The Battle for Monton, The Backwater Gambit Campaign Diary 13

 

For this adventure, I explored the site DriveThruRPG.com looking at building models I could assemble using card stock paper. I found a slew of designs that were so much more affordable than your standard plastic models. So, I put together this section of the town of Monton where the party was going to be adventuring. Here we see the town’s temple to Pelor (the blue roof chapel) and the boarding house where the party as been staying (the tavern with the balcony). I also found an old portable chess set of mine realizing the pieces were rather perfect scale for minis–a king from this set is on a small platform serving as the statue of the old margrave.

 

The Battle for Monton, Chapter 12

Part 1

 

After the previous day’s battle against the gnoll horde, the party went to the boarding house in Monton to rest deciding to confront the fallout in the morning. Unfortunately, morning comes for the party in the pre-dawn hours when acolytes from the temple of Pelor arrive waking the party and telling them their presence is requested by the high priest Amoros Twinge. During the night, Asher and Pras decided to travel to Foxon to secure the arrival of the mercenary group The Hundred (the players of these characters weren’t able to make it this night).

Still sore and tired, the party assembles an arrives at the temple. On their way out of the boarding house, they notice a surge of activity. Arriving at the temple, the townsfolk are rushing in many carrying what look like packs and sacks hastily stuffed with their most precious worldly belongings. The interior of the temple is nearly full with townsfolk, individuals and families are huddled along the pews and in the niches throughout the temple. An acolyte takes the party through the mass of bodies to Twinge’s chamber where the priest is busy stuffing items into bureaus and cupboards. He turns to the party and is stunningly lucid compared to the last time the group talked to him.

Twinge explains he and Karen have been taking actions to protect Monton believing the gnoll attack was only the first move against the town. He reveals to the party there are passages similar to the one going to the palace grounds connecting the temple, the boarding house, and mayor’s mansion (the three largest building in Monton). Citizens are being rallied up and housed in each building leaving their homes and businesses empty. Bunkering for safety, if a particular building looks like it’s going to be overrun or is in danger of being destroyed, then the people will use the secret passage to go to the next building and so on. If the last building looks as though it’ll fall, the people try to escape into the woods and head to Foxon.

These passages don’t connect with the passage to the palace grounds. The entrances to each are well hidden in each building and are very unlikely to be found if the building is overtaken or destroyed. As a precaution, each entrance has a fail safe measure that will collapse it preventing anyone from following. Twinge pleads with the party to stay and help defend the town. The group agrees, and Twinge sends them on to talk with Karen about the town’s defenses.

Before leaving, Jorg inquires about his lycanthropy curse. Twinge explains that because he was bitten and cursed by a were-gnoll, a completely unheard of creature, he can’t cast Remove Curse and simply cure him. Instead, if Jorg wants the curse lifted, then he’ll have to visit the three witches who live in the northern Corse Ruins. The Sparing Ones are the most benign of the witches inhabiting the county living in the Corse Ruins. The Hag Coven was mysteriously driven from their coven in the southwest of the county, and there is a darker coven in the ruins in the southeast. The Sparing Ones have never attacked or done anything of evil intent to the people of the county. They have never left the ruins but every force that has gone there to challenge them or defeat them have never been heard from again. What reputation they do have is of granting boons but at a cost that is either great or greatly uncomfortable. Twinge also explains to Jorg that, if he chooses, he can live with the curse and slowly grow to control it but doing so will take a long time and be difficult.

Putting on his acolyte’s robes, John asks Twinge is there anything more he can do. Twinge gives him a folded and sealed Letter of Introduction to Nazos Farseer, the Peloran bishop for the county. The letter will grant the party an audience with the bishop and explain their value to and accomplishments for the towns and churches.

Leaving the temple, the party almost immediately encounters Karen who is frantically issuing commands and trying to keep the now much more chaotic preparations under control. She explains over the night she has had her men dig trenches and create barriers on the south end of town nearest the palace grounds. Hearing the party is on-board to aid the town, she task them with protecting the section of town they are in encompassing the boarding house and chapel among other smaller buildings. She gives the party ten guards to command. However, they are conscripts lacking any significant skill (AC: 10, HP: 10, each has a spear as a weapon, and no bonuses). Karen will be commanding the town’s forces to the south. If the party needs her, she explains, she’ll come as quickly as she can. Giving Nym an item looking like a torch, Karen explains you light it and throw it up as high as possible and it will be the signal to let her know to come. She also explains she’s heard back from the messenger who returned earlier in the morning nearly destroyed with exhaustion. The Hundred have agreed to come to support, but they can’t be expected to arrive until the next morning at the earliest.

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Karen departs and the party spend the next few hours arranging the guards and strategizing. Nym casts Plant Growth on the forest just outside of town to hamper any movement from invaders. She also enters the edge of the forest and climbs up a tree to get into position. Jorg takes a position on the top of the temple, two guards are positioned outside the temple entrance and one is set in the bell tower, John patrols the balcony of the boarding house with two guards and three between the entrances to it on the ground, and Roben moves deeper into the town with a pair of guards. Once the party is set, they wait.

It is mid-afternoon on a bright, clear day when a huge fire ball launches out of the forest towards Monton. It soars over the heads of the party who watch as it lands on a draft house exploding into flames setting the building on fire. The party directs some guards to try to work to put the fire out (each guard needs to roll a 15 or better to douse the flames and must do so 4 times or else the fire spreads to another building while destroying the one where the fire began). Jorg with the best position to see can make out birds fleeing and the trees swaying as what must be part of the hobgoblin army approaches. It seems they have at least one catapult launching flaming spheres.

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Nym sees the approaching hobgoblins each armed with a shield and a short sword struggling to advance on Monton due to the hindering Plant Growth spell. Once they are in range, she casts Call Lightning striking out at the nearest units. Jorg and Roben set themselves to moving forward and commanding/directing the guards to put out the fire. John then uses his own spellcasting to strike out at the hobgoblins withing range of the balcony. The foot soldiers take significant damage and while the sorcerer and druid are able to defeat the first line there is a seemingly unending wave of hobgoblins coming trudging through the woods.

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The catapult though far enough away to be unseen launches another fire sphere striking the building behind the one currently ablaze. More soldiers are very slowly closing in. Jorg shoots a Hydra Arrow randomly in the direction of the hobgoblins. Because it fails to hit, a Skeleton arises from it looking to attack the nearest living creature (a hobgoblin). Jorg keeps shooting his Hydra Arrows hoping to either hit or create Skeletons for the soldiers to deal with. Coming from farther back, Roben rushes through town to join Nym and John.

Another fire sphere launches but flies over the town completely missing. As the hobgoblins approach, they break up into two units–one moving towards Nym and John at the boarding house, the other heading towards the chapel. The party can make out a captain commanding the two units. John leaves the half-cover of the balcony to move closer to the soldiers. As the battle goes on, he casts Shatter, Fire Bolt, and Scorching Ray thinning the ranks of the hobgoblins significantly alongside Nym whose Call Lightning spell is massively successful in keeping the hobgoblin army from advancing into Monton.

Hobgoblin archers have come near enough to strike out at the party. A catapult launch strikes the temple setting it’s front aflame. John calls out to a guard to get Twinge, a wizard who maybe able to help with the fires (the player is in command of Twinge’s character and knows he has Control Flames, however when Twinge appears is under DM’s control). Jorg with flames now obscuring his view launches one more arrow (he is out of Hydra Arrows) and leaps down from the temple roof to join the fray on the ground. Roben has now made up the distance between himself and the others and is rushing into battle with an eye towards taking out the catapult.

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Reaching the forest, Roben finds himself just as encumbered as the hobgoblins by Nym’s spell. He decides to use his Aasimar Protector racial ability to fly over the ground as he does so, he ignites his Sun Blade. Engaging the hobgoblin archers, Roben successfully decimates their ranks. At this moment, with Nym, John, Jorg, and Roben all engaged with the hobgoblin army in the forest, they hear a concussive explosion coming from the tower where the passage to the palace grounds is. Looking over their shoulders and towards the boom, the party (all but Roben who is too deep into the forest to make it out) see a great black cloud arise from the tower and the familiar yet terrifying sound of feral gnolls bursting forth.

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With the return of the gnolls, the party decides to signal for Karen. Nym sets off the flare and tosses it up as high as she can from the tree she’s in–a huge black cloud explodes in the sky. Nym, John, and Jorg pull out of the forest deciding to engage the gnolls that are now coming into their section of town. As Roben continues to fight, the hobgoblins begin to withdraw deeper into the forest towards the catapult. Able to make out the forces around the catapult, Roben can see there is a significant legion of hobgoblins and gnolls on chains around the catapult.

In the town proper, Twinge emerges from the temple just as the fire on it is extinguished. The guards have failed to save two buildings but only one is currently still on fire. The gnolls flood the streets pouncing on the guards. Karen and five regular militia guards (AC:12 wielding shields and short swords) can be seen just behind the gnolls coming to the party’s call. As the party engages with the gnolls, they lose several guards. Twinge casts Sunbeam turning several gnolls to ash and returning to the boarding house balcony, John and Jorg are able to do ranged damage to several.

The fighting continues when suddenly a swirl of black, smoke-like ribbons spin up near the margrave statue. The momentary storm dissipates revealing two Drow, one mage and one elite warrior, the hobgoblin warlord and the Gnoll Fang of Yeenoghu he keeps on a chain as a ‘pet.’

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The Drow Mage casts some kind of spell–the party can’t see if he was using an item, scroll, or normal casting–that shoots out an iridescent beam up into the sky. The beam rises then begins to arch downwards as though pouring a liquid over the entire town. Soon, there is a nearly transparent dome around the entire town. John calls out to Twinge asking what kind of spell this is. Twinge is flummoxed. He says he thinks its some version of Leomund’s Tiny Hut, but he’s never seen it to this degree before and it doesn’t make sense that the Drow Mage could cast such a variation. With the spell casts, Twinge begins to fall into the dementia the party first saw in him as he confusedly tries to make sense of what he’s seeing.

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With Twinge, Karen, new guards, gnolls, and these new baddies present, the party re-rolls initiative as they’ve entered the second stage of the battle. Twinge is able to cast Wall of Fire around the new baddies. However, the Drow Mage is able to get off Greater Invisibility before anyone can really react and disappears. The party engages the new foes centering their ire on the Drow Elite Warrior.

Realizing he can’t take out the catapult, Roben finishes off the hobgoblins around him and begins to move back towards the town. Before he turns away, he blindly launches two Hydra Arrows into the legion next to the catapult–two skeletons arise. Moving towards town, Roben sees a giant black dome now covering it.

Nym down out of her tree enters the boarding house, rushes through, and out the other door where she pulls out her Javelin of Lightning to do damage to gnolls and the Drow Elite Warrior. 

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Jorg, John, and Karen all do hard damage to the gnolls and Drow. The Warlord and Fang focus their attacks on Twinge as does the Drow Elite Warrior. Pushing hard, the party sees another fire sphere go flying low over the town but missing any buildings. The Drow Mage appears again behind Twinge. Holding high a dagger from which are spiraling out wispy looking strands of cold, the Drow Mage plunges it into Twinges back. The old priest falls to his knees. With his last breaths he calls over the nearest party member, Jorg, and points to the statue of the margrave the life slips out of him as he gasps,

“Barabad. Say his name.”

 

The adventure ends for the night to be picked up next time…

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