Last week the party faced off against the Dragon Chartilifax, only to see the Dragon flee when it got bloodied. The PCs tended to the Prophet Rohini, took a short rest, and then ventured upward to confront Elden Vargas.
This week at Harry T North in Toronto we ran two tables of five. Even though we determined seating randomly, my table had four of the same five as last week. We lost our leader but gained a defender. Here’s what the party looked like: Human Wizard, Human Ranger, Human Assassin, Dwarf Fighter, and Goliath Monk (my character).
The party split up: the Ranger and Wizard climbed one staircase, the Fighter, Assassin, and Monk took the other. When the party reached the next level the storm raging outside seemed to intensify. Lightning struck the building repeatedly and the booming thunder caused the entire cathedral to shake and sway. The windows exploded inward and broke under the pressure. Lightning seemed to dance into the room through the open window creating crackling creatures made of electricity.
When we saw seven lightening creatures between the party and the main staircase we knew that initiative would be important. The only PC to act before the monsters was the Assassin. He cautiously moved a few squares and fired at the nearest Storm Hurler. That got their attention as all the monsters turned towards the party and attacked.
With the party pinned at the top of the staircases the only way to get into the room would require the PCs to provoke multiple opportunity attacks as they went. The Fighter activated his defender aura which would hopefully reduce opportunity attacks for those monsters trapped within it. Unfortunately he missed on his first attack.
My Monk used his Spellscar power to go invisible. This allowed him to move without provoking opportunity attacks. He then used a daily power that was close burst 2, however, this increased to 3 because of magic item so he was able to attack all seven opponents. Three hits for 24 damage, four misses for 12 (plus 12 more for furry of blows to one monster). Since only one monster was bloodied I used an action point to use my close burst 1 at-will. However, the daily power effect and item made it burst 3 so I again targeted all seven monsters, hitting four. Good turn. However it got the monster’s attention and I faced a lot of attacks next round.
The Ranger moved through the fray provoking four opportunity attacks as he went. Three monsters were in the defender aura so the Fighter did his thing and hit all three. Only two of the opportunity attacks connected and the Ranger ended up taking about 15 damage for hit troubles. On the up side, he managed to stay away from the monsters for pretty much the rest of the combat so it was certainly a good decision to move early despite the risk.
The Wizard was pinned. All he could do was step back down the stairs and fire Magic Missile at the Storm Hurler in front of him. Since that was the creature who had taken the bulk of the attacks so far it fell, clearing a path for next round.
The Fighter and the Monk became the targets of the monsters for the next couple of rounds. Fortunately the attacks against the Monk either missed or were minimized thanks to some defensive powers that provided him with resistances or temporary hit points (or both). The Fighter managed to lock down two Storm Vertices and two Storm Hurlers with his aura, but all of those attacks quickly ate away at his immense pool of hit points. The fact that they all targeted Reflex, his lowest defense, didn’t help. Fortunately as a Dwarf he could use his Second Wind as a minor action, but even with the resurgence he still fell below 0 hit pints by about the fourth round.
Meanwhile the Wizard got into the room and used Freezing Burst to target at least two, but usually three, enemies in his burst each round. His attack dice weren’t cooperating and he only seemed to hit one each time. The Ranger and Assassin targeted the bloodied enemies leaving them for the Monk to drop with his massive close burst 3 at-will each round.
When the Fighter finally fell, the monsters locked in his aura all dispersed and each took on a different PC. The Ranger risked another opportunity attack to move past the Storm Vortex and Heal his fall ally. The gamble paid off as the opportunity attack missed and the Heal check was a natural 20.
Regrettably the monster acted before the Fighter and they managed to hit him and knock him unconscious again before he could act. But that’s not enough to keep a Dwarven Fighter down. He rolled a natural 20 on his death save and got right back into the fight on the next round.
With all of the Storm Hurlers down the party faced three bloodied Storm Vortices. Two attacked the Monk while the other was again stuck in the Fighter’s aura. Focused fire, team work, and a lot of luck saw the party victorious. When they finally dropped the last monster the Monk and Fighter both had less than 10 hit points remaining. One hit on either would have dropped them.
With the monsters defeated the party had to find a way upstairs. The main spiral staircase was destroyed so they had to clear rubble and climb up. The Monk, Fighter and Ranger had no trouble; the Assassin and Wizard fell during the climb and each took a bit of damage. When the party reached the next level they had to dodge through falling debris. The Assassin who took minimal damage during the fight used his body as a shield to safeguard the now bloodied Wizard. The Fighter took a solid blow to the head but kept on his feet with 1 hit point remaining. The Ranger and Monk easily dodged and weaved their way through.
Once everyone reached the safety of the intact staircase the party took a shot rest before climbing the final story to face Vargas on the rooftop.
For the second week in a row we had very combat-heavy session with almost no role-playing, and it was great! Poor initiative rolls nearly killed the party. The monsters managed to block us at the top of the stairs. This gimped the party’s ranged attackers and forced them to be creative.
For the second week in a row the party took a lot of damage from some very powerful monsters. The Assassin and Monk were both forced to take Durability as their level 6 feats after last week’s shellacking. My Monk is going into next week’s finale at less than full hit points and 1 healing surge. The Assassin is at full hit points but has 0 healing surges remaining. Even the Fighter, who had 15 healing surges at the start of the chapter, is down to 6.
I really liked this week’s fight. The terrain was nothing special, but the shaking building causes creatures moving 3 squares or more to make an Acrobatics check or fall prone. This gave the Monk and Ranger no issue, but forced the Fighter and Wizard to really think about where they wanted to go and move there 2 squares at a time.
The pushing gusts of wind coming through the open windows didn’t really have much effect on us since we spent most of the fight near the stairs, but it did put the Ranger back into harm’s way one round when he thought he was taking cover.
The party couldn’t make high enough knowledge checks to determine if the monster’s had resistances but we assumed thunder and lightning powers shouldn’t be used against them. Turns out we were right as they had resist 10, but the ongoing storm magic should have provided +5 extra damage from powers with those keywords, something our DM forgot to apply when we did actually use a couple of thunder powers.
The Storm Vortices’ aura was particularly effective against the Fighter, but fortunately the Monk never attacked them while in an adjacent square. This week’s combat was ideal for controllers or anyone who could target multiple monsters (like a Monk). It was the exact opposite of last week’s fight against the solo Dragon where the heavy-hitting, one attack strikers were the stars of the show.
Next week is the thrilling climax. I don’t expect our entire party to live through it simply because we’re so hurt. The lack of healing surges will likely be our undoing, so those of us with few remaining need to do our best to contribute before we fall unconscious or die outright. I can’t wait.
How did your party do this week against the lightning monsters? Did anyone’s PC get killed? Did any parties suffer a TPK? How many of you are going into the last fight with no healing surges or less than maximum hit points?
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Recounting Encounters is a weekly podcast I record with fellow Toronto DM, Craig Sutherland, and 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. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.
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