D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter (Week 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 18, 2011

Last week’s encounter not only set the stage for what is going to be a fantastic season of D&D Encounters, but it ended with a great cliff-hanger. The PCs managed to defeat the drakes and plague-changed maniacs with some assistance from a mysterious stranger wearing the Lost Crown of Neverwinter and called the king by onlookers. Before the heroes could ask questions of the so-called king, a large White Dragon wreathed in blue fire (and clearly infected by the Spellplague) landed in the market square in the Protector’s Enclave.

Knowing that this encounter would likely be completed quickly, we actually ran it back-to-back with last week’s encounter, so our party remained unchanged from week 1. At my table was a Human Fighter, Human Cleric (War Priest), Eladrin Avenger, Dwarf Slayer (Fargrim) and Drow Ranger (Belgos). Three of the players were D&D Encounters regulars with plenty of gaming experience where as the other two players were new to both D&D Encounters and 4e D&D and used pre-generated characters.

The Lost Heir (the man wearing the Crown of Neverwinter) stepped forward and locked eyes with the Dragon, memorizing it as a snake charmer would a mighty asp. The heroes quickly caught their breath following the last fight (short rest) and then prepared to battle the mighty wyrm.

As the heroes prepared to battle the White Dragon, the Heir told them that he was about to loose control of the beast and they should act quickly. Each PC got to take one standard action before the full combat began. Belgos fired an arrow at the Dragon but rolled a 1. The Avenger charged the Dragon slashing it with his great sword and drawing first blood. Rather than charge in, the Fighter merely moved to get better positioning. Fargrim was too far away to charge so he took a defensive stance. The Cleric put a blessing upon Fargrim, increasing the damage of his next attack by +4.

The Dragon managed to break free of the Heir’s hypnosis. Using his Instinctive Rampage, the Dragon moved, attacking the Avenger and the Fighter with his claws. This allowed all of the heroes to make an opportunity attacks against the Dragon. The Fighter was the only one to hit and the Dragon seemed resistant to most of the damage it sustained from this attack.

Belgos began his attack by lighting up the Dragon with Darkfire. This gave everyone combat advantage, including Belgos himself. He then shot and dazed the Dragon. The Heir moved right into melee and hit the Dragon with his sword. The Crown of Neverwinter empowered the Heir’s blade with both fire and cold which clearly caused the creature incredible pain.

The dazed Dragon used his breath weapon as is only action and managed to target Fargrim, Belgos and the Cleric, but missed all three PCs and inflicted only half damage. The Dragon then shrugged off the daze, but not the Drow’s Darkfire.

The Avenger designated the Dragon as his Oath of Enmity, moved adjacent and then unloaded with a daily attack scoring a solid hit for big damage. The Fighter flanked with the Avenger and triggered the Dragon’s tail slap, however the slap missed. Expecting to receive the brunt of the next attack now that the Dragon was in his defender’s aura, the Fighter took a defensive stance rather than attack this round.

Fargrim charged and his great axe planted firmly into the Dragon’s scales. Fargrim added his power strike increasing the damage considerably. He then used his action point to attack again and scored another devastating hit. The Cleric moved up and used his daily power which, in addition to the damage, improved everyone’s defenses by +2 for the rest of the encounter. He too used his action point but rather than attack he bestowed another blessing on Fargrim to increase his damage.

The Dragon again used Instinctive Rampage to move and attack with his claws, targeting everyone but Belgos. And again the Dragon drew opportunity attacks from all five PCs and the Heir for his trouble. Only the Fighter and Avenger hit, but the Avenger managed to score a crit. The Dragon claws only tore into the Avenger and Fargrim, missing everyone else.

Belgos had enough of the close combat and managed to move out of the Dragon’s perceivable threat range before shooting him and knocking him prone. This made things easier for the Heir as he again buried his blade deep into the Dragon’s scales with fire and cold from the Crown empowering the blade.

When the Heir’s attack damaged the Dragon, it bloodied the wyrm and caused its spellscar to explode in a blast that extended far enough to target all of the PCs. Fargrim managed to avoid the blast but the rest of the PCs were not as lucky. The attacks against both Belgos and the Fighter came up natural 20s.

Now it was the Dragon’s actual turn and his breath weapon recharged. He crawled two squares in order to get the most heroes in his breath, then targeted the Avenger, Fargrim and the Heir but missed all three of them. The Dragon then tried to extract revenge upon the Heir by attacking him with two powerful claws, but missed on both attacks.

The Avenger used his Fey Step to teleport next to the Dragon and attacked him. Even though the Avenger and the Dragon were both prone it made little difference as the Avenger’s attack connected. The Fighter stood up, charged the Dragon and missed. Fargrim stood up, used his second wind and then charged and hit. The Cleric used Healing Word to patch up the wounded Avenger before moving in and hitting the Dragon.

The Dragon, although still prone, he still used Instinctive Rampage. This time the opportunity attacks against him all received a +2 attack bonus, but the Avenger managed to hit. The Dragon in turn only hit the Avenger and the Cleric, bloodying both of them.

Belgos now had to decide if he wanted to shoot the dragon while it was prone and take the -2 penalty or delay until after the Dragon went assuming that it would stand on its turn. However, it was clear that the Dragon was very close to death so he decided to fire despite the penalty. He rolled a 20, inflicting maximum damage and sliding the Dragon away from the other PCs just in case the Dragon recharged his breath weapon again.

The Heir then ran up to the Dragon and cried “For Neverwinter!” as he stabbed the beast in the heart. The Dragon cried out in pain as he realized his death was imminent. The Heir dropped his sword, took a few steps back and began casting a spell. The Crown of Neverwinter began to glow and energy flowed from it, through the Heir and towards the Dragon. The blue flames around the Dragon begin to fade, and his white scales began to turn to grey. The Dragon continued howling in agony but to no avail. The Heir’s enchantment turned the Dragon to stone.

The crowd of onlookers watching the battle cheered as the Dragon was defeated. “The king! The king!” they chanted, ignoring the PCs. The Heir thanked the PCs as the crowd rushed the battlefield to congratulate him. The Heir was lifted on the shoulders of the people as they carried him towards the Blacklake District. He waved for the PCs to follow. In the hours after the battle the Heir was able to thank the PCs properly for their assistance in defeating the Spellplagued Dragon. He awarded all of them with Amethyst Badges worth 50gp each.

So ends Chapter 1 of the Lost Crown of Neverwinter. The next chapter begins 10 days after the battle in the market square so the PCs have ample time to take an extended rest before beginning Chapter 2. I enjoyed the short, two-encounter chapter a lot. It really did a good job of setting the stage for what’s to come. I was a little bit concerned about a level 2 and then level 3 encounter right off the bat, but the PCs did just fine at my table, especially since everyone saved their daily powers until the second encounter.

This is the first time in many weeks that the PCs had a chance to fight a solo monster on its own (I was happy to see that a few minions weren’t just thrown in to pad the encounter). The result was a thrilling combat encounter, but it didn’t last very long. I’m glad we choose to run it on the same night as the week 1 encounter.

The short chapter also let players act without worrying about their healing surges; something that continues to be a really big problem with D&D Encounters at my FLGS. Chapters 2-4 are all four encounter long which should challenge the party a little bit more and encourage better resource management.

How did your party do against the Dragon this week? Did the Dragon manage to kill any PCs at your table? How many tables were disappointed when they realized the encounter was over so quickly? What did DMs do about it? Did anyone move on to the next encounter or add anything to the finale?

As an added bonus this season we’re recording our D&D Encounters experiences and making them available to you as downloadable podcasts. Listen to the Week 2 Encounter. Bear in mind that these recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at time it may be difficult to hear everyone.

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.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ted August 18, 2011 at 11:24 am

In hindsight I wish I had upped the Dragon’s defenses a bit. 17 AC meant my players hardly ever missed. It didn’t help that I couldn’t roll anything over a 10 for most of the dragon’s attacks. Even with a weaker group of PCs, the fight seemed to end too quickly.

It was still fun though, if short. And it was a nice change to have a large solo monster as opposed to groups of monsters and minions. My players were very suspicious of the heir at the end of the encounter, as he deflected their questions about his true identity before handing them badges and rushing off to avoid the crowd.

2 Phantasmavore August 18, 2011 at 11:27 am

The table that I was at this week had great fun during the encounter (we were all at last week’s table too, so we’re already beginning to develop synergy amongst our group!), but everyone agreed that it felt way too short and went by way too quickly for a session. In retrospect, I think that we should have done what you and your group did and ran the two episodes back to back, but hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

I think our DM should have buffed our dragon a bit, but then again seeing as I kept my PC out of the melee until the very end and didn’t take any damage, its easy for me to say.

I’m really enjoying this season of encounters, and love the fact that its set in the Realms. I’ll also be attending my very first Living Forgoten Realms game this weekend, so I get a doubledose of the FR!

A more detailed play-by-play of our table’s encounter last night can be found at:

http://phantasmavore.blogspot.com/2011/08/dungeons-dragons-encounters-lost-crown_17.html
Phantasmavore´s last blog post ..Dungeons & Dragons Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter, Episode 2

3 Ameron August 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

@Ted
I ran this encounter twice as I play at two different FGLS. When I ran it the second time I doubled the dragon’s hit points and that seemed to work really well against a party of 6. The PCs still hit a lot but it took them longer to finish him off.

What was really frustrating for me as the DM is that there was a PHB1 old-school Fighter in the party so every time the Dragon tried to move the Fighter hit him and stopped the movement. This was great for the party, but made the Dragon’s special move attack all but useless.

As for the Heir, my group took a wait and see attitude.

@Phantasmavore
The players at my table are also really enjoying this season and like that it’s set in the Forgotten Realms. A couple of my players are LFR regulars so they can use that knowledge to better flesh out back-stories for their new characters. The players who chose the Harper and the Noble themes are really having a good time with the role-playing.

Thanks for the link to your field report. Keep them coming.

4 Mark August 18, 2011 at 11:54 am

This didn’t go so well for the folks at my table. After making one (pretty good) attack, my hexblade took 11 damage from the rampage, followed by 33 damage from a double-claw attack, so one round and then dead.

Our mage (my wife) was attacked/knocked prone before her first turn and was knocked unconscious before she ever got a second.

The other players spent most of the encounter prone (I don’t think the rampage ever missed anybody). Pretty rough.

5 Seb August 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Ameron – our 6 player “advanced” table (starting level 3) managed much the same trick as your phb 1 fighter group, because the Archer put an area of difficult terrain around the dragon. We’ve got two knights (at a 6 player table) with “Hold the Line”, and several characters with knock-down effects and / or the ability to slow / shift / push. I don’t think the dragon managed to rampage on ANYBODY, and aside from the characters who came up and made melee attakcs (mostly the knights) it didn’t do much harm. OTOH, the knights got chewed up (literally) rather badly; it was a pretty long battle, and they both were making death saves by the end of it. I’m playing one of the knights, and easily got my 50 points of damage (it was probably more like 80, in fact- he’s a dragonborn with 19 con, and I used two surges during the fight).

When we level to 4, most of the party will be taking World Serpents Grasp…

6 Sunyaku August 19, 2011 at 12:42 am

Our “advanced” table was composed of 5 level one characters including: 1 revenant Warpriest (Salune), 1 Druid (w/bear), 1 half-orc Slayer, 1 half-orc Scout, 1 human Paladin, and of course, the “heir”.

I ‘almost’ felt sad for the dragon. We mopped the floor with it. My Revenant Warpriest, Edith Wailing, crit’d on initiative and went first. Edith used the daily power “Moment of Greatness” to give half the party resist 5/all sustain minor. Damage resistance + the heir halving the breath weapon really lowered the dragon’s damage output. The DMs dice were cold, and he rolled 4 or under for the dragon at least a dozen times.

The scout crit’d and used up free action damage boosters to deal nearly 50 damage in one round. Edith used a channel divinity power to make the dragon temporarily vulnerable to radiant damage, and then the warpriest and paladin dropped their action points to deal over 70 damage in two rounds. The druid, slayer, and heir hacking away as well was just too much for the dragon to handle.

Only one healing ability was used during the fight, and no one bothered to use their second wind. Fortune cards also saw a lot of use, granting temps, extra saves, and extra damage (gang up).
Sunyaku´s last blog post ..Neverwinter Fortune Cards Review

7 C.J. August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm

1 player, our paladin defender, came within 1 point of death (so he was like -14 HP or something). We were doing pretty bad the first round so the DM fudged some to let us live and just keep most of us at bloodied value.

I re-rolled this week as a bladesinger, which was interesting. It was especially surprising to the DM when I hit consistently and with high damage, and had the ability to slide the dragon up to 3 spaces. My first round was my “nova” round where I did approximately 50+ damage (used an AP).

In the 2nd game table, the mage finished the dragon off though… with a thrown dagger… He had one of those neverwinter cards and it basically allowed him to throw a range weapon if any ally reached 0 HP. someone did and he immediately threw the dagger killing the dragon. It had 5HP left and he did 6 dmg. pretty epic.

8 Nick August 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Granted I have no experience with 4th edition and very little with 3.5 Pathfinder. I sorta grew up in 2nd edition, then left it alone for something like 10 years.

Anyways, my question. Did a group of level 1 characters just kill a dragon?
It seems to me that D&D is trending towards a place of less imagination and more hack’n'slash type adventures.

9 Ted August 19, 2011 at 4:07 pm

@Nick

I feel like you can put as much or as little imagination into is as you wish, just like you can with any game. Did a group of level 1 adventurers kill a dragon? Yes and no.

The way I saw it was that a group of level 1 characters helped hold a dragon at bay while a more powerful NPC subdued it and turned it stone. There’s also a strange relationship between the NPC and dragon that was hinted at in the encounter, and will be explored more fully by the end of the season.

I feel like in that regard, there’s a lot of imagination involved. This season is shaping up to be one of my favorites so far in terms of story and plot development, and the encounters leave a lot of room for players to role play and discover more about the Lost Heir, the city of Neverwinter, and how they might affect or be affected by their surroundings with regard to their selected themes.

10 Nick August 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm

@Ted,

Thanks. I think the changes just makes me feel old :) and I don’t really understand the game mechanics balancing everything in the newer editions.

10 years ago, you didn’t even think about fighting a dragon at level 1. It was an honor you worked your way up to with patience.
Helping overcome a dragon at level 1 is sorta like grabbing a credit card to buy that new plasma in my mind. Instant gratification and the ability to run a game inside a short attention span……

But, having no experience with it, I’m likely very wrong :)

11 Alphastream August 20, 2011 at 4:05 am

Nick, in 3rd edition there were dragons of various ages that we fought. Low level dragons could be faced by fairly low level PCs. I was doing that in 2000, 11 years ago. In previous editions that was not typically the case (not with Monster Manual dragons), but even in MM1 for AD&D white dragons can have just 5 hit dice. Second edition monsters often included a lot of variants and there are some wyrmlings.

All of that to say that the game can seem to have changed drastically when it has not really changed that much. It is still the idea of heroic fantasy role-playing. It is still a ton of fun! Don’t worry about the perceived or real changes and just check out Encounters, roll some dice, and have fun.

12 Kiel Chenier August 21, 2011 at 6:10 am

Our table of 7 did pretty well.

They almost never missed the dragon, but almost every single one of them ended up badly hurt or falling unconscious.

Of course, one of our kid players who’d been hugging the edges of the map the entire time piped up: “Ha! It hasn’t even hit me once!”

To which I replied, “The dragon turns, seeing that it has felled the heroes before it, it turns to the one in the distance and charges towards you”. He was promptly knocked unconscious and started failing death saving throws. Sometimes life is good.

Still, I pulled a few punches. Had I played the dragon exactly as the rules say, I would have killed off characters quickly. With the younger kids playing at the table, plus some of my old standby players, I felt guilty and miffed a few rolls.

Though given how smug a few of them have become, I think next time I won’t be as charitable.
Kiel Chenier´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters: Season 2 Trailer

13 C.J. August 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

I did reroll from a normal evocation mage to a bladesinger last week. I had previously requested a bladesinger pregen, but I ended up making my own. Here it is if anybody is interested:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31575582/4e%20Encounters%20Tehelan.pdf

14 jon August 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm

the dragon dropped all but 2 of the 7 people there even killed 1 with a crit (we had fun burning his characters sheet outside after) over all a fun and challenging fight and a good set up for the season (it helped that i was 1 of the 2 who didn’t fall)

15 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 30, 2011 at 7:57 am

D&D Encounters – Only On Wednesday

I was contacted by Wizards and asked to clarify and correct some details I recently posted in my D&D Encounters articles and the follow-up comments; specifically details about playing on nights other than Wednesday. I was asked to post a correction and clear up any confusion my comments might have caused.

During the D&D Public Play seminar held at GenCon this summer there was some discussion about playing D&D Encounters on nights other than Wednesdays. I wrote in my articles that although D&D Encounters happen in most locations on Wednesday, Wizards understand that this will not always be the case for every store. Where I was mistaken was in saying that Wizards was ok if your FLGS runs D&D Encounters on a different night. Apparently I misunderstood the intent of what was said.

Wizards wants to be very clear that they are “committed to our program’s structure, and we do not want stores to think it’s OK to run on nights other than Wednesdays.” Wednesday is the mandatory day to run D&D Encounters. Wizard does periodically check to ensure that stores run D&D Encounters sessions on Wednesdays. If they discover that a store is not compliant, it can lead to punitive action (such as pulling the program from the store).

Stores can run whatever other D&D events they want on any other night and schedule or report their sessions under the “D&D Game” sanction rule. If the store organizer has any questions about it or how it’s done, they can contact their WPN representative.

I realize that my comments about it being ok to play D&D Encounters on other nights of the week, comments that I now realize were made in error, may have caused some confusion. Hopefully this post will clear up any misunderstandings and set the record straight.

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