D&D Encounters: Council of Spiders (Week 7)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on October 11, 2012

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?

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1 Joe Lastowski October 11, 2012 at 10:17 am

We ran 3 tables of 5-6 this week at my FLGS, which was a pretty big improvement over last week.

This was a pretty strong encounter, but my players were charged by finally having a single villain they could go after. The fact that he was the same villain from last season also empowered the PCs, because they knew that he was a bad guy, and they’d missed the chance of actually killing him last season (what with the whole clone thing).

The enemies were clearly numerous, though our one House Melarn PC (a male ranger) tried briefly to speak to the priestess. Unfortunately, he tried to say that he knew better than she did, which didn’t go over too well with her. Our Bregan D’arthe paladin sealed the deal, and combat began.

Everyone, PC & NPC, was suffering from poor rolling this fight. Lots and lots of natural 1s, 2s, & 3s. That made the couple of solid hits more exciting (the minotaur slave got the Moment of Greatness when he blindly swung his execution axe into a cloud of darkness & critted against the priestess, killing her). It was a good, solid fight, with one player dropping below 0 HP briefly when he suffered a solid hit from an invisible spy, and the other invisible spy messing up our archer’s typical “stay way back out of combat” strategy, and the minions with their “slide 1” hits helped to keep people just out of the places they wanted to be, forcing more on-the-go thinking, making a very dynamic combat.

The party is eager for things to end next week, but they’re more excited about next season. The chance to play anything from any of the Player’s Option books has piqued a lot of interest and some crazy ideas (I’ve heard mention of Pixie Vampires, and others are eager to return to the insane damage of elementalist sorcerers), and the fact that they can go up to level 8 has also excited many players. The DMs at our FLGS are a little concerned how combat economy will work with players levelling every week, which will effectively turn all their daily powers into encounter powers, and mean that they have no need to conserve healing surges. We’re also a little concerned by the idea of trying to fit full adventures, including roleplaying, exploration, and combat, into the same 1-2 hour period… but anything will be better than the backstabbing villainry of this season.

2 terry October 14, 2012 at 3:29 pm

This session started with the party split due to the results of last week. the party was made up of – 2 Warpriests from house Melarn (supporting the defiant priestesses), 2 Wizards from house Xorlarrin (supporting the council of spiders, and a Warlock and a Thief from Bregan D’aerthe (supporting formation of the Demon Weave). Because of this the party came in on oppisite sides of the cavern. The priestesses recognized Faeryl being from house Melarn, a good streetwise check from the thief got the same info. After saying she can’t be seen here and signaling to her allies, we were in initiave. The thief went first and readied an action to target the first person to attack his group. The Spies went next and became invisible and moved but did not attack. The Templers did nothing. One priestess used Diplomacy to say they were sent by house melarn to assist her anyway she needed, Faeryl told her to kill the wizards, she double moved to get to the center of the board. Faeryl hit the warlock with darkfire then attacked him and hit. The thiefs triggered action went off doing minimal damage (no CA due to her already going). The second priestess used Bluff to do the same, and moved to the center of the cavern. The wizards ask the Warlock to delay until the went, and did. The two wizards went next both using dailies (fountain of flams) and positioning them to get Faeryl, one of the PC priestesses and 2 initiates each, both missed Faeryl and only did half damage on her, the warlock then charged an initiate and killed her. The last initiate then attacked the warlock and hit. The thief then moved to gain CA and critted on Faeryl and dropped her by adding her backstabb. The spies popped up and hit each of the wizards and bloodied both, the third missed the warlock. The Templer remained stationary. the first priestess used healing word on Faeryl (the DM gave her some healing surges beecause of this unexpected action), then moved to attack the thief but missed. Faeryl used pain link then attacked the warlock blooding him. The second priestess used healing word on Faeryl, then moved to engage the thief with a charge and missed also. The wizards shifted back used freezing burst to hit the spies and slide them, 3 of the 4 attacks hit blooding a spy, they then action pointed to second wind. The warlock then drank a healing potion and then hit a spi, blooding him. The initiata attacked the thief but missed them moved to a position to give Faeryl cover from the thief and block a charge from the warlock. The thief took 2 OA to move and gain CA both hit, and mad an attack on Faeryl with the cover, but still hit, blooding her again. The spies went invisable again (the 2 on the wizards), the third hit the warlock. Templers did nothing. The priestesses bothe moved to give Faeryl healing words and then second winding. Faeryl critted on the thief, blooding her. The wizards then magic missiled the spi on the warlock and killed him. The warlock second winded then charged Faeryl taking an OA from the initiate and hitting Faeryl. The initiate moved to flank the warlock but missed. the thief then moved again to gain CA and critted a second time on Faeryl, throwing in a backstabb again putting her down. The spies popped out again, one hitting the warlock and puttint him down, the second missed the thief. The priestesses moved and charged the wizards, both missing. The wizards both drank healing potions and magic missiled each of the bloodied spies, dropping both. The warlock rolled a 20 on his death save and the DM let him use a healing surge without the benifits of the second wind. the thief dropped cloud of darkness, then shifted, and hit the spy with CA dropping him. The priestesses moved to attack the wizards each hitting and putting them down. the wizards made their death saves. The warlock stood up and killed the initiate, then told the 2 priestesses to leave or die. The thief held her action, and the priestesses retreated off the map.

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