D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade (Week 11)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 21, 2011

During their time in the library last week, the party discovered the floor plan to the Monastery. They knew only two rooms were on this floor. Even if there was more undead within, how difficult could it be to explore those two rooms and kill anything that shouldn’t be there? The heroes were about to find out.

This week at our FLGS we ran a double session at both tables. The heroes had the opportunity to explore the two rooms that made up the main floor of the Dwarven Monastery before heading down to the caverns below. The adventure said that the PCs could explore the rooms in whichever order they wanted to. Since the rooms were likely to just be two back-to-back, hack and slash encounters with minimal role-playing, we decided to run them both tonight. My table decided to explore the Meditation Room (the week 12 encounter) first. The other table decided to explore the Sleeping Quarters first. But by the end of the night we’d all completed both encounters.

In order to avoid spoiling next week’s encounter in the Meditation Room this write up will only focus on the events that related to the Sleeping Chamber. The write up for the events from the Meditation Room will run next week.

Needless to say our attendance was up tonight. With the promise of two encounters we had a full house. My table ended up with seven players, one of whom was playing D&D for the very first time. The party was made up of Keira, Jarren 1, Jarren 2, Valenae, a Dragonborn Fighter, a Dwarf Runepriest and a Human Wizard.

The encounters from the previous two weeks destroyed the party. Although no one at my table died, most characters expended a lot more resources than they felt comfortable with. Realistically there was no way that this group would make it through three more encounters. So I presented the table with options.

Having secured the front gate of the Monastery, the PCs knew they were safe from any immediate danger. If things worked out as they planned then they’d eventually find the Arrow of Time. When they did they could do whatever was necessary to change Vladistone’s fate. If they did he wouldn’t become a ghost and the March of the Phantom Brigade would never happen.

In order to ensure the greatest chance of success they needed to rest. Although Hammerfast was under siege, if they were successful the siege would never happen. So they agreed that before heading into the basement they would take an extended rest. This would also let the PCs with enough XP level up.

They had to decide if they were going to take that extended rest now, before going any further or after clearing out both rooms. I told them that they could not take an extended rest between tonight’s two encounters. They discussed it and decided to press on and take their extended rest before going down into the bowels of the Monastery.

The party entered the second set of doors and proceeded deeper into the Monestary. They felt a surge of magical energy wash over them and then the hallway before them changed. An illusionary party of adventurers was suddenly rushing towards them, clearly fleeing something dangerous. This was the Silver Company, Vladistone’s party when he was alive. This was confirmed when the PCs noticed Vladistone among the illusionary figures. One of Vladistone’s illusionary companions, an Eladrin Knight, spoke. “We should not have been surprised that the Duergar brought dangerous help. Let us recover ourselves, then proceed with caution.” After that the illusion faded away.

The party made note of it, but paid it no mind for now. They took the door on the right and after a few checks opened it and proceeded into the Meditation Room. See the D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade (Week 12) write up next Thursday for all of the details about what happened inside. The party took a short rest when they were done in the Meditation Room and then moved back into the hallway.

They headed towards the door on the left and after a few checks managed to open it. As they looked in to the Sleeping Quarters an illusionary effect similar to the one in the hallway began once again. This time the Silver Company was tending to their wounds. The Gnome Illusionist spoke. “Actherimos is not too dangerous on his own. This deep into the mountains, however, his death throes could collapse every passage from here to the town. We cannot win this battle, not without dying ourselves and killing who knows how many others in Hammerfast.” After that the illusion faded away.

The party decided to discuss what they’d seen in these illusions. With a couple of exceptional skill checks from the three Wizards and the Fighter (yes, the Fighter made a monstrous Arcana check) they realized that Actherimos was an Earthquake Dragon and that if he wasn’t dead as the records suggested, than he posed a very real threat to the nearby city of Hammerfast, more so that the Phantom Brigade. But before the party could really take this in, they heard moaning coming from within the room and saw movement. Combat was upon them.

From within the beds, four undead Ghouls awoke and rushed the party. The regular Ghouls both hit and immobilized the Fighter and Runepriest blocking the doorway, keeping the rest of the party in the hallway. Keira made an awesome kick-jump off of the wall (using the Dragonborn as leverage) to get over the Ghoul and into the room. Jarren 2 tried to copy the awesome acrobatics that Keira used to gt past one of the Ghouls in the doorway. He rolled poorly and took an opportunity attack for his trouble. Valenae used Fey Step to get to one of the Ravenous Ghouls before it could get into melee.

Knowing that the party was going to take an extended rest after this battle, the daily powers came out early, starting with Valenae. She opened with her Lesser Aspect of Wrath which caused enemies who ended their turns adjacent to her to take radiant damage. She used her action point and then used Smite Undead.

The Wizard and Jarren 2 both used their Fountain of Flame powers to create zones throughout half the room. The Ghouls were unable to escape the zones and were forced to take the fire damage almost every round.

After two rounds of combat two of the Ghouls were destroyed, but the Runepriest was still immobilized from the very first attack. This wasn’t a big deal at first, but after the Wizard used Beguiling Strands to push the remaining monster together and deeper into the zones the Runepriest didn’t have any more enemies adjacent to him. He was forced to use throwing hammers and kept missing badly.

Jarren 2 ended up all alone in a corner of the room and was attacked by two Ghouls. The first immobilized him and the second stunned him. To make things worse the second attack did enough damage to bring him below 0 hit points.

This was about the same time a very large Carrion Crawler emerged from a hole in the floor and attacked the party. Jarren 1 used his Fountain of Flame ensuring that the carrion Crawler would take damage on his next turn if he didn’t leave the room.

The heroes worked together, focused fire and managed to take down the monsters quickly. Both Ravenous Ghouls attacked once with their Ravenous Bite but missed. Before either could recharge the power they were both destroyed. The Ravenous Ghouls’s vulnerable radiant 5 as well as having three zones of fire in the room certainly helped the PCs defeat them quickly.

The Carrion Crawler managed to hit and daze only The Fighter on its next turn. The Fighter, knowing he only had a single action while dazed, jumped onto the creature’s back grabbing hold for dear life.

With only one Ghoul and the Carrion Crawler remaining, the Fighter decided to try and subdue the mindless beast. Already on its back, he made a successful Acrobatics check to stay onboard and then used Athletics to try and force it into submission. His check was successful but it wasn’t enough to stop the beast yet. On its turn the Carrion Crawler used Unsettling Scuttle to shift across the room, away from the fire and into the hallway where the soft, tasty Wizards were hiding out. Along the way it knocked the Fighter, Runepriest, Jarren 1, and the Wizard prone. It then used its Tentacles to grab hold of the Wizard an shift down the hallway towards the stairs where it cold eat the Wizard in peace.

The Runepriest made a quick Heal check on the unconscious Jarren 2 to revive him. He was out of healing surges so magical healing would be waster. With his successful check I allowed Jarren 2 to regain consciousness and awake with one hit point. He managed to save against the stun effect and the next round got to his feet and moved into the hallway to join in the battle.

The Fighter managed to stay on the Carrion Crawler’s back the whole way thanks to another remarkable Acrobatics check. On the Fighter’s next turn he again tried to subdue it using the sheer force of his Athletics. Another success.

Unfortunately Valenae raced after the Carrion Crawler and kept attacking it. Jarren 1 got to his feat and he too attacked, this time using Arc Lighting to drop the last Ghoul and damaging the Carrion Crawler. Keira moved into the hallways and began throwing daggers, also hitting the Carrion Crawler. The Fighter kept shouting to the party not to attack it, he was going to wrestle it to the ground and tame the beast, but no one was listening.

The Wizard recovered from the daze effect and fired Magic Missiles into the Carrion Crawler. Jarren 2 did the same and also fired Magic Missile at it. It was Valenae who finally managed to kill the creature, much to the Fighter’s disappointment.

With battle over the PCs moved into the room to search for loot – except for the Fighter, Jarren 2 and Valenae. The Fighter was so angry that Valenae didn’t listen and kept attacking the creature that he attack his fellow adventurer… and missed. Valenae didn’t back down. She attacked and scored a crit. Jarren 2 tried to get into the melee but Valenae managed to take Jarren 2 down. Since he had so few hit points one hit was all it took.

The Fighter and Valenae exchanged blows for three more rounds. After getting hit Valenae used one of her two remaining Healing Words to regain the lost hit points. She then pressed the attack, gaining resist 2 to all damage and hitting three more times in a row, twice rolling maximum damage. The Fighter was down.

Meanwhile the other four adventurers were busy searching the room. Each PC found a chest at the foot of the beds, but it was Keira’s that was locked. She easily picked it and found magical armor and a magical flaming weapon within. Because the Fighter, Jarren 2 and Valenae were busy fighting in the hallway, they were excluded from the roll-off for these items.

With the creatures dead and the party exhausted, they secured the room and took an extended rest. Both Valenae and the Fighter had enough XP to reach level 3.

In order to make this encounter more challenging for a party of seven I added two more Ghouls. Knowing that most PCs still had daily powers and that all of them had an action point I also doubled the Carrion Crawler’s hit points. This was a near perfect balance.

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 11 & 12 Encounters. Please note that although the write up only covers the week 11 encounter, the podcast covers the entire session in which the party completed both encounter 12 and then encounter 11. Bear in mind that these recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone.

Did your table find this encounter more or less difficult than the previous two weeks? How many others let their party proceed to the Meditation Room before exploring the Sleeping Quarters? Did anyone else run both encounters together this week like we did?

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.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alton April 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm

That was kind of cool. How long did it take total? I’m going to listen to the podcast tomorrow.

2 Ameron April 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm

@Alton
The entire session (both encounters) were a lot of fun. It took about 2.5 hours: 1.5 for the set up and encounter 12 (which we played first) and then about 1 hour for encounter 11 (which is the one described here). If you’ve been following our party in the podcasts it’s funny to hear some of the in-fighting reach a boiling point and then coming to blows. I don’t usually let the players battle each other but it was funny and seemed appropriate. Since everyone was getting an extended rest afterwards I wasn’t too concerned. In the end no one died and all of the conflict was clearly just in game.

3 Alton April 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

That sounds cool. Sorry I missed it. In party fighting is pretty cool sometimes. I especially enjoy smackdown night where once and awhile, we pit our characters we are currently playing with one another to see who is the most powerful. Just for fun. Thanks for the updates.

4 Chris P April 22, 2011 at 1:17 am

I’m curious what are you going to do next week? Run the same two encounters again? Or just finish up the season?

5 Ameron April 22, 2011 at 12:00 pm

@Chris P
Many of the participants have been doing D&D Encounter since the very beginning without missing a week (that’s over a year now). Every now and then we do a double session so that we can get a night off the following week. So next week at Dueling Grounds in Toronto there won’t be a D&D Encounters game. But the week after that will be the grand finale.

6 Michael Carabini April 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm

The mighty carrion crawler is a staple badguy from my DD experiences and also has turned up a lot in my more recent games especially to indicate to the players that they have wandered into dungeon areas that are no longer inhabited by the more civilized underworld dwellers. My most recent campaign was run using the Labyrinth Lord rules instead of B X DD so instead of Carrion Crawlers the party encountered Carcass Scavengers hideous maggot-like creatures with small tentacles topped with paralyzing stingers. But screw that I pulled out this illustration from an old issue of Polyhedron to show them the true nastiness of their foes.

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