The Defence of the Wall

Tonight as we head further closer towards the conclusion of this yearly adventure with The Defence of the Wall. This month we have a level 9 adventure and by the end of it we will see our party at level 10.

As with last time Pages 1, 2 and 3 are content pages, the description, flow, random tables, etc. and such that you’ve previously seen.
Page 4 contains all NPCs and portraits to help the DM describe them and a bit about them to help play them out.
Page 5 will be stat blocks and map(s) – all that D&D encounter goodness that you want.

Now I will assume you have read the entire post which has had some bits modified over the months content. Now including the original content, and some bits added this is a smaller than normal length, only just making 5822! words long. I really do appreciate the time you take to read through these end of month adventures.

All Maps were made in Inkarnate using their Pro license, Art was created in Artbreeder and the statblocks were created in Tetra-cube AND the balancing of encounters is a mixture of experience and the guides found at Kobold Fight Club.

Don’t forget to come back next week and, as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe


Part 1 – Mote of Radiance – 240MoMoORa

Black feathers caught the wind currents under the dark ominous clouds and caused the large winged creature to soar above the ground far below. Beating its wings it looked down below at the group travelling along the road. It’s keen eyes picked out everything. From the colours of their clothes to the wear and tear on their cloaks not a detail was missed. That was until the hilt of a blade, the tip of a staff and the glimmer of an amulet glimmered from under cloth.

The resulting burst of radiance in the creatures view caused it to reel with pain. It wasn’t just its pain it was feeling but also its masters and its desires were simple. Don’t let them reach the wall.

Tucking its wings in the creature dove down the wind now aiding in its rapid descent as it plunged. Noticing movement from its left and right two of its brethren also had been urged downwards. However, their descent was halted as a bolt of radiance shot up from the travellers, connecting with the torso of the creature next to it. The tangled mess of skin, flailing limbs and gore tumbled down towards the earth as the creatures dove onwards.

Too late did the creature realise as the blades, limbs and bolts piece and shred their flesh that these motes of radiance were too much for them. Even as they began to flee shredded wings flapping in a panic they were cut down no far from where they made their foolish attack.

As the radiant light burnt through its flesh and it lay in a pool of blood and gore the power the Shadow had leant it all those years ago evaporated with the last beat of its heart.


240WeDaFo

The Dragons Tears items were phenomenal. With a single command word they shed bright light as if a miniature sun had been captured and forged into a item. The sun is something that the party had not seen in days and the further they travelled in this direction the more certain they were that they wouldn’t see the sun for quite some time.

“It wasn’t always like this” Kyoko said from beside them as she walked, the unseasonal browning leaves crunching underfoot. “These parts of the Harimasu lands were always green and rich with life. Now with the Shadow spreading its influence further east it looks like the life is being stripped from the earth.” Kyoko’s voice was melancholy but the bright light from the items the party carries seemed to bring mirth back to her face.

“Legend has it that the weapons were so powerful that the Shadow couldn’t stand to be in their presence. Alone it fled to the mountains to get far enough away from them that it wouldn’t feel their light upon its dark skin.”

The party looked at the items in thought. Surely they were stories told to make the people of these lands feel brave enough to face the horrors that crept in the dark. As a shower of sparks signalled that Takeo had finished building the fire as what they believed to be night descended upon them. Once he had finished with the fire he produced a pot and some rations and foodstuffs to get a meal going.

Nightfall…

As the fire flickered and licked at the empty pot the shadows cast from the creatures that gathered around it for warmth. The smell of stewed meat and vegetables caused the creatures to salivate but that wasn’t reason that they were here. The driving pressure, the urge and the desire to appease their master had lead them here and here they waited until they were sure. Their master was a strong one, clever, fast and wise. But his master was even more so and it was he who was giving the orders.

“Wait until we are sure they carry the light. Then we attack and make sure none find the light ever again” their master had instructed them. The largest creature crooned as she received scritches under its massive jaw.

A brief flash of light, then a pulse. A bigger burst of light that seared the eyes of the nocturnal creatures gave them all the information they needed. As a group they charged, whooping, cheering and howling with excitement as they closed into their prey. They just hoped that they would last long enough to be fun for the pack.


Areas and places of note

Campsite – Along the road to the wall there isn’t a particularly well defensible spot at any point. But with the Dragons Tear items the party feel confident they can fight off anything that comes their way.

Ambush Site – perhaps one of the reasons for the party being confident with their choice of camp is the encounters that they have had to face along the road.

Environment and running the adventure

The trees provide either half, partial or full cover. Perception checks that rely on sound are done with disadvantage from the sounds of the forest and the muffling of noise from the bushes.

Notable NPC interactions.

Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko has come with the party to aid them in drawing the Ice queen out and coordinating the troops on the wall as the others head to the south to meet the Toshio-family head on and prevent the wall from being attacked on two fronts.

Takeo – Sticks close to Kyoko to ensure that she is safe but otherwise scouts ahead of the party to try and

Encounter

The creatures during the day attack with reckless abandon. They are spurred onwards by the shadow directly and don’t work together or plan out their attacks. The mastiff’s however and their leader (a oni for the sake of giving it a stat-block) attack in an extremely coordinated manner which speaks of tried and tested routine and planning.


After the encounter:

The party move on for another day of walking before the wall is seen on the horizon. Although they have bested all that has been thrown at them so far they fear the worst still lies ahead of them.


Part 2 – Atop the wall- 241MoAtThWa

As the party arrived at the wall the first thing that they noticed was the sheer lack of people. For such a crucial point in the defence of Ryokughan it was shockingly unmanned. A head appeared at the edge of the wall twenty feet above the ground before calling out. “Princess Kyoko is here! Reinforcements have arrived!” the voice was overcome with emotion before several others echoed with joyous cries of relief.

“Kyoko. I don’t think our message hawk arrived here safely. They believe we have more reinforcements for the wall” Takeo spoke in a hushed whisper to Kyoko and the party. “How did you want to handle this?” he added looking from Kyoko to the party who were in fact the reinforcements.

After a few moments a platform was lowered over the side and the party, the princess and the spy were lifted atop the wall. Despite the low numbers of people on the wall they all were veterans. Heavily armed, armoured and trained they carried themselves with a martial poise that was lacking in many. As they rushed towards Kyoko they greeted Takeo and the party, the exhaustion on their faces replaced by joy and relief.

“Before we continue the pleasantries I believe I need to have a word with you lady Kyoko” a particularly grizzled and hard man said from a nearby door to a small tower. “There is something that is of great urg…” he began as he held up a fist and listened to the quiet that his signal instilled. “It comes!” the wall captain roared as every single soldier drew their weapons and surrounded the party and princess.

In a moment of chaos clouds of shadow-smoke appeared around the wall in sporadic bursts. Soon the sound of steel clashing, grunts and combat rang out around the party as the unknown adversary launched itself at the walls defenders. After a few moments the creature disappeared and the shadow-smoke dissipated soon after.

“To your posts. Prepare for combat!” roared the captain who eyed his men and women closely, inspecting for wounds. Finding one he pulled them aside “to the infirmary,” he said with a sigh as the realisation set into the face of the woman in front of him. “you’ve been stung. You won’t be seeing battle again until you’ve recovered” he added as he clasped the soldiers shoulder.

“yes sir!” the soldier barked obediently as with a great deal of sadness she handed over her weapons in resignation to the captain before retreating down a nearby set of stairs. As she disappeared into the bowels of carved and fortified stone.

“We are hounded by a creature that does not kill, it barely wounds but what it touches quickly dies. Normally at the hands of the victims allies.” the captain said as he grabbed a helmet and moved to the wall. “Those unfortunately enough to get injured by it recover after some time. Normally after heavy sedation. Some don’t and they choose to live on the outside of the wall so that in their condition they can still benefit their brothers and sisters.”

“What do you mean wall captain Hou?” Kyoko asked as she moved over to the wall before clasping a hand to her mouth.

“They go mad. Their blood boils and they cant detect friend from foe. They will kill anything in sight. Lethally trained warriors who can’t tell friend from foe and who have a lust for blood that a demon would envy. I haven’t seen it before. Our healers can only sedate and hope that their spirit is strong enough to fight the affliction. If they can’t resist then they spend their final days ripping into our enemies and serving us in their death.” the captain said with great reverence as he saluted a human who stopped pacing by the base of the wall, bloody froth covering its mouth.

After a moment the human, one a warrior that defended the wall turned and charged away from the wall, picking up a crude looking sword as it charged headlong into a mass of charging Spirit folk. The brutality in which the warrior cleaved into the fey creatures was outstanding and hard to watch. But that wasn’t only sight on the other side of the wall. Dozens of injured and dying lay strewn about the battlefield on both sides. Humans, those afflicted as well as the minions of The Shadow, all of them calling for help or crying out in pain or fear.

“We have tried to recover our wounded or dead and we started to lose more men than we saved…” a wall guard said from next to the party. Nodding towards the captain who pulled on a helmet and drew a magnificent longbow as he climbed a nearby watch tower. “He lost his daughter. She was a fine warrior and led the last recovery mission. She was cut down by a Oni.” The guardsman nodded towards a banner that stood high amongst the bodies, rocks and toppled trees. “She lies somewhere over there. Some men swear they have seen her moving about the battlefield but I think they are just seeing things.” he sighed. After a moment he ran off down the wall to continue to guard as creatures started to reach the wall.


241WeThEdOfTo

As the party stood atop the wall they thought of the day that they had witnessed. Twice more the shadow creature had struck but by luck, skill or divine grace they had not been inflicted with the affliction. The woman in the infirmary howled with rage and even while heavily sedated it only eased the peaks of her fury.

They also had to witness the dead rise from their broken and battered forms and assault the wall, beaten back and slain by either the warriors on the wall or those afflicted driven mad by rage who hunted the no-mans land between the wall and the rocky mountains where the attacks came from. Even while the party watched from the wall and aided in driving back the dead or the twisted spirit-folk there was little joy in the tasks they did.

It was at this point, at the edge of torchlight that the party saw movement. To precise and too careful for undead or afflicted. Too subtle and tactical to be spirit-folk or beast. As the party watched the shadow approached the edge of the light cast by the braziers and torches that lined the wall and it quickly darted forward and grabbed a pack from a fallen oni warrior. The distinct human colour skin flashed from under layers of tattered and ripped cloth as a sudden gust of wind caused the light cast by the fire to flash across the face of the creature and a human Ryokughan female looked up at the party startled.

The figure pressed a finger to her lips before skulking off towards a crest in the battlefield, as the moon strained to peak through the oppressive clouds the flag, the standard of the wall guard flapped calling the mysterious figure to it.


“That’s her! That’s the captains daughter!” The wall guard from earlier that day announced. Gin Seng pointed at the captains daughter as she hurried across the battlefield towards a rocky outcrop. Moments later several shapes started to move towards her and the rock rise in the battlefield, she appeared unaware.

“we have to do something” Gin said as he hurried towards the crane. His voice causing a commotion amongst the other guards.

“What’s going on here?” barked Captain Hou.

“Kit is out there Sir. We saw her” Gin said, the party confirming with him.

“It’s probably a trick of the Shadow…” The captain said, his own voice betraying the hope he held deep inside. “Kit is gone…”

A scream erupted from the battlefield. The shadowy-Kit had been ambushed and the sound of combat could be heard. “KIT!” her father screamed as he threw the platform over the side of the wall. “Man the defences. Ballista and arrows trained on the battlefield. Nothing comes up whilst I go down.”

“Captain Hou, the plan can’t succeed without you. The adventurers are veterans at combat and have surprised me more than once. Besides it will be a test to see if the simple presence of the Dragons Tears artefacts can draw forth the shadows minions…” Kyoko said as she stepped out in full armour.

“I hate to ask this of you my friends. But are you willing to rescue the captains daughters and see what happens when the dragons light erupts forth from you?” she asked with a tinge of guilt and regret.


Areas and places of note

Heavens Reach Wall – The wall is immensely long. Covering the entire northern province of Ryokughan and only stopping at massive towers near great impassable mountain rangers. To the North of the Wall lies the Shadowlands and at their closest peak of the wild plains and forest lies The Shadows Throne – a massive mountain that is thought to be the home of the Shadow.

Notable NPCs

Kyoko Harimasu – Kyoko keeps herself hidden and defended by many guards. Captain Hou and Takeo spend most of their time talking tactics into how to lure the Ice queen towards the wall and a trap.

Takeo – Takeo once again acts as Kyokos body guard and seems unwilling to leave her side.

Wall Captain Hou – Captain Hou is a rugged veteran commander of the wall guard for decades he has led the elite troops in defending the land from the Shadows Influence and was so honoured that his own daughter joined him. This was his biggest regret as his daughter was just as head strong as he was in his youth and led a foolish mission to retrieve the wounded from the battlefield only to be struck down herself.

Wall Guard Gin Seng – Gin Seng is one of the warriors in the Wall Guard. He is well trained and a natural in combat but perhaps a bit too emotional for the captains liking. Leading with emotion rather than discipline Gin Seng is sure that the captains daughter still lives and swears that he has seen her at night.

Kit Hou – Thought to be dead Kit, the captains daughter, is seen out in the battlefield scavenging when the warriors of both side are at their most peaceful.

Environment

Night time shouldn’t be a hassle for the party with their level, abilities and gear by now so it’s another night time encounter.

Encounter:

Any creature from our vaults can be used here. I would suggest some Oni and perhaps an afflicted human warrior (see gladiator stat block with affliction template added). The Wrath Wraith also comes forth and attacks the party as they reach Kit Hou – she seems to be untargeted by the creature but the party are less fortunate.

Aftermath

As the party defeat the wrath Wraith the all too familiar haunting call of the Onikage echoes through the battlefield and Yukri Toshio – the Yuki-onna appears on the back of a huge Onikage. She points towards the party as the crest of the hill she is standing on erupts into dozens of shadowy shapes running toward the party. Kit pleads for the party to retreat as the guard on the wall start to call for them to run back as well.


Part 3 – Chilling Call of the Queen- 242MoChCaOfThQu

As the Onikage snorted with barely contained violence and hunger, Yukri watched the humans from its back. The yuki-onna knew that the Shadow, the one who had given her powers to rule as the Ice Queen, wanted these humans dead. But killing these humans had proven difficult, even the enlisted help from the Laelóng but the vain beast failed.

“Queen. The humans have escaped back on top of the wall. They have powerful weapons and we have to retreat…” a hesitant voice spoke from her side. The Oni looked down at its feet and braced for the worst but it didn’t come. A second voice spoke, much older, darker and more influential than the lowly Oni.

“You must stop them. Those weapons are cursed by the dragons and elves of old. Their magic has the power to bring down your kingdom. You must kill the wielders and stop them from taking everything you have fought for” The Shadow whispered in her ear. The sound of its voice so filled with power and malice that all other noises, thoughts and reason drifted from her mind. Eventually the sounds of screams, pleading and The Shadows intent washed her thoughts away until there was nothing left but overwhelming rage.

All she had worked for. All she had sacrificed and for what? A group of humans and magic swords to take it from her. Not likely. She watched her warriors and the creatures she commanded flee from the wall, all except the mindless undead, and her frustration grew. The frustration and rage boiled up within the Yuki-onna and it overflowed. Screaming her hatred and rage across the battlefield her intensity of her thoughts mixed with her magical abilities and a wall of frost formed over the fleeing warriors.

“Cowards…” she muttered as she looked upon her frozen troops. “Tomorrow they will take the wall. I don’t care how many it takes I will not have everything I worked for taken from me.”

242TuCaOfThDr

As Kit sat down at the table with her hands crossed in front of her face she met the uneasy stare that her father was giving her. “So before you begin I want to explain why first…” she said as she accepted a hot cup of tea. “I had a vision…”

“A vision of your death?” her father, Captain Hou interrupted bluntly. His displeasure mixed with concern evident on his face and in his voice.

“No. If you’d let me continue, I had a vision of a golden dragon asking me to find out why there was a demon at the wall. It asked me to have faith and stay on the outside of the wall and watch the enemy as they went by with their attack. And I did.” she stopped to blow on her tea before sipping it slowly.

“They were studding the wall with these.” she aid as she reached into a torn pocket and deposited what appeared to be a shard of obsidian like material that had been carved into a thin stud. “I wasn’t sure at first but I watched them firing arrows towards the wall and us. I almost gave up when suddenly an arrow hit one of the fragments and this cloud of shadow sped across the ground and attacked all who stood above where the arrow hit. The next wave of attackers did the same thing. Ran up, those that got to the wall embedded another shard and then they would launch a few volleys of arrows. Each time the Shadow demon, the Wrath Wraith, would appear.”

She paused for a moment and let it sink in. “I though that if the creature just did as it was told and attacked where the shard was broken then we may be able to use it as a weapon. So I tried it out and it worked. The wrath wraith appeared and attacked the oni when they appeared over the ridge. They must have worked it out because I was retrieving one of the shards when they attacked. Lucky these adventurers appeared in time and saved me as during the commotion the shard I had scavenged broke in my pocket.” she paused to sip from her tea.

“I grabbed a few more shards on the way here so we can analyse them but if the wrath wraith is dead then there is no ability to summon it again.” she added. “But I think I did what the dragon ancestor had asked as I could see the glow of the ancestors on these adventurers. I decided that my task was complete so I didn’t need to stay out there any more.”

As if to punctuate the closure of her story the room dropped in temperature suddenly and a horrible scream broke through the night air outside. Racing up the steps the party looked over the edge of the wall to see walls of ice littering the battlefield. As they trace the direction the walls seemed to point in the Yuki-onna, Yukir Toshio and a huge Onikage stalked away from the battlefield.

The first flakes of snow began to drift down from the darkened clouds.

242WeTiOfSh

As the snow began to settle on the wall the movement of hundreds of feet broke the eerie silence. The drone of stampeding feet rose to a thunderous roar as spirit folk, oni, demons and undead rushed towards the wall.

As the humans manned the defences and shot arrows into the oncoming horde the oni and spirit folk that fell quickly rose again as undead. The tell-tale signs of the Yuki-onna’s magic appearing as steam, frostbite and ice clinging to the freshly raised bodies.

As the bodies hit the wall the undead began to pile up the oni and spirit folk used their bodies to climb towards the top of the wall. But, the bodies concealed the real threat. Dark tendrils of Shadow crept along the ground under and around the feet of the humanoids. As they touched the wall they began to feel for cracks, gaps or holes in the wall in which they quickly filled the crack with their shadowy mass.

All across the wall the masses of bodies rose and fell as they were expertly cut down as the shadowy tendrils pierced the walls. The shadows weaved from the wall across the battlefield and back to the Yuki-onna.

With a surge of magic she gathered the shadow energy and merged her own power within it. Forcing the shadowy tendrils to freeze as if dark permafrost the ground erupted and cracked as the shadow expanded. As the ice rushed forward beams of light shot from the sky and the weapons and items of the heroes which banished the shadow, shattering the ice as it formed.

Where the shadow and ice wasn’t banished it cracked the wall and created walls of ice that protected the shadows minions while creating a ladder for them to climb up.

Appearance of a hero near the tendrils sent the ice and shadow into splinters to the ground and the invaders crashing down behind them. But more bodies brought more tendrils of shadow, their bodies leeching it across the ground where they ran, shuffled, fell and died.

The constant flow of shadow magic and the influx of dark ice came from the Yuki-onna who commanded the battlefield from a raised perch surrounded on all sides but one by jagged ice. One clear path to confront the source of dark magic and end the siege before it brought the wall down.


Areas and places of note

Heavens Reach Wall – The giant wall starts to shake as the first of the tendrils and walls of ice erupt against it. As enemies spill over the top the wall becomes a chaotic place where the sounds of battle is constant and overwhelming.

Notable NPC Interactions

None this week.


Environment and running the adventure

The ice is slippery and any attempt to climb across it or move over it results in a DC14 dex check or they fall prone. The Ice spikes however can not be moved over and grant the Yuki-onna half cover from ranged weaponry.

As for the other parts of this encounter treat the shadow as something that can be spotted and targeted as a creature.

This creatures sole purpose is to find holes in the wall and act as a way of channelling ice magic from the Yuki-onna to damage, bring down the wall and act as a bridge and ladder for the warriors on the ground. Or those on the wall to go down to the ground.


Encounter

Our first lot of encounters is the wall – Oni (hobgoblins), a captain and some lesser creatures (gnats or zombies.. something that is CR1/4) can flesh this part of the encounter out. If we treat them as coming in waves with the waves being 5 rounds apart it can make it feel like the tides are endless – just need to describe the creatures taking some time making it across the fields.

The second encounter is when the party realise that they are being torn apart by the Yuki-onna and so they leave the wall to take the fight to her. Now if the party has ranged weapons, abilities or spells it makes this part of the fight easier so I would enforce that the spikes summoned (see last nights map Sieged under snow) provide 3/4 cover for the ice queen from range where there is spikes between her and the attacking party.

Apart from fighting through the waves of Oni, the captains and zombies or lesser Gnats once they reach the ice queen she is quite formidable. I would have the waves still come, our party is level 9 after all, but maybe have supportive arrow fire dwindle the horde a bit from the wall.

For the Onikage as this one is meant to be huge, a more impressive specimen, change the size to huge and HP to 60 and that will just about do it for us.

Non-Player Characters (NPCs)

Koyko Harimasu

Takeo

Wall Captain Hou

Kit Hou

Wall Guard Gin Seng

Officer Hatoi Yuon

Yukri Toshio