During last week’s encounter the party was ambushed by Dwarves. After defeating them, the party continued though the Badlands south of Easting in search of The Sunset Shrine where they hoped to find a cure for the Abyssal Plague.
The terrain ahead was treacherous and would require perseverance in the form of a series of skill checks if they were to avoid any serious hardships and still make the Sunset Shrine before nightfall. Fortunately two new adventurers arrived on the scene to assist them in their endeavour.
Our all-Genasi party welcomed two new members into their ranks this week as we had new players join the group. One of the new players was friends with one of our regulars so he made a Genasi in order to fit in better. The other player had never played before so he used one of the pre-gens – regrettably there were no Genasi pre-gens.
Our table of six ended up with the following PCs:
- Firesoul Genasi Barbarian (Berserker) [Ironwrought]
- Earthsoul Genasi Swordmage [Earthforger]
- Windsoul/Firesoul Genasi Assassin
- Sandsoul Genasi Ranger (Hunter) [Unseelie Agent]
- Earthsoul Genasi Fighter
- Halfling Rogue (Merric pre-gen)
I explained to the players that travelling through the Badlands would require some skill checks. I allowed them to use whatever skills they felt might help the entire group make their way through the horrendous terrain. The Rogue used Perception to look for any signs of the Dwarves’ tracks and found them easily.
When the party came to a large gorge the Fighter and Assassin worked together using Athletics to climb down one side, climb up the other, placing pitons and ropes along the way to assist the rest of the party.
The Swordmage used History to see if he remembered any other temples or structures in the area. Getting a better vantage from a high outcropping of rocks he noticed a few stone monolith arrangements (think Stonehenge) and from those was able to better plot the party’s route to the Teeth.
Along the way the party made a series of Endurance checks. Each time four of the six made the check with flying colours and the party continued on without the need to overextend themselves (and therefore did not lose any healing surges).
The Assassin noticed an ominous figure matching the party’s course, following them in parallel from the nearby rocky hills. They realized that it was a Galeb Duhr and decided to approach it. The Galeb Duhr allowed the PCs to get close enough to converse. First it addressed them in Dwarven (which none of them understood) then it tried Giant (which none of them understood). Finally it spoke in common, it’s rocky accent making it sound like Sly Stallone’s Rocky Balboa (I have a sense of humour, you know).
The party befriended the earthy creature and convinced it of their intentions to attack the Dwarves and enter The Sunset Shrine. The Galeb Duhr told them what he knew of the area and asked that they free his ally, a Human named Malgrym who was captured by the Dwarves. The party agreed. The Galeb Duhr warned the party about some Drow camped nearby. If they wanted to get the jump on them they needed to move quickly and quietly.
Since the party did so well on the skill challenge, and the fact that they befriended the Galeb Duhr, I gave them some latitude when they tried to sneak up on the Drow camp. The Assassin and Rogue both got over 20 on their Stealth check so I allowed them to place themselves anywhere on the outer edges of the map. Fortunately some of the others in the group flubbed the Stealth checks so I let the Drow hide before the party arrived. The two sneaky PC started in the top right corner of the map near the rocks.
The Assassin was fortunate enough to make a remarkable Perception check and noticed a giant spider only two squares away just as the combat began. He fired at it with his crossbow but missed. The Spider moved in and poisoned him.
The loud party members were attacked by the other Spider. The Barbarian moved up activated his defender’s aura. The Ranger moved to the tree in the bottom left corner of the map to get a better view of the terrain. The Fighter and Swordmage tried hitting the Spider but failed miserably.
The Drow Leader moved into the fray where the majority of the party was bunched together and coordinated her attacks with the Spider. The Rogue, who until now had been on delay, jumped into the order and attacked the Drow leader, scoring a crit on his first attack. The Drow Scout, seeing the Rogue’s incredible display of output engaged him doing considerable damage.
The Swordmage marked the Drow Leader trying to draw her fire. She obliged him by attacking once and used Attack Command to direct the Spider or Drow Scout to attack another PC.
The Assassin shifted away from the Spider and fired at the Drow Leader. He then failed his save and was now immobilized. It would be three more rounds before he saved. The Spider continued to attack him each round brining him to within 1 hit point of unconsciousness. Thanks to Second Wind and a Healing Potion the Assassin managed to stay on his feat and finally destroy the Spider.
The Barbarian tried to lock down the Spider but once he switched from defender mode to striker mode the Spider moved onto softer opponents. The Drow Leader used her Cloud of Darkness to get away from the Fighter, Swordmage and Barbarian but only had a one round reprieve before the Fighter engaged her, using a daily power that marked her for the entire combat.
The Drow Scout managed to knock the Rogue unconscious, and then with the Spider’s assistance managed to flank the Swordmage. The Barbarian engaged the Drow Scout while the wounded Swordmage revived the Rogue and then used his Second Wind. A round later it was te Barbarian who fell unconscious and the Assassin (who finally made his saving throw) who managed to revive him, triggering his Second Wind with a Heal check.
The Ranger spent the entire combat perched in the tree, helping her allies who seemed to be in the most trouble. It was her arrows that killed the Spider and the Drow Scout. However, she opted to shoot the Drow in the leg and not kill him.
With only the Drow Leader remaining the Swordmage tried using Intimidate to get her to surrender. She refused to submit to any male surface dweller. However by the next round she was hurt really badly. She agreed to surrender to the only female in the party, the Ranger who by now had climbed down from the tree and approached the melee. The Ranger wasn’t interested in taking another prisoner and killed the Drow Leader.
With both Spiders dead, the Drow Leader dead and the other Drow unconscious the party regrouped before reviving the wounded Drow Scout. The Halfling was the only party member to speak Elvin so he questioned the Drow. The Drow realized he was likely going to be executed so he cooperated in hopes of being spared or freed.
He told the party that he was an advanced scout for a Drow riding party. He was watching the roads, marking the caravans and determining appropriate targets. However when he discovered the Dwarves worshipping Ghaunadaur he used a magic scroll to inform his leader. Once she arrived the two of them, along with the pet Spiders, watched the Dwarves and attacked their scouts. They let the larger party go by and were planning to ambush them when they returned. The assumed the PCs were the Dwarves which was why they were ready for them.
The PCs decided to let the Drow go, providing him with provisions and a dagger, but striping him of all other valuables, including his armor. The Drow party possessed two magic items and substantial wealth in the form of gems and jewelry (30 gp for each PC). In order to make the combat more interesting I rolled up the treasure ahead of time and equipped the Drow with these items: Bracers of Mighty Striking for the Drow Scout (adding +2 to his damage since both of his attacks counted as basic attacks) and a +1 Amulet of Protection for the Drow Leader.
The PCs moved on and set up camp for the night taking their extended rest before venturing into The Sunset Shrine at first light. So ends Chapter 1 of the Elder Elemental Eye.
With the first chapter finished I must admit that I was surprised and somewhat proud that the party made it through all three encounters without a leader. I’ve been playing D&D Encounters since the beginning of the program and the biggest problem I see week in and week out is the lack of healing. The PCs take massive damage and start falling unconscious. Without a leader things go from bad to worse. Sometimes one or two PCs end up dead-dead, but usually it’s just a case where they get revived during the short rest and blow through all of their healing surges too quickly. But this party is doing remarkably well.
Never underestimate the value of a strong offense and good tactics. With the defenders locking down the biggest, baddest enemies and taking the bulk of the attacks, the softer strikers can do what they do best and deal lots of damage every round. At the end of the first chapter everyone had plenty of healing surges left. This was the first time I’ve come to the end of a chapter and there wasn’t at least one or more characters out of healing surges.
Realizing that the strikers were capable of dealing so much damage, I increased the monsters hit points in every encounter so far and this party still handled things beautifully. I can’t wait to see how things turn out for them as we move forward.
How did this week’s encounter go at your FLGS? Did the Drow pose any significant challenges or did your party mow them down? Did you allow either Drow to surrender or did you just kill them? What are your thoughts on the first chapter as a whole? Did you find it too hard, too easy or just right?
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 3) – Podcasts
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