Last week the party faced the bandits in the Moat House, this week they ventured to the Caves of Chaos. One of the things that I’m really enjoying about this season of D&D Encounters is that the players decide the order of events.
Despite some inclement weather in the GTA we still had a remarkably good turnout. We ran three solid tables with only two regulars absent. However, we had one new player show up so that was a plus. I think it really speaks to the quality of this season’s adventure that the players aren’t finding excuses to miss weeks. In the past a little bit of snow might have kept 1/3 of our regulars away, but not this season.
My table had four players from last week and one brand new guy. The returning players were running an Elf Fighter (Slayer), Pixie Wizard (Witch) and Tiefling Ardent/Battle Mind (hybrid). The player who was running the Fargrim pre-gen last week brought a Half-Orc Barbarian this week. Our fifth player was brand new to D&D having never played any edition before. He opted for Ryltar, the Drow Fighter (Slayer) pre-gen.
When we left our heroes last week they had captured the bandits and were marching them back to Hommel Lane so they could face trial for their crimes. As part of their punishment each prisoner had to carry some of Wyndell’s stolen crates back to town. The PCs decided to head straight for the constable’s office to surrender their prisoners.
Constable Grover Ruskal gladly accepted the prisoners but was hesitant to do more than that. He explained that there was a mayoral election in a couple of weeks and that one of the topics of debate was what to do with prisoners. Until then they’d have to stay locked up. The PCs provided their statement of what happened at the Moat House. They made sure to include every single detail, not leaving anything out.
The party seemed unsure what to do next so Ruskal suggested they follow-up on the lead the bandits provided and question the two suspects. He even offered to deputize the party for the job. Some of the PCs were not interested in talking. They wanted to kill more monsters. Ruskal told them about the Caves of Chaos.
He explained that usually the Kobolds, Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins and other monsters all fought one and other which the town had no issue with. Better each other than the people of Hommel Lane. However, recently the monsters all started working together and that was dangerous. A couple of weeks ago a local adventuring party led by Otis went to investigate. They haven’t been heard from since.
Still unsure of a plan the party went to the Golden Grain Inn to grab lunch and talk over their options. The locals ushered them as heroes hearing they’d captured the bandits. Bertram, the Inn’s owner, suggested the PCs venture to the Caves of Chaos. After all they’re clearly capable of great things based on their deeds thus far. The ego stroking worked and the party decided to head to the caves after lunch.
It took the party about four hours to reach the Caves of Chaos. As they approached the valley they were beset upon by a phantasmal attacker. The ghost wore plate armor, carried a shield in his right hand and wielded a sword with a curved blade in his left. On the shield was a stylized symbol of a griffon. “Die, servants of chaos! You shall not live to help your foul master this day!” it yelled as it attacked the party.
The Barbarian realized that this ghost may not be their enemy so he spoke to it, explaining that the party was here to investigate the strange happening and fight the monsters of chaos (rolled a poor Diplomacy check). The ghost paused but did not lower his menacing stance. The Elf Slayer echoed the Barbarians claims (rolled a decent Diplomacy check) convincing the ghost to back down.
The Witch made a History check and remembered seeing the same griffon symbol around Hommel Lane, however she couldn’t quite remember where.
The ghost warned the party of terrible evil in the valley beyond. He explained that a Chaos Mote, a source of evil energy was growing in the temple nearby. While he was alive the ghost came here to stop this growing evil. He sacrificed his own life in an attempt to stop the Chaos Mote but it wasn’t enough. Now he’s bound to this valley near the Caves of Chaos.
When the PCs asked if the ghost knew of Otis he said yes, a week earlier Otis and his companions came this way. The ghost tried to help them. He told them the location of a powerful magical artifact, a sword called the Chaos Blade. The blade has the power to destroy the Chaos Mote when used in conjunction with two other powerful items. He pointed Otis and his companions towards the cave where the sword was hidden. Unfortunately he has not seen any of the adventurers since they entered.
Enticed by the lure of a magic sword, the party ventured off to find Otis and retrieve the blade. They asked the ghost for help but he explained that he could only manifest in certain locations in the valley and not inside the caves.
He did emphasize to the PCs that their primary objective must be to retrieve the sword and get it away from these caves until it could be used to destroy the Chaos Mote. There were literally hundreds of creatures nearby and they were already aware of the presence of the heroes. The monsters would try to stop them from retrieving the sword so the party needed to act quickly before they were overrun.
When the PCs reached the cave they didn’t see any signs of monsters so they proceeded inside. The Witch was badly wounded from the previous encounter and only had 1 healing surge remaining. She decided to stay outside, hiding in a tree ready to lay supportive fire from a safe distance.
Once in the cave the party set off an early warning trap announcing their presence to the monsters within. They were beset upon by three Kobolds from inside while two more started making their way to the cave mouth outside from another tunnel. With some teamwork they took out four of the five without difficulty.
The Ardent ventured deeper into the cave setting off another trap. Boulders fell from the ceiling hitting him and the nearby Barbarian. Before they could get up two Orcs came rushing at them from deeper in the tunnel.
The Witch saw three more Orcs coming from the outside. She blasted at them but missed. One threw a hand axe at her but missed while the other two charged the Drow Slayer keeping guard at the cave mouth. He took two solid hits and was badly bloodied.
The Elf Slayer and Barbarian managed to take out two Orcs adjacent to them only to realize that the Orcs got free swings when they died (fortunately both attacks missed). The Drow wasn’t as lucky. He killed one Orc but took a hit from the dying enemy.
The Ardent moved deeper into the cave and found Otis alive but badly wounded. A sword was buried in Otis’s chest, the hilt glowing and pulsating in time with the wounded man’s heartbeat. The Ardent realized healing Otis while the sword was still impaling him was useless so he tried to remove it. Otis awoke and screamed for him not to remove the sword. The Ardent agreed to help Otis up and get him out without removing the sword.
The Barbarian moved in the opposite direction where he heard approaching creatures. When he rounded the corner he saw two sneaky Goblins. He charged and killed one, then charged and missed a second one.
The Witch saw a huge Ogre approaching the caves and cried a warning to the party. The Drow, nearly out of hit points, took the brunt of the Ogre’s first attack. It completely leveled the PC.
Two more Goblins swarmed the Barbarian and the critters managed to drop him. The Slayer realized they needed to get out of here so she went to help the Ardent carry Otis. When she saw the magic sword she pulled it out of the wounded man. She immediately realized its properties and knew if she killed a creature she’d get temporary hit points. She charged a Goblin and killed it.
With things looking grim the Witch used her daily sleep spell on the Ogre and two nearby Orcs. She hit both Orcs and rolled a natural 20 on the Ogre. The table exploded with cries of excitement seeing the crit. Unfortunately the spell does no damage. I decided that the 20 deserved some recognition so I told the players I’d impose a penalty to the Ogre’s first save. This seemed fair.
The Ardent used his heal to get the Barbarian back on his feet. The Barbarian and Slayer killed the remaining Goblins and made their way towards the exit where they’d need to get past the Ogre. The Ogre, now slowed, used an Orc as a missile and threw it at the Slayer holding the magic sword. The attack missed. The Ogre rolled his save: 11. However, with the penalty imposed from the crit he failed and fell asleep.
The Ardent rushed to the fallen Drow and triggered his second wind while the rest of the PCs grabbed Otis and started making a break for the exit. The Witch spotted four Hobgoblins approaching from the outside and managed to drop three of them with an Freezing Burst.
The Ogre made his next save and woke up. Although prone was capable of making opportunity attacks. All the PCs were adjacent to him. The Drow used his Cloud of Darkness to engulf the Ogre thereby allowing all the heroes to get away without drawing opportunity attacks in the process. In the distance the PCs could hear a lot of Kobolds approaching and the Ogre got to his feat. Suddenly their ghost friend appeared and began to battle to Ogre. The rest of the lesser creatures recoiled in fright at the sight of the ghost and this gave the PCs time to flee and heal Otis.
I had so much fun this week. The idea of wave after wave of minions coming at the party is something I’ve used in my home games before but never so effectively. I decided that some of the monsters should come from inside the tunnels and some from outside. This made the battle a lot more challenging and didn’t just create a choke point the heroes could plug while they easily picked off monsters.
This encounter really demonstrated the need for a balanced party. A group without a controller was going to have a lot more difficulty getting out of this alive than a party with one. In my case we had three strikers who were hitting and dealing over 20 damage with each hit, but since the minions only had 1 hit point each it didn’t matter. Attacks that targeted more than one creature would have been better.
Had the sleep spell not worked as well as it did the party’s lack of a defender would have made things almost impossible as the Ogre could have attacked whomever he wanted to without any consequences.
The fortunate happenstance that led our controller to stay outside made a huge difference. I had her make Perception checks every round to notice the approaching monsters from outside. She could then warn the party of what was coming next. Her defensive position in the tree also gave her cover and she ended up not taking any damage in this battle.
After this week’s awesome display of heroics I’m not sure how the party’s going to top this week’s session.
How did things go at your FLGS? What encounter did your party do this week? Did any tables suffer a TPK? There were some TPKs this week and last week at the two FLGS where I play.
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Recounting Encounters is a weekly podcast I record 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. This season we welcome another gamer to our podcast, Craig Sutherland, one of the other DMs that runs and plays with me in Toronto. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.
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.
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