Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms Side Trek, Part 2

  • Humal (level 15 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 15 dwarf war cleric/druid)
  • Sumia (level 15 elf rogue/ranger/wizard)

Session Highlights
Like an oily shadow Ilthane descends from the rooftop with surprising grace despite her size. There are panicked and outraged shouts from within the manor, but with a casual swipe of her tail she collapses part of the upper floor and destroys the manor's entrance: it will take awhile for any survivors to dig their way out, and she intends to be finished with her task long before then.

Ilthane silently advances towards the party. She can tell each is weighing their options and considering strategies. She is largely unfamiliar with their capabilities, but is aware that they journeyed to Kuluth-Mar, and not only returned but toppled the ziggurat in the process. Irrelevant in the grander scheme of things, of course, but Ilthane had personally met Kyuss's more powerful minions; their failure to protect the ziggurat instills a measure of wariness.

She proposes a bargain to Corzale: if she leaves without providing any resistance, Ilthane promises to spare her and her village. Otherwise, once she has finished slaughtering them and dissolving whatever remains are left, Ilthane vows to wreak havoc on the entire countryside, until every trace of her home has been completely obliterated. Furthermore, she will then reanimate any reasonably intact dwarven corpses as Kyuss zombies and skeletons, and use them to further her insidious plans.

Despite having no weapon, armor, or any other items beyond the rod fragment, Corzale of course hesitates, but Humal urges her to go while she can. Corzale appears to relent, while fully intending to retrieve at least her golden hammer before returning, but she doesn't get far before Ilthane swiftly acts, engulfing Sumia and Humal in a cloud of acid. Their cries of pain make it abundantly clear that the battle will be decided well before Corzale even makes it to the castle gate.

Humal responds by channeling almost all of his Mana into a deadly illusion of what Ilthane fears the most; he is only slightly bemused to find that it is Kyuss. Wielding a vicious weapon that is equal part axe and mace, it hammers away at Ilthane while Sumia looses explosive arrows at her hind legs. This causes Ilthane to stumble, and while she's down Corzale rushes back and desperately calls upon Bel-Amaranth for aid, enveloping most of Ilthane in a massive tangle of thick, thorny vines and roots.

But Ilthane manages to easily break free and swoops upon Humal: his illusion is by far the most dangerous threat, and fortunately for her he is also the frailest. She snatches him up in her mouth, overflowing with a cascade of venom and acid, and snaps it shut. Ilthane bites down a few times for good measure, and then unceremoniously drops Humal, ragged and motionless into the swamp. Sumia and Corzale already fear the worst, but Ilthane then almost absently steps on him as she turns to face the former.

Sumia downs a healing potion and rushes to Humal, but the dragon exhales another cloud of poisonous acid. Hoping to get her attention, Corzale summons a spiritual hammer and flings it at Ilthane, but when she holds out her hand to recall it everyone hears a faint boom, like a distant thunderclap. This is almost immediately followed by a much closer explosion of stone, and Corzale is shocked to see Aroux in her hand; he quickly apologizes for being late and demolishing the front of her house.

Ilthane is stunned by the hammer's arrival, and Corzale seizes the opportunity to strike, shattering her jaw and sending some teeth flying. Sumia darts in, stabbing the dragon several times in her underbelly with her lightning sword and slicing open one of her hindlegs, causing her to again stumble. Ilthane swipes at Corzale, tearing through her clothing and flesh and Corzale, figuring it better to fight dragon-to-dragon, commands Aroux to transform into his draconic form.

Though smaller than Ilthane, Aroux proves to be quite fast; he manages to easily clasp his jaws around her neck and tear her head off.

Corzale wastes no time: while Sumia scoops as much of Humal as she can into his bag of holding, Corzale has Aroux fly her back to her house so she can retrieve the resurrection potion. She makes it back with just a few minutes to spare and does her best to pour it down what's left of his throat. There is a flash of golden light, as Humal's wounds close, his limbs snap back into their original orientation, and any bits Sumia missed regenerates.

At this point the sun is rising, and everyone can see the wake of Ilthane's destruction: the walls surrounding Garmrtir's manor have been overgrown with thorns and vines. The ballistae on the ramparts have been completely dissolved. All that remains of the dwarves manning the walls are partial skeletons. Much of the interior is now a fetid swamp, transformed by Ilthane's mere presence. Lacking any way to restore the land, later that day teams of dwarves would begin constructing a bridge to make it easier to reach the manor.

Other dwarves assist the party in carving up the dragon's remains, treating the hide to prevent decay, bundling up bones and scales, and storing its blood and organs in various containers so that the party will have an easier time transporting it. In exchange for part of the dragon, a half dozen master smiths spend a few weeks forging Corzale a fresh suit of plate armor, incorporating dragon hide, scales, and plates to make it resistant to acid and give it a fearsome countenance.

Though Sumia takes the Ilthane's horns to add to her collection, she leaves the rest of the skull intact: Humal has some questions for Ilthane.

Design & Development
Been waiting to see when they'd finally deal with Ilthane, or her them. This was one of those situations where I throw a monster at the party and see what they do. She's supposed to be the first thing you fight in A Gathering of Winds, but that was 3rd Edition and I'm sure when I first ran the adventure the players figured it was, as was the style of 3rd Edition, a level-appropriate fight (and it was).

Here the players had no idea, so reacted how I figure a party should act. Their first instinct was to flee, but realizing there was no way out instead went all out of Ilthane. It was pretty awesome seeing Humal deal like 70 damage per hit with a 15d10 Phantasmal Killer. I think he's been waiting for awhile to pull that on something. Corzale's nearly-maxed out Entangle was also pretty badass, though Ilthane either made the save to avoid being Restrained, or succeed on her Strength check to break free.

I used a lot of new rules for dealing with big-ass monsters, giving Ilthane the ability to just trample all over them and make a free tail attack while moving. No one climbed on her, though. Understandable, as only Sumia had armor and her main weapons.

Everyone had their own plans for Ilthane's corpse: Humal wants to animate her into a skeleton (he needs to pick up a Huge undead talent, first), Corzale wanted some snazzy plate armor (she's actually been wanting plate for awhile, so I'm sure this was a pleasant development), and Sumia wanted the horns to keep, heart to trade to the thing under Magepoint, eyes to see if she can implant one into her skull, and a tooth to make an acidic dagger out of.

That still leaves quite a bit of blood and hide, which they're using as trade and to pay for other services. All this and they still don't know where her hoard is!

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