Chapter 3 Conclusion, Part II
Cast: Same as in Part I, but with the addition of Rufus.
As we start the session, the characters have just pounded their way back into Dandrich’s manor house, and find themselves in the large foyer area with a fancy staircase that leads up to an open 2nd floor balcony. There are faithsworn soldiers on the balcony, ranged weapons trained on the PC’s, commanded by Sergeant “Tickles” Keft (formerly of the Iron Cloak Artifact Recovery Division…see the “B” story line for background.) There are doors on both the lower and upper floors leading to the rest of the rooms in the mansion (but presumably locked and/or guarded), and large glass windows leading outside where Grimm and more faithsworn await. Talk about being boxed in.
Fortunately, Rufus is using his shadow magic “doppleganger” spell to impersonate a respected faithsworn Sergeant named “Gottfreid Ekhart” (or something like that…). Rufus, having previously escaped from the sewers (and the shrike), used his magic to get lost in Nuln. Then, remembering the deal made with Tuetlars and Van Gool, Rufus took the initiative to drug a Faithsworn Sergeant (and remove him from commission, so to speak), and use Doppleganger to take his place at the estate. For a few days he observed the various routines and successfully established a rift in the ranks between those soldiers most loyal to the sadistic Sgt. Keft (who is a newcomer to the organization, but highly valued by Dandrich) and those loyal to the more stable and affable Sgt. Ekhart.
So when the faithsworn on the balcony are bearing down on the PC’s, one of the Sgts (actually Rufus, but no one knows that) gives the command to hold fire, saying there’s a “misunderstanding” and “these are the heroes of Nuln, afterall.” The other Sgt, Keft, fails his command skills to motivate all the soldiers to attack…so only the small group that are most loyal to him obey. Compounding the effect is Archibald’s divine presence, his radiant gaze, and both Cedric’s and Archibald’s skilled oration and charm skills (which they succeeded on using effectively). Finally, Rufus was able to secretly cast a spell on Keft that attempted to strangle him…while it didn’t succeed in causing the harm he was hoping for, it did cause Keft to have difficulty giving orders clearly.
So things got very confusing when some of the guards attacked, some held back, the PC’s used (mostly) non-lethal tactics, and Josef Krunk came diving through a window (with amazing action-hero star agility) claiming that he’d sort out all the confusion of who’s the good guys by finding Dandrich. In doing so, Krunk casually forced his way beyond the locked doors (which Bronan had essentially failed to open, but which Krunk rolled a crit success and simply cranked the handle and popped the lock with no realization that it was locked). This helped sow more confusion and opened up the battle lines a bit.
The faithsworn from outside burst in, but seemed not terribly happy at being used by Grimm as cannon fodder, and thus were hesitant to attack when ordered off by Sgt Ekhurst and charmed by Cedric and Archibald. But Keft, Grimm, and the Reapers would have none of it, and they pressed the attack, cutting through the hesitant faithsworn as necessary to do so. The net result was faithsworn fighting faithsworn, the players battling Keft’s soldiers, Grimm, and Lt. Rockhurst (Grimm’s new #2), etc.
Things got really messy, but all characters managed to escape the trap through various exit portals (all windows, I believe, after all the bad-guys had been drawn in from outside.) Some of the combat highlights are as follows:
Bronan and Ranthin had rushed through an inner door that (eventually) Bronan bashed in…which led into a conservatory room where more soldiers commanded directly by Dandrich were waiting. Dandrich, seeing the crazy frenzy in Bronan’s eyes, decided to order the soldiers to kill Bronan and Ranthin, while Dandrich exited through another door (and locked behind him.) So Bronan and Ranthin were trapped in a small room with five trained and highly loyal faithsworn. Cedric and Archibald were still in the main foyer when Grimm and Rockhurst charged. However, the other Reapers were mostly held at bay by those faithsworn who were either loyal to Rufus (Sgt. Ekhart), were charmed by Archibald and/or Cedric, or were angry at being shot at by the Reapers when they had hesitated to attack.
Dellin went the opposite direction as Bronan, going through the door Krunk opened. He was engaged by Keft’s men and was held to a stalemate for much of the combat. Although maneuvered into a corner, Dellin was skillful enough to get free and flee after having drawn Keft and two gritty soldiers away from main melee.
Rufus (as Sgt. Ekhart) continued to issue commands to confuse the faithsworn and countermand Keft’s orders, while trying subtle magic effects to turn the tide…but instead managed to accidentally summon ghostly voices and thus more-or-less blew his cover. Rufus’s disguise having been penetrated by the Reapers, he was able to summon a Shadow Steed and escape at high speed.
Cedric also used a moment of confusion to run, and when Rockhurst went after him, Rockhurst crit failed on diving through the window…thus giving Cedric the edge he needed to outrun the pursuit. So Rockhurst came back inside to help Grimm get Archibald (at least).
There was a time when Archibald was surrounded by Grimm, Rockhurst, and a few other soldiers, but through the grace of a spell of divine protection, few were able to attack him but Grimm. But that’s bad enough…Grimm nearly cut Archibald down, but it could have been much worse. Bronan’s heroism from the adjoining room helped open an escape route for Archibald, and provided just enough of a distraction to those surrounding Archi, to keep him alive.
Ranthin’s archery was mostly held in check by being constantly threatened in melee, so he had to make the best use he could of sword-and-shield. His presence drew enough fire from Bronan to keep him from being overwhelmed. Ranthin managed to get out a window in the conservatory, and create an oil-flask bomb to cover their escape when finally Archi and Bronan also came through the same window. (Actually, Archibald took too long to get out the window, so Bronan made a diving tackle that sent both through the portal and out of immediate harm). With fire-bomb in-hand, pursuit was foiled, and Bronan, Ranthin, and Archibald escaped together.
In summary: Rufus and Cedric both fled out the front windows of the foyer when the chance arrived. Rufus using his magic to spirit himself away on a shadow steed, and Cedric using more conventional footwork to run around the side of the building, just as Bronan and Archibald crashed out the side window. On the other side of the building was the window that Dellin eventually used for his escape.
Josef Krunk ran around the manor opening doors and looking for Dandrich, to no avail. After the fighting stopped, he just shrugged and went back to guarding the front door.
So ended Chapter 3, with another foiled ambush by Augustus Grimm. While there were some serious injuries, no one was killed. The heroes manage to rendezvous in the wilderness outside Dandrich’s country estates and sneak their way back to the relative safety of Nuln.