D&D Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard (Week 13)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 4, 2011

This was it, the final encounter of the season. Would the PCs break Evard’s curse or would the town of Duponde and all its inhabitants (including the PCs) remain stuck in the Shadowfell forever?

For the final chapter we had a party of 7 – a Dwarven Fighter (male), a Dwarven Fighter (female), an Eladrin Avenger, a Human Druid (with bear companion), a Tiefling Ardent, a Tiefling Warlock and a Tiefling Wizard (Necromancer).

After defeating Vontarin in the previous encounter, his soul took refuge in the magic orb. The PCs examined the object, but were unsure what to do next. They looked around the library and through Vontarin’s notes. They hoped that he had something written down about how to reverse Evard’s curse. But the search proved futile and no new details were discovered. It seemed that the PCs would need to return to Duponde and consult someone more knowledgeable.

The search was not completely in vain as it did turn up treasure in the form of coins and magic. The Avenger claimed a fine suit of +2 armor. A +1 rod implement was no use to anyone in the party so they decided they’d sell it at a future juncture. The Druid and Ardent maximized healing as the party rested for the better part of half an hour.

Before leaving the monastery, the Druid volunteered to carry the orb. As soon as he touched it a face appeared in the sphere and spoke. It offered the Druid great power if he released Vontarin’s soul. This was the nudge the party needed to confirm that the orb was dangerous, evil and must be destroyed. They needed to get back to Duponde quickly and consult an expert.

The Druid secretly considered the offer of power and during the trip back quietly whispered to Vontarin that he’d help him. Vontarin exerted his control and influence over the Druid promising him power when they reached town. The party suspected nothing.

When the PCs returned to Duponde they proceeded to the Chapel of Peace to meet with Brother Zelan. When they entered the church, the Druid immediately regained control of his faculties. A permanent blessing on the church broke the link. He realized that it was stupid to accept Vontarin’s offer.

Upon hearing what had happened at the monastery, and after examining the orb, Brother Zelan told the party he knew just what to do. He produced a ritual scroll from the pages of a very old book. He explained that enacting the ritual would free Vontarin’s soul from the orb. The soul would be drawn to its once mortal (and very much deceased) body. This would instantly kill Vontarin once and for all.

Armed with knowledge, the PCs set forth to the graveyard to perform the ritual. The Avenger and Necromancer in an unlikely role reversal manipulated the necrotic energies (using Arcana) and recited the prayers of protection (using Religion) respectively. The male Fighter coached by the Ardent, carefully held and moved the orb (using Thievery) as the ritual casters instructed. The Druid and Warlock repeated what they heard (using Bluff) even though neither understood the words themselves. The female Fighter paid close attention to everything pointing out mistakes (using Insight).

As the ritual finished the orb shattered and Vontarin’s soul was sucked back into his body. His scream was horrific and deafening. All was going as planned until a blast of energy shot away from Vontarin’s soul, animating as a Ghostly form of the Wizard. The effect also animated two corpses from the graveyard into Zombies and animated three plants into twisted violent attackers.

Before the heroes realized what was happening the two Zombies charged them. The male Fighter and the Ardent were both hit. The Druid and his bear moved towards the closest plant and tried to destroy it. The Warlock cursed the same plant and joined the attack.

The female Fighter moved towards the Zombie that was attacking the Ardent, striking and marking it. The plants began flailing out and grabbing the heroes. The Ardent was entangled and then injected with poison, bloodying him in the first round. The Druid’s bear was also entangled and poisoned. The third plant grabbed the Avenger and got him with the poison barbs too.

The Avenger used his Fey Step to teleport out of the plant’s grasp and get closer to Vontarin’s Ghost. He designated him as his Oath of Enmity and unloaded on him. The Necromancer, managing to avoid the swarm of Zombies and plants, moved away from the melee and closer to Vontarin before attacking him.

The Avenger and the Necromancer were the only two PCs that could attack Vontarin while the rest of the party fought the vines and the Zombies. The Avenger, rolling two attack dice ever round, hit consistently. The Necromancer also got hot dice and scored multiple hits on Vontarin, including a devastating daily attack.

The Ardent and the Female Fighter both got entangled in the vines and were unable to escape. The Fighter focused on the Zombie while the Ardent, too far away to reach the Zombie, focused on the vines.

The Male Fighter managed to get around the other Zombie in order to get combat advantage from flanking with the Druid and started chipping away the Zombie’s hit points. The Zombie moved away, not getting tagged by the Fighter or Druid during the opportunity attacks, and then charged back towards the Fighter inflicting massive damage. The Fighter returned the favour the next round.

Still entangled with the vines, the bear and the Druid coordinated their attacks against the vines, but it was the Warlock who finally managed to finish off the plant and free the bear. On the next round the bear and Druid again worked together to attack the Zombie now that they were free to flank it. The Druid missed, but the Bear scored a crit, instantly killing the Zombie.

Vontarin realized that if he was going to be victorious he needed to focus fire and drop one of these two immediate threats fast. The Necromancer managed to avoid any damage in the previous encounter so Vontarin decided to focus on him this time.

The Ghost targeted him again and again, finally bloodying the Necromancer. Vontarin, pressed his advantage, used his action point, and attack the wounded Necromancer again. The attack brought the injured Necromancer down to his last few hit points. However, the attack also slid the Necromancer into a nearby open grave and dropped him into the 10-foot deep pit. The Necromancer tried to grab edge but couldn’t. The fall killed him.

The Avenger and the Warlock attacked Vontarin with everything they had in order to avenger their fallen compared. With two successful hit, these heroes brought the Ghost to 0 hit points. The Ghost again cried out as what remained of Vontarin’s soul was sucked back into his body and he was forever destroyed.

When Vontarin fell, the remaining Zombie dropped dead and the animated plants returned to normal. The town of Duponde and everyone in it shifted out of the Shadowfell and back into the normal world. Evard’s curse was broken. The heroes emerged victorious, although the cost was high.

Cheers rose from the Chapel of Peace as the townsfolk sheltered within poured into the streets in celebration. Many ran into the cemetery to congratulate the PCs. It might have only been three days since the town fell victim to Evard’s curse, but it certainly seemed like much longer to the locals. The PCs would forever be remembered as heroes and treated like kings while in Duponde.

So ends season five of D&D Encounters: The Dark Legacy of Evard. Early next week we’ll have our report cad on this season in which we talk about what worked and what didn’t. Next Wednesday we begin season 6 D&D Encounters: The Crown of Neverwinter and will bring you the field report from our FLGS.

What were your thought on the final encounter? Did it live up to expectations? Did anyone else kill some or all of the PCs?

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1 Brian August 4, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Wait, so the necromancer was down to just a few HP and then a 10 foot fall (1D10 damage) killed him outright? Is his HP really that low that he reached negative bloodied value? Or did he fail 3 death saves? Or was there some kind of terrain effect that increased the falling damage?

2 Ameron August 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Let me begin by saying that we actually played both encounters 12 and 13 last week. Last night when I was finishing up this article I couldn’t remember all of the exact details of the combat so I tried my best to get the highlights. I believe the Ghost’s attack brought the Necromancer to negative hit points and being unconscious he couldn’t try to stop himself from falling. The damage from the fall killed him, dead-dead bringing him below his negative bloodied value. Sorry about getting that wrong.

3 CK August 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Our dm told us that the documentation said PCs should reach level 4 at the end of the season. I played every session, but I ended up 250 short. Did any of your pcs play every session? Any wind up with a similar problem?

4 Durn August 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

My final session of the “Dark Legacy of Evard” was strong on players, but the adventure fizzled from this DM’s perspective.
Once again I had a table of eight. This time there were two new players, a father and son team, and the rest were veterans of the last few sessions. When the characters were sorted we had a Cavalier, a Binder Warlock, a Rangers Hunter, a PHB1 Ranger, a Slayer, a Cleric, a Thief and a Knight. Whew! A full table. I need a backup DM if these numbers continue.
I opted to move the plot right along and had the ghost of Nathaire speak to the party, even as he left his body for good. He told them how to use the ritual as his last act of repentance for the misery he had caused. We then proceeded with skill challenge. It didn’t make alot of sense to me, this skill challenge, and the players rolled horribly. After giving the narrative a chance to move a bit, they failed and were all blasted as the graveyard erupted with Zombies and the ghost of Vontarin freaked out. A couple of heroes fell and all were bloodied in the end. The cleric was down at the last round, so we ruled that she died. Someone had to.
For me, this was an anticlimactic ending. The last encounter was nearly identical to the one before though with a less interesting dynamic. The villain was basically the same. I changed it around to make the Wizard a close bursting banshee type monster, but they piled on it in classic solo fight style. This battle really should have been a set piece to remember, with some sort of terrain or mechanic to make it memorable, but it was more or less a repeat of the week before.
I think the similarity of the last to fights points to the major problem of the season, which is that it featured two villains who were literally indistinguishable. Its hard enough for people to keep track of fantasy names and mysterious plots in these games without twining them all together in a mush. It was very apparent to me every time I recapped the story, that this was a narrative particularly lacking in clarity.
“So a long time ago there were two wizards, but now there’s two wizards though one is different, and one’s possessing the other so they’re kinda the same, but you fight them so it doesn’t matter really, and they have the same stats too.”
Here’s hoping next season has clearer goals and benchmarks.
Of course everyone had fun and it really felt like enthusiasm is building for next season. I have enjoyed this stint of public DMing and I will continue for now. The interaction with the younger players particularly reminds me of why I have been trying to break into the teaching profession.

5 Kiel Chenier August 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The grand finale at Dueling Grounds was a lot of fun, joining new players, young players, and veterans alike.

We filmed it, and it’ll be up as an episode shortly.

In the meantime, if you use D&D Essentials, check out this kick-awesome character builder guide. Roll up a character from scratch with ease, and kick the digital character builder out on its ass. http://dungeonsdonuts.blogspot.com/2011/08/essentials-3-page-character-builder.html

6 Sunyaku August 4, 2011 at 8:53 pm

We played the final encounter at full strength, since we had a veteran group of four players. We failed the skills challenge, my character ended up TRIPLE despair’d, which included Jealous (cannot aid another), Jittery (dazed first round of combat), and something else that prevented opportunity attacks. Another character had card that would not allow him to use his second wind. Oh, and did I mention we didn’t have a cleric?

Our blackguard and cavalier went down in round three. The level 3 revenant blackguard chose not to remain standing because he was surrounded and didn’t want to die. Shortly thereafter, the level 3 cavalier (who couldn’t use his second wind) was killed outright by a zombie crit. The group had already unloaded all daily powers, action points, and encounter powers, and had only dropped one opponent.

In round four the level 3 Binder and my level 2 Hexblade evacuated the area with the help of the magic rod of maligned conveyance picked up in the last encounter. “They bravely ran away away, when evil reared it’s ugly head they bravely turned their tail and fled, brave brave brave brave sir heroes…”

7 Chet August 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

@ Ameron – “Before leaving the monastery, the Druid volunteered to carry the orb. As soon as he touched it a face appeared in the sphere and spoke. It offered the Druid great power if he released Vontarin’s soul. This was the nudge the party needed to confirm that the orb was dangerous, evil and must be destroyed. They needed to get back to Duponde quickly and consult an expert.

The Druid secretly considered the offer of power and during the trip back quietly whispered to Vontarin that he’d help him. Vontarin exerted his control and influence over the Druid promising him power when they reached town. The party suspected nothing.”

How does that actually work when there’s players at the game table ie. how is that communicated between the DM and the Druid’s player without anyone else knowing? thanx

8 David Argall August 5, 2011 at 7:18 pm

SONGS OF SONG –13.Daylight

So we had the soul of this deal wizard trapped in this orb, and no real idea of what to do with it. The soul suggested we let it out, but it was pretty clear that would not work out well for us. Instead, we headed back to town to ask for advice. And when dawn failed to dawn, it was clear we needed good advice.
The town cleric was able to give us some. After a ritual at the tomb, we would be able to break the orb and the soul would be forced back into his body and the curse on the city broken. This was my time to shine as I was able to produce a good ritual out of the ballads and lore I knew, or at least a ritual that sufficed somewhat. The result was only part of what we hoped for. So I suppose I can’t claim to have done perfectly. When we broke the orb, only part of the soul was forced into the body and the rest vitalized bushes and bodies in the area, who turned into undead and attacked us under the leadership of a ghost. But those I have consulted since say my ritual was good enough and I did confine most of the soul and our opposition could have been much stronger.
It was bad enough as it was and we were pressed hard. Dee got perhaps the hardest pressure when he rushed off to attack one of the zombies. Unfortunately for him, the rest of us attacked the other one, eliminating it, but leaving Dee to take on both the zombie and an undead bush. They put him down, but fortunately my healing got him back on his feet.
Gradually the rest of us were realizing that the ghost was the center of unnatural power here, and if we took it out, the rest of our opposition would fade away. So we started concentrating our efforts against our most powerful foe. It was a long battle, but Horag, Kargun, and Thia are powerful fighters [and Dee is no slouch either] and so they gradually wore it down. They were somewhat aided by our foes being easily confused by my spells. I convinced some of them of the need to go rushing cross the battlefield to attack a distant foe, only to suffer several attacks on the way.
Finally the ghost went down, and as hoped, so did much of the opposition. Two undead bushes continued to bother us, but we could see dawn starting to break now and even if most of us were seriously hurt, victory was clearly ours. A few more slices and we were victors standing in the natural daylight [except for Dee, who quickly rushed to get under shelter.]
My original companions were eager to resume our journey, but I persuaded them to stay for the celebration. There was no reward in material things, but much honor and gratitude. [Dee is now an official citizen of the town, an honor rarely given to a vampire, and to a certain extent, his “unusual” dining habits will be tolerated.] For myself I found that some of the local lasses were quite willing to express their gratitude to me in a most pleasant way. The others also found the delay worth it, and so we departed town in good spirits, heroes of at least local status.

Postscript: It has been a couple of months now, but messages from the city have just reached me from the kind ladies, urging me to return to town to discuss matters of vital interest. I am wondering if they did not thank me a bit too well…

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