We ended our last session on a riddle having to do with the Dragon Fall and a small dragon statuette. The temple containing the Dragon Fall also had a large square, perfectly-flat metal plate on top which might have been involved in some way. However, after pounding our heads against the riddle for a little bit, we gave up on it – our instructions had been to locate the Dragon Fall, which we had done. So all that was left to be done was to determine what to do about the ethical quagmire of the conflict between the Elves, two factions of centaurs, and men.
To be honest, we didn’t have a good read on any of these groups. They all had been fairly hostile, except for the one outcast centaur (Cerra) who had drifted from being hostile to being friendly but unhelpful. We were pretty sure that they all needed a swift kick to the head, but the only ones who we knew were outright bad for sure were the humans (the whole slavery thing and all). So we contemplate our options. Trinky is confident of being able to take out the stockade without help, so we decide to head back and take them on.
Two options present themselves: a) bluff our way into the stockade to meet with Prince Henry, kill or capture him, and hope the morale of the stockade will collapse, or b) blast ’em. Unwilling to start the fireworks without at least attempting to ascertain the morale situation, Makai manages to get over the wall unnoticed and infiltrate the compound. He touches base with the captive and enslaved elves first who – here’s a big surprise – seem just as implacably hostile to us as everyone else, and suspect Makai of being an agent of Prince Henry trying to, uh, do something to them. Makai tries to convince them that those people generally use the door, but the elves are just as hostile as everyone else, so he keeps going into the stockade proper. He listens in some conversations, checks things out, but from the admittedly small sample size the residents hardly seem oppressed and the guards are alert. So he reports back that we’ll go with option b), much to Trinky’s delight.
The party deploys their full magical arsenal, including Protection from Arrows, Fly, Invisibility, and Kernighan’s power-up sequence that involves Bull’s Strength, Divine Favor, and some other stuff. Kernighan and Inapo are Enlarged to give them yet more damage bonuses and a larger weapon reach. Kernighan summons a Dretch, just for grins. Makai is really not cut out for this sort of heavy destruction, so he contents himself with the mission of releasing the elves.
The battle with the stockade is almost anticlimactic. Trinky uses his Fireballs to waste guards in large numbers and destroy the defensive siege weapons on the stockade. A giant Inapo rips through the guards like a hot knife through butter. Kernighan and his 2d6+22 (or thereabouts) damage Spiked Chain has some trouble initially hitting anything, but once he realizes that getting extra damage through his Power Attack feat is totally unnecessary, he starts taking down guys pretty quickly too. Between the Protection from Arrows and their ability to attack at 10′ and 15′ range, the defenders aren’t really able to touch Inapo and Kernighan, and Trinky just flies 200′ or so over the stockade, out of arrow range.
After the body count reaches about 30+ dead defenders with little damage being inflicted on the party, the rest call it a day. Prince Henry is run down by the speedy Makai as he is trying to escape, and he and his second in command are turned over to Pame’an justice, however that works.
I was surprised at how easily the magic-enhanced party could rip through the stockade guards – it seemed kind or ridiculous, actually. It seems once you get past a certain point, it doesn’t matter how many low-level flunkies you throw at the party, they just can’t touch you. Key problem spells are Fly and Fireball; being able to fly is extremely powerful for spellcasters, since they can get a good view but hover out of range and reach of anything their targets can do to them. And Fireball can toast huge numbers of low-level creatures virtually automatically. Moral of the story: if you want your fort defended properly, you’ll need to hire some mid-level Wizards and maybe enlist some flying magical creatures or somesuch.
This wasn’t a bad adventure, although it did (as I mentioned last time) seem to require too much Diplomacy given our party’s lack of skill – everyone we ran into was hostile. Makai wasn’t generally that useful this game, so I found myself wishing for Mentaku’s +18 Diplomacy, +16 Bluff, and assorted other useful skills; he would have been perfect, and made short work of this adventure. Makai is definitely planning to up his Diplomacy when he next levels up. I also definitely feel the whole thing went on too long – we shortcut significant elements (we didn’t try to reinstate Cerra or work with the other centaurs to coordinate the attack on the stockade) and it still took over 14 hours to play, which went well beyond where the whole thing was interesting me. The battle at the fort was cool, and the initial setup was good too (the introduction to the bad guys right away when you don’t know much about them), but the endless wandering in the jungle and banging our heads against hostile NPCs in the middle left a bit to be desired.