D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter (Week 13)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on November 3, 2011

Last week the party faced two mini-encounters back-to-back without a short rest. By the time they’d faced off against the Ooze and Hounds, and then against the Plaguechanged Maniacs the PCs desperately need to take a short rest before venturing on.

While catching their breath, the citizens of Neverwinter emerged from their barricaded homes to thank the PCs for defeating the Plaguechanged attackers. They told the PCs everything they witnessed, including a description of the Lost Heir which the PCs realized was in fact Seldra, the Half-elf they’d encountered previously and until now they believed was on their side. Before the PCs finished their 5-minute rest, General Sabine arrived on the scene and asked them to continue following the Lost Heir and stop her once and for all.

This week I had six players at my table which made things very manageable. The party consisted of a Human Wizard (Enchanter), Goliath Fighter (Battlerager), Warforged Druid, Human Cleric, Gnome Bladesinger and Tiefling Battlemind. This group was relatively new to D&D, many of the players discovering the game through the D&D Encounters program. As such they are usually more interested in combat than role-playing as was the case this week.

The heroes had no problem following the fiery footprints which led them to the town square. The last time they were here (in the week 2 encounter) they fought along side the Lost Heir against a White Dragon. At the end of that battle the Lost Heir performed a ritual that encased the wyrm in stone. When the PCs arrived this time they saw Seldra (now referred to as the False Heir) glowing with blue fire and performing some kind of ritual on the petrified dragon statue.

The concerned citizens were gathering around the square, curious and cautious. The vendors realized that things would likely get worse so they were hastily packed up their wares. The heroes took in the situation and realized that the False Heir was trying to free the dragon. Unfortunately she was surrounded by a field of energy that the Wizard and Bladesinger both realized protected her and would injure anyone trying to get through. The PCs decided to leave the False Heir alone while they helped the rest of the nearby people of Neverwinter.

Some of the PCs made impassioned pleas to the townsfolk to leave the square and take shelter, while others moved towards the vendors to help them pack up. While at the vendors’ stalls those PCs in need of magical items were able to strike pretty good deals with the frightened merchants and score a couple of items before the impending battle. Within minutes the PCs managed to clear the town square and get the vendors away to safety.

The False Heir finished her ritual and the protective barrier disappeared. Flecks of stone begin falling from the Dragon revealing its white scales and blue Spellscar. Within minutes the White Dragon would be free once again. As the heroes approached the False Heir she turned towards them and said, “You’re all fools. I tried to help but you lacked vision just like those rebel dogs. If this is what must be done to save Neverwinter then so be it.”

A couple of decent Insight checks revealed that the False Heir seems to be driven by madness and may not be in complete control of her actions. However, the combat-hungry players didn’t seem interested in the role-playing opportunity and decided in stead to just attack her before she could do any more damage. As they readied themselves to attack the False Heir said, “I won’t be stopped. I will save Neverwinter.” Her Spellscar exploded and six blue Elementals burst forth to defend the False Heir.

The False Heir won the initiative and attacked the closest PC, the Cleric, and hit him with her sword. Her Spellscar then erupted and a ray of blue fire shot out and scorched the nearby Druid.

The Wizard used Beguiling Strands to hit multiple Elementals and discovered to his horror that they were not minions. He managed to push two of the Elementals into the fiery footprints inflicting additional damage and bloodying two of them in the process.

The Fighter decided to leave the False Heir for now and put his incredible damage output to better use killing the Elementals. He hit an bloodied the nearest one.

The Elementals didn’t do any actual damage with a hit; instead they inflicted 5 ongoing fire damage. This was bad news for the Battlerager who would likely loose his temporary hit points at the beginning of each turn that he was on fire. However, from a tactical standpoint the ongoing fire was actually better than real damage. Once a PC had the ongoing fire he could provoke as many opportunity attacks as he wanted since the ongoing damage wouldn’t get any worse if he got hit again. When the players realized this loophole they took full advantage of it to get flanking bonuses every round.

The Druid was the only party member to focus on the False Heir so he attacked her twice (using his action point) while the rest of the PCs worked on taking down the Elementals.

The Battlemind and Bladesinger put the White Dragon statue between themselves and the False Heir and attacked two Elementals that managed to get over there.

Since the Druid was the only PC to stay anywhere near the False Heir she shifted and then attacked him, scoring a crit. Her Spellscar shot out and managed to get the Cleric now within range thanks to her careful movement. The False Heir then used her action point to attack the bloodied Druid again but missed. The Cleric wanted to attack one of the injured Elementals, but was marked by the False Heir. He opted to use Sacred Flame which hit allowing him to throw some temp hit points to the badly wounded Druid.

The Wizard again blasted two Elementals with Beguiling Strands, killing one and bloodying another. The Fighter attacked and killed a wounded Elemental and then moved in to flank with the Battlemind.

Three Elementals engaged the Battlemind, Bladesinger and Fighter behind the Dragon statue and managed to ignite the Bladesinger and her familiar. The Battlemind’s resistance to fire made the Elementals attack completely useless. The Bladesinger retaliated attacking and killing another Elemental. She and her familair were unable to save and both kept burning from the ongoing fire.

The Battlemind, Fighter and Bladesinger flanked two remaining Elementals on their side of the battlefield and on the next round destroyed them easily. The Bladesinger and her familiar were again unable to save against the fire.

The Druid moved further away from the False Heir before attacking her from safe distance. The Cleric moved in the other direction and attacked the wounded Elementals with Scared Flame. The Wizard risked opportunity attacks from the Elementals in order to get a clear line of sight on the False Heir. The Elementals missed but so did the Wizard.

The False Heir set her sights on the Wizard but was unable to hit on three consecutive rounds. Since none of the other PCs were within range her Spellscar effect was useless as well. The Druid kept attacking her from a safe distance slowly eating through her hit points. When she finally reached her bloodied value only one Elemental remained but it was destroyed by a Magic Missile before her next turn.

The False Heir had an ability to heal by draining hit points from the remaining Elementals. However, since the PCs did such a good job of focusing fire and destroying the Elementals before bloodying the False Heir she was never able to use the power.

The Battlemind and Fighter tag-teamed the False Heir and easily brought her down to ¼ of her hit points.

With the Elementals destroyed, all six PCs all focused on Seldra, the False Heir. Realizing that they had her grossly overpowered and outmatched the heroes offered Seldra the chance to surrender. Despite her madness Seldra realized she was defeated and agreed. She collapsed and Crown of Neverwinter fell off of her head and rolled a few feet away. The Druid immediately picked it up.

Seldra’s Spellscar stopped flaming and returned to normal. She looked at the party as if emerging from a haze. “My Gods, what have I done?” she asked.

Next week is the final encounter of the adventure. The White Dragon is only minutes away from freedom. Will the heroes manage to defeat it before it can destroy Neverwinter? And what information can Seldra provide that could help them in the coming battle? Find out next week with the thrilling conclusion to D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter.

Did any groups play this encounter and next week’s encounter back-to-back? If we’d had more time at my FLGS I would have but we’d already made plans to run Lair Assault on the same night. I think the final two encounters would work better if played immediately one after the other. Waiting a week really disrupts the sense of excitement and urgency. Oh well, that’s one limitation of the D&D Encounters program that we just have to accept.

I’ve looked ahead to next week’s encounter and I’m very concerned that the White Dragon won’t pose a significant challenge for my group. I’m thinking back to the battle during week 2 in which the party had no trouble defeating the Dragon. Now that they’re level 3 things should be considerably easier for them. My instinct is telling me to double the Dragon’s hit points and maybe even increase its damage output. I want the conclusion to be satisfying yet if the PCs walk all over the Dragon they’re certain to be disappointed. What do other DMs think?

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 13 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.

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1 Sentack November 3, 2011 at 10:25 am

Note that the dragon in the final encounter is magically ‘stronger’ then the dragon in the second encounter. Still, I can understand your concern. The problem is that sometimes group make-up matters everything I saw the dragon be totally ineffective in one fight, and then nearly destroy a second group. Solo’s, much like minions and skill challenges, are one of those aspects of 4e that have been a great experiment that still needs tweaking before they are perfected.

2 Josh Cooper November 3, 2011 at 10:26 am

This week turned into one of the best encounters of the season. The PC’s got it into their head to attempt to take the crown from Seldra (oddly, a development not planned for in the adventure itself). This allowed me to shift the focus of the fight away from Seldra and on to the actual villain, the crown itself. Between the crown dominating the halfling rogue who managed to snatch it off Seldra’s head and locking itself into a battle of wills with the Eladrin wizard, including eventually dominating him as well (point of fact: dominated enchanters with the Hypnotism at will make DM’s very happy), all the while with Seldra madly attempting to regain the crown, the focus of the battle switched to the crown and made the characters their own worst enemies. Every regular player at the table commented that it was the best fight of the season, and I’m a little anxious that next week won’t play as well.

3 tedluck November 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

For the first time in 10 weeks, we had enough people for two tables so I got to DM this session. It was probably one of the most fun sessions of Encounters I have ever DMed.

I had 4 players. A spell scarred Knight, devil’s pawn Mage, an Iliyanbruen Guardian Bladesinger, and a new player playing Valinae, the pre-gen cleric.

As they entered the square, they saw the vendors packing up their carts, and the Bladesinger was able to convince the half-orc weapon smith to hand over a +1 magic weapon before she hurried off with her things. After that the bladesinger and mage proceeded to beat down the arcane barrier with Arcane skill checks while the knight and warpriest prepared attacks.

As soon as the barrier went down, the Knight ran up to the heir and grabbed her. That started combat and the Heir and her elementals went first in the order. After a round of setting people on fire, and the heir wrestling with the knight, the knight was able to keep a hold of the heir and asked if he could try to force the crown off her head. I let him roll an athletics check to try and knock it off her head and he rolled something stupidly high, so off came the crown!

Kind of winging it at this point, I used a few snippets of information from the next encounter and went with it. Without the crown, Seldra no longer had any of the fire and cold powers that she had with it on, but not wanting to end the encounter too soon, I had her blindly chase after the crown to put it on her head again. Meanwhile the war priest ran over to the crown but didn’t pick it up, instead just readying an attack on whoever tried to pick it up.

Seldra manged to get out of the grasp of the knight, run over to the crown and put it back on her head. She took three opportunity attacks in the process, but they all missed. With the crown back on her head, she used her action point to attack the cleric, and use the spell scar ability to lash out at the knight as well.

During this whole time, the Bladesinger and mage are picking off elementals one by one. The knight once again rushes to grab the heir and succeeds at knocking the crown off her head. This time the cleric just kicks the crown away, forcing Seldra to move instead of attack on her next turn to get the crown again. But before she can reach it, the cleric moves over to the crown and picks it up. I don’t want to spoil next week for those who haven’t played it, so I won’t give away what happened next.

The crown eventually ended up skewered on the rapier of the blade singer (so he had it but was’t touching it). Then the party was finally able to get Seldra to 0 hit points, knocking the stupor from her head. Realizing what had happened, Seldra hung her head dejectedly. They agreed to let her live, in the hopes she might be able to help them with the more immediate threat. The slowly reanimating dragon about 20 feet away.

4 QuackTape November 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

Remember that there is more in the encounter than just the dragon. The set up for the fight has a few things that play out into the fight (I believe its a gray box on the page before). I run two encounters every other week so we had the final encounter last night, and because of those other effects I had 2 PCs out of commission the entire fight. It ended up being pretty challenging even with the aid of Seldra (my PCs spared her). One wizard became dragon chow, and just about everyone else was well blooded by the end with one PC making death saves.

I would say though that if all your PCs are level 3 (mine weren’t) then it might be worth giving a +1 or 2 to attacks and a little extra damage. I had 3 lvl 3s, 2 lvl 2s, and 2 lvl 1s and the stats were fine as written.

5 AlHazred November 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

I was a little nonplussed that the elementals, made of cold blue fire that the Heir produces, are not resistant to fire and cold. The controller in the party had good effect from moving the elementals through the Heir’s footprints and setting off the dragon statue effect to damage them further. They didn’t last long. The Heir, on the other hand, was fun to play, especially with her minion-draining ability.

6 Kenneth McNay November 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm

i caused the dragon to leave the battlefield slightly below bloddied value (but had a clause that if most of the PCs were dying or dead the dragon would finish off the rest). As it left, I had it call out an oath to continue harassing the city of neverwinter by day and night. So, they lived through it, but didn’t kill the dragon. They merely defeated it temporarily.

7 Rico November 4, 2011 at 12:09 am

If you are worried that the final encounter with the dragon won’t be tough enough, you should check out this thread on the WOTC forum http://community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons/go/thread/view/91301/28596153/(DM_only)_Important_notes_for_Sessions_12,_13,__14?pg=1.

The author, Erik Scott de Bie has posted some very helpful suggestions for boosting the difficulty. In fact, the suggestions for this week’s session were fantastic.

8 David Argall November 4, 2011 at 3:36 am

Legendary Leadership – 13. Back to the start.

Having congratulated myself for never having trusted this false heir, I now suffered the humiliation of finding out she was not only female, but was a woman whose word I had relied on several times [And who had likely been trying to ambush me and the others all the time.] However, I had no time to be angry. The woman was in some way waking the dragon “he” had turned to stone, and we needed to do something fast.
I choose to try to deal with the spectators, to get them to help in the coming fight or flee while they could. At least they choose to flee to safety instead of staying and getting in the way. The others battered down the magic circle of protection that was keeping us from stopping the woman. Once they succeeded at that, the battle was on.
It was not my time of glory. I was not completely worthless, but I did not do well. Lia the elf archer, and Dorin, the elf double weapon fighter, were much more important. Caution the paladin was highly useful in preventing us from being hurt. I am not so sure about Count. Tho a strong fighter, he rushed the heir when she dropped and finished her off, thereby ruing our chance of finding out much of what was happened, and if she had any confederates. Still, one has to make sure a foe is of no further threat, and we will still have to deal with that dragon. If she could aid it some way… I will still scream at him some, but his action is not absolutely and clearly wrong, even if likely so.
But the dragon is waking and we must stop it from doing all the damage it will.

9 David Argall November 4, 2011 at 3:37 am

THE LUCK OF CHUCK – 13. Mystery explained.

Following the heir wasn’t hard with that trial of fire, but it was hard to accept what was at the end of that trail. The lost heir was that woman who had been helping us… Or had she been “helping” us all along? Didn’t matter really, cause now she was doing something strange with that dragon, and she was in some sort of magic globe. Looked like something nasty was going to happen real soon.
There were loads of people around. Don’t know why. It was a great way to get killed, but that seems to attract people who think it’s somebody else who is going to get killed. Anyway, I rushed over to try to persuade them to run while they could, while the others rushed to see if they could destroy that magic globe. Given my talents run to bashing stuff and not to talking, we probably should have switched jobs, but we didn’t have much time to discuss that. Just had to act on our first instincts.
Anyway, the others managed to bring down the globe, apparently just by beating on it, and this heir gal proceeded to summons some little magic fellow and siced them on my friends, so I figured it was time for me to stop talking and start fighting.
Got to say I did a good job. Dropped one of them magic fellows right away and kept on going. I’m not saying the others didn’t pull their weight. Onyx the human rogue did some nasty stabbling and Algard the human knight took some hits for us. Even Ashandre the tielfing pyromancer was useful to have around, tho his spells were not doing their best. [Tricky stuff, magic. One reason I prefer a sword.] But I did the big dicing and slicing, including droping the heir lady.
Anyway, she’s our prisoner now. So maybe we can find out what’s going on, and if there is any way to stop that dragon from becoming a pest again. It was quite a bother before.

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