D&D Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye (Week 7)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 12, 2012

After a quick breather following last weeks battle in the great shrine the PCs began their search of the now eerily quiet room. When the party freed Malgrym during Week 5 he warned them of a Amorphous One, a blue ooze that sleeps in the altar of the great shrine and guards the way deeper into the temple. Now that they were alone in the shrine they decided to proceed with caution and search everything before attempting any serious examination of the altar.

We were back up to six players at each of our two tables this week. We lost the Halfling who worshipped his Genasi companions as deities, but this week we gained a brand new player who brought another striker to our offensively minded party. With the party facing a solo monster this week, another heavy hitter could make a significant difference. The party ended up looking like this:

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

During last week’s battle, the party learned that approaching the altar would cause an unfortunate PC to suffer 5 cold damage. Since the Assassin was the only one in the party with cold resistance he moved closer and did a cursory examination. The Altar looked like a smooth azure rock with the illusion of blue liquid oozing out of it.

The Ranger examined the pools, searching for monsters, loot or secret passages. She decided to enter the water partly to improve her chances of finding anything and partly to try and wash the awful smell that still clung to her after she climbed into the trash pit last week. She managed to wash more of the stink off of herself, but found nothing else notable in either pool.

The Barbarian looked into the pit, but all he could see were bones at the bottom. No signs of secret passages or treasure. The Wizard examined the statues. They were all covered with a slimy green substance but his dismal Dungeoneering check wasn’t enough to reveal anything useful about it.

The Swordmage ventured into the study where he found a rotting desk and decrepit bookshelf. Clearly the latest inhabitants were not using this room and all he found were worthless papers and sundry items. He did manage to find a Healing Potion in what might once have been a secret compartment in the now rotting wooden desk.

The Scout moved closer to the altar but didn’t want to get too close and risk taking any cold damage. However, even from a few feet away her keen Elven eyes noticed scuff marks on the floor indicating that the altar could likely slide off its dais.

The Swordmage made a Religion check and realized that by showing reverence to the altar he’d receive a blessing and thereby gain temporary resistance to cold. This explained why none of the Dwarves from the previous encounter took cold damage. He shared this knowledge with his allies so everyone else in the party followed suit, except the Assassin who already had cold resistance.

The party then moved to more tactically advantageous positions while the Barbarian, Ranger and Assassin worked together to push the statue. Successful teamwork made it easy to move the Altar. When they did they noticed the floor beneath the altar was covered in ice. The altar suddenly transformed into a large Ooze and postured to attack the party.

Two thin streams melted away from the Ooze and flowed into the nearby pools. When they reached the water three writhing Tentacles formed in each pool and they all lashed out at the nearest PCs. The good news was that everyone who knelt before the altar had cold resistance so the initial hits from the Tentacles were shrugged off but the cold resist disappeared as soon as any PC was hit with a cold attack.

The Barbarian and Assassin both moved closer to attack the Ooze in melee. They easily hit and started the difficult task of chipping away at its plentiful hit points.

Next the Ooze used Instinctive Rampage which let it move and Slam everyone it passed over. It took opportunity attacks for its trouble but it had resistance 5 to all damage during this attack. Everyone but the Ranger was attacked but only one hit connected.

The Swordmage made a monster knowledge check and learned that the Ooze had vulnerability 10 to fire. He activated his flaming weapon and attacked the Ooze, missing horribly. The Wizard used his Flaming burst to attack the Ooze and one of the Tentacles, He hit both but the Tentacle minions made its save and didn’t die. The Ranger moved further away and fired at the Ooze from a safe distance, being mindful to get far enough away from the pools to be out of the reach of the Tentacles too.

Now it was time for the Ooze to make it’s main attacks. I made a couple of slight adjustments to the Ooze’s stats and powers to keep the party on its toes. I adjusted the cold aura deal damage when a PC entered the zone and at the beginning of its turn. It seemed silly that you could go right up to it and not take any damage until the beginning of your next turn. Whenever the Ooze had a PC grabbed and it took damage, the PC was supposed to take 5 cold damage. I instead changed that to half the damage the attacking PC inflicted. So if the PC did 10 or less damage (which the defenders certainly would) the PCs would end up further ahead. However, when the heavy hitting strikers connected they were likely going to do more than 10 so the grabbed opponents would take considerably more than 5. My goal was to get the PCs to work together and try to free grabbed allies. It was also a good way for me to keep the solo monster alive and make the combat last longer than one or two rounds. I add +1 to all the monster’s defenses (which never made a difference all night) and I raised its hit points from 188 to 250, only slightly more than recommend in the adventure when facing a party of six.

The Ooze opened with its Cold Snap close burst 2 targeting everyone but the Ranger. It then used one of its two action points to Slam and grabbed the Wizard and the Assassin. When the heroes took their next turns their grabbed allies were crushed by the Ooze.

The Tentacles all attacked the only PC in range, the Wizard. He was hit four times and took 20 cold damage, bloodying him. The Barbarian then moved up to the ooze and hit it for 12 damage. The Ooze crushed the grabbed PCs inflicting 6 points of damage to each. The Assassin managed to free himself before attacking and missing the Ooze.

The Ooze then used Instinctive Rampage again, moving through the PCs, attacking them as it went and drawing opportunity attacks as it did so. The PCs took their opportunity attacks knowing that he grabbed Wizard would take damage too. The end result was an unconscious Wizard and a slightly more wounded Ooze.

Now that the Ooze wasn’t holding any of the PCs, the Swordmage (using his flaming weapon), the Ranger and the Scout all unloaded on the Ooze doing considerable damage. However, the Scout bloodied the Ooze and triggered its Icy Blood power which let it use Cold Snap again as a free action. This attack killed the unconscious Wizard dead-dead, and bloodied the Scout and the Swordmage.

Now it was the Ooze’s actual turn and what do you know it recharged Cold Snap again. This attack hit everyone and bloodied the Barbarian. It then used its second action point to attack the Swordmage but missed him twice.

Three Tentacles attacked the Barbarian. Two hit knocking him unconscious. The Assassin attacked the Ooze twice (thanks to his action point) with a daily power, an encounter power and four shrouds inflicting crazy damage.

When the Ooze used Instinctive Rampage he hit and knocked the Swordmage and the Scout unconscious. With very few hit points remaining the Assassin with resist cold 5 and the Ranger attacking from the opposite side of the room finally managed to destroy the Ooze over the next couple of rounds. The Ooze solidified into dark ice and then shatterd leaving behind a blue jewel.

The surviving party members managed to revive their dying allies. Once everyone was awake (except the poor, dead Wizard) the PC had the opportunity to examine the altar now that the Ooze wasn’t covering it. They found a +1 Flameblade resting in a small niche clearly offered as a sacrifice. They then took an extended rest as we ended chapter 2.

This was a fun and difficult fight. Some very fortunate dice rolls on my part almost resulted in a TPK. The party’s ability to deal fire damage and the Assassin’s cold resistance were the only things that saved the party in the end. Had these two factors not been present my hot dice would have led to a TPK for sure. The Ooze seemed suitably powerful for a level 2 party and the fight could have easily gone either way under normal circumstances. Parties with flaming weapons and fire magic at their disposal obviously had an easier time of things.

I really, really liked that the minions got a save to survive unless they were hit with force damage or a crit was scored against them. I’ve toyed with two-hit minions for a long time, but I’d never seen this particular mechanic in play before. It really made a huge difference as my DM dice were hot and I kept saving.

Did any PC die at your FLGS this week? Any TPKs? Did most parties have at least one PC capable of inflicting fire damage? What did you think of minions that got to save to avoid death?

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 7) – Podcasts

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frank April 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

I raided the Ooze to 250 hp as well. Combat was still over in 4 rounds. Like your group, mine was heavy on strikers, but with two leaders as well. My PCs had some serious firepower and the vulnerability to fire is what did the ooze in. I kept trying to grab the PCs, but my dice were cold and I only managed to get one of them grabbed. However, the cold snap power recharged every time, and I used the creature’s action points to use that every round. Kept them in bad shape, especially as they were all bunched up close around me–not a lot of ranged power in the group. So their healings were mostly used up too. A good encounter–it felt perilous to the PCs, but they were able to handle it. The Elemental Pact warlock in the group did the most damage and was voted the Moment of Glory. His fire attacks were deadly.

2 Kuster April 12, 2012 at 10:38 am

I raised the ooze the suggested amount for a six man party. Part of me wishes I had gone higher, and part of me is glad I left it that way. In the two rounds of combat that it took to kill, it managed to knock three different characters unconcious – the slayer three times as well – but a very timely encounter power from our invoker plus a fortune card from the slayer kept them on their feet. If it hadn’t been for the invoker, there could very possibly have been a tpk, as two of those three were our hardest hitters (fire elementalist and slayer), and the other was our defender. Proof that controllers are amazing.

3 Nick April 12, 2012 at 10:53 am

I play encounters with a lot of unoptimized players. The group was:

Human Paladin/Vampire Hybrid (me)
Swordmage/Druid Hybrid
Sun Warpriest
Elf druid
Elf ranger

I and the other hybrid are the only two people that really try to mix/max, everyone else basically plays for fun. In addition, the druid and the ranger are brand-new dnd players (started playing this season).

At any rate, a non-optimized group coupled with a DM that poorly gives context clues resulted in a TPK for us. Now normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but due to the DM giving the ooze a surprise round + high initiative the ooze got 4 attacks before the party could do anything. After that 3 party members were either dead or unconscious BEFORE THEY EVEN GOT A TURN. The DM’s attitude all night was “don’t blame me, I didn’t write this” but after reading this blog I think there were a few key things that my party missed:

1.) Malgrym never told us about the ooze that guards the way further, despite the party questioning him/asking advice.
2.) No int-based chars mean no religion checks mean no resist 5 cold for anyone (not to mention no monster checks).
3.) No idea about the cold damage aura altar until after we had pushed it.

Whether or not it’s my party’s fault or the DM’s is debatable but either way a lot of people were unhappy at the end of that night.

4 Alphastream April 12, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Excellent! This is one that we really discussed in detail during playtesting, as it was a true death machine originally (while being incredibly awesome). Credit to author (Pieter Sleijpen of Living Forgotten Realms) and developer (Chris Sims, Wizards and has worked on Ashes of Athas) for coming up with the right final version!

5 Eamon April 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Yeah, our DM warned us that there was a very real chance of a TPK since we were surprisingly light on strikers, given we had a full table of six. Luckily we too had an Elemental Pact warlock with Rock Armor (thus negating 5 damage) and I had Versatile Resistance (negating 5 cold damage), so between her fire attacks and my cavalier granting temps we just flanked the ooze, ate the damage, and unloaded round after round. It definitely wasn’t easy, though. We would /definitely/ been screwed by your change to the grab effect, though!

I also licked the altar on a dare. It tasted like a tingly mold popsicle.

6 Sunyaku April 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm

16 init. Ooze acts on first init. Second PC to go. First turn for my flying shirtless dwarf berzerker barbarian– move, aggressive lunch, hit, play vicious shove, push the ooze 3 squares away from my allies. Action point. Wind fury assault. Hit. Slide the ooze one square further away from party, finish flight landing ON TOP OF THE OOZE. Roll 23 acrobatics (trained).

LIKE A BOSS.

With my defender aura up, of course. We had one PC fall unconscious, but we owned this ooze somethin’ fierce.

7 The Unlucky Paladin April 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

You have Hairy T and Dueling Grounds podcasts messed up again, just saying. Also, your table had a hell of a time. Hell, the table I was at nearly all died but, thankfully, as a cleric I did good.

8 David Argall April 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm

THE BRIGHTNESS OF NURI – 7. Icing our Victory

There are those who say the gods love us, as toys they can torture, always putting things in our way. If so, they goofed this time [tho the more pessimistic say they are just setting us up with false hopes for next time]. Here we are, the Fire Brigade that does massive amounts of fire damage, and we face a monster who resists cold damage and is very vulnerable to fire. It was not a fair fight.
The details started with our resting up after our previous victory and searching for loot and a way to continue. A little loot, we found, but not the way to the source of this plague. [I spend a long time trying to find an exit from a pit in the room, only to be told that it seemed the altar that froze us was mobile. It took only a little thinking to figure out we could rope the altar and pull it to see what was below it.
That was when we found out the altar was in fact an ooze and quite a powerful one, for a party that was not so keyed to its weakness. And it had some tentacles that attacked us as well. We could have been in serious trouble. Lucien the elf thief managed to escape, but most of the rest of us found us in a damaging aura and no good way to get out of it. Velitation got rid of some of the minions, but the big ooze was still healthy. Felligrin the human paladin showed his courage by moving up to attack, but all he did was give Opal the human monk and I a flank.
This, however, was very useful. We were doing fire damage and attacking as often as we could. [Irritatingly Opal got the credit for doing some of my damage. Well, I suppose the important point was it got burnt.] Suddenly, the ooze was quite badly hurt.
But so were we. Opal went down and I was on the way down when Felligrin took a hit for me [which was noble and I hope he will do it next time, but it put him down, and I was still on the way down.] Add in that Freya the eladrin warpriest got whacked by the tentacles and ended up in the pit I had been looking at, with the result she could not cure us. So we had worries.
However Lucien managed an excellent shot that really hurt the beast, and then Velitation managed to both get Opal awake and to finish off the monster. [He confessed later that he had actually botched the spell. But even tho it did petty damage, the ooze only had petty life left and so it fell.]
Now we had time to see that there had been a set of stairs down behind the ooze [and to see the ooze had contained a very valuable gem, which will be much appreciated when we return to town]. Being pretty battered, we will rest the night before we continue. But at least we know the way to go now.

9 terry moore April 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

my group was a TPK. the only player dealing fire damage went down on the initial cold snap (was not at full hit points and did not have any healing surges left). at the begining of the fourth round, the only PCs still left were a elf ranger hunter firing from across the room and a half orc fighter slayer. the slayer was going to action point and second wind, but forgot to, he could make it another round as long as he did not take a critical hit, needless to say the DM got the crit and the slayer was at 0 HP. at this point the ooze went after the ranger, and even with the ooze blooded at this point he could not do enough damage before the ooze caught him. this party might have lived if they had a healer in the group.

10 Joe Lastowski April 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm

My table did very well with this fight. I bumped the ooze all the way up to 300 HP, and dropped his vulnerability to fire down to 5 (we had several fire-based strikers), and they had still dusted him off in 3-4 rounds. Also, the defender had a thing that could slow the ooze, too, so the extra 10+initiative rampage really only worked that first time (before anyone else could go). The tentacles were a nice distraction for folks trying to stay out of the ooze’s way, though the sorcerer’s firey aura kept them from attacking her, and our wizard figured out how to banish them before they could push people into the pit.

I could see this combat going lots of ways depending on party make-up. My table handled it well, but this was one where a party without strikers and/or healers could really suffer.

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