D&D Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye (Week 1)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 1, 2012

Welcome to the beginning of another season of D&D Encounters. This season (season 8 for those keeping score) is set once again in the Forgotten Realms. The adventure is called The Elder Elemental Eye and sees the return of the Abyssal Plague to D&D Encounters. If you haven’t already read our Elder Elemental Eye Preview I suggest you check it out.

This season I will again be running two sessions a week. However, I’ve decided to cover only one session in my weekly write-ups. As much as I enjoyed providing the often contrasting tactics I found that many of the articles ended up being really, really long. It also required a lot more work on my part. I’m still recording both sessions and will provide links to them each week.

The Party

Knowing we would have a lot of returning players again this season, I suggested that they get together and come up with some kind of shared theme or back-story to help unify the party and give them more details to latch on to when role-playing. They all ended up making Genasi characters. We’ll see how this choice affects the role-playing and the overall enjoyment of the adventure. I’m expecting great things.

Here’s how the party shaped up:

  • Firesoul Genasi Barbarian (Berserker) [Ironwrought]
  • Cindersoul Genasi Wizard (Sha’ir) [Primordial Adept]
  • Earthsoul Genasi Swordmage [Earthforger]
  • Windsoul/Firesoul Genasi Assassin
  • Sandsoul Genasi Ranger (Hunter) [Unseelie Agent]

They lack a leader but I think this group has learned from the mistakes of previous seasons. They know that strong tactics and good planning can reduce the number of hits anyone takes thereby reducing the need for a healer in combat.

The Setup

The adventure began in Iriaebor, the independent city-state on the fringe of Elturgard. The heroes were hired by Lady Bron and the Merchant’s Council of to travel to the village of Easting and investigate rumours of an outbreak of the Abyssal Plague, a supernatural disease that can turn its victims into demons. The PCs are to investigate and if the rumours are true, ensure that the problem is dealt with by whatever means they deem appropriate. It’s clear that the swift destruction of the plague’s source and any victims might be the only way to accomplish the task.

Those knowledgeable in Arcana knew that wounds caused by an infected demon can infect a victim. Those with knowledge in Heal knew that when people are wounded by demons about half survive uninfected, a quarter die, and a quarter become demons themselves. They also knew that the infection can be spread through food and drink. Those knowledgeable in regional History knew that Easting is a faming community that serves training caravans bound to and from Iriaebor, Cormyr and Westgate.

Forearmed with his information they proceeded to Easting to investigate. When they arrived the town was devoid of life. They travelled to the central square and didn’t see anyone. Around them were wooden houses, a three-story inn & tavern, a temple of Chauntea and a tree-shaded pond. The strong smell of smoke led them to a building burned to its foundation at the edge of the village.

The Swordmage ventured to the church while the rest of the PCs explored the burned structure. The heroes at the burned house realized that neighbouring buildings were not burdened at all. Evidence suggested that great effort was put into keeping the fire from spreading to any other structures. However, there was absolutely no sign that anyone tried to put out the fire for this building.

A closer and more thorough examination of the house’s remains revealed that the all the doors and windows were barred from the outside. There were signs that someone or something was inside while the building burned and that they tried, unsuccessfully, to escape. Near the house were five freshly dug graves. The party decided that they should check the remains to see if the corpses showed any signs of the Abyssal Plague. They dug up two bodies. Both were burned but neither showed any signs of infection.

Meanwhile the Swordmage entered Chauntea’s temple. He heard the sounds of an argument in the garden out back. He quietly approached the voices while listening to the details of the argument. A male and female were debating a plan to deal with the plague.

The male seemed reluctant to take any drastic action while the female was convinced that immediate action was necessary. Infected townsfolk had been corralled into a nearby barn where they’ve been kept prisoner. The woman plans to go there, kill anyone infected and then kill herself. It turns out she too is infected. At this point they noticed the Swordmage.

They realized that he overheard their argument and decided to come clean. The Swordmage explained who he was and that he was here to help. They introduced themselves. The male was an old priest named Evendur. The female was a Purple Knight of Cormyr named Arveen, and recent wounds show signs of the Abyssal Plague on her face, hands and arms. Before diving into the full story of what’s happening in Easting, Evendur yelled at the rest of the party to stop desecrating the graves and to come into the temple. The heroes outside felt a bit embarrassed to be discovered digging up the graves and joined their friend inside the temple as requested.

With the party together they explained what happened. Two weeks earlier people began showing signs of the Abyssal Plague, however there were no signs of demon attacks. Evendur sent for help immediately and the PCs are the first to arrive. Two days ago one of the infected people transformed into a demon but Arveen managed to kill it. Unfortunately she was wounded and is now herself infected.

This caused the townsfolk to panic and mob mentality took over. They burned the home of a family they suspected to be infected and five innocent people were killed. Since then the town’s people felt great shame and guilt and now barricade themselves in their homes while they waited for help. The rest they already know thanks to the Swordmage.

Evendur does not want any more killing but Arveen makes a good point. Soon those infected, including herself, could become demons and kill everyone else in the town. Her solution to kill them all now will save more lives in the long run. The priest is extremely reluctant to go along but is wavering. He mentioned that he has the ability to cast a Cure Disease ritual which would save everyone but he lacks the materials necessary. The PCs all agree with Arveen’s plan and after some coaxing they convince the priest that it’s the only way.

The Fight

They all went to the barn. Their intent was to free anyone not changing into a demon and keep the rest captive. With innocents clear the PCs and Arveen would enter and slaughter those remaining inside, ending with Arveen.

As Arveen opened the barn doors the PCs smell rotting meat, sweat and dirty straw, and saw several sick humans on cots inside. One of them cried out a warning as a froglike demon with glowing eyes and red plating on its skin moved into view.

The PCs worked together to take down the one demon they could see with ranged attacks. It was killed before it even got to take an action against them. The PCs then waded carefully into the darkness where they were beset upon by more demons. The Wizard used his Light cantrip to brighten the dimly lit barn. The PCs pushed past the first room and into the back area. This allowed Arveen and Evendur to run in and free the sickly people, removing them from the harm of battle.

The Swordmage was grabbed by a Demon’s lashing tongue and dragged into the darkness. The Barbarian, seeing another Demon attacker, engaged him in melee and marked him. The Wizard was surprised by a Demon on the second floor, grabbed by its Lashing Tongue and pulled up to the second story of the barn. The tactic to focus fire that worked so well on the first Demon was no longer an option as the party was being split up by the monsters.

While the party was engaged in battle with the Demons a Dwarf emerged from the shadows and attacked the Barbarian. The Ranger, seeing the Dwarf join the combat, called out to Evendur asking if there were any infected Dwarves in the barn. He said no, but if the Dwarf was not infected he asked the party to save him from the Demons.

The Wizard was stuck in the Demon’s grab for two rounds before escaping and finally killing it with Assassin’s help. The Dwarf realized that he could be the Demon’s next target so he tried to flee. He bull rushed the Barbarian and managed to push him 1 square. Now out of the defender’s aura he ran towards the front door screaming “I’m friendly and I’m heading out so hold your fire.”

The Barbarian made short work of the Demon on him and then turned to charge the fleeing Dwarf. Seeing the Barbarian charging right for him, the Dwarf surrendered and dropped his axe. The Barbarian still completed the charge but chose to do non-lethal damage.

The Swordmage and his Demon partner were locked in battle, but the Ranger managed to move in and provide some additional firepower. Together they finally killed the Demon they were facing.

The Aftermath

When all the Demons were finally killed and the Dwarf knocked unconscious, the party ensured that all the innocent townsfolk were ushered out of the barn. When they picked up the Dwarf’s weapons and gear they searched it thoroughly for valuables. Inside they discovered Residuum. They decided to offer it to Evendur to perform the Cure Disease Ritual on Arveen.

Arveen was so grateful that she gave the party a +1 Vicious Weapon as thanks. Evendur returned the party’s generosity by awarding all of them with a Healing Potion.

The Swordmage, Wizard and Assassin were all at risk of infection by the Abyssal Plague but all three made a successful saving throw. The party took a short rest after which the Dwarf regained consciousness. Next week the PCs will have a chance to question him.

How did the first week go at your FLGS? Did you see a swelling in the numbers with the start of a new season? What kind of interesting parties did your players come up with? Anything like our all-Genasi party? Did anyone manage to kill a player this week? Any TPKs?

We continue to record our D&D Encounters 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: The Elder Elemental Eye (Week 1) – Podcasts

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe Lastowski March 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

We had smaller parties at all of our tables this week (the first snow since Halloween finally hit Massachusetts), so we ran with 4: a watersoul genasi wizard (mage), a dragonborn monk, a halfling fighter (slayer), and a half-elf sorcerer (elementalist).

First off, let me say that I withdraw my objections about the elementalist sorcerer being “underpowered” because they don’t get a daily power. Holy cow… she was doing 20+ per hit on At-Will powers.

Secondly, I had a team of 3 strikers & 1 controller, with no conscientious leaders or honor-bound defenders. While mechanically this meant no healers, story-wise it meant that nobody was playing a character who particularly cared about saving infected people. It also meant that there was no one trained in Heal, so while they made the Arcana check to know that the Abyssal Plague turned people into demons, they did not make the Healing check to tell them that it was curable under the right conditions. There was a lot of discussion about just burning down the entire barn from the outside and letting the gods sort them out (which would have negated the whole encounter).

Eventually Father Evendur convinced the party that the plague wasn’t as bad as the sensationalist bard media had made it out to be, and that the majority of victims who did not recover simply died. Though this still did not stop the sorcerer from opening the door and blindly shooting a fire spell into the barn, just to be certain. Eventually some liberal tongue attacks dragged enough of the party into the barn, and then other demons burst from some of the sicker victims. The dwarf was actually almost a non-entity, with our strikers making pretty quick work of the demons. I played him as very simple-minded in his actions and attacks… not at all competent. So they could see him “stealthily” hiding behind a crate, and then he yelled “Surprise!” when he jumped out to throw a handaxe. The party ended up intimidating him into surrender after killing the demons.

When all was done, the Monk and the Slayer both had been bitten, but the Slayer made his save. As Father Evendur & Lady Arveen returned, and the realization was made that they had just enough residuum to cast the Cure Disease ritual once, the party didn’t even pause to consider curing Arveen, and instead had the ritual cast on the Monk. For their valor in combat, Arveen gave the slayer her +1 Vicious Broad Sword, but they got no additional healing potions, due to their selfishness with the ritual.

Tactically, I didn’t use the “upstairs” bit, because it was just too hard to properly lay-out for the players, and it seemed like it would have been too confusing without a separate map for upstairs (like that 2-story library in Legacy of Evard).

2 Kuster March 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

This was my first time participating in D&D Encounters, thought I’ve followed your articles on them from the beginning. Our group ended up consisting of 4 strikers (2 sorcerers, a slayer and a thief) and 3 leaders (two warpriests and a warlord), so next week a couple of the strikers (myself included) are rolling some new characters to diversify part roles. It went pretty well for us, although the DM had to drastically increase the number of monsters due to group size. The dwarf almost took out my sorcerer at one point, but he got smacked pretty good and then tried to run away. The other sorcerer and I ran after him, and though we missed with our attacks, he surrendered none-the-less. It was a fantastic experience, and I can’t wait until next week when I get to show off my new dwarf sha’ir.

3 Lahrs March 1, 2012 at 11:59 am

I am sitting this one out DM wise, so it was nice being on the other side of the table. We had an influx of new players that we were not prepared for, and ended up with seven players at one table, a control wizard, a healer, warden (myself) and four strikers, two of which were elementalists. The fire elementalist, with their extra 1d6 damage, was doing 1d12+1d6+9 points of damage, on a basic attack. It is nearly a daily on every hit, especially if combined with the encounter power that allows a second target to be hit with an extra 1d10 to both. Insane. Due to our extended numbers and superior damage output, the battle was incredibly boring and over with way too quickly. This wasn’t a Wizards problem, just a party number balance issue. Next week will be more organized and hopefully the fight with reflect it.

Story wise, things got off to a good start and we were all reminded of the Nentir Vale (I believe that was the correct module) that also had to do with the plague. Even though they are completely different areas, dealing with the same issue felt like a continuation of a prior season and we liked that.

We had two complaints as a group. First, the names don’t roll off the tongue easily and were difficult to remember. It is fantasy themed, but have mercy on the tired and throw some easier names to remember. :) Not a huge deal though.

Second, the fact the dwarf had exactly 25 residuum on him so the cleans ritual could be cast. It just seemed way too convenient and kind of broke the mood. Still nothing game breaking, but a bit of a groaner.

Being on the other side of the DM screen again and getting a chance to play is definitely wonderful. Wednesdays have been very busy this semester for me, going from 7am – 6 pm at work, and then prepare and get to Encounters at 6:30, a bit exhausting. Not having to prepare made all the difference and I am very excited about the season.

4 Alton March 1, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I’m pretty excited to get this one started. Seems like this one will flow properly. Withe the recaps at the beginning of the session, prep time is reduced by half at least. Yay!
Alton´s last blog post ..A Weekend, a Cottage, Good Friends and DnDNext (Part 1)

5 Alphastream March 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm

I really like the recap mechanism! I can mention I was a playtester for this season, as it is written in the adventure, and I really liked that feature. I still wanted to see a section on tailoring the encounter to small or large groups. There are several encounters in this season where DMs will need to consider scaling for strong or small groups carefully.

6 Lahrs March 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Our store has a D&D Facebook page that we utilize quite a bit. Our DM just posted the recap, as well as some additional information about the region that was not in the booklet. Being able to reread the notes now and not have to wait until the start of the next session is a big plus. It gives us a bit more time to digest the info, but he will still do the weekly recap at the session as well. Having the information for the players to read is something I would recommend to all DM’s if they have an opportunity to do so.

7 Sunyaku March 1, 2012 at 11:08 pm

For this season, I am playing…

Flying Barbarian Dwarf of AWESOME. (wind theme, heroes of feywild barbarian)

Flying over the choke point in the middle of the barn and flanking the enemies from behind made this encounter much easier, and helped ensure Jake didn’t get away.
Sunyaku´s last blog post ..Dungeon Bastard – DnD Adventure Coach

8 Alton March 1, 2012 at 11:12 pm

@Lahrs
That sounds cool! Who has access to the page – the store? the DM?

@Sunyaku
You make me laugh! Love it! Dwarf, beer, wind. LOL!
Alton´s last blog post ..A Weekend, a Cottage, Good Friends and DnDNext (Part 1)

9 David Argall March 2, 2012 at 4:32 am

THE BRIGHTNESS OF NERU – 1. Welcome to the Village

I arrived at the city or Iriarbor at a most fortunate time. I was not even settled in before I heard of a chance for some easy? coin. Of course, people talk about how things that are too good to be true often are, and such was the case here. A local village was said to have an outbreak of a disease that is both deadly and dangerous. In fact the entire village might be destroyed and a much larger area threatened. The city leadership was in a panic and so was eager to offer me and others gold to rush out there and deal with it. [“Deal with it” showed their alarm. They didn’t say so directly, but they authorized us to slaughter entirely too many people to stop this threat. I suspect they are trying to shift any blame onto us, but the mere fact they hint we can run riot is alarming.]
In any case, we were rushed out of the city almost immediately. I was rather pleased with my companions, particularly since they were so quickly gathered. For one thing, they were mostly female, and if none are dragonborn, well, there would be no dragonborn if we were fussy about that. [Not that any seem extremely eager. In fact Opel the female human monk brags about her dedication to being chaste. Of course the ladies do change their minds and so I have hopes, tho I suspect Fellegrin the male human cavalier to have a better chance.] But the party in general looked reasonable, if like myself, inexperienced.
Arriving at the village, we found the same state of panic. The disease had already turned at least one citizen into a vicious demon and at least a dozen were infected, including the village’s knight. In fact she was arguing that she and the other victims should be killed before the outbreak got worse. We pointed out that many of the victims would recover, and only part of the rest would be a danger. That was not decisive, but it did delay any such violent solution long enough for us to get a look at the other victims, who had been confined in a make-shift hospital.
Arriving at the hospital, we found that some of the victims had indeed become demons, hostile demons who were eager to kill or infect us. So we had our first test as adventurers. Happily, it was not a hard one.
Opal was the first to bring the fight to the enemy, with Fellegrin not far behind. As the fight spread, Vilitation the female genasi wizard managed to fly up to the upper story of this barn where she thought she could contribute in safety. Unfortunately a demon had a similar idea and Vilitation ended up falling down to the first floor as we finished off the foes there. So her quest for safety ended with her being the most damaged member of the party. Happily Freya, the female eladrin warpriest, was able to heal her. [The demon was finished off by Iriel the female tiefling hexblade who had gone up to rescue her.]
The fight finished up with the monk confronting this dwarf who tried to claim he was just an innocent bystander. We don’t believe a word of that, and will be talking him some. Right now, we discovered he had a good deal of contraband on him, including the goods that were needed to cure the town knight. [This was a noble sacrifice as we have several wounded, and some of us may be infected too. However, we will not become sick for some time and may find ways to protect ourselves. The knight is needed to protect the village and may become a demon or die very soon.]

10 Lahrs March 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

@Alton –
The store originally created the page, but I am the admin. As long as you have a Facebook account though, you can view our page and read all of the documents, posts, pictures of us in the dungeon and some of our games, as well as Steven, our member who continues to fail his sleep saving throws. You do have to become a member to post, but that isn’t a big deal, and you can become a member even if you are not able to play at Cosmic Oasis. We use it to set up weekly sessions and events, keep track of DCI numbers, discuss strategies for Lair Assault and so on. The recap is something I just requested and Dustin (our DM) obliged.

http://www.facebook.com/groups/165068820215109/

11 Alton March 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

@ Lahrs
Thanks for the info. I will check it out tonight. Never thought of Facebook as a medium for stores and such. I usually think ‘homegrown website’. Thanks.
Alton´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye Session 1 Easting Plague

12 Lahrs March 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

For my home campaign, I use Obsidian Portal. The Facebook page is nothing spectacular, but it gets the job done and allows easy communication between all the members, and the store gets some free advertising, plus he get to post sales, so it is a win win.

13 Alton March 11, 2012 at 11:16 am

hehe. We just played our first session of Elemental Eye. It was wicked roleplaying by my table. We have a barbarian whose intelligence is questionable at best. He was sent to confirm or deny the rumours. He found the rumours true.

Walking in on Sir Arveen, he listened to their plight and swore to destroy the plague. Arveen showed him her arm and he immediately attacked her. It caught me off guard. The bard intervened, thank goodness to impose himself, not before the warlord attempts to trip up the barbarian by tackling him, but misses and falls prone.

Then the bard had a feat to cast a ritual without having to pay the component costs, and cured the knight on the spot to appease the barbarian. My player did not even think twice about curing the knight, he just expended the power.

Then we fought the demons and won but Jakairn embedded a handaxe in the barbarian, and he got mad, wanting to kill Jakairn, and once again the party intervened, not without some in party fighting. Then they questioned Jakairn by the barbarian holding the dwarf by a foot and dunking his head in the water. He eventually told them everything. We are mid 2nd session, valiantly trying to catch up.
Alton´s last blog post ..Stuffer Shack: SOTY(Site of the Year Award) Update 2

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