I don’t really like running sessions that are mostly combat. Like, it’s fine and stuff, but it’s not what I’m here for, you know? I’m here for the story, and with a few exceptions, combat doesn’t do much to advance the plot. Of course, this chapter of the book (pursuing the giant lords, regardless of which one(s) your group chooses to go after) is pretty much nothing but one large-scale combat after another. I don’t like to rush things, especially when my players are enjoying themselves, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter, which is much more roleplay-oriented.
Svardborg, home of the frost giant lord
The Sword Coast of Faerun
The Story So Far:
Having killed the giants in the feast hall, as well as their dire wolves, the group now prepared to enter the remaining areas of this enormous, giant-sized building. The room that the attacking giants had emerged from was full of snow-covered boot prints, tracking through, the walls covered in oars. There was a staircase leading up, which – sensing no one here – the group cautiously ascended, slowly proceeding up the steps under the effects of Ulmo’s Pass Without Trace.
The first room they found themselves in was an office of some sort – a desk covered in pelts and furs stood against one wall, a giant-sized chair in front of it. Once more, no one was here, though a door stood open, leading into a similarly sized area. This room appeared to be the den of the winter wolves they had fought earlier. Piles of gnawed mammoth bones littered the floor, and a barrel of dead fish stood in one corner. Peering through the next door, Hugheorn found himself looking into the throne room of Jarl Storvald himself – though the Jarl was not present at the moment. Instead, two guards stood in the room, as well as two more winter wolves.
To their credit, the party decided to take the cautious approach first – they tried to use the dead fish to lure the direwolves downstairs, where they could deal with them away from their giant masters. Unfortunately for them, the wolves were well-trained, and they responded to the giants’ commands to return to the throne room. If the sneaky approach wasn’t going to work, maybe the talkative one would. Heskan strode confidently into the room to have a nice little chat with the guards. He made friends with them even, commiserating with being given the worst guard duty – they didn’t even get to go out on the big ship with the Jarl! Big ship, they said? Oh yes, the Jarl was out on Krigvind, the prize of his fleet. It was no ordinary ship, because it had a white dragon strapped to the deck, to intimidate their enemies and show off their tremendous strength and cunning.
Once Heskan had gleaned all the information he thought he was going to from the guards, then it was time for neither the sneaky nor talkative approach – it was stabbing time. The giants were caught so off-guard by the sudden attack – and the revelation of more smallfolk beyond the doorway – that the party got in a nice surprise round before they could do anything to retaliate. Ulmo’s wise first move was to destroy the horn hanging on the wall that the guards would have used to call for aid, filling it with water from his flasks and freezing it.
Wade and Roshi made the first attacks, punching, kicking, and slashing at the giants. They knew better than to waste their more specialized abilities on two low-level guards, however, and reserved some of their strength for later. Gods knew they were going to need it. Heskan and Madeline threw lightning and fire respectively, while Hugheorn used a Spiritual Weapon to attack the giants. These two giants and their wolves went down relatively easily – they were clearly somewhat young and inexperienced, if their conversation with Hugheorn was any indication.
Unfortunately for the party, they soon after heard the docking of the Krigvind outside, feeling the massive ship bump against the iceberg and hearing the calls of many giants below. As they began arguing and discussing what to do, they began to hear the giants disembarking from the greatship. Still discussing, they heard the giants enter the building. Still talking it out, they heard the giants come up the stairs. And still talking, they finally got themselves into a position to force the giants into a chokepoint at the doorway, with not a moment to spare. At the front of the group was Jarl Storvald himself, recognizable by his most elaborate and impressive helmet.
Ulmo used his Wild Shape ability to turn into an earth elemental, going toe-to-toe with the Jarl. Roshi and Wade continued their harmonious attacks, fists and swords making impressive injuries on the giants’ bodies. Heskan called lightning to strike the giants, and Hugheorn used a Confusion spell to baffle them and make them more susceptible to the attacks of the more combat-oriented party members. When the Jarl stepped forward to grapple Ulmo the earth elemental, he unfortunately left himself vulnerable to Madeline, who he was standing right over. Well, Madeline did what was only natural and stabbed directly upwards, managing to deal fatal damage to the Jarl.
In the meantime, Heskan had been using his tressym familiar to talk to the white dragon chained down outside, Cryovain. He cast some spells to try to loosen the chains around its neck and hind legs, but it was able to do little. Perhaps unwisely of him, that’s when he decided to start antagonizing the dragon. The dragon entertained his queries for a time, when the tressym asked what was in it for him if he freed him. Alas, white dragons have no interest in such deals and if the tressym wasn’t going to free him, it was of no further use. Even with its head chained down, Cryovain was still able to expel a burst of icy cold breath, which immediately killed Heskan’s familiar.
Up above, Roshi, Wade, and Madeline cut down on the number of giants in the room – well, living giants; the floor full of corpses was getting a little crowded. Ulmo, still in earth elemental form and seeing no windows, punched some holes in the wall of the room and pushed himself out, coming to land mere feet away from the deck of the Krigvind. He managed to sufficiently loosen the chains that held the dragon captive, and Cryovain immediately flew directly up into the air. The dragon, even emaciated and starving, began dealing serious damage to the giants who remained near the ship.
With the last giants in the room killed and a veritable swarm of them approaching from outside, the group began to seriously consider their escape plan.
(DM Note: if you’re also running SKT, you’ll notice that I left out a certain encounter from the office room. I had initially planned to move it elsewhere, because I felt it fit better there. I slightly regret that, but oh well.)