Chapter 2 began after the party took an extended rest. The storm continued raging over Neverwinter, but the rain and wind slowed considerably. The heroes took advantage of the break in the storm to take care of some personal business before heading to Helm’s Hold where they were going to meet Elden Vargas.
The party decided to split up. The Cleric and Deva Wizard went to visit Lady Sala Nidris and her son Zan, the Rogue went to the Beached Leviathan, the Shade Wizard stayed at Midnight’s Mask, and the Hexblade ventured off on his own to take care of a personal matter tied into his back story.
For the second week in a row we had more players than we could handle at the Silver Snail in Toronto. Due to limited space we can only run a maximum of three tables each week. All three were full this week – two tables of six and one of seven. A couple of our regulars decided not to expand the tables of six to tables of seven and instead took a week off. My table had six including a Human Warlock Hexblade, Wilden Cleric, Deva Wizard, Shade Wizard, Halfling Rogue and a Pixie Bard (Skald). So five of six from last week.
Lady Sala Nidris
When the Cleric and Wizard arrived at Lady Nidris’s home they were welcomed inside. The PCs explained they were there to check up on her and Zan. Lady Nidris was clearly upset and at the mention of Zan began crying. She told them how Zan became enraged and acted wildly when the whole town was beseeched by the madness. Her Guards had to subdue Zan before he hurt himself or someone else. Mintarn soldiers were called and took Zan to Helm’s Hold for treatment. Lady Nidris misses her son greatly and will be heading to Helm’s Hold as soon as the storm passes. She asks the PCs if they will accompany her on the journey and they agreed.
When the Rogue arrived at the Breached Leviathan it was busier than he’d ever seen it before. There was a line outside and bouncers keeping the patron’s in check. When people spotted the Rogue they cheered him. The bouncers let him cut the line and enter. Inside the people again cheered him. Captain Harrag explained to the Rogue that people flocked to the Beached Leviathan last night after the PC left seeking a safe place to escape the madness. As new people arrived they were told of the PCs’ heroics in defeating the Devils. From there the story grew and the PCs became instant celebrities. The Rogue reluctantly accepted his mantle of hero, partaking in a few free drinks. He asked Harrag about Helm’s Hold but didn’t learn anything new.
The Hexblade’s Tale
As part of his back story the Hexblade sought his missing companion. He spent the day following up on new leads and was successful. He found her and extracted revenge. The party noticed that his mood had changed greatly when he rejoined the party.
The Shade Wizard decided to celebrate by having a few drinks and waiting for the rest of the party to finish their business and meet him at Midnight’s Mask later in the day. Once everyone had returned, the PCs learned that the wake for Muln Horan was being held here today. They were welcomed to the ceremony where they met many of the fallen Dwarf’s friends. General Sabine herself was in attendance. The Shade Wizard explained to Sabine that they needed to get into Helm’s Hold but the doors were barred. Sabine dismissed the claims as outrageous until he told her that Elden Vargas had told them as much. That got her attention. She agreed to provide letters of authority in the name of Lord Neverember that would guarantee them admission.
Journey to Helm’s Hold
The following day the PCs got ready to journey to Helm’s Hold. General Sabine provided them with letters as promised as well as six horses, saddled and ready for the journey. Once the PCs left Neverwinter’s boarders they were met by Vargas. He explained that after the attempt on his life he took the last day to stay out of sight. He gathered the magic he needed to help his wife and was glad the PCs were accompanying him to Helm’s Hold.
When they arrived at the sanctuary about 4 hours later, there was a group of people mulling about outside. When they saw the PCs they cheered. “Now we’ll get them to open the doors,” someone called out. The heroes dismounted and approached the front gate. When they knocked the Guards spoke through the doors. “No one enters; no one leaves.”
The PCs explained who they were and that they were her on explicit orders from Lord Neverember himself. They slid their letter under the door but the Guards would not open up. “There’s a riot in progress,” the Guard explained. “Some of the more violent patients are running wild and cathedral is on full lock down until order is restored. It’s for the safety of the people inside and outside.” The crowd gathered outside, who desperately wanted in, told the PCs to smash the door down and force their way inside, but calmer heads prevailed.
The PCs decided to see if there was a back entrance. The climbed a wall and proceeded to check the grounds. The crowd saw the PCs climbed the wall and decided to follow. The PCs didn’t want the company so they hurried around back. When they found the back gate the Rogue quickly tried to open the lock but failed. The Hexblade, assisted by the frustrated Rogue, tried the lock and got it open. The mob was about to round the corner so the PCs burst inside as fast as possible and closed the doors behind them.
Inside they spotted three Guards. The Hexblade tried commanding the Guards to stand down, but they did not comply. With that, the party decided to attack and subdue them. With the fight underway, Vargas said “You keep them busy, I’m going to find my wife and make sure she’s safe.” He took off past the Guard taking an opportunity attack for his trouble as he bolted past them.
During the second round a door opened and from within the barracks a Mage appeared and engaged the party. The PCs could also her more Guards coming from the far hall. They did a great job of focusing fire and dropping one Guard at a time. The pesky Mage fell back into the barracks, closing the door and hunkering down. After a couple of rounds, once the PCs moved away from the door, the Mage reappeared and fired at them again. This time they made sure to knock him out before he could take refuge again.
After three Guards were down, the remaining Guards decided to fall back and retreat to the front gate. The party split up, three searched the barracks for any treasure or useful items while the other three proceeded. The Guards had readied actions and got free shots at the PCs brave enough to go ahead alone.
As the rest of the party finally joined the leaders, the front door burst open and a mob of people rushed inside the chapel. The PCs didn’t now who was hostile and who wasn’t so they had to wait for the villains to take shots at them and reveal themselves. Once that happened, it was a race to zero hit points.
The Adept managed to get five of the six PCs in his Insane Shriek (blast 3) twice, but in the end the party managed to take him down quickly. We ended with the party catching their breath near the front gate and will continue the exploration of the cathedral next week.
The party spent about an hour role-playing the events in Neverwinter before leaving for Helm’s Hold. There was almost no dice rolling, but everyone had a good time and it allowed them to really get into character.
During combat three PCs took the brunt of the damage while three remained unscathed. My dice were HOT and I rolled five crits, three on the Hexblade. He ended up 1 hit point away from his negative bloodied value before being revived. When he healed up after this week’s encounter he had 1 healing surge left for the next three encounters. The Rogue was in a similar boat with only 2 healing surges left.
In order to encourage exploration I photocopied the map and cut out each room. I only placed one room at a time as the PCs moved throughout the cathedral. In order to keep them out of the main hall I told them there were doors on either side. I couldn’t see another way to keep them out until next week and I certainly didn’t want to merge the two combat encounters.
Based on a suggestion from Erik Scott de Bie himself on the Wizards’ forums, I decided to have Vargas accompany the party to Helm’s Hold rather than just say he was already there. This seemed to make more sense to me.
I noticed that this week’s combat encounter, although fun, wasn’t challenging. Most of the monster had defenses between 12 and 16. The strikers in my party have attack scores between +11 and +16. They hit on everything but a 1. It was silly. I could have just made the bad guys two hit minions since they seemed to fall after two hits. I don’t know if giving them higher defenses would have done anything more than drag out a combat that already lasted over an hour. I think fewer foes with considerably higher defense is what’s called for, and guess what, that’s what we have in the coming weeks. Good luck!
How did you find this week’s session? Was the fight nothing more than a resource sink for your group? Did anyone kill a PC? Any TPKs? Did any DMs have issues with players who couldn’t separate what they knew (about the map) from what their character knew? How did other DMs keep their players from exploring the Main Hall this week, especially those who came in the back gate?
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