Our tenth-level heroes include dwarven cleric of life Tobias Ironaxe (my character), halfling ranger beastmaster/druid Lektra Alderleaf (my five-year-old daughter's character), and gnome arcane trickster Elec Alderleaf (my eight-year-old son's character). Having driven off Arauthator from his lair in Oyaviggaton they head straight for the crash site of Skyreach Castle. To their dismay it is not a simple trek!
They wisely chose to go straight to Uldoveld, mead hall of Brunvild the frost giant jarl. They were received by Brunvild with much humor, who found Elec's lie about working for the orcs to be absurdly comedic. When Elec bragged that he had driven off Arauthator -- the same white dragon that had killed Brunvild's brother, Storvirk, the jarl took him much more seriously. Being a sneaky sort, Brunvild gave Elec the option of stealing a remorhaz egg or taking a dream quest. Lektra decided on the dream quest, leaving Elec and Tobias to go after a remorhaz in her lair.
Lektra's dream quest branded her with an ancient giant rune meaning "rebirth" and she was declared the spirit-heir of the long-dead giant warrior Salakko. Meanwhile, Tobias got eaten by a remorhaz while Elec sneak attacked it from behind -- only to discover remorhazes are immune to fire. They eventually defeated it thanks to Tobias' protective spells, with spirit guardians saving the day once more by tearing the remorhaz up from within.
Convinced that these are worthy allies, Brunvild and his frost giants set off. It's not really clear how many frost giants come with Brunvild -- he has "nearly a hundred" at his disposal, not counting his personal retinue of a dozen. If Brunvild even commits 50 giants to the castle, he could easily wipe out the opposing forces. I went with just Brunvild retinue to keep things interesting.
Upon reaching Skyreach Castle the PCs resolved several mysteries. Glahzael really was dead, his soul trapped in the nine lives stealer named Hunger. Rezmir had exploded, destroying the black dragon mask with her and much of Glahzael -- they found Hunger still stuck in Glahzael's claw a hundred feet away. With Hunger in his possession, Tobias restores Sir Isteval and Gog (the marble frog) to life. Alas, the cloud giant Esclarotta has died, but our heroes discover that her soul now pilots Skyreach Castle.
The giants set to work repairing the place, but Brunvild's absence leaves him vulnerable. The current Gru-Nar orc leader is secretly in league with Talis the White, who is determined to reclaim Rezmir's body and the treasure promised to Tiamat. Spying on them the whole time is Sandesyl Morgia, who long since moved her coffin out of the castle and bides her time for the perfect moment to strike.
That moment comes just as the castle is ready to take off. Gru-Nar commits his forces in a wave of 20 orcs to test the castle's defenses. They learn the hard way about Tobias' glyphs of warding, including two dragonwings who attempt to fly up to the tower to engage the heroes. Morgia surprises the PCs by charming Tobias and keeping him from acting. She then tears into the other two PCs, but the combined attacks of Elec and Lektra drive her off. By the time the battle in the tower is over, the second wave of orcs has begun.
The second wave lights the walls on fire with seal blubber and flaming arrows. The three dragonwings and dragonsouls keep the PCs busy, with the dragonwings getting off one devastating attack before falling to spirit guardians, spiritual weapon, and guardian of faith. The dragonsouls fire bolts of acid and are brought down by arrows from Elec and Lektra.
The orcs retreat with no frost giants left but Brunvild himself. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief...until they see the last wave come over the mountains. Over 160 orcs, backed by 16 dragonwings, with Talis the White and Gru-Nar himself astride Arauthator.
Tobias falls to his knees and prays. A storm brews overhead.
Arauthator strafes the tower with his breath weapon, but this time the heroes are ready. Tobias wears a ring of frost resistance and Elec dodges the attack completely. As Brunvild and Sir Isteval wade into the melee with the draongwings and orcs, Talis unleashes her wand of frost on the heroes while Gru-Nar throws handaxes. Arauthator drops Tlias and Gru-Nar off, casting cold spells from a distance while his breath weapon recharges.
Gru-Nar tears into the heroes with glee, headbutting Lektra and nearly knocking her out. Tobias spends all of his time keeping everyone healed. Occupied with the battle in the tower, the acid rain that falls from the skies is largely unnoticed but it is deadly to the orcs on the ground.
Lektra rallies and strikes back at Gru-Nar who knocks her to the ground. The orc leader raises his axe overhead with a roar of triumph -- and is promptly struck by a bolt of lightning. He falls over, dead, his corpse bouncing off the side of the tower.
Talis is luckier. Elec sneak attacks her into unconsciousness but Tobias heals her -- she has important information, and Talis has negotiated in the past.
The storm is too much for Arauthator. Lektra sends arrows into the white dragon, but he is well and truly defeated this time. He disappears into the haze as Skyreach Castle rises triumphantly above the storm. The orcs flee, beset by hailstones and freezing rain.
Tobias gives thanks to Moradin for his grace. Brunvild claims the castle for the giants. Isteval is restored to the Council. Elec and Lektra return some of the treasure to Phandelin (Elec decides 5,000 is appropriate). Tobias tithes much of his share to the church in thanks and Lektra likewise tithes to the Emerald Enclave. Thanks to Talis' information, the PCs know about the whereabouts of the white dragon mask. Skyreach Castle drops them off in the Serpent Hills to pursue Varram the White.
This adventure was a lot of fun to play out, although some of the details that were crucial to the battle seemed to be missing (like how many frost giants participate). The combat felt epic, with hordes of orcs and frost giants battling below while the heroes fought the dragonwings and dragonsouls from their tower. I particularly liked the opportunity to give three villains a second chance at the PCs: Morgia (determined to kill Tobias), Arauthator (unnerved by his defeat and willing to let his allies take the brunt of the conflict), and Talis (desperate to get a leg up on the cultist competition).
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[4 of 5 Stars!]