Dungeon Fantasy Nordlond #7: “Great, But Where Will We Get Enough Melted Butter?”

by mshrm

This was our first ever virtual session, thanks to social distancing. We played using Roll20, as I gather many folks have been these days. We ran into technical difficulties, which is to be expected, but we climbed quite a bit of the learning curve and made it work. Next time, we’ll probably do the same, but perhaps with some adjustments.

Spoiler Warning: This session gets us through to the big boss fight of Hall of Judgement, the first adventure set in Nordlond, Gaming Ballistic‘s Norse-themed campaign setting. Beware spoilers!

Who’s Who

PCs

  • Blixa, Half-elf Barbarian. Listen to that cold steel ring.
  • Esen, Human Mentalist. Can’t faze him.
  • The Great and Mysterious Blaadao Bla’Dae, High Elf Wizard. Chosen.
  • Ilmarë “Ray” Kem, Elf Cleric. Personal friend of the Queen of the World.
  • The Kid, Nymph Bard. The prettiest delver.
  • Slingshot, Human Scout. Keeping an eye on the backtrail.

Hirelings and Henchmen

  • Flavio, Human Clerical Initiate. Back at camp, keeping an eye on Halfdan and the ponies.
  • Halfdan, Human Cultist. Back at camp, keeping an eye on Flavio and the ponies.

What Happened

First, we flash back to several days before, during the events of the last session. Esen spent several days in a cave, applied herbal treatments to his skull fungus. Eventually getting the better of it, he set out to catch up with the others. As he walked along one day, he suddenly found himself confined inside a hazy dome. Another Esen, an exact copy aside from the goatee, confronted the original Esen. Evil Esen was quicker on the draw, and blasted Original Esen with a psychokinetic blast, cracking several ribs and knocking him out.

When he woke up, Esen found that his ribs were bound and his silver crown, his power item, was missing. Evil Esen had looted the crown, and Rolf, the grubby hunter who drank the party under the table, had found him and nursed him back to health. He set out again, and finally caught up with the party at their camp in the forest at the foot of the mountain where the Hall of Judgment sits.

Together once again, the party broke camp and headed towards the Hall. The path led out of the forest and uphill. They found themselves walking alongside a cliff face. The path led to a stone arch leading into the cliff, but on the path, they found an old, dried skeleton, still wearing rags and tatters of gear. Curious, the party stopped to see if Ray could speak to the ghost that went with the skeleton.

Just as Ray was about to start praying, she was struck by a thrown rock – not enough to do any real damage, but unexpected. The rock had been thrown by a tiny demon thing, a hrogn, which suddenly became visible in the path ahead of them. It made a rude gesture and turned to flee, only to be brought down by an arrow from Slingshot.

No one saw any other opponents, but The Kid’s highly-trained ears could detect demonic giggling ahead. The party spread out, trying to find their invisible opposition. After several seconds of cat and mouse, three more hrogn eventually broke cover, with two jumping on The Kid and one unsuccessfully trying to use magical fear to scare Slingshot off. None managed to do any real harm before being picked off by ranged attacks, though there was an amusing moment when Blixa tried to hit a hrogn in close combat with The Kid with a stone from his rarely-used sling, but missed both.

In the end, though, all the tiny demons were put down and burst into hellfire. From her studies, Ray knew that these demons were born minions, often used as spies by other demons, wizards, and other powerful supernatural beings. Thus, they suspected demonic involvement.

The party returned to their investigation of the corpse. Ray summoned up the dead man’s ghost and sought information. Though somewhat disoriented, the ghost was able to tell them that he had been, like them, on a quest for the Hall. His party had been ambushed and slain by nordalfar. He had fled, but knew no more, having apparently bled to death before making it to the Hall.

They asked if he had any advice for them. He pointed them towards his pouch, where they found the other tiwstakn! While Ray performed holy rites over the body, Esen collected stones for a cairn.

Having paid their respects to the skeleton, the party continued on to the stone arch. They saw that it had once been closed by a pair of doors, but those doors had been torn from their hinges and thrown inside.

Inside the arch, the party found a large hall. There were broken statues and busted furniture everywhere. Blaadao lit a fire in the long-unused fire pit, and they looked around. They found ample evidence of a violent fight, long ago, and turned up a few scraps of valuable goods, including some coin, but nothing else. The back of the hall had a spiral staircase leading higher up into the mountain, so they took it.

At the top of the stair, they found an usual scene. The stair opened onto a large chamber with three other exits. On the left, there was an open archway leading to another large room. Directly in front of them, there was an archway closed off by two heavy doors. To the right, there was an open archway, but it was filled with darkness and they couldn’t see much beyond it. The unusual thing, though, was the row of glowing blue runes that split the room in two, with them on one side and the doors on the other.

The Kid attempted to enter stealthily, but was detected. A voice called out from an unseen source, claiming to be a clerk who had been trapped. Different members of the party questioned the voice while the others examined the area. First, they discovered that the row of runes marked the edge of a no-mana zone, which had Blaadao and The Kid standing well back. They discovered that the left-hand arch led to a big, empty room with lots of ruined furniture, and that the doors in the straight-ahead archway were not able to be easily opened, even applying force.

Under questioning, the voice explained that it had been present, years ago, when a terrible demon had burst into the Hall and started killing everyone. It claimed to have fled and been trapped ever since by runes, obviously left behind by the demon. At first, it praised them for coming to its rescue. Then, it offered rewards if they would break the runes and free it from its prison. When Esen mentioned that he was searching for forbidden knowledge, the voice slyly admitted that it knew where a lot of such knowledge could be found, if only it were freed from the awful runes.

Eventually Ray was able to gather enough clues to deduce that the voice belonged to a krabbari demon, a powerful demon with crab-like attributes and a reputation for acting as a temper and deceiver. However, she wasn’t able to remember any details about possible weaknesses or the like.

The party realized that the demon must be lurking inside the darkness of the right-hand arch, but they were reluctant to step through. Finally, Blaadao guessed that the no-mana zone ended at the arch, as it had on the other side of the room, and, reasoning that his powers were worthless on one side of the door but at 100% on the other, he stepped through the door into the dark room.

… and was immediately charged and snatched off the ground by the giant crab claw of a huge krabbari demon! (He attempted to use the Fascinate spell as a defense, but discovered that krabbari demons are immune to mind control spells.) The demon scuttled backward, dragging the wizard with it. Blaadao was badly wounded, barely able to maintain consciousness.

(It was around this time that technical difficulties robbed us of Slingshot. We declared that he had been overcome with a sense of paranoia and went back down the stairs to watch for trailing ambushers.)

The party hadn’t really been formed up for the fight, and so they scrambled to join it from around the room. Ray ran into the room and healed Blaadao, bringing him back to full consciousness. Esen stood in the doorway, heedless of any no-mana zone, and blasted at the demon with his psychokinetic blast. The Kid, being a nymph and dependent on mana, was extremely reluctant to cross the no-mana zone, but after some hesitation, gritted his teeth and ran through the arch; seeing the demon holding Blaadao, he tried to Command it to drop him, and again discovered that krabbari demons are immune to mind control magic. Blixa had been further away, and so needed to sprint for a couple of seconds to join the fray.

The crab demon started off trying for a hostage situation, trying to trade Blaadao for the opening of the runes. To his credit, Blaadao told the others to give the demon nothing. In Elvish, a language only he and Ray share, he said, “Close your eyes.” Then, he unleashed a flash of magical light, which wasn’t enough to blind the demon, but was enough to dazzle and irritate it. With a roar of rage, it bit into Blaadao’s skull and ripped him apart, killing him instantly.

At this terrible sight, The Kid screamed “Noooooo–!” and drew his shortsword; with no mind-manipulating magic and no chance to charm the beast, he prepared to charge into melee. Ray blasted the demon with a powerful sunbolt, rocking it back on its heels for the first time in the battle. Esen continued sniping from the doorway. Blixa came into melee range and attacked the demon with his warhammer.

Annoyed, the demon grabbed Blixa in a claw and wrestled with him, while Ray moved back out of range and the others peppered the demon with attacks. Despite being grappled, Blixa was able to do significant damage to the creature with a flurry of All-Out Attacks. Annoyed by this, the demon took a firm grip on the barbarian and used up all its accumulated Control Points to hurt him, breaking Blixa across its knee and bringing the barbarian to negative HP.

For several seconds, The Kid had been hearing whispering voices in his mind, and their lies finally bore fruit, as The Kid suddenly realized that the krabbari demon was actually a wise and good creature who deserved their respect. He moved to intervene in the ongoing melee.

Seeing that they needed to pour on the damage if they wanted to keep their momentary advantage, Esen performed an All-Out Attack to double his blasts. The demon didn’t seem to care.

Then, released from the demon’s grapple, Blixa made his HT roll to maintain consciousness and laid into the demon like John Henry, again applying a flurry of All-Out Attacks. This being exactly the kind of situation where a warhammer would be an appropriate weapon, Blixa was able to do heinous damage to the demon, killing it.

As soon as the demon fell, the glowing runes vanished, as Esen could see from his station in the doorway. The heavy stone doors opened, and a tall woman dressed in scale mail, bearing a spear and shield, stepped out — a valkyrie! She marched through the door, past Esen, who was sagging with fatigue, and straight to Blaadao’s broken body. There, she performed her duty as a chooser of the slain. Blaadao had fallen honorably in battle. Now, he would go to feast in Valhalla. His ghost gave the others one last nod, and reminded them that Flavio had his will back at camp. Turning into the light, he said, “It’s the mothership…” and faded away.

Another figure came through the arch and gestured for the others to follow her inside. It was the Queen of the World, worshiped as the goddess of love by many… particularly, Ray. After taking a moment to heal the worst of the party’s wounds, the cleric was the last to enter, got a personal word of praise as she passed, and gave her goddess a hug.

Inside, they were received by the Lady of the Harvest, who congratulated them all on their success. She explain that the krabbari demon had attacked the Hall years before, killing everyone present, just as it had said. It had tried to enter the sanctum, where they were at that moment. The sanctum was on the edges of the realm of the gods, though, so rather than allowing the demon to push through and start a Ragnarok, the Lord of Warding had place the runes they had seen before — trapping the demon, but also making the Hall unavailable to mortals.

The Lady of the Harvest had each of them hold out their arms. Across each one, she draped a single golden hair from her head… which transformed and became a golden wrist torc. When she approached The Kid, she got a mischievous look and gave him a quick kiss, full on the lips!

Our heroes asked if it would be acceptable to rest inside the Hall, and the Lady of the Harvest allowed them to stay in the lower hall. Ray examined the old tomes of law that were on display in the sanctum, determining that they were so old as to be impossible to move without specialized magic. With a final word of farewell, the Lady left the party to bind their wounds and recover.

Experience

The standard award for each member of the group was 10 points. Big boss fight.

Cool Point: Blixa, in recognition of the John Henry impersonation he did on that crab demon

Special Bonus Point: The Kid, for the Big No when Blaadao died.

Booby Point: Blaadao, for being a wizard on the front line getting his fool self killed.

 

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