After last week’s fight against the elite Drow of House Jaelre the PCs advanced though the secret passage. The tunnel eventually led them to a vast, wide-open cavern so deep that they could not see the floor. Extending out into the darkness in front of them was a rope bridge clearly made in part from spider web strands. Three other similar-looking bridges stretched out from other walls of the cavern. All of the bridges converged at the top of a huge stalactite. The naturally inverted tower seemed to be hollowed out with chambers within.
This week our numbers were down at both locations where I play D&D Encounters. At Dueling Grounds we were down from 12-15 players most weeks to only seven this week. At Harry T North (which is the group I write about) we were ready to split into three tables but with a few players absent we were down to two tables of five. So my group kicked out the non-Drow interloper and ended up all Drow once again. Here’s how the party broke down.
- Drow Rogue #1
- Drow Rogue #2
- Drow Wizard (Bladesinger)
- Drow Druid
- Drow Cleric
After giving the players the description of this chamber and giant stalactite they immediately thought to make History checks. Since this was a one-time Drow outpost I thought that the all Drow party, most of who had the Bregan D’aerthe Spy Theme would have a good chance of knowing more about this place. Two checks over 20 were good enough for me.
They remembered that this is called the Demonspur. It was once used by the Drow as a trading post for goods from the surface and gems from the mines of the underdark. The bridges provided easy access across the open cavern’s expanse, a journey that could take days if one had to go around. After Shadowdale fall and the Drow were vanquished from the surface the bridge in front of the PCs was destroyed. The fact that it was rebuild indicated signs of careful planning.
Realizing that they had no where else to go, and that the Drow they pursued must have gone this way, the party decided to cross the bridge. However, jast as they were about to proceed they spotted a small band of Drow moving along one of the other bridges heading towards the Demonspur. The Drow lead a group of chained Goblin slaves into the hollowed stalactite.
Since the party no longer had the incredibly noisy Kobold in their midst, they felt they were more suited to make a stealthy approach as they moved quietly across the bridge to the Demonspur. Rogue #2 tried to come up with a way to destroy the bridge behind them, but realized that any attempt to do so would cause a lot of noise and like ruin any chance for surprise. They managed to get all the way to the giant stalactite fortress undetected (with everyone but the Cleric rolling over 18 on their Stealth check).
As they approached they realized that there were four distinct interior levels. Wooden staircases ran along the sides of the rock connecting one level to the next. Red lanterns burning with an unblinking magical light hung in the many small windows. The Drow that reached Demonspur before the PCs could be seen on the top two floors and were easily heard shouting at the Goblin slaves. “Welcome to the Demonspur, beasts! Prove yourselves to us, and maybe you’ll get off this rock and become slaves in Zadzifeirryn. Disappoint us and you’re spider food.”
On the top floor where the heroes were they could see two Drow Templars and four Goblin slaves. The Templars released the small, weak Goblins from their chains. The PCs rolled initiative: 16, 18, 20, 20, 24. None of the monsters rolled above 10. The heroes were confident that they could take out one or both of the Drow before anyone knew what was happening. The Bladesinger made an Insight check and realized that the Goblins might not fight since they were just slaves, and newly captured slaves at that.
The party sprang into action with a surprise round. Rogue#1 and Rogue #2 both attacked the same Drow Templar, and with combat advantage they both got to apply sneak dice easily killing him. The Bladesinger and Druid and Cleric all attacked the other Templar but couldn’t quite get him to drop. With the heroes at the top of the initiative Rogue #1 managed to make a heroic leap across the open pit to land a sold, killing blow on the badly wounded Drow, killing him (and brining him to within 1 hit point of negative bloodied).
Rogue #2 moved in between the stunned Goblins and using Intimidate convinced them to join the fight against the slavers. Two Goblins immediately agreed and armed themselves with the Drow’s crossbows. The other Goblins were terrified of Drow fighting other Drow. They took off up the stairs and back across the bridge into the safety of the Underdark.
The remaining Drow Templar below heard a stifled cry as his Drow companion tried to shout a warning before he got a rapier in the throat. “What’s going on up there?” he asked in Elvin. The four female PCs certainly couldn’t answer without revealing themselves and the only male Drow worried that his Bluff check might fail so he said nothing. The Druid quickly grabbed one of the cloaks from the dead Templar, peeked through the opening in the middle of the floor down to the next level and signed “It’s all good,” in drow hand sign. His Bluff check was amazing and the Templar, seeing what he expected to see, lowered his guard.
The heroes then decided to gather around the hole, jump down, and attack the last drow. The Cleric accompanied the two Goblin Snipers down the stairs to initiate the attack. The Goblins raced down, making noise and cringing out, drawing everyone’s attention. They both attacked and hit the Drow. Then the heroes jumped down. Both Rogue #2 and the Druid had Safewing Amulets so they fell effortlessly, Rogue #1 rolled high enough on his Acrobatics to land on his feet undamaged and the Bladesinger used Feather Fall. I gave all the PCs combat advantage for their attacks and sure enough the easily killed the last drow before he could react.
The Goblins on this level freaked out. Three took off for the bridge down, but in their haste two bumped each other off the bridge and onto the spider web below. The other two Goblins fell prone. A Bugbear slave raged and attacked the nearest PC but missed with a natural 1. The Bladesinger and Rogue #1 went to town and wounded him badly. The Goblin Snipers attacked, one hitting, one missing. The Druid and Rogue #2 attacked from a safe distance and both hit. The Bugbear was dead before he got to make a second attack.
Before the party could take a rest or gather their thoughts a giant Cave Spider climbed into the room. The Goblin “treats” only got its attention and now it was hungry for something bigger, like adventurers. The party all attacked the Spider. Having taken the most damage from Rogue #1 (whose attack and damage dice were on fire) it decided to attack him twice. As if tempting fate the Rogue boldly told the party “I’ve got this” and showed no fear in the face of these attacks. I rolled a 19 and 20. However, Rogue #1 was still standing. So I used the Spider’s action point and attacked him twice again, missing with the first, but hitting the second time and knocking him unconscious.
The heroes rallied to the Rogue #1’s defense and had no trouble killing the wounded Spider. The help from four Goblin Snipers certainly didn’t hurt either.
With all the three Drow, one Bugbear and one giant Spider all killed the party had to decide what to do with the Goblins. They offered to let them kill more Drow if they were willing to join the party. The Goblins demanded gold which the PCs were willing to pay: 1 gp each now and 1 more gp for each Goblin that killed a Drow. The Goblins found that acceptable, especially since the party so convincingly just demolished these Drow. The party took a short rest and then moved across the far bridge towards Zadzifeirryn.
This was by far one of the easiest encounters for the PCs. High initiatives, great Stealth checks, and decent tactics that played to the party’s strengths made all the difference. None of the Drow even got to attack so the party took minimal damage (except for Rogue #1). The party should have no real difficulties going into the final fight of the chapter next week. Between the skill challenge in week 6 and this week’s one-sided battle they have plenty of healing surges and lots of daily powers in reserve.
How was his week’s encounter at your FLGS? Did any other groups see the kind of success that my party did by making good Stealth checks? For groups that actually had to fight the Drow, how did you find the fight? How did you group handle the Goblins? Did they fight them, free them, or convince them to join the party?
The summary sheets detail the XP, gp and magic items found during each encounter. Chapter 2 Reward Summary has been updated to include treasure through week 9. I encourage DMs to print copies of the summary sheets ahead of time so that they can hand them out to their players the following week.
This week Alton and I recorded our weekly D&D Encounters week-in-review podcast together, in-person at Dueling Grounds after this week’s session. The show runs about 20 minutes this week. Check out the Week 8 Podcast at 20ft Radius and let us know what you think.
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: Web of the Spider Queen (Week 8.) – Podcasts