After fending off an attack by werewolves last week, the heroes head to Vontarin’s manor in search of the Wizard Nathaire, now possessed by Vontarin’s ghost. The town of Duponde, still under Evard’s curse, will once again shift back into the Shadowfell come nightfall. As the sun races across the sky, the PCs have only hours to find the Vontarin’s ghost and figure out how to reverse Evard’s curse before they end up stuck in the Shadowfell forever.
For the past two seasons of D&D Encounters I’ve been the DM at two different gaming stores. That means that in addition to playing Wednesday night when everyone else does, I also play on Monday night. The Monday night group is currently ahead of the rest of the world and I get to use them as a slot 0 practice game in preparation for Wednesday. This week I was unable to play on Wednesday night because, as a life-long Boston Bruins fan, I had to watch game 7 of the NHL Stanly Cup finals. (Congratulations to the Boston Bruins on winning the Stanley Cup!) So this week’s field report will feature the adventures of the Monday night group as they fight their way through the week 6 encounter.
The party consisted of six level 3 PCs – a Dwarf Fighter, Drow Ranger, Goliath Warden, Half-Elf Druid, Human Warlock and a Tiefling Ardent. Two players have extensive 4e D&D experience but the rest are quite new, only finding the hobby with this season or last season of D&D Encounters. I try to take it easy on this group, but at the end of the day a lot of what happens comes down to hot or cold dice.
This week’s encounter began with the party licking their wounds after battling the werewolves from the previous encounter. For the most part the party managed to get through the last encounter relatively unscathed. Before getting into this week’s encounter I again reminded the PCs that they still had four more encounter to go before they’d get an extended rest and that they should be mindful of this when entering combat and expending resources.
The only real lead the party had at his point was to try and find Vontarin’s ghost (which possessed Nathaire’s body). Mother Grivelda suggested during last week’s encounter that the heroes head to Vontarin’s Manor, located on the other side of Duponde. With Valkan leading the way, the party had no problem finding the run down house.
Both the Druid and Ranger noticed tracks on the path leading to and from Vontarin’s house once they approached. They managed to discern humanoid boot prints and animal tracks made by more than one large reptilian. They also caught the faint whiff of wood smoke on the air.
Stopping near the fountain, the party decided to come up with a plan. The Fighter and Warlock, both veterans of the March of the Phantom Brigade, were wary of the fountain and made sure to keep clear of it just in case oozes sprung out from the dirty water. The Ranger climbed on top of the nearest statue, ready to shoot any hostile creatures that might rush out of the dilapidated house. The Ardent and Warden approached the front doors and listened. Neither heard anything unusual or suspicious.
The Warden signaled the party that he was going to act and they all waited in anticipation. He banged as hard as he could on the doors. “Vontarin, we know you’re in there!” he bellowed. “Come out and face us you coward!”
When no response came, the Warden and Ardent, worked together to force the door open. Inside they saw that much of the wreckage has been cleared away and four chairs were arranged in the foyer. While they continued casing the room from the threshold, two Felldrakes charged them, biting both and then shifting away from the open door and into the corners of the room.
Without hesitation the Warden enter the foyer and went left, the Ardent entered the foyer and went right, both engaging different Felldrakes. Outside the rest of the PCs sprang into action. The Druid sent her animal companion (a bear) to block the door and make sure none of the monsters could escape. She then cast Obscuring Mist in the centre of the room. The Warlock moved closer, but couldn’t see anything through the mist. The Ranger remained on the statue anticipating that opponents may yet come outside.
The Fighter decided to try the other door. He charged it but couldn’t manage to force it open on his initial attempt. A mighty swing from his enchanted hammer did the trick as he destroyed the lock and swung the door open. Inside the Kitchen an angry-looking Tiefling in leather armor was ready for him.
The Tiefling Boss rushed up to the Fighter, engulfing him in his aura. He made a point of not standing in the open doorway where he might be picked off by one of the Fighters allies waiting outside. Once next to the Fighter the Tiefling attacked with his sword, connecting for maximum damage and bloodying his opponent. (Apparently the Fighter wasn’t at full hit points at the beginning of the encounter. He was wounded, but had less damage than a full healing surge so he decided to risk it.)
On the Fighter’s turn he took one swing at the Tiefling, missing horribly, then backed away from the door and ran behind the statue. He managed to avoid the opportunity attack but did get licked by the Tiefling’s Hellbound fire aura. Good thing Second Wind is a minor action for Dwarves. The Tiefling, not dumb enough to rush outside alone, simply closed the door.
While the Fighter and Ranger were focusing on the side entrance, the rest of the party continued battling the Felldrakes in the foyer. The Obscuring Mist made combat extremely difficult. This Warlock doesn’t generally wade into melee, but he had to in this case because he couldn’t see any of his opponents unless he entered the mist. He ended up going toe-to-toe with a Felldrake and a Tiefling Ruffian that joined the fight after the mist appeared. The result was not good for the Warlock.
The Ardent and the Druid’s bear managed to drop one of the Felldrakes in just two short rounds and the Ardent only took one hit in the process. The bear stayed in the doorway, but the Ardent moved into the mist looking for trouble.
The Warden locked down the Felldrake he was facing and continued exchanging blows with it, both taking considerable damage during the exchange. The Druid tried helping the Warden and blasted the Felldrake with fire to soften him up a bit. Two more Tiefling Ruffians appeared from with the mist and attacked the Warden.
During all the melee combat, a Hissing Felldrake capable of spitting acid spotted the now-bloodied Warlock on the edge of the mist and focused his attacks on him, hitting two rounds in a row. If not for temporary hit points gained when cursed opponents died along with healing from the Druid and the Ardent, the Warlock would not have survived the battle.
By this point the Ranger realized that no one was coming outside so he climbed down from the statue and moved to the doorway. He convinced the Druid to drop the mist so he could see where to fire his bow. He saw two Tiefling Ruffians battling the Warden and killed both using Twin Strike.
The Tiefling Boss moved into melee just as the mist was dissipating. He focused his attacks on the wounded Warlock, now dazed as well as bloodied. The Ardent managed to put himself between the Boss and the Warlock, but paid dearly for it. The Hissing Drake managed to daze him and then the Boss connected for big damage.
The Warden finally stepped in and took care of things. He marked the Boss drawing fire from his badly wounded allies. The two battled for the next couple of rounds. The Warden rolled a 1 and the Boss missed. The next round the Warden and Ranger combined for enough damage to drop the Boss.
The rest of the party worked to defeat the remaining drakes. The Fighter charged in from outside, but rolled a 1 on his attack against the remaining wounded Felldrake. The Felldrake managed to get a pretty good bite in on the Fighter before it was finally killed.
After all the Felldrakes and the Tieflings were defeated the party searched the house. They found a bunch of mundane gear, an assortment of coins the Tieflings were gambling with, a deck of Three Dragon Ante cards as well as a potion of healing and a Belt of Vigor (which no one wanted). On the gaming table where the men had been playing cards before the PCs showed up, the Ranger spotted the word “Nimdel” scratched into the finish with a knife.
The PCs also noticed a trapdoor in the floor of the kitchen, near where the card game was being played. It wasn’t concealed or hidden. This was obviously how Voltaire accessed the basement. Before venturing down, the PCs took a badly needed short rest.
Splitting the party cost the PCs dearly. The Ranger thought that there would be combat outside, but between the bear in the doorway and the Obscuring Mist, none of the enemies could get out the front door. He didn’t end up joining the fight until round 5. Had he joined the battle a couple of round earlier things might have turned in the party’s favour more quickly. The player running the Ranger is relatively inexperienced and likely didn’t realize how significant a striker’s absence would be. Now he knows, so it’s all good. On the plus side he took no damage so he can be the point man during the next encounter.
The encounter was tough, but not overwhelming. It did cause a few players to use more healing surges than they wanted to, but that’s just the way things work out sometimes. It looks like the Druid (who also took no damage) and the Ranger need to take a few hits for the rest of the party during the next encounter.
How was week 6 at your gaming table? Did your party have the same difficulty that mine did? Has anyone suffered any character deaths so far this season? Did anyone loose a PC this week? With three more encounters to go before the next extended rest is anyone likely to run out of healing surges before the last fight?
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.