D&D Encounters is a 12-part adventure from Wizards of the Coast and it’s played out one encounter each week over the next 12 weeks.
I was very happy when we were allowed to take an extended rest at the start of this week’s encounter. I learned afterward that the adventure is broken into three chapters and that week 5 was the beginning of chapter two (which explains the exciting cliffhanger-like ending last week).
As we play more and more of these weekly encounters I suspect that they’ll start to seem more routine and typical. This week’s encounter was a very typical hack and slash affair. In this case terrain wasn’t a factor, but the monsters had interesting powers that the party hadn’t seen before. One monster was a swarm and another was able to deflect blows intended for it onto a fellow party member. Our party had little difficulty emerging victorious. Although two PCs discovered that ongoing damage can really add up, even if it’s only 3 points per round.
My experience this week was phenomenal. I’m trying not to repeat past mistakes and things finally worked out for me. Again this week I landed at the top of the initiative. But after last weeks debacle I decided to do nothing but make a monster knowledge check. My Religion skill is 0 so I needed a good roll. Natural 20! Apparently my monk likes to read texts about undead. Other than that, I did nothing and let the rest of the party advance. Because I waited, the rest of the party drew out the hidden monsters on their turns.
In round two I decided to move to an area of the room none of the PCs currently occupied, but learning from previous mistakes I opted to do a Perception check as I moved. I rolled 18 (+3 from my Wisdom), 21. I noticed more hidden monsters and was able to a) get better positioning before killing one, and b) avoid a surprise attack. There really is something to playing smart.
This week the dice gods were smiling down on me. When I first started D&D Encounter I decided to dust off some old dice. I hadn’t used this set in 10 years or more. After four weeks I was getting really angry with the new/old dice. The damage dice were rolling ok, but the d20 wasn’t cooperating at all. I vowed that if this week didn’t show significant improvement I was putting them back in the dice box for another 10 years. Well, the dice decided that this was the week to be awesome. I hit with every attack. I made all of my skill checks. And for the final killing blow against the very last monster I rolled a 20. What a night for my dice. They have earned themselves a permanent place in the dice rotation. And it seemed that the dice gods balanced the scales by punishing the DM. He must have rolled 1 at least seven or eight times, and no fewer than three of those were against me. Karma, dude. Karma.
If you’ve been playing or just following D&D Encounters, season one and you’re interested in reading more about Waterdeep, Undermountain, and the mysterious patron Fayne who hire the party to take on this grand adventure, check out the Forgotten Realms novel Downshadow by Erik Scott de Bie. It’s part of the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep series and is a stand-alone novel. De Bie is the author of both Downshadow and the adventure Halaster’s Lost Apprentice.
The first third of the novel has many exciting scenes that take place in Undermountain. De Bie does an excellent job of describing the subterranean levels of Undermountain and the people living in its halls. The story itself is nothing special. The characters are interesting, but I didn’t find that I really cared about what happened to any of them. The one exception was Fayne. She was the character who seemed to have the most secrets and therefore the one I wanted to learn more about. The fact that she appeared in the D&D Encounters week 1 also made me want to know more about her.
On whole, the novel is average. I’d give it 6 on a d10. Not bad, but not great either. If you’re only reading it as an Undermountain resource then you’ll get enough out of it to warrant reading it. If you’re just looking for a good D&D novel, then I’d say pass on this one.
Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.