D&D Encounters: Search for the Diamond Staff (Week 5)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on July 18, 2013

search-for-the-diamond-staff-coverPosing as mercenaries hired by Phoedele to ensure her transaction with Barcero wasn’t disturbed, the party avoided a combat encounter last week and convinced the Sembian Wizard that they were duped. When Barcero realized Phoedele wasn’t coming (and had sent the PCs as a distraction) he and his entourage headed to Mistledale hoping to intercept the Zhentarim agent before she could use the Diamond Staff to gain entrance to the Vault of Song.

Still weary from their hard ride to Sandersal Manor, the PCs decided to rest and stay the night at Barcero’s camp before riding on to Mistledale to persuade Phoedele themselves. They did strike a bargain with Barcero before he left. They asked if he would give them the same terms and payment for delivery of the “package” he was offering Phoedele. He agreed and then rode off into the night.

We’re still a week behind at Harry T North, but the group at Silver Snail (whose adventures we followed last week) is on track so we focus on them again this week. As we’ve seen in past years, the attendance for D&D Encounters during the summer fluctuates a lot. This week there were only six players for 4e (down from 15 during week 1). We had five players at the D&D Next table which I ran. The party consisted of the following members: Elf Ranger, Human Fighter, Human Wizard, Halfling Rogue (re-skinned as a Bard), and Half-Elf Cleric.

The next morning the PCs decided to head directly to Peldan’s Helm in Mistledale rather than return to Hap and speak to Imani. The journey took them almost two days of travel and they arrived a few hours before nightfall. Peldan’s Helm is a small community defended by palisades that surround the settlement.

The PCs had no trouble gaining entrance to the town and the guard at the gate directed them to the Firehand Inn, the only one in town. Once there the PCs got rooms for the night and a decent meal. They tried to press their serving girl for information but she was skittish and awkward. It turned out she was new at her job and didn’t want to gossip or speak of others behind their backs.

Some of the nearby patrons piped up when they heard the PCs offer gold for information. They confirmed that a crew of Zhent soldiers came through Peldan’s Helm the day before. They were well equipped and clearly experienced. They stopped in town briefly to gather some fresh provisions (their money’s as good as anyone else’s) and then they headed north. Further interaction revealed that there are Elvin ruins in the forests north of Peldan’s Helm.

While tending to the party’s horses, the Cleric and Ranger befriended a couple of teenaged stable boys. They too saw the Zhents pass through town and head north. The boys commented that the north woods are haunted and with any luck the Zhents would fall victim to the monsters and ghosts. Unfortunately these two PCs were unable to get any solid details about the monsters out of these boys.

The Fighter decided to visit the Constable and explain why the party was in town. He explained that these Zhent agents were responsible orchestrating an Orc raid on Hap and had stolen some valuable property from the townsfolk. The PCs were going to recover the lost items and see that the Zhents were punished.

The Constable said that the Zhents headed north into the forest. If the PCs were planning to pursue the Zhents he suggested they meet with Iandra Greenhood, a Ranger who lived on the outskirts of town. She woke at dawn so that would be the best time to meet her. He explained that she was somewhat reclusive and that if there were Elves in the party they should go alone.

The PCs regrouped at the Firehand Inn and decided to call it a night. When they woke up the next morning they found a note from Barcero slipped under their door. Apparently Barcero, and his undead Zombie guards and Shadar-kai mercenaries were on the outskirts of Peldan’s Helm but knew better than to try and approach the village. During the night the Shadar-kai scouted the town and finding no signs of Phoedele or her troops Barcero and his band headed north in pursuit.

The Elf Ranger and Half-Elf Cleric went to visit the local Ranger while the rest of the party had breakfast. Iandra’s animal companions alerted her to the PC’s approach and she welcomed them to her humble home offering them Elvin coffee, something they hadn’t had in a long time. Iandra was a gracious host and was glad to have Elves in her home. She was friendly and polite.

When asked about the Zhents she relayed the same information the party had already gathered. When asked about the haunted woods she explained that a band of Chitines lived among the ruins. They were dangerous spider-like beings that spun webs and laid devious traps.

Finally the Ranger decided to be more direct in his questioning. He asked her about the Vault of Song. She didn’t know of it specifically but knew of many Elvin ruins in the north forest. Many of those sites were marked with Elvin writings and could be the place they sought. Sounds of crystal chimes are often heard near one area in particular. If there was magic locked in one of these places she wasn’t concerned about the Zhents gaining anything since they’d need a key to unlock the secrets. The PCs told Iandra that the Zhents had the key they’d stolen from Hap.

Iandra got very serious and concerned. She suggested that the PCs gather their friends and get ready to leave immediately. She’d meet them at the north gate in an hour. She could lead the party through the woods cutting hours off their journey.

The other three PCs were enjoying their breakfast when two of the stable boys (obviously hung-over) came into the Firehand Inn. The PCs offered them coffee and the Wizard suggested the take a swig of his own home brew that was guaranteed to help with their symptoms. Only one boy was brave enough to try it.

The heroes pressed the boys for any details they could remember about the Zhents. When they specifically asked about the staff one of the boys recalled that the female leader had her bedroll rolled up lengthwise, which they thought was funny and impractical. It’s possible she could have had a longbow or a staff encased within it.

When the Elves returned they explained the situation and told the party to get ready to leave. The trip with Iandra was uneventful. There’s no way they would have made it this far this fast without her help. She got them back on the main path and explained that when they returned they could simply follow it back to Peldan’s Helm. The party realized that they’d likely passed Barcero and his group thanks to Iandra’s shortcut.

After travelling on the road for another hour or two the PCs eventually reach a small trapper’s cabin. A group of Humans in gray robes were pacing around and it was apparent that they’d just searched the building. Three of the PCs (who participated in the Game Day adventure) recognized the cloaks as those of the Cult of Dragons loyal to Dretchroyaster the Dracolich. The cultists didn’t notice the PCs so the heroes quickly tried to come up with a plan.

Option 1: They could let them go without altercation. After all, there was no need to actually fight them. The party could wait 30 minutes and then follow them. The only problem was that if the cultists realized they were being followed they might attack the party.

Option 2: They could fight them here and now. The Halfling Bard who spoke Draconic and knew of the cult would approach and distract them. He’d claim to be sympathetic to their cause and offer to help them. Meanwhile the other PCs would surround the clearing and ambush the unsuspecting cultists.

It looked like option 2 was the way to go and the PCs were about to move into place when the player running the Ranger, a quiet guy who barely speaks during game play, came up with another option.

Option 3: They could convince the cultists that Barcero had the Diamond Staff. This would eliminate the need for the party to potentially fight either the cultists or Barcero’s group in the coming sessions.

Like Silent Bob in Kevin Smith’s movies, the Ranger spoke only when he had something really important to say. The party loved this idea and immediately put it into action.

The PCs casually proceeded on the road towards the cabin. When the cultists saw them they formed a defensive stance and the leader demanded that the party stop and identify themselves. They explained that they were just passing through on their way to Shadowdale. They had no quarrel with these men and didn’t want trouble.

The cult leader explained that he and his men were searching for an important object. They believe a group of travelers heading in this direction had it and might have hidden it. The PCs casually said that they’d passed a group on the road behind them earlier. They were lead by a Wizard with a large crystal staff. The cultist pressed for more details which the PCs happily provided (since they’d already seen the staff). The PCs explained that the Wizard must be powerful since he had three Zombie guards and two Shadar-kai mercenaries in his employ.

Convinced of the PCs’ tale, the cult leader paid the heroes for this information and then gathered his men and headed back down the path. Wasting no time the PCs continued north towards their true goal.

Thoughts

For the second week in a row the PCs decided that there wasn’t any need for combat. With a few carefully placed lies and some fast-talking they managed to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. The whole session took about 90 minutes. As with last week’s adventure I asked the players if they were disappointed that there was no combat and again they were all happy with the way things worked out. I promised them that next week they’d get to fight.

This group was a lot more open to role-playing the town encounter than the group I had in the first week back in Hap. It was evident that there was something to learn from the people of Peldan’s Helm and that spurred on the role-playing. The toughest part as getting the players to ask specific questions. Things like “Tell me anything relevant” and “Has anything unusual happened” won’t yield useful results. When they finally asked about the Vault of Song and the Diamond Staff they got useful answers.

I was glad that the PCs didn’t have to fight the cultists because on paper they looked really tough. I’m sure this party would have done ok, but given the cult leader’s magic spell selection I imagined it could have gone very poorly for team heroes. I’m beginning to see more signs that Wizards in D&D Next are clearly the most powerful class, especially as they advance in level. I guess that’s one more thing from previous editions that’s creeping back into the game.

Did anyone else avoid combat this week? For those who fought, did you suffer any losses? Has anyone had a PC die yet this season (in D&D Next or 4e)?

Additional Resources

Wizard has provided two great Dalelands maps for this season.

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.

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.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kbeezy July 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

I run encounters at the 20sided store in Brooklyn, NY. I had 5 players and my table went great!

They bypassed Imani’s Tower, traveled directly through the woods through the Vale of Lost Voices; I did a little interaction encounter with the Ghost of an Elven Child who warned the group about what they might release should the Vault of Song be opened. This is an angle I’m trying to play up at my tables; the mystery of what lies within the Vault.

My table then bypassed Peldan’s Helm completely and went directly into the Western forest looking for ruins. So instead of running the town as I’d planned, I had a great time coming up with something on the fly (using the module as a guide) and leveraging the new exploration rules with them.

Their Ranger found the remains of the ancient curtain walls of the Elven Kingdom’s fortifications.

Their Monk looked for herbs with which to make potions and crit’ed, so I game him a free potion of healing.

Their Wizard searched for tracks and found many monster, hoof, and foot tracks.

Their Barbarian tripped over a dead dog.

Their Cleric also crit’ed on ‘following my God’s Guidance’ and found an ancient shrine of oxidized metal, with an Eternal Flame laying in it’s center. The Flame started to die as they were there and they started singing songs to it; thinking it might be the entrance to the Vault of Song. As they sang, the flame got brighter.

As it did, the only NPC I used from the Mod (though I changed her name to a hero from a Homegame), Indra Greythread, the Elven Forester from Peldan’s Helm arrived. In my mind I saw her as someone who made pilgrimages out to the Flame Shrine to sing songs to it and keep a tiny sliver of Uraven alive; I figured she’d been doing it for decades to honor the lost Elven kingdom. She also made lots of maps of the surrounding area; which the group asked her for, but didn’t have high enough CHA to get. Still, she pointed them in the right direction and they found the fight, killing all the cultists in a surprise attack. They party is becoming VERY leery of Magic Users.

Last week my table made a deal with Barcero and then double crossed him as his group left.

I’m still waiting for a group to try the fast talk approach!
Kbeezy´s last blog post ..Start of Summer RECAP!

2 John M. July 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Well this week we actually played 2 sessions. With the 4th holiday we got a week behind and decided to do a double. Our group consists of a gnome wizard (N), human paladin (LN), human fighter (N) and dwarf cleric (NG) (me). We are using Next rules.

Our night started with the encounter with Barcero from last week. In our case we were doing well with Barcero and his cast roleplaying everything out and getting some gold out of the quest for Barcero until our paladin (who seems to have a chip on his shoulder) decided he had enough of the banter and decided to attack Barcero. Lo and behold we are rolling initiative and have a fight on our hands.

In the first 2 rounds most everyone but me had taken damage and the paladin was down after 2 rounds. I was setting up some stuff and decided to channel divinity and rebuke undead, taking control of one zombie. The paladin was down in a cloud of death at that point. The Shadar-kai were teleporting like crazy and getting 2 attacks (recharge was working for the DM obviously). The fight was not going well but in our game the undead gained a teleport after they became mine and I used one to pick up the paladin and get him out of the cloud before he took ongoing damage. I channeled divinity again and got me another one, one Shadar-kai finally went down and the wizard re-animated him on our side. The other was finally killed and Barcero was knocked to 0 HP. It was a fairly substantial fight.

Afterward Barcero was revived and had no desire to talk. A quick hang over the well (probably a long drop to the bottom) by his feet caused him to rethink it and we eventually settled in with some info and a good nights rest before we headed to Peldan’s Helm.

Next morning after a good night rest we proceeded onward, did our business in Peldan’s Helm, took Barcero to the constable, and made our way into the woods after getting the necessary supplies and such. When we reached the shack the cultists that were there had no inkling to talk, only fight and we had a decent one with only 4 PCs. It did not last too long but a couple of well placed spells and good melee dispatched them all.

Overall it was a good night and I enjoyed this one most so far. I think that there is some synergy happening in our group and tactics are starting to form which helps. Already looking forward to next week.

3 ramanan July 18, 2013 at 1:24 pm

I’ve really enjoyed the last couple sessions of Encounters. One of my biggest complaints with Encounters is that it doesn’t do a good job of showcasing the fullness of D&D. Clearly it has pretty tight constraints, so that’s understandable. These last couple sessions have felt much more like an actually D&D game you’d play with your friends at home. They seem much less forced than the first couple sessions of this season, which felt like they fit the go here and fight mould of encounters much more.

And yeah, it was fantastic when the Ranger spoke up and presented what was clearly the best plan. It’s cool seeing people slowly start to grok how the game works.
ramanan´s last blog post ..On the NPC

4 Vobekhan July 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Our group continued using the Next playtest rules.
They had the intention of talking their way past the combat but I thought as the heroes were able to recognise the cultists, so too could the cultists possibly recognise the heroes that stole their staff (the ones that took part in Games Day) – both groups passed their checks and the cult mage ordered his men to attack.

With the cult mage having the Evoker trait it certainly made his fireballs and wall of fire effective and the heroes most definitely felt the threat of defeat.

Another great week, despite the “compulsory” skill challenge sneaking its way in.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters Season 14 – Search for the Diamond Staff – Session 5

5 Joe July 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

We ran 3 tables of 4-6 at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA, all running 4E.

The party didn’t care about consulting Imani, so they instead headed straight towards the village. I felt the skill challenge was a little weak as just a die-rolling exercise, esp since my party had very few of the required skills trained, so instead I fleshed out the town and surrounding woods a little more and let the party’s interactions with the townsfolk effectively give the same effect as the skill challenge, with as little dice rolling as possible. It was more a matter of creating simple problems that different townsfolk had, and if the PCs chose to help them, each townie would give up the little bit of information they had. With an ancient Elven power nearby, I also felt free to add in more fey-themed interactions (like a squirrel who needs help getting nuts, or a pixie practicing illusion magic). It was actually kind of fun as a DM, because so many players get jaded into the trap of making a skill check at an NPC or situation to learn everything pertinent, and this was a nice way to break that and say that they actually had to interact with these people to or situations to gain that knowledge. For instance, I had the half-elf ranger charmed to think she was under a witch’s curse where she could barely speak, and when everyone tried to “Arcana” at her, I said there wasn’t any actual magic. Eventually they figured out that she HAD been charmed in the past, but that now it was just her own belief that the curse lasted a year and a day that was psychologically hampering her, so they put together a huge, flashy “ritual” to convince her that they had cured her.

The fight was pretty fierce, with those veterans hitting HARD (I used goliath-with-greatsword minis, because humans just aren’t as intimidating). One of my PCs had been present for the Game Day adventure where they’d stolen the staff from the dracolich, but it took him a round or two to realize that the cultists were singling him out (despite the fact that they said things like “He’s one of the infidels Master told us about”). I also spiced the combat up by having every cultist yell something dragon-related when he attacked: “Feel the fury of the dragon’s claw!” or “Bow before the power of the dragon!”, etc… though the minions could only muster “DRAGON!”, which further emphasized their blind zealotry & minionness. This had the effect of making the PCs feel empowered when they were missed by such an attack, and also prompted them to try their own anti-dragon catchphrases as they defeated the foes. Plus, especially after last season where every other fight was against cultists, I felt like I needed to differentiate these cultists somehow to make the encounter exciting.

Stat-wise, I only had 4 players at my table, so I used 4 minions and halved the HP of the veterans, and the fight lasted just over 6 rounds. This was my first time having a player with a psion at my table, and I have to say it was a little cheesy, since he spent most of the fight hiding behind the building while launching powers through his ego focus thingy elsewhere on the battlefield. Oh well, not the end of the world. Each class has its own wonkiness to account for as a DM… this was just my first time experiencing the psion wonk.
I’m eager for next week’s encounter, though I’m scrambling to make sure I have enough minis that can fit the types of critters used.
Joe´s last blog post ..Gunnerkrigg Court: I’ve Seen Such Schools Before, but Never Quite Like This.

6 Spykes July 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

O-M-G…. Stop hating on Psionics! Psionics are sooo awesome.

You stirred the pot so here it is…

I don’t see why people are so afraid of psionics. How is allowing Divine, Arcane or Primal powers any different than allowing mental powers? The argument that they are too OP is usually spouted by people that haven’t run them in 4e. Anyway, a DM always has the last say about how powerful something is in their world. I think it just boils to the fact that people have avoided them and they fear the unknown.
Saying that they should be reserved for super-hero type games is just a mental association. People have minds in any universe. Sure, Dark Sun brought them to the forefront in that world, but to ignore the power of the mind in other D&D worlds is a shame. They are the ultimate manifestation and essence of the controller. They should be embraced and brought into the game as a full-time player instead of relegated to the PHB3. I believe they are a core power to any fantasy universe and just as legitimate as the other three power sources.

7 Ameron (Derek Myers) July 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

@Spykes
In this week’s Recounting Encounters podcast I referenced an article I wrote in 2009 called Psionics Suck! in which I stated that I think psionics and mental powers should be limited to superhero games and not be a part of D&D (except Dark Sun). It’s my personal opinion and I know that it’s not shared by everyone. I will concede that psionics in 4e are just as balanced as the other power sources and they merely add new flavour to the way the power system works. In retrospect my initial criticism of psionics for 4e was clearly wrong. We’ll see how psionics shape up in D&D Next and in the new campaign world Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell are putting together.

8 dan July 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

This week, our party was made up of 2 human monks (one path of mercy, and mine: path of stone), a human druid, a half-orc wizard, a dwarf paladin, and a fighter whose race escapes me, playing by the playtest rules.

One thing I have disliked about encounters at my location is the fact that it is inconsistent. I don’t mean that I dislike people being missing once in a while, or that I don’t welcome new players. I mean that of the 3 different DMS at our location, I have had all 3. Also, despite the fact that many of my original party members are present every week, the party composition changes drastically. In addition, when new players are introduced, they seem to imbalance one party.
This constant change of party has caused difficulty developing teamwork between party members. I know that if the parties had stayed mostly the same (only changes being due to absences or new players) then we would have done much better, and would be more cohesive in our strategies.

This week, our party had 2 brand-new players and one who had attend one other session. The rest have a bit more experience with the game.

That being said, I still enjoyed this week’s session. Recapping from last week, we had persuaded barcero that we had been duped as he had, and were offered double what he was paying phoedele to retrieve the staff from her.

After spending the night at the manor, we journeyed to pelden’s helm, deciding that the benefit of assistance from imani did not outweigh the cost of a two-day journey out of the way. Upon our arrival, we decided to explore a little bit, check shops, etc. Then we moved on to gathering information. We rolled terribly when asking about phoedele, and the NPCs were unwilling to cooperate. Having hit a wall asking for info, the DM urged us to check the edge of the forest for clues. I assume he did this because so much of the party was new, and we were focusing on asking around. However, we were getting there, we just didn’t want to miss anything in town. At the edge of the forest, we looked for signs of passage. The stone monk rolled a natural 1, and wound up making the searching more difficult. One of the PCs went to speak with the ranger, and just barely managed to get her help. She utilized her tracking abilities to undo the damage the monk did, and the party was able to finally be on their way.

We had lost a significant part of the day failing our skill challenge, so when we found ourselves at the cabin, it was dusk. The paladin and druid chose to investigate the inside of the cabin, while the stone monk began searching the perimeter, and the other 3 stayed on the path to keep an eye out. However, the party was ambushed as soon as they were a little spread out.
The cultists’ leader recognized the stone monk from the game day adventure, and the monk likewise recognized the cultists. 3 of the players were surprised by ambush (the mercy monk, the fighter, and the druid). The cultist leader opened with a wall of fire next to the 3 PCs who had stayed back, dealing massive damage, and one of the others charged the stone monk with a greatsword, landing with a critical hit. The monk expended a use of ki to turn his flesh to stone, taking no damage, instead jarring the attacker’s arms. Then, he somersaulted over the attacker and kicked off his back, propelling them in opposite directions. The cultist was thrown into the wall of fire, killing him instantly, and the monk launched himself toward the leader and 2 cultists, injuring one severely, but allowing himself to be surrounded in the process. He was then attacked by an elite who had been invisible, and missed by the attacks, but heavily injured by the other cultists. The wizard and fighter moved to assist, but only injured the elite and one cultist through placement of a flaming sphere.
The paladin was attacked from behind by a cultist, and the mercy monk was attacked by the other invisible elite.
The leader put some distance between the melee and himself. The stone monk finished off the elite. The druid (shifted into a dire-bear form) attacked and killed one cultist. The paladin attempted and failed to shove the cultist engaging him into the wall of fire, who proceeded to hurl the paladin into the wall’s radius himself. The half-orc wizard then bit the cultist, dealing minor damage, but scaring the crap out of him. He then intimidated him into fleeing into the cabin. The fighter climbed the roof to try to get better vantage with his bow.
The wizard then dropped the wall of fire to then cast a fireball on the cabin, heavily wounding all characters except the monks (mercy was out of range and stone expended the last use of his kids to avoid dying). The cabin began to burn, and the roof collapsed under the weight of the fighter, and the cultist inside was injured by a falling board. The stone monk fled combat to use a healing potion. The druid killed another cultist. The paladin, fighter, and mercy monk finished of the other elite, and the wizard forced threw the last cultist out of the cabin.
The cultist leader was easily finished off after this point.

I apologize for the wall of text.

The party was badly wounded by the end, mostly due to the mage’s attacks. I think that is due to the fact that those of us who had experience with 4e are used to magic attacks being less powerful, but this encounter drove home the fact that magic is much more powerful and more of a threat than we are used to thinking. In future encounters, I feel like we will all be much more ready to aim right for enemy mages.

9 ShadowTiger July 31, 2013 at 3:05 am

I know its a bit late, but last wednesday we had a pretty awesome session. We spent the first 30+ minutes just introducing 2 new player to the campaign. One was a thief who was a local trouble maker in the town and was at odds with the constable. In retribution for the death of his mother, the thief was making the constable’s life hell and recently stole his fancy hat and hid it in the graveryard… in a fresh grave set aside for the thief upon his capture.

My character, a Necromancer, was leery of the paladin and lifebringer cleric who were part of the group. They really didn’t like Barcero, and after that smiting he took I was nervous. I went to the graveyard while people were gathering info on the dragon cult and raised a skeleton minion. I tried disguising it in heavy clothing and perfume to see if I could pass it off as a familiar or something. Unfortunatley, I was also looking at the fresh graves to see if the Zhent mercenaries had been causing trouble in the area and found the hat and decided to put it on my new skeleton (under the clothing).

The thief noticed the hat shaped bulge in the hooded robes with a natural 20 on his perception check and tried to steal it. I noticed just in time to make the skeleton defend himself… this happened right after I rejoined the group and they were trying to introduce themselves to the skeleton… terrible timing. I ended up casting invisibility on the skeleton to keep it from getting revealed… problem solved… for now.

It turned out the thief was being hunted by the Zhent mercenaries and new their whereabouts… so we got him to be our guide in exchange for the hat (crappy tread in retrospect).

We also got introduced to a druid, the protector of the town (the other new player). She offered to guide us through the forest and help track down our quarry as well, after giving a brief explanation.

We knew about the Dragon Cultists as well because we asked in the general store, so that wasn’t a surprise when they showed up. It turns out they were huddled around the Druid’s house in the middle of the forest, making camp until they scouted out ahead. We waited for a scouting party to leave, thinning the enemy formation and allowing us to set up an ambush.

Our insane dwarf pyromaniac was inspired by our antics from last week (burning down Barcero’s building while he was still inside). Our Half-Orc assassin who started the fire last week had bought all the oil from the merchant, so the dwarf had loaded up his donkey with a keg of strong but terrible quality moonshine.

We decided to ambush the dragon cultists by lighting the keg on fire with a fuse and smacking the donkey to have him run towards the center. The druid opened up with a spike growth upon half of the cultists and my character used the Death Smoke that I learned from Barcero’s spellbook. The donkey ended up exploding, causing fire and shrapnel damage in a large radius, even damaging the Druid’s house.

What ensued was a horrendous slaughter of the dragon cultists, they were shell shocked. Unfortunately the blood spray caused my skeleton’s invisibility to fail… and the priest and paladin quickly started attacking it. I tried to stop them from destroying my creation with a ray of enfeeblement but that completely whiffed… enough to give them doubt about my intentions. Finally someone suggested to have it play dead… brilliant!

So tomorrow night I have some excuses to make… lets see what happens. Afterwards… we simply just follow the cultist scouts towards where the the staff is.

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