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SESSION 29: Where's the party?
The battle began and Sklooh attempted to use the terrain to his advantage, and moved towards the river. Sklooh, having very little vitality left after the previous two battles, tried to bring the combat into a trial of strength by discarding his ax and challenging the commander in wrestling. His plan was to throw the hobgoblin into the torrent and wash him away. Evidently, the warlord saw through this tactic, chastised Sklooh for surrendering his weapon, proceeded to beat Sklooh with his shield and slashed at him with his sword. Trying to maneuver into a better position, Sklooh abandoned his ax on the cave floor and the warlord tossed it into water. The panicking Lizardman decided to jump into the river in hopes of the warlord following suit. Unfortunately, Sklooh underestimated the river's power and also his exhaustion. He lost his grip and was tossed about has he plummeted downstream and found another hand-hold. The warlord simply waited from the bank. Deciding to take his chances with the river, Sklooh surrendered his grip and entrusted his life to the river. He was swept downstream and disappeared through an aperture in the cavern wall where, presumably, he was knocked unconscious on the rocks and drowned.
Igan was speechless at what he had just witnessed. Lena, who had been having words with Censer during the encounter, came back and pressed Igan for an explanation. Igan related in abject horror that his friend of some twenty years had just killed himself in a desperate ploy to avoid answering to the hobgoblin warlord. Kasj refused to believe that Sklooh was gone and resolved to remain at the river until Sklooh returned. The others were shown to their sleeping arrangements by the warlord. Igan, Lena, and Censer were shown to the camp of lesser goblins where they were provided no bedding or shelter. Lena set up a couple of alarms, and Igan went to sleep. Once Censer sleeping, Lena stealthily removed Bismuth from his possession and stowed it among her belongings. It wasn't until around this time that she realized that Sklooh had disappeared into the torrent with her mother's necklace. Confronted with the deaths of her two best friends and the loss of the only keepsake she had from her mom, she wept bitterly and collapsed under the grief.
The following morning, Censer was distraught about Bismuth being taken and presumed that it was the goblins, who had also taken their traveling-supplies. Lena had grown a unadulterated loathing for the goblins overnight. Igan led the two of them in search of the warlord. Upon interrupting some sparring hobgoblins, Igan entered into a fray, easily defeating his opponent. The hobgoblin led what was left of the party to the warlord who was situated at an overlook near the top of the southern-most mountain. From this vantage point they could see the city of Cardel. The first thing noticed was the massive harbor, just south of which is a large fortress surrounded by military marine vessels. The northern side was entirely walled off and has no gates facing the mountains. There were several trails leading from the base of the mountains to the eastern gate of the city. The eastern gate had a paved road that headed eastward along the coast and beneath the mountain range. The most disheartening sight, however, was the Vardan legions camping outside the walls of the city, preparing for battle -- anywhere from 9,000 to 12,000 strong.
The small group of hobgoblins with Lena and Igan discussed their options regarding a preemptive strike against the Vardan forces. The warlord knew that it was a suicide mission, but he also knew that the Vardan army would storm the mountain in a matter of weeks and that they would be unable to prevent the destruction of the goblin civilization. He preferred to leave the world with the memory of his final battle. Finally, they decided on a course of action.
Lead a frontal assault focused on the legion west of the city as a distraction, using poisonous gasses (made under Lena's guidance) to inhibit passage across the bridge. Send a small number of warriors past the army and into the city. Burn the fleet using Dragon's Fire (also produced by Lena) as well as Lena's explosive magics, destroy the marinas, and block the east road, cutting off the army's supplies. Focus on holding those positions. Wait for the soldiers to either thin out from starvation or in search of supplies. Use the full force of the goblin hordes to raze the city and kill all civilians.
Sklooh thought he had a clever ploy and that it would go like this ...
One can only surmise the final outcome was not pretty or dignified.
NOTES ABOUT THE WORLD
A few notes (a bit of clarification and retcon is necessary due to some roleplay that I didn't prepare for, such as Thomas saying that gunpowder didn't exist/was magical without consulting me, Paul bringing 'Greek' fire and chlorine gas into the campaign, Lon using early-Roman empire figures instead of late-Roman empire figures, etc.):
- Greek Fire is "Dragon's Fire" and while it's not common, it is well known. It was developed by Varda before it was an empire (and before it was anti-magic) and contributed largely to their naval domination.
- Gunpowder exists. It is a very recent phenomenon, historically speaking, but it has been discovered and implemented by certain powerful military units. It is uncommon.
- For the sake of convenience, I designate that a Vardan Legion (unlike a Roman Legion) is composed of 1,000 soldiers (like the post-300 A.D. Roman Empire). Centuries are 100 soldiers, Cohorts are 500 soldiers.
- Igan would know from military experience that each Legion is headed by a Legate (utility level 9-12), which means that there are about 10 or so Legate officers stationed outside of Cardel.
- Lena, from her high History check, knows that Admiral Kerr is an Imperial Officer (utility level 17-20).
- Just because a soldier has a particular rank, doesn't mean that they fall into the character level of that rank. It means that are as useful to Varda as a character level of that character level, either in combat, by strategy, renown, wealth, or whatever.
But he failed to recognize the potential for Warlord non-cooperation and a subterranean riverbed rock and rapids beatdown ...