After defeating the elemental guardians last week, the party descended the staircase where they disarmed the trap and opened the door to the Sunset Shrine. Before them was a long, downward sloping corridor. On either side of the hallway were statues. The statues nearest the door looked somewhat humanoid, but as the party proceeded downward they noticed the statues became more aberrant.
As the party continued down the hallway they could see light flickering and smell smoke from burning fire in the room ahead. When the slopped passage finally leveled out the PCs stood before a vast room. In the centre were two huge rolling fires, and in-between them stood a Dwarf with fiery red hair wearing yellow robes.
Throughout the room was rubble from collapsed pillars. The party also noted several doors leading out of the chamber, all of which were closed. At the far end of the chamber two scaffolds provide Dwarven crossbow men with clear shots at the party. Between the platforms was an iron portcullis that bared passage to another long hallway beyond. Behind the gate was a Dwarf in Purple Robes who said “Your arrival has been foretold.”
This season we’ve managed to remain very consistent with our numbers and our players, week over week. This week our table had four Genasi and one Halfling and looked like this:
- Windsoul/Firesoul Genasi Assassin
- Earthsoul Genasi Swordmage [Earthforger]
- Firesoul Genasi Barbarian (Berserker) [Ironwrought]
- Sandsoul Genasi Ranger (Hunter) [Unseelie Agent]
- Halfling Rogue (modified Merric pre-gen)
The heroes realized that things were about to get ugly so the Rogue tried to convince the Dwarves he was here by mistake. The purple-robed Dwarf rambled incessantly, clearly a bit crazy, and told the PCs that they weree in the right place at the right time. None of the other PCs could think of anything to say to improve the situation and prepared to rush the Dwarves. However, before they could act the Bolters fired initiating combat.
The Dwarf behind the Portcullis stepped back, deeper into the hallway where he pulled a lever dropping a solid stone barricade on his side of the portcullis. Azryg, the yellow-robed Dwarf in the middle of the room used his Wrathful Eruption to blast four of the five PCs still clustered together near the entrance.
The Barbarian then rushed Azryg to get him inside the defender’s aura. The Swordmage ran around the rubble and tried to get to the Bolters, but even with a double move it was too far. As he passed the open passage on the east he heard the sounds of approaching footfalls. Reinforcements were on the way.
The rest of the party moved away from the entrance and out of the zone Azryg created, focusing their attacks on the leader. The Bolters opened fire on the approaching Swordmage (rolled a 20) and the Barbarian in the middle of the room (rolled a 19). Two PCs were bloodied earl in round two. Without a leader on team heroes things could get bad. And they did. Dwarven Warriors accompanied by Norkers entered the room from the east and the doors to the north-east. Four engaged the Swordmage and four engaged the Ranger.
The Barbarian continued to go toe-to-toe with Arzyg trading hit for hit and miss for miss. Meanwhile the Assassin managed to get into the rubble where he had cover from the bolters and a clear line of sight on Azryg. The Rogue also tried this tactic but two of the Norkers saw him and after missing the Ranger moved to a softer target.
The Bolters continued to hit the PCs, nearly dropping the Swordmage and badly wounding the Barbarian. Once the Swordmage finally dispatched the Warriors and Norkers surrounding him, he moved under the scaffolding and managed to pull it apart, bringing the Bolter down from his vantage point.
The Ranger (a Hunter, controller build) managed to take out the rest of the minions quickly, saving the Rogue from more damage. Unfortunately by this point the Barbarian had switched from Defender to Striker leaving Azryg free to go where he pleased. When the assassin’s next attack bloodied the Dwarf he went into Flamerage, growing to large size and gaining reach which he used to pound on the Ranger. Lacking the fire resistance that the Barbarian possessed, the Ranger fell quickly under Azryg’s might blows.
The Assassin heroically used his Heal skill to trigger the fallen Ranger’s second wind, reviving her before she could miss a turn. This was the second time this season the Assassin has done this successfully despite a 3 in Heal.
The Rogue, who until this encounter was the most consistent attacker, missed with every single attack roll. He didn’t hit anything all night. Even with combat advantage and his action point he missed every single time. He even switched dice but that didn’t help. Until this week a strong offense lead by the Rogue made up for no leader in the party. This week they experienced the dangers of being striker-heavy.
The Barbarian and Swordmage managed to destroy both scaffolds and take down the two bolters. Unfortunately the bolters managed to score a few more hits before they were killed. The Assassin and Rogue flanked Azryg while the Ranger fired from a safe distance. It took three rounds, but in the end the Assassin and Ranger managed to drop Azryg. The Rogue was the only one to get hit during the final few rounds.
When all the combat was finished the PCs took a much needed and well-deserved short rest. The Rogue was down 7 of 8 healing surges after two encounters. The Swordmage and Barbarian also spent a lot of healing surges but as defenders they’re still fine. This was the first time in three sessions that the Ranger took any damage at all. The Assassin was the hero of the night hitting on all but one attack and taking no damage.
When the fighting ended the PCs heard cries for help coming from the east passageway. The Swordmage ventured down the hall alone and found a sorry-looking Human in one of six cells. The Human showed obvious signs of torture and abuse. He pled for help and when he told the PCs his name was Malgrym they immediately freed him. They cleaned his wounds and offered him food and water. He showed noticeable improvement almost immediately.
He shared what little knowledge he knew about the Sunset Shrine and the Dwarves. He continually talked about the Amorphous One, a monstrous blue ooze that guards the way deeper into the temple. The ooze sleeps in the form of the high alter in the Great Shrine. Malgrym also talked about something called the Black Cyst, likely a room of some kind. He saw the mad Dwarf stirring a red mass flecked with gold there. The Black Cyst lies beyond the Great Shrine and through the black obelisk.
One of the heroes walked Malgrym back to the door and escorted him outside. The Galeb Duhr was waiting outside and thanked the PC for helping his friend.
The party then searched the rooms to the east, beyond the cells. The Swordmage and Rogue went north where they discovered a chapel. At the far end of the room was a large pool of dirty water. They were cautious but neither could figure out what the pool was used for. They decided to avoid it just in case. From there they proceeded south into the torture room. While searching the implements of torture they discovered a +1 weapon.
The Barbarian, Ranger and Assassin when south and discovered a rune circle on the floor. It radiated faint magic as if it was used recently to summon something. However, it was safe now. The still avoided it, just to be safe. To the east they entered the study where they found many books and papers on oozes and aberrant monsters. In a desk drawer they discovered a potion of healing.
The party regrouped, exchanged notes and then proceeded back to the main chamber were they would decide how to proceed next week.
This was the toughest fight for this party so far. The Rogue’s poor luck really hurt the party’s offence. With more monsters alive longer, the party took much heavier damage than they had in any previous encounter. Their biggest tactical blunder was focusing all their attacks, especially ranged attacks, on Azryg and completely forsaking the Bolters. They knew from the crit early in the combat that the Bolters could inflict up to 20 points of damage on each strike, but it still took six or seven rounds before the first one was even threatened. Their uncanny accuracy and hot damage rolls were devastating.
It will be interesting to see how this party adjusts its combat style to keep the PCs with fewer surges away from harm during the next two encounters.
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 5) – Podcast
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