D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade (Week 12)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 28, 2011

March of the Phantom Brigade, encounters 11 and 12 could be played in any order. Of course, my table did encounter 12 first. So last week we only covered the events that took place during the encounter 11 parts, skipping over encounter 12 until this week. A bit confusing I’ll grant you, but it worked really well. Be sure to check out the D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade (Week 11) field report if you haven’t already. That should help clear up any confusion.

Last week at our FLGS we ran a double session covering encounters 11 and 12. 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 clearly indicated that the PCs could explore the rooms in whichever order they wanted to. In order to avoid any spoilers for groups that chose to run encounter 12 first, we simply ran both encounter back-to-back.

The attendance at our FLGS was up for the double session (which wasn’t really a surprise). At my table we had Keira, Jarren 1, Jarren 2, Valenae, a Dragonborn Fighter, a Dwarf Runepriest and a Human Wizard. One player was getting his first taste of 4e D&D and couldn’t have picked a better time to jump in (he was playing Keira).

Last week’s recap covered what happened when the party entered the hallway and experienced the first illusionary flashback. Then the PCs choose to enter the Meditation Room. In order to avoid spoilers I skipped over the events that transpired in the Meditation Room and just picked things up after the short rest. Today we dive into the recap of that encounter.

After a few skill checks the party managed to get the door to the Meditation Room open. When they peered inside they saw five Duergar ready to spring into battle. However, they were frozen in time. As the first PCs walked into the room a pulse of magical energy washed over everyone and another illusionary scene played out right before their eyes. The illusion showed the Silver Company’s Human Wizard standing before the party as if lecturing them.

“I have prepared a ritual that will allow us to subdue Actherimos and the Duergar. When it triggers, it will lay an enchantment over much – though not all – of the monastery and the caves below. It will freeze in time everything caught in it. Our enemies will not age or die, but neither will they be able to affect the world around them.” When the Wizard finished speaking the illusion faded and the Duergar sprang to life.

Two Duergar near the back of the chamber leveled their crossbows and fired at the party. However, the sudden appearance of the PCs must have startled them because the Duergar missed horribly.

Valenae used Sun’s Glow to illuminate the dark room before charging past her allies and attacking closest Duergar Guard.

Jarren 2 moved into the room, repositioning his light onto the top of the altar and eliminating any remaining shadows inside the room. The additional light source revealed another Duergar Scout hiding in the south alcove. Startled, Jarren 2 fired a Magic Missile at him.

The Duergar Guards rush the doorway, attacking the Fighter, Valenae and the Jarren 2. Only the unarmored Jarren 2 got hit.

The Runepriest and the Fighter then joined in the melee, both hitting different Duergar Guards. Keira tumbled into the room and dealt a crippling blow to one of the Duergar Guards. Jarren 1 and the Wizard remained safely in the hallway where they fired Magic Missiles at the crossbow-wielding Duergar Scouts.

The Scouts repositioned themselves to get better lines of sight on their targets, one climbing on top of the altar. Two then unload on the Fighter and the Runepriest, hitting both this time. The third Scout returned fire on Jarren 2, hitting and bloodying him.

Valenae used Healing Word on Jarren 2 and then missed with her attack. Jarren 2 moved to a more tactically advantageous position and unleashes Burning Hands, engulfing three targets.

The Duergar Guards team up on the Fighter (since one of them was marked anyway). Both landed solid hits, bloodying him. The third Duergar Guard retaliated against Keira and bloodied her.

The Runepriest attacked one of the bloodied Guards, but couldn’t quite kill him. He then used Rune of Mending to heal the Fighter. The Fighter attacked a different Guard bringing him ever so close to death. He then uses his Dragon Breath on the two closest Duergar Guards, killing one.

Jarren 1 and the Wizard focused fire and both used Magic Missiles, killing another Duergar Guards. Two Scouts went invisible, the one on the altar did not. He fired his crossbow at Keira, missing by a hair and then fired his Infernal Quills at Valenae but missed her too.

Valenae ignored the nearby Duergar Scout and moved to flank the last Duergar Guard with Keira. Keira, now with combat advantage, landed a solid blow and killed the final Duergar Guard. Jarren 2 fired a Magic Missile at the only Duergar he could see and then moved deeper into the room.

The Runepriest moved closer to the altar and tried attacking the Duergar Scout, but couldn’t connect. The Fighter charged the Duergar on the altar but also missed. The Wizard and Jarren 2 both shot the Scout they could see with Magic Missiles.

Both of the invisible Duergar Scouts appeared in the hallway where they attacked Jarren 2 and the Wizard. Jarren 2 went from full hit points to 4 hit points with a single blow. The other Scout missed the Wizard. The Scout on the altar went invisible and moved stealthfully off the altar.

Vaelnae used Healing Word on Jarren 2 and then attacked one of the Scouts that just appeared. Keira moved around the melee to get the flank and attacked a Scout but missed.

Jarren 2 looked for the invisible Scout, but couldn’t detect him at all. Jarren 2 then used the water from the cistern to splash adjacent squares, hoping to notice the water droplets hit the invisible Duergar Scout. An excellent idea which unfortunately didn’t reveal anything. Jarren 2 then used Freezing Burst on a random location in the room, knowing that the burst attack wouldn’t suffer any penalties against an invisible opponent. Regrettably he didn’t guess the Duergar’s location and the burst hit nothing.

The Runepriest attacked one of the Scouts threatening the Wizards and hit him hard. The Fighter attacked the same Scout but missed. The Wizard used Beguiling Strands, hitting both nearby Scouts. Because the party had good tactical position he chose not to push either. The invisible Scout was in the area of effect but the Wizard missed him. Jarren 1 used Arc Lightning, hitting the nearest Scout, but missing the other.

The invisible Scout appeared next to the Runepriest and hit him soundly, but did not kill him. The other Scout, who already had a flanking bonus on the Runepriest, attacked but missed. The Scout marked by the Fighter attacked him and missed.

Valenae moved, intentionally drawing an opportunity attack from the Scout. Although marked by the Fighter, the Duergar Scout was willing to take the extra attack. The Fighter hit the Duergar and the Duergar hit Valenae. Valenae then attacked the Scout and killed him.

Keira moved to flank the bloodied Scout, hitting and killing him. Jarren 2 used freezing burst on the last opponent and rolled a natural 20 (our only crit of the night). The Runepriest rushed the final opponent and destroyed him with a powerful hit.

With the combat over the party searched the room. Keira searched the alter and with an amazing Perception check found a secret compartment. Inside were two magic items. I let the player running Keira roll to determine what loot was discovered. The first roll was an Ironskin Belt – not really much help for Keira. The second roll was a magic weapon +1.

I gave the player two choices: he could tell the party that he’d found the belt and the weapon or he could try and trade his own, non-magical weapon for this new one before anyone else noticed. He choose to take the item for himself. One fantastic Thievery check later he’d swapped his own blade for the enchanted one in the compartment. I let any PC that had line of sight roll Perception against the Thievery check to see if they noticed anything. No one came even close. Everyone else argued over who got the Ironskin Belt, never realizing that they missed out on a magic weapon.

The party checked the rest of the Meditation Chamber and found nothing of interest. They took a short rest and then ventured into the Sleeping Quarters. See D&D Encounters: March of the Phantom Brigade (Week 11) for the crazy shenanigans that took place in the next room before the party eventually took an extended rest.

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 12 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.

Next week they’ll venture downstairs into the catacombs of the Monastery. Will they find The Arrow of Time? Will they find the remains of Salazar Vladistone? Will they encounter more undead? Will they encounter more Duergar? Will they encounter the Earthquake Dragon, Actherimos? Be sure to visit Dungeon’s Master next week for the thrilling conclusion to the 13-week adventure, March of the Phantom Brigade.

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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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lahrs April 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

The scouts were deadly, dealing an extra 4d6 is pretty hardcore for level 3 characters, but that is the fun of D&D sometimes.

The scouts won the initiative order and immediately blinked out, holding their attacks until the top of round two. Unfortunately for the group, because the scouts went first, the players did not have a chance to see the two hiding in the alcove and only saw one disappear. Being a full party, I added a third scout, and after the session was over, I think I should have had the second one where everyone could see, and therefore only have one completely unknown to the group, but that is hindsight.

The rest of the party went, charging in and smacking some duergar guards upside the head, when they ran into their second problem. The duegar had fire resistance, negating some damage from the hexblade, mage and the rangers new flame bow. The group was unsuccessful in their monster checks, so were not privy to any information on resistances, so I made sure to describe how their attacks seemed less effective than they should have been, and I really played up the duergar rage ability, with them smoking and their warhammers turning red to signify they had some affinity with fire. Since the mage had other elemental attacks, the ranger could turn off the fire property with a minor, they were taken care of, and the hexblade had to resort to basic attacks though for the remainder of the encounter.

I feel bad for the hexblade, between all the necrotic and fire resistance over this season, his production has been way down. This brought up a discussion, are there any monsters vulnerable to necrotic? If not, it seems necrotic attacks have a significant disadvantage overall.

Back to the encounter. One of the guard’s critted against the mage, but the paladin used an ability to take all the damage instead, which proved very costly as the hidden scouts were now up for the second time and landed hits on the paladin afterward, dropping her at the top of round 2. The third scout began to focus on taking out the cleric next, and the group quickly understood they were going to lose their healers if something wasn’t done immediately.

Once the PC’s had their turn again, the table as a whole decided that everyone would use their action point for an additional attack. Since the scouts had cloaked again, they focus fired on the guards, dropping one and nearly dropping the second. The two remaining guards both missed on their attacks, giving the group a small respite and allowed the cleric to heal the fallen paladin.
Instead of having the scouts attack each round, I had them cloak and move one round, then attack, cloak and move the next. This allowed them to have constant cover, making the encounter even more deadly.

Our elven ranger tried a perception check to see if she could spot footprints in what should be a very dusty monastery, and succeeding on a hard check, was able to pinpoint which square one of the scouts was in. They still took a -5 for the total concealment, but knowing where one was allowed them to flank, reducing the negative to a more manageable -3. More focus fire, but only a few hit as their AC was effectively a 21, fairly high for level 3 characters.

Having a basic idea where the scouts were, the players began to move in with an almost Red Roveresque tactic of spreading out and moving in for the kill. Two of the scouts became trapped in the knight’s aura and the group was finally able to target and take out the remaining two scouts. I do not think this was an overall difficult session, but they sure took a beating. With only one session to go, a stockpile of dailies and a replenished AP for hitting the two encounter milestone, next session should be no problem at all.

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