D&D Encounters: Against the Cult of Chaos (Week 6)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 21, 2013

against-the-cult-of-chaos-coverLast week the party stormed the Temple of the Lawbringer and faced off against Bullywugs, Wights and Priestess Devi. After the fight the PCs took a short rest and that’s where we picked things up.

This week I ran a table of six. One of our regulars was absent but another player brought a friend. I’ve had a brand new player at my table every week since we started. The fact that they all keep coming back is a good sign. The party included a Drow Wizard, Tiefling Ardent/Battle Mind (hybrid), an Elf Fighter (Slayer), Half-Orc Barbarian, Ryltar the Drow Fighter (Slayer) pre-gen, and Syndrina the Drow Paladin (Cavalier) pre-gen.

As the PCs searched the basement of the temple they found a Drow in one of the cells. Since we already had two Drow in the party we said that they knew her. This made adding the new PC marginally plausible. In the other cells they found evidence that people were held here recently although no one was there now.

When they searched the altar the Wizard determined that there was a teleportation enchantment upon it. With the correct phrase they could active it.

They brought the bound and unconscious Devi upstairs where they left the unconscious Euphema last week. Euphema was just waking up as the bloodied and wounded PCs came up the stairs, Devi in tow. It took a few quick Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to calm her down but eventually they managed.

With a Heal check they woke Devi. She told them that she was not in her right mind; that she was under the power of an evil force. She apologized for her actions and begged the PCs’ forgiveness for her evil deeds. This was the same thing the grunts at the Golden Grain Inn said so the PCs believed her.

Suddenly they heard a scream from upstairs. Euphema and all the PCs ran upstairs. Another priestess had discovered the bloody body of Sir Moonbrook. The room was covered in Moonbrook’s blood. On the floor near the body Moonbrook had scrawled something with his own blood “PRAY BACKW.”

The heroes examined the body and realized he’d killed himself in a horrific, brutal and likely painful manner. It seemed that the spirit that possessed him could not escape while Moonbrook lived so it forced him to take his own life. The spirit was loose. Euphema begged the PCs to find it and stop it.

When they returned to the main level of the temple Devi was gone. She’d freed herself from her bounds and escaped.

The party proceeded to the basement to use the teleportation magic and follow the priest from last week’s encounter and possibly Devi (if she escaped this way). They read the inscription to the Lawbringer engraved on the now desecrated altar backwards (assuming that this is what Moonbrook’s message meant). The portal opened and the PCs passed through.

They emerged into darkness. They were in an underground tunnel near a large subterranean lake. Sounds of faint moans and cries of pain travelled across the water alerting the PCs to the presence of others nearby.

The Drow led the rest of the PCs towards a skiff at the water’s edge. The party got on and headed towards the sounds. When they rounded the bend, the Drow saw a group of prisoners bound and huddled together on a rocky ledge. In there midst was an enormous snake creature with the head of a human female. Atop her head was a golden crown set with seven gems.

“Only fools come before me willingly,” it said. “But even fools can serve me, either as minions or as a meal.”

With a readied action the Wizard cast light so that the rest of the party could see. The Elf Slayer moved the skiff right up to the shore while the Drow Slayer jumped off and charged the Naga. He hit, followed it up with an action point and scored a second hit. The Paladin followed the Slayer’s lead and did the exact same thing, unfortunately only hitting once. The Naga attacked the Paladin twice with Tail Slap but missed both times. It used its action point to attack twice more hitting the Paladin with the second attack only and pushing her back.

The Barbarian charged in and hit. He then used his action point and unloaded his daily attack and hit. On his one turn he inflicted over 60 points of damage to the Naga (on a non-crit). This easily bloodied the Naga. The Wizard used his Fountain of Flame to engulf the Naga in fire further damaging it illuminating the entire cavern. He then activated his Cloud of Darkness.

From beneath the dark waters an undead Wraith arose and attacked the Elf Slayer still on the skiff; however, it missed. The Slayer attacked the Wraith, but missed. She then shifted away into the Cloud of Darkness.

The heroes continued attacking the Naga but were not as fortunate with their rolls on round two. The Naga managed to hit and push the Barbarian and Slayer back. When the Barbarian charged back into melee, one of the helpless prisoners used an opportunity attack to strike him as he ran by. It was the Reptile Priest, Garath who escaped last week.

The Ardent was next to Garath and attacked him before he could take a defensive action. Garath crawled one square away, drawing opportunity attacks from the Ardent and Drow Slayer (both connected) before using his Curse of Poisoned Eyes, blinding the Paladin, both Slayers and the Barbarian, and causing a lot of ongoing poison damage.

The Drow Slayer and Barbarian both charged the Naga despite their blindness and both hit. The Paladin and Elf Slayer decided to use their Second Wind while blinded. The Wizard and Ardent focused on Garath and easily destroyed the pesky priest before he could do any more damage.

Meanwhile the Wraith attacked the Paladin and Elf Slayer on alternating turns but couldn’t score a hit on either one. In fact it didn’t hit anyone the entire fight.

The Naga used its Word of Pain on the Barbarian and hit. It then dominated him (unbeknownst to the party). However, when the Barbarian acted next the ongoing 10 poison damage knocked him unconscious. The Ardent’s instinct was to revive the fallen ally. But the player knew that he was dominated and was actually a threat if healed. After considering the best action the player did a great job of separating player knowledge from character knowledge and healed the dominated Barbarian.

One of the other prisoners called on the power of the Lawbringer to heal the wounded PCs as the fight continued. The party kept exchanging blows with the Naga and it was nearing death. The Barbarian attacked and injured the Drow Slayer once before shrugging off the Domination.

With only a few hit points remaining the Ardent and Elf Slayer managed to trap the Naga in the corner and drop it. The Paladin, the only PC with Radiant powers, finally connected with the Wraith and destroyed it.

When the Ardent reached for the crown the helpful prisoner (now revealed to be Canoness Yeeday) warned him not to touch it. She explained that it was a powerful and evil artifact. Cautiously he took it from the head of the dead Naga. When he did the cavern started rumbling and the ceiling began to collapse.

The heroes quickly helped the prisoners to their feet and they all ran for safety. The journey was perilous but after a half hour they finally managed to reach the surface. By the time they returned to Hommel Lane the sun was rising in the East.

Thoughts

This was a tough encounter. When I played it a few weeks back with my other group we got crushed. This time the PCs did a pretty good job. It’s amazing how much better a level 2 party can do in this situation than a level 1 party.

With four strikers in the party I bumped up the Naga’s hit points from 126 to 200. If I hadn’t they’d have killed the Naga before the end of round 1. I held back Garath and the Wraith until round 2, waiting for a PC to move past Garath and draw the opportunity attack.

The Wraith was all but useless. It didn’t hit anything. The PCs dismissed it as non-threatening. When it was the final monster on the board it still had 62 hit points. I wasn’t going to draw out the combat so I turned it into a minion and when it took radiant damage I said it was destroyed.

We ran out of time so the skill challenge at the end was just me narrating what happened. I don’t like doing this but we were already running quite long on the night.

I was pleased that the Wizard didn’t use his blast or burst powers once he realized they would also target the innocent prisoners. I was also very impressed by the Ardent’s decision to revive a dominated PC.

Next week the PCs will return to the Moat House dungeon before heading into the final week.

Which encounter did you do this week? For those who have faced the Reptile God, did you suffer any casualties? How many parties split up, some swimming and some on the boat?

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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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vobeskhan March 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

We had our two groups again this week, the first tackled the Temple of the Lawbringer, but the second chose to head directly into the fens in search of the Death Circlet so I had to improvise which given the way this season has been written was relatively easy to do.

Details recounted in my regular blog.

2 Vobekhan March 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Oops forgot to add blog link.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters Season 12 – Against the Cult of Chaos – Session 6

3 Auiva March 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Last week we left off with jumping through the portals underneath the Lawbringers’ temples, and this week we arrived on the shore of an underwater lake, and began to skiff along the sides of the cave to try and approach carefully (and because we were paranoid there were things in the lake going to attack us). We met a scene similar to the opening poster’s, though the DM had provided an extra wight for us to fight. However, since we had not fought the spiked frogs way back in the moathouse episode, the DM had had them escape down into the lake, and they ended up watching us. With nature and diplomacy checks we eventually convinced the froggies to help us in our fighting, making promises of snacks and their old places back at the moat house, if they wanted it. In the meantime, we had a rough fight as the wights threw their ranged attacks at us, the naga blasted us, as well as dominated our barbarian for four rounds. With no leader in our group, but with healing potions and utility powers that allowed several of us to heal dying allies, we tended to fall down a lot, but always have enough people to keep the balance between fighting and healing going. At one point the other fighter and I had a moment where we both were going to go down, and with both of us having guardian’s counter from our theme, we talked amongst ourselves and ultimately found a way for one of us to take all the hits, the other stay up, and the other immediately heal the other one. A lot of the fight was tactical thinking for keeping allies alive, and a bit of luck. The DM’s damage dice were hot, and we spent most of the fight with near to no health or temporarily unconscious (5/6 members went down at least once, and at least half the party was down at least twice), but eventually won. The ending was the best part, as another player from another table came over as we were growing weary, almost out of healing options, but the naga bloodied. The player looked at our fighter, who the naga had just invoked an AoO from, and simply said “roll a crit”. The fighter rolled….and natural 20! The damage was exactly enough to but the naga at 0, and the table erupted in cheers and high-fives- we were so enthusiastic the other table also running late starting shooting us air high-fives from across the store. It was glorious.
The skill challenge was surprisingly almost calm in comparison, escaping with all the NPCs with names, and only messing up on two-three of our challenges. All and all, the day was quite a haul, but also quite an accomplishment.

4 Justin March 26, 2013 at 12:53 am

So here is our group again…
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)
Speedy – Genasi Swordmage
Chali – Drow Rogue (Thief), new person
Merric – Halfling Rogue (Thief), new person

So we started the week staring at a closed door with no way to open it. The Fargrim and Chali both rolled to see where they were underground (according to the town) and both rolled natural 1s. So we knocked on the door with no answer. Finally we decided to move back down the tunnels looking for other passages. Coracias rolled a 25 for her perception and found a new path. Following that path we made it to a ladder heading up into a new room. No one wanted to be first up the ladder so Fargrim grabbed Merric and tossed him up the ladder and into the room. Merric failed his save to catch himself on the top of the ladder and came tumbling back down suffering some damage. Merric did see that no one was up there so Longhorn headed up the ladder and search the room. While searching we found a window and saw that the Lawbringer’s Temple is where the door we could not get though was located.

We quickly headed to the temple and barged in yelling to see Sir Moonbrooke and find out what was happening downstairs. The Priestess said they had some traveling monks visiting and that they were downstairs praying. Longhorn grabbed the Priestess took her upstairs to find Sir Moonbrooke. Coracias, Merric, Fargrim all decided to break off from the party and try to find the stairs down while the rest headed upstairs. When we got upstairs we noticed the door to Sir Moonbrooke was open. Quickly we headed to the room and noticed that he was dead and blood everywhere. Longhorn performed a Heal check on Sir Moonbrooke and found that his throat was slashed and the DM had him roll perception too. That is when he found a message in Sir Moonbrooke’s handwriting in blood… “Pray Backw….” Everyone guessed that it was Pray Backwards so we all tried in the room to say some prays backwards. Nothing happened. We then asked the Priestess if there was a famous Lawbringer prayer and tried that. Still no luck so we asked to head to the basement to find the monks who we agreed most likely killed Sir Moonbrooke and were doing something bad.

The other group tried to find the way to the basement but kept failing (bad rolls) and ended up in the Kitchen. The servants there asked what they were doing and they were able to bluff that they were with the monks and needed to get downstairs. The kitchen staff pointed them the way to the basement and they headed there. At the same time the group from upstairs ran into the other group and all headed into the basement together. They opened the door and headed in. What we saw was just wrong. Two monks praying at defiled alters while a Frog like creature was standing with them. With that Devi ran around the corner and said that they were defiling the temple and she needed help. The heroes jumped into action.

With some great initiative rolls 3 of the group jumped into action before the enemies. Fargrim was first and charged the monk praying and hit him hard (32 damage thanks to power strike). Chali came second and ran downstairs hitting the monk also doing another 14 damage. Next was Koren and his tiger and they both missed the monk. The monks were next and the first one (one everyone was attacking) stood up and blasted everyone with a scream. This knocked everyone back into the walls and damaging them (everyone except for Longhorn had low will saves). The other monk stood and used a range attack but missed. The Frog man whispered something and disappeared. Longhorn recognized it as the Lawbringers prayer backwards. Longhorn charged in and killed the damaged monk and allowed a space open for Speedy who charged the last monk hitting him (but not marking because of the charge). Well that is when the tables turned and Devi attacked hurting Chali badly and calling in reinforcements. 4 Bullywugs came from the alters while 8 more charged down the hallway. So the whole team was on one side of the board and Speedy on the other. 6 of the Bullywugs attack Speedy while the others took on Fargrim and Longhorn. Speed only was hit one time (thanks to combat advantage) while Fargrim and Longhorn took some big hits.

So the battle went on like this for a while. Some of the biggest highlights (and lowlights were)
1. Speedy taking out 5 Bullywugs in one turn with her Action Point.
2. The Monk (Wight) screaming and pushing 5 heroes into the wall then Devi blasting everyone for Max damage. She managed to take out Longhorn, Fargrim, Koren, Take Chali to 3 hp and Coracias used a Fortune Card to take half damage and end up with 4 hp.
3. Coracias went after Devi and healed Longhorn with her only potion of healing. Koren failed his first save and then it was Longhorn time. He stood and used his daily minor action to take one of Fargrim’s healing surges and heal both Fargrim and Koren.
4. Fargrim charging from across the room (using beserker’s charge) to move a total or 12 spaces and charge Devi. Everyone at the table told him not to kill her (so we could get answers) and he said “If I roll a nat 20 then it is a kill strike otherwise it will be just a knockout), he rolled his only Nat 20 of the night.

So by the end of the night we had Chali with 1 healing surge, 2 others with 3 healing surges and no one left to tell us what is going on. We were able to rescue the Governor of Hommel Lane, the Leatherworker and his wife. They were able to tell us about a lot of townspeople being taken though the portal to somewhere. The Governor said that he would pay us for his rescue but we had to close the portal. That is where we ended.

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