This week’s encounter was different than any we’ve had before in the D&D Encounters program. Rather than having just one combat encounter level-appropriate for the PCs, there were two smaller combat encounters without a short rest in between. I think this kind of surprise is good for the players and reminds them that things aren’t going to follow the same formula every single time they sit down to play D&D. In my home game we actually do this a lot and we find it makes both combat encounters more exciting.
The number of players showing up at my FLGS keeps fluctuating between eight and 12. The last few weeks we’ve had enough people to run two tables, but this week we were back in that awkward zone where it was too few for two tables but too many for one. We ended up running one table with seven PCs. On the plus side we did have one brand new player who’d read about D&D Encounters online and decided to come out and give D&D a try for the very first time.
The party consisted of a Human Wizard (Enchanter), Warforged Druid, Human Cleric, Tiefling Battlemind, Gnome Bladesinger, Goliath Fighter (Battlerager), Drow Ranger (Belgos pre-gen).
The party members caught their breath as quickly as possible after defeating the Plaguechanged attackers from last week’s encounter. They knew the Lost Heir couldn’t be that far ahead of them so they so they gave pursuit. Following the Lost Heir was easy because he was literally leaving a trail of blue fire in his wake. There was no doubt that he was headed for the Protector’s Enclave, but in order to get there he’d have to cross over the Winged Wyvern bridge.
When the PCs reached the bridge the Lost Heir’s handiwork was apparent. Buildings were damaged by random blasts of blue fire as the Lost Heir passed by. At the foot of the bridge were two Plaguechanged Hounds and a large Plaguechanged Ooze. The PCs would have to battle these creatures if they hoped to continue following the flaming footprints across the bridge.
Fortune smiled up on the party as they all won initiative over the monsters (thanks largely to my ice-cold dice). The Fighter made a remarkable monster knowledge check on the Ooze and warned the party about its ability to split in two when bloodied. The Cleric made a successful monster knowledge check on the Hounds and warned the party of their ability to inflict even more damage to bloodied targets.
Armed with this knowledge the party went to work to take them down. The Wizard used Hypnotism to push the Ooze back six squares for three consecutive rounds keeping it away from the melee and letting the rest of the PCs focus on the Hounds.
The Ranger fired arrow after arrow at the Hounds, focusing on the first one until it fell and then changing to the next. Talk about a good first impression of D&D, the player didn’t miss with a single attack all night.
The Battlemind and Fighter worked together, flanking the nearest Hound and locking it down. The Druid charged and pounced the Hound, the Cleric attacked from range with Sacred Flame and the Bladesinger moved in and connected with her sword. By the mid-point of the second round one of the Hounds was dead having only attacked once and missing horribly.
The other Hound had marginally better success, hitting a few times. However, the Tiefling Battlemind (who had fire resistance) and the Fighter (who had a lot of temporary hit points) took the hits and shrugged off any real damage. It didn’t take long for the party to drop the second Hound as well. Since none of the PCs were anywhere near bloodied neither Hound had a chance to inflict the extra damage against a bloodied foe.
By this time the Ooze managed to get close enough to attack the PCs. The Fighter, with his abundance of temporary hit points, marked the Ooze and was subjected to its attack. However, it was unable to do any lasting damage. With seven PCs attacking it every round it didn’t take long for it to get bloodied and spit in two. That’s when the Battlemind stepped in and marked the other half of the Ooze.
Where the party was so disciplined and focused fire on one Hound at a time, they were lass consistent with the two Half-Oozes. They spit their focus between the two damaging them almost equally. However even without focused fire it only took another two rounds to destroy both Oozes. When the battle ended none of the PCs had sustained any significant damage. Only the Fighter needed to heal so he used his second wind which brought him back to full hit points for the second half of the encounter.
The heroes ran across the bridge, following the flames and listening for the screams. It was easy to determine that the Lost Heir was headed for the Wall. Once there, the PCs saw that the gate was open and Plaguechanged Maniacs were streaming through and into the Protector’s Enclave. Four other Plaguechanged Grunts were accosting the locals but immediately turned to attack the PCs as soon as they spotted them.
This time the monsters actually rolled decent initiatives. Two of the Grunts tag-teamed the Druid but only one hit. The minions mobbed the heroes but they had a really difficult time hitting anyone. They did a better job of acting as blocking terrain, forcing the PCs to take the long way around, than they did as monsters. Once the Battlemind got involved he kept marking them, happily taking the 4 fire damage which couldn’t penetrate his resistance.
The Fighter and Bladesinger worked together to destroy one of the Grunts by the end of the first round. The Fighter used his action point to attack another Grunt and almost killed him with a damage roll that was nearly max dice.
The Wizard took control of the situation and used Beguiling Strands twice thanks to his action point and cleared out most of the minions in the first round. He then started moving towards the winch. The Druid moved towards the other winch, taking out the extremely wounded Grunt and a few of the remaining minions along the way. The next round the Druid and Wizard worked together to close the gate and stop any more Maniacs from getting through.
One of the Grunts managed to grab the Battlemind and the other hit him for 21 damage. The Bladesinger attacked the Grunt grabbing the Battlemind, hitting and sliding the creature, freeing her ally in the process.
The Fighter moved in and destroyed another one of the Grunts. The rest of the PCs worked together and managed to drop the last Grunt one round later. The few remaining minions were no problem for the Bladesinger, Wizard and fire resistant Battlemind to take care of.
When the battle ended the people of Neverwinter emerged from their homes, and thanked the PCs for helping them. They described the Lost Heir’s actions and revealed to the heroes that the Lost Heir was a woman with a spellscar. When they pressed for details they realized that the Lost Heir was in fact Seldra, the Half-Elf from the Game Day adventure and the one who brought the Lost Crown to Neverwinter in the first place.
General Sabine arrived at the Wall and seemed very relieved to see the PCs in control of the situation. She thanked them and again asked for their help. She explained that the Lost Heir was headed towards the Town Square and leaving a path of destruction in his wake. Sabine pleaded with the PCs to follow the Lost Heir and stop him before things got any worse. The PCs agreed and after taking a short rest moved on to the Town Square where they’ll battle the Lost Heir, now called the False Heir, next week.
Neither encounter posed a real threat for the PCs. Having a party with seven PCs certainly made things easier even though I added extra monsters to both encounters. One thing that was readily apparent was the benefit of a competent controller in the party. The Wizard’s Hypnotism that pushed the Ooze in the first fight and his Beguiling Strands that mowed through the minions in the second fight were total game changers. Without a controller I can see this two-part encounter having the potential to kill some PCs.
The PCs didn’t really seem challenged over the past two sessions which means they’re going into the final two encounters with a lot of resources including daily powers and healing surges. I may have to ramp up the power level of the opponents in the final two encounters in order to provide the players with a satisfying conclusion to the adventure. If the PCs walk all over the monsters in the next two weeks I suspect they’ll feel slighted and disappointed with the adventure’s conclusion. I may have to tweak the numbers on the fly in order to make it more exciting. But we’ll see how things play out.
How did you party handle the two-part encounter this week? Did they have a decent controller and experience the same easy victory that my table did? Did they lack a controller and get overrun by the minions? How did your players react to the news that the Lost Heir was a woman? Did they realize that Seldra was the Lost Heir or did the NPCs have to spell it out for them?
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 12 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.