Worldwide Adventure Writing Month put me off my normal schedule for Odinsday's updates and session summaries for my Beyond Vinland campaign. This post will be an attempt to get everybody up to speed before tomorrow night's session.
Just before last run Jason announced that he would no longer be able to join us for Beyond Vinland. Jason lives in Bloomington, about an hour's drive away. The extra to and from time was killing his schedule, especially now that he apparently has a new lady type friend in his life. We all wish Jason best of luck in his future endeavors. Dude's welcome back at my game table at any time. There's plenty of good gaming to be had in Bloomington, so hopefully Jason won't go gameless without us.
The last Odinsday Update I wrote left Jason's PC, Zoyd Sampson, gravely ill and wounded after participating off-screen in the doomed Anti-Duergar Punitive Expedition. I decided that since Jason wasn't coming back any time soon that his PC would succumb to his wounds, but not before asking his fellow adventurers to avenge him. So last session involved the party staging an attack on the village of the belligerent duergar.
The PCs carefully scouted out the enemy. I described how the palisade wall encircling the village had been partially destroyed and some of the buildings inside wrecked. The duergar had been attacked in their homes by a pair of Storm Spirits, like the PCs fought atop a pyramid back in session 4. These Spirits had been roaming the countryside attacking people at random. The paranoid duergar thought the Storm Spirits were sent by some wizard among the Viking settlers and that's why that had been on a rampage. I don't think the players made the connection and I'm not sure they would have cared if they did.
The attack on the duergar started with setting one of the large huts ablaze, which mobilized a duergar bucket brigade. The PCs then punced upon the tiny firefighters, which started a general melee involving some 30 or so duergar. The leader of the duergar avoided the initial brawling, instead making his way to the House of Skulls, a hut decorated with bones and stuff. That's where the duergar kept their heavy artillery: four animated dinosaur skeletons with laser beam eyes. I had bought these cool dino skeleton toys that sat perfectly on a 2" x 2" base and was itching to us 'em. For stats I pulled out some Large dinosaur skeletons from Libris Mortis. For the laser eyes I simply added the ability to use 2 Magic Missiles per round. I usually use Scorching Ray for lasers, but I was feeling lazy and didn't want to roll laser to-hits every single round. Since normal skeletons don't shoot lasers, I treated these guys as +1 CR when I handed out XP later.
As I was putting the dino toys on the table Stuart suggested that they might be mecha of some sort. I went with it and thus was born NecroDinoMechaLaser Squad. As the party annihilated the rank-and-file duergar these giant robotic dino skeletons slowly stomped across the battlefield, peppering the party with laser fire. Meanwhile the duergar chieftain attempted some psionic trickery, but successful saving throws prevented that from amounting to anything. Eventually all the village was burned, the roboskeleton thingies shattered, and all the duergar warriors killed. All but the chief, that is. He got away.
But not for long. Erik, Hjorek, and Thorne refused to consider their task complete until the chief joined his fellows in whatever Hell holds duergar souls. For three weeks they tracked him, playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. On three occasions they almost had him, but he used psionic levitation to get away. Twice the party was attacked and wounded by traps laid by their quarry. Once he stampeded a large herd of bison in their direction, nearly killing all three adventurers. Finally, tomorrow night, they get their big chance. The duergar chief has holed up in an ancient burial mound and, as far as anyone can tell, there's only one way in or out. The party is hundreds of miles from home, in unknown territory, about to enter an unexplored dungeon. But they've got the bastard trapped.