Home > D&D > Catt’s 4E: The Liberation of Winterhaven

Catt’s 4E: The Liberation of Winterhaven

Previously in Winterhaven…

Having defended Winterhaven Keep from the Iron Circle’s seige, Lord Padraig sent the heroes to Albridge to recruit reinforcements. They made their way beneath the castle, through the tomb of Prator (a Wandering Warrior who was thought to be mythological), and emerged near Albridge – which was also occupied by Iron Circle mercenaries. Through stealth and disguise, they met with Dar Gremath, the stable manager, and Reithann, the druid. While the heroes followed Reithann’s advice and won the aid of Bran Torsson’s soldiers and the Reedfoot halflings by defeating a tribe of bullywugs, the stubborn Dar Gremath (intent on guerrilla warfare against the Iron Circle) liberated Albridge at great cost to the resistance rebels. The heroes then won much needed aid from the Woodsinger Elves by defeating Yisarn, a skeletal mage, deep within their forest. The rebel army has now marched to Winterhaven Commons and begun open warfare with the entrenched Iron Circle!

The Heroes begin this session at Level 4 / 3915 XP (813 XP this session)

And now…

With the battle hanging in the balance and much of Winterhaven Commons burning, the heroes saw the rebel banner faltering across the battlefield. Dar Gremath, overwhelmed by mercenaries, was making his final stand. A group of lron Circle soldiers and two scaly humanoids with horns, tails, and globs of buming pitch dripping from their taloned hands watched as Dar was cuffed to the ground by a massively muscled human warrior in scale armor. Looking up the warrior saw the heroes.

“You!” the enemy lord cried. “You are the ones who have caused me so much troublel Know now that you face Lord Nazin Redthorn, champion of the Iron Circle. With your deaths my victory is assured!”

The heroes, though harried by the Tar Devils and a sneaky cut-throat, overcame the soldiers, but Redthorn escaped with the unconscious Dar. He was seen entering Winterhaven Keep, now fallen to Iron Circle control. The battle was won, but at great cost – much of Winterhaven Commons was burning or in ruin.

To rescue Dar, the adventurers now had to find a way to get into the very Keep they had recently (and so easily) defended. At first, Akhan attempted to quietly breach the wall of the keep to surreptitiously open a postern gate. But he was defeated by the daunting climb up the castle wall.

Noting that the Iron Circle garrison imports wagonloads of stolen goods every day, the heroes hid themselves in a supply wagon. The small one-horse wagon had enough room to conceal Akhan (in a potato sack) and the dwarves (in ale barrels), while Finneal posed as the peasant mule skinner. Approaching the closed castle’s gate, a bored-looking guard called out of one of the arrow slits in the gatehouse, “Hold on! What have you got there?” Through Finneal’s bluff, bluster, and a well-timed ‘ghost sound’ spell (imitating Redthorn) along with the steely resolve of the dwarves and elf, the party gained the keep’s kitchen and set up an ambush in the mess hall.

The elite guard and their hounds were the first to eat. The heroes, posing as other mercenaries eating, ambushed the guard and not only won the day but secured a Bag of Holding. Next, the keep’s 1st archer unit entered the mess hall and was defeated, but not before the alarm was raised. Fighting through dozens of archers, the heroes took to the walls and fought their way toward the Great Tower. Breaking through the barred door, they defeated the guards and remaining sentries then ran down to the Gaol. There, a priest, tar devil and guards held them at bay until the heroes were able to push some of their foes into the blazing hearth at the back of the room.

In the cells beyond, the heroes found Lord Padraig – beaten and bruised, but alive. Padraig told them of the secret stair that led to his chambers on the top floor (now occupied by Redthorn) and then escaped with the servants out the postern gate.

Upon opening the secret door, the heroes found themselves in a spacious suite that clearly belonged to the master of the keep. Comfortable carpets covered the wooden floor, and various tapestries and paintings hung on the walls. Across the room was a large canopy bed. The enemies in the room were all focused on a door across the room ready for an attack. Near the door was hobgoblin with a Morningstar. And at a table nearest the heroes stood a priest in Iron Circle scarlet and a tall, massively muscled man with short red hair and a great three-headed flail at his side – Nazin Redthorn.

After withstanding their first round of assaults, the warlord of the Iron Circle looked at them with contempt. “You think you’ve defeated us?” he snarled. “You are rabbits in the wolf’s den. We’ll hang your corpses from the battlements along with your old friend!” With that he tossed something that rolled awkwardly at their feet – Dar Gremath’s head!

A furious battle ensued, made all the worse when the door to the bedroom flew open and two more hobgoblin guards joined the fray. Already spent from the long battle through the keep, the weary heroes were first able to dispatch the priest, but not before he lashed out with a fiery burst of tendrils. Likewise, with a roar, Redthorn blasted the heroes with infernal flames that both dazed them and emboldened their enemies. The heroes dealt more heavy blows spread out among the hobgoblins and Redthorn – and were able to drop one of the hobgoblins. As Finneal moved from corner to corner desperately trying to cast, Akhan and Dau’um fell – but not before getting in their last blows and a final bit of healing on the pair of heroes that remained. With a final burst of arcane energy and the swing of an axe, Redthorn and the second hobgoblin both fell. Seeing his mates fall, the final bloodied hobgoblin surrendered and the battle was won!

With their friends revived, the heroes searched through the treasure room to find a Sunblade (+1), Boots of Elvenkind, and a Climber’s Rope Arrow.

The Heroes end this session at Level 4 / 5177 XP (1262 XP this session)

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  1. richgreen01
    June 10, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Your campaign looks like a lot of fun! I’m also running Reavers of Harkenwold but more or less as written. Will keep an eye on your posts for hints and tips 😉

  2. June 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks Rich! As a first time DM, I’m having a great time prepping for the games and trying to develop my own “style.” Right now the challenge is trying to balance a number of DM computer resources against a more free-flowing theatrical style – I’m tending toward the former and working to develop the latter.

    • richgreen01
      June 13, 2013 at 2:22 am

      That sounds interesting. What computer resources are you using?

  3. June 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I use PowerPoint and a digital projection light table for maps (the guys have minis), Masterplan for running my encounters (absolutely awesome PC tool by the way), then juggle in an excel spreadsheet for tracking XP, treasure parcels, etc. I normally have the Compendium open also for quick rules look ups. Overall it’s pretty “left brain” stuff especially when you throw in managing initiative tent card hangers on top of a DM screen (for the players benefit).

    The last couple of sessions I introduced some theme-appropriate music to try to balance all that analytical tendency. But I need to focus on showmanship and theatrics a bit more and the math a bit less!

    • richgreen01
      June 16, 2013 at 3:13 am

      Wow, that sounds amazing! We use minis too, but mostly with (often badly drawn) sketches on a battlemat or Tact-Tiles, or WotC poster maps and Dungeon tiles if we have the right ones. Initiative is tracked on a Gamemastery combat pad, and everything else on paper, although one of my players uses his iphone and ipad for his character.

      I’ve always found music a bit tricky and best used sparingly. It was really effective when we played Horror on the Orient Express for Cthulhu to convey the different cities – the opera in Milan, the souks in Istanbul etc. Harder to get right in D&D but I did play a little Irish jig on ipad last session when the PCs were charmed by some grigs!

  4. June 16, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Some of my crew have also had some luck with using iPlay4E on their tablets and it does seem to speed up their turns. And I liked the Gamemastery pad a lot before we went digital.

    Tiles are great! I still use them if I want to pre-build an encounter that has 3D elements (platforms, stairs, etc). Black foam core and poster tack is great for locking everything in place so I can stash the works away for the “big reveal.”

    So far the music has been pretty subtle. I play it continuously and rather quietly so it doesn’t dominate conversation. I’ve got play lists titled “Exploration,” “Spooky,” “Castle” (mostly songs with trumpet fanfares), “Cathedral” (monk chants) and the obligatory “Tavern” (lutes, strings, etc). I’ve also thrown in the soundtracks from Braveheart and LOTRO and they seemed to go over well (from the recognition factor alone). I don’t control it from the PC – just keep a music remote nearby to grab new playlists on the fly. Surprisingly, the music from the soundtracks seems to randomly sync up with the action quite often (or at least we notice it more when it does).

    Any suggestions for story-telling? As you can probably tell, I use a lot of this stuff as a crutch since my story-telling is a bit… well, stiff.

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