The Lost Crown of Neverwinter rolled off Seldra’s head as she collapsed. “My Gods, what have I done?” she asked as she looked around at the damage to the town square. This was the scene after last week’s exciting encounter. The party defeated the False Heir/Seldra and she surrendered. The White Dragon was only minutes away from freedom.
For the third week in a row we had exactly the same players present. The continuity leading into the final encounter made things a lot more interesting and a lot more exciting for everyone. The party consisted of a Gnome Bladesinger, Tiefling Battlemind, Warforged Druid, Goliath Fighter (Battlerager), Human Cleric, and Human Wizard (Enchanter).
While the heroes caught their breath, they kept an eye on the emerging dragon. It was still encased in stone, but would be free soon. They took a few minutes while resting to speak with Seldra and tried to figure out what was really going on.
She explained that she started this whole thing in an attempt to clear her family’s name, Tylmarande. Her great-aunt Aribeth (a name some of the players recognized from the old Neverwinter computer games) was a Paladin who betrayed Neverwinter during the war with Luskan. Seldra hoped that finding the Lost Crown and giving it to a worthy heir would help balance the scales.
She genuinely believed that the Crown of Neverwinter was real when she discovered it in Waterdeep, but now she realizes that it was a fake. The Crown was cursed and it compelled her to put it on. Once that happened she wasn’t in control of her actions. The cursed Crown made her paranoid and caused her to act irrationally.
When she heard that the PCs met with Lord Neverember the Crown seemed to whisper to her that the PCs were traitors and couldn’t be trusted. She sent them to the Dead Rats hoping that the gang would kill them. She didn’t think that the heroes would survive and when she saw them with the Sons of Alagondar she believed that the heroes and the rebels were working together to overthrow her. That sent her over the edge.
The heroes examined the Crown and realized that it didn’t show the signs of wear and tear that something so old should show. They also detected powerful magic which they were sure was a curse. This and Seldra’s recounting of the events led them to believe that this was not the real Crown but rather a cursed forgery.
The Druid picked up the Crown at the end of last week’s encounter. He was the only one who actually touched the Crown, but the Cleric showed a keen interest in it, suggesting that the party might want to keep it after everything was said and done.
The heroes asked Seldra if she would again fight by their side against the White Dragon. She agreed even though she was severely weakened. They got her to her feet just as the White Dragon broke free of its stony prison and sprang into action.
Before the combat began I took inventory of what all the PCs’ resources were like. Everyone was at full hit points and had plenty of healing surges remaining. Most PCs still had a daily power as well. I wanted this final encounter to be exciting and dangerous. I believed that the only way to accomplish this was to beef up the White Dragon. I increased all of his defenses by 2 and increased his maximum hit points from 232 to 300. This ended up being a perfect compromise.
When the Dragon fought this party way back in week 2 the Fighter constantly stopped its movement when he hit it with an opportunity attack. The Dragon learned from this and reacted accordingly. After the first round in which the Dragon won initiative, it delayed until after the Fighter went. It then moved to intentionally draw an opportunity attack on its full turn. This left it free to do its flyby attack before the Fighter got to act again thereby avoiding a second opportunity attack from him in the same round. The Fighter and Dragon constantly tried to delay and outsmart each other. In the end all the delaying meant the Dragon attacked less often and the rest of the party get a lot more attacks in then they would have if the Dragon had just acted normally. But it did get to use its flyby attack to its fullest potential almost every round.
My attack dice were hot and the Dragon hit the PCs a lot in the first few rounds, scoring multiple crits. The breath weapon and the flyby attack hit almost every time. The whole party was bloodied quickly. But this was when karma stepped in. The PCs rallied and my dice cooled off so things started getting really interesting. What looked to be a TPK ended up being a really lengthy and exciting battle.
The Druid was bloodied by the time he got his first turn so when he acted the Crown attacked his Will and hit. The Druid reached for the Crown and put it on. Before the rest of the PCs knew what was happening the Druid attacked Seldra. It took gentle but firm words (Diplomacy) from both the Cleric and Seldra on the following round to convince the Druid to remove the Crown (with a successful save).
The battle against the Dragon continued. When the Cleric was bloodied in the third round, the Crown (which happened to be in an adjacent square) attacked his Will and hit. So the Cleric reached down, picked it up and put it on.
For the next three rounds the Cleric attacked Seldra and the other heroes. Finally the Baldesinger using reason (Diplomacy) and the Battlemind using harsh words and obvious threats (Intimidate) convinced the Cleric to remove the Crown. The Bladesinger then used Mage Hand to drop the Crown into one of the open sewers during the rest of the fight.
When the Dragon was finally bloodied the Blue Fire Blast dropped the Fighter. The Dragon used his breath weapon and further damaged the unconscious Fighter. The Cleric, free of the Crown’s influence, managed to revive him before he was dead-dead.
The Dragon continued to target the PCs that looked most wounded, including the Fighter. When a critical hit from the dragon’s claw would have again knocked the Fighter unconscious Seldra made the ultimate sacrifice and jumped in front of the Fighter and took the hit for him. Seldra gave her life to save the Fighter. This act of self-sacrifice rallied the PCs and they were even more determined to defeat the Dragon.
It only took only two more rounds and a lot of excellent rolls from the players before the Fighter landed the killing blow and destroyed the White Dragon. Even though the Dragon could crit on a 17-20 I didn’t score a single crit after it was bloodied except for the one that killed Seldra.
As the Fighter connected and landed the killing blow the Dragon exploded in a ball of blue fire, its remains consumed completely. For a brief second there was complete silence before the people of Neverwinter poured into the square cheering and congratulating the heroes. The Lost Heir and the Dragon were both defeated. General Sabine and her troops arrived shortly after and she told the heroes that her men defeated the various Plaguechanged creatures and had secured the Protector’s Enclave.
The heroes retrieved the Crown from the sewer and brought it to Lord Neverember. He paid them the 400 gp promised way back in week 5. He agreed to have his Wizards perform a ritual to destroy the cursed Crown. Neverwinter was once more safe thanks to the actions of the PCs.
So ends Chapter 4 and another great season of D&D Encounters. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my thoughts on the season as a whole in this article; I’m saving that for the Report Card article. Today I’m just want to focus on this encounter.
It was a very close call for the party but in the end they achieved a very satisfying victory. My adjustments to the Dragon seemed to work perfectly and really made the PCs feel that ever dice roll made a difference (which it did). It was a very even match and it easily could have gone the other way.
When the heroes finally defeated the Dragon the players really felt that they’d accomplished something meaningful. The fact that five of the six players never missed a session and that four of them even played the Game Day adventure really made this conclusion satisfying for everyone.
Battles against a solo monster can be boring if they’re not done right and I think that this encounter worked really well. Bringing back the same Dragon added that little bit of extra motivation for the PCs to kill it for good this time. I also made sure to play the dragon smart. After all, the last thing it remembered was fighting these heroes. Knowing what they’d done in the last fight influenced how it acted this time.
Season 7 of D&D Encounters begins next week. However, the adventure itself doesn’t begin for two weeks. Next week is encounter 0 and the intent is for all the players to come to the FLGS and create characters together. Since that’s not likely to make for a very exciting field report, next Thursday we’ll be running the Lost Crown of Neverwinter – Report Card. Find out what I thought were the high and lows of season 6. The following week we’ll return to our regular weekly field reports beginning with Beyond the Crystal Cave week 1.
How did the final encounter play out at your FLGS? Did any of the PCs die in the final battle? Any TPKs? Was there an increased sense of satisfaction because they got to fight the same monster twice? How were things different at tables where Seldra was killed last week?
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 14 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.