We ended the last game with an Orc barbarian wandering up to a camp full of soldiers to pick a fight, and I then spent most of the week fielding messages from players alternately trying to bounce tactical ideas, set up backup characters or generally gibber in anticipation of what promised to be an epic set piece of mayhem and destruction.
Me? I had to scramble to work out some tactics for a group of fanatical Emerald Claw soldiers while also recovering from the bug that had killed my voice. It was also a long weekend for the bank holiday and we had my daughter staying over, so there’s only so much I could get away with poring over maps and notes between swanning round Thorpe Park roller-coasters and playing games on the XBox. I know, excuses excuses.
Anticipation from my players began to bubble over as the start time neared, which as a GM is always gratifying, if somewhat scary to know that there’s expectations to meet. We started (after a bit of the usual scurrying back and forth to get invites out for the Hangout) by basically diving straight into the combat.
As a whirling dervish of destruction, Koff certainly drew everyone’s attention, cleaving through soldiers and zombies and soaking up those hits that managed to land. It soon became apparent that the party was more skilled than their opponents, but the sheer weight of numbers was evening the odds. The rest of the group hurried to catch up and began picking off defenders and attempting to flank their enemies.
From one point of view the combat was a meat-grinder of attrition, a brutal hand to hand slog in close quarters among the ruins. From another it became a series of separate stories for the characters as they spread out and drew their opponents to them so that the ruined buildings broke up their ability to make massed attacks. Sleep spells, sound bursts, and clerical turning helped even the odds while both sides inflicted critical hits on each other to varying degrees of effectiveness. One of the druids summoned a dire bat that successfully harried one of the flanks of the battle, while the enemy spell casters were quickly identified and neutralised, minimising their effectiveness.
With all these spells going off, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would get caught up in the areas of effect – and so special mention goes to Koff who got caught in one of the cleric’s sound burst spells while he was raging. He shrugged off the stunning effects, slew the stunned soldiers around him and came close to picking up the hapless halfling and beating his other opponents with her. The tides of battle, and the wolf she was riding, carried them apart before anything could happen beyond the tears of laughter that gripped us all, and Koff succumbed to his wounds as his rage subsided. Fortunately, the battle was pretty much won by then, so he was quickly stabilised by the bard, and as the last soldier fell we called it a night.
Next week: picking up the pieces and continuing to explore the ruins in search of clues to finding the lost Cannith research outpost