Against the Giants: Chapter 1, Part 3

The group continues to explore the stronghold of Hill Giant Chieftain. Watch the video on YouTube at https://youtu.be/0O0TIxj6-WA.

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Upper Level Area 17: Kitchen
Cara opened the door and beyond they found a bustling kitchen (of giant proportions). A hill giant stood by a massive hearth stirring a pot of stew while a second, a giantess, had been walking around the kitchen barking orders. She was obviously the one in charge. Rushing around the room and preparing dishes at large workbenches along the walls were a pair of ogres and four grey-skinned humanoids who were not familiar to the group (which I kept accidentally revealing were orcs). The giantess looked at the PCs for a long moment before yelling for everyone to, “Run!” Unfortunately, none of the [present] PCs knew the giant-tongue and they thought she was ordering her kitchen minions to attack.

3.1 Area 17

Cara leapt into action and danced around the closest ogre, slashing the creature with her blade and maneuvering herself so she could also strike the orc closest to the door. That creature looked like it was about to run and Cara did not want it to warn the rest of the hill giants (or any other threat in the steading, for that matter). She cut down the orc before it could go for help.

The battle begins!

Callie followed her sister’s lead and cast a hex upon the giantess before unleashing a pair of eldritch blasts. With each hit, the mysterious bard/warlock unleashed another of her floating magical rings and they struck the giantess hard as well (Callie had cast ringstrike towards the end of the last session which gave her eight rings to use in just this manner). The first ring struck the giantess hard but she did not budge. When the second ring struck her, she could not stand her ground and was slammed back against the wall and workbench which stood behind her. Cara slashed hard at the ogre she had previously scored a hit at but despite her best efforts, she could not bring the creature low. It still clung to life and looked at her with a vicious glare.

Theodin summoned a ring of fire in the northwest corner of the room on top of the giant and one of the orcs. This also served to cut off the adversaries’ safest means of retreat. He also conjured the wall so that the worst of the heat from the ring radiated outwards instead of inwards turning the northwest corner into a small inferno. The orc succumbed to the flames and the giant was badly burned but still stood. It howled in anger and picked up a large rock from the table. It turned and seeing Cara first, hurled the object at her. The stone smashed into her shoulder. It then scrambled onto the table and rushed across the room to get away from the ring of fire. Foolishly, it crossed too close to Cara and she took a swipe at it and cut it across its meaty thigh.

The giantess was a bit more shrewd than her counterpart and she recognized Theodin as the source of the fire. She grabbed a pot and leapt across the large table in front of her and smashed it on the ground next to Theodin, barely missing him.

The next orc was also in the heat of the circle of flame and rushed across the room. When he reached Cara, he took a swipe at her but missed.

Shadow Walker pulled his blades and rushed the giantess. With a final blow he struck her down and she collapsed on the floor in front of the hallway. She was covered in cooking grease and Shadow was forced to try to climb over her to continue forward. Unfortunately, he slipped in the grease on her body and fell back down into the hallway.

Cara smiled, shook her head, and taunted the rogue, “Losing your touch there, Shadow?”

Shadow curtly responded, “I just gotta get stretched.”

One of the ogres grabbed a grinding stone from a workbench and tosses it at Cara but misses. He then tries to close the distance by crossing the giantess’ body but slips just like Shadow.

The other ogre turns on Cara and swings on her but the elf-touched warrior deftly dodged the attack.

Callie moved closer so she could target the ogre which slipped. She called on the powers of her patron to move her hex to this ogre and then blasted it with her eldritch blast. She also unleashed a ring which slammed into the ogre but it stood its ground. She blasted it again and send another ring slamming into the ogre. This time it lost its footing and it stumbled back into the heat and flames from Theodin’s ring of fire. The flames consumed the ogre and finished it off.

Cara spun on the ogre and slashed through its belly. The ogre groaned in agony but still stood so Cara finished off with a second swing. She spun and cut through the giant’s thigh. Cara is a whirling dervish of death!

Theodin braved the grease-covered body of the giantess and managed to scramble to the far side. As he walked further into the kitchen, a ghostly form surrounded his body. The form took on the shape of a beating heart which surrounded his chest. The dwarf wizard breathed a line of fire which tore through the closest orc and the giant. The orc was killed and the giant was nearly brought low. Even after Theodin breathed the fire, the ghostly heart continued to beat around his chest and he appeared much stronger than he had before.

The giant wanted nothing more than to escape at this point. It scrambled to grab Cara to move her out of the way but she spun away from his grasp. So it pushed through her to make it to the hallway and Cara cut it down (attack of opportunity).

The remaining two orcs dashed about the room looking for a way to escape but could find none. They pleaded in giant-tongue for the PCs to spare them and insisted they were slaves. Cara (through Kargarn who translated) asked the orcs why they were here and how many giants there were.

The braver of the two orcs responded they were travelling through the area a few months ago and they were captured by raiding hill giants. He said they had been forced to work in the kitchen and he did not know how many giants there were.

Theodin asked about the giants in the kitchen. The orc explained they were servants of the rest of the hill giants. He also indicated the rest of the hill giants were in the great hall celebrating with Nosnra. Cara quickly (and forcefully) asked who Nosnra was the orc explained Nosnra was the hill giant chieftain and this was his steading. He knew there were visitors in the great hall but he was not the one who had taken food into that room and he did not know who the visitors were.

By now, Theodin’s ghostly heart disappeared and he took on his normal appearance. He also dropped the ring of fire. Cara commented on Theodin’s new abilities but the dwarf’s response confirmed he had learned some new tricks but remained vague.

The PCs debated what to do next. Use the orcs to spy for them? Cara was not fond of that idea. Use a disguise and scout the great hall? Before they took on the challenge of the great hall, they decided to check the rest of the kitchen area to the north. They didn’t want more foes to be at their back.

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Upper Level Area 18: Kitchen Workroom
In the kitchen workroom, they found another hearth and more workbenches. There were also several large crates, sacks, and barrels. At a glance, they noted some of them for large and of giant-make but some were smaller, obviously goods which had been stolen during the raids. They find several types of cheeses, bread, and meats. The group was impressed by the giant’s “palette.”

3.2 Area 18

On the south side of the room was the door Cara had spotted from the hallway and another door which they suspected led to a pantry. Cara pushed the heavy door open.

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Upper Level Area 18a: Pantry
In the pantry, the PCs found more of the stolen goods and giant foodstuff. More interesting, they also found a staircase leading down. They noted the cut of the stone which was much finer than a giant, ogre, or orc would produce. Theodin examined it and identified it as the work of cantonal dwarves from the Ironcrags. They suspected the staircase led to a cellar but decided to investigate before heading back to the great hall. As they descended the stairs they noticed the complete darkness below.

3.3 Area 18a

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Dungeon Level Area 1: Marshaling Area
There was no cellar at the bottom of the stairs but instead, they found an entire dungeon level under the steading. They entered a large room which hallways leading east, north, and south. There were also two doors to the east and a third to the southeast. There were long, giant-sized tables along the north and west walls and benches at the tables and along the southern wall. They noticed the ceilings were 18′ high and the stone floor was very well worn. They also noted how quiet it was.

3.4 Dungeon Area 1

Cara did a tour around the room to see what she could see down the hallways. She could not see far enough down the north and east hallways but she caught glints of light reflecting off the southern hallway. They decided to follow that light. 80′ down the southern hallway, it split into a T-intersection and there were doors along the southern wall. They also heard multiple individuals speaking to each other in a growling tongue none of them recognized.

Cara peaked around the corner and saw more doors to the south and the hallway ended in the rubble which filled most of the hallway. There was also another opening in the hallway to the east and she caught glimpses of a dark brown, hairy arm on one of the speakers.

Cara motioned to the group she was going into the room with the hairy, growling speakers on 3… 2… 1…

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Dungeon Level Area 8: Outpost
The hairy foes were humanoid and there 6 of them in a 40′ by 60′ room. On the far side of the room was a door. The group had moved stealthily and caught the humanoids off-guard earning themselves a surprise round of actions. Their foes were dressed in splint mail and were armed like guards and they recognized them as bugbears.

3.5 Dungeon Area 8

Cara slashed the closest target and then “danced” around him so she could get closer to the rest of the enemies. She slashed her first target a second time and killed it. Now that the opening to the room was clear, she dropped back so her allies could get into the room and she could not be surrounded.

Shadow rushed into the room and attacked the next closest enemy. Blood splashed across the stone floor as Shadow nearly killed this foe with a single hit.

Theodin maneuvered to the edge of the opening of the room and when he saw the foe who Shadow had almost dropped, he blasted it with a firebolt and killed it.

Callie moved up next to Theodin, cursed one of the humanoids in the far corner with her hex, and unleashed her eldritch blasts. She missed with the first but the second one smashed the target and bloodied it.

Cara followed her sister’s aim and ran up to the one which had been bloodied and struck it down. She then turned to the next one and slashed at it twice, killing that one as well. Like I said, Cara is a whirling dervish of death! She then hopped over to threaten the two remaining bugbears.

One of the enemies swung a longsword at Cara and missed her.

Shadows leapt across the room and crushed the fifth enemy. He lunged at the remaining foe but missed.

Theodin pushed into the room behind his allies unleashed a firebolt but missed the sole remaining target.

Callie rushed into the room as well and blasted the target twice with her eldritch blast and killed it.

The PCs searched the bugbears. They were wearing armor and weaponry which looked like they had been crafted by the same person. One of them carried a pristine owl feather but the rest had nothing of value.

Callie “suggested” they listen at the door and Cara grudgingly agreed. Listening, they heard more growling voices but they were muffled like there was something else between this door and the source of the sound.

Suddenly, they also heard a horn sound from somewhere above them. It was an alarm! They groaned.

Theodin pointed out, “You know, we really should have cleaned up the kitchen.”

END OF SESSION

Against the Giants: Chapter 1, Part 2

Watch the game on YouTube at https://youtu.be/XWWk1pXhq1E.

Shadow Walker, the raven-folk rogue, emerged from the shadows along the street and criticized the group’s performance in the battle. Not everyone was happy to see the rogue but Chunt and Theodin quickly maneuvered to smooth things over… for now. Theodin asked how Shadow had been and Shadow’s answer was elusive. His life had been interesting (without revealing details) and he had spent much time in the rookeries (without saying which one) but he did feel honor-bound in his own way to respond to Draeven’s letter. Theodin’s greeting was warm but the conversation quickly turned to their common connection, Theodin’s sister, Alaina, who had passed during their earlier adventures together. Shadow was sorry to hear that Theodin had not been able to raise her from the dead and Draeven commented on how this troubled him as well. He admitted he was only just a sorcerer and while he could call on arcane powers, he did not understand them like a wizard did.

Draeven commented the raids had come farther this direction than he had thought. He instructed the group would leave Neuraddel by midday and dismissed himself. The group looked the bodies of the giant and the ogres over for more clues but could find none.

Callie, Cara, Theodin and Kargarn found their way to the apothecary/alchemist who was an old woman who lived in the back of her small shop, surrounded by pots filled with herbs of all kinds. She was a kindly old woman who greeted them and told them her name was Deera (by way of introducing her shop). Her prices were a bit on the high side although not uncommon along the King’s Road and the PCs left with healing potions, sickroot herbs, and components for Theodin to craft some alchemist’s fire. The dwarven wizard retreated to his room at the Leaky Flagon to complete his work while the rest of the group gathered in the common room to partake in some last-minute libations before their journey began.

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The group set out into the hills west of the town of Neuraddel. Draeven doesn’t push the group very hard the first day. He had noted how “out of form” some of them had been and did not want to wear them out before they had a chance to build up their stamina. He secretly worried if calling on his old allies had been a bad idea. Callie summoned a magical tiny hut that evening to keep them hidden and safe while they rested.

Where Are We

Draeven led the group into the hills until he reached a point where he needed the group to help find the path the rest of the way to the giants if there were any more to find. Callie used her magic to communicate with the trees in the area and learned giants had indeed passed through and recently. She and her sister, Cara, scoured the landscape and managed to find giant tracks heading northwest, almost parallel to the King’s Road (even if a day away from that ancient highway). They followed the tracks.

Later in the day, the group spotted a dragon in the distance flying along the horizon. It was too far to tell for sure but they thought it might be a red or yellow dragon. If dragons were roaming this far north, that did not speak well of Magdar’s efforts to keep the Mharoti Empire at bay. They briefly discussed what to do and decided they already had enough on their agenda for the day. The dragon would wait. As evening set in, Thor opened up the heavens and rain began to fall.

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In the morning, the giant’s tracks were harder to pick out but Callie and Cara were about to follow them. Not long after picking up the trail again they spotted a pair of hill giant raiders, an ogre, and three dire wolves at a small camp in the distance under a rocky cliff. After some debate, Callie cast the Pass Without Trace spell and the group easily snuck up on the raiders.

I won’t recount the blow by blow of the battle because it was really a massacre. Between the surprise round, some really bad initiative rolls by the monsters, and some decent tactics, I (the DM) never got to make a single attack roll with the monsters. They were decimated before any of them got a chance to act.

After the battle, the PCs realized why the hill giants had picked this spot. Hidden from them in the distance, there was a small save entrance beside the road and under the rocky cliff. They explored the cave and learned it was once a beast’s lair but whoever lived here died long ago and it had been uninhabited since.

Moving to the edge of the ridge, they spotted their destination. In the distance (about an hour down the path) they could see a massive steading built to accommodate creatures the size of giants.

The Steading

The group decided to move closer before they formed a real plan of action. They stalked towards the steading and got close enough they could hear festivities going on inside. As they had approached, they noticed no patrols of guards outside the steading. Shadow Walker moved ahead to scout the outside of the steading for the group. He identified two gates into a courtyard in the northeast corner and a third giant into a courtyard in the south. The southern courtyard had a tower alongside its outside and Shadow climbed it. Inside the tower, he saw a drunken hill giant passed on and two more slumbering giants in the lower courtyard.

Shadow returned to the group and informed them of what he had found. They choose the southern courtyard with the tower as their “in” and pressed forward. When they reached the courtyard, Shadow climbed the tower again while Cara hoisted Kargarn on her back and flew over the wall (using her flying boots). The pair quietly removed the beam which barred the gate and let the rest of the group into the courtyard (with help from Chunt to open the large gate).

Quietly coordinating an attack, they slew the three giants as they slept. Along the northern wall of the courtyard were three doors, two smaller doors on the left and right and a double door in the middle. The sounds of the festivities were loudest at the center door so they decided to enter through the left door.

The door opened into a hallway with lit sconces lining the walls. The group moved quickly and quietly and Shadow used his magical abilities to snuff out the illuminating flames in the hallways (everyone in the party had darkvision and did not need the light). In the first section of the steading, they found a trip of common rooms filled with beds. They only took a small amount of time to search the rooms (and found a box with rotting ears and an earring in one of them), opting to move quickly while they could.

At the end of the long hallway between the common rooms, they found a final door leading into the next session. They threw open the door and found a kitchen filled with giants, ogres, and orcs.

END OF SESSION

Against the Giants: Chapter 1, Part 1

Watch video of the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/9WLsuACEVWo.

As the season of Thunders nourishes the land and Thor rages from mountain top to open plain, a road-weary messenger finds each of the PCs. The messengers present them with a letter with a wax seal marking it as written by Draeven, a human sorcerer of prodigious arcane renown.

a (6)

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Theodin TokenTheodin
Draeven expected to find Theodin in the southern lands but the letter found the dwarf far from the land of his people. Despite the somewhat ominous words in Draeven’s letter, Theodin was excited to see his friends again and set out for Neuraddel.

Kargarn TokenKargarn
Kargarn was torn. He was excited to hear from one of his old companions but he had become so focused on his new craft, making beer, and spreading the faith of Ninkash. He took his time to make sure his affairs were in order and then he began the short, four day journey from Zobeck to Neuraddel.

Chunt TokenChunt the Destroyer
The great minotaur warrior had enjoyed the life of a celebrity and he contemplated hard on the letter from Draeven. While he tried to decide what to do, he fell asleep and had a nightmare about his old friends in turmoil. He awoke with a start and returned to the letter. He had not seen the adventurers who travelled with him ten years before but he considered them family and he would not forsake them.

“My beauties, I will be back and there will be much enjoyment. But until then, your hero must stampede evil out of this world… one… more… time…”

Callie TokenCallie and Cara
The sisters had remained close to the region where they last saw their companions. Cara’s guilt over her previous life drove them to do what they could in the rural lands of the Crossroads to atone while keeping a low profile. Cara TokenThe Blood Sisters and the Morgau still wanted the elf-marked sisters dead. When they received the letter, Cara was convinced it was a trap and she convinced Callie they needed to keep moving. That night, Callie, who possessed a magical tattoo over her heart noted that the tattoo had begun to wither. Callie believed it did so because they had decided not to flee the letter. They decided to go to Neuraddel but continued to worry if they were making a mistake.

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On the first day of Low Summer, Kargarn was the first to arrive in the small town of Neuraddel. He had no difficulty finding the Leaky Flagon. The establishment is filled with mostly humans but they did not pay him much mind. Ironcrag cantonal dwarves are not uncommon in this region. The elderly, red-haired man named Coll behind the bar greeted him warmly and when he learned Kargarn was a disciple of Ninkash, he pulled out some of his special brew to serve to the cleric. When Kargarn mentioned Draeven, he called for his daughter, Ademia, to take the dwarf to a private chamber. He told Kargarn that Draeven had made special arrangements for the group and all of their expenses had been covered. Ademia was intrigued by Kargarn’s accent and commented on how he sounded different than the southern dwarves she had met. Kargarn commented that his people tended to keep to themselves. She promised to bring meat and bread and left Kargarn alone to wait.

Theodin is the second of the companions to arrive and both he and Kargarn immediately realized how different the other looked since last they saw each other. When they parted way, Kargarn was not a servant of Ninkash and he had gained weight (probably, due to the copious amounts of ale he drank). Theodin, despite being a southern dwarf and the warmth of the weather, was dressed in heavy robes which covered most of him. Their reunion was a warm one. Theodin explained that after the death of his sister, Elena, he had sought out the remainder of his kin but found he was not very welcome there. He spent his time wandering since then. Kargarn shared his new faith and tried to impress upon Theodin how he appeared more relaxed.

Callie and Cara arrived in very basic travelling garb and Cara looked rather… dolled up. This was an odd look for the warrior woman which made it an excellent disguise. The dwarves greeted them warmly even if the sisters were just a bit standoffish. They exchanged pleasantries and the sisters managed to keep the conversation away from their own activities. Cara, ever to the point, stirred the conversation towards the purpose of their reunion.

A dark shadow passed by and blocked out the sun as it passed by each window of the tavern. Chunt slammed the door to the inn open and “arrived.” He apologized for the door and immediately sauntered up to the bar. The tavern had gone quiet. Coll tried to serve Chunt with a large mug but the minotaur insisted his ale be served in a bucket. He chugged the ale and the golden liquid splashed across his chest as much as down his gullet. Coll urged Ademia to quickly escort Chunt to the back.

Ademia returned with meat, bread, and ale with Chunt in tow but they heard his booming voice long before he arrived. Upon seeing him, the group recognized their friend but noticed he had put on some weight. Like, a lot of weight. Dude had become “tubby bruh Thor.” The most remarkable difference was his horns were missing and had been replaced with ornate horns with inlaid copper filigree designs. He happily told the tale of how he lost his horn fighting a cyclops and how the town he saved had paid for his replacements. The festivities had begun!

The frivolity continued for hours and then, Draeven arrived. The sorcerer was ever a lost soul and even on his happiest day, his companions barely remembered him smiling. Even after all these years, with the trials of their past journeys behind them, he had not changed. Even more than his demeanor, it appeared he had changed very little physically as well which was strange for a human who tended to age much faster than other ancestries. Draeven remarked on how few of them had answered his call and he hoped something ill had not befallen the rest.

Callie questioned why they had been summoned. Draeven, a man who liked to stay on topic himself, responded that Magdar was a kingdom which had been plagued by war with the Mharoti Empire to the south. During that time, hill giants had begun raiding the small villages and towns all across the northern parts of Magdar. Hill giant raids were not unheard of but these raids had become more frequent and far more organized than had been seen in some time. Draeven suspected the hill giants had picked a new chieftain to lead them which was a rare occurrence. There had not been a hill giant chieftain in hundreds of years and Draeven suspected there was something more going on. When he approached the powers that be in Magdar, he was quickly dismissed. They had bigger problems to see to and with no proof of his suspicions, there were no resources to investigate the sorcerer’s claims further.

Cara said she understood all that but asked why “they” had been summoned for this matter. Draeven explained this was not something he could trust to unseasoned adventurers. Hill giants were dangerous and while he could not prove there was a threat, they were the only group he could call on if the threat was real. The group did not jump at the opportunity. Their last “adventure” was a successful one but there had been sacrifice and loss. Not everyone had survived. Theodin thought of Elena. Callie and Cara still felt they were repaying the debt they owed. Their work involved healing the land more than anything else and there was still much work to do, perhaps more than could be completed in any one lifetime.

In the end, they agreed to join Draeven for old time’s sake if nothing else. The sorcerer hoped this would be nothing more than a trek into the Smolten Hills to the west and his fears would be unfounded. For now, that was enough and none of them wanted to let down the others.

As the night grew late, Draeven reminded them he had covered all of their arrangements and bid them farewell for the evening. Eventually, they all retired to private quarters.

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In the morning, the group found Coll had prepared breakfast for them along with a purple and green fruit he insisted would help with any lingering issues from a night of celebration. He had also gathered supplies for their journey although Chunt had sharp words of critique for the “lack of sustenance.” In the end, extra sacks of food were packed for the minotaur. He was not appeased but Callie insisted they could find more along the way.

As they left the Leaky Flagon, they heard screams and the bellows of large creatures attacking the village. In the street, a pair of ogres, a hill giant raider, and a tusked crimson ogre had struck down a pair of villagers and were attacking the buildings along the road. The hill giant was pulling raw meat from bones although they could not tell if it was a human he was eating or livestock.

Cara dropped the glamour which had made her appear dainty and assumed the visage of the warrior woman her companions were more familiar with. She taunted the giants, “You picked the wrong day for this.” She charged the closest ogre across the street and drew her temple sword. With two quick swipes, she cut the ogre wide across its stomach and its blood spilt forth.

The second ogre lunged forward and smashed its club wildly at Cara and caught her on her shoulder.

Theodin summoned his magic and scorching rays of fire leapt from his hand and slammed into the first ogre which Cara had attacked.

Callie dropped back into bushes just outside the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron (gaining concealment), hexed the ogre her sister and Theodin had harmed and then launched an eldritch blast at the creature. Her magic ripped through the ogre and finished it off (the first kill of the campaign). She turned to the second ogre and launched a second eldritch blast at it, scoring a hit.

Chunt bellowed, “Just like old times, friends!” As he rushed forward, he pulled his horns from his head. They glowed with brilliant orange energy and transformed into a pair of obsidian battleaxes and copper bull skulls formed on his gauntlets. He raged as he reached the second ogre and slashed twice through the burly and smelly foe.

The hill giant raider stomped across the wooden wagon and smashed it on his way to reach Chunt. The hill giant swung its massive club twice and smashed Chunt twice but the minotaur barbarian (who was raging), resisted half of the damage.

The tusked crimson ogre (who didn’t want to be left out of the fun) rushed down the street and tried to leap along the front of the building beside the Leaky Flagon but he slipped and crashed to the ground (double move and failed athletics check, prone). The creature immediately impressed upon the group how unintelligent it was.

Kargarn barked (in giant) for the raiding party to surrender but the hill giant retorted Kargarn would be the first one to go in the stew. Kargarn, who assumed the giants would not accept his offer anyway cast bless on Cara, Chunt, and himself. He then positioned himself in a defensive position in front of Theodin (and Cara who was hidden in the bushes).

Cara stabbed the second ogre with her temple sword and then danced around it to flank it with Chunt. With one last thrust of her weapon she killed the ogre and then slashed at the hill giant raider, she was now next two. Her blade drank deep of his blood as well. She continued to dance around the raiding monsters.

Theodin waved his hands and the temperature began to rise. He conjured a ringed wall of fire and surrounded the hill giant raider and the tusked crimson raider. The intense heat of the wall tore into both foes and they howled in rage.

Callie moved her hex from the first ogre (now dead) to the hill giant raider and slammed it with her eldritch blast. She launched a second eldritch blast at the hill giant and it tore across the side of its skull (critical hit, first of the campaign). Inside the flames, the hill giant reeled.

Chunt turned to the hill giant, “You will choke upon my patties this day!” He slashed hard through the hill giants throat (second critical hit of the campaign) and then buried his second battleaxe in the hill giant’s forehead. The giant fell to the ground with a powerful thud. Chunt didn’t even realize he had launched himself into the ring of fire and was thoroughly singed (still resisting half damage due to his rage).

Kargarn did not want to mess with the flames so he conjured a spiritual weapon and used it to attack the tusked crimson ogre who was still prone on the ground. He called upon Ninkash and cast sacred flame at the ogre to add insult to injury.

The tusked crimson ogre (thoroughly cut, battered, bruised, and burnt) leapt to his feet and flexed its powerful muscles. Acidic blood exploded from its open wounds and coated the area surrounding it. The blood burned everyone it fell on and began to drive them to rage but everyone managed to maintain control. It then rushed out of the flames, provoking attacks of opportunity from Chunt and Kargarn. Chunt slashed the ogre with his axe and Kargarn cast a second sacred flame (warcaster feat). Both attacks hit their mark.

Theodin noticed Cara was cut off from the rest of the party and the ring of fire was no longer threatening their last foe so he dropped his concentration and the flames disappeared.

Meanwhile, Cara leapt (actually, she flew) and twirled through the air. She came to a stop next to the ogre at a hover. She slashed through the ogre with her temple sword (the second hit, a crit). The ogre fell.

Cara quickly wrapped her illusion around herself and took on a less dangerous looking visage. Draeven appeared on the street from between two buildings and there was a bleeding wound on his head. He said giants had attacked other places in the town as well.

Callie asked if any of Draeven’s foes had lived and complained they could not interrogate the ones the group had killed. He could not help her.

Cara asked about what Kargarn had said in giant during the battle. The dwarf admitted he extended them an offer of surrender but their response was obvious now. They would fight to the death.

Kargarn cast mass cure wounds to heal his ally’s injuries.

Chunt admitted the battle was “awesome” and he had missed these kinds of battles. He compared it to a night he spent with a woman once and began to tell the tale but the rest paid him no attention.

Callie searched the giants and found a coil of 120 feet rope but nothing else of value. She also examined them for clues about where they had come from and she found mud which told her they had come down from the Smolten Hills. “It’s amazing what’s found on the bottom of a giant’s foot.”

End of Chapter 1, Part 1.

Dead Suns, Session 38

Watch video of the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Jj5pKVlm2hc.

The crew had successfully bypassed the Corpse Fleet forces moving towards the engineering section of the Stellar Degenerator. Worried those forces might double back once they realized the Starfinders had thwarted them, Cypher and Switch left to set up traps to slow down their foes.

While the rest of the group rested, Wesley hacked into the internal sensors in the forward section of the ship. He found he could track the Corpse Fleet across the entire ship to ensure they would not be caught in a bad position. The group inventoried their gear and made some adjustments in preparation (adding radiation buffers to armor, etc). Wesley began concocting a crazy plan with a wheelbarrow, a fire extinguisher, and a flashlight but no one seemed to be on board with that one. Eventually, they decided they should use their holoskins to disguise themselves as Corpse Fleet just as Cypher returned from his work.

38.3

Wesley, via the sensors, was able to identify there were three approaches to the bridge. One opened onto the lower section of the bridge while the other two approaches opened onto the upper section of the bridge. Based on Nuil’s knowledge of the Maltur she thought the command station would be in the upper section. They entered the bridge and quickly discovered Nuil’s recall had failed them, an uncommon occurrence, and the command station was in the lower section.

A few undead soldiers lingered in the upper section while below a couple manned the command station. An enormous, undead vesk (Gatecrasher) stood guard over Admiral Serovox who floated in the center of an arcane circle of power. Standing around the circle and chanting were Serovox’s acolytes and the vessels through which he had stolen control of the ship. Standing away from the ritual was an undead soldier with incredible hair (Jacen) which immediately reminded the group of Ryder’s luscious locks.

The good looking undead reacted to the PCs and questioned them, “Kreth! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be below finding the Starfinders.” It seemed the illusion was somewhat successful.

Cypher responded he had brought one of the Starfinders to serve as a sacrifice for the ritual. Jacen protested that a sacrifice wasn’t needed for this ritual because the power they needed came from the Denizens of Leng around the circle. Cypher went on a tirade about how everything was better with a sacrifice and sacrifices were all the rage these days. Jacen bought the bluff and gave up his protest.

One of the undead minions, a necrograft robot, wasn’t so convinced and began scanning Switch. Cypher feigned working on Switch’s bonds while working on his datapad to hack the necrograft robotlike he had done in the hangar bay. Only the large undead vesk noticed Cypher’s actions and questioned him. The illusion had begun to unravel. Despite Cypher’s protests, Gatecrasher demand he comes to the lower level and accounts for his actions.

Gatecrasher had begun to suspect Cypher was not Kreth and asked him a question about what Kreth had said to him hundreds of years before when they had conquered their first planet together. Cypher responded, “I said, never screw with the Starfinders!”

The subterfuge had ended but the PCs still had the element of surprise.

38.1

The group rolled initiative for the last time (in this campaign) at the 41 minute 20 second mark in the video.

As the rest of the group leapt into battle, Wesley and Drez wondered if they still needed to act like prisoners. Ryder and Cypher dropped their disguises and Ryder opened fire. Ryder hit one of the necrograft robots right in the eye and sent it flailing over the rail. It crashed into a computer system and died in a crackling explosion. Cypher activated his cloaking device and blended into the wall. Drez snapped to and tossed a grenade into the lower section. The explosion rocked several of the undead on the lower level. Wesley tried to maneuver TIM-X to take a shot but the drone’s rifle bounced off the rail and slammed into its own dome (a critical fail card, lost access to that attack). Nuil pulled out her big gun and dropped a wall of fire into the lower section. She laced it around the ritual circle and back up to where Gatecrasher and the minions hit by Drez’s grenade stood. The room was ablaze with burning corpses!

GM Note: I completely forgot about Nuil’s wall of flame and did not anticipate that attack. More power to her! She torched the bad guys good. Two undead soldiers remained in the upper section. One soldier remained at the controls for the ship. Gatecrasher and two twisted sisters (burned but still unliving), Jacen, and Serovox were all that remained of the foes the Starfinders originally found on the bridge when they arrived.

Serovox raged! The ritual was broken and he lost control of the Steller Degenerator. He bellowed, “Kill them! Kill them all except for Ryder. I want his face!”

Both sides pressed the attack!

Serovox

One of the twisted sisters warped her body and crawled up the wall to attack Nuil. She struck the lamerta with multiple punches and Nuil’s armor warped and grew brittle where struck. The group realized how dangerous the sisters were and Drez dropped to the second level to keep the second twisted sister busy.

Gatecrasher charged through the wall of flame (taking massive amounts of damage) and leapt into the upper section. TIM-X and Wesley tried to retaliate but failed to harm the undead vesk.

Serovox glowered at Nuil’s wall of flame and snapped his fingers (dispel magic). The wall of flame disappeared. Jacen, who now had an open path to the PCs, rushed up the stairs to the upper section but could not reach the PCs before they began to fire on them. He revealed his solarian abilities and summoned a protective wall of graviton energy to protect himself from their attacks.

Ryder opened himself to the attacks of the necrograft robot and fired on the twisted sister attacking Nuil. His gun misfired and flashed in his eyes making it difficult for him to see (fumble; all enemies have concealment for one round). NOTE: The seal on his pistol negated this penalty but narratively, he struggled until his vision cleared.

Gatecrasher

Nuil recognized the danger she was in and cast invisibility on herself. She then climbed to the ceiling and worked her way away from the twisted sister and Gatecrasher.

Cypher activated his holographic clones and rolled a 4, best roll for this ability in the entire campaign. Four Cypher clones appeared and Cypher leapt across the room to get away from Gatecrasher. The undead vesk swung on him but chose the wrong target and smashed a clone.

The twisted sister which had chased Nuil did not know where her target had gone so she dropped down next to Ryder and attacked him. Ryder continued to fumble with his vision problems and somehow managed to dodge every attack.

Drez continued to fight the twisted sister in the lower section. He could not penetrate her defenses but she continued to land attack after attack. Multiple crits in her multi attack and she dealt 88 points of damage, stunned Drez, and ripped into his flesh spreading her filth and poisoned Drez.

The battle had begun in the PCs favor but the tides were quickly turning.

Wesley directed TIM-X to continue attacking Gatecrasher and then activated his jump jets to leap over the undead vesk and land on the lower level (on one of the computer terminals). He fired on the twisted sister who had immobilized Drez and blasted her from behind. Although she still posed a great threat, she was not looking well (um, as well as normal, that is).

Serovox drew his red plasma sword and then launched a fireball (well, the Starfinder equivalent of a fireball) at the center of the PCs on the upper level. The admiral did not care if he harmed his allies as well and the upper level exploded in flame. The PCs on the upper level were able to take some cover but were still hurt by the attack.

USE THIS!!!!

Jacen dropped his protective shield, moved closer to the PCs, and summoned a second shield. The new shield stood between himself and most of the PCs but did leave him vulnerable to part of the upper section.

At that moment, Switch finally reached the bridge and joined in the fray! He rushed the twisted sister on the upper level. He drew his ultrathin necroblade and crit her doing 66 points of damage.

Ryder was glad to have the group’s second soldier back and guardedly stepped back from the twisted sister and Gatecrasher. Unfortunately, his vision had not yet cleared and he could not hit her.

Nuil (still invisible) scrambled across the ceiling and dropped down behind Drez. She force-fed him a healing serum (restoring 23 hit points).

Kurobozu

Drez was still stunned but managed to fight off the effects of the twisted sister’s poison.

Cypher fired on the twisted sister on the bottom level and then moved to cover behind a crate (along with his clones). The twisted sister was not looking good at all!

The twisted sister on the upper level reeled from Switch’s attack and she retaliated with a flurry of blows at the android soldier. Several of them connected doing damage but he resisted some of it.

The lower twisted sister turned to Wesley. Both Cypher and Wesley had hit her but she could not tell which of the ysokis was the real one and which were clones. Attacking Wesley was a sure bet and she pummeled the human mechanic for 56 points of damage.

Gatecrasher swung an aurora shock caster around and tried to blast the PCs on the upper level but they dodged. The energy field smashed into the wall and sent debris flying everywhere. Electricity spidered across the wall from where the blast hit.

Wesley dropped back from the twisted sister and fired at her but missed while TIM-X flailed at Gatecrasher.

Jacen finally reached the PCs and swung at Ryder with his solarian weapon but fumbled. He did 28 points of bludgeoning damage to himself as he tripped and slammed into the rail.

Necrocraft Robot

Switch cleaved through the twisted sister doing 41 points of damage (and she had 42 hit points). The One Hit Point Wonders strike again! Fitting for the final combat encounter of the campaign. Switch spun the attack around but missed Jacen.

Ryder cleverly distracted Jacen and then fired at him point-blank. He hit the solarian square in the chest but the undead warrior resisted some of the damage. He then shouted down to Drez and bolstered his ally restoring 34 stamina.

Nuil used her magic missile attack to finish off the twisted sister on the upper level and further harm Gatecrasher. The second magic missile bloodied the undead vesk.

Cypher continued firing on the remaining twisted sister and almost dropped her but not quite. He remained behind the crate and activated his cloaking field making it even more difficult to attack him.

Drez stepped forward and drew his nova lance from his back. With his haste circuit activated he circled around the twisted sister and stabbed repeatedly at her. He managed to hit her with his second lunge and destroyed her. He then moved over to the only remaining necrograft robot (the one at the helm of the Stellar Degenerator).

Gatecrasher saw Drez move and he dropped from the upper level and smashed down with his hammer but Drez dodged the massive attack.

Wesley scrambled back from Gatecrasher and blasted the necrograft robot to smithereens. Cables from the robot ripped out of the console and everyone felt the Stellar Degenerator tilt.

Serovox saw what the PCs were about to try and he summoned a wall of force around the helm.

Kreth

Jacen became fully graviton attuned and activated a Star Quake. The gravity field around the ship shifted as he stalked towards TIM-X, causing damage to everything around him and knocking Switch to the ground. He slashed through the drone with his solarian weapon and destroyed him.

Wesley screamed, “Nooooo! You bastard!” Jacen laughed maniacally.

Switch jumped to his feet and quickly lost the distance with Jacen. The solarian spun and easily parried the attack.

Ryder (still struggling with his vision) fired at Jacen and missed.

Nuil moved into the middle of the room and summoned a powerful arcing surge which she sent cascading through Gatecrasher and Jacen. The undead vesk shook violently.

Cypher fired on Gatecrasher but couldn’t hit him.

Drez summoned his resolve to “keep fighting” and restored 21 stamina and then launched a full attack at Gatecrasher but fumbled. He slipped across the forcefield and missed.

Gatecrasher chuckled and swing his hammer at Drez but the quicker vesk ducked the attack.

Wesley primed a grenade, tugged on Gatecrasher’s pants, and dropped the grenade into the undead vesk’s trousers. He then activated his jump jets and leapt away. Gatecrasher swung on the mechanic and smashed him as Wesley fled. Then the grenade went off in his pants. Bits and pieces of armor and gore flew all over the place. Gatecrasher stumbled and somehow managed to stay on his feet.

Serovox flew onto the upper level and slashed through Ryder’s should with his plasma sword. Ryder felt himself weaken as if just being near the admiral was draining his strength.

Jacen’s graviton power began to grow again and he summoned it around himself to increase his defenses. He then launched flashing strikes at Switch and slashed through him doing 59 points of acid damage. Thank the gods Switch has a huge reservoir of stamina.

Switch smiled and slashed through the solarian twice and drove him to his knees. Jacen barely managed to push himself back to his feet.

Ryder felt the aura around Serovox tugging at his reserves of strength but he managed to resist the magical assault.

Serovox took the momentary respite in action to parlay. “Ryder, there’s no reason for this. We did so miss you when you left the family. I had to go and clone you, create this other one but I’d much rather have the original.”

Ryder protested, “There’s only one original. That is no clone. He doesn’t even look like me!”

Serovox countered, “He’s got your hair!”

Wesley grudgingly agreed.

Ryder ended the discussion by raising his blaster and shot Serovox in the leg. He then ran to take cover near Switch and his haste circuit finally ran out of energy.

Nuil unleashed a second arcing surge which tore through Gatecrasher and Jacen again. Serovox bellowed for them to find the “techno-witch” before she could do more damage.

Cypher leapt out from the crate and taunted Gatecrasher, “I remember what I said on that planet. Die, *BLEEP*.” He laser ripped through Gatecrasher’s chest and the behemoth dropped to the ground, dead (like, really dead… not undead).

Drez could not resist Serovox’s aura and was suddenly fatigued. He activated his jump jets and leapt onto the upper level and landed in front of Serovox. He swung with confidence and was surprised when his attacked bounced off an invisible field of energy protecting the admiral. He focused his second attack and managed to get through the admiral’s defenses to do some damage.

Wesley also succumbed to Serovox’s aura and was fatigued. He stumbled out of range of the aura and blasted Jacen who was engaged with Switch. Looking down at TIM-X he levelled his blaster at the solarian and blasted him in the face. Jacen’s undead brains went flying out the back of his skull.

Renzar

Admiral Serovox was alone. He looked at Drez and cast “rewire flesh” on the vesk soldier. Drez was overcome by the magic which began to work his flesh and transmute him into a robot and mechanical parts, tearing the flesh as it converted him.

Switch, now free from Jacen, charged down the upper section and engaged with Serovox. He slashed through the admiral, bloodying him.

Ryder fired at Serovox but could not connect.

Nuil unloaded on Serovox with magic missiles.

Cypher followed the other’s lead and shot the admiral as well (barely hitting but a hit nonetheless).

Drez sees the look in Serovox’s eyes, a look he knows all to well in his prey. Serovox is about to run. The vesk taunted, “Well buddy, nothing gives me greater pleasure than jamming this right up your ass!” The vesk warrior attacked viciously but Serovox parried the first attack. The second one caught him in the side and tore away chunks of flesh. The admiral still stood (with 6 hit points remaining).

Wesley, aided by Drez’s assault, slides around the corner like Tom Cruise in Risky Business, raises his gun and tells his allies to duck. He fires once and the round flies between Drez and Switch. A red dot appears in Serovox’s forehead and with a popping sound, Serovox’s brain matter goes flying out the back of his head.

They won. The Stellar Degenerator was theirs.

The lingering vestiges of Serovox’s power quickly dissipate. The remaining Corpse Fleet vessels turned and fled.

Cypher and Switch remained on the bridge while the rest of the PCs returned to where the Maltur slept and began to awaken them. Although disoriented, the lead Maltur recognized Nuil as a lamertian, and asked her why the Stellar Degenerator had been unsurfaced again.

Nuil and Ryder explained about the Corpse Fleet and the barrier which had cut off a large portion of the Starfinder fleet in the Scoured Stars system (including Wesley’s parents). Somehow the Maltur sensed the remainder of the Corpse Fleet on the Stellar Degenerator and sent two of their soldiers to deal with the remaining threats.

The next few days were spent restoring the Stellar Degenerator to a fully serviceable state. The Maltur and the Starfinders exchange information and eventually, the lead Maltur decides they should help the Starfinder Society. He activates the Degenerator’s warp drives and within a few short hours, they find themselves dropping into real space outside the barrier surrounding the Scoured Stars system.

Wesley is given the honor of activating the weapon. The beam leaps out from the Stellar Degenerator. There is a long pause before the Sivv/Maltur begins to work. It takes some time but the barrier begins to crack. The barrier breaks and dissipates.

Almost immediately from somewhere in the Scoured Stars system, there is a transmission on all frequencies, “This is Starfinder 0672, 0672. Whose out there? Can you read us?”

Wesley responds, “0672. This is Starcrusher… With Artisanal Weaponry!”

Fade to black! We hoped you enjoyed the campaign!

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Next Campaign: Against the Giants

Playing Starfinder has been a lot of fun and I will treasure our time in the Dead Suns campaign forever. It is time to go back to our roots. I am adapting the Against the Giants series of adventures to Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition and I will be setting the campaign in the world of Midgard by Kobold Press. I know others have adapted this classic saga to D&D 5E but no one does it like I do and there is no group of players quite like mine.

Enjoy this teaser…

Dead Suns, Session 37

Admiral Serovox had employed his prodigious necromantic powers to wrestle control of the Stellar Degenerator from the Starfinders. Negative energy rippled across almost every surface of the ship and engulfed the control systems the PCs had previously been using to deploy the power of the starship against the surrounding Corpse Fleet ships.

Cypher quote, “That’s not good!”

Whenever they tried to touch the controls, spectral hands would reach out and grab them. Wesley wondered about the necrograph heart he had collected on the cultist’s asteroid. He pulled the heart out and when he got close to the controls, the heart began to glow and beat faster. This creeped him out and he decided he didn’t want to do that anymore. He pulled silver dust from the same asteroid and sprinkled it across the controls. The dust glowed and then disappeared. Although intriguing, Wesley decided to play with that later.

Stellar Degenerator Engineering

Nuil examined the energy field and identified it as a powerful necromancy ritual which enabled Admiral Serovox to take control of the ship. She knew there were a couple ways to counter the ritual. The first would be the easiest and the hardest would be to find where the ritual was being performed and disrupt it. The second would be to perform the same ritual using a more powerful energy source. In the immediate area, she could use the spell dispel magic to remove the effect but she did not have that spell.

Wesley wondered if he could use TIM-X to touch the controls and Nuil added she could always summon gremlins to play havoc with the ship. She also wondered about her psychokinetic hand and unseen servant spells but realized neither could manipulate the system.

Wesley yelled dramatically to his drone, “TIM-X, let’s meld!” The combat drone transformed into a mech suit and surrounded Wesley. He grabbed the controls and for a moment, nothing happened. Suddenly, the necromantic field crept up the arms of TIM-X and electrocuted Wesley. However, before he was shocked he was able to accomplish one task (because Michael rolled a crit on his engineering check). Wesley zeroed in on Admiral Serovox on the bridge and also identified that as the location where the ritual was being performed.

Wesley fled back from the controls and briefly lost consciousness. When he came to he told the group where they could find the admiral as well as where they would need to go to stop the ritual. He was also able to determine the Stellar Degenerator was slowly drifting out to join the remainder of the Corpse Fleet navy. He also noted the state of the defenses of the Gate of Twelve Suns. The Corpse Fleet definitely had the upper hand. Finally, he got a good layout of the ship and found an alternate route to the front of the ship using a maintenance rail system on the lower levels.

Wesley wondered if the group should contact the Starfinder Society but Cypher insisted they not do so. He pointed out he thought the Society would take control of the weapon and would use it for their purposes. The PCs decided not to contact them.

After some debate, the group decided the best way to reach the bridge would be to use the maintenance rail system. They descended into the lower levels of the engineering bay. Drez and Switch covered their egress from the upper levels.

They stumbled across some tech chests when they reached the lower levels. Nuil used her x-ray goggles to check them first and inside they found UPBs, 3 tier 3 healing serums, and an advanced laser crossbow for Nuil. Drez, Cypher, and Wesley all took one of the healing serums. They took a short break so Wesley could add an accuracy modification to Nuil’s new weapon.

A spooky laugh echoed through the lower levels of engineering.

Nuil turned her x-ray goggles on the areas beyond the east and west doors and saw no danger. The coast was clear. The group went through the eastern doors.

They moved into a circular room with tracks inlaid in the floor and an ancient vehicle which would have ridden the rails. Nuil recognized as similar in design to transports she had seen on her home planet. She and Wesley began repairs.

While the pair worked, the others scouted a short ways ahead through two tunnels leading north out of the room. Cypher heard some scraping noises coming from the darkness to the north. He quickly alerted the others and activated his cloaking field. The rest who weren’t working on the transport took cover. Ryder, Cypher, and TIM-X took aim and prepared to fire.

37.2

An amalgamation of robot and zombie parts came ambling out of the darkness. Those on guard fired and the three of them hit the necrograft robot. They blasted one of the arms from the creature but it kept coming. The battle begins at the 44-minute mark in the video. A second robot emerged from the darkness and shambled forward. The Starfinders quickly dismantled the first robot and turned their attention on the second one when their Geiger counters started ticking.

An ellicoth floated down from a hidden alcove above and flooded the chamber with radiation. Some of the PCs were protected by its radiation by their armor but a couple were not. When they last faced this type of creature, Wesley was nearly killed but this time they were prepared.

TIM-X attacked the second necrograft robot while Wesley threw a grenade at the ellicoth. Cypher distracted the ellicoth and blasted him with a powerful trick attack. He then retreated from the room and closed the door behind him. The ellicoth tried to attack the ysoki as he retreated but his tentacle smashed the floor instead.

37.1

Nuil summoned a wall of fire. She spiralled the wall around the center of the room, overlapping it so it did not harm her allies but built an inferno around the ellicoth and over the necrograft robot. The robot went up in flames but was left with 1 hit point. The One Hit Point Wonders strike again! The ellicoth drifted up to minimize the fire damage it sustained but it could not avoid the flames altogether.

Switch finally caught up with the group and rushed into the room. Without slowing, he charged into the ellicoth and slammed into it with his ultrathin longsword thin blade (rolling a crit) doing 74 points of damage (which is all the ellicoth had left). Electricity leapt off the blade and slammed into the robot. Both foes went down with the one attack.

Nuil and Wesley finished the repairs on the transport. Nuil then tended to her ally’s wounds. Wesley then grabbed enough scrap from the area to build a sledge so everyone would fit on the transport. Meanwhile, Nuil and Switch worked on repairing TIM-X. Switch completed what repairs he could and Nuil cast make whole to finish the job. Cypher and Ryder kept watch while the other worked.

The moved the transport onto the rails and zoomed through the maintenance tunnels. Fifteen minutes later, they were found themselves at the end of the tunnels and left the transport behind. The maintenance tunnels opened into a large storage facility with advanced medical tech. There were also three equipment storage units. Wesley examined them and discerned this was a high tech biological containment unit. They noticed writing on the floor which revealed this room to be a life pod. In fact, there were twenty maltur in suspended animation. Nuil gasped in surprise. Most of them were scientists and a few were ship crew and soldiers.

The PCs discussed whether they should wake up the maltur or wait until later when the ship was secured. They decided the maltur would be too vulnerable and decided to leave them where they were for now. They marked the location on their datapads so they could find their way back.

In the storage containers, they found equipment which was meant for the maltur in suspended animation. Including in storage was two pairs of kishaleen battle armor. Switch and Ryder took the armor and Ryder passed his previous armor to Wesley.

37.3Cypher, who was keeping watch again, heard what sounded like a liquid substance slapping against the floor and then a sliding sound. He called out to his comrades just as a pair of yellowish slimes with technology grafted to their tops slid into view. The battle begins at the 1-hour 30-minute mark in the video.

Wesley commented, “I thought it was a person coming down the hall but it’s not.” *drum roll*

Switch moved forward while the rest of the group retreated to high ground. The android engaged the scavenger slimes in melee combat to protect his allies.

Initially, the group used their usual tactics against the slimes but found some of them ineffective. The creatures possessed no sight and could not be distracted by anything which required it. They also quickly discovered the creatures were resistant to most types of damage. They quickly switched through their arsenals until they found attacks which could do the most damage and mowed them down.

END OF SESSION

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Dead Suns, Session 36

Watch the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/kTASmAJtoyM.

Corpse Fleet forces stormed the chokepoint through which the PCs had forced them to attack. Ryder, Drez, and Switch (accompanied by the two cyber-zombies) waited with tense anticipation to do everything they could to hold the line. The first wave consisted of a pair of bone trooper commandoes driving four baykok forward into the fray. The undead warriors wielded weapons crafted from the bones of their fallen foes and wasted no time against the PCs. The battle begins at the 2-minute mark in the video.

36.1

Ryder ordered one of the cyber-zombies to rush the baykoks along the southern platform. The skeletal baykok grew long, bony claws and slashed the cyber-zombie as it passed but the cyber-zombie was merely a distraction. Ryder jumped out and zeroed in on the baykok and blasted it into smithereens. Bones and necromantic ichor clattered down into the abyss below. Drez charged at the second baykok on the southern platform and tried to bullrush it over the edge. The baykok parried the attack, spun Drez around, and pushed the vesk soldier back. Switch moved forward along the southern platform and met the first bone trooper commando in melee combat as it zoomed across the gap with jumps jets. They traded vicious blows, Switch’s blade versus the commando’s charged gauntlet. The second bone trooper commando backed up from Drez (and avoided his attacks) and fired his rifle at the soldier.

On the northern platform, the third baykok charged the second cyber-zombie controlled by the PCs and slashed through it with his skeletal claws. Chunks of gore and necrograft components were torn free. The cyber-zombie survived the attack but only just barely. The battle continued unabated until finally, the stalwart PCs destroyed the attackers. They tended to their wounds and waited for the next wave.

36.2.pngMeanwhile… Nuil, Cypher, and Wesley successfully acquired control of the Stellar Degenerator. As the ship’s sensors came online they quickly realized the Gate of Twelve Sun’s defense systems had finally failed and the remainder of the Corpse Fleet vessels were closing on the Stellar Degenerator.

The various Corpse Fleet ships took evasive action and Cypher began maneuvering the ship so Nuil could make the most of the single, devastating weapon possessed by the Stellar Degenerator (represented by the Raza in the pic). She unleashed the full firepower of the ship and it tore through the side of the Blackwind Annihilator. The Corpse Fleet flagship immediately began to list while the rest of the enemy vessels opened fire. The smaller fighters charged in while the gunships opened fire. Their weapons store into the shields of the Stellar Degenerator but the ship’s defenses held true.

Back inside the Stellar Degenerator, the PCs holding the line found their rest had come to an end. A second wave of baykok attacked, this time led by a bone trooper commando, a corpsefolk marine and accompanied by a Denizen of Leng. The weary combatants threw themselves at the Corpse Fleet soldiers and wondered if they could hold out long enough for their allies to complete their task.

Cypher rammed two of the gunships (dropping the Stellar Degenerator’s shields to 40%). Wesley screamed, “I can fix this!” He then pulled the mighty ship around and lined up with the Blackwind Annihilator. Nuil fired the main gun again and the beam tore through the enemy vessel. It exploded and wreckage scattered across the system. The Blackwind Annihilator was gone!

36.3Drez and Switch formed a living defensive wall along the southern platform. Their foes momentarily were distracted from their goal and they threw themselves at the Starfinders. The Denizen of Leng reached into Drez’s mind and unlocked the vesk’s deepest and darkest fears. Drez fought off the mental attack but was shaken by the experience. Ryder had been watching the attackers closely and he identified a weakness in the corpsefolk marine’s armor. He carefully aimed, fired, and hit the weak spot in the marine’s armor. The corpsefolk collapsed in agony and fell off the balcony. The soldiers turned

Wesley worked furiously to restore the heavily damaged shields. Nuil realized the remaining Corpse Fleet vessels were going to ram them again to bring down the Stellar Degenerator so she abandoned the ship’s weapon system and rushed to further bolster the shields alongside Wesley. Cypher performed a flip and burn with the Stellar Degenerator and brought the ship around to face the remaining enemy ships.

The pair of soldiers were proving too much of a barrier to forward progress. The remaining baykok opened fire on Drez and Switch. They missed Drez but their aim was true on Switch. The android soldier spun his bone blade around and deflected the incoming projectiles. Drez used the opening to charge the Denizen of Leng and wailed on him with his kishaxe. Switch followed his ally and slashed through his target with his ultrathin longsword necroblade. Startled, the Denizen of Leng tried to back away and both warriors cut him down. Although two baykoks remained, the battle was won by the Starfinders and they fled.

Denizen of Leng

The Corpse Fleet technicians managed to reclaim their comm channels and Admiral Serovox came across the open line.

“Starfinders, I am sure you can hear me now. You’ve done… well. I commend your efforts in taking over the Stellar Degenerator and I lament the loss of the Blackwind Annihilator. I am in need of a new flagship and I think this one will serve quite well.” Then he commented to someone the Starfinders could not see, “Complete the ritual. Take control of the Stellar Degenerator.”

A strange humming and chanting filled the starship. Shadows begin to lengthen and darken. Spectral hands appear and disappeared like souls reached out from the walls around them. The ship shook as necromantic energy surged through the craft. Through Admiral Serovox, the Corpse Fleet stole control of the Stellar Degenerator from the Starfinders.

END OF SESSION

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Dead Suns, Session 35

Watch the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/SxMBD4juCQs.

The Starfinders began the session with a complete tactical advantage. Thanks to Wesley’s cloaking systems, the Raza had gone completely undetected as it flew by the surrounding Corpse Fleet and closed with the only open hangar bay on the Stellar Degenerator. As they approached the hangar, they spotted several starfighters and their pilots milling about the bay. Beyond them was a control room in which there were three cyber-zombies and a Corpse Fleet officer supervising them.

After some debate, the group decided to make the most of the Raza’s offenses and launched a torpedo into the hangar bay. The Corpse Fleet was caught completely off-guard as the weapon blasted into the bay and exploded. The starfighters and pilots were destroyed but much to everyone’s surprise, a Kishaleen energy field appeared and protected the control room. Wesley immediately began to hack the hangar bay’s systems and shut down the shield. The Corpse Fleet officer fled through an ancillary door and disappeared from view.

Cyber Zombie

The Cyber-Zombies were jacked into the ship’s computers systems and were oblivious to the actions of the PCs. Cypher jacked into the computers and used them as a backdoor to hack into the three zombies and took control of them. The first one was trying to hack into the surrounding star system’s defensive weaponry in an attempt to shut them down. Cypher ended that process. The second was monitoring the security systems around the hangar bay (including video feeds). The third was monitoring Corpse Fleet communications and their forces moving throughout the Stellar Degenerator.

Cypher decided to use the third zombie to bluff the Corpse Fleet. He announced the Stellar Degenerator had grown unstable and ordered a full retreat. This caused immediate chaos. One of the “young” Corpse Fleet officers responded, “Admiral Serovox, this order confuses us. Why should we leave the Stellar Degenerator when we just claimed it?” A gravelly voice responds, “That is the Starfinders, you fool. Go back to your original orders and complete your mission.” Not all of the Corpse Fleet heard this exchange and while some returned to their missions, others began retreating.

Using the second cyber-zombie, Cypher located the Corpse Fleet officer who had fled from the control room. He hadn’t gotten far before he reunited with another unit. That unit opened a teleportation portal and the officer disappeared through it alone. The Starfinders had one trail to follow if they chose to do so.

The group debated what to do next and they wondered if they could use the controls here to destroy the Stellar Degenerator to deal with the Corpse Fleet swarming it. Cypher reminded the group if they did that, Wesley’s parents and the other Starfinders in the Scoured Stars system might be lost.

The group decided to leave one cyber-zombie behind to interfere with Corpse Fleet comms and took the other two with them. Wesley took out the laser trap he had scavenged from the cultist asteroid and set it up to defend the cyber-zombie they were leaving behind. They decided not to follow the Corpse Officer who fled but instead they would head to the Stellar Degenerator’s engineering section where they intended to take control of the ship. They also schemed to use their holoskins to disguise themselves as members of the Corpse Fleet. Only Drez did not disguise himself and instead posed as a prisoner.

The vessel was enormous and labyrinthine and it took all of Wesley’s engineering skills (with an assist from Nuil) to navigate the ship as quickly as they could. They noted as they moved most of the ship was not Kishaleen but Kishaleen technology had been merged with the control systems of the ship. They recalled the ship had originally been created by the Sivv before the Kishaleen had claimed it.

Malakar

On the way to engineering, they happened across a second Corpse Fleet officer, a female human pale stranger, wielding twin pistols constructed of bone. She was in command of three “marooned ones” undead which were busy unloading crates. She turned to the PCs and with a disinterested demeanor, commented on how quickly they had captured one of the Starfinders. Cypher forgets himself and responds with a thick ysoki accent. The officer did not react and the group could not tell if she had noticed. She then commented on how pleased Admiral Serovox would be they had captured one of the breathers. She ordered to bring the prisoner to the nihili (marooned ones) who had not been fed yet that day.

Cypher pushed Drez forced and then the group broke apart and launched a surprise attack. The battle begins at the 58-minute mark in the video.

Cypher ducked behind some medical supplies for cover. Nuil scaled a nearby pillar. Drez burst into a run and tossed a grenade to land between the pale stranger and two of the marooned ones. Much to his surprise, the pale stranger’s eyes tracked him through the pillar and she was not surprised by the attack. Perhaps she had caught Cypher’s accent? She taunted, “You think I can’t see you wherever you are?” She fired on the vesk soldier just as the grenade landed near her feet. She could not avoid the blast and was sent reeling. Electricity and fire danced along the line of her attack and slammed into Drez with the round from her pistol.

Although outnumbered, the Corpse Fleet soldiers put up a good fight. The pale stranger, who revealed her name was Malakar, demonstrated the uncanny ability to enhance her attacks with her pistols with various energy types and the attacks passed through cover as if it did not exist. The PCs were defenseless against her attacks and quickly realized they needed to commit to an overwhelming offense. Drez activated his haste circuit and charged her which is when he discovered her defense mechanism, an aura which caused irrational fear in those it affected. The effect was too much for the vesk and he fled in fear before he could attack.

The rest of the group rushed the marooned ones while keeping their distance from Malakar as much as they could. They unleashed unholy hell on the undead threat and Malakar died with a snarl on her face.

The group finished their trek to the engineering section. There Nuil and Cypher hacked into the ship’s computers. Corpse Fleet technicians managed to briefly retake control of their communications and Admiral Serovox sent the Starfinders an ominous message. He was sending his forces to claim them but he was not going to kill them, he intended to transform them into undead and add them to his forces. Nuil and Cypher closed down as many passages as they could to force the approaching threat to come through a single route.

Nuil, Cypher, and Wesley began taking control of the Stellar Degenerator while Drez, Ryder, and Switch rushed off to set up defenses along the route the Corpse Fleet would take. The techies were able to quickly take control of the ship while the others steeled themselves for the inevitable attack.

END OF SESSION

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Dead Suns, Session 34

Watch the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/V54ppY2yInU.

Osteth began lobbying for the PCs to destroy the Stellar Degenerator but before they could respond they realized hidden defenses across the system had come to life with the Corpse Fleet’s arrival. The PCs spotted the infamous Blackwind Annihilator, the flagship of the Corpse Fleet, and one of only three capital ships like it. Several shuttles disembarked from the Annihilator. One shuttle began an intercept course for the controller moon on which the PCs were currently located and the rest went in the direction of the Stellar Degenerator.

 

Ryder wondered if the PCs could just close the gate and call it a day but Cypher pointed out the ship had already drifted out of the demiplane, “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

 

The group contemplated their plan of action. They saw their first option was to board the Stellar Degenerator and to use it against the Corpse Fleet. Osteth recommended boarding the Blackwind Annihilator and to use its weaponry to destroy the Stellar Degenerator. Breaking it down they all agreed on one point, they needed to get to the Stellar Degenerator before the Corpse Fleet.

 

Osteth asked if he could be released from Cypher’s restraints. Ryder argued fervently they should free Osteth but Cypher could not find in himself to trust the AI. The group left with the AI still confined.

 

The Starfinders rushed into the jungle surrounding the control center and decided to cut a line straight for where Wesley had hidden the Raza earlier. Unfortunately for them, the foot soldiers of the Corpse Fleet had surrounded the facility and the PCs were forced to fight their way through. The battle begins at 18:28 in the video.

Bone Trooper Commando

 

The PCs spread out and began firing on the corpse fleet commandoes who were blocking their retreat. Switch and Drez charged forward to form the frontline when Nuil revealed a newly acquired spell on incredible power. She summoned a massive wall of fire and strategically laid it across the battlefield to hit all of the attacking undead. Magical flames tore through them but one of them charged into a safe spot and fired on Nuil. He clipped her and her wall of flame disappeared. Apparently, they were well trained in combat with magic users but the damage had been done. The commandoes were mostly dead. Cypher went invisible and went all Predator on the corpse fleet commandoes. The Starfinders finished off the commandoes.

 

Cypher quickly climbed a tree to ensure they were on the right path. He confirmed their location and also spotted where the corpse fleet shuttle had landed as well. They decided to stop by the corpse fleet shuttle on their way to the Raza.

 

In a clearing of razed flora, they found the shuttle unguarded. Examining the ship as they approached it they realized a unique feature of Corpse Fleet vessels. The insides of the ship would be completely exposed to the void of space outside of an atmosphere. Onboard, the only “living” thing on the ship is a zombie with shriveled vestigial limbs and necrografts implanted in its cranium. Cabling from its skull ran into the controls of the shuttle.

barrow-dirgesinger.jpgCypher plugged into the shuttle’s systems with Nuil’s help and discovered the Corpse Fleet technology was more advanced than he knew. It seemed the technology they had encountered on Eox was a pale shadow in comparison to the tech used by the notorious fleet. They quickly set about unlocked all the systems in the shuttle and identified it as Barrow Dirgesinger called the Blackwind Sepulcher. Cypher and Nuil rigged it so they could remotely pilot the craft.

 

Inspiration hits and Cypher gets the idea they can crash the shuttle into the Blackwind Annihilator and use it as a distraction while they head to the Stellar Degenerator aboard the Raza. Time for some kamikaze!

They rush the rest of the way to the Raza and both craft lift off from the moon. The first thing the crew does is cloak the Raza. They “flew the shuttle casually” and identified the bridge of the Blackwind Annihilator and set the shuttle on a roundabout intercept course. The flagship hailed the shuttle and inquired why it was returning early and if the crew of the shuttle had dealt

 

with the Starfinders. Ryder modulated his voice with his implant and feigned arrogant incredulity. The flight controller scolded Ryder and ordered him to land and resupply. The Corpse Fleet planned to send teams to disable the star system’s defenses.

Blackwind Annihilator

The crew of the flagship did not recognize the danger until it was too late. Cypher brought the shuttle around and rammed it into the command deck of the Blackwind Annihilator. A giant ball of flame erupted from the bridge and the capital ship began to list. The smaller ships surrounding the flagship took evasive action and began searching for other attackers but the Starfinder’s cloaking field kept them hidden.

 

The Raza took a wide berth around the searching Corpse Fleet ships and closed with the Stellar Degenerator. They quickly located an open docking bay and approached. Inside they spotted four Corpse Fleet fighters, a small contingent of commandoes, and a Corpse Fleet officer in a control room overseeing a trio of cyber-zombies like the one they found on the Corpse Fleet shuttle.

 

END OF SESSION

 

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Dead Suns, Session 33

You can watch the game session on YouTube at https://youtu.be/_FgzhJbZoNU.

Nuil tended to her and Drez’s wounds. Drez then retreated to watch over the prisoner (aka Billy wasn’t with us this session). Ryder asked Wesley to send Canary to scout for the approaching cultists. After a touching moment between Wesley and his creation, Canary zoomed off to survey the area. While the drone did its work, Wesley worked to reset the electrified trap in the floor (rolled a crit, so I increased the damage the floor would inflict).

Canary checked in and revealed to Wesley there were cultists coming in the front door while others were placing some kind of device on the back wall of the facility. He quickly warned his teammates and they prepared for battle and Canary’s feed went dark. The back wall exploded inwards and Ryder was caught on the edge of the blast (but only took a single point of damage).

Null 9Null-9 entered the facility from the back and alongside her were two shade spawn and a dwarven soldier carrying a small cannon.

The battle begins at the 14-minute mark in the video.

The shades swarmed the party while the cultists attacked on both sides of the facility. Any hope of “focusing fire” was quickly abandoned as the PCs tried to cope with the battle on three fronts.

Null-9 taunted Switch but he refused to take the bait. He knew she had gone down a dark path and he would not follow her down it.

Switch threw himself at Null-9 and the villains slowly drew him out of the facility into the jungle just outside. He knew it was a trap but he refused to allow Null-9 any quarter and bravely charged into the vulnerable position. Null-9 and the dwarf, Deldreg the Butcher, pounded Switch until they finally dropped him unconscious.

Deldreg the ButcherMeanwhile, Xix’s brother, Zaz, led a second group through the front door. Although there was some jostling about, eventually Cypher caught the cultists on the floor trap and electrocuted them for 10d6 points of damage (all of them but Zaz who had charged past the floor). There was not much left to the cultists after that. Wesley and Cypher continued to wear them down but one snuck off to help the shades against Ryder and Nuil.

In the center of the facility, the shades closed on Ryder and Nuil. Nuil’s magical resources had been mostly depleted and the pair were hard-pressed to handle the undead attackers. The cultist who fled from Cypher and Wesley arrived and went after Ryder and Nuil. The Starfinders were forced to retreat step by step into the control room on the south side of the facility.

Cypher and Wesley managed to drop Zaz and then Cypher snuck off to find a good firing position in the center room. He took up a sniper’s position behind a desk and continued to fire as opportunities presented themselves. Somehow Ryder ended up with him behind the desk

ZazJust as the crew finished off the cultist and shades in the center hallway, Null-9 and Deldreg left Switch’s unconscious body in the jungle and reentered the facility to press the attack. Outside, Switch quickly recovered. The android soldier gathered his Resolve and regained consciousness (restoring 1 hit point). He stumbled back into the battle.

DM Note: Switch rode that 1 hit point through the end of the battle. I tried. Believe me, I tried. Fortune favored the bold and Switch stood strong until the end.

Ryder, Nuil, and Switch combined their strength to gain the advantage on Null-9 and Deldreg. The cult leaders fell and moments later, Cypher positioned himself just right and finished off the last cultist who continued to attack Wesley.

The Cult of the Devourer had finally been defeated.

While the others took a moment to catch their breath, Switch opened Null-9’s head and retrieved her memory module. Null-9 was lost to him but he wondered if Null-10 might have a better fate?

At the 2 hours, 49 minute, and 56-second mark, Michael and Stephen sang “Happy Birthday” to Bill’s daughter. I left it in the video. Enjoy!

Wesley took the parts the cultists had returned with and began repairs on the control facility. The debate on the fate of the Stellar Degenerator began again. Eltreth once again insisted the Starfinders destroy the superweapon and Ryder agreed. Cypher once again protested and insisted they reach it first. The pair could not agree (and the hologram continued to bolster Ryder’s point of view). Cypher reminded Ryder that a short while ago, the group wanted him to silence the hologram and now they were listening to it.

Ryder remarked, “And like you [Cypher] said, maybe he’s not so bad.”

Cypher retorted, “And like you said, maybe the guy is a jerk who should keep his mouth shut and keep his opinions to himself.”

Eltreth grimaced, “I do not like the ysoki. I wish we never created them.”

Nuil scolded him, “Hey now!”

The argument continued.

Finally, Cypher broke down and shared a secret he had been holding onto for a long time. He revealed when the group was on Absalom Station and he accessed the Starfinder database, he had confirmed something he suspected for a long time. Wesley’s parents had been part of the Starfinder expedition to the Scoured Stars system. That mission was a notorious failure. When the Starfinder fleet arrived at the Scoured Stars, an unknown entity surrounded the entire system in a huge field. Only a few ships were left outside the barrier to report what had happened. Most of the Starfinder Society was lost inside. No weapon or communication could penetrate it or ever has. Cypher suspected the Stellar Degenerator might be able to accomplish that task.

Wesley wondered if his parents might be alive on the other side. Cypher admitted he didn’t know but there was a chance.

Wesley was stunned. Dreams of seeing his parents again consumed him. Eltreth reminded Wesley of the danger of the Stellar Degenerator and Wesley protested.

The repairs on the control facility were completed. As the systems powered up, Wesley activated the controls and the star system-sized gate to the demiplane opened. The Stellar Degenerator began to drift out.

Moments later, other signatures began appearing on the system’s sensors. Undesignated ships in the hundreds began to appear. The crew recognized their make.

The Corpse Fleet had arrived.

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