Our heroes rested in the safety of the Lich’s tomb (not a sentence you get to use very often).
The Lich had left Jock with disturbing visions and whispered promises of power that left the Kaledonian with troubled dreams. [GM: Holly decided to accept 4 levels of Warlock, leaving Jock as Ranger 5 / Warlock 4]. The Lich, Arghul Norimass was expecting to “ASCEND” to the next level of existence once his purpose was completed (the launching of the Great Ship), so he will become the Warlock Patron for Jock.
Clayton also had a hard day as the Lich gave him a crash course in the religion of Torkas, Lord of Storms – via a mental transfer of training. [GM: Because of the way multi-classing works in 5E, as a Ranger 8 / Cleric 1, Clayton now uses the number of spell slots from the multi-classing table, but can only prepare the number of spells as usual, and can only cast Cantrips and First-level Cleric spells, but can cast up to 2nd level Ranger spells. He gets the slots as though he was a 5th-level caster (half Ranger level and full cleric level)]
After eight hours, Davidian made an unexpected suggestion! “Norimass has a Teleportation Circle at the Gate of Norimass, his family home…" This was the Fort, embedded in the wall between the mushroom forests and the Great Stair. About five days earlier, they had fought their way past a few gargoyles and a small force of orcs. The place had been mostly abandonded as its commander – the Albino Orc priestess, Skeksis, had the rest of her troops out searching for the heroes and she was currently guarding a bridge a mile from the fort. Davidian believed he could “…take control of a pair of Helmed Horrors who were stationed by the bridge – he remembered the words used to command them when Skeksis had assumed control”.
[GM: this was a total surprise to me, but fortunately I still had the map of the Fort and the stats of the full garrison (in case the party had been captured in the mushroom forest, I had noted the typical occupants). As the player of Gaston was missing, I decided Norimass would keep him at the tomb – the fictional reason was because Gaston would probably run off looking for the Keepers who were close to that area]
The Fort itself is a wooden four-storey structure inside a sort of brick curtain wall that barricades the entire section of cavern wall and protects the only passage through to the Great Stair. It contains living quarters and stores and offices for up to 40 troops.
They teleported into the Fort about 3 hours before sunset – the time they had agreed to meet the Red Orc priest at the Tomb door in order to go to the Great Ship. Norimass’ Teleport Spell would “rubber-band” them back to the Tomb at sunset whether they had succeeded or not. He insisted that the Horn of Torkas remain with him – if they all die, he can still give it to the Red Priest and the ship can still be launched.
They had a pretty good plan – Davidian would use a Wall of Fire to block off some of the Fort and they would race through and then run for the bridge where he would take control of the Helmed Horrors while the others fought off whatever other guardians were there.
Unfortunately, the blaze got a bit out of hand and there were a couple of Hill Giants at the fort as well as a dozen or so white orcs, a couple of dire wolves and Skeksis herself!
They got delayed by the enemy and the fire began to spread through the wooden building [GM: Randomly growing 1 or 2 squares in each direction each round] until it cut off their way through.
Only Davidian had pushed forward enough to get out the far side, the burning building cut-off the rest of the group and they had to retreat, back the other way, to the Great Stair. The building collapsed behind them, blocking the gate completely.
Davidian decided to press on alone for the bridge, relying on either his own Teleportation Circle spell to get him back to the tomb, or the “rubber-band” effect of the Lich’s spell.
[GM: we ran out of time and I didn’t want to run a complex encounter for just one player, so I offered a “Saving Throw” to decide if he had been successful or perished in the attempt. Or he could just wait for the “rubber-band” teleport to take him safely back. This was pretty drastic but it was a free choice.
I had decided the Bridge was pretty well guarded and had another priestess controlling the Helmed Horrors as well as a Winter wolf and six orc warriors at either side of the bridge with 2 Dire wolves at each end. It was designed as a reasonable (not deadly) encounter for the whole party but I figured it was potential suicide for a single character.
I made the target DC 15 for an INT save and allowed Davidian advantage (for role-playing his determination to get control of these magical beings – as he had been looking for a way to do it for a few sessions – this also simulated his chance to prepare and his range of spells).
Sadly, he failed, despite the Advantage, and so I declared Davidian DEAD]
The rest of the party stayed in the Great Stair for a couple of hours and were then teleported back to Norimass at sunset.
[GM: Looking back at that “Succeed or Die” thing, it occurred to me that, due to the time constraints, I didn’t think to include a middle option, it should really have been Succeed or Fail or Die. As the roll only just failed, I’m happy to transmute the result to a FAIL. Davidian was knocked out and captured by the orcs who were waiting for him to wake up so they could begin torturing him when the “rubber-band” teleported him back to the Tomb.]
The Red Priest is already knocking on the Tomb door, eager to lead them across the city (in disguise) to the ship yard. This side-trek has left them all injured and used up precious spells, so they are not quite as well-prepared for the Launch as they had hoped.
They suspect the Red Priest, Magnus Hammerhand, wants to seize control of the ship. He will have brought a bunch of loyal red orcs to act as crew.
They also expect the three Wyverns and Lord Stagmork (the Death Knight, Tyrant lord of Shar Gazoth and first servant of Lillith) will try to stop them from escaping with the ship.