Rise of the Runelords, Chapter 2.9

After many game sessions, we finally managed the finale of Chapter 2, with the group facing the snake behind the scenes.  In the previous session, the group had tracked the villain’s plot to the Shadow Clock, located in the Underbridge region of Magnimar.  After dealing with the golem guardian at the base, they ascended the tower, only to be nearly killed when the tower bell was released and dropped on the group.  As the group recovered, they split up, with several scattered in the tower interior, but the barbarian and druid rapidly reaching the top.

As we began the session, we unfortunately discovered that a large portion of the group would be unavailable.  This removed the monk, the bard, the rogue, and the barbarian from the events, though we still had more than enough with 6 remaining players.  In particular, the barbarian was directly involved, so it required a bit of GM-fiat to cover the situation.

As the barbarian and druid reached the top of the tower, they were set upon by the villain Xanesha, a powerful Lamia Matriarch.  Hiding off the tower, invisible and flying, she quickly used her magical items to paralyze the barbarian (who auto-failed the save due to failing to attend).  This left the hapless druid to face the threat, while the rest of the group, some distance below in the tower, raced to try to reach him.  Initially, the druid opted to try to bluff his way out, but Xanesha was too smart, and instead attempted a charm spell (which failed).  This then lead to a more aggressive stance, as the serpent lashed out at the druid with her trident, nearly slaying the druid on the first strikes.  The druid responded by changing form into a dire bear, and struck back at the monster, as Droogami, his faithful leopard managed to finally reach to top of the tower.

Together they fought a defensive fight, while the rest of the group arrived.  Though the damage to the group was significant, they actually managed to push Xanesha off of the tower (where she hovered with a fly spell).  There, the wizard launched a lightning bolt (and was quickly targeted and downed by a pair of flame bolts), and the group changed to ranged attacks.  The priest, arriving a bit late, quickly started to heal the group, which revived the wizard enough for him to cast a dispel magic spell, which succeeded in cancelling Xanesha’s fly spell.  As the serpent fell the 300 feet from the sky to the streets below, the group started to regroup and heal.

Unfortunately, Xanesha used a feather fall spell, and landed safely, though even less happy with the intruders in her lair.  Using her healing spells, she quickly healed the damage, and made the long trek back up the tower.  Meanwhile the group did similar, preparing a couple of defensive spells, and healing everyone back to full.

The second round of the fight went much differently.  Many of the serious spells had already been used by the group, so the warriors (paladin and fighter) engaged in melee, to hold off Xanesha.  This quickly turned into a losing plan, as the damage the Matriarch could do was immense, and her high reflexes dodges all of the spells and attacks thrown at her.  The priest moved in to provide healing, while the ranger fired his borrowed shortbow (his crossbow laying at the bottom of the tower after the earlier fall from the bell).

Without a solid plan, and with no good alternatives, the priest attempted a desperate action, and attempted Hold Person spell.  Everyone watched anxiously as Xanesha made her save (she only need a 6 to succeed), and there was a cheer of excitement when the dice showed a 5 (after I explained exactly what that meant).  The paladin acted next, and summarily executed the Lamia Matriarch, finishing the fight.

In the end, after collecting the treasure and loot, the group ended up with several potent and useful magic items, a decent amount of coin, and several answers to the mysteries of the story.  Unfortunately, they also found more questions, after discovering another note, written from Xanesha’s older sister, and referencing the town of Turtleback Ferry and Fort Rannick, far to the east on the Varisian frontier.  Apparently, the sister is actively engaged in a similar, but much more extensive operation, harvesting the Greed of the inhabitants in the region.

Addendum:

Those knowledgeable with the Pathfinder rules may have noticed my error in the fight – Hold Person can only be used against humanoids, and a Monstrous Humanoid is not considered a humanoid – they are considered a different classification.  As such, the spell would not have worked (and the caster would have realized that), and the fight would have continued.  However, everyone had fun, and it was a long shot regardless, so no sense backtracking the story.

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