Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lost Colonies Session 54

I have to admit that my players took me completely by surprise during this session. When we had last played, they had agreed to scout out in detail the army currently massing around the Black Tower. In preparation, I had mentally mapped out several possible courses of action so that I was at least nominally prepared for it. As seems to happen every time I invest this kind of prep time, however, my players came up with something completely different.

They had long been very uncomfortable with the necromancers of Redwraith. They understood that they did leave people alone and that they did check any potential power that spewed forth from the Black Tower, but the idea of fighting necromancy with necromancy was repugnant to many of them. Even Dn. Swibish, who had was from Redwraith and wore a thanati worm given him by the necromancers was tired of running from them, their false accusations and their assassins.

As such, they saw the impending battle as a perfect opportunity to assassinate the necromancers of Redwraith. By their estimation, the army at the Black Tower was no match for the full force of the Redwraith army. So, they set about baiting Redwraith into attacking the army at the Black Tower and then ambushing as many necromancers as possible in the confusion of the battle.

The first step was to go to the dwarves of the Brass Citadel south of Redwraith to hire some sappers. The players took full advantage of the mistrust that the dwarves had for the necromancers to get them to help in pulling off their scheme. Through a cocktail of various spells, the players snuck the sappers in place to take out the various obelisks that created the mass Protection from Undead field around the Black Tower. They then went to Redwraith to report that the field was down.

Of the seven necromancers that sat on the council of Redwraith, four marshaled the city’s army, while three stayed behind to bolster the city’s defenses. The players decided to ambush these three. It was at this point that the players got really lucky. The necromancers had a magical system to monitor the city from their tower. Thus, they had a decent chance to see the ambush coming (even given their focus on making sure the defenses were sound); however, the roll I made indicated that they were taken completely by surprise. When they had planned the ambush, the players did an excellent job of putting all their magical options on the table and that first surprise round was devastating. Despite getting off a Dispel Magic and a couple of summoning spells to try and cover an escape, only one managed to get away.

By then, the players realized that the battle around the Black Tower hadn’t gone as planned. The machine at the center of the Black Tower camp had been destroyed. It had been keeping a tear in space and time somewhat in check. With the machine destroyed, the tear became a portal and a third army came pouring through. It was a group of several hundred toad men led by a slaad and anchored by a titanic frog-like creature writhing with multiple tentacles covered in spikes.

This turn of events took everyone by surprise and both the forces of Redwraith and the army around the Black Tower were crushed. The players soon realized that this horror was making its way to do the same to the city of Redwraith. Thus, they quickly covered their tracks, and then introduced themselves to the leaders of the remaining Redwraith forces as the agents that had taken down the obelisks. Needing as many swords on the walls as they could muster, the general was willing to ignore some of the holes in their story and the session ended with a massive battle as the toad men assaulted the city from several fronts.

I gave my players a couple of choices. First, I let them choose which scale they wanted to play out the battle. They chose to play it out at the character level and let me decide what happened at the larger scale based on their level of success. Second, I let them decide which of the fronts they wanted to take:
  • Protecting the archers on the wall that were tasked with taking out the titanic frog-like monster.
  • Dealing with the slaad and a group of toad men cavalry mounted on giant frogs.
  • Dealing with a group of toad men spell casters.
They chose the first and did a magnificent job. Things got a little dicey during the first couple of waves because their initial set-up was not as effective as they expected it to be, but they made some in-battle adjustments to their line and they managed to keep their archers virtually unscathed. As a result, the big frog thing died under a hail of arrows. In the mean-time, a group of dwarves from the Brass Citadel aided in the battle by assaulting the spell casters, protecting that flank.

In the end the only flank that did not do well was the one with the salad and his toad men cavalry. Due to the successes of the other flanks, however, the salad was forced to retreat.

At the end of the battle, the players realized that they had four problems on their hands:
  1. The is now a portal that allows slaadi access to their immediate neighborhood.
  2. There is a rogue salad along with some toad men cavalry at large.
  3. One of the Redwraith necromancers is still alive and will likely seek revenge.
  4. The political situation in Redwraith is in chaos. The council of necromancers is gone. The bishop died in the chaos of the battle. The dwarves of the Brass Citadel are making demands based on the key role that they played in the battle that saved the city. All the primary leaders within the military of Redwraith were killed at the Black Tower. As a result, there is a huge power vacuum.


  1. "It was a group of several hundred toad men led by a salad..."

    Caesar? Wilted spinach?

    Sorry. Temptation was too great. I do that with "slaad" all the time.:)

    And was the big critter a Froghemoth variant?

    Sounds like it was a fantastic session; resolving big battles at the character level is my preference too, as a GM.

  2. I didn't do it, my computer did. Normally, I am a terrible speller, so I have the autocorrect on my word processor turned on. It is great until I get to words like slaad (or any number of theological terms we use in Orthodoxy Christianity). Normally, I catch it when the computer autocorrects stuff like that...except when a Caesar salad comes marching through a hole in time and space, evidently ;)

    1. BTW it was a Herald of Tsathoggua. I recently managed to pick up the S&W version of The Tomb of Horrors Complete, from which the Herald comes. There is a lot of inspiration tucked into that book...a purchase I am very happy with.