After last week’s role-playing heavy session the party eventually convince Ash’ala Melarn, Hoshtar Xorlarrin, and Ro’kolor of Bregan D’aerthe to continue working together. They decided to stop the Council of Spiders, or at least see that those currently calling the shots be removed from power and replaced by a male with more traditional values. They also agreed to continue supporting the Way of Lolth and as decreed they would do whatever was necessary to assist with the creation of Lolth’s Demon Weave.
About a week has passed since the PCs rescued Hoshtar and discussed how to proceed in order to avoid a civil war. The house leaders summoned the PCs one more time for another joint mission between the three factions.
They learned that the assassin who captured Hoshtar was an agent of Jaezred Chaulssin, an order of assassins committed to overthrowing the tyranny of Lolth. The mastermind behind this crisis is a Drow named Valan Jaelre (a name the player should recognize from last season of D&D Encounters). Spies have located Valan’s hideout and the PCs are instructed to find Valan and put an end to his interference. They are also instructed to try and find out who Valan is working for in Menzoberranzan.
This week my party was back up to the full five. They consisted of the following: Drow Wizard Bladesinger (f), Drow Rogue (f), Drow Rogue/Blackguard (f), Drow Druid (m), Drow Cleric Priestess (f). All five PCs are affiliated with Bregan D’aerthe.
The PCs are told Valan’s been tracked to a run-down house in Braeryn, the slums of Menzoberranzan. I wanted to make the encounter more than just a fight so I tried to build up this intro. I described the party as really standing out in the slums of Menzoberranzan. They were attracting attention and not in a good way. This put the players on edge. Some wanted to exercise more caution while other wanted haste.
When the party got to the shack where they were supposed to find Valan they were confused and skeptical of their source. They searched the building and only (initially) found signs of neglect. The house was full of debris and garbage; clearly no one lived here. The keen-eyed Druid realized that an area was suspiciously clear of debris. Closer examination revealed a trapdoor in the floor. The Rogue searched for mundane traps and found none. The Bladesinger checked it for magic and finding none used Mage Hand to open the hatch.
Beneath the trapdoor were the remains of what was once a ladder. The shaft descended about 20 feet before opening in a small room where a passage could be seen leading off in one direction. The Rogue jumped down and looked around. She heard voices and the sounds of shuffling feet coming from down the passageway. She waved the party down and then advanced on her own.
The passage opened into a large carven with other passages leading off in numerous directions. Off in one corner the rough natural floor turned into finished stone. In the chamber were 12 Drow. An older Priestess was in the centre; surrounding her were six Initiates. Two male Spies were walking the perimeter of the cavern. Three Templar guards stood at attention at the edge of the finished stone, blocking passage into what was likely a caller or basement. Even though one of the Spies was less than 10 feet from the Rogue, she remained undetected thanks to a great Stealth check.
Meanwhile the rest of the party fumbled their way down the hole and had reached the bottom. The Blackguard quietly moved up to join the Rogue to see what was going on. The two realized their noisy companions would ruin any chance of surprise so they attacked.
The Rogue took the approaching Spy while the Blackguard charged the Priestess, suffering an opportunity attack from an Initiate for her trouble.
Once the Drow in the cavern realized they were being attacked the Priestess called out to her entourage, “I must not be seen here.” With that, the Spies and Initiates engaged the party.
As soon as the rest of the party got into the cavern I had them all make Streetwise checks to identify the Priestess. They were able to learn that she was none other than Faeryl Melarn.
The Bladesinger joined the Rogue and attacked the wounded Scout, bloodying him. The Druid decided to join the Blackguard and go for the Priestess. He used Wind Wall to target her and two of the Initiates, killing a minion and wounding the Priestess.
The Rogue left the wounded Spy in the Bladesinger’s capable hands and moved to engage the Priestess, scoring a solid hit. The Cleric remained behind the party, attacking the Initiates from a safe distance.
The Initiates spread out and attacked. The only PC to get hit was the Blackguard. The Spies went invisible and disappeared. The Priestess, now nearing her bloodied value called out to four nearby Initiates. “Sisters, your sacrifice will not be in vane,” she said as she pulled their life essence from their bodies in order to her herself. She then activated her Cloud of Darkness and attacked the adjacent Rogue.
Although everyone else was fighting, the Templars remained at attention and did not join the combat. They seem to have a single purpose and that was guarding the entrance to Valan’s lair.
Fearing that the Priestess would use the Initiates to heal herself again the party quickly took out the rest of the minions. The Druid couldn’t resist attacking the three Templars, grouped so nicely for a burst, so he attacked them. He hit all three and created a zone that hampered their movement. The two invisible Spies moved to flank the Druid and then attacked. Only one hit, but the attack bloodied the Druid.
The Rogue dispelled the Priestesses Cloud of Darkness with a minor action. However, as soon as the Templars had line of sight to the PCs they charged (having readied actions). Unfortunately the Druid’s zone stopped them cold and they all fell prone losing their attack.
The Rogue and Blackguard now worked together to try and take down the Priestess while the Cleric helped the Druid by attacking the nearest Spy.
The Priestess swung wildly but missed the Rogue. She then decided it was time to flee and risked three opportunity attacks to escape. The Bladesinger missed, but the Rogue and Blackguard combined for enough damage to drop her. The Rogue landed the killing blow and despite pleas to keep her alive he killed her.
The Bladesinger targeted the three prone Templars with a burst hitting two and slowing all three. The Druid and Cleric faced off against the two Spies. The Druid used a close burst to attack both of the adjacent Spies pushing and knocking them both prone. A Spy crawled towards the Cleric and attacked from prone. The other crawled towards the Druid, attacked and missed.
The Rogue attacked and nearly killed one of the wounded Templars while the Blackguard shifted his focus to the nearest Spy, killing the one wounded at the beginning of the encounter. The Bladesinger charged the nearest Templar and bloodied him. The Druid seeing the three Templars still grouped close together, moved away from the Spies and hit all three Templars with a burst.
The last Spy went invisible, and then stood up. All three Templars stood and attacked the only PC within reach, the Bladesinger. All three hit, bloodying but not killing him (thanks to my terrible damage rolls).
The Rogue attacked a bloodied Templar but couldn’t quite kill him. The Blackguard attacked the invisible Scout but missed. The Bladesinger stood and attacked his closest enemy but missed. He activated his Cloud of Darkness to help his defenses.
The Druid dropped another zone and targeted the three Templars, this time only hitting two. The invisible Spy attacked the Druid but only managed to chip away his temporary hit points. The Cleric, who had a readied action, attacked the Spy as soon as she saw him and scored a crit, dropping him. The Templars attacked the Bladesinger and brought him dangerously close to unconsciousness.
The Rogue attacked the closest Templar and killed him. The Blackguard attacked from range and also killed Templar. The Bladesinger attacked the last Templar but missed. The Druid finally managed to connect and kill the final Templar.
With all the Drow opponents killed the party took a short rest and searched the area. Following the paved floor they came to a staircase heading downward. This was clearly the way to Valan.
This week’s encounter was back to basics. The party had a clear objective which involved a lot of combat and they went to it. They could have tried talking but instead chose to just kill them all and let Lolth sort them out. It’s what they’re good at so who could blame them.
I got a lot of moaning and groaning about the previous week’s encounter, so I felt obligated to let the party mow down some monsters, which they certainly did. Given the party’s advanced tactics, huge damage output and increased level (level 6 now) I doubled all the monsters’ hit points yet the heroes barely broke a sweat. I also increased all defenses by 3 and increased the monsters’ damage and the PCs still just walked all over the monsters – but they had fun doing it, which was what really counted.
Next week’s encounter is the big climax. Since these are the same PCs from last season’s adventure they actually have a personal stake in things. They already faced Valan and he proved a powerful adversary. The party was denied their kill last season so they really mean to stick it to Valan this time around. I can’t wait.
With only one week to go what is the general atmosphere in your FLGS? Are players excited for the final encounter or do they just want it to be over all ready? Has anyone had the PCs fight each other in true Drow fashion? Do any DMs expect their party to fall apart towards the end of the season, temporarily alliances forgotten? Did anyone find this week’s encounter overpowering for their party?
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.