The Savage Tide
CHASE ON CHARRED GROUND
Nearly 15 ft. long and 10 ft. wide, the sled is constructed from the bones of a dire bat The encounter starts when the PCs guide the sled into one of the ash coated half-tunnels formed from solidified lava, which act as the olman’s high speed paths to the volcano’s base. There, they begin a chase with sled-driving, battle hungry crimson fleet scouts on their heels.
OUTLINE AND REFERENCE Round 1, start – Three sleds manned with a total of six Crimson Fleeters chase the PCs (see Hostile Riders). Round 2, start – Two Crimson Fleeters attempt to board the PC’s sled. (see Hostile Riders) Round 2, end – The volcano emits a low growl. (see Volcano!) Round 3, start – Karak crosses the PC’s path. (see The Flaming Mane) Round 3, end – An earthquake shakes the mountain. (see Volcano!) Round 4, start – Karak slams into the PC’s sled. (see The Flaming Mane) Round 5, end – The PC’s lava channel splits. (see Obstacles) Round 8, end – The lava tunnels terminate in a ramp. (see Obstacles) Round 9, end – The volcano erupts. (see Volcano!)
SETUP AND PLAY Light: Gloomy daylight. No concealment or light sensitivity. Sound: The sled’s high pitched screeches. Important rules: Avalanches, Bull Rush, Climb, Difficult Terrain, Trip Attacks, and Tactics below.
At the start of the encounter, draw the large sled on the grid and allow the PC’s to place their characters anywhere on the vehicle. Point out, that the craft can only be steered from one of the top squares (marked in red) and that all of its spaces are difficult terrain. After that, place the three pursuit sleds according to the tactical map, with two warriors on each sled (you could use small pieces of cardboard to represent the sleds). During the encounter, the small sleds move at a speed of approximately 300 ft. per round and the large sled at approximately 270 ft. per round. Illustrate this movement by moving the sleds only according to their relative distance and only at the end of a combat round. Usually, this means that the small sleds are placed 30 ft. (6 squares) closer to the large sled after everyone has acted in the current round. Sideway movement is only possible for the small sleds. Each round they can move 5 ft. (1 square) to their left or right. In addition, they do not need to use their full speed and may move less, if they want to. Because of the half-pipe nature of the lava canals, the heavy sled rests at the centre of the course. It cannot move sideways or reduce its speed, although steering it has other benefits as described in the Tactics section.
TACTICS During an unusual fight like this, several additional options are available to the PCs and their opponents. The most likely ones are described here.
Steering the large sled: A PC located on the front square of the sled (marked in red), can spend a move action to influence the movement of the vehicle. If the PC makes a successful Ride check (DC 15), he can increase the sled’s speed by 10 ft. for the current round (only one such check can be made per round).
If the PC tries to use the brakes in an attempt to reduce the overburdened sled’s speed, it suddenly jerks and the rarely used brakes rip off, trailing a shower of sparks behind. They were not meant to stop a vessel that heavy and there is no easy way to end this hellish fast trip. Leaving the large sled unguided has no effect since its extreme weight and broad construction stabilize it enough that it will make the trip on its own.
Steering a small sled: A small sled can be steered by weight shifting from any of its squares. Every round, this requires a move action and a Ride check (DC 10) by one of its passengers. Failure results in a crash that removes the sled as well as its riders from the encounter. The crashing riders also take damage (see Falling off). The scouts usually succeed on this check automatically.
A well-steered small sled is 30 ft. faster than the large sled and can move an additional 5 ft. sideways (not diagonally) during a combat round. Sled movement never provokes attacks of opportunity.
Falling off: Creatures falling off a sled take 2d6 points of damage (Ref save DC 15 for half damage) and are likely unable to continue to participate in this encounter.
Attacking from a sled: Attacking works as usual, sleds are too open to provide any kind of cover.
Jump over: When adjacent to an empty square on a different sled, creatures may try to board the vehicle. Jumping off their sleds requires a move action as well as a Jump check (DC 15). This is a very risky maneuver and failing the jump check causes the creature to fall off (see above).
Bull Rush: A character being bull rushed or shoved from a sled has one last hope of catching himself. A Ref save (DC 15) allows her to cling to the sled (see below). Clinging to the large sled: Creatures holding themselves at the side of the sled are considered to be climbing (DC 10). They remain in the nearest empty square adjacent to the sled and move at the sled’s speed. Climbing onto the vessel requires a move action and a Climb check (DC 10). This provokes attacks of opportunity. Attacking the sleds: The small sleds have a hardness of 5 and 40 hp. The shaman’s sled has a hardness of 8 and 300 hp.
Read or paraphrase the following text:
Everything is in rapid motion. Waves of smoke wash across your vehicle as it dashes through the steep, ash filled lava channel, trailing a cloud of grey dust behind. Suddenly, The bat idol bursts into flame as Zotzilaha cries, “More intruders!”, and a split second later, three small sleds skate into view. Despite the motion blur you can clearly see the bloodred uniforms behind you and you instantly realize that only a few heartbeats separate them from . . . you.
The bloodthirsty Crimson Fleet pirates fight to kill and to the death. Their glowing eyes show neither fear nor mercy. Use Rat’s End Pirates
At the beginning of the encounter, they already caught up with their prey and only a few feet stand between them and their prize. During their turn, they will attack with thrown javelins (targeting obvious spellcasters first) and try to close with the larger vehicle. Shouting angry cries the scouts will switch to melee weapons as soon as they are close enough and some might even try to jump onto the larger sled (see Tactics).
At the start of the second round, two additional scouts will leap from the sides of the lava channel onto the PC’s sled. They make a Jump check (DC 18). If successful, place them on the sled, otherwise describe their fatal failure and remove them from the encounter.
If any scouts are alive and on their own sled at round 8, they are unable to make the jump over the lava stream and vanish into the flame with belligerent cries..
As he detects the threat, Zotzilaha’s rage causes the mountain to erupt.
At the end of the second round, the mountain emits a low growl. Any character can make a Knowledge (nature) or Survival check (DC 15) to realize that the volcano is about to erupt. Characters aware of that fact are not surprised by the earthquake that shakes the mountain in the third round.
At the end of the third round, the ground shakes. A character must succeed on a Ref save (DC 15) or fall prone. Creatures not surprised gain a +4 competence bonus.
At the end of the ninth round, the volcano partially erupts, filling the lava tubes with molten stone and showering the region with a hail of stones and ash. Creatures at the top of the mountain (up to point 4) are treated as if within the bury zone of an avalanche (see DMG) while those between point 4 and 8 are in the slide zone.
Characters at the bottom (past point 8) of the mountain only take 2d6 points of damage (Reflex save DC 15 to avoid). If the heroes are subject of the more severe effects of the avalanche, increase the Encounter Level to 9 and award XP for a CR 7 threat.
THE FLAMING MANE
The orc known as Karak the Flaming Mane is the scout leader. Racing along an alternate route down the mountain, he catches up with the PCs later in the encounter.
During the third round of combat Karak’s alternate course features a jumping ramp that catapults his sled across the PCs’ path. He can easily be seen by anyone on the large sled and the scouts fight especially reckless this turn.
At the start of the fourth round, Karak’s meets the hero’s again and this time he proves his daredevil nature. In a stunning maneuver, he crashes his sled down on the top of the PC’s vehicle, catching his own fall with his wings. Everyone on top of the craft takes 1d6 pts of dmg. Place Karak on an empty square of the sled. If there is no such square, move a scout to a clinging position.
This winged orc is a living inferno. His clothes are ablaze and everything except a heavy black breastplate is on fire. Untouched by the heat of the flames, the creature grins gleefully and in his clawed hands a barbed chain quivers, hungry to flay the flesh from his opponent’s bones.
Karak, the Flaming Mane CR 5
Half-fiend orc fighter 4 CE Medium outsider (native, orc) Space 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen -1, Spot -1
AC 18, touch 12, flat-footed 16 (+5 breastplate, +2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 49 (4d10+20 and 1d8+3 temporary) Spd 20 ft.; fly 20 ft (average)
Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +0; +1 against fear effects DR 5/magic; Immune poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 14
+1 spiked chain +13 (2d4+11) and bite +7 (1d6+3) or 2 claws + 12 (1d4+7) and bite +7 (1d6+3)
javelin +7 (1d6+7)
Special Attacks smite good
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4): 3/day-darkness 1/day-desecrate
Before Combat Karak used potions of aid and bear’s endurance. His stats have been adjusted.
Also, he drenched himself with oil and lit it. The fire burns during the entire encounter, dealing 1d3 points of damage to anyone grappling him.
During Combat Karak has a superior weapon. Every round he uses it to trip (+11) his opponents, possibly earning attacks due to his Improved Trip feat.
Morale If reduced to less than 20 hp while fighting a melee threat, he uses Combat Expertise to full effect (-4 attack +4 AC). As a last resort, Karak uses his wings to leap off. Although he is unable to match the sled’s speed, he will follow and attack in the Ash fields (point 9), utilizing his flight and reach.
Base Statistics hp 41, +1 spiked chain +12, claw + 11, bite + 6, javelin +6, Fort +7, no bonus on saves against fear effects, Con 16.
Str 24, Dex 15, Con 20, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 8
Base Atk +4; Grp +11
Feats Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain), Improved Trip, Skillfocus (ride)
Skills Climb +10, Intimidate +2, Jump +10, Ride +12, Tumble +2
Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Orc
SQ light sensitivity
Combat Gear cure moderate wounds potion (2); Other Gear breastplate, 3 javelins, +1 spiked chain Special Abilities
Light Sensitivity (Ex) Orcs are dazzled in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
Smite Good (Su) Once per day the creature can make a normal melee attack to deal 4 extra points of damage against a good foe.
Any character steering the sled at the end of the fifth round, has to make a difficult choice.
Read or paraphrase the following text:
As your sled screeches around another curve in the lava tube, the view clears and reveals a split in your path. The channel on your right hand side is filled with a cloud of choking ash, while the one on the left hand side seems to be composed of shiny black and very smooth stone.
Allow all PCs to make a Spot check (DC 20). Successful characters realize that the stone’s blackness is oil that leaked from the ground since the recent earthquake.
The sixth and seventh round of the encounter is affected by the terrain they travel through. If the sled was not steered, choose the path randomly.
The right path is filled with ash clouds. Creatures have to hold their breath and are blinded for two rounds. The DCs of any checks to steer a vehicle are increased by 4.
The left path is slick with oil that covers vehicles/creatures travelling through it. Any source of fire (the Flaming Mane) ignites the oil. It burns for 3 rnds dealing 1d6 pnts of fire damage/round.
At the end of the eighth round, the lava tubes end in a ramp that launches the sleds across a lava stream. The sled takes 4d6 points of damage and comes to a soft halt in the nearby ash field (difficult terrain). Continue combat at the base of the flame-spewing mountain until the PCs defeat their opponents.
CONCLUDING THE ENCOUNTER Treasure: If Karak was killed, his +1 spiked chain likely got entangled somewhere on the sled.