D&D Encounters: Web of the Spider Queen (Week 8.)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 12, 2012

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?

Summary Sheet

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.

Podcasts

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

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 funkaoshi July 12, 2012 at 10:24 am

I was in the Duelling Grounds session. I think we also had a pretty easy time with this encounter. We pushed one of the drow on the top platform down to the bottom one, and killed the other fairly quick. We had a fighter block the stairs leading back up. Most of the monsters in the encounter couldn’t really get in a position to fight us for much of the battle. Despite some good diplomacy checks asking the goblins to switch sides they didn’t, so we ended up having to kill them too. The final spider did hit pretty hard, but with all of us concentrating our attacks on it the thing didn’t last very long.

The earlier encounters seem a lot more challenging than the more recent ones.

2 Dinare July 12, 2012 at 10:52 am

My group also had an easy time of it. After talking about it for a few minutes, we decided we would try sneaking up on them even though some of our stealth modifiers were in the negative. This didn’t matter though, as almost everyone rolled a 15 or higher. In the surprise round, our Psion used dimensional scramble to teleport a drow over the edge of the bridge leading up. Our defender moved into the fray of drow(and bugbear). Our Warlock and strikers did their damage and I(a cleric) didn’t have anything to do yet.

First round, the Bugbear Bloodied the Defender in one hit. The Psion teleported another Drow and bugbear off the edge. The Warlock and strikers took out the last Drow easily. I healed the Defender, and made a Diplomacy check to convince the goblins that the Drow are dead(they actually caught the rope bridges below, but I didn’t think of that) and the only reason we killed the Bugbear is because he hit us first. I rolled a 20, and the goblins left us alone for the rest of the encounter.

Next round, one of the Drow that fell off came around the corner. We all ganged up on him, and killed him easily. From there, the battle became kind of a slog because everyone was fighting on the one-space-wide bridge.

After the battle, one of our strikers and the Psion searched the upper level and found 2 magic items, along with the knight’s wooden shield. I noticed the Goblins had no light source, and gave them my spare sunrod so that they could actually see when we left. Everyone else searched the bodies of the Drow.

For some reason the spider left us alone. We didn’t even know there was one until the DM explained the webbing after the encounter.

3 Alphastream July 12, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I visited our local store to show off an advanced review copy of Dungeon Command (and share it with the DMs that will help run that event for the upcoming Gameday).

I was really pleased with the diversity of gaming. I think there were 4 tables and one of them was all new and all kids. Other tables had the usual great diversity of young/new and experienced/older players. People seem to be having a good time with the season.

Dungeon Command is pretty cool. The Lolth set is a nice way to get a lot of drow minis for a reasonable price! I totaled the cost of the original minis in the set using low-price online retailers and came up with $75 worth of minis in that set, plus one new mini, and they are repaints!

4 Ameron (Derek Myers) July 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

@Alphastream
We’ll be running a review of both versions of Dungeon Command (with lots of photos) tomorrow.

5 Joe Lastowski July 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

My FLGS (Modern Myths in Northampton, MA) ran 4 tables this week. 3 of the 4 tables ran the “pillar” in the top level as a hole to the 2nd level instead, because it was more fun.

At my table, the stealth checks were all well and good, until someone activated a daily mist cloud power that sort of made the presence of approaching enemies obvious. Also, the assassin from last week had escaped, so the folks in the Demonspur were already on guard.

The stairway/falling-into-the-web mechanic was enough to keep the entire party on one level for the whole fight, which sort of limited tactical options. Also, most of the party stayed in that mist cloud (stalker’s mist, I think it was called). As a result of extreme fear of the awful spider below and desire not to be an open target, the extreme conservativism of the party this week made the fight kind of boring. We had one ranger charge the templars, but he got bloodied pretty quickly, and eventually jumped down the hole to avoid being the only “in-the-open” target.

There were a couple cool player-driven moments (like that ranger thing I just mentioned), but the monsters were extremely bland. The players started killing goblins before some even picked up weapons, so there was no real chance to make them switch sides, either. Overall (and I hate to say this), I was pretty bored with this week’s session. There weren’t any new cool powers or effects in the monsters they had to fight, and the spider was a non-entity since the party avoided the stairways. Also there was zero roleplaying potential, which meant that all there was this week was combat.

Oh well, there will always be off-weeks, I guess. Next week’s session looks pretty fun, though, with plenty of roleplaying opportunities with the gate guards, so hopefully this week was just an anomoly.

6 Guest July 12, 2012 at 10:46 pm

Technically, that was a stone pillar, not a pit. Always read the terrain features before doing the encounter.

In my group, another PC bribed the bugbear with 50gp (goblins getting 5gp each), while the slaves were surrounding the last remaining drow. With additional payments, the bugbear is now a temporary companion.

The spider did get a small snack – my bear companion fell into the webs and got killed, although it did dodge four of the five attacks in the one round.

7 Yagokoro July 13, 2012 at 4:40 am

My table is finally starting to fracture a little bit from the repeated drubbings they’ve been taking, and this fight has pretty much divided them between the people actively trying to win and the people pretty much just doing what they want.

Well, “fracture” may be a strong word. The table gets along very well, and good friendships are forming, but the “active” half is pretty much writing off the “inactive” half now. It remains to see what will come from it.

To start off with, the Drow Mage of the “inactive half”, upon making visual contact with drow leading slaves … decided to burst into song. The Kobold Hunter and Drow Hexblade also made chatter. I decided not to punish them for it (because I was certain they weren’t being serious), but did make a remark that they were in enemy territory. They eventually got their acts together to try an make a careful approach, but blew their Stealth checks, so there was nothing for it but to fight.

The “active half” represents the two melee fighters in the party (Human Paladin and Goblin Thief), and they went to go engage the templars. The paladin had a thought to try and convince the goblins to switch sides, and the thief didn’t want the party to open fire on them out of species loyalty. They didn’t speak up, so the others took out the minions even after I made my telltale signs that attacking them might not have been the best idea. The only attempt to swing the slaves to their side was made by the hexblade, and long after he had ended his turn, so I ruled it null (I had specifically asked him if he wanted to take a minor action, he said no and ended his turn, and then he tried to go “Wait!” and cram in the action after the next person in the order ended theirs.)

Things went from bad to worse when the thief got out into the stairs … which is where the third templar ran up from the lower level and promptly knocked her off the rock to face the spider’s tender mercies. I explained every option the party could use to save their trapped friend, but the hexblade was knocked prone and too afraid to move away from the other upper level templar next to him (which would have triggered an attack), and the hunter and mage had clear shots at said templar and saw no need to move from their positions. The paladin, at least made an attempt, but since nobody was able to back her up she was basically alone against the mobile templar, who soon knocked her off the rock too. Both of them called for help, but the hunter and mage clung to the notion that they weren’t supposed to get anywhere near the fighting, and used that as justification to stay where they were.

By the time the three of them had finally gotten rid of their one target, the thief was dead and the paladin bloodied, immobilized and taking ongoing damage. No attempt whatsoever was made to save them. The hexblade moved forward because the others couldn’t be pressed to, in order to take a shot at the spider from range … and became Mobile Templar Victim #3. Lucky he was, because by the time they had driven the spider off, the paladin was unconscious with two failed death saves, and he was the only one in position to stabilize. That -finally- got the other two moving, which allowed them to see the chokepoint I had been able to set up. Almost thankfully for them, time was almost up, and I decided to just retreat the slaves once the drow were off the field.

Next week’s encounter should be interesting to say the least.

8 Bill July 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’ve been playing Encounters at the 20-Sided Store in Brooklyn, and I’ve been drawing comics for every session this season.

Here’s the comic for session 8: http://comics.billroundy.com/?p=689
We had 3 wizards in my group, so the encounter went pretty quick. Bad guys got tossed into the abyss with abandon!

If you want to see all of my Encounters comics, you can check them out here: http://comics.billroundy.com/?tag=web-of-the-spider-queeen

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