It was only yesterday that this adventuring party met for the first time in Count Varis’s palace. Since then they fought and bled together. They met with Lady Tamora, ruler of Crystalrook, and they met with Lord Carric, ruler of the Sildane Forest. They followed the trail of the two young lovers, Juliana and Orlando, and crossed into the Feywild to find them. They battled an Echo Spirit, an Ochre Jelly, Mud Men, and a Hag along the way. It was a very eventful day that ended with a much needed and well earned rest. But now the party is awake and new challenges await them Beyond the Crystal Cave.
This week I was only able to play at one location. The other group ran into some scheduling conflicts and we’ll likely need a few make up sessions during the holidays to get back on track. At the FLGS where I did play I was the only DM able to make it out this week. I’ve run large groups before but I didn’t want to do so again this week. So when I arrived at my FLGS I asked one of the players if he’d be willing to go behind the screen this week.
Although he’d never run a game before I know he was eager to try. I also knew that every week he lugged every D&D book he owned, including the red box, to and from the game. He reluctantly agreed. We ended up with two DMs and eight players, so four per table. I took the younger players, leaving the veterans to play with the new DM. In the end things worked out pretty well for both tables.
The party at my table consisted of the following PCs: a Hamadryad Ranger (Scout), a Tiefling Paladin (Caviler), a Satyr Bard (Master Skald) [Fey Beast Tamer] and Belgos the Drow Ranger (Hunter). After last week’s massacre one of the more experienced players decided to swap out a striker for a leader. Good call.
The heroes needed help if they were to rescue Juliana and Orlando. They had to decide if they were going to seek aid from Ragnar, agent of the Green Lord or Uma, agent of the Summer Queen. After a few minutes of debate the party decided to try and get Uma to help them. The Leprechauns pointed them in the right direction and bid them good luck.
It didn’t take long before they met three Pixies and a Hamadryad. The Pixies were very curious and had many questions for the PCs. They answered with good humour before the Hamadryad stepped in to clam the Pixies down. The PCs eventually explained who they were, why they had come and their intention of finding and rescuing Juliana and Orlando.
The Fey creatures told the PCs that if Soryth had captured Juliana and Orlando then they were likely imprisoned in the Hag’s fortress, the Palace of Spires. Unfortunately Soryth’s curse prevents any native Fey creatures from entering the Palace. However, the PCs might be able to get inside. The Hamadryad said that Uma may indeed be able to help them but she was unlikely to trust these strangers unless they prove themselves first.
The Pixies suggested that the heroes accomplish two objectives simultaneously, helping everyone in the process. They told the heroes of a Fey camp nearby where many Satyrs and Wildens were overindulging on honey mead. They refused to work, and instead carried on and drank all day long. The Pixies had a plan that would scare the lazy Fey into action and demonstrate that the PCs had no loyalty to Ragnar.
Ragnar is supposed to have control over animals in the Feywild. If the PCs were to lure a family of bears away from their cave and have them disrupt the Fey party it would embarrass Ragnar by demonstrating that the animals were not completely under his control. This would help the party win Uma’s favour.
The Pixies gave the PCs six clay pots filled with honey and mead. They told the PCs that the bears would find this irresistible and that they could lure the bears to camp with it. With that the PCs were off.
The heroes managed to navigate the woods with relative ease. The two Rangers easily followed the natural game trails and kept the party’s movements hidden. The Bard kept climbing trees to get a better vantage point while the Paladin kept alert for animal tracks. They party eventually found some bear tracks and followed them right to the bear’s cave. When they arrived they spotted two smaller bear cubs playing.
They devised a plan to lure the bear cubs away from their sleeping mother and into the camp. The Paladin lay his shield flat on the ground and poured three pots of honey into the concave bowl. He tied one end of his rope to the shield’s straps and took the other end. He and the Bard slid the shield filled with honey out towards the cubs. They immediately caught the scent and began following the shield.
The Paladin and Bard worked together to keep the shield just ahead of the bears, even allowing them to get a few tastes along the way, but never catch it. The Rangers moved silently on either side of the path keeping up with the cubs.
When the PCs reached the bottom of the hill the bears had consumed all the honey in the shield and were hungry for more. The heroes rushed the camp with the bears in hot pursuit. Most of the inebriated Fey ran for the forest at the sight of the PCs and the bears, but two Wildens and two Satyrs who were very drunk or very brave remained in camp to guard the mead.
The heroes won initiative and rushed the nearest mead barrel. A nearby Satyr was so outraged when the Paladin rushed the barrel and attempted to destroy it that he maneuvered to rush the Paladin and try to push him into the fire pit. Unfortunately he was too drunk to hit.
The Bard, his animal companion and the Ranger Scout all clamoured around the mead barrel. However, they decided to attack the Satyr and leave the barrel alone. Meanwhile Belgos climbed a large tree in the middle of the campsite to avoid getting mauled by the bears.
The Wildens wasted no time rushing to the forest where they targeted the heroes from the cover of the foliage. With the Wilden minis off the map (because they were hidden) none of the PCs focused any effort on finding them or stopping them. They paid for that mistake later in the fight.
The two young bears entered the melee, ignoring everyone and heading straight for two barrels. The PCs did not take opportunity attacks as the bears went by, but the Satyrs did, hitting both bears. The cubs cried out, alerting their mother and bringing her into the battle by the end of the next round.
The three melee PCs worked together to take out the closest Satyr but by then the mother bear arrived. Having heard the cubs cry out in pain she charged the nearest target, the Ranger Scout. He was hit twice for over 30 points of damage, more than enough to drop him from full to unconsciousness. However, the Paladin did his job as a defender and took the full brunt of both hits himself falling unconscious for his troubles. The next round the Bard healed him and brought him back into the battle.
The Wildens kept shooting the bear cubs as they approached new mead barrels which only enraged the mother bear. She lashed out at the closest targets – PCs as often as Fey. When a Satyr attacked a cub and managed to push it into the fire, the mother bear charged the poor drunken Fey and killed him with a single blow.
Belgos finally spotted one of the Wilden in the forest and managed to hit him with a few arrows. The Ranger Scout followed Belgos’s line of fire and easily found the Wilden in the brush. The Wilden skirted away from the Ranger Scout but had to move into the clearing. Belgos lobbed a clay pot at him, covering the Wilden with honey. Bloodied and being aggressively licked by two bear cubs the Wilden surrendered.
The Paladin moved into the forest and found the last Wilden. The Paladin took two arrows to the chest and almost fell unconscious again before he managed to Intimidate the Wilden into surrendering.
The party used Nature, Diplomacy and Heal to calm the wounded bears down and convince them that the party posed them no harm. They fed the final two honey pot to the bear cubs and that seemed to win them over completely.
The PCs returned to the Hamadryad and the Pixies with their great tale of adventure. The Fey were saddened to hear that one of the Satyrs was killed but they felt he caused his own death by attacking a bear cub in front of its mother. The Hamadryad rewarded the party with a suit of +1 Sylvan Armor, silver rings for each PC and mistletoe, one of the four plant keys they required.
Did your party seek aid from agents of the Summer Queen and bait the bears as we did or did they seek aid from agents of the Green Lord and try to wrangle Unicorns? Did any groups have significant trouble with this week’s encounter? How much of the party’s resources were expended? With this chapter running five encounters are any PCs already down significantly more than 1/5 their healing surges?
We continue to record our D&D Encoutners sessions and make them available to you for download every week. This season I’m going to try to record the games at both FLGS where I play so that you can hear how two very different groups handled the same encounter. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone.
D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave (Week 5) – Podcasts
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