Welcome to the last of the end of week writeup for July where our party met the creature that has been terrorising a nearby village and has been leaving grizzly warnings throughout the Kunagi Ranges. This week picks up from the last week but I will be a bit cheeky and leave some bits out of it for next weekend as I work on some other things in the background. So enjoy the end of week writeup and look out for changes coming here!
Hunted and pursued
As the rabbit with horns erupted from the bush and ran off across the edge of the road, darting behind bushes and around trees, branches and rocks in its escape from the humanoids that had discovered it in its hiding place the party watched it with weapons at the ready lest it was another beast ready to attack them, or worse. As the parties tension eased in the following silence they moved about the snow covered road they put their weapons away and started to move across the road to check for anything else that was nearby. No matter how far and thoroughly they looked they were unable to shake the feeling of being watched, or a predator being nearby – the cold and fatigue of the last days travel taking its toll on the adventurers making shapes in the snow look like beasts and spirits getting ready to lash out at the party and strike them down where they stood.
After they were certain nothing was near by the party and the wagon rolled onwards down the road, returning to being alert and keeping an watchful eye on the walls of the valley, the trees and the snow.
She watched from a nearby wall of ice and rock through the sporadic leaves and branches between her keen eyes and the humans that were travelling through her lands – the one that had been marked by the shadow and the queen. Twisting her neck around she moved away from the rock, her strong neck moving away from the wall of rock and ice as her claws and broad axe-like graft of everfrost that adorned her forelimbs dug into the rock, dirt and ice to secure herself and support her weight. As she moved her body upwards to a crouching position she compressed her body until it was like a coiled spring and released, spreading her forelimbs wide as the framed membranes spread wide and her weight was caught by the wind and she soared higher into the sky as the wind tunnel help carry her higher into the sky quickly – her eyes never leaving the humans and their wagon as they moved onwards.
Creatures scattered in the forest as she revealed herself from her hiding spot, she loved this feeling, the fear, the reverence. She was the mountain itself and those who lived in these rocky outcrops were her subjects, only fit to live her by her good grace. As she soared higher she saw the sun setting on the end of the valley causing the spikes of ice she had created sparkle like jewels through the rift between her rock and snow. Latching onto the tallest rocky peak, digging the ice blade in deep to secure purchase, she watched the humans, they not being aware that they would be dead with the coming sun. A smile formed on her lips, rare for her species but she was an oddity for her kind any way and as long as she was still ruler of these rocky lands she cared not for the wars that happened to the east and west of her, for here she was queen.
Content to watch and plan she climbed to the peak, using her four limbs and he thick and wide tail to give her balance as she gripped into the cold earth. Reaching the peak she sat there and preened her feathers, the yellow sunlight causing her white and blue feathers and scales to glow like the snow that surrounded her as she made sure that she looked her best for the guests she had in her hunting grounds – for the hunt was about to be on and she did not want to disappoint.
The cold wind nipped at her exposed nose and ears as she looked up at the wagon in the distance and sighed with relief. After finding her aunt half eaten by the creatures that came at night she didn’t care about the warnings of the Yuki-onna or even the creature that had been destroying her village – nothing had bothered her, even the cold didn’t bother her half as much as normal. But the things she had seen on her pursuit of the adventures and the wagon had worried her, the creatures big and small, malicious and marvellous all threaded upon everfrost like grim warnings of what travellers in the valley could expect between the valley walls.
That is why she needed to find them, those foreign adventures the one from the same place as Hugh and Jason, her aunt had tons her the night before that they were the only ones that could stop the attacks and had left a single talisman out for their good fortune. Ester was sure that is what had drawn the creatures to her aunt’s room and they had decided to make a spectacle, a statement from her defiance. And now she was racing to them, making up lost ground as they seemed to be moving slower now, whether by choice or not was yet to be determined but it gave her a chance to catch up and ask for help.
Running across the snow was nearly impossible but she moved as quickly as she could, holding her fathers bow with a notched arrow ready to defend herself if anything thought her an easy meal. The talismans and charms draped around her neck should keep most things away or help her natural senses keep her from harm but there was always a cost to such enhancements and she had trouble hearing anything over the wind in the valley. Her heightened senses seemed to be picking up the overwhelming noise of the mountain itself, animals and creatures as well but the wind, groaning trees and cracking twigs – everything was loud.
Surprisingly so she didn’t notice the massive white creature until she nearly bumped into it.
Large thick claws adorned the rear feet and powerful legs, claws and a large blade made of everfrost capped the middle of two large wings that where covered in feathers and scales that made it blend in perfectly to the surrounding snow and frost. A large avian head and sharp beak with Jagged teeth contrasted with the highly intelligent eyes that looked down upon her with amusement and mirth.
Raising her bow she pointed it at the creature who’s beak twisted into the mimicry of a smile. “A brave one to point such a small arrow at the mountain itself” the massive creature said in a chirpy song-like voice. “You get one shot so I’d make it count. But to shoot me results in only your death and not mine little creature” and Ester knew it was true. The creature was as big as the trees, the scales were like metal plates and the volume of feathers made it hard to see where flesh was beneath them. She considered her options and looked towards the wagon, a few hundred feet away, the wind whipped her hair and covered her eyes as it fanned out in the direction of her gaze. A carrying wind she thought. Grabbing one of her talismans, one of luck, she wrapped it around the arrow slowly as the large creature watched her with amusement and curiosity. “I’m afraid to tell you that those talismans don’t work on me little one” the monster said as it moved forward, the everfrost blades biting into the snow and earth giving its massive form purchase. As quick as she could, drawing from her talismans to augment her speed and skill with a bow Ester raised the bow and loosed on a single shot, carrying the talismans with it.
The arrow soared past the creatures head who turned its to watch the arrow fly off into the distance, a breeze pick it up and push it into the wood of the wagon next to the rear door.
“Very clever” the creature said as she turned to look at he girl. “Very clever indeed” it repeated as it lunged upwards grabbing Ester and carried her in her powerful hind claws into the sky, the sudden appearance of a flurry of snow blocking visibility and shrouding the creature and Ester in white as it ascended into the mountain peaks.
Hana stared at the snow as the talisman swung backwards and forwards in the rocking motion of the wagon. She had seen it, she was sure she saw a massive creature fly into the sudden snow flurry and ascend into the sky. As the party arrived around her, and Kyoko gripped her shoulder she realised that she was shaking. Grabbing a quill, a pot of ink and some paper she started to sketch what she thought she saw, but no matter how she tried to describe it with words, or she tried to draw it no one had a clue of what was out there – but they recognised the charm attached to the arrow embedded in the door.
After half an hour the party returned with a bow and reports of the same large scrape like markings in the snow.
Kyoko won’t leave the caravan this adventure – more to the point Kuang and Hana wont let her, but she will duck out now and again and fire an arrow at the Laelóng in an attempt to aid the party.
Captain Kuang Ping
Kuang won’t be seen outside of the wagon unless its to usher Kyoko back inside the walls. When he is seen he has his sword drawn and is watching both the skies, the valley walls and Kyoko an attempting to do all of it at the same time.
Sasha (Hana Toshio-Harimasu)
Hana tries to describe the creature but having not recovered her voice yet she barely manages to describe anything of note.
Jason just wants to get out of there but trusts the party to be able to hold their own as he manages the wagon and drives it forward and through the valley as quickly as he can. Apart from giving advice to the party i.e. “Run” he focuses on getting the wagon and the people within to safety.
After finding her Aunt killed by the creatures either in spite or by orders by those who have set their sights on the town, Ester hurries off after the party to try an convince them to come back to help the town, little did she realise that she would force their assistance one way or another.
Environment and running the adventure
Part 1 – Fight.
So the first part of the encounter is a slog fest with some hindrance or handicaps on my creatures due to holding Ester. The creature moves slowly, half speed, with disadvantage on attack rolls and dex saves as it’s currently carrying a prisoner and because one of its back feet is occupied in its attempt to stay upright in the snow its a bit more clumsy. This however doesn’t restrict some of its abilities which it will use as often as it can. The goal of the creature is to immobilise or cause as many of the player characters to become restrained by the ice or environment so it can savour their death.
The snow it self makes the players move at half speed but wont affect the creature, as its already slow. This evens the Playfield a smidge and grants a small advantage for the creature as it can cause parts of the battlefield to become hazards where they are nearly impossible to cross over. The goal of this round is to shatter the ice that cover the front clawed sections of wing which will cause it to slip over until it puts down Ester. The creature will also throw Ester at a party member that is within 30 feet as a reaction to their action (movement, attack, spell cast) when its at or below 50% health. Once it does this it will leap into the sky and summon spears of everfrost into the mountain peaks nearby creating an avalanche.
For the purpose of damaging the ice blades they have resistance to all piercing and slashing attacks, take normal damage from Two handed melee weapons (as they take more muscle to wield) but vulnerability from bludgeoning. the blades have AC14 (as the creature needs them for balance, but they are durable) and 40hp. When ever the Laelóng uses its ice breath attack the ice blades heal 1d10hp.
Part 2 – Avalanche.
Round 2 is avoiding a terrain hazard, the avalanche, whilst fending off the creature as it swoops down to try and kill or drown (in snow) the party. It will always move in, attack once then bonus action disengage during this phase whilst sparing its ice breath. After the avalanche begins they party has five rounds until the avalanche his them and the exit/entrance to the valley is 300 feet away. The in party’s goal is to get out of the valley alive whilst the creatures goal is to prevent them from doing so (but not make it impossible). The wagon is back a further 200ft. If the party are caught by the avalanche they have 3 rounds of fighting a against the avalanche with a mixture of either skill and saving throws before being dumped onto the soggy ground at the end of the valley, just past its walls, from up high a battered creature is now furious for being denied it’s prize, but its now un-inhibited and mad gaining some additional combat options.
Dexterity contests are in order to avoid the creatures attack. DC is the attack roll vs the Dexterity checks. If you fail then the creature can still miss based on AC but you are knocked prone in your attempt to avoid the attack. If you succeed then you don’t get knocked prone and suffer no damage.
If the Avalanche hits a party member a Strength saving throw (DC15) is required immediately or they are taken under, if they succeed they maintain their footing and are considered to be 5ft away from the avalanche.
This taken under by the avalanche are considered to be restrained and suffocating. The Party member can repeat their saving throw at the end of each of their turns in which they at restrained to attempt to surface and break free.
( A creature can hold its breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + its Constitution modifier (minimum of 30 seconds). When a creature runs out of breath or is choking, it can survive for a number of rounds equal to its Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round).)
Regardless of constitution modifiers after 3 rounds they stop moving through from the avalanche and end up at the mouth of the valley looking at a very angry Laelóng, (mixed between Laniidae which is greek for Shrike and Fēilóng which is Chinese for Wyvern).
Now some of this will come during this week as the complexity of making it challenging but not overpowering after the ordeal of the avalanche is something I want to spend more time on but the creature will have access to more legendary actions to use against the party will be able to spend its frost breath charge on repairing its ice blades and will no longer have disadvantage (unless the party inflict it) on any rolls as it fights at full ferocity. It is however at half health or wounded to some degree due to the previous confrontation.
I would assume that the party is at level 7 but will not be fully rested (due to the earlier fights or encounters) – this is intentional to make the fight feel more desperate but it should be balanced to not make their failure a sure thing.
Well we are at another end of week where we also find ourselves looking at the end of the month! Next week come and join me as I reveal the Laelóng in more detail and fill in what the next step is for our adventurers. Don’t forget to come back for the other gradual changes I am making this week and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe