During last week’s encounter the PCs entered the Sunset Shrine, fought some of the Dwarven fanatics who had taken up residents and then after defeating them explored the east wing of the dungeon’s first level. When we joined the party this week they picked up back in the main entrance of the dungeon shrine and now had the opportunity to explore the dungeon’s west wing.
Our numbers dwindled a bit this week as we only had three of our regulars for our all-Genasi party. Fortunately the other table had six players and one person graciously jumped ship to join us. And what do you know; he was playing a Genasi so that worked out really well for our party’s theme.
Our party shaped up like this:
- Sandsoul Genasi Ranger (Hunter) [Unseelie Agent]
- Windsoul/Firesoul Genasi Assassin
- Earthsoul Genasi Swordmage [Earthforger]
- Cindersoul Genasi Swordmage [Ironwrought] (player from the other table)
The group ended up with two strikers and two defenders. Still no leader but they seem to be getting adept at playing without a healer. However, the healing potions are starting to run out so things may get ugly soon.
There were three doors leading to the western area of the dungeon. The party decided to begin with the door further south. Through the door was a hallway that led to a very large dining hall. Within the hall were three long tables, each covered with dishes and scraps of spoiled food. The party searched for valuables but found none. They proceeded north where the room was bisected by a large tapestry.
Peeking beyond the heavy curtain they saw a large kitchen in which a hearth on one side burned down to coal and embers. In the top west corner was a well and in the centre of the room was a large cauldron. Against one wall were crates, barrels and sacks. In the top east corner the party easily spotted a trapdoor in the floor, and even from 50 feet away the party could easily smell the foulness that reeked from beneath it.
The Assassin was the only PC to notice that some of the barrels were stamped with a Dwarven seal that indicated it was exceptionally fine ale. He immediately headed towards the kegs, tapped one open and began drinking the good stuff. The rest of the party examined the cauldron where they discovered a stew was simmering. It smelled fantastic and eventually they decided to try it. It was so good that everyone who ate regained a healing surge (I was feeling generous).
Curiosity got the better of the PCs and they had to open the trapdoor. When they did they found a 20-foot deep pit where all the kitchen scraps, spoiled food, and parts of animals that you can’t eat had been discarded. There also seemed to be a fair amount of body waste in there too. Rats could easily be seen scurrying around in the filth. Despite the disgusting appearance and repugnant smell the PCs wanted to search the pit for anything valuable. They secured a rope and lowered the Ranger down. She searched and found nothing.
Before they party could pull her up they were beset upon by two Norkers and two Dwarven Warriors. Even though these attackers had surprise on their side they had no chance against this party. It only took two rounds for the PCs to destroy these nuisance monsters. The new Swordmage was the only one who took damage but his second wind brought him back to full hit points.
Realizing that the dungeon might not be completely void of other creatures the party proceeded with caution from that point onward. First they headed through the door from the kitchen to the east where they discovered the storage room. It was full of dried food and curing meat, as well as equipment like arrows, rope and other miscellaneous adventuring equipment. The real find was a potion of healing.
West of the dining area they found the Dwarven barracks where they found some coins and a few personal affects they deemed valuable, but no other creatures. They proceeded south and found two meeting rooms where the off-duty Dwarves likely gambled. They found dice, cards, betting chips and a nice deck of new cards in a finely decorative wooden box as well as a few more coins.
Further south they discovered the simplistic chambers where the Norkers slept and again found a few scattered coins. Next was a long, steep staircase. When they reached the bottom they saw light and heard noises coming from what was likely a very large room to the east, but they decided to ignore that for the moment and head west. The door was easily unlocked with the key they discovered on the Dwarven Cleric they defeated in last week’s encounter. The rooms beyond were the private chambers of the head priests. Under the bed they found a Ki Focus +1 and in the sitting room they found some very expensive Dwarven Whiskey.
With the exploring finished they readied themselves to enter the larger room where they expected to find more Dwarves. They were not disappointed. They managed to keep quiet and got a surprise round on the room’s occupants. Because of the PCs’ great initiative rolls (all except the new guy) they managed to get two rounds of attacks in before the enemies knew what was going on.
In order to scale this encounter for four PCs I removed two of the minions and cut the Templar’s hit points in half (from 48 to 24). This seemed to be a very good compromise considering that all the non-minions had really good ranged attacks and could be threatening from pretty far away.
The PCs only moved as far as the first couple of squares into the room. The two Swordmages engaged the nearest Templar while the Assassin and Ranger fired at the minions. Smart tactics made all the difference. Once the enemy realized they were under attack they moved closer to maximize their attacks. The party then withdrew a few squares back into the hallway. This forced the bad guys to come to them and face them one by one. The Dwarven Bolter had to waste two rounds getting into a better position where he wouldn’t be denied cover while shooting at the PCs.
The Swordmages and Templars ended up going toe-to-toe right in the entranceway, blocking everyone else’s path and line of sight. Both Templars missed on their Lure and Smash in the first round and neither recharged it during the rest of their short lives. It was actually the Norker minions who provided to be the most effective. I scored four natural 20s with their attacks, but regrettably they don’t do anything extra on a crit. Their Elemental Rebuke was especially painful for the PCs as they remained bunched up throughout the fight.
Once the Templars and Norkers were destroyed the party shifted their focus to the Dwarven Acolyte. The heroes remained far enough apart now that they only faced two opponents that the Acolyte couldn’t get more than one PC in the range of his Earth Stomp. He stuck to his flaming hammer, but even that wasn’t very effective against the Genasi with fire resistance.
Meanwhile the Bolter moved further away and took covered behind the altar to avoid a barrage of focused fire. Unfortunately the Bolter couldn’t hit anything until the final round before he was himself killed. By then the party, although wounded was not in any real jeopardy of being defeated.
It was a tough fight for the party of four, but as they’ve learned throughout the previous five weeks smart tactics make all the difference. They controlled the battlefield (even though they didn’t have a true controller) and brought the monsters to them. They easily avoided the pit and locked down the Templars so that they couldn’t effectively use their combo attack or their push powers.
With one more battle to go before the PC can get their next extended rest they’re still in pretty good shape all things considered. I expect that if they have five or six PCs next week they should do just fine.
The other table I ran this week ended in a TPK, my first as a DM at D&D Encounters. It was another party of four, three strikers and a defender. They had no sense of party cohesion and no tactics to speak of. The minions they faced in the kitchen destroyed them and then things got really ugly in the Great Shrine. It didn’t help that my dice were on fire, hitting 9/10 times and doing the max or 1 off the max with every damage roll. Is it wrong that I took immense pleasure in finally killing a party? Is it any worse that it was the Disney table?
How did things go for you this week? Did smart tactics and cautious exploration make things easier for your group, or did they get their butts handed to them by the Dwarven fanatics? Did anyone else have a TPK?
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 6) – Podcasts
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