Huldra Hill

 Starting now, I’m going to stop numbering my adventures. Each one will have its own stately title instead. Also, if I happen to have any subscribers out there, please note that I’m composing most of these now in a phone app. I don’t see a mechanism for saving drafts, so any first “publication” will be devoid of images and some additions. If you care, please read final versions on the blog “proper.”

It feels like from here my campaign really takes off. The PCs’ crawl through the Vexgit compound mostly was a failure. Sure, they found Gripple Grout — dead, pierced within an iron maiden. I think they learned something about role playing: one PC dared to ask for a “reward” for bringing back to the surface world the dead body of Grazzle Grout’s daughter. I decided to play the gnome patriarch as so overcome with grief as to be rambling in his thoughts and interactions and often unresponsive. The PC chose to leave, without reward, the Grout family in its grief.

The other failure in the compound was the PC inability to prevent the mischievous Vexgit from pumping a fair amount of “Nidhig venom” into Hornhall’s water supply. In the next few days, a growing population of the denizens of Hornhall will fall prey to the effects of this poison. They will become undead (or just crazy–I’m still not sure if I’ve worked it out to my own satisfaction) and kill everyone in sight. In time, the town’s collective moral fiber experiencing such erosion, Hornhall itself will literally collapse, invaded in the night by hordes of Duergar rising out of its depths, looted by the encamped Tengu when the Duergar retreat during the day.

By this time, however, the PCs will be encamped far outside of Hornhall, only aware of the audible but distant sounds of its demise. They will have decided all to join Rahjin on a personal quest for the site of his creation. Here’s how that came to be:

The shadows were growing long when the PCs emerged from beneath Hornhall. They secured rooms in the inn of the Splintered Shield and then went about their various errands. At this point a new PC was presented to the group (two, really, the other being a Drow magus on the back of a riding dire bat) who needed help escaping two escorts. The local Ratfolk Khiriil went off to sell her harvested livers to her derro contacts. And Rahjin went down to the nearby “holmgang” to engage in some competition.

The holmgang was this: participants were free to use whatever shields or weapons they wanted, and their purpose was either to incapacitate or knock their opponent off a small island into the surrounding water. There were many such islands, lit by huge torches on poles, with duels simultaneously taking place on most of them. A sizable crowd was on the shore, taking bets and cheering their favorite competitors. The elite of the spectators were in raised pavilions. There was a drinking tent.

Rahjin made short work of his opponent. Afterward, a figure in furs stood at the end of a gangplank to get off the island. Rahjin agreed to a drink with this figure, a half-orc trapper, in order to hear the following story:

Once the half-orc had served with the Blackravens, specifically with Kolbern, until he encountered a situation that disturbed him: the wholesale slaughter of a number of half-trolls discovered in a giant wizard’s tower. It’s true that Kolbern wasn’t there for most of the murdering, and that when he did arrive he spared “the runt of the litter Rahjin,” but this trapper was convinced that Kolbern ordered the genocide and attempted to make up for the act by sparing one half-troll. The trapper tells Rahjin that, if Rahjin would like to learn more, the trapper has heard rumors that the escaped ice giant has again taken up residence in the now-ruined original stronghold.

So there you go: after some antics the PCs got out of town, about one day before its collapse. On the road they had an encounter with ogres and Ogrekin (some continuity here to “leaving Pogonip Falls “). Then some sprites found them. They brought them to Huldra Hill (a place I aim to return to again sometime in the future), a town inhabited almost wholly by the part-fey offspring of the Huldra after generations of enticing strapping woodcutters into her bed. Most of these woodcutters, soon tired of by Molrakki the Huldra, chose to stay. The PCs are tasked with removing whatever infests the roots of the holy ash tree in the middle of the woodland village. (Significantly more is at stake for Bo because a Norn placed a Geas on him: he MUST eradicate this vermin in order to prove himself worthy of Erastil’s Shot.)

A moment here to establish what have become my core party of players: we still have Gish Gallup, the gnome poisoner of Summerglen most of the time; the Dwarf Druid Bo Monro of the Winter Fang Conclave in the Icemark, seeking Erastil’s Shot in order to heal his grove; Fonkin, a Syrinx Druid, and Allie, his allosaurus companion (hopefully in the future we can further explore this wacky arrangement); the Drow Dromar of House Nocticula, a Magus bound to a Black Blade (becoming a VERY important character–both Dromar and the Blade–as we shall soon see); and Norden, a noble Warpriest from a nation of Half-elves. I’m certain we’ll learn more of his backstory soon. We also had a Ratfolk rogue Khiriil and her mother Khirikii, both seated on a Medium mutant rat, but her player recently rolled up something new.

The PCs romped through the dungeon. At its taproot they discovered a Mist Drake, one that gained access to the root cavern through a fissure in space/time worried open by Nidhig. After the drake was slain, this happened:

The party began checking their wounds, glancing about for other risks, and with restraint ignored the treasure scattered about, until it became certain that all threats were gone. So it was some time before they began to notice Dromar’s behavior.

He stood at the edge of the pool, the spray from above misting about him, the frigid fog from the cosmic rent in the base of the pool creeping about his ankles like serpentine tree roots. He held the Black Blade, the one he called in the Elven speech Ssin’urn Medri, aloft before his face. He seemed locked in telepathic conversation with that brand. And then, unaccountably, he cast it into the pool.

As the blade sank into those rime-filled depths, it angled so that, point first, it touched that fissure in space/time–and then entered it, vanishing! Dromar continued meditating at the edge of the pool.

In time the air around Dromar rapidly cooled. Anyone nearby suddenly felt the effect of erratic gravitational forces as reality ripped. The sensation was sickening. There was a blinding burst of blue-white light and frigid mist suddenly filled a thirty feet area around the dark elf. It took time for the mist to dissipate. When it did, Dromar stood within its drifting residue. One eye flashed an eerie, smoky, unsettling white. The “Black” Blade–no longer black–returned to Dromar’s grasp, glowing and smoking with the same unnatural hue.

Sometime later, someone in the party noticed that the underwater rift had vanished…

A slight emendation to this is that Bo approached the meditating Dark Elf and hence took some cold damage when the freezing mist billowed out. Exactly what is going on here with Dromar must for now be kept secret from the rest of the party, so I won’t say anything more at this moment.

What I will say is that the party returned to the surface of Huldra Hill victorious and had sweet gear made out of the carcass of the Mist Drake. Rahjin narrowly avoided a confrontation with Molrakki (who, as a Huldra, despises all troll-kind; see Bestiary 4). Her hostility was mitigated by Dromar, who, being the character with the highest Charisma, for the nonce was her lover. There may be a Drow/Fey infant in the future!

Molrakki CR 6

Huldra witch 2

CN Medium humanoid

Init +3; Senses Darkvision 60, Detect snares/pits, Low-light vision, Scent, Perception +12

Defense

AC 18, touch 15, flat 13 (+3 Dex, +1 dodge, +3 natural)

Hp 59

Defensive Abilities: regeneration 3 (acid or fire)

Offense

Speed 30

Melee slam +10 (1d6+6), tail slap +10 (1d6+6 and 1d4 Cha damage)

Special Attacks lashing tail (DC 15 Fort negates Cha), manipulate luck (full round action for good or bad luck – B4)

Spell abilities Constant – detect snares/pits, endure elements, pass without a trace; 3/day – charm person (DC 15), daze monster (DC 16), wood shape; 1/day – deep slumber (DC 17)

Hexes – Disguise and Fortune (1 reroll; must be decided before the roll)

Spells Prepared

1 – ill omen, inflict light wounds

0 – guidance, mending, message, open/close

Tactics

Before combat – as long as she wants to fight, casts fortune (standard) on self and ill omen on foe (V, S, M hair from a black cat – 1 standard – 2 rds or discharge). Otherwise uses charm person or daze monster to get out of the situation.

During combat – mostly uses her slam and tail slap to do the most damage, using her regeneration to heal her own wounds. May use Power Attack feat (-1 attack roll for +2 damage). May cast inflict light wounds (standard V, S) with a successful flanking touch attack 1d8+2 (Will halves DC 17) through her familiar Hvitsper

Statistics

Str 23/+6, Dex 19/+4, Con 16/+3, Int 10/-, Wis 14/+2, Cha 23/+6

Base Atk +4, CMB +10, CMD 25

Feats Deceitful, Dodge, Mobility, Power Attack

Skills Bluff +18, Disguise +18, Escape Artist +14, KS (nature) +10, Perception +14, Stealth +14, Use Magic Device +16, Intimidate +11, Spellcraft +5, Sense Motive +4

Languages Common, Giant, Sylvan

SQ familiar Hvitsper (arctic fox)

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