“Succeed” — Session Recap 2/7/10

Succeed.

This was the final statement of Ogleby, a dwarven artificer and long time companion of the player characters.

He came to them way early in their career; a crippled, battered dwarf who had survived the initial dragon attacks in the city of Monolith. He had fled the Dwarven kingdoms deep within the Ivoryspire Mountains, alongside his wife Meredith, to get away from the petty clan feuds that ensued his people. He had established a nice tavern, one with a nice laboratory in the basement,  and was one of the finest “post adventure” barkeeps in the city. But then, the dragons came, and they took away not only his business, but his wife, and any semblance of an ordinary life afterwards.

He came to the players in the first wave of refugees fleeing the city, informing them of the attacks that had transpired. He warned them, the heroes of a freshly liberated town, of the White Dragon that he has chased after into the countryside. The one who killed his wife. The heroes took charge, and agreed to help the Dwarf exact his revenge. He provided alchemical aids for their weapons, and in return the heroes valiantly destroyed the beast. This would be the first of several menacing Dragons the heroes would kill on their march toward destiny; and Ogleby would continue to assist them.

Though still aged and slightly crippled, when the time came that our Heroes had elevated themselves to the ranks of Paragon, he would continue assisting them. He was not much of a fighter, although he did offer the occasional crossbow shot. But when the heroes were called to descend into the Ivory Spires, in search of the fell city of Forge to seek out Moradin’s Hammer, he agreed to serve as a guide through the confusing, waving catacombs that walked deep into the mountains. While he dreaded the sight of devastation upon his people, now slaughtered and driven out, he understood the importance of the mission: In order to slay the daughter of Tiamat, and drive her armies back, they needed the hammer that once forged the weapons that killed the deceiver goddess.

In their treacherous journeys below, Ogleby had played an important role in the liberation of the Temple of Allegiance; a lost, ancient holy place that was symbolic of the friendships between Moradin and Bahamut. This was also a symbol of the alliance between the Dwarven kingdoms and the Empire. By assisting the dragonborn Kriv, a chosen champion of Bahamut, in driving out the creeping, foul darkness of the blasphemous entity that had befallen the temple, Ogleby had helped ensure hope for his people, and found sanctuary for those that they saved along the way.

Ultimately, Ogleby would give the greatest sacrifice for his friends, his people, and ultimately the world. It was made clear that despite the numbers of liberated dwarfs and a small band of soldiers the heroes had brought with them, that they were outnumbered in the City of Forge. The forces of Tiamat had aligned with the denizens of the Underdark, and were working a slave trade between the two cultures. So not only did they face Dragonborn and Dragons — but Drow, Duergar and Mindflayers to boot. A plan was discussed amongst the heroes, and the Wizard had brought up a ritual — with the component of someone’s finger. she could open a portal to their location. The catch was, this was a darker practice of magic: The portal could only be opened to a corpse. Someone would have to die at the Temple of Moradin, and then she could open a gate to let their small army push through and make a move for the Hammer.

Ogleby stood up, and declared that he would be that man. All other dwarfs they had saved had the chance to see their families and comrades again. He didn’t. He wished nothing more than to return to Moradin’s forge flames, to be with his wife. After a tearful moment, it was agreed this was their only shot into the temple.

The Assault on Forge

The Warlord and the Dragonborn agreed to go with Ogleby to help ensure he makes it to the temple. The plan was to sneak their way via back catacombs into the city, and then purposefully get caught. The Warlord then pleaded with their captors, saying if they were going to kill them, to do so at the Temple of Moradin. Of their captors, one of them happened to have been the Red Dragon that they had encountered earlier in the Ivoryspires. He agreed to the execution of the Dwarf at his temple, if only to defile the altar with the blood of one of Moradin’s own. He snarled at the Dragonborn and Tiefling Warlord, saying that their fate instead would be to become property and slaves for the dragon.

Prior to their entry into the city, the Heroes had joined hands and performed a ritual that enabled a telepathic bond with each other. As they approached the temple,  and island of rocked held by massive chains over the  firery magma pools of the forge, they had given notice to the Wizard to start preparing the ritual. While she did so, the small army of roughly 24 men and dwarves prepared to march through. They would only have a few moments to charge in, and once they did battle was almost a given.

Arriving at the temple, Ogleby was tied down to the altar before the statue of Moradin, which happened to be holding the massive relic that the heroes sought. The other two were cuffed and rendered weaponless; but had left their main weapons back with their team to bring over. As they were kicked to the ground, and forced to watch, a Dragonborn of Tiamat raised his axe over Ogleby. Ogleby turned, and faced his friends, and before the axe had fallen he would cite that one word unto them:

Succeed.
The axe fell.
And then all hell broke loose as the portal ripped from his corpse.

End Game

The small force that moved through the portal was greeted with over a dozen dragonborn soldiers, a few Drow and even the Red Dragon clashing into them for battle.  The rogue immediately ran over to un-cuff  her friends and distribute weapons. As the battle roared on, the Wizard began a rather complicated task: She had long ago prepared a scroll to open a portal back to Lakemists, a city nice and far from the depths of the mountains. While ritual casting is usually a long, dragged out process, I’ve decided to allow her to blow healing surges for Arcane rolls to speed up the portals. Yes, the means I turned the mass combat into a skill challenge!

Five or six rounds in, an entire squadron of Dwarfs were lost, many were hurt, and the numbers kept piling in. Finally, the portal was opened, and the Dragonborn stretched his wings to grab the hammer and dive through headfirst! The rest of the party would disengage combat, provoking opportunity attacks but dashing through the gauntlet to their swift journey home. Before the portal closed, a fair chunk of their forces also made it through….but so did the Red Dragon! Continuing as the same encounter, I pulled no punches and proceeded to stomp on my players in the epic battle for the night. No players dropped, but, I did manage to get plenty of fire breathing recharges in. The Warlord was skirting death almost the entire fight, and the Wizard nearly lost herself as well.

Tying up Loose Ends

They returned the Hammer to the Princess of Lakemists, who immediately prepared to transport it back to the war-torn Monolith so the scholar Herrick would be able to advise the forging of the weapons. The Princess had entrusted the Hammer with her assistant, Caleb. Caleb was another wizard, whom Lola (the party’s Wizard) had got to know previously. But then, she gasped, and cornered the man before setting out on his journey.

“Where is your familiar, Caleb?”

It was a very, very VERY keen observation: The man no longer had his familiar by his side! When cornered by the players, he freaked out and revealed his true nature as the damn Doppleganger Assassin that has eluded them the entire campaign! He yelled out “I’ll finish the job I started in Fellhaven!” and immediately made a lash out at the Princess for one more attempt on her life …. only to be taken down in a single critical backstabbing blow by the Rogue.

The assassin is finally dead, the Hammer has been retrieved. A good friend of the party had sacrificed himself in order for it to happen. Next session: The conclusion of a year long campaign! A return to Monolith, to forge the weapons to slay the daughter of an evil God! The fate of an Empire, and even the World rests on their shoulders!