Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Ferigno's Last Stand


Every since The Desolation of Turos Tem the PCs and Lawfully aligned Patrons in my campaign have been extremely mad-online with Ferigno (Patron Dragon Level ???) and Dairin (Patron Mage Level ???). Their primary goal appeared to be simply to get justice for Turos Tem; vengeance for their lost PCs and henchmen.  

But many were waiting, biding their time, as I took a 6ish week hiatus from session play. During this time, however, I was running some Downtime requests here and there. Real Time D&D never sleeps! 

During Ferigno's downtime request he came upon a randomly rolled Lawful Monastery in the Viaspen Forest. "This is too close to mine lair!" he stated, and proceeded to set up an attack on the Monastery. I quickly rolled up some numbers of brothers/sister clerics and the level of the leader of the monastery; one Sister Lucia (NPC Cleric Level 6) who turned out to be a Mendicant. As such I decided she came into the Viaspen Forest searching for The Dude who was captured by hags a long while back.  After finding no sign of her fellow Mendicant, her deity sent a sign that she should build a monastery in the forest. 

This was all done with random rolls. Including Lucia's Alignment. If it had popped as "Chaotic" Ferigno may have had an ally NPC rather than an opponent near his lair.

Some quick Mass Combat numbers resulted in the following scene going down at the monastery, which I relayed to Ferigno's player:

"Attack on Lucia. The initial gambit to approach invisible gets you in a good position at the palisade but they are not surprised. Lucia seemed ready and had good watches on, her many clerics and herself sporting holy symbols against BOB and his pals. You swoop and attack as best you can then drop when the timing seems right. Initially Lucia's bowmen and wardogs are removed from fighting by your breath and the wraiths, even while some wraiths are beat down by some of the clerics wielding magic weapons, and Lucia turning one. 

The next turn all the wraiths are run off or run down, BOB grinning at you as he escapes into the trees. At this time you hit the dozen or so mixed level clerics with a breathe weapon and they are injured (some killed) enough to stop fighting. 

Lucia, her panthers, and light infantry fight on. Panthers keep you hemmed down in the palisade even as Lucia strikes at you with a magic hammer. You strike and poison the panthers but you are feeling weak and fly up to flee as Lucia clambers on your back. You shake her off while at the treetops and are pretty sure she's dead or at least mortally wounded from the high fall, but you're extremely fatigued and limp home to sleep."

Can your game system of choice create the above scene in 5 minutes with a handful of d20 rolls? If not, consider switching to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons with the Chainmail supplement. Or, be like me, and run ACKS with the Domains at War: Campaigns supplement. You must have a way to run fast abstracted combats, including mass scale combat, to run real DND and entertain sudden crazy downtime requests.

Ferigno and any other units which were "hit" in the mass combat needed a week to recover half of their original number. Lucia was Mortally Wounded with broken legs and would need to rest a month! I rolled some reaction checks to see if her remaining faithful brothers and sisters would stick around the monastery or flee. They fled to Turos Spen, handling or evading any random encounters on the way. 

Ferigno didn't get to the monastery for a second attack in time because, after his week of rest, he decided to go recruit the nearby Hill Giants to his cause; taking about a day. Time enough for the Clerics to leave their palisade and carry their shrine off on a litter so Ferigno wouldn't deface it (as he's known to do).

Legate Drakon (Patron Fighter and Domain Ruler Level ???) received word that Lucia the Cleric and "Her apprentice clerics (6 of them) request rest at your demesne. They lead a unit of Light Infantry, a half unit of bowmen, 6 panthers, and 10 war dogs". Drakon said yes. Upon meeting with Lucia's Clerics, who were carrying her on a stretcher, Drakon was informed they knew exactly where Ferigno's lair was. 

Drakon then decided now is the time to strike the dragon! He had called his vassals to arms way back when he heard about the Desolation of Turos Tem so they were already on site and ready. 

Turns out BriarWhisper (PC Elven Ranger Level 3) was also in Turos Spen! During this session play hiatus I asked vaguely in the chatroom "are any PCs leaving the city to travel during October?" BriarWhisper said yes; going to Turos Spen. It must have been fate.

Drakon and BriarWhisper came to terms for BriarWhispers pay and spoils for joining this military campaign and the army set off for the forest the next day on 10/09/21.

The Campaign

Week 1.
Yellow = Drakon movement. Skull = Giants 
and their movement. Green circle = Ferigno lair

BriarWhisper advised Drakon to march first to the abandoned Gnoll camp he and his Party had discovered some months back. It would be a safe place to rest and re-supply. During this week of travel I made Recon checks for Drakon's army AND for Ferigno. The dragon was aware that an army entered his wood to the northeast but didn't have their exact location as yet. 

I gave Drakon a bonus on his Recon check due to BriarWhisper being given a small band for ranging purposes. I also allowed them to run an op wherein they went to Lucia's abandoned monastery and looked for tracks or monster sign. No luck. Little did they know Ferigno and the Giants had been there a few days before with plans to attack Lucia again. If the timing would have turned out differently Briar and his band could have been face to face with Ferigno and 8 hill giants. Phew!

I was ready to run the next week of marching and get the Mass Combat underway when both sides of the engagement threw me a curveball. BriarWhisper convinced Drakon to give him a day or two to ride to Oakhilt's Fastness and attempt to recruit the Elves to the cause against Ferigno. Granted. Oakhilt balked a bit but offered to join the cause for a 50% claim of all spoils; most especially magic items. The Elf Lord brought a single mixed elf unit to the cause about 2 days later.

Ferigno, for his part, sent BOB flying with a message for Dairin admitting he was under attack. Dairin made the decision to move immediately, bringing only his fast Lizardmen with him, to join Ferigno and help save his dragon pal from certain defeat. There is honor among psychopaths, after all.

Some of Drakon's men were gossiping about the Elves.

"There is some murmuring among your ranks about these elfs being the ones that killed the old Palatine of Turos Orn some hundred years ago when said Palatine decided he would march with an army to kill the elves, ending Orn's logging of the Viaspen. OakHilt's name isn't spoken even among the murmurers who believe it may be cursed or saying it thrice may bring his wrath upon them like Candyman.

Your officers don't appear scared or unwise enough to gossip about such things. "Joker" (an Elven Spellsword himself) ofc thinks its funny and you hear him confirming the most ridiculous of wives tales about Oakhilt among the rank and file. 

'Yep. Oakhilt'll come right through a mirror. Happened to me once when I was shaving . He brought me a beer. Great guy!'"

Drakon addressed the morale issue before setting off:

“Men, we stand at a crossroads. We can take the path of whinging and wailing over the past, or we can forge ahead into the future. Forget not our purpose here; we come as the righteous fist of an angry, just (insert goddess of war here). We come to avenge our fallen brethren of Turos Tem. We come to avenge our brother Adam, taken from us while defending the commoners of Tem who were ravaged by the enemy. What is a skirmish between neighbors, a misunderstanding that cooler heads could have prevented when compared to such atrocity? Bury this superstition, and join as one against the common foe. Ferigno dies and gods willing Dairin shortly after. We will March forward together, into Glory!”

The Battle

Drakon's Army and Ferigno's horde, now led by Dairin the Mage, came upon echother around noon of the day Drakon set off. They were mutually aware of eachother so fought a Pitched Battle. 

This battle was fought at the Platoon scale in ACKS so units of infantry men were about 120 men and cavalry were about 60 horse. 

Drakon had the following at his disposal: 

1 unit of Cataphract, 1 unit of Horse Archers, 1 unit of Veteran Heavy Infantry, 2 units of Heavy Infantry, 1 unit of Bowmen, 1 unit of Clerics from the Temple of Ammonar in Turos Spen, and 1 unit of Elves. 

Dairin has the following at his disposal:

Phase 1 Start

2 units of lizardmen, 2 units of Hill Giants (each with 4 giants in it), 1 unit of Dire Wolves, 1 unit of Wraiths, and 1 unit of Ferigno.

It was a pretty even Battle Rating for each army with the Lawful forces at about 28 and the Chaotic forces at 25. This would come down to strategy and luck!

I was using the slightly more complicated Mass Combat rules from ACKS AXIOMS 4. These include Phases of combat with Missile, Skirmish and Melee phases. 

The first Phase was Missile which included Ferigno and the wraiths, as flying units. And the Hill Giants throwing boulders. Drakon decided to do a Heroic Foray going straight at Ferigno. Heroic Forays are where the action zooms in closer to get more DND style combat you're likely familiar with. The Foray was quick with the following result:

Phase 1, Foray, Round 1: Drakon: Drakon, Oakhilt, his Spellswords, BriarWhisper, Joker, Anen. 8 Cataphracts, 8 Horse Archers, 10 Bowmen.
Dairin: Ferigno, 8 Hill Giants. Result: Drakon directs a charge towards Ferigno and the giants jump in the way taking the brunt of the destruction. All giants are felled or ran off but not before they batter a hole through Drakon's regulars. All the Cataphracts, Horse Archer, and Bowmen are killed or injured to the point of no longer being able to fight. Drakon pushes the fight to Ferigno who instead withdraws from the Foray completely (he won group init and failed morale).

I made a ruling that Dairin would need to make a Strategic roll for Ferigno to be part of the Missile combat phase against the Lawful army. He failed. Here's how the Missile phase went:

Phase 1 Missile round: Elves let loose some magic arrows as BOB and his wraiths are flying chasing cavalry around the field. Perfect shots sending half of the wraiths to the Abyss and the other half languishing in limbo between this plane and the plane of shadow. BOB himself grins and disappears. The human bowmen were killed during the phase, most having their life force sucked from them like something from Event Horizon. The other half of bowmen curl in the fetal position in terror and are out of the fight.

After this Dairin directed Ferigno to Reserve, to protect him, and Advanced on Drakon who held his position. The next phase was Skirmish. Drakon had no units in Skirmish position so Dairin's Lizardmen got a free attack phase, throwing darts across the field destroying the 2 units of regular Heavy Infantry. 

Phase 3 then commenced with both armies converging in melee. The Clerics of Ammonar and Veteran Heavy Infantry from Turos Spen clashed with the dire wolves and bashed their heads into the dirt without taking any losses. 

Phase 4: Skirmish phase with no units :(

To start Phase 4 Dairin ordered a withdraw and succeeded. We found ourselves in a Skirmish phase with no units on either side so I asked both Commanders if they were moving troops around. 

On Phase 5 Drakon ordered an advance and succeeded in bringing the fight back into a Melee phase. As you can see he had his entire army ready to clash head on. I was getting my d20's ready when Drakon called an audible and decided to do a Heroic Foray against Dairin and Ferigno directly! Here's how it went:

Phase 5, Foray: Turn 1: Drakon leads a charge of major principles towards Dairin himself. The Mage is hiding among his throng of lizardmen waving his arms about with spells and trying to rally the fleeing unit. Upon seeing the charge his way he calls for and his evil Ruingaurd spouse Zakiti, the Keeper of the sinister stone of Sakkara, and Ferigno to follow him to intercept. Both forces clash with some Cataphracts and Infantry being swooped and killed by Ferigno. Fire launches from Dairin's fingers across the field, killing the rest of the lawful regulars. Drakon stays close to Loarn the Cleric of Ammonar and Angelo the bloodthirsty mage of the Turos Spen Chapterhouse. Joker casts Jump and bounds across the battle field going straight at Dairin laughing gleefully. Dairin casts a strange spell that chokes Joker out of the sky and he falls apparently dead on the ground. 

BriarWhisper keeps hidden in the Lawful throng and feathers dozens of lizardmen with arrows. Oakhilt weaves spells to empower and protect himself and his forces who also launch cover fire with bows. He runs some lizardmen through who try and engage in melee with him. Drakon slices Zakiti's head off when she jumps in front of the charge screaming that she will "defend her beloved from the Empyrean Swine". She's dead. 

As Drakon, Angelo, and Loarn get closer to Dairin, Ferigno drops in the center of them and eats the Cleric and Mage with a gulp. End of Turn. 

Lawful Losses: Joker, Angelo, Loarn, 2 BR of Cataphract, 2 BR of Heavy Infantry. Remaining: Drakon, Oakhilt, Oakhilts 4 Spellswords, BriarWhisper [with his Henchmen], Anen, Pyle. Morale: No fails. 

Chaotic Losses: Zakiti, 6 BR of Lizardmen. Remaining: Ferigno, Dairin, 2 BR of Lizardmen. Morale: No fails.

All involved decided to fight on with another round/turn of Melee. It seemed clear that the next round would decide the battle one way or another.

Phase 5 Foray: Turn 2: Dairin flies into the air magically and he and Ferigno swoop back and forth. He launches more fireballs down at the group as Ferigno swoops with acid breath. Anen the Explorer's face melts off and he turns and gives a roman salute to Drakon as he melts into a pile of green goo. "My life for yours, sidi." BriarWhisper runs cover with arrow fire and owl head shakes so Oakhilt can cross the field. The Elf Lord slaps slender elf hand against the backs of Drakon, Pyle, and some of his Spellsword officers and they take to the skies. He launches missile spells at Dairin who appears immune by some magic bubble. Dairin chuckles at the elf lord and gyrates his hand in spellcraft and a poison cloud drops directly on Oakhilts head, sending him into coughing fits so strong his lungs shuck out onto the forest floor leaving him dead. 

The spellswords toss advice to Drakon here and there how best to control his flight as he wobbles a bit getting used to it. Ferigno comes out of invisibility and swoops their formation sending them scattering but getting his wing caught on a high branch and wobbling his flight. He appears from invisibility after the attack. The spellswords swarm the dragon and beat upon him with weapons and feet. Kalan the Spellsword, his sword empowered with some recent spell that turned it purple, stabs downward into the back of Ferigno's neck and the lizard makes an angry grunt that suddenly mutes as the life in his sharp eyes go out. He falls from the sky causing a booming quake as his lifeless body hits the ground.

Dairin casts mirror image just as Drakon flies close and engages him in melee. The angry Legate slices the holograms out of the sky as they swoop here and there through the treeline. Dairin screams out hoarsely that he will avenge his wife's death and gets enough distance to shoot a scouring wind at the Legate. The hot wind burns his face red but he doesn't falter. With all his illusions and holograms gone Legate Drakon zooms through the sky and slices Dairin in half at the beltline. His upper and bottom torso flutter to the ground like Darth Maul. Dairin is dead. 

Lawful Losses: Oakhilt, Anen. Remaining: Drakon, Oakhilts 4 spellswords, BriarWhisper [with his henchmen], Pyle. 

Chaotic Losses: Ferigno the Green Dragon, Dairin the Mage. Remaining: None.

That was the end of the battle. 

The fleeing unit of lizardmen were too disorganized to properly retreat and are routed. The other unit of lizardmen attempt to retreat and are run down and destroyed by the Horse Archers and Cataphracts. Auran legionnaires and cavalrymen cheered and chanted "Drakon Drakon Drakon!" over and over. The elves stood around their Elf Lord in a circle humming. Oakhilt was dead entirely and no cleric's seemed to have any ideas. The elf officers discussed amongst themselves in elvish simply "let's return him to the Fastness as soon as treasure is secured, no further discussion of this in front of the humans".

Turos Orn
Not without significant losses, particularly to his major retainers, but Drakon was victorious. He went on to investigate Ferigno's lair but I'll leave his findings to my Session 35 report, since the PCs went back. He also claimed the treasure from the dead Hill Giants' lair. But Dairin's hideout has yet to be found. 

Drakon eventually marched on to Turos Orn, the keep of the Palatine he is vassaled to, arriving on 10/27/21.

Drakon's army arrives in Turos Orn. News of the victory was passed down the line from troops to Orn's farmers and peasantry. The elves depart the army back to their Fastness (still hidden, the army was not led past it) with Stormroot (who resplaced Oakhilt as Lord) giving a serious but appreciative nod to Drakon before departing.  By the time the army actually approaches the massive castle of Turos Orn proper a victory parade is set up and Palatine Vallanna is all smiles on her normally serious visage. She places a laurel wreath on Legate Drakon's head when he ascends the road to the main gate of the keep. She raises his hand above his head in triumph and the peasantry and merchant guild members who have gathered in a throng cheer heartily. The soldiers begin a chant of "Ave Turos Spen! Ave Aura!" which the men of the peasantry join in. There is a feast quickly thrown together that lasts some days.

Drakon eventually departed Turos Orn to be celebrated in the city of Cyfaraun but I'll leave that tale for another time.


  1. So with Dairin and Ferigno dead, what will happen with that patron player? Take up another faction somewhere else?

    1. They can if they want. Most of my campaign's patrons are kaput now so I'm gearing for the next batch.


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