D&D Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard (Week 5)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on June 9, 2011

“Who’s buried in Evard’s Tomb?” During this week’s encounter the PCs learned more about what caused Duponde to shift into the Shadowfell, details of Evard’s Curse and the fate of the Wizard Nathaire. So begins Dark Legacy of Evard, chapter two.

Before we began this week’s encounter I cautioned the players that this chapter of the adventure has five encounters. That means that they have to survive through five battles before they get an extended rest. In most cases they’d have to really pay attention to how many healing surges they used during each battle. PCs with 10 or fewer healing surges couldn’t afford to use more than two per fight. With this cautionary tale behind us we continued.

This week the party at my table consisted of Jarren, an Eladrin Cleric, a Human Druid, a Vryloka Blackguard and a Dragonborn Paladin.

At the end of the last chapter the PCs returned to their rooms at the Old Owl Inn and went to sleep. The Eladrin Cleric, needing two fewer hours rest than the rest of the PCs, decided to try and decipher Nathaire’s journal while the others slept. He made a resounding History check but poor Insight and Arcana checks left him befuddled. When the rest of the party awoke, Jarren took a couple of hours to try and crack the code. He rocked the Arcana and History checks, but just missed the Insight check. However, with assistance from the Cleric the two managed to figure out what was written in the journal. Inside were details and insight into Nathaire and his true motives for coming to Duponde.

Meanwhile the rest of the party was getting bored and suggested that they do something other than stay inside and read. That’s when a teenage boy named Valkan arrived at the Old Owl Inn with a message for the PCs. His grandmother, a Vistani soothsayer, beckoned the heroes to come and see her as she had information that they need to hear.

The party didn’t immediately agree to follow the boy, but after some convincing from the Cleric and Paladin, along with reassuring words from Tilda, the proprietor of the Old Owl Inn, they finally agreed to follow Valkan and go see his grandmother.

After walking a couple of miles outside of town they arrived at an old cottage. Valkan introduced everyone to his grandmother, an old Vistani woman known as Mother Grivelda. Once the PC were all inside and sitting comfortably she began.

“Now, sweeties, answer my riddle: Who’s buried in Evard’s Tomb?” The question surprised the PCs. They answered “Evard” to which Mother Grivelda laughed. She explained that the spirits have made things known to her, beginning with the identity of who is actually buried in Evard’s Tomb.

Many years ago when Evard and Vontarin battled it was actually Evard who was the victor. However, he let everyone else believe that Vontarin won. Evard switched identities with his fallen enemy, burying Vontarin in a tomb marked with Evard’s name.

The Wizard Nathaire sought Evard’s remains because he planned to enact a ritual that would siphon the residual shadow magic energy from the body and channel it into an orb or some other magical implement. With this power Nathaire would quickly gain immense power. However, things did not go as planned.

When Nathaire opened the tomb he triggered Evard’s Curse. That is what caused the town of Duponde to shift into the Shadowfell. What’s more, Vontarin’s ghost seized this opportunity to possess the dumbfounded Wizard Nathaire. Now Vontarin walks the world again in a new body.

The curse affects all who were in Duponde when it was triggered. So even if the PCs left Duponde they would find that come nightfall they would shift into the Shadowfell regardless of where they were at the time. After a few nights, Duponde and everyone who is cursed would remain in the Shadowfell forever. The curse must be broken quickly.

Mother Grivelda suggested that the PCs begin their search for Vontarin in Nathaire’s body by going to Vontarin’s old manor house. It’s likely that the spirit will go someplace familiar while he decides how to proceed.

After Mother Grivelda finished, everyone heard howling as a pack of wolves approached the cottage. When the PCs looked out the window they saw three large wolves and a humanoid wolf-creature running swiftly on its hind legs.

The heroes recognized the danger and sprang into action. The Druid sent his bear outside to hold off the wolves. Unfortunately two wolves worked together to destroy the spiritual companion in the first round. The Blackguard and Cleric managed to get outside but couldn’t get close enough to any of their foes to attack.

The Werewolf tore into the Cleric with claws and fangs, knocking him prone and inflicting terrible damage early in the fight. Jarren responded with a Magic Missile from the safety of the cottage. The Paladin charged into the battle with the Werewolf, landing a solid blow. Unfortunately he didn’t see the third wolf circling around to flank him. Suddenly the Paladin was on the ground next to the Cleric.

The Druid summoned back his bear companion, sending it into melee while he tried to move away from the emerging battle.

One of the wolves attacked the prone Cleric and then jumped through the window of the cottage, making its way towards Mother Grivelda and Valkan. Jarren, the only hero still inside, used Beguiling Strands to push the wolf away from the innocents and into the roaring fireplace. Through the cottage’s back door a second werewolf snuck inside. Jarren spotted him and alerted the party. The Blackguard ran back inside the cottage to help.

Outside the wolves and the Werewolf worked together to focus their attacks on the Cleric and Paladin, both prone and bloodied. The wolves kept hitting and then shifting away. Both the Cleric and Paladin kept getting hit and knocked prone. If not for the availability of four healing powers (two from each from the Cleric and Druid) then the Cleric and Paladin would have fallen unconscious. Finally the combined effort of the two divine PCs managed to kill the Werewolf outside but not before the two wolves worked together to flank the bear and once again destroy it.

Back in the cottage Jarren again used Beguiling Strands to push the wolf and the Werewolf. The wolf ended up back in the fireplace and the Werewolf was pushed out the back door. Jarren then ran to the door where he closed and locked it, ensuring that no one else could get inside that way. This, however, meant that on the wolf’s turn it managed to trap Jarren in the hallway, the door at Jarren back. The Blackguard flanked the wolf and managed to drop it with two solid hits.

The second Werewolf, now stuck outside, joined the melee as soon as his companion was killed. The second lycanthrope wasn’t as accurate as his now dead companion. He missed the Cleric and Paladin repeatedly. Fortunately the outside wolves, gaining combat advantage from flanking, did manage to hit and knock the PCs prone again and again.

After killing the wolf inside, the Blackguard came charging out of the cottage to join the others who were not fairing well. This seemed to energize the Paladin who scored two huge hits, killing the badly damaged wolf and severely wounding the Werewolf. The Cleric and Blackguard managed to work together to finally kill the Werewolf.

The last wolf, which had not been damaged at all during the fight, attacked the Paladin one last time, hitting and knocking him prone before fleeing. The PCs all used ranged attacks to try and kill it before it could escape, but they couldn’t deal enough damage before the wolf disappeared into the nearby forest.

Mother Grivelda emerged from the cottage and thanked the PCs for their help. As a token of gratitude she awarded the PCs with a +1 Vicious weapon and two healing potions. She also told the PCs that she could brew potions for them as a discount if they wanted.

After the encounter the players took stock of their character’s resources. The Paladin and Cleric each used three healing surges (down from 10 and 9 respectively). The Druid took no damage but suffered the loss of two surges (one each time he re-summoned the bear). Jarren and the Blackguard each took minimal damage and decided not to use any surges. With four more encounters before the next extended rest things could get pretty interesting. On the plus side no one used their action point which could make a huge difference during the next fight.

How was this week’s encounter for your group? Were your PCs able to decipher the journal? Did the PCs find themselves overwhelmed by the wolves? Did the wolves mobility cause as much grief for your players and they did for mine? How are everyone’s resources after one encounter? Does it already look like some PCs will be out of healing surges before the final encounter?

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. Also check out our Dark Legacy of Evard video recaps. They provide a new and different way to be a part of D&D Encounters. Each episode is part session recap, part episodic story.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Colin June 9, 2011 at 11:25 am

Last night was my first experience with D&D Encounters. I’ve played D&D since 3.0 back in 2001. It was a fun experience and did take away several observations (which aren’t directly tied to the above post for Week 5).

-The sessions are short. They typically last 60-90 minutes. While it’s kind of a bummer to only play that long, it makes you want more.
-The people were cool and were not weird about new players. The other five players had already played for several weeks together.
-One is not guaranteed a spot next week just because they played this week. The other five players already “reserved” their spots before the season began. Each week, one spot is left open for new players.
-However, I may not be able to play again at the 7:00 if another new player wants to try it. I’ll likely be able to snag the 8:30 slot, though.
-Each session is tracked with points depending on what you do. You gain five points for creating a new character, five for using the builder, two for dealing 15+ damage in one hit, etc.. These points add up to prizes.
-The story is fairly linear and everything is read directly out of the module. DMs don’t really have to do much except for basic combat. Our DM provided a voice for one of the NPCs which was nice.
-Characters, like mine with optimization, do well. I did the most damage (by quite a bit) during the three rounds of combat. Including a rolled ‘1’, I still managed to do 51 points of damage in three rounds. He’s a beast at level 2.
-This ‘Chapter’ has one encounter per session. You cannot rest until the end, so players must use daily powers, surges, and action points wisely.
-Roleplaying is encouraged, but it seemed as though I put the most thought into my character. I tried to RP with all of it. The DM seemed to enjoy a roleplayer at the table. The others did a little…but were very casual or light with it. It makes me want my character to shine that much more.
-Everyone at the store was just plain nice and cool. It was a very welcoming thing. I was a little hesitant at first since I’ve never gamed with anybody but our group and my previous group.
-The DM added a few small things that the module didn’t call for. I could easily DM these encounters…not much to it to be honest.

Week 5 observations:
After learning a little more about what’s going on, our party ventured out after speaking to Mother Grivelda. We made quick work of the wolf encounter, as it was five players versus four enemies. Do other DMs increase the enemy count for groups consisting of more than four players?
We ended the night smoothly after the encounter.

2 Captain Spud June 9, 2011 at 11:36 am

Maybe it made more sense at the table, but this combat seems really arbitrary and forced to me. It’s like, “Alrighty, they’ve done some RP, now they need to fight something. I don’t know, just throw some werewolves at them or something.”

Werewolves aren’t even Shadow creatures!

3 Ameron June 9, 2011 at 11:45 am

@Colin
Thanks for providing your feedback about D&D Encounters. I’m always interested in hearing how new players made out.

  • I too have found that everyone is very welcoming to new players.
  • We tried using “reserved seating” but it didn’t seem right to turn people away. Eventually we just did what we could to ensure that if you were there on time you got to play.
  • Some groups only want combat, some embrace the role-playing. It all depends on your group and the DM.
  • The DM is encouraged to tweak encounters based on the number of players, their overall experience and the characters’ level. In my case the party consisted of five level 3 PCs. Since this was designed for five level 2 PCs I added another Werewolf.

@Captain Spud
I agree. At the beginning of the combat, Mother Grivelda said “Dark creatures stir under the shadow’s touch.” That was the only explanation that was provided for the fight. The creatures were there to rough up the Vistani but there wasn’t really any motive provided in the adventure.

4 Colin June 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

@Ameron
DMing the last several months had me thinking, “This is how I would alter the encounter to account for five players. I would also do this, and that to personalize the session more.” However, these thoughts only remain internal as I put my player’s hat on for the night. :)

@ Captain Spud
The encounter definitely did not seem organic. I also felt like it was a triggered event, with some missing context and congruence. However, since I built my character to excel in combat (and roleplaying), I was open to it. Knowing that we only have 60 to 90 minutes per session, encounters won’t feel as fleshed-out or natural like they might in a normal three to four hour setting.

5 Colin June 9, 2011 at 11:54 am

Also, will a video recap be provided for this chapter, too? Now that I’m participating, I’m incredibly interested in watching other groups.

Is there or will there be a write-up of detailed thoughts on each Essentials class so far? While I’m looking forward to the Feywild book release, I’d love to read observations of current classes.

I rolled up a Dwarf Slayer for last night and enjoyed it immensely.

6 Captain Spud June 9, 2011 at 11:59 am

@Colin: He said that video recaps will happen at the end of each chapter.

7 Ameron June 9, 2011 at 1:04 pm

@Colin
(I combined two of your comments, hope you don’t mind.)

Our friend who is putting together the video recaps will be continuing them throughout the season. However, they do require significant work effort to put together. The video post-production generally takes a few days to complete. I’ll collect all of the videos for chapter 2 (encounters 5-9) after they’ve been completed. If you can’t wait, each week’s video will be posted on YouTube about a week after the encounter is played.

If you’re interested in hearing how some other groups play, we recoded podcasts of all the sessions last season for March of the Phantom Brigade. Find links to each episode in our D&D Encounters Archive.

It’s unlikely we’ll provide write-ups on the D&D Essentials classes. I know in my case I don’t own any of the Essentials books (because I own everything else and have a DDI subscription). I think it’s also a matter of not really having anything to say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. The forums on Wizards and ENworld have already covered a lot on this topic. However, if there is something specific you’d like us to weigh in on, feel free to send us a private email.

8 Kiel Chenier June 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

If you’re itching for video recaps, they’re available every Sat-Sun after that week’s encounter on Youtube.

Check out my channel for all the crunchy D&D goodness. But stay tuned to Dungeon’s Master for your Chapter Recap goodness, as it’s fun to watch an entire chapter back-to-back

@Ameron, etc.

I agree, the werewolves were an odd choice, but I guess it was to provide some diversity and change for the players.

Stay Tuned to D&D Encounters Episodes: This week featuring the most dreaded enemy of all…

…Dapper Lychanthropes. Ferocious…yet refined.

9 Seb Wiers June 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Our session was a blast. We’d reached level 4 after last session (our shop started a level 3 table in addition to the 3 or 4 normal tables they have), and the difference really showed. The party was the same as last week
– Sir Branis, Human Fighter (Knight)
– Ebon Cross, Theifling Warlock (Dark Pact)
– Marius, Eladrian Vampire
-Yaedof Bloodbane, Dragonborn Druid (Sentinel of Summer) (my PC) and his bear Skoorgah

Despite doing very well at deciphering the journal, our group got a bit less information than Ameron’s. I think our GM realized a few players (myself included) like puzzling things out, and so is playing out information much more gradually. A fair bit of it we had already figured out, and I don’t personally mind spoilers (or else would not have read this). By the end of the session we’d figured out / been told pretty everything mentioned here except what had happened to Nathare.

One cool thing our DM did was have Mother Grivelda read each characters fortune. Apparently he’d gone through the next four chapters and found 8 to 10 events he could have triggered by a character’s presence, and put them on a table to hand out to all 5 dm’s that night. Each PC rolled a d10 and got the corresponding fortune. Apparently the fortunes will also have some mechanical impact at the appropriate time, and are “better than gloom cards” (I’m guessing he meant plot-wise, but the effects may also be similar).
-Sir Branis will need to choose either to pursue some spirits, or protect the town
-Ebon Cross didn’t get a fortune- Mother Grivelda was afraid to look into his future, fearing what she might encounter
-Marius will hold a life in his hands
-Yaedof will encounter fire, coins, and betrayal

The fight went pretty well for us- nobody (not even Skoorgah) got killed, and neither Ebon nor Yaedof was even bloodied. The mobility of the wolves didn’t seem an issue, perhaps because of how the DM played them; if they were adjacent to a prone target, they often stuck around. Ebon also has mostly ranged attacks (and can potentially attack 2 targets), and 4 of the 5 fighters on our side (counting Skoorgah as a fighter) have move 6, so the dm would probably have had to really try to avoid us. However, we were forced to fight in skirmish formation, rather than the party’s optimal “block of aura” formation.
Sir Branis did take massive amounts of damage, getting ganged on by the werewolf and multiple wolves, but stayed in the fight thanks to being the target of both of Yaedof’s healing words and another 17 points from Yaedof using “Disciple of Bahamut.” Marius was also bitten by the werewolf (and bloodied, but hey- vampire). Both Branis and Marius had to save vs disease (“werewolf rage” – we suspect it has rabies like effects).
Branis made his save, but Marius did not, so we may end up with a rabid vampire on our hands…
Resource wise, I’m guessing we are OK. Marius and Ebon spent action points, maybe some dailies. Branis may have used a daily. Yaedof intentionally held back, using no AP and only encounter powers. We should be OK on healing surges, since everybody was conscious at the end of the fight, and got a +2 boost to surges from Yaedof’s herbalism. Yaedof is actually designed to have more surges than he needs, and can pass them on to others- the Vampire via the obvious means, the others via Seed of Healing and Disciple of Bahamut.

10 David Argall June 10, 2011 at 2:50 am

SONGS OF SONG – 5-Solving the Mystery

The rising of the sun and the return to normalcy made many think the emergency was over, but Lord Kelvin and I were more pessimistic, fearing the shadows would return. So rather than go immediately to our neglected beds, we insisted on studying the journal we had found, and demanded that the others help us, which they were kind enough to do. It took us several hours, at the end of which we were almost desperate for those beds, but we cracked the code. However our joy was mitigated by seeing no immediate way to make use of our new knowledge and so it was off to those much-needed beds.
It was well into afternoon before we were mobile again, and we had barely finished a very late breakfast when a lad of the Vistani told us his grandmother had vital information. Knowing the reputation of the Vistani for having mystic knowledge, we followed the lad to her farm, where she was kind enough to confirm our findings, and add in some missing pieces. But what to do next? We were just working on that when we were interrupted by some howling. We were under attack by wolves led by a werewolf.
The wolves trapped us in the house, which may or may not have been a lucky break for us. It was definitely bad for me. I was forced onto the front line where I could not use my spells and was fairly useless at first. But the wolves had their problems forcing their way thru door and windows and Kargun, Horag, and Thia [a female elf ranger who had joined us] made them suffer. Lord Kelvin did too, once he got over some early cowardly impulses. [To be fair, having a werewolf in one’s face does make retreat sound much more appealing, and I might have been more forgiving if his retreat had not blocked my own. However, once spells and weapons got into action, the wolves were dead or flying, and I was freed to be useful [tho a healer is always useful for adventurers.]
Any advantage of being indoors now ended as the werewolf was in a hallway where most of us could not get at him. So Thia and Kargun went outside to try to flank him [being somewhat delayed by a surviving wolf with much the same sort of idea about flanking us.] Then with several attacking one, the werewolf was quickly disposed of.
While Grandmother generously rewarded us with treasure and magic, we reviewed the facts we had learned. That mage we had met had wanted to become powerful by trapping the soul of a powerful mage buried in town. Unfortunately he was misinformed about which mage was buried there. So his magic not only didn’t capture the mage’s soul, it woke the dead wizard who instead captured him and now controls his body.
This would have been bad enough, but the killer of the dead wizard had also put in place some powerful magic just in case his rival should be revived, and this shoved the city into the Shadowfeld, and will continue to do so until the city is permanently trapped there. The only apparent cure is to return the undead to his tomb, which will be hard to do of a powerful wizard, particularly when we have only a guess as to where he is. But there is no alternative but to try and find him. And we do have a lead that might be reasonable…

ooc-Werewolves are reasonable opponent anywhere wolves might be found, which is most forests for starters. And D&D has never been very fussy about what sort of opponents you might meet.

11 Colin June 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Looking forward to your Week 6 summary!

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