The morning began with a difficult river crossing followed by an unexpected goblin ambush in the woods. With any luck the heroes might actually reach the ruins of Castle Inverness without any other mishaps or violence. This week’s encounter began at dusk, just as the caravan spotted the ruins of Castle Inverness in the distance.
Brother Splintershield, the leader of the new community, called the caravan to a halt. He beckoned the adventurers to come forth along with Malgram and his scouts. Splintershield and his acolytes are planning to perform a ritual on the site of the castle ruins. This will consecrate the ground, protecting it from evil. But before he can begin, he wants to make sure things are safe.
Malgram and his Rangers agree to search the perimeter. Splintershield asks the PCs to check the actual ruins. They look abandoned from here, but better safe than sorry. The party, this week consisting of Belgos (the Dragonborn), Jarren, Keira, Valenae, a Battlemind and another Rogue, agreed to check it out.
When the group reached the front gate, or what’s left of it, they did a preliminary search. They found nothing out of the ordinary. Jarren decided to check for magical auras and found one. The main gate was at one point a great archway. The arch has long been destroyed, but the supporting columns still radiated a faint residual protective aura. It’s harmless but noticeable to all passing through the main gate.
After passing through the main gate the party decided to split up to cover more ground. Jarren decided to stay near the main gate and keep watch. He climbed on top of the wall and observed.
Keira and the Battlemind explored the North West tower and an old abandoned wagon nearby. They found nothing of note, but figured the wagon was easily salvageable with a bit of work. Valenae passed the wagon and ventured towards the graveyard where she found 13 gravestones. They appeared well tended despite their age. One of them bore the inscription “Oldivya Vladstone. Wife and friend.”
Belgos spotted a fountain near the South East tower and really wanted to check it out. The Rogue accompanied him. As they passed by the base of the main tower they decided that the fountain could wait. They explored the base they found strange writing on the original castle cornerstone but no one in the party could decipher it.
Everyone but Jarren met up near the fountain where they traded stories of their findings. Together they all move towards the fountain and South East tower. As soon as they got near the fountain, everyone but the Rogue rolled exceptional Perception checks (three 20s and a 19) and spotted two very large oozes emerging from within the fountain. The oozes moved swiftly, and got right next to the party.
Valenae and Keira both knew all about these Ochre Jellies and informed the party. Belgos shifted away from the adjacent ooze and then tried to scale the wall and get a better vantage point from which to use his bow. However he couldn’t find secure footing and failed. He then used his breath weapon to deal the first blow against the ooze.
Next the Battlemind marked both oozes and attacked. The Rogue and Keira each took different oozes and both dealt a lot of damage early. Valenae hit early and granted everyone temporary hit points. Jarren used Magic Missile from way off in the distance, hitting an ooze.
The creatures tag-teamed the Battlemind, hitting him hard and dealing ongoing acid damage.
The heroes decided to focus fire on the ooze that was more hurt, bloodying it. That’s when it split into two smaller Ochre Jellies, something the party was well aware would happen. They then focused on one of the smaller oozes killing it in the next round.
Jarren continued providing ranged support from almost 20 squares away, hitting more often than not with Arc Lightning. Belgos kept firing from the other side of the battle, but wasn’t able to get up the wall no matter how hard and how often he tried.
After the first little ooze fell Keira and the Battlemind focused on the larger original Ochre Jelly. One round latter they blooded it and it too split into two smaller oozes.
The Battlemind continued drawing attack from the marked Ochre Jellies and took a lot of hits during the fight. Thankfully, Valenae kept healing him and providing resist 2 to all damage.
The party made short work of the Ochre Jellies after they split into smaller creatures, easily destroying then all. The defender took a lot of damage, but not nearly as much as I expected him to take. I missed him with 6 consecutive attacks near the end of the battle.
Good tactics and three strikers made a huge difference. Having Jarren stay so far out of the battle meant he was completely safe. After almost failing three death saves last week I can’t blame him for being so cautious.
When the party finally searched the fountain they found a magical +1 Orb of Inevitable Continuance. Jarren got this item since he’s the only one who could use it.
I was a bit concerned about how thing might have turned out when the PCs split the party, but it all ended up working out ok in the end. It was one of those rare times when splitting the party didn’t turn out to be a terrible idea.
One quick note about the characters at my table. I know that Wizards of the Coast wants people to only use D&D Essentials books for character creation. However, at our FLGS we didn’t want to impose this restriction. We certainly encourage everyone to use the new books, but with our numbers dwindling the last thing we want to do is loose a player because he can’t play the character he wants to play. As long as his PC is 4e legal, I’m happy to let anyone play at my table. That’s why we have a Battlemind in our party.
As an added bonus this season we’re recording our D&D Encounters experiences and making them available to you as downloadable podcasts courtesy of The Shattered Sea. Listen to the Week 3 Encounter. Bear in mind that these recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at time it may be difficult to hear everyone.
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.