The party having gathered in the tallest tower of the ruined keep, they had found a woman who appeared happy to greet them, happy to dance about the room, happy to…grab at Gavriil the Human Arcanist with a wide-eyed toothy smile! Gavriil was nimble enough to duck out of her grasp, feeling somewhat offended, and the group got reasonably nervous. Weapons were cautiously readied, as the woman continued to dance around the room, this time in the direction of Eneko the Human Bard/Cavalier! Eneko would have none of that however, and cracked his whip in the direction of her feet, which she avoided by executing a lovely little twirl. This act of aggression seemed to anger her however, as she then gave a screech and bared her teeth, which were suddenly noticed to be sharp and pointed! She launched herself at Eneko, who shoved her off of him in a panic!
Her intentions now clear, the remainder of the party went to work on the creature, which Eneko identified as being a Baohban Sith, an evil Fey woman whose alluring appearance could often entrance those looking upon her. Elysia the Half-Elven Ranger loosed a trio of arrows into her, two hitting her sides and one entering her shoulder, happy that she was once again able to make use of her Fey-Bane longbow! Her shots were followed up by Noruas the Human Gunslinger, whose double-barreled musket was quickly unshouldered, aimed, and…*click*. She looked at the weapon, pulled the trigger again…*click*. “Uh-oh,” she muttered, then went to work carefully clearing the barrel so that it would be ready to fire again soon. As it turned out, in this fight Gavriil was the most effective, using his Arcane Pool to enhance his magical power and make it more difficult for the Baohban Sith to resist his Deep Sleep spell– successfully, I might add, as it was the difference between a succeeding saving throw and a failed one! The woman fell into a deep slumber, and Gavriil stepped up a pace to catch her, making sure she didn’t fall onto the floor and awaken.
This was when the group was met with a surprise– another Fey creature sprung from the window, growling and shouting at the group to unhand the Lady! He sank his claw-like hands into both Gavriil and Noruas, sending a dose of poison into the Arcanist, but he didn’t last long as Eneko tripped him, and then Noraus blasted him twice with her musket. Though this woke the Dancing Lady from her deep slumber, she too was not long for this world, as arrows from Elysia sank into her body, ending the threat she posed.
With that taken care of, the group looted the room, and moved on to the rest of the keep. Gavriil was quite keen on clearing it out so that the kingdom could eventually claim it for their own, perhaps being able to rebuild it into a city with the keep at its center. The other towers were checked and looted, and the rats in the northeast tower were lured out of it by providing them some food, in the vein of the bodies of the Quickling and the other two Fey. The Bard also used Ghost Sound to help produce a high-pitched noise to scare the creatures away, which was able to rid them of the keep, thus securing the area as a safe place to camp.
The next day they set off again into the forest, finding more and more land stripped bare by troll activity. Elysia was able to find more than that, however– tracks of about three trolls, heading north! Excited, she and Gavriil were both on-board with tracking these trolls down to take care of their villainy, and so the party advanced after them! For three days they tracked the trolls through the forest, and continued as the number of tracks slowly increased, from three to eight, to a dozen, to almost twenty! By the time they left the Narlmarches, emerging only a few miles away from their capital and other kingdom territory, they were on the heels of no less than twenty-four trolls, and estimated that they were only a few hours behind them.
It didn’t take much longer for them to spy a plume of smoke rising from behind a few distant hills– something had happened! Checking their map, the group realized that the smoke was in the general location of their Fangberry farm! Discussion was had as to if they should sneak forward, or make all haste in order to stave off the trolls as quickly as possible. The Arcanist and Gunslinger wished to hurry along, however the Bard and the Ranger thought that a stealthy, wrap-around approach would also have merits, and so the two groups planned to split up. When they got about three quarters of a mile away, the party crested a hill and were able to see before them the Fangberry farm, where trolls seemed to have wrecked havoc. A farmhouse was burning, there was a small number of farmhands wrangled up and guarded by a pair of trolls, about fifteen bodies strewn around the area, and numerous trolls roving about the fields picking the berries clean and loading up carts with foodstuffs. It was here that the group split up, with Eneko and Elysia taking off on Eneko’s horse around to the north behind a line of trees, planning on circling around behind the trolls.
Gavriil and Noruas, on the other hand, simply walked straight towards the trolls, apparently unafraid. It didn’t take long for the trolls to spot them, but they didn’t seem to be too worried, ambling along at a slow pace, grunting and pointing in seeming laughter. The majority of the trolls began making their way towards the pair, and they didn’t seem very worried at all, right up until they got within 640 feet of their prey, at which point Gavriil let loose a magical Fireball into a pack of five of them! This got their attention, and suddenly the mass of green fur and teeth were running at the pair!
Meanwhile, Elysia and Eneko were still making their way along behind the row of trees. When they heard the explosion of fire that Gavriil produced, they decided to cut through the forest and head into battle. As they made their way through, the trolls continued to advance, and Gavriil threw a second Fireball while Noruas began peppering trolls with her musket, generally taking down at least one per turn. Finally the trolls came upon the group, having lost about a quarter of their number due to attrition as they approached, and they began to lay into the group, who was quickly joined by the Bard and the Ranger. The trolls dealt some damage, and the party responded in kind, taking a few out. The second round after the trolls reached the party, things got much, much worse for the PC’s. Three attacks per round from trolls who completely surrounded a line of PC’s can result in some significant damage. Gavriil went down, and Noruas suffered three separate critical hits (and since I’m using Paizo’s Critical Hit/Fumble cards, she subsequently lost three points of Strength, two points of Constitution, and one point of Charisma due to the severity of her wounds).
Fortunately healing was to be found in the form of Elysia, who had a wand of Cure Moderate Wounds on her, and thanks to Eneko granting the group a Teamwork feat that stopped Attacks of Opportunity from movement when next to an ally (Cavaliers are pretty cool for that teamwork feat granting stuff, I can see why he took a single-level dip into it), both severely wounded PC’s were healed up to tolerable levels. The session ended there, with the trolls next up in line to attack…we’ll have to wait and see how many of them live next time!
Players, do not read!
Twenty-four trolls…they wanted to fight twenty-four trolls.
This last encounter is taken from the Hargulka’s Monster Kingdom thread on the Kingmaker forums, meant to give an introduction to mass combat to the PC’s a little bit earlier than book four. As written, the party would normally have heard about an army of trolls having attacked one of the kingdom farms by an NPC in their kingdom, and would grab an army of their own to march into battle with them in order to defeat the foes. So I suppose right off the bat, I changed things up by letting them track the army themselves to the site of conflict– I’d been kind of leading up to this by showing them the forest empty of most food sources for awhile, and even their talks with the Lizardfolk gave some leanings that way, albeit subtly and the didn’t seem to pick up on it much at all. I suppose when I show my party a number of enemies present, with a few innocents alive and still hanging around, I shouldn’t expect them to leave to come back with reinforcements– most RPG players just won’t do that.
Now, I can’t say whether or not the group remembered that their kingdom already had a single army under their command– I didn’t remind them as much, and they didn’t mention it at all. I also never described the numerous trolls as an army in particular, so that probably kept their focus off of the possibility of mass combat. They did ask how far away they were from their capital, which was only a few hours to the southeast, but as Gavriil said, “We can’t just leave them here to be killed, what kind of leaders would we be then?” So they decided to take on the 24 trolls.
At that point, I *could* have told them, ‘okay, cool, so we’re now going to form the four of you into an army unit– you’ll have an ACR of 1/2.’ To be honest, that didn’t really occur to me at the time– only after they had split up and were walking towards the trolls did I figure out what I probably should have done there. Still– the group held their own, and were able to take out a number of the trolls during the approach, since they had no real ranged weapons to speak of. The Gunslinger is almost always instant death to at least one, maybe two trolls on her turn if they’d already been wounded, and the Arcanist used a spell to give her fire damage on her bullets, meaning they’d stay down.
The situation right now…the trolls have surrounded the party, and will get a nice full three attacks per troll. Noruas’ AC is high enough that most of the attacks that aren’t crits won’t hit her, but the rest of the group is reasonably vulnerable to the large amount of damage heading their way. I will say however, so far none of them got Rend damage, because somehow at least one claw attack would always miss– probably good that way I suppose, because a bit more damage and Gavriil would have left the land of the living instead of just being in the negatives. Because of wands and spells, three of the four party members can perform at least some kind of healing, but the amount of healing compared to amount of damage is unlikely to get them out of this alone.
I can’t make predictions about the future, but…there are still a little over a dozen trolls left to kill, almost all of them undamaged, and they’re surrounding the group. I don’t think the party will win this fight, but that’s okay– I think it could lead to some really interesting developments. If they’re all taken into the negatives, I’ll have them captured– the troll general will finish sacking the farm, take his captives, and make his way back to Hargulka’s stronghold. Some of the farmhands that had been captured have already started making their escape as the trolls attention was drawn to the PC’s– this means that the kingdom will be alerted to the capture of their leaders. This gives me some more options– the PC’s can attempt to escape from Hargulka’s stronghold on their own, or the kingdom can send their army after the trolls to get the party back, or perhaps the kingdom will bargain with Hargulka; give us our leaders back and we’ll give you some of our land. Because of the effect that last one could have upon the kingdom stats, I’d probably ask the party for their input on that before it happened; Gavriil’s player in particular would likely campaign hard against that outcome.
So there’s where we’re at– tomorrow night, we find out what fate will befall the party!