D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter (Week 4)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on September 1, 2011

After getting their butts kicked by a bunch of drunken teenagers last week, the heroes accepted General Sabine’s invitation to meet with Lord Nevermember at the Hall of Justice. The wounded adventurers healed up during the ferry ride across the river before arriving at the Hall. Once there they were escorted to a room where lavish food and beverages were laid out, awaiting their arrival. Inside the room was someone the party had never met before.

The heroes introduced themselves to this stranger; the party consisting of a Kalashtar Psion, Human Cleric, Human Fighter and Eladrin Avenger. The stranger introduced himself as a Deva Wizard (Necromancer) and said he’d been summoned to meet with Lord Nevermember, just like the PCs. The five PCs exchanged niceties and explained who they were and what they they’d been up to over the past couple of weeks.

As they helped themselves to the refreshments and snacks provided they noticed that the room they were in bore many details reminiscent of Waterdeep – a shield bearing the city’s coat of arms, an ornamental sword hanging over the fireplace, and the use of blue and silver in the room’s colour scheme a clear homage to Waterdeep’s own colours.

Before the PCs even noticed how long they’d been left unattended, a door opened and in walked Nevermember, the Lord Protector himself. He greeted the heroes by name, telling them that he’d heard of their heroic deeds. He shook each PC’s hand and asked them detailed questions that clearly demonstrated that he knew who they were.

He encouraged the PCs to eat, drink and make themselves comfortable as he did so himself. Nevermember explained that he’d spent a great deal of time, energy and resources over the past few years to rebuild Neverwinter and make it a prosperous city again. Now that a good foundation was in place he’s eager to find a true heir that can take this burden from him. This “Lost Heir” that emerged 10 days ago could be such a man.

However, Nevermember has a lot at stake and wanted to be sure that whoever takes over is the right person for the job. If the Lost Heir is the real deal than he’d gladly allow him to take the throne. But if he’s a fraud the Lord Protector doesn’t want to just turn things over to a con man, especially one that may have evil intentions. He had to know more about the Lost Heir before he could make a decision either way. So far the Lost Heir had refused all invitations to meet and discus the legitimacy of his claim to the throne of Neverwinter.

What Nevermember needed was reliable information and that’s why he summoned these five heroes. He asked the PCs if they would find the Lost Heir and gather proof that he is either who he says he is or that he’s a fraud. The ideal outcome would be a meeting between the Lost Heir and Lord Nevermember.

Since the PCs were new to Neverwinter and had already fought alongside the Lost Heir, Nevermember believed that the Heir’s supporters, and possibly even the Heir himself, would be more willing to meet with the PCs than any of Nevermember’s men. The PCs had not yet demonstrated allegiance to either side which should make it easier for them to investigate and gather the information that the Lord Protector sought.

This was a difficult and possibly dangerous assignment so Nevermember offered each PC 500 gp. If they accepted his offer he’d pay each of them 100 gp now and the remaining 400 gp when they returned with ironclad proof of the Lost Heir’s identity. The PCs accepted the offer and took the money.

Lord Nevermember thanked them and then presented each of them with badges bearing his family crest. The badges would grant the PCs access to areas that might otherwise be off-limits, such as the Winged Wyvern Bridge which crosses over into the Blacklake District. Nevermember suggested that the PCs head to the Blacklake District in search of the Lost Heir, but before they leave the Protector’s Enclave he suggested that they visit the Wall to see the progress being made to keep Neverwinter safe. He then bid them good luck and summoned a carriage to bring them to the Wall.

When the PCs arrived at the Wall and stepped out of the carriage, the Necromancer’s keep sense of Perception (natural 20) alerted him to a few things that were strangely amiss. The guards that should be at their post were not there. In the shadows two Bandits with blood on their clothes tried to hide from the PCs. Three other Bandits were trying to hide the dead guard’s bodies behind the guard hut. The Necromancer alerted the party to the danger and the party readied for combat.

The Avenger immediately sprung into action and rushed the Bandits disposing of the guards’ bodies. He designated the nearest bandit as his Oath of Enmity and then swung at him with his greatsword and missed. Seeing that they had a 3:1 advantage on the lone PC, the Bandit attacked the Avenger with Dazing Strike, hit and dazed him. The Bandit then ran through a nearby open door into the Wall and closed the door behind him. Another Bandit threw a dagger at the Psion, hitting him, and then ran closer to the guard station door.

The Fighter ran to help the Avenger, charging one of the Bandits, putting himself adjacent to two of them and ensuring that they were in his defender’s aura. The Necromancer, new to the party, suggested focusing fire on the Bandits until they fell. He then attacked and hit the same Bandit as the Fighter.

The remaining Bandits retaliated. One shifted drawing an opportunity attack from the Fighter and took minimal damage. Now flanking, both Bandits attacked the Fighter and hit for a combined 29 damage. (The maximum damage these attacks could have done was 38, 19 from each Bandit). The Bandit near the gate moved into the guard station, closed the door and began turning the winch and rising the portcullis.

The Cleric healed the Fighter and then rushed into the melee. He judged that the portcullis would take a few rounds before anyone on the other side of the Wall could get into the Protector’s Enclave and pose any real threat. He told the PCs to keep fighting the Bandits and forget about the portcullis for now.

The Psion moved closer and used his force orb to continue focusing fire on the injured Bandit. The dazed Avenger decided that the portcullis presented too big a danger to ignore so he moved closer to the guard station. The Bandit nearest the gate ran to intercept the Avenger and clobbered him, bringing the Avenger below bloodied. The other Bandit began turning the other winch and the portcullis started rising even faster.

The Fighter easily killed the wounded Bandit and then moved next to the nearest remaining enemy. The Necromancer was torn between chasing the Bandit into the Wall to stop him from raising the winch or attacking the Bandit he could see. He chose to attack the Bandit in front of him.

The Cleric realized that with two Bandits working the winches the portcullis would open a lot faster than he first anticipated. However he was already committed to fighting the nearest Bandit so he swung and hit. The Avenger used Fey Step to teleport next to the guard station door, opened it and attacked the Bandit on the winch, but missed.

The Avenger alone again, was flanked by a Bandit and hit with the Dazing Strike, rendering him dazed and knocking him unconscious. The Bandit on the other winch decided to return to the fight, leaving the guard station and attacking the Psion, bloodying him.

The Fighter attacked the adjacent Bandit and brought him within a few points of death, the Psion’s Force Orb finishing the job. The Necromancer decided to try to stop the winch so he moved into the Wall and used his Mage Hand reversed the crank. He used his action point to crank it back again ensuring that none of the plague-changed on the wrong side of the Wall got though.

The Cleric moved twice in order to get close enough to revive the Avenger with a Healing Word. The Avenger, still dazed, used his second wind to regain more hit points. The Bandit who dazed the Avenger last round realized he was awake so he attacked him again. He missed by 2 thanks to the defense bonus provided by the Avenger’s second wind. He then moved away from the Avenger and joined the melee. The other Bandit attacked and bloodied the Cleric.

The Fighter charged a Bandit who had not taken any damage yet, and scored a critical hit.

The Bandit adjacent to the prone Avenger jumped over him in order to get into the melee outside the guard station. The Avenger tried to hit him with an opportunity attack when he jumped over him but missed. The Bandit managed to flank the Fighter but missed.

The Necromancer took another round to crank back the winch and ensure that even the combined efforts of the creatures on the other side of the portcullis would not be enough to open it. The Cleric moved to flank with the Fighter and then used his second wind. The Avenger crawled into the abandoned guard station and managed to damage the winch using sheer force. The portcullis was now frozen until the winch was repaired.

The Bandit in melee with the Fighter attacked but couldn’t inflict enough damage to drop him. The other Bandit couldn’t connect despite the flank. The Fighter used his second wind to try to remain conscious for another round. A third Bandit moved in and attacked the Fighter but the resilient Fighter stayed on his feet.

The Necromancer decided that it was time to use a daily attack, hitting one Bandit and missing the other. However, it dealt damage even on a miss. The Cleric attacked the Bandit that took the brunt of the Necromancer’s daily power, hit and killed him. The Psion attacked the other Bandit that was missed by the Necromancer’s daily, hitting and bloodying him.

The bloodied Bandit attacked the Fighter, rolled a 20, and knocked him unconscious. He then moved adjacent to the Psion. The other Bandit moved in to flank the Psion, attacked with Dazing Strike and also rolled a 20, knocking him unconscious.

The Cleric moved in to melee and killed the wounded Bandit. The final Bandit knowing that the Cleric was just above bloodied moved in and attacked, rolling a 1. The Necromancer and the Cleric managed to hit, bloodying the Bandit. The Psion rolled a 20 on his death save bringing him back into the fight.

The Avenger finally joined the melee so that he’d get two attacks, but missed. The Bandit decided that it was time to run. He risked opportunity attacks from the Cleric and the Avenger. The Cleric missed but the Avenger rolled a natural 20, killing the final Bandit as he tried to escape.

As the final Bandit was killed the PCs heard clapping as a lone figure emerged from the shadows and approached them. It was a Half-elf woman dressed in leather armor, a russet cloak and a long sword at her hip. She congratulated the PCs on a well fought victory, but made no effort to hide her sarcasm. It’s clear that she knew who the PCs were and was aware that they were now in the Lord Protector’s employ. She introduced herself as Seldra and revealed that she too works for Lord Nevermember.

Seldra was tracking these bandits for days and regretted that she didn’t arrive sooner to stop them herself. It was apparent that the guard’s deaths and the sorrow she felt will weigh heavily upon her. She believed that these bandits were hired by the Sons of Alagondar and that a gang called the Dead Rats commissioned the deal. She needed to alert General Sabine and get more guards to protect the Wall and take the bodies away for proper burial.

Seldra suggests that if the PCs were going to the Blacklake District anyway that they might want to head to the House of a Thousand Faces, a known hangout for the Dead Rats. In addition to hiring out mercenaries they often deal in information and will likely know where to find the Lost Heir.

When asked about the Lost Heir, Seldra proudly spoke of her belief that the Lost Heir is indeed Neverwinter’s savior. She saw no conflict in working for Nevermember and supporting the Lost Heir. After all the Lord Protector said on many occasions that he’s not here to become the king, and that he would step aside when a legitimate heir comes forth. She believes that time approaches and the Lost Heir will become the king very soon.

The PCs looted the bodies before parting ways with Seldra and heading onward to the Winged Wyvern Bridge. On the corpses they found three magical items (I rolled a 20 which lets the DM roll two more times). Among the swag was a +1 earthroot staff, +1 vicious weapon and a +1 defensive weapon. The Psion took the staff, the Avenger took the vicious weapon and the Fighter took the defensive weapon.

Again the role-playing and the exposition at the beginning of the encounter took just as long as the combat. The group I’ve had is really getting into the story and the politics. They enjoy the social interactions and seem genuinely grateful for more than hack and slash. For the first time in many months D&D Encounters seems a lot more like a home campaign than LFR or other public play. I guess the right group makes all the difference.

The combat was a lot of fun and seemed suitably challenging for the party. The early decision to focus fire really helped, but once again splitting the party almost led to character deaths. Three of the five PCs were making death saves at some point during the encounter. My hot DMs dice didn’t make things any easier for the PCs. With two more encounters to go it will be interesting to see how the combat tactics change as the party’s resources continue to dwindle.

How was week 4 at your FLGS? Are your players enjoying the role-playing or do they press forward quickly in search of combat? Did any tables see character die this week? The Bandits could really deal out a lot of damage if they had combat advantage (as a few of the players at my table discovered).

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 4 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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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ted September 1, 2011 at 10:04 am

I got to play my Heir of Delzoun Dwarven Slayer this week. With my first attack, I charged one of the bandits at the winches and rolled a natural 20, and with my power strike, brought him to within an inch of his life. The other bandits never reached the winches thanks to a good initiative roll by our knight, so the gate never budged during the fight.

I spent the rest of the fight dazed by a second bandit who came up behind me (flanking me). I took out the first bandit and the second bandit with my one action per turn for the next couple of rounds. Once I was finally no longer dazed, I tried to take advantage of the twitter buff that rewarded an action point for using an action point to perform an attack from the top of the guard tower. But by then the last of the bandits was bloodied and knocked out before it got back to my turn.

We seem to have a revolving group of players, and never more than one or two tables tops, so I envy having a more consistent group that would take more of an interest in the role play and character interaction. This season of encounters is my favorite so far of the three season I’ve played in because of the setting, and the plot for the season. Looking forward to next week.

2 Bobbydrake75 September 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I have returned. It has been a while since my last report and I’m happy to say that the DM allowed the short rest before we fought the dragon. This week Abraxus(My Blackguard) was teamed up with a Battle Cleric, Vampire, Bard, and Wizard. I’m not sure if it is just me but I’m beginning to think that the encounters or at least the DM that I run under seems out to make the battle as little fun for one or two players. We talked to the lord and went seeking the Heir and several of the party knew that the two rogues were not the guards and were going to open the gates. The Bard rushed part way across the open yard to be assaulted by one of three bandit hiding off to the right hand side and it would have been 3 if not for his fortune card that said as a free action when hit he could shift 3 square which gave him total cover. The bard then used a power that pushed one of the rogues at the gate off the crank. The vampire streaked across the other side to attack the other rogue and also knocked him away from the crank with a vampire slam. Then came the pain. As I moved to attack the bandit to the right the other two loosed their daggers and missed allowing me to charge to and hit the Bandit. Little did I know but the bandits had a way to dazed. One the other side of the battlefield the bandit ignored the bard and rushed to flank the vampire and he was put to ground. The one on my side dazed me and then reality of 5 skrimisher kicked in. The other two both attacked me and hit putting me on the ground. (Miss my turn, fail my death save). The battle cleric brings me back the bard brings back the vampire. The bandits ignore the rest of the group and attack me and the vampire again. Now I understand the benefit of CA as well as the next guy being that all of my goodies trigger off getting it but this was getting rediculus the DM has me make a bluff check to see if the guy next to me notices that I’m conscience and then bashes me and rolled minimum damage or I would have been unconscience again. I was literally at 1 hit flat on my back and the other two bandits were thinking about attacking me. Mind you there were 2 other characters right in their grills hitting them and burning them with fire and he was going to attack me?!? I guess that this is where my 20+ of DMing experience comes in. D&D is a game and it is supposed to be a fun game. Relentlessly attacking 2 characters to the point of ignoring everything else because I can do more damage that way just didn’t pass the smell test. If the story says that the bandits are there to kill a couple of the characters and beat a hasty retreat I guess that I can see it but then again what type of module is that. Tactics: Focus all attacks on one player until he/she is dead. Anywho, he did choose to go after another character but I say that it put a damper on my night. Add to that, I have the best/second best AC and I’m always getting hit with 24 AC, 26 AC …etc. Noone has that high of an AC at first level. Ugh, maybe I’m going to start hiding in the back of the group. Sorry for the rant. Maybe I’ll shift to the other table next week and hope that fixes the issue.

3 Balazar773 September 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

We have had great sessions. A bit rowdy so we will need to open another room for our third party. I am excited to see so many people heavily involved in the storyline and enjoying their characters.
If you are in the Chicagoland area, stop by. It is a fantastic shop and we will make you feel right at home!

http://firstaidcomics.wordpress.com/dungeons-dragons/
Balazar773´s last blog post ..OPEN TONIGHT 12:01am to 12:52am!

4 Sunyaku September 2, 2011 at 2:45 am

We had a table of 6 veterans, so the DM scaled it up by adding a bandit, for a total of 6 enemies. One member of the party had a high passive perception, so the group was not surprised. We proceeded to steamroll the encounter… players rolling well and two crits from a thief makes for a quick fight.
Sunyaku´s last blog post ..Lair Assault Strategy – Party Optimization

5 Wendy McLaren September 2, 2011 at 7:46 am

Two members of the party (who just joined last week) asked Lord Neverember for groceries, which he supplied, naturally, being the altruistic guy he is. Another insisted she was the one who slew the dragon, not this Lost Heir, which brought them to the crux of their visit to Lord Neverember. They could tell he wasn’t entirely sincere, but his money was real, so they accepted his job.

Once at the wall, 2 of the bandits were spotted right away. The Tiefling fighter rolled a bluff check and did a double move to stagger over to one of them, getting right in his face. It was our Moment of Greatness for the evening and the laughter it provoked had people from other parts of the store coming to see what was up.

At the end of the encounter, one of the players wanted to roll Insight to check for sarcasm in Seldra’s praise. All in all, a highly enjoyable evening.

6 Sentack September 2, 2011 at 10:50 am

My table had a good run with this weeks encounter. The RP portion is actually pretty fun and the fight itself was not too hard. It was actually easier then last weeks encounter which, story wise, makes no sense but no matter.

In the end, I really like the story because now things are starting to shape up a little better. First my character was very suspicious of Lord Neverwinter, but now things are looking a little less black and white. At first it appeared that Lord Neverwinter was condoning various acts of vandalism in his name. Now we see people doing the same to spite Neverwinter and slightly more on side with Nevermember. (I hate the fact the names are so damn close) So now it’s less a sure thing who to throw your weight with.

Over all, I can’t wait to see how future sessions go. This season sounds like a lot of fun.

7 C.J. September 4, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I definitely enjoyed this week’s encounter more than last week. But I did wish it was somewhat more difficult. We were expecting the gate to open, but I guess we stopped that from happening to quickly.

Party: Cavalier, Fighter, Slayer, mage (illusion with no AOE except daily for some reason… no burning hands or freezing burst), and my bladesinger.

Through some successful RP our party was able to reveal that neverember was not entirely honest. We tried to coax him out of some more gold or items but couldn’t. I suggested he allow the general and/or her 2 soldiers that brought us to see him to come with us on our quest, but he refused basically.

Right away the fighter went for one of the guys winding the gate open. He basically kept him busy (opening the door, attacking… thief then closes door… repeat) but I guess it helped to keep the gate down.

The rest of us took on the 3 guys behind the building and then eventually the other gate winder.

All in all it was a decent encounter. I didn’t like that, like last week, all the enemies were basically the same creature… makes it somewhat boring for both the DM and the PCs. We also didn’t find it challenging despite having no healer.

8 Bob, the slutty Eladrin Wizard September 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm

… I’m kind of sad that you don’t make blogs about the Hairy T group Derek. It’s kind of sad. Are we truly THAT! bad?

9 Sentack September 7, 2011 at 9:48 am

I felt this encounter was intended to be a bit of a soft ball encounter. I believe the chapter has 5 encounters in it. So not all of them should be rough on the players, else they will reach the end of the chapter far too beaten down to survive the final encounter, whatever it may be.

10 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

@Ted
The daze attack came as a real surprise to the players at my table and almost resulted in a couple of character deaths. Glad to hear that you at least got to score a crit before the daze gimped you.

I too find this season really exciting and the role-paying opportunities have given a lot of players something they felt was lacking in previous seasons.

@Bobbydrake75
Welcome back. Sounds like your party really had their hands full. I’ve actually enjoyed running a few encounters this season with parties of 4 or 5. The down side is that when a party of 4 looses one guy it makes a huge difference.

I’m torn when it comes to monster tactics. I used to let the dice decide who got attacked which usually meant everyone got a few attacks and no one PC got crushed. However, more and more I’m letting intelligent opponents use tactics that match their know-how. I usually gang up on one or two PCs and keep hitting them until they fall. After that I move on. A good defender can minimize any focus on softer PCs and a good controller can move opponents away from characters that get in over heir head.

That being said, I realize that it’s not fun if you’re the guy that keeps getting knocked unconscious by the second round every encounter. I try to change my “victim” week to week, but if you do something that warrants special attention from the monsters (for example, a striker that kills a monster by himself in the first round) then I think you paint the bull’s-eye on yourself.

@Balazar773
Glad to hear people are actually role-playing and that the positive buzz is drawing new players. Keep those field reports coming in and feel free to let us know where you play so that readers in your community can come out and join you.

@Sunyaku
Good tactics and hot dice can make all the difference. Jut and FYI, with a party of 6 there are supposed to be 6 Bandits so the encounter wasn’t really ramped up (unless the DM made other adjustments). Now had there been 8 Bandits that would be a tough fight even for 6 experienced PCs. ?

@Wendy McLaren
This is one of those encounters that could have been run without combat. Had it been a home game this might have been a more realistic option. But since it’s D&D Encounters the players expect combat and fight everything (which is too bad). I’m glad to hear that your group worked some role-playing and non-combat tactics into their fight.

@Sentack
In my opinion the combat for week 4, 5 and 6 are all unnecessary. They really serve no purpose other than to drain resources. I liked the story elements and the role-playing that arose from these encounters but the combat was kind of ho-hum and added little to the story. I still had fun but it didn’t seem necessary.

The players at both stores where I’m running the season have decided to try and remain as neutral as possible for as long as possible. So far thy have not used the badges they got from the Lost Heir or Lord Neverember.

@C.J.
I had every intention of letting the gate open and have minions rush the battle if the PCs didn’t keep the gate closed. The encounter actually says it won’t open regardless of what happens but that did seem right to me. I felt that if the threat wasn’t real any player who expended resources to keep the gate close would feel cheated.

@Bob, the slutty Eladrin Wizard
I have used the Monday night crew for my field reports when I can’t play Wednesday night. The Harry T games tend to be more hack and slash where as the Dueling Grounds games tend to have a lot more role-playing.

@Sentack
I agree. There are only four encounters in this chapter. The final encounter is intentionally difficult (like the fight against the dragon at the end of the first chapter) and does remind players the importance of resource management.

11 Bob, the slutty Eladrin Wizard September 8, 2011 at 12:38 am

Well me and the well now Gnome Bladesinger – she decided to reroll – would try to roleplay more but the rest of the group doesn’t really want to. Still can’t believe that warlord from Monday. I personally would always heal the defender. I mean I can use lay on hands three times per encounter. It’s a lot better than his as I see it.

12 Ameron (Derek Myers) September 30, 2011 at 7:56 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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