D&D Encounters: Search for the Diamond Staff (Week 8.)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on August 8, 2013

search-for-the-diamond-staff-coverDuring last week’s session the PCs ventured into the Vault of Song. After they figured out how to open the sealed doorway by manipulating the statue of the five Elf maidens, they faced off against a gargantuan Uvaeran Dragon. With the Dragon’s defeat the PCs took a quick breather before proceeding onward to the final chamber.

We had a good showing for the final session at Silver Snail in Toronto. The 4e table had seven players and my D&D Next table had seven players. My party consisted of a Human Fighter, Elf Ranger, Elf Wizard #1, Elf Wizard #2, Human Wizard, Halfling Rogue (re-skinned as a Bard), and Half-Elf Paladin.

Although a new playtest packet was released over the weekend, we decided not to adopt any of those changes for the final encounter. We’d played with these rules for seven weeks and we didn’t see the value in changing now.

During last week’s fight four Zhentarim soldiers stayed safely away from melee and took pot shots at the PCs with their crossbows. One Zhent was killed, but three managed to flee. It was time to track them down, find their commander Phoedele and take back the Diamond Staff.

As the PCs descended the slopped passage they heard the sound of a female voice chanting softly coming from the room ahead. When they reached the room they saw three successively lower tiers. In the middle of the lowest tier was a shimmering pool. The vaulted ceilings provided excellent acoustics and amplified the chanting. Floating in midair above the pool were eight luminous crystal columns of fantastic complexity and beauty. The soft sound of musical chimes filled the room.

Near the pool stood Phoedele, a Human female dressed in black plate armor and holding the Diamond Staff in her hands. She was focused on one of the crystals suspended above, chanting in perfect Elvin. The runes along the staff were glowing with silver light.

Near Phoedele were the three wounded Zhent Soldiers. They’d formed a protective circle around Phoedele and had their crossbows aimed at the doorway awaiting the order to fire.

As the party entered the room Phoedele stopped chanting and addressed them. She placed one hand on her sword’s hilt. “I don’t know who you are, but we found the vault first. I don’t intend to be run off by the first band of tomb robbers to show up. There’s nothing in here that you can carry away, so go look for Elvin treasure somewhere else.”

The Fighter demanded that Phoedele hand over the staff. Phoedele graciously agreed to sell it to the party after she was done with it. After all, she has no quarrel with them and would gladly part with it once it served its purpose. The PCs weren’t having any of it. Elf Wizard #1 cast a fireball into the centre of the room and blasted Phoedele and two of her guards.

The Zhents were smart enough to try and scatter but with three Wizards in the party they just couldn’t get far enough away to avoid more area effect spells. Elf Wizard #2 cast a slow spell getting the same three hit by the fireball.

The Fighter and Paladin rushed down to the lower level to engage Phoedele in melee while the Wizards, Ranger and Bard stayed on the top tier and fired down. Unfortunately for the five PCs at the top, an invisible Zhent Wizard cast fireball and hit them all. The Human Wizard cast a silence spell around the now visible enemy caster limiting his abilities.

Suddenly the PCs nearest the door heard footsteps rushing down the corridor towards them. Numerous dragon cultists poured into the room, their leader dressed in purple robes.

Phoedele recognized the new arrivals, “Dretchroyaster’s minions, of course! What else could go wrong?” She looked to the PCs, her anger softened. “The Dracolich wants his staff back, but I suspect you would rather avoid that as much as I do? Do we set aside our quarrel and cooperate to slay these dogs? Decide swiftly!”

“Our fight is only with those who hold the Diamond Staff,” the cult leader retorted. “Aid us against the Zhents, strangers, and you will earn our allegiance!”

The PCs agreed to help the dragon cultists battle the Zhents. Within two more rounds the combined forces had killed two of the three Zhent soldiers and the Wizard. Phoedele realized she was outmatched and made a break for it.

A dead teleportation gateway on the lowest level activated as Phoedele ran towards it with the staff in hand. She passed through, but the staff did not. It fell to the floor as the portal closed behind the Zhent commander. The lone Zhent solder immediately surrendered when he realized he’d been abandoned.

The dragon cult leaders commanded his troops to retrieve the staff and bring it to him. The PCs made no effort to stop this. Once the cult leader had the staff he cast invisibility and fled. When the PCs realized what was happening they started fighting the cultists.

At this point a little bit of DM intervention was needed or it was going to be a complete failure for team heroes, possibly even a TPK. The magical crystals suspended from the ceiling were described as being somewhat sentient so they telepathically spoke to the Elves and Half-Elf, providing words of encouragement and healing them a few hit points.

For the next two rounds the PCs battled the cultists and made their way back up to the room’s entrance. Elf Wizard#1 and Elf Wizard #2 both fell unconscious during the ensuing battle. The Bard revived Elf Wizard #2 and the crystals revived Elf Wizard #1. After risking a few opportunity attacks the Paladin and Fighter managed to exit the room and give chase.

When they arrived in the pit chamber from last week the cult leader and two of his followers faced off against two of the Dragon constructs that had reanimated to stop them. Two more rounds of focused fire finally brought down the leader and the PCs recovered the staff.

The six remaining cultists surrendered. The PCs allowed them leave the vault. A persuasive speech from the Bard left more than one of the cultist questioning the wisdom of returning to the dragon cult at all. Since Phoedele managed to flee the only other surviving Zhent had no further interest in pursuing the Diamond Staff. He pleaded for his freedom which the party granted.

Once all the enemies were dispatched from the vault the PCs spent the next day and night exploring and examining the vault trying to learn its secrets. Although unlocking the secrets of the Vault of Song was clearly beyond the PCs’ abilities, they were able to tap into a very small portion of ancient Uvaeran magic. With the Wizards providing arcane expertise and the Elves providing the required blood sacrifice, each member of the party gained one of the following boons:

  1. Become fluent in Elvish, gain one recall lore skill, and know the location of a special magical item.
  2. Gain a permanent +1 to Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma.
  3. Gain one of the following feats: Arcane Dabbler, Healing Initiate, Skill Focus, or Use Magic Device.

(In light of the significant changes that came in the latest playtest packet some of these boons will require adjustment if the players intend to keep running these PCs in a home game.)

Concluding the adventure

Although Phoedele fled, she does not mention the location of the Vault to anyone. Deep in the back of her mind she one day hopes to return to unlock the secrets of the Uvaeran magic and doesn’t want anyone else beating her to it.

The dragon cult continued to search for the Diamond Staff but the defeat of this cell was a significant setback. The cult leader hoped to earn the favour of Dretchroyaster by returning the staff to his master unassisted. He did not share its location or any of his other intelligence with any other members of the order. The minions who survived were mere soldiers and knew nothing significant enough to help the cult in their pursuit.

When the PCs return to Hap and present the Diamond Staff to Imani he realizes that visiting the Vault of Song himself is far too dangerous. He instead decided that the staff should be locked away for safe keeping. He thanks the heroes for their services and pays them handsomely for their deeds. He also presented them with a treasure map that his old adventuring party discovered but never had the time to follow up on. Perhaps they’d have better luck.

So ends season 14 D&D Encounters: Search for the Diamond Staff.

Thoughts

I’m going to keep my thoughts and observations in this post confined to just the final encounter. Next week we’ll have the season 14 report card in which we’ll look at the season as a whole.

Anticlimactic was the best way I can describe week 8. I felt that the finale was a let down. Last week’s epic battle really played out like a grand finale. This week felt like an epilogue or afterthought to tie up loose ends.

When the PCs finally reached Phoedele they were expecting more. They assumed that in the final encounter they would have to defeat some big bad guy and Phoedele just didn’t fit the bill – she was little more than a slightly beefed up Zhent soldier. She was a lame villain and certainly not the boss the PCs expected. They also assumed that because she had the Diamond Staff that she as a spellcaster, yet her stat block clearly reflected a warrior.

When the dragon cultists showed up the players weren’t sure what to do. By that time the PCs had taken some serious damage. They knew they couldn’t possible hope to fight everyone. They didn’t know what to do, nor were they confident that they’d survive the encounter and complete their quest. Without one main villain to battle it was a confusing mess for everyone.

I think the sheer number of adversaries was part of the problem. Had this been a 4e encounter I assume many of the cultists would be minions and fall with one hit. In D&D Next the weakest enemy had 13 hit points. For long spans the DM ran cultists vs. Zhents and vice versa. The players sat around while the DM rolled everything up. The adventure text suggested allowing the player to roll some of the dice but they weren’t interested. They just wanted things to come to an end.

When I ran this with my first group I did it by the book without any changes and it was a disaster. I tried to learn from that debacle and when I ran it a second time I did what I could to improve the encounter and give the players a better finale. I think my changes helped but it was still a poor end to an otherwise decent adventure.

How did the final encounter play out at your table? Am I the only one who felt it was lack-luster? Did other DMs make any changes to try and improve the session? Did anyone suffer a TPK? Did any of the groups allow the Cultists or the Zhents to leave with the Diamond Staff and essentially fail in their quest?

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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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe Lastowski August 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

We had 3 tables of 5-6 at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA. 4e is still the game of choice.

This was a pretty straightforward fight for my table. Everyone moved down to at least the 2nd level before the cultists showed up. The party didn’t want to trust either side, but with them in the middle, they basically ended up fighting the battle on two fronts.

I was a little upset that Phoedele had no ranged magical abilities. Just felt like someone doing a ritual to unlock a thousand years of Elven secrets ought to know a little magic. I ended up giving her a reciprocal damage power that did psychic damage to folks who hit her with melee while she was on the water (the memories of the dying Uvaerens did the damage when someone hit the staff-wielder).

I had a new player and an almost new player for this finale, and I was a little surprised at how easy it was to do a recap. “There’s this macguffin that you’re chasing, and now she’s got it.”

Overall the fight was fine… we had two leaders at our table, so healing wasn’t an issue. There was also a psion who kept making Zhentarim attack one another, so that kept them busy. By the end, after Phoedele and the cult leader were killed, I had the surviving Zhent soldiers swear allegiance to the party (well, to the party’s assassin, who had killed Phoedele and was holding the staff). I was glad there was no roleplaying this week, as the combat took a long while (6+ rounds). Not a bad end to the season, and the players all enjoyed it. I heard cheers going up from other tables as they were victorious, too, so I think it worked out well for everyone.
Joe Lastowski´s last blog post ..What The Average Joe Thinks: Star Wars Edge of the Empire

2 ramanan August 8, 2013 at 10:19 am

I will probably write up a longer blog post about this season, but I agree with your assessment of this last session. We had been on the trail of this villain for weeks, and she ran at the first sign of trouble, more or less. It felt a bit weird to end things fighting the cultists we gave the slip a few weeks back.

Also some of the players at our table were a bit of a drag.

This felt more like something you’d sandwich in the middle of the season. This season has so many throw away chapters. They could have dropped several to make a stronger adventure.

That said, on the whole I think i’ve enjoyed some of the sessions this season more than any other i’ve played in thus far. Though this season was super linear, it felt like we could do much more within the game than in past seasons. (Talking our way out of fights being the biggest example of stuff that happens in actual D&D games that almost never happens at Encounters.)
ramanan´s last blog post ..Better Than Any Man

3 David F August 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

My group had a much more fun time with this week than you seem to have had, though I don’t know how much of that was due to the way we were playing or the fact that it was 4e. Our party was and Eladrin bladesinger, a Half-Elf warpriest of Oghma, a Dragonborn knight, a Human(?) chaos sorcerer, and me: a Pixie charge druid. Since my wild form says it can be any natural or fey beast, I’ve been playing as a pixie who wants to be a dragon, spending as much time as possible in wild form as a tiny dragon of one sort or another, and I used my background to pick up Draconic. Also, I was surprised to see when I looked it up in the compendium that a dracolich is a natural magical beast, rather than an undead magical beast, which meant that I could use it as my wild shape if I wanted.

In any case, we successfully sneaked up to the final room, and I started by charging straight to Phoedele, and in the next few rounds we focused on her pretty heavily. When our sorcerer heard more people coming our way, I figured it was probably the cult of the dragon, since based on the numbers we had heard previously this was probably the last of the Zhents. So I changed into dracolich form. I killed Phoedele just before the cultists entered, so they first saw me as a tiny dracolich. The sorcerer and bladesinger used their aoes to wipe out most of the minions pretty quickly, and the Zhents allied with the cult leader, since their leader was dead. On my turn I used Shrink on the staff, picked it up, and told the cult leader in Draconic, “The staff is mine! Join me or die!” The DM had me roll intimidate, and he let the dragonborn assist me, so with a lucky roll I managed to get a 23 despite my 3 in intimidate, and the cult leader pledged himself to me. We took care of the last of the Zhents, and then killed the last two cultists since they would have turned on us once they found out I wasn’t actually a dracolich, and my bluff is just as bad as my intimidate.

This was a really fun character to play. I didn’t even need to be too accurate in my portrayal of a dragon, since I was really a Pixie who wanted to be a dragon, so my limited knowledge of dragons didn’t hurt at all. If I was going to do something like this in a campaign, I would probably put a bit more into charisma and train bluff so that I can pull it off better.

4 Vobekhan August 8, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Using the July playtest packet (not changing to new one till Launch Weekend) we have split the encounter over this and next week.

Our group have had fun this season throughout with the easy latitude the playtest rules allow, our 2 female players even nicknamed the glamoured studded dragon leather armour “the gimp suit” and there was much hilarity when the half-orc rogue wearing it choked to death in a stinking cloud – “you choked on something, in a gimp suit, in a dungeon” was one of the comments. This is the first pc kill I’ve had since switching to Next.

I still have the rest of the party to deal with the remaining Zhents and newly arrived cultists next week seeing as its sanctioned as an apparently blank week.
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters Season 14 – Search for the Diamond Staff – Session 8

5 Michael August 8, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Our group had one ranger beastmaster, one changeling blademaster, an elven rogue, draconian wizard, genasi swordmage and my gnomish psion. We didn’t have any bear minis or stats for the beastmaster so she used one of our horse minis and stats, and we decided that she had a horse-bear. (If you can have owlbears, why not…) . After slaughtering the Zhent guards last visit, we sent the wizard (invisible) and the rogue ahead to scout the next room. They found Phoedele with the staff chanting a spell. I figured he was opening the vault of song, and suggested we let him finish and just ambush him when she tried to leave, but the wizard made an arcana check showing that he was not unlocking anything, but draining knowledge directly into his mind so everyone else voted to attack immediately. At that point we heard some voices from down the passageway behind us. So my character nailed some iron spikes into the last door to try to delay them. Unfortunately the Zhentarim heard that and we lost the element of surprise and all rushed in to the next room, a series of concentric ledges with a pool in the center.

The mage started off by casting a column of fire on Phoedele which also hit the pool sending up a concealing cloud of steam. Then when everyone was in the room he wizard locked the door behind us to slow down whoever was following us. (In the end this delayed them one round) THEN he hopped on his dragonling familiar, which was dragon size thanks to Familiar Mount ritual and started flying around the room blasting everyone with fire. The genasi swordmage had an ability to walk on water and breathe underwater so he rushed over to Phoedele grabbed him and tried to drag him into the water. Phoedele managed to catch the edge of the pool, and hang on though. . At this point we found out that the pool did 5 radiant damage and gave resistance to necrotic damage due to it’s magical/sacred nature. The ranger, blademaster and rogue went to work on the Zhent guards and quickly bloodied one. Then, my gnome used Living Missile to drag Phoedele into the water and knock her prone and immobilized. After that we finished off the bloodied Zhent and knocked the other two Zhents into the pool with various methods. The rogue and blademaster dove into the pool too at this point, and it was just a matter of holding everyone down and attacking them while they drowned. Interesting uses of powers included, the swordmage used an ice attack to freeze the water and immobilize Phoedele. The wizard shot a lightning bolt into the water which fried everyone and did extra damage due to water’s conductivity. The changeling changed into a frog-man for improved swimming. I’m not sure how our DM handled drowning. I think he was adding extra damage each round, but I am not sure.

Meanwhile, the ranger was unable to shoot into the water, so she searched for a secret passageway in case we needed an escape. Fortunately, she found one as we would need to use it later. It had a tough locked door, which took four attempts from four people to open. Just as we were finishing off the last of the Zhents a dozen undead broke into the room, led by Barcero, our dog-stabbing, horse killing, hamster threatening mortal enemy from session 4. The ranger, blademaster and rogue had no history with Barcero so they sensibly, just took the staff and left by the secret passage. The rest of usstayed to fight, however. No way were we going to let Barcero escape justice again. Death or victory! Fortunately the undead were all bunched up in a group so our wizard could hit everyone with one fireball that took out all of the one hit minions, and hurt everyone else. The swordmage challenged Barcero to a duel and rushed over to attack him. He took a few opportunity attacks along the way that caused partial blindness but still managed to skewer Barcero. I tried to use Faulty Memory to get him to believe that a dagger I left for him was actually a healing shiv and trick him into stabbing himself. But after seeing the three of us coming for him with death in our eyes, and the diamond staff already gone, Barcero decided discretion was the better part of valor and skedaddled. (also the store was closing). So he survives to (possibly) be a continuing arch enemy for the future.

Overall it was a fun session. We had a weird fight as we didn’t kill most of our enemies by attacking them, but by throwing them in the pool and disabling them. I think we only got hit once or twice by the Zhents the whole time. Despite being the big bad, Pheodele was unable to take a single action the entire encounter. She spent the whole time trying to (unsuccessfully) claw her way up from the bottom of the pool. Then, apparently the DM rewrote the second group of enemies to be Barcero instead of the Dragon Cultists. Since we had sworn revenge on him,it made for a much more dramatic fight. Unfortunately we ran into closing time and didn’t get to finish the fight, but on the bright side at least we now have a continuing enemy.

Overall, this was the most fun Encounters season I have done. It felt like we had much more freedom to fight/talk/sneak around than we had in previous seasons. The plot was complex enough to be a little interesting without being so complex it made no sense. And the fights for the most part were interesting with opportunities for different maneuvers and stratagems. Of course, half the credit for that goes to our great DM and the rest of the players we campaigned with.

Side note: Does anyone know if there are rules for drowning in 4e or Next? I could not find any.

6 bisonic August 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Our single table of 4e had three new players who knew enough 3.5 to be effective bringing us to eight players. The session took some time. The PC’s charged in and the zhents blocked the middle stairs. The strikers jumped or teleported took Phoedele on solo, which did not go well. Once the cultists arrived they allied with the zhents and charged in at the cultists. The zhents let the PC’s do the fighting and caught their breath. After Phoedele took out the cult leader the PC’s started in on the zhents one again and fought hard, but won.
There was no wrap up box text so I improvised some but it felt like there was supposed to be one more session. The prizes felt unnecessarily complicated and it was late so I gave everyone the stat boost to a mental attribute and we all left ok with how it had gone.

We were running a week ahead so this week I had Bracero return with wraiths to fight them in the chitine’s lair which they skipped earlier. Phasing and walls made that more challenging than the session 8 battle and more fun for me because they finally fought someone who could reasonably have planned against their tactics, pushing them to try new things.

-K

7 Vobekhan August 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm

@Michael – drowning rules in Next are on page 12 of the DM guidelines (in the July packet) or page 11 of DM guidelines (in newer August packet).
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&D Encounters Season 14 – Search for the Diamond Staff – Session 8

8 dcdnd August 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

After playing the last two sessions with premades I was ready to go with a custom tiefling paladin. Unfortunately the spouse had a summer cold and passed out from nyquil, leaving me to keep house. Reading the writeup I don’t think I missed anything.

9 Dan August 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm

This week, we had 2 of the 4 DMs scheduled to be there were absent, and some players as well. We ended up with one table of 4th and one of Next. At the Next table, we had a human monk (me), 2 human druids, half-elf ranger, elf fighter (archer), human rogue, and a human wizard.
First, we decided to check out the door for traps and whatnot, and found none. we then peeked in to see what was going on, and to get an idea of the enemies’ positions. We decided to wait and see what happened with the ritual while discussing other options, but we were detected (though just barely). We entered the room, and almost managed to bluff our way out of the initial combat by claiming to be essentially archaeologists/scholars who were wanting to document the findings in the vault and learn more about those who created it. We just barely failed. We exchanged a few more words, before starting to fight.
The zhent mage was not invisible for us, so we recognized him right away. the monk charged him and used 1 ki point to grapple it. Druid#1 (in dire cat form) pounced on him as well, landing all 3 attacks. unfortunately, the mage still survived, and got the last laugh by casting stinking cloud, centered on himself, injuring 3 PCs and finishing himself off. The PC wizard used haste on the monk (bringing his AC to 23 and giving him an extra attack and advantage on dex checks), and druid#2 attempted to jump down to the lowest tier, but lost his balance on the landing and fell flat, where 2 zhent soldiers attacked him. Phoedele charged across the pool to attack the ranger, dealing pretty decent damage.
With the wizard out of the way, we began focusing fire on Phoedele. She was almost dead, when the cultists burst into the room, and we were met with the choice of who to team up with. At first, it was an even split, but after weighing the options, we decided that the weaker zhents would probably be killed off first in the combat, while still injuring the cultists, especially since there was the off chance that Phoedele’s war cry would recharge in time to work on us, allowing us to mow down the cultists. Only the archer was against it, and he was convinced we were all going to die. He was the only one who had taken no damage, but he was alone on the 3rd tier with a bunch of cultists close to him.
While it was a sound concept, our positions allowed the cultist wizard to line up a beautiful wall of fire along the edge of the pool. Phodele died instantly, while the rest of the PCs and zhents took heavy damage. Two PCs were reduced to 0 hp: the ranger and druid#2. druid#2 was in bear form, though, so he still stayed up. The monk grabbed the staff and stored it, used one of the potions he had agreed to carry for druid#1 on druid#1, and leapt up to the 2nd tier off the back of a zhent soldier, drawing even with several cultists, including the leader.
Things were looking pretty ugly for the PCs, but the PC wizard cast stinking cloud centered on the monk. As an evoker, she was able to cast it around her allies, not harming them for 1 turn. Also, she maximized it using her feat. She killed all of the minions, heavily damaged the rest, and broke the mage’s concentration on the wall of fire. That spell made the fight winnable again. Druid#1 reverted to human form and healed druid#2, who in turn reverted and healed the ranger, leaving the party with all hands on deck. Two of the remaining cultists risked opportunity attacks from the monk to escape the cloud, but he chose to reserve it for the mage, leaving the mage with the decision of either taking damage to cast a spell, or using his action to avoid damage. He turned invisible and fled.
The remaining visible cultists were killed easily, but the mage used fireball, reducing the ranger and druid#2 back to 0 hp, but he was quickly killed by the monk. At this point, the 2 remaining zhent soldiers fled, and the party let them, more interested in finishing the ritual. The party was all rewarded with the same 3 options, but due to the new packet, the PCs mostly decided to take the +1 to mental ability score.

All-in-all, I think we all enjoyed this last encounter. The excitement and involvement between the players was tangible. Whenever a strategy worked well, or someone rolled a crit, or anything like that, the whole group showed it. the fact that the tables turned several times allowed suspense to build. I am always optimistic about the party’s ability to survive, but when the mage cast wall of fire, even i got scared for us. Despite some of the sessions and qualities of sessions from the rest of the season, i feel that this final encounter really tied the players into a sense of accomplishment, just because we beat the odds.

Also, Michael: I’m glad to see that your DM saw fit to throw Barcero at you. I didn’t even realize until tonight that we didn’t get to meet with barcero and/or imanni to actually get payed for the job until tonight.
Hope you get the bugger later!

10 Cent August 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

This turned out to be a tough encounter for our group. We ended up fighting both groups, and barely made it out alive. Which made it memorable simply for the way everything went FUBAR within a few rounds of combat.

Our party quickly neutralized the zhent guards standing around the pool, and IMO, this made the encounter much, much easier than it probably should have been. Without zhents to blockade the stairs, forcing players to jump to the pit or fight the guards to get to Phoedele, the battlefield was drastically altered in favor of the players.

Everyone fully expected Phoedele to have some kind of spell casting abilities, and we were all surprised by how easily she went down. A lame final boss if ever there was one.

It was an end to another season of Encounters. Not much else to say about it.

11 Alex January 19, 2014 at 10:14 am

I feel the whole of the season would have worked better as a escort and protect mission rather than a locate and hold, like it was okay. But after the games day to have to orcs take the staff so quickly seemed a bit of a put out for the DM at the table. I think its up to each owns interpretation of what they could have done. I don’t think many of the players felt any emotion to Barcero, apart from how they acted based on their alignment. This is intended, how about a high elf NPC. Like I say, its up to ones interpretation, the season opens up a lot of ideas about the Realms and Elves, but focuses heavily on the evil forces’ plans. (The idea of the players coming up with their own agenda for the staff breezed over quite a few of their heads.) Maybe that was my fault.

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