Crust the Half-Orc escorted the party back to their quarters where they found Nigel with a new companion lounging. Nigel greeted the party with great enthusiasm, and he introduced them to his long-time friend and colleague Harkin. Harkin introduced himself while idly playing a fantastic tune on his lute. He appeared to be human, in well-kept but fairly reserved clothing, and stated that he was placing a 100,000 gp wager on the party’s success as a gesture of good will. Although not outwardly intimidating, the party could easily sense that Harkin’s presence would greatly benefit them in the arena. He carried a longsword at his side, but something told the party that his fighting capabilities would not be his most valuable asset.
For the remainder of the day and evening, the party recovered from their combat, exchanged pleasantries with Harkin, and ultimately sought out additional information on the next day’s battle. Crust returned after completing his rounds serving some other combatants only to relay that he learned the next combat would be a new fighting format introduced this year – Battle Chess. Although the rules of the game were given in great detail, the basic rules were as follows:
1) The starting team is always the house team (chosen by Maalthir)
2) Team initiative always follows this order – King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook; all members of one team take actions then followed by the other team
3) Readied actions allowed but order in initiative is not changed in subsequent rounds
4) Each attacker chooses a single target and may engage attacks only when adjacent to opponent; ranged attacks receive no penalty for firing at adjacent foes; attacks are in two stages with the attacker going first and defender counterattacking with the following conditions:
- – 5 AC bonus
- 2nd Initiative
- Always treated as charging if moving more than 5’
- + 5 ATT bonus
- 1st Initiative
5) All damaging area effects can only damage a single opponent; for ongoing effects, caster may change recipient of damaging area effects as a swift action at the start of his turn. Non-damaging effects shall affect all individuals on battlefield.
6) Similar to the rules of chess, you win the entire match if you defeat the opponents’ king.
The party must choose members to fulfill roles as chess pieces in the field. The party members were assigned as follows:
King = Harkin
Queen = Evangelyne
Rook = Mortimer
Bishop = Gruuntham
Bishop = Darian
Knight = Dastan
Knight = Mathias
The next morning, Crust roused the party to prepare for combat. Shortly thereafter, he led them back through some corridors to the arena entrance. He informed the party that any magical ‘buffs’ ahead of time were at the party’s own risk, since they were technically not allowed. Despite the warning, the party went ahead and chose to buff while waiting. To their delight, their casting preparation was not discovered.
Upon entering the arena, the party faced the following opponents:
King = Human Sorcerer
Queen = Warforged Barbarian/Fighter
Rook = (Custom) Mithral Golem
Rook = Half-Giant Psychic Warrior
Bishop = Githyanki Fighter
Bishop = Human Warlock
Knight = Human Monk
The opposing team led off the match with their king casting Freezing Fog across the empty space of the arena, which allows their remaining members to carefully maneuver undetected. The party adjusted their strategic formation while Harkin began belting out a wondrous tune to inspire the rest of his comrades. Mathias cast Gust of Wind, which would disperse the fog by the following round. Combatants on both sides entered the slippery freezing fog, and all hell broke loose once the fog was dispersed.
Although each team traded blows, the battle quickly became a blur. Harkin cast Haste on the party, which quickly gave them an advanced with their mobility. The Mithral Golem engaged Gruuntham and dealt a significant amount of damaged smashing away with its fists. Gruuntham struck back only to find that the golem instantly changed its form to create an exact metal replica of Gruuntham that fought with all of his same benefits and advantages. The Githyanki fighter engaged Dastan, only to be brought down swiftly by a combination of attacks from Darian and Evangelyne. Mortimer guarded Harkin closely using his girth to block any attacks, and Dastan began plugging holes in his opponents at point blank range. The opposing Warlock continued to lay into Gruuntham using an Eldritch Glaive, but Dastan and Gruuntham managed to take him down. Mathias strategically maneuvered around the battlefield in an effort to engage opponents to deal massive damage with his energy orbs, but the opposing Warforged struck a huge blow on a charge and deactivated Mathias with a single devastating, critical blow from his embedded falchion. The opponents’ king also cast multiple area spells with ongoing effects in an attempt to hamper Harkin’s support, but Harkin proved too hardy of mind and body to succumb to any of the effects. With Mathias down and both Gruuntham and Dastan near fatally injured by the Mithral Golem, the party’s morale seemed to wane; but at the turning point when things seems most bleak, Gruuntham (currently buffed by a variety of spells plus Harkin’s bolstering effects) managed a brilliant strategic move to engage the opponents’ king directly and took him down with three fell strokes…
The crowd cheered fanatically for the party, and Harkin gave a brief speech to further incense the crowd and create some dismay with the current political regime. Maalthir quickly had the party removed from the arena, and Nigel took the party out on the town while Harkin separated from them to spread the good word of their deeds and secure better lodging, meals, and security for his new-found companions.
Upon returning to their quarters with Nigel, the party learned that they had been relocated to quarters with much better amenities, food and drink. Mathias and the remaining members were healed to full health, and the entire party had also earned a 200% return on their bets. It was a good day indeed.