to go out of his lair completely and flee for either safety or help, but there were two arguments against that. The first is that Ghlorofaex is a dragon, and though dragons are intelligent, they are also greedy. Leaving his treasure horde to a group of murder hobos isn’t something that he’d want to do.

The second argument was a meta-game one, in that Ghlorofaex fleeing would both remove the feeling of success the players had – at this point he was defeated, but him running away would mean they wouldn’t actually get to kill him. Also, it’s getting close to the end of the campaign, and I don’t particularly want to drag things out longer than necessary. Since there was an in-game reason, I opted to give the party a second chance at finishing him.

So Ghlorofaex dimension door’d to the entrance to his lair, out of sight of his attackers. His plan was to call in aid from Karzoug, and hope it got there in time to be able to heal him, and give him a chance to put up some more protective magic. I figured he could get some help in a few rounds.

However, the party could now see the back of the cave, and that it curved around. Grodok ran as fast as he could to see whether the dragon had gone that way, followed by Solassar, and managed to locate and catch up with Ghlorofaex. Now that the rest of the party was aware of where the dragon was through their telepathic bond, Esheire dimension door’d to the entrance, spending a Hero Point to then put up a Wall of Force across the exit to stop the dragon flying to safety. Since he was down to 19 hitpoints though, there was no way he was going to risk an attack of opportunity from Grodok.

Just as Ghlorofaex was about to and again dimension door out (to a really safe distance this time), Grodok spent a Hero Point to act first, and slew the dragon.

So Ghlorofaex was defeated, and the party gained the third Sihedron Ring to help them ascend Mhar Massif. Several of them had been hurt badly, though not too seriously, and a couple of Hero Points had been spent as well as quite a few spells.

It could have gone worse for the party, but luck had been on their side and I hadn’t expected them to have too much trouble. The action economy often means the party is better off than a single large creature, since the single creature is always limited in its options, whilst the party can do multiple things. Especially when the party can dish out so much damage so quickly.

It was a good end to the session though, and there’s not much left in the city for them to do. They could still check to see if the trap is still there and try and find Karzoug’s apprentice Khalib (if he’s around), or they could begin their trek up the mountain. That decision is for next though, after they’ve finished looting the dragon’s hoard.

Samuel Penn