The party heads back to Loudwater after defeating the Goblin Shaman. The trip back is rather uneventful and moves quickly. They go directly to the Green Tankard to look for Curuvar, but he was not there yet. They received a message from Lady Moonfire, asking for an audience at their earliest convience.
The party made their way to the manor house and met with the Lady. She also mentioned the winter weather seemed to be coming to the area too early, a rumor the party picked up earlier from Marsh Laval. It seems that a lot of the farmers in the area are concerned that the crops might fail, and Deadwinter Day will be a lot more than symbolic for Loudwater. The Lady had a feeling that Draigdurroch's tower, near the Dire Wood, may somehow be involved.
Draigdurroch was a dwarf warlock who came to the Dire Wood to try to harness the power of the dead demi-god Karsus. He believed the with this power, he may be able to discover a new pact. The fey creatures of the wood believed his research to be dangerous and unnatural, and requested he leave the area. He responded with violence, and the fey locked his tower in an icy tomb over 30 years ago. Draigdurroch has not be seen or heard from since.
The party di some shopping in town then headed back to the Green Tankard to find Curuvar. He tells them the background of the Ogre King. The Ogre King was an actually an "oni", an ogre-like creature with mystical powers. The oni inhabited the barrow with a specific purpose in mind - it sought to learn about the Dire Wood. The goblins worshiped the thing like some sort of demigod, but in reality, it's just a dead oni.
Curuvar backed up Lady Moonfire's suspicions about Draigdurroch tower and performed the Endure Elements ritual for the party before they left Loudwater.
As the party approached the tower, they were caught in a blizzard. Due to their athletic and acrobatic skills, their arcane, historical, and natural knowledge, and their pure endurance, they were able to overcome the storm.
As the storm was starting to clear, Modryth noticed that some blue skinned goblins were preparing for an ambush in the nearby hills. With a nature check, she determined that the creatures must have been effected by the storm, as they were not suitably dressed for the weather. It was assumed that they had some sort of magical resistence to the cold.
The goblin hexer created a cloud of ice, making movement difficult for the party with the sharpshoots and cutters launched ranged attacks. Eventually, the party overcame the threat and were rewarded with some valuable treasure, including a Rod of Reaving.
Some pics from the combat with the ice-touched goblin horde:
With the Goblins dispatched, the party moves to the ice covered tower. They start hacking away at the ice when Samash notices something strange about the statues near the entrance. A few of them are not what they appear. The party attacks the statues and they reanimate into Iron Guardians!
Pics from the Iron Guardian Battle:
Modryth lands a brutal crit on her Hunter's Quarry with the big ol' D20 (sorry about the lack of focus)!
Dave is unimpressed at her nearly 40 points of damage on a single hit!?!?
After opening the door, another statue animates. It is a Clay Scout, but since the rest of the guardians were dispatched, it didn't stand much of a chance.
The game wrapped up as the party prepared to enter the tower.
The players did a great job roleplaying with Lady Moonfire and Curuvar to get good information. I was also impressed that they were using their skills in combat to try to gain an advantage over the enemies (Nature check on the goblins and history/perception checks on the statues). They did a great job working together and everyone seems to be getting more comfortable with the combat mechanics.
The Blizzard was the second 4e skill challenge I've tried to run (the other was in the Keep on the Shadowfell pre-gen game). So far, I'm not too impressed with the mechanic. I don't know that the players really felt any danger during the challenge, even though one of them did lose a healing surge after failing an endurance check. Both times, I've run them, it really felt like I'm doing something wrong (or the mechanic is sort of broken).
The players managed to level up during the game, so they will have a little more at their disposal starting the next game.
Treasure: Rod of Reaving +1, 2 Potions of Healing.