D&D Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard (Week 12)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 28, 2011

As last week’s encounter finished the sun set below the horizon and the PCs shifted back into the Shadowfell. They took a short rest, looted the bodies and then proceeded to the library in search of Vontarin.

In daylight the abbey was in complete ruin. After all, it was abandoned for 50 years. However, in the Shadowfell the Abbey and the library were both in pristine condition. The PCs immediately noticed light coming from the second storey window. Someone was inside the library.

This week we ended up with one table of 9. Had we known that we’d end up so many players we would have divided into two smaller groups, however, three of the players arrived well into the encounter so by then we were pretty much committed to going with just one table. It made for a much longer encounter, but I think everyone had fun in the end.

The party consisted of a Dragonborn Paladin, a Dwarven Fighter (male), a Dwarven Fighter (female), an Eladrin Avenger, an Eladrin Vampire, a Human Druid (with bear companion), a Tiefling Ardent, a Tiefling Warlock and a Tiefling Wizard (Necromancer).

With so many in the party things were a bit chaotic. The Paladin and male Fighter wanted to smash their way through the library door, the Druid wanted to try and pick the lock and the Avenger and Vampire wanted to try and climb through a second storey window.

The Avenger, with assistance from the Vampire managed to climb up, get through the window, and land gracefully inside while remaining undetected. The Druid was busy trying to pick the lock but failed miserably. His haste to get inside made him careless and he didn’t even bother checking for traps before trying the door. The result was a necrotic jolt that dazed him until the end of the first round of combat.

The Avenger took a quick look around the library. He spotted Vontarin (still in Nathaire’s body) looking through books upstairs. On the lower level he saw two Dusk Beasts, shadow dogs with two heads. He avoided detection, crept downstairs and opened the door for the party.

Everyone quickly tried rushing inside, making no effort to be quite. This alerted the Dusk Beast on the lower level. Only the Druid, his bear, and the Warlock managed to get inside before the two creatures attacked. The rest of the party tried to get in, but doing so now would provoke opportunity attacks as they went past both Dusk Beasts.

The Paladin rushed past and avoided getting hit. The female Fighter acted next. She drew one attack and was knocked prone. She attacked from the ground, marking the Dusk Beast. The Ardent rushed past next. The marked Dusk Beast let him pass; the other tried to bite him but missed. The male Dwarf moved through the fray drawing only one opportunity attack that didn’t connect. He then marked the other Dusk Beast. The Avenger and Wizard managed to attack from a safe distance and avoided any retribution.

A Shadow Bolter drew back a curtain at the end of the hall revealing himself and another Dusk Beast on the ground level. The Bolter fired into the group, hitting the Vampire. With the successful hit, all adjacent allies took 5 necrotic damage. (This is a slight alteration from how the power is supposed to work in the monster stat block, but come on there were nine PCs!)

While the rest of the party remained grouped tightly inside the doorway, the Paladin and Ardent got through the fray and onto the stairs on the first round. When they tried getting the rest of the way up to the second floor the next round two more Dusk Beasts were waiting for them upstairs. The first hit the Paladin and then slid him closer the second Dusk Beast. The second one attacked the Paladin but missed.

On the first floor the melee remained a jumbled mix of PCs and monsters. Now with three Dusk Beasts attacking, the PCs took some serious damage. The Fighters took the brunt of the attacks as they had marked the Dusk Beasts. The Wizard, Warlock, Ardent and female Fighter focused fire on the closest Dusk Beast and killed it in just two rounds.

The Shadow Bolter continued to fire into the tightly grouped PCs, hitting the one adjacent to the most allies for maximum carnage. As soon as the first Dusk Beast fell, the Avenger used Fey Step to teleport up to the second floor and get out of trouble, or so he thought.

The other PCs on the ground floor were damaging the other two Dusk Beasts in equal increments but not killing either one. The male Fighter pushed the adjacent Dusk Beast away from him and then ran up the stairs to help his friends (and get healing from the Ardent).

Upstairs the Ardent and Paladin couldn’t get past the Dusk Beasts, but the creatures couldn’t hit either of them so it was truly a stalemate. About the same time that the male Fighter got to the top of the stairs another Shadow Bolter made his presence known as he fired at the three PCs grouped tightly together, hitting the Paladin and getting the other two with the rippling effect.

The Avenger was all alone and only a few steps away from Vontarin, who until this point had tried blasting the Paladin (the first one up the stairs) but missed. Designating Vontarin as his Oath of Enmity, the Avenger then attacked with his daily power, scoring a natural 20. Vontarin retaliated with Despair’s Touch, but missed (thanks to the Avenger’s high Will defense). He then called to the sixth and final Dusk Beast, hiding in the corer to aid him. It mauled the Avenger bringing him to near unconsciousness.

Downstairs the female Fighter used her action point and scored back to back crits killing a Dusk Beast with the first attack and severely wounding the remaining one with the other. The Druid, his bear, the Vampire, the Warlock and the Wizard remained grouped together so the Shadow Bolter kept firing at them and hit every round. The Druid used his magic healing to keep the Warlock and female Fighter alive. The Warlock and Wizard continued attacking the final Dusk Beast with their ranged attacked and finally killed it leaving on the Shadow Bolter the only enemy on the ground floor.

The Vampire, seeing the Avenger getting destroyed upstairs, used her Fey Step to come to his aid. The Druid sent the bear upstairs to provide additional defensive bonuses to those stuck at the top of the stairs.

The Avenger and Vampire, now both stuck between a fresh Dusk Beast and Vontarin realized they were in big trouble. Vontarin used his Enervation encounter power on the Avenger knocking him unconscious. The Dusk Beast mauled the Vampire and brought her to exactly 0 hit points. Or so we thought. The player forgot to apply her regeneration on her previous turn so I let he apply the healing retroactively. She was at 3 hit points.

The Paladin let the male Fighter through and he pushed the Dusk Beast back allowing those stuck on the stair to get onto the second floor. The Ardent managed to move close enough to the Avenger to heal him. The Paladin took on the other Dusk Beast. The bear charged the most wounded Dusk Beast and finally killed it.

The Warlock and female Fighter remained downstairs to battle the Shadow Bolter. They pinned him into a corner, forcing him to provoke opportunity attacks when firing his crossbow. He eventually managed to get past the heroes and tried to hide in the stacks. The two heroes followed him and working together finally destroyed him.

The Wizard joined the battle upstairs killing a wounded Dusk Beast on his first attack. The Fighter charged the Shadow Bolter, marking him and forcing him to stay put. Assistance from the bear and the Ardent brought the Bolter down quickly.

The Avenger stood up and continued blasting Vontarin. The Vampire risked an opportunity attack (and didn’t get hit this time) as she ran towards her allies where the Paladin was able to heal her. Vontarin kept attacking the Avenger but was unable to land a solid blow. The Dusk Beast managed to bite the Avenger, but didn’t inflict enough damage to kill him.

As the entire party took out the remaining Dusk Beast, the Avenger landed the killing on Vontarin, killing him. When Nathaire’s body was killed Vontarin’s soul left the host and appeared as a misty ghost-like form. Before he could flee or attack he was sucked into the purple orb at Nathaire’s hip. The Wizard’s soul was trapped.

The heroes took a much needed short rest while they decided what to do next, including whether or not anyone should touch the orb.

Even though we had a really large party, this week’s encounter was a lot of fun. The fact that the encounter almost encouraged the party to split up made things a lot easier. The players didn’t even need prompting to have some PCs go upstairs while other remained on the ground floor. Since this was already a level 4 encounter I didn’t need to change much, even for such a large party. I added two more Dusk Beasts (bringing the total to six) and added a second Shadow Bolter. Other than that it I used the monsters as listed. It was nice not to have any minions this week. Minions are fun, but after a few weeks in a row with minions I was glad to see monsters with substance.

I was a little bit disappointed with Vontarin’s stats. He didn’t seem like a very powerful villain. As a level 5 controller he didn’t even have any powers that could target more than one creature. All his powers had effects, but they didn’t really come into play at all. I did give him an action point, but my dice rolled so poorly for his attacks that it hardly mattered.

How did your party manage in the library? Did any PCs die this week? How many PCs are going into the final encounter without any healing surges? Did you think the encounter was too difficult or too easy? What were your thoughts on Vontarin’s stats?

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1 David Argall July 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

SONGS OF SONG-Confronting the wizard

Confronted with this strange library[?] rising out of ruins, we were a bit cautious going in. First we debated our strategy, with much of the group feeling that bargaining would get nowhere, and so we should just get to work and start fighting. However, I persuaded them to at least try more peaceful methods [Which also allowed Thia to see if she could manage an entry from the rear]. The conversation did not go well, which was not a surprise. We were, after all, asking this wizard to return to the grave and even if doing so would save the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, it is a lot to ask, and we really had little to offer. Finally Dee lost patience and tried to threaten him into agreeing, which was not well received, and the battle started.
Some dusk beasts attacked, but I was able to force them back, allowing Kargun and Horag to charge them. This in turn allowed additional dusk beasts to attack them and they looked to be in serious trouble. In fact, Horag was down for a bit. But concentrated as they were, Dee and Garlan Silvergaze, a human psion, were able to deliver blasts that finished them.
In the meantime, Thia was finding that there was more upstairs than she was able to handle. She was likely lucky that the wizard tricked her into tripping over the rail and falling downstairs. Of course, it helped that she was very dexterous and took no damage from the fall. So she was able to get into the fight with the dark beasts, and then start some archery.
A couple of dark ones, the same that had pestered us before, appeared and the one downstairs was dealt with by Dee, Horag and Kargun, They also took care of the last dusk beast, who got tired of waiting for us to climb the stairs, and came down, only to find out why he had been waiting.
But the other dark one and the wizard were still fighting, even if Garlan had hurt them. I managed a trick that allowed our two backguards to get into melee with them, but they still held out awhile and at battle end, Thia and Horag were down and I was out of healing. So it was not an easy fight for us.
Checking around, we did find some more treasure, and some magic. Most important, when Dee put the wizard down [ironically over the railing that he had enjoyed sending Thia over, and to much more painful effect against him], we saw his soul sucked into a mystic ball. We know that we must send that soul back to his grave, but we are not sure how. We will have to rush back to town to see what the others say.

2 Phantasmavore July 28, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Well, last night was my first time back at a D&D table in over a decade. I had last played AD&D way back when, but after subscribing to DDI earlier this week, I decided to give 4th ed a shot at an Encounters episode at my local comics/gaming shop. There were enough newbies besides me that showed up that we were split off onto our own table so that we could all learn the game together as the adventure unfolded.

I was prepared to be disappointed by 4e, having heard that it was basically WoW on paper, but to the ocntrary, I had a rip-roaring time learning the game and playing through the encounter. I had a Dragonborn Warlock Hexblade, and the rest of the party consisted of a Templar, a Paladin, a Ranger, and a Thief.

We all managed to survive the encounter and kill the mini-boss, with only a couple of us coming close to wiping. Still, as we all learned our PCs and how they complemented each other, we were able to complete the encounter with just a little bit of scaling down by the DM since the majority of us were 1st level brand spanking new characters.

4e seems great and was easy to pick up and play, and the DDI subscription paid off in allowing me to build a character and play the game without even having any of the books as reference (thanks to the online DDI Compendium). We’re all coming back next week for the final episode, and then we’re looking forward to the next season of lay suing the Neverwinter Nights setting and starting a season from the very beginning together with level 1 characters.

D&D 4e Encounters is a great concept, judging by the fun that wa had at our table, and given that we were all mostly newbies (former AD&Ders, WoWers, etc), I think it hits the markin terms of accessibility and fun!

3 James July 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I wish I were able to attend one of these events, just following along with the story is very exciting, and I even have an idea forming about how I can include something I read in this blog in the game that I’m running right now. Thanks for posting this guys!

4 Seb July 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm

We had 3 players at the “high rollers” table this week – our vampire was a no show again (seems he slinks off into the shadowfell quite often), so it was just the human knight, human shadowpact warlock, and dragonborn druid once more.

Things got off to a good start when the warlock got lucky and picked the lock on the tower, but Vontarin / Nathare noticed us before we even got to the stairs. We pretty well laid out what we knew, while he fed us obvious (given our insight rolls) lies about how ending his own entrapment was only a side effort to trying to free all of DuPonde from the grip of the Shadowfell. When we asserted we were coming upstairs to check on his research whether he liked it or not, violence quickly ensued.

Despite decent use of tactics (including a smart move on the knight’s part to tip over a book-case Vontarin was using as a sniper’s roost), things were looking pretty bad. The mass of up-leveled opponents (skeletons doing 8 damage on a hit to our level 5 characters, and dogs dishing out 16+ damage on most hits) was looking to be to much to deal with, even without Vontarin’s help (which admitedly, didn;t do much- we pretty easily negated all his effects, bar damage from ranged attacks).

By the bottom of turn 3, the Knight had been knocked out for the second time, the Druid was bloodied and had expended all his uses of “healing word” as well as seeing his bear killed yet again, and even the warlock had taken a bit of damage. At that point, my druid (with a round closing initiative of 4) kicked in an action point and
-Used “Destructive Harvest” on Vontarin (requiring a move across the spilled bookshelves to reach him)
-Used “Heat Metal” on the knights sword
– Used his second wind (with Disciple of Bahmut) to revive the Knight.

Turn 4 opened with the warlok scoring a critical hit on Vontarin for 35 damage. Almost all the bad guys then missed their attacks, and then the knight hit Vontartin for another 25 damage (5 from the flaming sword, 5 from the destructive harvest)- enough to (combined with previous attacks from the druid and bear) kill him. From there it was a pretty even fight, since now the Warlocks attacks were doing full damage, and we mopped up without anybody (barring the bear once more) going down.

No PC’s died this week, but the Knight and Druid are both very low on healing surges- the druid with just 1 healing surge (reserved for his bear) and down 13 HPs. Another battle-royale could see either or both making death saves.
I thought it was a very well balanced fight, requiring our best teamwork 9and luck) so far to win.
Vontarin’s stats seemed just about right for a guy who is better at commanding others to fight for him than he is at fighting himself. As a player, when he didn’t just demonstrate blast us to oblivion outright (and actually seemed willing to negotiate, to a point) I assumed his powers were down a great deal due to his being dead, under the effects of a curse, and using another mans body, etc.

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