After securing the armory, Captain Grimbold and the rest of the volunteer militia arrived and equipped themselves. Now the townsfolk were armed and capable of defending Duponde from the shadow creatures that were running rampant throughout the city. Grimbold asked the PCs if they would assist the militia and take to the streets, helping the locals and destroying or chasing off any threats that may be lurking in the shadows. The PCs eagerly agreed.
At our local FLGS we again had enough players to run three tables. At my table we had five PCs: Jarren, a Dragonborn Paladin, a Human Warlock, a Human Vampire and a Githzerai Swordmage. This is the first time in about 20 sessions that there wasn’t a leader at my table.
The PCs had a few different tasks before them as they roamed the streets in search of danger. First and foremost they were trying to keep the local safe. Secondly they were trying to find any monsters prowling the streets and eliminate them. And thirdly they were trying to accomplish the first two tasks as quickly as possible so as to keep the volunteer militia from having to fight anything beyond their abilities (which was pretty much everything).
Jarren began with a Streetwise check (which he failed miserably) and lead the party through the streets. After about 15 minutes they hadn’t seen any signs of shadow creatures and realized they were going in circles. The Paladin made a successful Perception check and heard the sound of monsters a few street away.
When they got closer to the where they heard the sounds they noticed a few of the townsfolk were getting brave (or stupid) and were venturing into the streets to fight the monsters. The Swordmage used Diplomacy to calm the citizens down, appealed to their logical and rational sides and convinced them to remain inside where they’d be safe.
The Paladin, again hearing the monsters nearby, sprinted around the corner in pursuit, making a stellar Athletics check. The rest of the party all had to make Endurance checks to catch him (which they did). The Vampire and the Swordmage decided to run through an alley to cut off the monsters. A team effort on the Streetwise check resulted in two party members ahead of the monsters and three behind.
When the PCs arrived on the scene the noticed three Dusk Beasts (two-headed shadow drakes) trying to get inside the homes of the frightened townsfolk. The Swordmage climbed on top of the nearest building, ran across the roof, and jumped down on to the nearest Dusk Beast, impaling it with his sword. Before any of the Swordmage’s allies could join in the fight the Dusk Beasts retaliated.
Two teamed up on the Swordmage, knocking him prone and each one biting him with both heads. The Vampire emerged from the shadows and brought the nearest Dusk Beast from full to bloodied with a huge hit.
The Warlock climbed onto a nearby roof to get a better vantage on the battle, firing at the Dusk Beasts with ranged attacks. Unfortunately his first two attacks both missed.
Two Lurching Shadows, the same kind of minions that devastated the party last week tried to used Shadow Meld to give Jarren and the Paladin the “necrotic hug.” Both Shadows missed. Jarren, learning from last week’s mistakes, used Magic Missile to destroy one of the Shadows. The Paladin just as easily took out the other Shadow on his turn.
The Warlock was caught by surprise on the rooftop and a crossbow bolt that was clearly intended for him just missed, exploding in a nearby square. He failed his Perception check and had no idea where the bolt came from, other than the general direction.
The Swordmage marked the nearest Dusk Beast and continued to lay into him good with his sword. Unfortunately another Dusk Beast joined the fray and attacked him, hitting hard. The one that took the hit from the Vampire managed to take a bite out of the undead PC. The fourth and final Dusk Beast charged the Paladin, hitting him soundly.
The Vampire again stuck and hit the Dusk Beast in front of him, killing it easily. Two more Shadows emerged and joined the fight. One attacked the Swordmage, getting him with the necrotic hug and the other flew up to the roof and attacked the Warlock, missing horribly.
The Warlock faced off against the Shadow for three rounds before finally killing it. Fortunately the Shadow had a difficult time connecting so the Warlock didn’t take any damage from the necrotic hug.
The Swordmage wasn’t as lucky. He fell victim to the hug, bringing him dangerously close to 0 hit points. He made his save on the very next turn so he only got one hug before the Vampire moved in to kill it. The Swordmage used his Second Wind in order to stay conscious. Fortunately the Dusk Beast that was marked attack and missed him on two consecutive rounds. The other one moved over to face off against the Paladin.
The Paladin and Jarren worked together to deal with the Dusk Beasts nearest to them. The focused fire until one was dead and then moved on to the fresh one. I guess getting killed every week will teach you to play smart eventually. The Dusk Beasts couldn’t get through the Paladin’s high AC and he ended up taking only minimal damage during the fight, not even enough to get bloodied. Jarren took to higher ground and managed to remain unscathed.
Throughout the fight the Shadow Bolter kept firing his crossbow at random PCs. He managed to hit the Warlock on the rooftop once, but missed on four other opportunities. Eventually the Vampire spotted him, moved right up next to the Shadow Bolter and using an action point, made two overwhelming attacks to kill him.
The combat only lasted 5 or 6 rounds. The entire session was completed in about an hour (something that hasn’t happened at my FLGS in a few months). Surprisingly no one fell unconscious. The party was so heavily geared to deal damage that they killed all the monsters before any of them could drop a single PC. The lack of a leader didn’t even slow down this party. They took on all challengers, used smart tactics, rolled really well and emerged with an easy victory.
The encounter as written was listed as level 2 and consisted of three Dusk Beasts, two Leeching Shadow minions and one Shadow Bolter. Knowing my players were all level 3 I added one more Dusk Beast (a level 2 Brute) and two more minions. Based on how devastated the PCs were after last week’s encounter, and based on feedback in the comments of last week’s write-up, I figured this would provide an adequate challenge. If things went well (which they did) then I knew this could be a very quick and relatively easy encounter.
For those of you that were in the city, how did you find this week’s encounter? Did you think it was easier than the previous two weeks? What about the tables that spent the past two weeks in the forest? How did that side of the story play out? How is everyone doing in the healing surge department? Is anyone going into next week’s final encounter of the first chapter as banged up as most of the PCs were last season by this time?
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