Tundra Where?

NOTE: The notes below are only original GMing notes that do not contain the results of PC actions during the session.

Chapter Theme Song: Hammer to Fall by Queen

This session picks up where A Spring in Our Steps left off. The PCs are travelling through the northern forests, only a few days from crossing the arctic circle. The hardwoods have given way to spindly, spikey pine trees. The PCs are starting about 500 miles (27-30 days, barring incidents) from Yegek.

Dome-icile

As the PCs start to enter the tundra, they encounter some zwoll attacking a glowing purple dome (which they later determine is the home of an absent zwallen). Since they don’t know what it is, they are likely to want to inspect the hut. First, though, they’ll have to fend off the zwoll….

The hut is damaged from the sorcerous assault of the zwoll. It radiates firm/strong abjuration magic (overwhelming the faint divination magic also involved in the structure). The hut is quite effective at keeping intruders out, but in its weekend condition, a targeted dispel magic check of 17 or better will take it down for good, as will attacks totalling 20 dmg that can defeat its remaining effective hardness of 10. Inside, the PCs will find little of interest – a simple bedroll and a small pile of personal effects. Included in the personal effects is 2-pound stash of mithril. There is a smaller storehouse out back, similarly damaged; only dregs remain in there as well.

Encounter Notes – +1600 XP

  • Zwoll Warrior Lv 4 x3
  • Zwoll Adept Lv 4 x2

Lonely Nights

The PCs keep travelling for around a week. During this time, the longer days have turned into near-24-hour light. The PCs that still sleep suffer from utter confusion as to time of day and circadian clock. Despite the season, it’s also grown cold (highs in the low 40s, but usually hovering around freezing or a little below). The winds are high, and the weather to the north looks increasingly bad. On the plus side, the twilight sky dances with beautiful lights.

The PCs occasionally pass by one of those odd glowing domes or, increasingly, the rough circle on the ground denoting where one once stood. The domes are often hours of travel from one another, though occasionally a small cluster stands near a grove of pine.

Dome-estic Assault

Late in an evening, the PCs come upon the near-aftermath of a battle between some zwoll and some zwallen. Both sides have suffered heavy losses, and the remaining zwallen are attempting to make a fighting retreat; however, they are heavily outmanned and outgunned. The PCs have the opportunity try to save some of the remaining zwallen, but they will have to act quickly. If the PCs can save the zwallen, they will gladly speak with the PCs, though they have almost nothing in the way of supplies. They will tell the PCs that they have been moving north to Yegek, along with most other zwallen for many, many miles around. All they really know is that there is something going on that caused the zwallen to send for additional help. These survivors are the only “warriors” left in this area; they were causing a distraction for a small zwoll patrol to allow the “civilians” to sneak off, and they were then jumped by a larger attack force that they were previously unaware of.

The surviving zwallen will profusely thank the PCs, but they cannot travel with the PCs without delaying the PCs’ travel by at least a week. They wish to regroup with the civilians (who headed in a circuitous route to the east rather than continuing directly north). The PCs can choose to go along with the zwallen if they wish, but this will add more than a week to their travel time unless they can keep up with the travel rate of the zwallen somehow.

The zwallen huts in the area under attack have been essentially cleared of all useful goods, taken with the zwallen who left early. There is plentiful firewood and other common materials if necessary, though.

Encounter Stats – +900 XP

  • ALLIES: Zwallen Adept Lv 4 x3
  • ENEMIES: Zwoll Warrior Lv 4 x7
  • ENEMIES: Unconscious Zwoll Adept Lv 4 x5
  • ENEMIES: Unconscious Trollhounds x3

Dog Days

TODO notes on meeting other group of zwallen. PCs force-march and ride zwallen mastiffs to make up for lost time, managing to make it to Yegek roughly on original schedule.

Weather, Man

The PCs have finally caught up with the bad weather that has been hanging gloomily overhead for more than a week. At first, the weather is merely an inconvenience, a sporadic couple of days of sleet and freezing rain. Over the next week, though, the weather becomes increasingly worse. The temperatures plunge solidly below freezing, dropping more than 30 degrees F in just a couple of days. The freezing rain turns to hail and snow, and visibility drops steadily. The PCs can continue at pace using magical assistance to cut through the elements; if they choose not to force through, their speed will be cut in half. chose to force through w/ help of zwallen

The one bright spot in all of this is that Maleos and Saul learn that spellcasting is somehow easier north of the Arctic Circle. Each time Maleos or Saul casts a spell, there is a 50% chance that the spell slot is not expended and the spell remains prepared and castable again.

Well, and there is the second bright spot that the characters have leveled by this point.

A couple of days out from Yegek (20ish miles or so), the PCs will be able to clearly see that they are walking toward towering thunderheads. Lightning, barely visible in the twilight hours, flashes through the clouds ahead.

A day or so out from Yegek, the PCs will once again start seeing clusters of dome-villages. These will become more and more common the closer the PCs are to the city proper. Like the others further south, these are deserted, though there are clear signs (Survival DC 14) of heavy travel northwards within the past few weeks.

Yegek

When the PCs are still 3-4 miles out from Yegek, they will be able to see the crackling of blue lightning flashing near the city. As the PCs approach, they’ll be able to tell that the city itself is covered by overlapping domes of abjuration magic, constantly maintained by the ranks of zwallen spellcasters chanting and gesturing behind the force-walls. If the PCs are travelling with zwallen, they will be allowed in without any difficulties. The zwallen must send spellcasters out through the dome to escort them in; otherwise, they will be wholly unable to pass through without massive antimagical or dispelling attempts.

Once in Yegek proper, the players will see massive ranks of warriors, birds of prey, and even crazy mythical creatures wandering restlessly about the city. A small group of these are standing together in the center of one of the domes, desperately discussing plans. Jotham will lead the PCs to the group if asked and will introduce them. The leaders are discussing possibilities, trying to find some way to escape this situation without loss of the city. They realize that a siege will go poorly for them, as the demons in the area just keep increasing in number; someone or something is obviously portalling in more and more attackers as the days go by. Some of the representatives are suggesting an attack, but the siege was laid upon the city exceptionally quickly, and they have very little idea what actually lies beyond the dome. They only have the sight-recordings of the coldcrystal-pendants carried by the trained thunderbirds of the master zwallen which show a massively demon-guarded tower of ice sitting miles out onto the frozen lake.

Meanwhile, the zwoll and other demons massing outside are idly attacking the dome; they apparently realize that they merely need to hold out and press the city, preventing escapes. They are smashing up the dome occasionally, though that generally seems to be motivated via a mixture of intimidation and boredom. This battle is just a backdrop for the frantic conversations the zwallen need to have with the PCs. They are being forced into a corner where they must start an assault very soon or be overrun by sheer numbers of demons. They have little in the way of material goods; the zwallen as a whole are not a material society. However, they’ll gladly trade knowledge with the PCs for their help, in addition to gratitude, etc.

The PCs must fight their way through the minor gauntlet of zwoll, etc. surrounding Yegek. If they try to fight their way into the city, they will find help from the zwallen besieged inside. Jotham will identify them to the other zwallen, who will mount a sorcerous weakening of the wards and will send zwallen warriors through to support them. Once they’re inside, Jotham will meet up with them, find out what they’ve been doing, and take them to the leaders.

Rough plan being discussed by leaders:

  1. spellcasters will modify ritual to make dome opaque
  2. warriors quickly gather for assault
  3. spellcasters will open one-way portal in the dome
  4. dragons and other high-level spellcasters with short-range teleport will “kick open the door”, knocking back some of the assaulting spellcasters and first ranks of warriors (“make a hole”)
  5. dragons, flying spellcasters, and thunderbirds will open battle with the fliers, pushing them back while strafing front ranks of warriors (“keeping the hole open”)
  6. secretly teleport two groups of warriors & spellcasters out past front lines; one group to turn back and pincer siege against domes, and second group to charge toward the tower as quickly as possible
  7. mass charge of remaining warriors from city

The leaders will ask the PCs to help.

Saul dyes skin and hair dark based on rumors of Salena being the perp - don't want her to pull a Braelyn and think Saul is Pelor-like.

Icy, A Clear Path

The next day or so, the zwallen enact their plan to assault the source of the encroaching demons, whatever it might be, out on the lake. With the assistance of the zwallen sorcerers, the PCs are thrown around a quarter-mile out onto the frozen lake, past the main assault force crowded around the city. Even this far out, though, there are massed zwoll troops supported by other demons.

Thankfully, the PCs are not alone; they’re supported by a troupe of zwallen warriors. Above, dragons, thunderbirds, and zwallen spellcasters provide air cover against the various flying demons flooding out from the tower that soon becomes visible in the distance. The PCs are engaged by various infantry, but the zwallen with them charge ahead and make a hole for the PCs, doing their best to keep everyone safe.

After crossing a significant portion of the lake, the PCs notice that there are creatures under the ice as well, swarming, following them and the zwallen. The creatures are trying to attack, but they have to break through the ice first. The PCs need to keep moving or risk being thrown into the freezing water and dragged under by whatever creatures are lurking there.

As the PCs close in on the tower, the zwallen are once again engaged by a cohort of zwoll warriors and spellcasters. The zwallen call for the PCs to continue their charge, declaring that they’ll catch up quickly (“We’ve got this! We’re right behind you! Go! Charge!”). The PCs, meanwhile, are engaged by the dregs of the battle group. They must push through, defeating or evading the last group that stands between them and the tower.

A N-Ice Tower You Have Here…

The PCs, with Braelyn, find themselves at the foot of a 4-story ice tower. Battle rages all around them, but the tower is (for the moment) undefended. The PCs have very little time to break in before the nearby defenders push back to the tower to crush them against its walls, but if they move quickly, they can attempt to raid it and destroy the portal located inside. Once inside, the PCs have to fight their way through the tower.

PCs encounter armored humanoids in the entryway (later determined to be udaeusi). These will first greet the PCs in a language they can sort of understand, even though they don’t speak it. “Secesse cum illaesus honore. Praecinge nos et casure in pugna splendidus. Electio sum tuus.”

PCs fight through groups of udeausi guarding tower. Continue to top. Come into room with cages (zwallen mastiffs, human, aelphin, and small humanoid prisoners), sigils on floor, magical spheres, glasslike table with fancy armatures.

Once they reach the top, Braelyn and Winter Lady Salena go at each other immediately. Salena taunts Braelyn, whereas Braelyn just seems livid. She goes back to lava-form and lashes out, threatening Salena coldly

  1. Braelyn: “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, bitch!”
  2. Salena: “Are you certain you want to renew these hostilities, Braelyn, dear? You always lose, after all!”

Theme song for catfight is "Bitter Rivals" by Sleigh Bells.

PCs have to fight more udeausi. Saul frees prisoners trapped in hanging cages while PCs fight guards and Salena and Braelyn duke it out. Tower fills with thick icy mist that is nearly impossible to see through; difficult fight. Maleos has best senses polymorphed into drakkaeform. Braelyn defeated, disappears; Salena tells PCs to flee, but they fight instead. Difficult battle, but PCs bring down Salena. As soon as they do, the tower starts falling down around them.

Col-lapse in Judgement

Ice tower crumbles, PCs flee with prisoners they managed to rescue (zwallen mastiffs were killed). Tower shatters, drops everything into lake, but dragons, thunderbirds, and zwall'rak rescue PCs and prisoners from the crumbling ice floes. Taken back to Yegek (still under siege, but now hopefully without zwoll reinforcements incoming).

TODO discussions with rescued prisoners, etc.

TODO discussions with zwallen leadership

Plan to go after portal-object that was dropped into lake. Will make one more push a couple of days hence after zwallen rested, recovered, ready for another assault to hopefully fully break siege.


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