D&D Encounters: Against the Cult of Chaos (Week 5)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 14, 2013

against-the-cult-of-chaos-coverWe began this session in the cellar of the Golden Grain Inn. The PCs defeated Bertram, Derek, four goons and two Bullywugs last week. With the festivities still going full force upstairs they didn’t know how long they had before these guys were missed. They took a short rest, cleaned up evidence of the fight and moved the bodies into the secret passage. Hopefully this would buy them some time if anyone got curious and came to check on things.

This week we continued to draw in new players at our FLGS. Two of my friends visiting from out of town joined us as well as three brand new players and the return of a player who was absent for the past few sessions. Had we not had a few regulars absent we wouldn’t have had room to accommodate everyone at the three tables in the store. As it was I ran a table of seven PCs. The party included an Elf Fighter (Slayer), Pixie Wizard (Witch), Tiefling Ardent/Battle Mind (hybrid), Drow Wizard, Svirfneblin Seeker, Ryltar the Drow Fighter (Slayer) pre-gen and once again Fargrim the Dwarf Fighter (Slayer) pre-gen.

The party decided to head down the secret passageway to see where it led. There was one slightly smaller tunnel that branched off but for now the party kept to the main route. They eventually reached a large iron door. They realized the only way to get in was to destroy the door or have someone from the other side let them in. So they knocked. But nothing happened. The Dwarf Slayer put his ear to the door and listened intently. He thought he heard chanting, but none of the other PCs could hear anything. Frustrated at the dead end, the party headed back.

The Dwarf Slayer then noticed a hidden passage a few paces away from the iron door and when he investigated he found a ladder leading up. The Drow Slayer climbed up and looked around. It emerged near the Temple of the Lawbringer. Ropes and pulleys set up in the shaft indicated that someone used this as a way to secretly move goods under Hommel Lane.

Before the rest of the party headed up and out they wanted to see where the other side passage went. The backtracked and took the other route. It led to another cellar, this one under the burned remains of the Inn of the Winsome Wench. Although there was no one there now, footprints in the soot and dirt revealed that Bullywugs were here recently. The party assumed they were made by the Bullywugs they killed last week so they returned to the shaft near the iron door.

Once the PCs emerged from the shaft they decided that something was clearly amiss at the Temple. When they put all the pieces together: the secret passage, the chanting, Canoness Yeeday missing, and the bad vibe they got last week from Priestess Devi, they decided that they had to act now before things got any worse.

They tried entering the Temple through the front door but it was locked. It took a couple of tries but eventually the managed to pick the lock and gain access. They moved through the church towards the spiral staircase. Despite their attempts to move quietly they must have alerted someone upstairs because they heard the sounds of someone moving about.

The Elf Slayer, Drow Slayer and Wizard all sprinted for the downward staircase while the rest of the party hid behind pews. The Seeker decided to face whomever or whatever heard them and was on its way downstairs from the second floor. It turned out to be a priestess. She was alarmed to see anyone in the Temple since she had locked the front door herself. The Seeker convinced her that there was danger about and that she should find a safe hiding place. She agreed and asked that he escort her to a panic room upstairs near the sleeping quarters.

As soon as she turned to head upstairs the Witch, Ardent, Dwarf Slayer all ran downstairs to follow the rest of the party. The Seeker quietly pulled out a dagger, whispered an apology, and used the pommel to knock out the priestess. He placed her gently in a chair at the top of the stairs and then turned to join the rest of the party.

When the first three PCs ran downstairs they stumbled onto a strange sight. Before them were two shrines to the Lawbringer, except where the crossed swords of the Lawbringer should be, hung two mummified snakes. Kneeling at the foot of each shrine a devoted priest prayed. At the far side of the room stood a froglike man clad in green armor and wielding a warhammer with a snakelike head. Priestess Devi rushed towards the party and cried out for help.

“Thank the Lawbringer you are here! We are being invaded by terrible swamp creatures. That fiend conjured them forth,” she said as she pointed to the frog man. Behind Devi the PCs could see and hear Bullywugs rummaging about.

They wasted no time. The two slayers ran past Devi and each engaged a different Bullywug. The Wizard fired a Magic Missile and the frog man and then popped his Cloud of Darkness at the bottom of the staircase.

The next round the next batch of PCs came downstairs, but were hampered by the darkness. As they emerged from the darkness they all moved deeper into the room to engage in the fight. Unfortunately each of them took an unexpected opportunity attack from the priestess kneeling in prayer whom they didn’t denote as an enemy.

The frogman placed a hand on the nearby shrine and summoned two more Bullywugs. He then used magic within the shrine to teleported away.

The Elf Slayer, Dwarf Slayer and Ardent engaged three Bullywugs near the cells. One of the Bullywugs managed to draw the Elf Slayer into the cell with him and then closed the door, trapping both inside.

The Drow Slayer and Witch were caught up in battle with the newly arrived Bullywugs and the opportunistic priestess whom they now realized was undead. The Wizard on the staircase sent Arc Lightning onto two targets and then backed up the stairs. The Wight followed and managed to immobilize him. The Seeker, now heading down to join the party shot the Wight, pushing him back to the lower level.

Priestess Devi revealed her duplicitous nature by attacking three PCs with her Shadow Snakes power, critting the Dwarf Slayer and slowing him. The Elf Slayer in the cell exchanged misses with the Bullywug. The slowed Dwarf decided to help his ally and spent his action breaking open the cell door for the Elf.

The Wights engaged the Witch and Drow Slayer in melee hitting and draining healing surges from both. Things finally started going for the party when the Slayers all started connecting and dropping their respective Bullywug opponents. The Witch and Seeker managed to take control of the battlefield and move their opponents into better positions.

When the last Bullywugs were finally dispatched the party focused on the Wights, leaving Devi free to attack from range. She scored another crit, this time on the Witch. Although her output was the result of lucky rolls, the party deemed her most dangerous and focused everyone they could on her. The Witch took her down, knocking her out rather than killing her.

With only the Wights remaining the Slayers went to work. The party lost a few more surges but eventually destroyed both undead creatures.

No one fell unconscious, but most PCs were bloodied by the end of the fight. The absence of a (full) leader could have spelled disaster for a party this large, fortunately the monsters spread the damage around really well, thanks in part to the leader drawing fire and the controllers moving the monsters adjacent to the stronger PCs.

Next week the PCs will have a chance to interrogate Priestess Devi and examine the teleportation magic of the corrupted shrines.

Thoughts

It’s always tough to give everyone ample time in the spotlight when you’re got a large party. Last week we spent a lot of time role-playing and minimal time with combat and that was with a party of six. With seven at the table this week I was glad that there wasn’t really a lot of role-playing required. The party seemed to feel the same way when they rushed headlong into combat, something they haven’t really done this season before this week.

The combat was fun and worked well even with such a large group. I was fortunate that I managed to divide the party into three groups. This limited their ability to work together effectively (at first) and that gave my monsters an advantage. The only change I made was to add two more Bullywugs and this seemed like a good balance.

By having some of the enemies not join the fight immediately the players assumed (incorrectly) that they weren’t dangerous. When they finally entered the combat they did so in remarkable fashion.

What encounter do you run or play at your FLGS this week? Did anyone suffered a TPK this week? Is the lack of party balance making your adventures harder, easier or just more interesting?

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.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Justin March 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Well we all missed Week 4 (work for me and the rest of the regulars had issue so it turned out no one was there last week, except the GM) so we continued on from where we left off. Now I have been good and corrupted my daughters into playing DnD with me. Great to get some new blood for the game.

First off we got 2 new people joining us this week so now we have a large party of players (8 Total) and only 1 GM (I might GM next week if we get more people). So our party is now:
Fargrim – Dwarf Fighter Slayer
Koren – Elf Beastmaster Ranger with a Tiger companion
Coracias – Kenku Rogue (Thief)
Longhorn – Minotaur Runepriest, Me
Frozen Flame – Tiefling Wizard (Witch), My 9 yr old daughter
Speedy – Genasi Swordmage, My 6 yr old daughter
Chali – Drow Rogue (Theif), new person
Merric – Halfling Rogue (Theif), new person

So with successfully taking out Lareth the beautiful and crushing the cult their the heroes headed back to Hommel Lane to talk to Wyndel. Wyndel said that the leatherworker and his wife have now gone missing and people in town are worried. We decided to go check it out, except first stop by the Sleeping Serpent to get some fuel for the dwarf and a pineapple for the Tiefling. Fargrim bought a round of ale for everyone in the tavern and we went around talking to the different sides (Lawbringer and Old Faith). We found out a lot of people have gone missing. The party headed over to the Leatherworkers place to search it but found that the brother of the Leatherworker’s wife was there. We asked him a few questions but were not getting anywhere. Longhorn asked him where they were last seen and was asked to roll Diplomacy. Well his 0 in Diplomacy I just grimaced and rolled…Nat 20. So we learned that they were last seen in the Golden Grain Inn (also they practiced the Lawbringer’s Faith) and we headed there to ask around.

Entering the Golden Grain Inn we were given a warm welcome by everyone and Bertrium gave free drinks on the house. As we asked around party members were pulled into different contests. First was the drinking contest. Fargrim jumped 4 feet off the ground to make sure he was going to be in the contest while Speedy and Frozen Flame joined (my 6yr old daughter asked the GM in such a sweet voice “Can I just poison the rest of the people in the drinking game”. Ah the Drow in her). I told my oldest daughter that it would be most likely a Consitution or Endurance contest and she did not have a high Consitution (+2) or Endurance (+4 for Fire Lizard Familiar). She said that she wanted to do it so I shrugged my shoulders and sat back to watch. 3 villagers also joined into the contest. First to fall was a villager, then Fargrim rolled a 2 and fell out of the contest. A second villager and Speedy (who said since her character was made of electricity that she was shorting out from all the ale) failed at the same time so it was left to the last villager and Frozen Flame (who rolled nothing under 16). She rolls again and gets a 19 while the Villager got a Nat 1. Frozen Flame won against all odds (8 rounds total) and the purse of 10 gold.

Second a large woman challenged the heroes to arm wrestling. Longhorn stepped up and took the challenge, putting down 25 gp against her +1 dagger. This was a funny challenge. I rolled a total of 4 Natural 20s in the battle but also quite a few 2-5s. In the end after 15-20 rolls Longhorn won and got the dagger. Last was a dart throwing contest. The GM decided to have everyone one left throw at the same time. This was a quick match and Coracias won easily with 9 points (other people were 6 for GM and Koren, 5 and 4 for the other Rogues). Coracias won the 10 gold purse and went to get her darts. As she approached the board the GM had the other Rogues and the Ranger roll perception. The Koren and Chali easily saw what happened while Merric rolled a Nat 1. They saw the other dart thrower hit a spot on the board and Coracias fall down a hole (2 on the saving throw and she was gone). Koren rolled a 19 on the die to grab the dart thrower and started to ask him what happened to his friend. He said that Bertrium told him to do it so Koren, Chali and Merric gathered the rest of the group and went after Bertrium. He was not talking so the Dwarf tried to Intimidate him. He rolled a 2 so the GM said “Fargrim grabs Bertrium and raises his arms up trying to hold Bertrium by his collar to intimidate him but even with his arms fully up Bertrium is still standing on the ground.” The Halfling said, “I will get him to talk” and jumped up on the Dwarf’s shoulders. He then rolled intimidate and got a Nat 20 so we now have a Halfling standing on the Dwarf holding the innkeeper by his collar in the air trying to get him to talk. We all died laughing at the table. We learned that Coracias was in the cellar and all headed down there with Bertrium in tow.

Downstairs Bertrium lead the party to a stack of barrels that we moved and could see Coracias stunned and chained to the wall. So the GM at this point wanted a little more room for everyone and increased the main cellar room by 3 squares north and 3 squares east giving a lot more room (thanks to dungeon tiles). Well the cellar door opened again and a large man in armor charged into the room with 4 guys in tow. Since we were a little spread out we were caught out of position and Frozen Flame, Koren, Speedy and Longhorn were near the stairs. The Lieutenant charged Longhorn and knocked him prone with a max damage hit (Ouch). The four other people charged one on Speedy, one on Koren, one on Koren’s tiger, and one on Frozen Flame. Speedy and Frozen Flame were hit but not hurt too much. We rolled initiative and Longhorn got a Natural 20 so 23 for me (thank god as the Lieutenant got a 21 in Initiative). So Lornhorn stood. Healed himself and boosted everyone’s defenses for the next turn. He then attacked the Lieutenant and completely missed. The Lieutenant attacked back and missed and then everyone else jumped into action. Frozen Flame moved back and blasted 2 of the goons with Arc Lightning killing them both while Speedy marked the Lieutenant and smacked him lightly for 8 points of damage (I know they are a defender but man they have low damage output). Merric and Chali hit other goons and killed them while Coracias was able to pick one of her locks with her beak. Well then another 8 goons showed up and attacked blooding both Longhorn and Frozen Flame. 2 more enemies appeared coming in from a different direction (dressed in frog like masks) and attacked Chali, knocking her prone and blooding her. Bertrium attacked Frozen Flame from behind almost knocking her out.

Well the battle lasted for 2.5 hours (4 hours of total play time this week) and in the end our MVPs were Frozen Flame (taking out 6 minions), Speedy (locking down the Lieutenant with her Aegis of Assault and super high defenses), and Koren/Tiger tag teaming almost everyone and dishing out lots of damage. Still Fargrim had the biggest hit (not a nat 20 but rolled max damage on a charge with power strike added in) almost caving in the Lieutenant’s head. Also 2 more of the Frog masked people showed up and attacked but were dealt with so quickly that they did not have much of a chance. We also forgot to save someone and in the end had a great ledger with information we did not understand and a tunnel leading to a sealed door with no way of opening it from this end. The new people seemed to enjoy the encounter and the bar scene did give us some great RP opportunities before all the fighting. Again overall I have been very impressed with this season’s games and I hope we have more of this going forward.

2 Auiva March 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Our group was the same this week as last- Knight, Fighter, Barbarian, Witch, Seeker, and Ranger.

We are not far off from where the PCs in the OPs writings were. We’d discovered the Iron Door at the end of the last session, and knew through some knowledge of the town and exploration of the tunnels that this door lay beneath the Lawbringers’ Temple. Suspicion quickly arose, and this week started with going to the temple to look for Devi, whom we’d met in the past. Instead we met another acolyte, who claimed Devi was downstairs preparing for some monks arriving, but seemed quiet timid and afraid. She then changed her story, and said Devi may be upstairs now, not downstairs. Despite our growing suspicion that we were walking into a trap, we followed the acolyte upstairs- where we found a dead Sir Halfmoon. With a heal check, it was determined that his deadly wounds were caused from…the inside. The entire scene was rather gruesome, but the group did find a note written in his blood: “Pray backw-” before trailing off.
The group demanded answers of the acolyte, who was stunned, and decided that was it, it was time to go downstairs and see what was going on in the cellar of the temple. The group ran into Devi and the frogman as written above, but called Devi out with keen insight into her lying through her teeth (in addition to our already existing suspicion), and the two ranged folks let loose a round, getting an immediately reaction from Devi, who sneered at us as “not being as idiotic as we appeared” before hitting us with magic, and revealed her acolytes to be wights and returning fire.

This fight is the first tough fight we’ve had all season- the encounter was probably a level or two above the PCs’ level. I (the fighter) got out further into the room within the first round, but due to the wights and bullywugs cornering much of the party in the starting area, it was hard for most of the party to get mobile without provoking multiple AoO. On top of that, the bullywug’s anti-healing auras kept the party from healing some of the time. All but one party members went down at one point or another throughout the fight, but between each having a healing potion, and 3 members having taken various healing utilities when we’d hit our latest level, we were able to cycle through who was attending to healing and making sure someone got up each round as well as focusing fire to get the enemies down. Our barbarian had especially bad luck- on the opening fire a wight immobilized him (save ends) right next to the shrine, which created a -2 to saving throws, and proceeded to be immobilized for much of the rest of the fight. Luckily, bullywugs kept showing up near him, so he was able to keep slashing away, at one point using a daily to one-shot a bullywug in stunning fashion.

Ultimately it was not an elegant or graceful fight on our part, but we held out and despite no leader, all survived the fight. Exploring the area, we found two of the latest kidnapped people, freed them, and found out a bit more about the kidnapping and the ledger we’d found last week. With a perception check at the beginning of the fight, when a frog-priest had disappeared into the shrines, we were able to hear him muttering the words on the shrine backwards, confirming our guess of the words from Sir Halfmoon’s note. The witch determined the shrines are one-way teleports. So, we took a short rest, then decided to go through, hoping to find the Lizard God who is busily trying to eat her way through Hommel Lane.

3 Vobeskhan March 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Our party had the Golden Grain encounter this week and had a blast, despite my very bad frog/french jokes with Bullywugs and despite most of them getting bloodied and the Vampire going to negative hp, nobody “croaked it” :-P

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