We 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.
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.
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.