Jul 17 2017

A Grassy, Wind-Swept Sandbox Full of Giants, Part Two

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Ghost Martyr Paladin by SpiralMagus
Ghost Martyr Paladin
by SpiralMagus

“So there we were, locked in a dungeon with a stone giant.” Carrying on from Part One…

The new phase of the campaign really began with the first session down in Kolstaag Albrek’s dungeon. Inkblitz’s new character was introduced to the rest of the party (“A talking griffon? Neat. I’m a five foot tall flying squirrel!”), as was their erstwhile guard, Xerlo the stone giant, whose first line was a straightforward, “If you try to escape, I will kill you,” but who seemed more interested in scribbling on the floor than anything.

But he was willing to chat, assuming you could parse his mode of speech. Riffing on the idea that stone giants are sort of the hippie-dippie mystics of giantkind, I decided that Xerlo didn’t care about things like “good” or “evil,” but was only interested in what was “true” or “untrue,” and that he was on a vision quest to find out what was really going on with the breaking of the Ordning– because he didn’t believe that the stone giant thane’s interpretation (“We must destroy every town, city, or building of the little folk!”) was correct. I chose a stone giant particularly because, being inherently neutral, he could be a wild card. The players could recruit him or fight him, but it would be their choice and an impactful one.

They decided at first, once they’d gotten the gist of what he was about, to basically leave him alone, and that was probably a good call. They also worked out that while he was completely serious that he would kill them if they tried to go out the front door, there was also a back door that he apparently couldn’t see and wasn’t aware of.

So, being the mighty heroes they were, they slipped out the back, and again, that was a good call. They managed to scrounge up some sharp bits of broken metal or rusted bars from the cell doors to make crude weapons, and plunged into the depths. They found an old series of vaults that either Kolstaag didn’t know about or wasn’t interested in, origin and purpose unknown, populated by orcs, whom they avoided, but who were also between them and the exit.

They also caught glimpses of a ghostly figure in the darkness, but figured a ghost that you could talk to was more likely to be something you could deal with than a whole tribe of orcs when you had no armor and improvised shivs.

The ghost was not so keen to talk at first. In fact, if I remember my exact words, they were, “The ghost attempts to possess Togar, because he is an idiot!” The possession failed (whatever else you want to say about them, paladins are good at making saving throws), leaving them confronted with a confused and upset ghost. He informed them that his name was Hathas, he was a fallen paladin of Hieroneous, with a quest to find the sword of Harthos Zymorven to restore his paladinhood, and that he had come to see Kolstaag Albrek about… something he couldn’t remember… only to be knocked out and locked in the dungeon just like they had been, and subsequently died. They remembered seeing the bits left of his skeleton in the dungeon cells, and were appropriately creeped out.

(Yes, yes, I know. Hathas and Harthos? I could have chosen a better name for the ghost. But all I have to say is: Sauron/Saruman Theoden/Denethor Fili/Kili Bifur/Bofur/Bombur. Professor Tolkien did all right for himself, didn’t he? Cut me some slack. ;P)

In Storm King’s Thunder Harthos Zymorven is a random lord in a keep populated by animated furniture… and that’s it. The quest consists of “go to his keep and ask for the sword,” which isn’t the most epic thing int he world. To be honest, I had completely forgotten who Harthos Zymorven was supposed to be by the time I was actually running the encounter, so when one of the players asked if they recognized the name and gave a really good History check, I made up on the spot that he was a great hero of the north who sort of dropped out of sight twenty years ago.

The players made a deal with the ghost: if he would help them get out of the dungeon, they would help him finish his quest from beyond the grave. Hathas readily agreed to this, but was at a loss for something to do. The players suggested that he go possess an orc and wreak havoc, to which he immediately brightened up, said, “I can do that!” and whisked off into the darkness. A few minutes later they heard a lot of shouting and turmoil from the orcish warrens, which gratified them.

The party tromped on into a cave complex connected to the vaults, where they found and defeated a roper and its piercer… children? While they were resting from that, they were disturbed by a troll trying to squeeze its way through the passage to get to them. When they prepared to attack, the troll shouted, “Wait, wait, it’s me, Hathas!”

With their new ghost-in-a-troll ally, the party made short work of the remaining orcs and the troll’s former roommate, an ogre who obviously felt very betrayed about the whole thing. They then headed up to the surface, armed with orc weapons and armor and setting their sights on Kolstaag Albrek’s house.

They will confront the wizard in part three!

-The Gneech

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