Last week the PCs managed to get inside the Council of Spiders hideout where they search for the captured Hoshtar Xorlarrin. Every Drow that stood in PCs’ way last week was killed. During their short rest the PCs looted the bodies and took anything of value they could find in the upper floor of the hideout. They paused just long enough to complete their secret objective before heading downstairs.
Once they reached the hideout’s lower level they came face-to-face with a rapier-wielding Drow Assassin. “And so it begins,” he said. “Thank you, dear friends, for starting what I’m sure will be a perfectly lovely war.”
This week I ran a table of four: Drow Rogue (f), Drow Rogue/Blackguard (f), Drow Druid (m), Drow Cleric Priestess(f). All four are affiliated with Bregan D’aerthe. This party began the adventure at level 4, and they are all level 5 now.
The PCs were initially confused by the Assassin’s statement. He explained that they would be held accountable for the unprovoked attack and slaying of numerous noble Drow Wizards who were merely gathering peacefully to discus how they could help Lolth create the Demon Weave. As known Brigand D’aerthe agents, it’s clear that the PCs were obviously working for some other greater power (with deep pockets). This information should be enough to launch numerous Drow Houses into action. Every House that lost a Wizard here today would seek revenge driving Menzoberranzan into civil war.
Caring little for the Drow’s words and speculation of the broader implication of their actions they demanded to know where Hoshtar was. The Assassin said that Hoshtar was his guest and that he’d be happy to let the PCs see him if they were willing to be accompanied by the Assassin’s men. He then whistled for his allies.
The PCs didn’t hesitate – they sprung into action. The Blackguard charged the Assassin but rolled a natural 1 and missed. The Druid attacked and hit the Assassin before dropping a zone of difficult terrain at the doorway in anticipation of reinforcements. Sure enough two Drow Hex Knights entered through the doors. One engaged the Rogue, the other risked an opportunity attack (which missed) and charged the Rogue. Both Knights connected.
(I assumed that the Hex Knights were Drow. Not sure why since it clearly stated that they were Dark Creepers. I ran this encounter twice and didn’t realize my mistake until after I completed both tables.)
The Assassin threw up his Globe of Darkness and left the crowded room heading deeper into the hallway from which the Knights just appeared. Two Dark Creepers joined the fight as they charged through the Globe of Darkness and into the melee. The Blackguard took opportunity attacks on both and missed twice. One managed to hit the Rogue but the other missed.
The Rogue attacked the closest Hex Knight scoring a solid hit. The Cleric missed. The Blackguard attacked the adjacent Hex Knight, hit and then shifted away. The Druid used his Wind Wall to target all four combatants in the room, hitting everyone and scoring a crit on one of the Hex Knights.
The wounded Hex Knight attacked the Blackguard, hitting and then withdrawing. The Blackguard took an opportunity attack but missed. The Dark Creepers tried stabbing the nearby Rogue and Druid but missed. One pulled back, drawing an opportunity attack (that missed) while the other stayed put.
The Hex Knight in the melee mix attacked the Rogue and hit before also trying to withdraw (and also avoided any repercussion from his opportunity attack). However, the difficult terrain zone prohibited him from getting any farther than the doorway.
The Druid managed to hit the nearest Dark Creeper and drop him prone. As the Druid then tried to follow the fleeing Hex Knight the Rogue played a Treachery Card to trip him, keeping him in place. The Rogue then used the combat advantage to destroy the prone Dark Creeper. When the Dark Creeper died he exploded, blinding the adjacent Rogue.
The area around the door was now crowded with the Blackguard, a Hex Knight and a Dark Creeper. The Rogue attacked her nearest foe and again missed. In frustration she popped her Globe of Darkness to better his defenses.
The combat then started moving into the hallway. The Hex Knight that withdrew the round before double moved to get around the corner and out of sight. The remaining Dark Creeper also double moved to get farther into the hallway, around the corner and into the library with the Assassin. The remaining Hex Knight, badly wounded, held his ground while his allies fled. It took a full round for the party to finally drop him and when they did it was the Rogue who again was blinded, this time from the Knight. (This should have clued me in that the Knights weren’t Drow. I mean, really, Drow that explode?)
With a second for a quick breather and no immediate threat the Blackguard and Druid used their innate ability to levitate and their daily powers to keep it active. It was unclear how high the ceilings were in the lower level so I ruled it was 20 feet as in the upper level.
The Rogue moved deeper into the hallway searching for the Hex Knight. The Knight shot her with a crossbow and then ran to the library. With the Druid and Blackguard floating and out of melee reach, the Cleric was all alone. The remaining Dark Creeper took advantage of this, moved in and attacked her. She took a lot of damage but her levitating allies used ranged attacks to help her.
The Rogue followed the Hex Knight to the doors of the library and scored a solid hit. The Knight summoned his Globe of Darkness, attacked the Rogue and then ran around him towards the Cleric. The Knight also called out to the Assassin that the Rogue was gravely wounded and that he should finish him off. The Assassin rejoined the fight nearly killing the Rogue.
The levitating PCs remained in the air trying desperately to kill the Dark Creeper and Hex Knight. The Cleric managed to get close enough to the Rogue to heal her before she got back into the thick of things. The Knight and Assassin flanked the Rogue and scored big damage. Fortunately she had a few temporary hit points so she managed to stay up.
The Druid dropped a burst on the Rogue, Knight and Assassin hitting the Knight and the Rogue. The next round the Cleric managed to drop the Knight from range avoiding the blinding effect. The Blackguard also managed to drop the Dark Creeper from range similarly avoiding the blinding effect.
With only the Assassin remaining it was a race to zero hit points. The Druid scored a crit (his third of the night), but the Cleric used a Treachery Card to turn it into a regular hit. This also gave the Cleric an auto-crit on her next attack so she unloaded on the Assassin with a daily power. The Assassin gave as good as he got, but in the end the PCs took him down without any of them getting killed.
After the PCs defeated the Dark Creepers and all the Drow attackers they rushed to see if Hoshtar was still alive. He was bound, gagged, and heavily wounded. Hoshtar was alive but unconscious. The PCs had a brief discussion to decide if they would revive Hoshtar or let him die. If he died they could spin any lie they chose about what they saw here. In the end they decided to save him.
When he regained consciousness they explained what happened and placed significant emphasis on the fact that so many of the Council of Spiders agents seem to be part of House Melarn. Hoshtar was skeptical but couldn’t refute the symbols on the fallen Drow (which of course, the PCs planted at the behest of Ro’kolor).
When asked of his involvement, Hoshtar explained that he was asked by one of his lesser cousins to meet with the Council of Spiders. Although Hoshtar came to the meeting willingly, as soon as he arrived the Council captured and tortured him. They wanted him to join them and be a champion for their cause. As tempting as the idea of males in power seemed to Hoshtar, he knew that if he were to make these demands publicly he’d be as good as dead. So, for now at least, he is still opposed to the Council of Spiders and their radical approach to change.
As the PCs accompanied Hoshtar back to the designated meeting place he asked them if they should reveal the involvement of House Melarn to Ash’ala. The PCs agreed that this information should be kept secret for now. After all, information is power.
As written this encounter is not great. The PCs get stuck in the initial starting area and have no incentive to press onward. If they do manage to get to the library, they find the Assassin holding a knife to Hoshtar’s throat. There is almost no chance that the PCs can save the doomed Wizard.
Although I planned to tweak the encounter, my hand was forced when I got to my FLGS and realized I brought the wrong map. I had to modify last week’s map for the week 5 encounter. It was still full of corridors, but the library was long and skinny, rather than a big square. As it turned out the PCs spent the majority of the combat chasing the bad guys around the corridors. None of them entered the library until after the combat ended.
I was very impressed when they came up with the plan to a) keep Hoshtar alive, and b) get him to witness and support their claim that House Melarn was involved. I’m sure that will make next week’s role-playing encounter a lot more interesting.
Did the DM at your table make any changes to the encounter or did you spend most of the combat trapped at the bottom of the stairs? Did you spend any time talking to the Assassin or did you do what my group did and just attack after a couple of rudimentary questions? Assuming the Assassin made it to the library, how much of the combat actually took place there?
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Each week I record a podcast with Marc Talbot (Alton) from 20ft Radius in which we recount that week’s experiences with D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective FLGS and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently.
Actual Play Podcasts
We continue to record our D&D Encounters sessions and make them available to you for download every week. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone. Some language may be inappropriate for all ages, although we try to keep it as family-friendly as possible.
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.