Dungeon Fantasy Nordlond #23: “The Last”

by mshrm

Old enemies, and then even older enemies. “We’re not all elves, buddy!” Zen archery. Octopus air support. A reminder of the other uses of a harp-bow. Tactics and trickery. A sunbolt that was visible from space. Old friends, badly singed. Last minute wizardry from an unexpected source. All good things. Requiescat in pace.

Spoiler Warning: The campaign (which started here; the whole saga can be found here) is set in NordlondGaming Ballistic‘s Norse-themed campaign setting. Today’s session carries on with a scenario taken from GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Adventure 4: Two-Page Dungeons, from Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS 2021 PDF Challenge Kickstarter, but with some tweaks. Nevertheless, beware spoilers!

Who’s Who

PCs

  • Dara Zivri, Demon-blooded Druid. Channeling the mom-force.
  • Esen, Octopus Mentalist. Psychokinetic sniper.
  • Ilmarë “Ray” Kem, Elf Cleric. Breaker of curses… and trolls.
  • Orvynth the Clanless, Dragon-Blooded Knight/Holy Warrior. Making plans and resisting spells.
  • Slingshot, Human Scout. Always said he had some elf blood.
  • The Kid, Nymph Bard. Papa’s got a brand new bag.

What Happened

Last time, we saw our heroes retreating, bringing their wounded with them. They went back to town, patched up, and prepared for their return to the demon-infested temple. A full-sized training montage broke out, as over half the team spent their hoarded experience points and nearly everybody spent lavishly on potions and upgraded gear. Everybody got a fresh blessing.

Thus fortified, they returned the next day. Again leaving Halfdan in charge of the mounts, our heroes advanced to the same side door that they had entered through before. This time, though, they had a plan.

Last time, the temple’s antechamber had been full of doomchildren. Expecting the same to be true, the party’s plan was to send in Orvynth to bull rush the demonic horde and keep their attention, with Slingshot entering a moment later, to maintain a distance from the inevitable explosive chain reaction. The heavily-armored dragon-blooded had little fear of being harmed, even in the middle of such an explosion.

Next, the plan anticipated running in to some filth demons in the courtyard. If they proved to be a problem, Orvynth would run in and more-or-less exhaust themself smiting them to death. Ray would need to restore their energy, but that wouldn’t be much trouble.

Finally, the plan addressed the thing that caused them trouble on their previous visit. Our heroes had brought along hammers and a supply of iron spikes, and planned to secure the doors, leaving only a single egress. This would allow them to channel the battle and avoid a flanking maneuver by the demons.

With that plan in mind, our heroes came to the temple door. Dara and Ray fired up missile spells. Previously enchanted with a max-power continual light spell, Orvynth kicked the door open and stepped inside, ready for doomchildren.

Instead, Orvynth found Ynfalchiawn, the fae prince and cousin of Elunad, the party’s long-standing adversary! This was doubly surprising, in that the last time Orvynth and Ynfalchiawn had met, the holy warrior had removed the fae’s head. Considering that, he seemed remarkably at ease. He was lounging about, apparently unarmed, sipping on an oversized crystal goblet of wine. Or something similar to wine, at least. Ynfalchiawn greeted Orvynth warmly, wondering aloud what had taken them so long?

That’s where the situation remained for some time, as the far and the dragon-blooded traded repartee. Orvynth was reluctant to leave the doorway, seeing that Ynfalchiawn was trying to goad them into rushing into the room and being wary of ambush. Ynfalchiawn, on the other hand, clearly didn’t want to step up; he paced back and forth, always keeping just out of reach of a sudden charge.

Slingshot finally broke the stalemate by leaning over to peek under Orvynth’s arm and shooting an arrow into Ynfalchiawn’s goblet, shattering it. As the fae prince shook the spilling liquid off his gloved hand, the party rushed in. The expected desperate battle never really got going, though; almost immediately, Orvynth put their meteoric iron shortsword through the fae’s throat a second time!

Unlike the last time, the “fae” popped like a bubble. An illusion, after all.

After quickly regrouping, the party moved on to the filthy courtyard. While still foul beyond belief, it seemed that the mess was older, more dried-out, than the last time they had been there. Our heroes looked around for any hostile demons or visible slimes, finding none.

Still concerned about any slimes that weren’t visible, they quickly crossed the courtyard and split up into two groups. Esen, The Kid, and Dara went to the side door, while Orvynth, Slingshot, and Ray went to the big double doors.

Just as they got themselves sorted out to start nailing the door shut, the doors were flung open from inside! A crowd of doomchildren peered out, and the sound of demonic laughter came from the shadows deeper in the sanctum!

(They didn’t realize it at the time, but destroying the Ynfalchiawn illusion had triggered an alarm, alerting the monsters in the sanctum and removing the advantage of surprise.)

Behind the gang of doomchildren, in the center of the sanctum, our heroes saw Elunad, the diabolical “fairy godmother” who they’ve clashed with on many previous occasions! She had clearly chosen her pose for maximum drama, wand held high, well-lit by a ring of torches. Even so, she seemed a little different than on previous meetings. A little tired, perhaps? Somewhat frazzled?

She was certainly aggravated, at any rate. As the split party and the doomchildren surged towards each other, she delivered a scenery-chewing monologue explaining how fiercely she hated them all. Once, she had been a queen, loved and feared, ruling the mountains around the Frostharrow. Then, our heroes showed up to ruin everything. (She seemed particularly annoyed that they were “a bunch of elves” and so should naturally serve her rather than oppose her. This prompted The Kid to grumble at her insensitivity to racial nuance.) And, she continued, it wasn’t bad enough that they stole the Hall of Judgement from her – they had dogged her steps ever since, as she fled from one ally to another. They chased her out of her home, then killed her cousin and ruined their plot, then they killed her dragon!! But now! Now! Finally, she had joined forces with an ally who would help her crush you once and for all!!! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-HA!!!!

From the back of the sanctum, Nilbog the demon lord added a “What she said” and his own evil laugh.

Slingshot and Orvynth quickly cleared the area in front of their door, putting down a couple of doomchildren who took the rest of their cohort with them in a fiery blast; both took a couple of hits from bone shards, but their armor protected them fully. Ray presented her holy symbol and forced the demons back with the power of her faith.

At the other door, Dara and The Kid fell back to give themselves some distance from the doomchildren’s blades, while Octopus Esen advanced, levitating too high for the small demons to easily reach. He chose a target towards the center of the mob and blasted away with his psychokinetic lash. He missed his target… but the doomchild right behind the target wasn’t so lucky. The chain reaction bounced around the room, eventually destroying a total of seven doomchildren and nearly clearing that side of the room of enemies!

As the doomchildren fell back in the face of Ray’s holy power, Elunad commanded a minion to advance and destroy the party. A stothtroll lumbered forward… a stothtroll they recognized when he bellowed his battle cry: “Buck smash!” It was Dara’s special troll friend, Buck!

Buck might have been Dara’s friend, but he didn’t know anybody named “Ray”, so he tried to rip off her head. Luckily, she was able to parry and escape.

Nilbog and the surviving doomchildren tried to circle around and fill in their left flank, which Esen had decimated. Freed up from the press of doomchildren by Ray’s holy protection, Orvynth and Slingshot advanced to attack Elunad. The fae witch backed off, throwing curses as she went. She inflicted a state of stumbling drunkenness on Orvynth, joking that a straight-arrow paladin wouldn’t have much experience being in such a state, and cursed Slingshot with clouded vision, remarking that she still owed him for stealing her bow.

Still outside in the courtyard, The Kid methodically shot down the few doomchildren who managed to slip out. Having heard Buck’s battle cry, Dara edged around the battle, shouting that she was coming to find him. Inside, Ray didn’t have time to wait for Dara to maybe calm the berzerk troll; she unleashed a full-powered sunbolt directly through his heart! While this was enough to inflict the largest amount of damage ever seen in the campaign, it still wasn’t enough to kill the ludicrously rugged troll… but it was enough to encourage him to sit down and think things over.

Orvynth rushed forward and was able to get within range of Elunad with a heroic charge. He was able to hit her solidly with the Law Giver, and poof she vanished. Another illusion.

The “real” Elunad appeared behind Orvynth. Barely avoiding a desperate behind-the-back strike from the dragon-blooded holy warrior, she seemed annoyed and snapped, “Go and kill the cleric!” Orvynth turned towards Ray, controlled by fae magic. Under cover of that distraction and long-since hasted, she slipped outside the sanctum to lurk behind The Kid’s back, unnoticed.

Inside, Orvynth rushed towards Ray. At the last moment, their holy warriors’ oath won out over the murderous rage of fae magic, and Orvynth broke the curse. In a moment of drunken inspiration, they feigned as if they were still under control, roaring and “tackling” Ray. As they grappled, Orvynth whispered a request, and Ray dispelled the curse of drunkenness.

Meanwhile, Slingshot had been peering around trying to find a target. He found one when Nilbog flew up trying to get behind him. Even though he could only see a blur of movement, the master archer was still able to put an arrow into the demon’s wing. That wasn’t enough to put it down for the count… but it was enough to bring it to a crash landing. After a couple of unfavorable dice rolls, Nilbog slid to a halt and wound up suffering from a debilitating groin injury that effectively took it out of the fight.

With few targets available inside the sanctum, the party wasn’t sure what to do. They weren’t entirely sure if Elunad had teleported away, or become invisible, or what. Several of them stood ready to attack her if she made an appearance, so when she seemed to step through the door, Esen blasted her. poof Yet another illusion.

Two stone guardians stepped through the main door right behind the dissipating Elunad illusion. There was a short tussle. Orvynth popped one – oh, yeah, as expected, another semi-solid illusion. Slingshot landed a max-damage blow that dispelled the other.

At that, with a shout of rare, Elunad appeared from the thin air directly behind Slingshot! She had turned invisible and circled back to backstab him. Unfortunately for her, she hadn’t counted on Slingshot’s enchanted armor. She tried to stab him through the heart but couldn’t penetrate. Weeping in anger and frustration, she swung wildly at his neck, looking to lop his head completely off…

… and then Slingshot threw up his hand and magically fascinated her!

In his spare time, for some time now, Slingshot had been studying simple magics. While he had picked up a few spells, none of them had ever really paid off before now. This time, the dice were on his side even if the odds weren’t. The great and powerful Elunad stood frozen, held in place by the mental magic of a scruffy, bushwacking scout.

At least she never had to realize her embarrassment. Our heroes rapidly surrounded her and finished her off. This time, she didn’t pop like a bubble, but fell as a corpse. Her fairy godmother finery evaporated, revealing fae epic plate and an edged rapier in place of a glittery dress and star-tipped wand.

With that bit of business complete, our heroes turned to Nilbog, who was still alive, if rather unorganized. Looking around, they realized that the sanctum had a holy circle like the one from Nilbog’s legend. So, with an occasional pause to punch it to counter its regeneration, they dragged Nilbog into the circle and held it there while Ray dismissed it with a wave. With the demon lord banished, the hellish infestation was exorcised.

The End

EXPERIENCE

Isn’t the real experience the friends we made along the way? This is the big campaign finale, so everybody gets All The XP and goes off to tame Rosgarth Castle. Ray tries to convert everybody to her religion, while Esen tries to convince everybody that they need a pet shoggoth. And they all live happily ever after.

Cool Point: Everybody, really. Dara, for defeating a troll with the power of Mom. Esen, for taking out seven in one blow like something out of legend – with a miss. Ray, for inflicting the most injury in a single attack that we’ve even seen in this campaign. Orvynth, for resisting mind control and faking like they hadn’t, in a way few Knights could pull off. Slingshot, for turning the tables and winning the day with a spell. Finally, The Kid, for taking up arms in a warrior-like fashion and single-handedly protecting the team from the flanking that ruined them last time. Truly a fine display by all involved. ❤️

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