Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Time of the Tarrasque #12: Alarming Some Orcs

Our heroes include:
  • Edel Naergon, high elf bard (magician) 3.
  • Fatou, human wizard (evoker) 2/cleric of Yaziel 1; and Nochaesh, owl familiar.
  • Jubair, human rogue 3.
  • Jumari Boneface, half-orc inquisitor 3 [deity not yet known to most of the PCs].
  • Lucretia Scavola, half-elf monk (zen archer) 3.
  • ZhaZha, half-orc cavalier (order of the dragon) 3; and Zafira, camel mount.
Last time, our heroes captured Tarifa, a halfling witch who had been spying on Spine Hollow for the Ghost Fist Clan. They delivered their prisoner to the settlement's druid leaders. The interrogation provided more information on the Ghost Fists and their leaders, and confirmed that this orc tribe worships the death god Asmolon.

After the party had a good long rest, they were called to speak with Razima again. She thanked the party for their deeds of the previous night, and informed them that Tarifa had provided more details on where Ilgash's secret hideout was located. Razima had recognized enough of the landmarks to give directions to Tailless, who would lead the party there to deal with the orcs. Spine Hollow's resources are very limited, but she asked if there was anything they could provide to help. Jumari requested healing potions, and the druids were able to supply two, as well as food and water.

Tailless said that it would take a little over a day to reach the cave, which was found in a branching ravine is some rocky badlands. Near the center of this ravine was the spring and a cave used by the orcs.

They traveled at night (with ample light from the moon, which was still full). Once Tailless informed them that they were only a couple hours' travel from the ravine, they decided to send scouts ahead while it was still dark, but to delay their attack on the hideout until daylight. Jumari and ZhaZha were aware that many of the desert's orc tribes have adapted to the daylight, so they could not count on bright light impairing their foes. However, the orcs would have a distinct advantage over most of the party at night, so they decided it would still be best to attack in daylight.

Jubair and Lucretia scouted ahead and found the ravine, while ZhaZha patroled on camel-back closer to the rest of the party. The rogue and monk entered the ravine, and reached the fork without problems, Here, they saw a spring trickling from the side of the ravine to form a small pool. They also saw a cave beyond it, and a single orc standing guard upon a rocky spire that gave a view of all three approaches. The sentry did not appear to be very attentive, however, and did not spot them.

Map of the ravine and hideout entrance. (Based on "BG-Desert-04," by gogot at Deviant Art.

They returned to the others, and Lucretia (who had some training in tactics) reported what they found, and started the discussion of how to best approach the orcs. The party agreed that they needed to lure the orcs out of their cave in order to kill them. They decided that a distraction was needed, so chose to split the party: ZhaZha would scout around to find the southern entrance to the ravine, and she and Tailless (riding her axebeak, Cluck) would enter from that direction. ZhaZha suggested they use the axebeak's cry as a signal that they were in position and ready to attack. In addition, Fatou send her owl familiar with the riders; she would know they were close (within a mile) when her empathic link reestablished itself.

The assault begins!
The group on foot entered the ravine, and reached the branch without being spotted by the sentry. They heard the jingling of (ZhaZha's) armor from the south. So did the sentry, who moved back out of sight. Seeing this, Jumari cast shield of faith upon herself in preparation for a fight. The sounds of this might have also alerted the guard.

Lucretia began climbing the shelves at the base of the spire in order to reach the sentry's previous position. She had some trouble getting purchase, until Jubair climbed up and gave her a boost.

Tailless had Cluck squawk a call, and rushed forward to the intersection. The cave was located in a nearby cul-de-sac, so Edel cast grease on the ground at the narrowest part of this passage.  Jumari cast expeditious retreat upon herself and rushed to the opposite side of the spire, where a rough ramp allowed the sentry to reach the bottom. The orc cast bane on the party, but only Edel was affected. Fatou then moved forward and cast sleep upon the sentry.

The trapped orcs on the defensive.
Jumari was able to dimly see at least one orc standing just inside the cave. She heaped insults upon the orcs, to which they answered by shooting at her. Another orc rushed out and moved to engage the inquisitor. ZhaZha and Tailless reached the scene and dismounted, because there was no room for their animals. The cavalier promptly moved in to flank the orc warrior--a barbarian, who was starting to rage. Meanwhile, Jubair sneak attacked the sleeping sentry to make sure he wouldn't wake up.

The orcs' leader attempted to cast sleep on Jumari and failed. Lucretia, who had moved to the top of the spire, shot this orc and took her down with a nasty critical hit. Jumari could faintly heard a shocked exclamation in Orcish about "Ilgash" going down, but then a masked, robed figure began tending to the fallen leader.

Two more orcs joined the fray outside--a lightly armored thug with a greatclub, and a warrior with scalemail and a scimitar. The orc barbarian struck ZhaZha hard with his falchion, but her return blow dropped him.

Jubair jumped down from the spire's ramp, and used some small ledges on the ravine wall near the cave to bypass the central melee in the cul-de-sac. The masked figure retreated into the cave, out of sight, so Jubair rushed into the cave to deal with it.

Edel cast a second grease spell, which toppled both of the orcs still standing outside. The greatclub wielder tried to stand but was cut down by attacks of opportunity. Jumair passed over the greased area, but stayed upright, and beheaded the barbarian.

Ilgash (with mohawk) returns to the fight.
At this point, Ilgash stood up once again, partially healed and angry. She tried to cast cause fear on Jumari, but failed. Lucretia shot her and Tailless stabbed her, finally dropping her for good. The masked person spotted Jubair next to him the cave, and cast a surprisingly feeble burning hands. Jubair took him down quickly after that.

This left no conscious foes on the field. The party checked the bodies to see if any survived. Two did--Ilgash herself, and the barbarian--so the heroes stabilized them to interrogate. The party then took some time to catch their breaths and search the bodies and the cave.

Edel detected no magic on the orcs beyond a single potion, but some of them had a masterwork weapon or armor.

The cave was big enough to fit a dozen or so filthy bedrolls, a few barrels (one holding water, one holding some unappetizing dried food, one holding spare javelins) and a large flat rock that looks like it was used to prepare food and such. They found a disguise kit near one of the bedrolls, and a small pouch of gold in another. Finally, a very long pole with a tattered banner (a crudely painted white fist) was propped against a wall near the entrance.
Last orc down.

The orcs: (front, L-R): sentry, Ilgash, barbarian;
(rear, L-R): warrior, thug, masked spellcaster.

Appendix: Previous Sessions

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