D&D Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye (Week 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 8, 2012

Last week the adventure began with the Merchant Council and Lady Bron of Iriaebor asking the PCs to travel to the village of Easting and investigate rumours of an outbreak of the Abyssal Plague. When the PCs arrived in Easting they discovered the rumours were true and those infected were already quarantined in a barn. When the PCs tried to enter the barn to assess the extent of the outbreak they were attacked by four people that had already transformed into demons.

They managed to defeat the demons and none of the heroes got infected in the process. During the battle in the barn a Dwarf emerged from the shadows and attacked the party before they knocked him unconscious. The village priest suggested brining the captured Dwarf back to the church where he could be questioned.

This season at my FLGS we’re trying to maintain consistency with party makeup. The other table had four of the same five players from the week before, plus one brand new player. At my table we had four of the five players we had last week. Our all-Genasi party looked like this:

  • Firesoul Genasi Barbarian (Berserker) [Ironwrought]
  • Earthsoul Genasi Swordmage [Earthforger]
  • Windsoul/Firesoul Genasi Assassin
  • Sandsoul Genasi Ranger (Hunter) [Unseelie Agent]

Still no leader, but if last week was any indication a good offence might be enough to make up for the lack of healing. If not the healing potions they PCs all earned last week will be useful and necessary.

Back in the church the priest finally got a good look at the Dwarf and he told the heroes that he knew him. His name was Jakairn (Jak) and he’d been in the village for a couple of weeks. He claimed to a tinkerer/handyman looking for work. When questioned the Dwarf told the PCs his name was Jak of Clan Sabark.

Jak began thanking the heroes for rescuing him from the demons. He was sure he was going to die, but thanks to these brave adventurers he survived. When asked what he was doing in the barn (since the priest didn’t put him in there), Jak claimed that he was possessed by a demon, transformed into a snake, and then commanded to slither into the barn where he was again transformed back into a Dwarf. The PCs weren’t sure if he was crazy or not, but they knew that the story was outrageous and completely false.

The PCs finally managed to get Jak talking when they mentioned that they would discovered the source of the Abyssal Plague and destroy it. This brought a glimmer of hope to Jak’s eye. He agreed to confess and spill his guts if the PCs promised to wipe out the Abyssal Plague in this area. It was clear that Jak was very afraid of the plague and the demons it creates. The PCs agreed.

Jak began by confessing to poisoning the nearby well with the taint of the Abyssal Plague. His brother, Zarnak, a seer who has visions of dark places, gave him the vial and instructed him to pour the contents into the water. He went on to explain that his clan, led by his two brothers, discovered the ruins of a temple south of Easting and moved in. It was once dedicated to “That Which Lurks” which the PCs realized was another name for Ghaunadaur, the greater god of oozes and aberrant creatures. Zarnak has renamed the temple The Sunset Shrine.

He then gave the heroes directions to the temple, all the while expressing his incredible fear of the plague and the powers his brother must be employing to control it. When asked if there’s a cure he admitted that he didn’t know, however, Zarnak told the clan not to worry about falling sick so he must have a cure or some other way of controlling the plague. It’s likely in the lowest levels of the temple since Zarnak forbids anyone else from going there.

When Jak finished his confession the priest explains that Jak must be put on trial for his crimes against the village and that he’ll be held in Easting’s jail while the appropriate preparations are made.

The PCs went to the well to see if the water was still tainted and discover the red and gold flecks in the water. They cover the well and the priest agreed to keep anyone else from drinking its waters.

The PCs made haste for The Sunset Shrine since a cure might be the only way to save the remaining sick villagers. The journey was long and boring. A few hours after leaving Easting the PCs entered a marshy valley which slowed their progress considerably.

When they found a shallow area to ford an Earth Elemental arose in their path. Across the swamp they saw numerous Dwarves all armed with crossbows. A Dwarf with purple robes stepped out from behind a tree and addressed the party. “We expected to find you in easting. No matter, here or there, you are a worthy sacrifice for our master.”

In order to scale the encounter for four PCs I removed one of the Earth Elementals. However, with the abundance of output I knew this group possessed I increased the Acolyte and Elementals maximum hit points.

The party immediately spread out. The Barbarian charged headlong towards the Bolter and managed to get him inside his defender’s aura. The Swordmage engaged and marked the Acolyte. The Ranger focused on the Elemental. The Assassin took out the Warrior minions one by one.

With the two heaviest hitters locked into battle with the defenders it left the Ranger and Assassin to demolish the rest of the monsters. The Assassin killed three minions on three shots. The Ranger made short work of the Elemental thanks in part to an initial attack by the Barbarian as he ran past it on his way to battle the Bolter.

The Bolter only managed to get one shot off on the Barbarian before he was stuck in the aura. After that he took opportunity attacks every round while trying to shoot the PCs with his crossbow. Fortunately for the Bolter there was a Warrior minion nearby and the Barbarian decided to kill it before focusing on him.

Both the Barbarian and Swordmage took a lot of damage during the combat. Both ended up using their second wind and a healing potion before it was over. However, the Ranger and Assassin remained relatively unscathed. None of the PCs fell unconscious. Considering there was no leader to heal them, I was very impressed.

The highlight of the battle was when the Swordmage (down to only 1 hit point) was locked in battle with the Acolyte and the Assassin was the only PC close enough to help. The Acolyte had only taken one hit so far and had 45 hit points remaining. The Assassin had already placed four shrouds on the Acolyte and knew that if he didn’t kill him the Swordmage would fall this round. The Assassin, using his new Vicious Crossbow+1 rolled a 20. Max damage on the weapon and shrouds was 33. He needed to roll a 12 on the overflow damage to kill the Acolyte. The d12 rolled all over the map before finally stopping on 12. The table cheered as the Assassin unloaded 45 points of damage on the Acolyte, killing him. Moment of Greatness achieved!

On the next round the Ranger managed to drop the Elemental and Barbarian managed to kill Bolter. The party took a short rest and after two encounters was still in pretty good shape. Despite the heavy damage the Barbarian and Swordmage took they still had plenty of healing surges remaining. Who needs a leader when you’ve got three good strikers?

The players had a really good time this week. They got in to the role-paying at the beginning and have started fleshing out their shared Genasi history. The combat seemed balanced and the PCs took some hits along the way. If they keep playing smart, having the defenders lock down the most serious threats, and have the strikers focus fire, they might be able to making it all the way through the adventure without a leader. But we’ll see if their luck holds.

How are everybody else’s parties holding up? Have we had any PCs die yet? Any TPKs? Tell us about your Moment of Greatness from this week?

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 2) – Podcasts

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 The Unlucky Paladin March 8, 2012 at 10:58 am

You’ll kill me Derek, but I noticed a typo… It’s where the elementals rose from the ground. “When they found a shallow area to FORD an Earth Elemental arose in their path.” I’m fairly sure they weren’t fighting truck Earth Elementals… Just saying… and tormenting you. :P

2 Ameron (Derek Myers) March 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

@The Unlucky Paladin
Ford was the term used in the adventure and I just copied it. But for the record it’s makes sense in this context (I’m just saying).

Ford
Noun: A shallow place in a river or stream allowing one to walk or drive across.
Verb: (of a person or vehicle) Cross (a river or stream) at a shallow place.

3 damian March 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

No PCs have died yet, although two have come close. We had a Tiefling Scout take two bites during session one, while bloodied. He made his saving throws and was spared the untimely turning into a demon. And in session two, a ranger was sitting at 1 hp at the end of the night.

I pulled of the Moment of Glory during session two. My Dwarf bull rushed across the map, taking and surviving 3 free shots from the minions. I was down to 3 HPs, but took out that lead dwarf npc, leaving nothing but minions and an elemental for the rest of the team to deal with.
Great session

4 The Unlucky Paladin March 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

@Ameron
But the river/stream wasn’t shallow! At least not according to our DM. Apparently it was high enough to “drown” a dwarf that started in the water so he moved it out of said water.

5 David Argall March 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm

THE BRIGHTNESS OF NURI – 2. Down by the Riverside

The suspicious dwarf proved to be more than that. He didn’t break down and confess right away [which was mostly our fault. Opal the human monk was quite upset at finding she had contracted the plague and was in the mood to kill most anything. With some of the others not feeling very forgiving either, it was not easy to calm her down enough to question the prisoner.], but after we gave assurances [which we had to give twice since our aggressive elements were still aggressive], he unloaded. It seemed his brothers were behind this and their base was some hours away in this temple. He also told us how he was spreading the plague, which meant that we could stop it from claiming any more victims. [Now whether we can save all the current victims is another matter. But at least there is a chance.]
But first we had to go investigate this temple and so started off, only to meet some members of the congregation who were seeking us, as sacrifices to their god. We of course were reluctant, and our relationship went rapidly downhill.
At first we were seriously hurting, and Freya, our eladrin warpriest was hard pressed to keep us on our feet. But we were soon organized and Opel, Felligrin the human cavalier, and Freya managed to drop one of the earth elements that were attacking us. Then Velitation the genasi wizard eliminated two of the followers and Irriel the tiefling warlock got another and I managed to put in the final blow against their leader. Lucien the elf thief battled the other elemental and won, after Freya got him back up.
By now the battle was swinging our way and our foes made it easier for us by closing with us despite having strong missile weapons [to the annoyance of Felligrin, who was crossing the stream at one spot while they were crossing at another, leaving him with no foes for some time]. So we were soon wrapping up. While Freya was doing some healing, the rest of us concentrated on the prisoners I had enabled us to capture. Opal, among others, was amused to find that our prisoners were fanatics who told us very little besides their faith in our doom. At least we were able to confirm what we had already learned, but it did take quite a bit of effort. And then we had the problem of what to do with them. At least they were eager to die for their cause…
But that temple is still hours away…

6 Alton March 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Sounds like you all had a lot of fun at the table – Even the DM!!

7 Joe Lastowski March 8, 2012 at 9:13 pm

As long as we’re noticing typoes, a “viscous” crossbow is a very different thing than a “vicious” crossbow. The latter is the actual magic item, while the former would be some sort of oozy weapon, I believe.

Our session at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA, was pretty straightforward. A couple of my players actually work with mentally challenged people in their day jobs, so the interactions with Jaikurn were… thorough, to say the least (including clinical studies of his childhood, his relationship with his parents, and his use of tinkering as a coping mechanism for the abuse from his brothers).

When we finally got to the fight, it was very straightforward. Defenders got in place to lock down the elementals while a striker action-pointed to get across the river to charge the acolyte. After the elementals & acolyte were handled, it took another round to mop up the minion soldiers. In all, three rounds, with nobody particularly taxed. They didn’t take any prisoners, so there was no interrogation afterward.

A memorable session, though the combat had little to do with that.

8 JSollars March 8, 2012 at 11:26 pm

At my table. the melee types engaged the 2 elementals while the spell-flingers hid behind them and tried to take out the dwarves with blasts and such.

This led to an amusing situation wherein the Elementalist Sorcerer used his Fire escalation to kill 1 minion and injure 1 bolter, causing the Acolyte to yell “Kill the wizard!” and all the dwarves fired at him. He was bloodied immediately and dove into the bushes for some cover after that.

On the next round, then the Genasi Wizard used a blast spell of his own, killing another minion and injuring the other bolter. The Acolyte then yelled “Kill that other wizard too!” and they all fired on him. All 4 remaining dwarves connected, including 1 crit, dropping the wizard to unconscious in 1 round.

And thus the spellcasters learned that bad guys with ranged weapons are their worst nightmare…

9 Sunyaku March 8, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Anyone who is old enough to have played Oregon Trail knows that fording a river is still super dangerous. :-D

I think “shallow” is a matter of perspective.

@Joe LOLOLOL! I need to create a “viscous” weapon for my campaign world.

10 The Unlucky Paladin March 9, 2012 at 6:42 am

@Joe
The assassin is “drunk” I’m fairly sure they could give him some oozy weapon and pass it off as a crossbow. Heck, he was sitting in a tree for three turns in Week 1. The DM had to force his readied action so he’d actually take part in the fight. Not the brightest character.

11 Kiel Chenier March 14, 2012 at 10:28 am

Hey, did you know you can now play D&D Encounters online?

It’s true! http://dungeonsdonuts.blogspot.com/2012/03/d-encounters-online.html

Seriously, if you are or know someone who is unable to take part in D&D Encounters due to geographic isolation, military base stationing, or lack of a hobby store, this is the perfect opportunity.

Time is short, so check out the link.

12 Alphastream March 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Kiel, how are you getting past the in store requirement? Have you checked with Wizards?

13 Kiel Chenier March 14, 2012 at 2:27 pm

@Alphastream

I’ve got a copy of the adventure from my local hobby shop. I’m still waiting to hear back from WotC public play coordinators about tracking player info.

As it stands, the tracking component may or may not happen, but the adventure and play is ready to go once enough player slots are filled.

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