Laughing Fox (Shaman) with his henchman Dogbreath
Laurentius (Cleric) along with two of his henchman
Hellena Kellar (Dwarf Mechanist)
It's been a month since the twelve-headed hydra laid waist to the Bloated Badger and forced Wirrow and his fellow hobbits off his land. Since then, Laughing Fox has put a plan together. Over the month, he's gathered a small army of giant catfish that he's kept in a small, manmade pond. He managed to gather 27 giant catfish. Laughing Fox's plan was when they confronted the hydra, he would release the giant catfish,, and hope they will get a surprise on the fowl beast and do enough damage that it would make the rest of the battle easier. The party also had planned to have Boldvay cast Paralysis from his Staff of Wizardry. Unfortunately Boldvay's player didn't make it for the session. The players were a bit nervous and thought about abandoning the plan to do something else. But their bravery prevailed and decided to help their friend Wirrow in his plight.
Before setting out, Laughing Fox asked his ancestors when the best time to attack the hydra, if it was hydra mating season, and where the hydra was nesting. There answers were: best to attack during the day, it wasn't mating season, and that it was nesting on land. With that said, the hired a boat (the very same that brought them back from Rivertown), put Hellena Kellar in the crab-mech they found, bought a lot of chum to lead the giant catfish, and finally set out. Their plan was to draw the hydra out, using themselves as bait, with Hellena Kellar waiting in the crab mech underwater to attack, and with the giant catfish waiting on the side to surprise the hydra.
Arriving at the desolated river tavern, the party saw the wreckage the hydra wrought. They smelled something rotting and soon discovered pieces of Harley the river dragon stuck among the decimated settlement and along the bank. Various carrion birds were feasting on the remains, and floating debris of the Bloated Badger had made their home in the river itself. Cleaver, the sentient great axe the party found awhile back, swore an oath of vengeance upon the hydra. Laughing Fox and Laurentius both cast blessed on the party to even the odds, then the players began to shout and draw the attention of the hydra. The twelve headed hydra swam out to meet the players in their boat. Before this, I decided on how to roll for the catfish army. Normally, due to it's size I would just divide the group in to two or three smaller groups and roll whatever dice for each group to keep things simple and fast. This time I gave the players an option: I could stick to that or roll for each single giant catfish. The group decided on the latter. Well, before that, the fish managed to surprise the hydra as it was making it's way to the players. With that, I then rolled 27 d20 to hit. 19 of the giant catfish succeeded.
They swarmed the unsuspecting hydra and with decent damage rolled for each hit (giant catfish have four bites that do 2d8 damage) the hydra went down. The players and the ship's crew looked aghast as the hydra struggled and was overwhelmed by the biting giant fish, and sank in a frothy maelstrom of blood and gore. Some of the crew even wretched at the site. I ruled that once their feeding was done, Laughing Fox would lose control of the fish and they would swim back into the river. With large sea-beast vanquished, the party went ashore to look through it's nest that it maid in the remains of the tavern. They found a mermaid statue maid of pure gold clasping a black pearl worth 5000 gp. The party also found four brilliant gems, four pieces of jewelry, and magical scale armor made of greenish-gold clams, and 10,000 gp. Finally, the greatest of the treasure was found: a pair of Gauntlets of Ogre Power. The party also brought back two of the hydra's heads.
They soon left and arrived back to Woodshome where the hobbits were hosting games for adventurers and warriors to kill the hydra. Wirrow, surprised at what the party accomplished, congratulated them and offered them half of the 10,000 gp to the ongoing games. After that, the players had some magic items identified, including some found from previous sessions.
A couple of things. First, from here on out, the session reports will be called Frontier Bulletins. I wanted something more exciting than "session report" and had my players brainstorm for a better title. Second, the giant catfish army. Pretty powerful, right? Well, I allowed it for a couple of reasons. One, it was well thought out by Laughing Fox's player, and seemed reasonable. Plus it took over a month to gather said army. Second, with the use of animal control with his ring, keeping them fed, and separated from the rest of the river, seemed reasonable to me. I dig this out-of-the-box thinking that players can bring to the table and that D&D (or in this case ACKS) supports. It's an example of player skill vs character skill. And yes, it's on the meta side as the players all have access to the Core Rulebook and know all the monster stats. I don't have problem with this as I'd rather player with players who don't dumb themselves down. I'm running a game with actual, breathing, thinking human beings. Why should they have to play stupid? Playing stupid = poor player skill. Honestly, as long they don't look at my maps and non-existent notes, I really don't care. I think that the Alt-Right DM (may peace be upon him) says it best in these two posts.