I forgot to write up the session from last week, and this week’s adds a significant combat, so it’s a good time to do so.
This week brought some lapses into murderhobo’ing, but it was overall a good session and my table did all right.
Previously on Dungeons and Dragons:
Mike’s table scouted the Far Realm Cysts and nearly cleared it out.
My table had Kit Kat the Gnome Druid, Robert the halfling rogue/monk, Sir Lord P the paladin/bard, and Gregor the human cleric.
We continued into the Temple of Chaos, starting with the Mystic Circles trap. They eventually disabled the trap with a dispel magic spell, but it was hard and they took quite a beating from the trap. They continued into the Succubus Vault, but Pencheska wasn’t there. The adventure notes states that she’s only there if the party played Scourge of the Sword Coast and sent her packing. Since nobody in my group had played the previous season, Pencheska is still out there, messing things up in Daggerford. They raided her jewelry boxes, obtained her glyph key, and moved on.
The Elemental Furnace, where the fire elemental is imprisoned, proved the best RP moment so far. The party considered fighting, but I pointed out that they can just skirt around the elemental. The “totally trustworthy halfling” (rogue-monk), however, decided to free him. The chainmail-wearing paladin and cleric stood at the far end of the furnace, bracing for impact, while the druid cast entangle to stop the elemental. Entangle slowed the mighty creature (fire elementals are immune to paralyzing effects), which bounded dramatically at the paladin and cleric… then past them, where it turned around and waited for its new halfling friend.
He named it “Blaster,” but I’ve shortened that to “Blassie.” Because it’s just a big ol’ fire dog! Yes it is!
They backtracked to find a secret door in Pencheska’s room, which they took towards the Abyssal Gate zone. From there, the paladin detected undead and fiends to the south, so they headed that way. The halfling scouted ahead, seeing the bound demons and many undead jailors walking amongst them.
We ended the session there, as Robert returned from the scouting mission.
This Week on Dungeons and Dragons:
Each of our tables had a new player, and Mike had a player switch out his PC. On Mike’s table, there were the barbarian and rogue, plus a mage/cleric and a ranger. The “new player” on Mike’s table is an old friend of ours from previous seasons, so I knew it would be a hack-and-slash night for him. It was– in fact, Mike seriously pulled punches and didn’t TPK the “I run in and attack” ranger or the rest of his party. I remind any players reading this: The dungeon is supposed to be deadly. Play smart, or die.
On my table, we had a player who was new to our group entirely– he played the elf mage, Landrose (I think). We had Gregor, Robert, and Lord P returning. And Blassie.
The fire elemental is supposed to move on after the session in which the party finds him, but I decided that Blassie is going to stay with them until a certain pre-determined point. They need the help, and what they did in freeing him was clever.
They enter the summoning chamber and immediately start fighting– this is basically murderhobo 101 (the paladin is going to get creamed, by the way, because he can’t just walk away from undead). In this room, there are 4 circles with demons trapped, a bunch of zombies, 2 wights, and a dread warrior.
The dread warriors are formidable on their own. But worse than that, they are pawns of the Red Wizards and the liches, so…. the wizards and liches can see through their eyes and cast magic spells through them. So, yeah. That heavily armored enemy you’re facing? Just cast fireball as an 18th level lich. Oh, fuck.
Which is pretty much what happened. The party was bunched at the door, so the dread warrior hit them with fireball, which most of them failed their saves. They were battered pretty hard, but rallied to fight zombies and wights, finally focusing on the dread warrior.
Meanwhile, the demons are pleading to be let out, and Landrose eventually scuffs one of the magic circles enough to release the hezrou, a demon that is at least intelligent. Landrose smartly moved away, far enough that the hezrou has other targets, and chooses to go free an imprisoned vrock before killing them all.
The fight rages on. The quasit that’s been following the party invisibly since their arrival frees his quasit friends just as the PCs are considering leaving them to their fate. In revenge, the quasits throw a “scare” up to keep the heroes at bay; it only works on one of the PCs, and Landrose hits them with burning hands, killing one. In the next round, they all go invisible. They’re now just facing the dread warrior, but Gregor is down to 1 hit point and things might get chancy here, soon.
Robert takes down the dread warrior, who bellows his hatred as he is engulfed in fire elemental flames. The hezrou stalks past Gregor, snarling telepathically “Flee now, before we kill you.” This is either a head start, or a warning that they will turn on the PCs as soon as they are all freed.
The party decides not to fight the demons. They run for the south door and leave.
This fight took most of our night. I drew a grid. It was our first truly tactical combat for the adventure, and positioning definitely bogged the combat down.
They come to a 4-way intersection. To the east, there’s what appears on the map to be a dead end, so they want to check that out. They search and discover that the hallway hasn’t been used much. Lord P and Blassie stay in the intersection. Lord P takes some time to heal himself and detect any enemies– he detects strong undead to the west, and multiple undead to the south. He braces for possible attack.
Down the hall, the party has found a pair of doors with angelic carvings on them. Robert opens the door. Darkness spills out. Everyone makes saving throws or takes necrotic damage and is paralyzed. Robert and Gregor fail. Landrose succeeds, but stays in the darkness to try and help them. On his next turn, he fails and takes the damage and paralyzation. Eventually, Blassie rushes in and starts pulling people out (he’s immune to paralyzation, remember?) Both Gregor and Landrose try to deactivate the trap with dispel magic, but it’s a permanent magical feature, not a spell. They can’t crack it. When he can finally move, Robert closes the door, stopping the trap.
Yes, it was that easy to stop it. They spent two level-3 spells trying to stop the trap when closing the damned door would have done it.
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At this point, they are battered pretty hard and have used a bunch of spells. They stop to heal for a bit and confer. Withdraw to the sanctuary vault for a long rest, or press onward?
They decide to take a short rest, catch their breath, and then head for the door to the west, which has “strong undead” behind it. They assemble and cast their healing and buff spells before opening the door. Blassie is even eager to help its new friend!
They open the door. I describe what is essentially a private chambers of some magical creature. The creature is there, with four Dread Warriors as its guards. He turns and Robert, who was at the Bloodgate during the launch event, recognizes Tarul Var, a lich of Thay.
The dread monster turns and in his deep, raspy voice, he speaks to these would-be heroes who have humiliated him and invaded his sector of the dungeon:
“Roll. For. Initiative.”