The second encounter of this final D&D 3.5e session hadn’t taken much time at all, and it looked like the same would be true of the third. This wasn’t a session with a lot of roleplaying and exploration it; it was all about resolutions. Things I’d set up years before were finally playing out in their final form.
One of the really nice things about long campaigns – and it was certainly true of this one – is that events that happened in the past continued to have a relevance in the present. I was able to have recurring villains that the players loved to hate… an essential part of a good story; rather than merely a good game.
Of course, not every session was great, especially towards the end of the game as I began to get conflicted between telling the story and prolonging things so (a) 4e could come out or (b) PCs could hit 20th level. In the end, I chose to finish it in one glorious burst rather than artificially prolong its existence, and I’m glad I did.
Encounter the Third: Fomorians, Winter Wolves and a Priest of Chaos
Players of D&D with a certain level of knowledge of the game will notice the incongruous addition of Winter Wolves to the encounter list above. No, they weren’t advanced. Just two regular Winter Wolves that weren’t even worth experience points to this party. However, they served a couple of purposes.
First, they flagged what was to come in the final encounter (Kerenos and his hounds), and second they were something that the group could lord it over. The fact that I really like their miniature doesn’t hurt, either!
Fomorian giants have long been one of my favourite monsters and they have a pretty nifty 3rd edition incarnation as well. They’re really fun because they have this ability called Trample that will deal damage even to characters as insanely armoured as Nate and Adam. I think Adam’s character Ragnagor had an AC around 45 or even higher during this encounter. Giants vs Dwarf, don’t you know?
They’re also part of the background mythology of this campaign (Fhoi Myore = Fomorian); the idea was that in the original invasion of the Fhoi Myore (oh, 3000 or more years ago), they’d possessed a race of giants. Being completely inimical to the realm, as they were creatures of Chaos, they twisted and deformed the giants. After they were banished, their former hosts bred true as twisted mockeries of their former selves – the Fomorians. Was I happy when DDM put Fomorian giants in their first huge set? You bet I was!
So the encounter began. Willem won initiative, and charged off on his horse to engage the lead Fomorian. The rest of the giants then acted, and moved into trample and otherwise engage the party. The fight was on!
If you look carefully at the photo just above, you’ll find the miniature of the evil priest at the centre bottom. A little way up from him is Greg’s character, Abigail. (Why a half-orc miniature? Poor charisma, and Greg wanted Abigail to be intimidating!) Throughout a great deal of the campaign, Abigail had melded some Airstep Sandals which allowed him to fly for greater and greater distances during combat – he needed to be on the ground at the end of his move, but they happily allowed him to ignore all the features of the terrain that were otherwise giving the party trouble (especially during the times they were fighting in the snow… watching a 15′ speed halfling trying to move in heavy snow is just amusing).
Sarah’s PC Lavena had her glowing triumph this combat as she nimbly Evaded all the attempts of the Fomorians to trample her (the less said about Ragnagor’s efforts the better) and managed to Hold Monster one of the Fomorians which Johanna (Greg’s cohort) promptly put out its misery. Coup de Grace, however you want to pronounce it, is a very useful ability.
The evil cleric did manage to Flame Strike the party a couple of times before Greg got up to it. This led to this memorable (if ficticious) exchange… ok, the facts were different from how I remember it, but the intent was true:
Me: “Ok, that flame strike hits those of you who failed the save for 43 damage, those of you who made it for 21 damage, and Sarah for nothing.”
Greg: “I think the Wizard’s in trouble.”
Me: “What’s her hit points?”
Greg: “Negative 42!”
Hmm… running around a battlefield on 1 hp; no wonder! In any case, the cleric stepped in with a Revivify and all was well again.
Healing was a funny thing during this campaign. Wands of Cure Light Wounds were everywhere, but Greg’s Incarnate also had an ability that allowed him to heal each character once per hour – he took half the damage he healed, and it had a cap on it, but Greg healed better than everyone else due to another incarnate power – a wand of cure light wounds healed Greg for something like 1d8+14 hp at the end of the campaign!
As we got towards 4e, I began bringing in house rules – in particular the new Death and Dying rules. Greg actually managed totake advantage of those during this last session, rolling a natural 20 to recover and get back into the battle. That’s just cool.
However, in the very last session, Greg had finally reached the point where he could heal at will… and the Cleric had the reserve feat that allowed her to heal everyone up to half hit points for free (given enough time). So, all that was needed after each of these battles was to heal 50 hp on Greg. Eep. Four charges of a cure light wounds wand to heal the entire party? This actually wasn’t a problem for me – it’s the action that I’m interested in, and long periods of recovery aren’t periods of action.
The Fomorians weren’t really having that much luck hitting Willem, and the two that were attacking the rest of the party were having a horrible time of it. Sarah was also trying to line herself up to give a War-Cry enhanced charge… and she just couldn’t do it. Poor thing.
Eventually, the PCs dealt with the giants and the wolves, and closed in on the priest, who’d thoughtfully moved behind a tree so that Willem and Lavena couldn’t charge him. A couple of big blows, and that was that for the cleric. Party 3, Fhoi Myore 0!
Lavena is in her cat form above. The priest was very dead.
This encounter had lasted just into the fifth round: the Winter Wolves had lasted 2 rounds, the Fomorians three. It was the priest who managed to survive just that little bit longer! It was now time for a little roleplaying and exposition just before the final encounter of the entire campaign; I’ll deal with that in my next entry.