D&D Encounters: Against the Cult of Chaos (Week 7)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on March 28, 2013

against-the-cult-of-chaos-coverIn week 2 this party visited the Moat House and nearly got wiped out by the bandits. This week they finally decided it was time to return to the Moat House and investigate the strange happening going on in the dungeon level below the old fort.

I ran a party of five that included a Half-Orc Barbarian, Drow Cleric, Tiefling Ardent/Battle Mind (hybrid), an Elf Fighter (Slayer), and Drow Wizard. I’ve now got seven regular players rotating in and out of my group, but their respective schedules have kept at least one away for the past month. Next week I expect all of them to be there for the finale which should make things interesting.

The party returned to Hommel Lane after defeating the Reptile God and rescuing Canoness Yeeday and a dozen other townsfolk who were being held prisoner. Exhaustion set in and the PCs crashed hard upon their return to the town. After they rested and leveled up they spent some time in the town.

The quickly learned that when the Reptile God was defeated the towns folk under its spell awoke from their trance state. Many felt ashamed and embarrassed at their weakness and the actions they were forced to take. However, some people were not hypnotized and just took the opportunity to be bad.

The PCs felt they should talk to the Constable about rounding up these opportunists. When they arrived at his office they immediately noticed the bandits were not in the cells. Apparently there was a prison break the night before when the PCs were out saving the town. The Cleric immediately picked up on the Constable’s poor lies and knew that he was in some way involved in the escape.

The PCs then went to the Trading Post to see if any of the missing bandits might be hiding there. They found the shop ransacked. It was clear that the bandits were here, took what they needed and fled Hommel Lane. The only real item of value left behind was a crate of cloaks. The fine yellow cloaks were exceptional quality and look fantastic. Everyone in the party put one on except the Wizard.

When the PCs wandered through town in their newly acquired cloaks some of the townsfolk freaked out. Finally someone explained that these were the same cloaks worn by the cultists. The party realized it was time to put an end to the cultist threat so they returned to the Moat House that night.

When they got to the old fort they decided to sneak around just in case any of the bandits had returned. They avoided the front entrance and split up to enter through the side passages. The Drow Wizard and Cleric formed team 1, the rest formed team 2. Team 1 used the entrance nearest the courtyard. They searched for traps and easily found one, a flask of alchemical fire under a flat, thin rock. Team 2 used the entrance that led through the back bedroom. Although they looked for traps, none of them had darkvision and they failed to find any. The Barbarian stepped on the flask and all three PC took the maximum damage from the alchemist fire. They decided to use their second winds to heal up before going downstairs.

Once the PCs regrouped they used the password “Annihilation” to open the magically warded stone door. As they reached the bottom of the stairs the door closed behind them. Since the party members all had low-light visions or darkvision they were not using torches or lanterns. They were now engulfed in darkness. However ahead they could see two sentries in yellow cloaks bathed in the light of torches.

The Wizard decided to remain at the bottom of the stairs in the darkness while the other four PCs, all still wearing their own yellow cloaks, proceeded. The party had no trouble getting past the sentries without altercation. They proceeded to the doors to Lareth’s chambers where they were given permission to enter.

Once inside Lareth spoke, “I am Lareth, your new master. Your arrival is fortuitous. You can assist me in the ritual that will allow me to speak directly to That Which We Obey. Step on to the carpet while I prepare. Do nothing unless you are told to.”

The party did as instructed, however, once they got right into the room they noticed a woman kneeling and praying. She looked up and there was a flash of recognition. It was Priestess Devi who had escaped from their custody last week. She alerted Lareth to their intent, “Master, these are the ones I spoke of! They are here to stop you!” Lareth immediately called for the Guards and the combat was on.

Round 1 was good for team monsters. The two Guards landed hits on the Cleric and Slayer with their Powerful Strike doing around 20 damage each. Lareth Used his blast 5 Command power to target everyone hitting the Slayer, Barbarian and Ardent with psychic damage. The Ardent and Barbarian focused their attacks on Devi and managed to drop her before she could get an attack in.

In round 2 the Slayer wounded one of the Guards, bloodying him easily. The Cleric and Ardent focused on the second Guard both scoring minor hits. The Barbarian wasted no time using his big daily power to target Lareth. He then used his action point to hit him again landing a second hit.

Lareth decided it was time to stop fooling around so he used his Fearful Edict close blast 2 to get all four PCs. He again hit three but missed the Cleric. The Ardent and Slayer were forced to flee and were both dropped when they provoked opportunity attacks from the Guards. Lareth pressed the advantage, used his action point and hit the Barbarian with his scepter, bloodying and dazing him.

Meanwhile the Wizard was alone in the dark hallway. When Lareth sounded the alarm the Wizard attacked the two Goons he could see with Arc Lightning and killed both of them. He then used his Cloud of Darkness to hide. When more Goons shone light down the hall with a lantern they only saw darkness. They fired into it but missed horribly. The next round the Wizard used Magic Missile to drop another Goon.

When the darkness dropped two Goons rushed down the hallway, charging the Wizard but they missed. On his next turn the Wizard used Burning Hands to roast them both. Two more charged in later in the round and actually hit, but the Wizard used an interrupt to gain resistance. Next turn he used Color Spray to take out these two as well. The final Goon moved in to try and avenge his fallen comrades but one Magic Missile was all it took to drop him. The Wizard successfully took out all eight minions by himself.

Back in Lareth’s chambers things were looking bad, and then the Cleric jumped into action. Using her Combat Medic feat she revised one fallen PC with a successful Heal check, then she used Healing Word to revived the other. Finally she attacked the bloodied Guard and scored a crit, killing him.

The Ardent used a daily power to give all the PCs 14 temporary hit points. The Barbarian managed to score another good hit on Lareth which bloodied him. Now that he was bloodied, Lareth again used his Fearful Edict this time dropping the Barbarian. The Slayer risked an opportunity attack to rush past the last Guard and charge Lareth. The opportunity attack missed but the charge didn’t. The Ardent revived the fallen Barbarian but was then knocked unconscious by the remaining Guard.

Both Lareth and the Guard put up a good fight but eventually the Slayer dropped Lareth, killing him. The final Guard considered surrendering but took one look at the Drow Cleric and realized there would be no mercy, so he fled. The Cleric took an opportunity attack but missed.

The Cleric took a minor action to Heal the Ardent, now with two death saves, before firing a crossbow at the fleeing Guard and missing. The Slayer managed to run after the Guard and with a charge attack dropped him… just as the Wizard rejoined the party.

The PCs searched Lareth’s room. They found notes on the ritual he was about to perform. He was trying to contact an entity called Miska the Wolf-Spider which the PCs realized was a deity of chaos. They also found Scroll of Final Words, a powerful and evil artifact on Lareth. When this item was brought into proximity of the Chaos Blade and the Death Circlet crown the party realized that all three were tied together.

The recalled that the ghost of Haffron Hommel told them that three powerful items were needed to seal the chaos mote. These must be the three items. They now had it within their power to stop this evil once and for all.

Thoughts

I was initially concerned when the party left the Wizard behind but in retrospect it couldn’t have worked out better. Had the Wizard been with the party in Lareth’s room he would likely have fallen unconscious early. Then the party would have faced eight minions on top of the two Guards, Devi and Lareth. By drawing the minions away from the battle it gave the Wizard a chance to have his own mini adventure while the party fought the big baddies.

The battle in the small room was tough. I know many of the other groups at my FLGS suffered a TPK or near TPK during this encounter, especially groups without a good controller. Good tactics and teamwork were the only thing that saved the party this week. Everyone knew their role and did an amazing job playing it. The Cleric was both a healer and offensive threat, something I’m always glad to see. The Barbarian and Slayer both scored big hits when they needed them most. The ardent used his powers to buff the party at the most opportune times. Good job all around.

Next week the PCs face the final battle. I’m not going to allow my group to take another extended rest before going into the last fight. I think that they did well enough this week that they don’t need it.

Which encounter did your group face this week? For those who did the same one we did, were there any TPKs? How many other DMs are giving their group an extended rest before the next session?

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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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vobeskhan March 31, 2013 at 7:39 am

Both our groups tackled the shrine of the Reptile God this week and the trio of sessions without rests have taken their toll so I have let them take the extended rest as written in preparation of the finale next week.

However, as we ran an intro session on week 0, following the level up after each 2 sessions, many of our players are now 4th level and so I will be tweaking the encounter to pose a relevant challenge.

2 Justin April 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

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
Frozen Flame – Tiefling Wizard (Witch)
Speedy – Genasi Swordmage
Chali – Drow Rogue (Thief)
Merric – Halfling Rogue (Thief)

So Fargrim was yanking his axe from Devi’s skull while the rest of us asked the Leatherworker and his wife about why they were taken and what they have been hearing. They told us about how the town’s people were acting weird and that they were to be taken before a god. The Vice Governor offered us gold if we were to rid the town of this cult and seal the gates. The party spent 20 RL minutes going over the alters and talking about if they should go through or just consecrate them. Finally we consecrated one of the alters and used the other one to follow the frog person.

We ended up in a cavern with no way out and it was pitch black. Only Chali could see and she told us a boat was near by. Frozen Flame made a light on the halfling’s head and we could finally see the large cavern. Coracias asked if we could cast light on an arrow and shoot that. The DM said ok and Coracias launched an arrow at the far wall but with a nat 1 was unable to make it stick. The arrow fell into the water and we noticed that it was so murky that the light just disappeared. Everyone hopped into the boat and headed off around the rocky crag. As soon as our ship passed the crag we noticed the snake with the woman’s head (Frozen Flame rolled Arcana and found out it was a Naga). So initiative time (Chali, Merric, Koren, Naga, Coracias, Fargrim, Speedy, Frozen Flame, Longhorn).

Chali moved the ship closer to the shore so we could get off easier and attack the Naga. She was going to end her turn but Longhorn said (thanks to the DM allowing me) “We are all bunched up. We need to spread out” since last week Area attacks did us in. Chali used her move action to move run away so that she was far from everyone and near the wall giving her partial protection. Merric jumped off the ship and moved to the right giving some distance away from everyone and tossed the magic dagger at the Naga. It missed and even missed the people on the ground. Koren went left and shot at the Naga with his bow but also missed. The Naga then did an area attack on the ship going over everyone on the ship. Fargrim, Speedy, and Frozen Flame (now bloodied) were hit but Coracias and Longhorn were missed. Coracias, with the water walking shoes, moved off the ship into the water then shot the Naga for 23 damage. Fargrim turned on his beserker charge and charged into the Naga doing 24 on his first attack and 32 on his second (action point and power strike). Speedy moved up and marked the Naga then charged. She hit for 8 points of damage and finally blooding the Naga. Frozen Flame was about to go but something came out of the water and attacked her. It hit her knocking her down to 2 hp and taking away one of her 3 healing surges left. The undead creature (which FF found out was a Wraith) then shifted next to Coracias to stop her from using the special sneak attack next turn. Frozen Flame used he at will Fear to scare the Wraith and for it away from Coracias and used an action point to drop her daily flaming sphere next to the Naga but away from the slaves (she missed with her attack). Longhorn moved in and put up his special daily which gave everyone +2 to all defense and managed to hit both the Wraith and Naga for 15 points of damage. He then healed FF and gave everyone another +1 to all defense for the next turn (they stacked which was nice).

Chali started off round two moving closer to the Naga and stabbing with her short sword scoring a crit. This really hurt the Naga and it looked like we were going to end this quickly. Merric moved to get closer also but was attacked by someone on the ground, the frog guy. Merric turned around and stabbed the frog guy but missed. Koren stayed back and shot arrows but missed again. The Naga then swished her tail and missed speedy but knocked chali into the water (blooding her). Speedy got her free attack and added 12 more damage. The Naga then took over Fargrim’s mind. Coracias moved off and nailed the Frog Guy with an arrow doing max damage (35 damage). Fargrim then attacked Speedy doing a whopping 21 damage (blooding her). Speedy attacked and missed the Naga this turn. Frozen Flame Arc Lightning the Wraith and Frog Man, while Longhorn used his last heal on Speedy.

The Frog Man when first and caused a blast that hit everyone except Longhorn (taking 5 ongoing) and Koren (out of range). That attack was going to do some major damage this turn. Chali started off blind and now at 4 hp. She attacked the Frog Guy criting him and killing him and was able to shake off the poison. Merric was now bloodied and used his second wind to heal up. He failed his save. Koren shot and missed the Naga again while the Naga took more fire damage from the flaming sphere. The Naga tail whipped and hit both Merric (knocking him into the water and down to 8 hp) and speedy but after her free attack (doing another 10 damage). The naga moved away from the fire (turned out she only had 4 hp left). Fargrim then charged speedy and took her down to 10 hp. The Wraith when again Coracias and stole her healing surge while she second wind and shifted away. Longhorn shifted away from Fargrim and hit the Wraith while FF Arc Lightning the Wraith and Naga (killing the Wraith but missing the Naga). She moved the Sphere next to the Naga and torched an slave on the ground. Chali used her Fortune card to give all bloodied creatures 6 temp hp (including the Naga). She then moved up and missed the Naga. After a few more misses the Naga (which took 6 fire damage and would have been down if not for the Temp hp) tail whipped Longhorn KOing him and Chali KOing her. Fargrim still under the Naga’s control hit Speedy again taking her to 2 hp. Speedy then charged the Naga and killed her with a nice 10 hp stab.

Well it was not done yet. We used our last holy water to bless the circlet before taking it off. This caused the caves to crumble and we hightailed it out of there. With 11 slaves in tow we were able to get out of the first few areas with little problem. Then came the next couple problems and we lost 4 more people. We were able to save 6 people and Canoness Yeeday. Over all it was a successful fight and we headed back to town with the lost town’s people. We all got a laugh out of this fight since Speedy (our tank) has taken about 35 pts of damage total for all the fights we have been in (weeks 1-6) but managed to take 58 damage this week. Our own team did more damage to her then the monsters. We cant wait for this week’s adventure.

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