Once that was out of the way, it was on to the major business of the evening, which was to continue Red Hand of Doom. Only one encounter tonight, and it was pretty much fight-fight-fight, but it was a big one. The characters have become such a nuisance to the Red Hand that they were lured into a trap made specifically for them. An ogre and some hobgoblins were torturing captives at a ransacked farmhouse near a town that had been devastated by raiders. The party, being their usual heroic selves, decided to bust up the party, only to discover that it was an ambush. The ogre and hobgoblins went down fast, no surprise, but they were just cannon fodder to draw the heroes in — the real opposition was a pair of greater barghests, with a pair of blackspawn raider bodyguards each.
The barghests spent the first part of the fight in goblin form, casting illusions, buffing their comrades, etc., so the party thought they were goblin wizards. In fact, at first, they thought there was only one, whom some of them had spotted behind a tree, not realizing the other was inside the darkened farmhouse using line of sight out the window. One created the illusion of a treant, which fooled laurie_robey's sorceress into fireballing an 80' spread of innocent foliage, alas; the other then used dimension door to take himself and his bodyguards behind the party's ranks.
The fight then basically became two mostly-separate battles; jamesbarrett's bardbariandruidguy took on the barghest and dragonspawn near the farmhouse, while laurie_robey and hantamouse did a lot of "Backpedal-and-fire! Backpedal-and-fire!" against the ones on the field, with sirfox bouncing back and forth between the two groups to provide support.
Notable moments included:
sirfox, using heat metal to great effect, basically taking the hobgoblins out of the fight.
jamesbarrett, who managed to end up having a swordfight against one of the blackspawn raiders halfway up a tree.
hantamouse, who kept doing critical hits on foes that only had 3 hit points left and were going down anyway.
laurie_robey, who burninated everything in sight, including a nonexistent treant.
And finally Jorr, the good ole boy NPC ranger/rogue who's been tagging along since the first or second session, who for some peculiar reason couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, despite having a magic bow and gloves of dexterity. (I don't think the poor guy rolled higher than a 7 all night.)
It was a tough slog, but a good fight; like the behir that caused them so much grief before, this was a CL 10 encounter. But two factors made this battle less harrowing: first, the behir got the drop on the party and took two members out of fight effectively right away with its ability to swallow whole. Second, the party went up a level since the behir fight, from 8th to 9th, giving them all more options (and in the case of laurie_robey, more bigger booms). Had the characters faced this battle before leveling and being able to get some equipment upgrades from the Midnight Peddler, it would have been a lot harder.
At the end, one of the captives turned out to be the mysterious sorceress chick they characters met a while back, who was specifically looking for them by order of Lord Jaarmath — the Red Hand is at the Brindol gate! The session ended with the heroes riding hell-bent for leather to get to Brindol in hopes of getting there before the horde launches its assault.
If only someone had sent word to Rohan... ;)