The party’s candidate for Duke, Carl the Half-elf Paladin, was invited to speak before the Parliament of Peers during last week’s session. While there he discovered evidence that someone was planning to blow up High Hall and all Members of Parliament with it. At the same time Ravengard had ordered mass executions of hundreds of criminal, many of whom did not deserve a death sentence if any punishment at all.
The PCs had to make hard choices about where to intervene, deciding in the end to split their efforts. Although the some PCs managed to save the Members of Parliament, High Hall was destroyed. The rest of the party successfully freed 300 “criminals” sentenced to death thereby stopping the pubic executions.
We had a packed house at Harry T North in Toronto. We had a table of seven and two tables of six. At my table were the following familiar faces: Carl the Half-Elf Paladin, Dwarf Fighter, Human Monk, Elf Mage, Human Cleric and Warforged Fighter.
Ravengard Must Pay
Following last week’s events the PCs regrouped at Wyrm’s Rock. They were furious with Ravengard and they wanted answers. Unfortunately they were unable to find him anywhere, and neither could anyone else. It seemed that he’d been mysteriously absent for more than a day.
While they looked for Ravengard they learned that he was not as personally responsible as they’d believed. It turned out some of his senior staff took his ranting more seriously than he intended and acted without Ravengard’s knowledge. Despite the tragedy of the public executions the PCs were unable to stop, it seemed like Ravengard’s involvement was indirect. The PCs calmed down and decided to give Ravengard the benefit of the doubt until he could answer their questions.
Over the next few days the leaders of the city united to issue a proclamation. They declared that the situation in Baldur’s Gate had gone too far and that the power groups must work together to settle their differences politically and peacefully. The new laws recently enacted were temporarily suspended.
To help the city mend, the leaders poured resources into the upcoming Festival of the Moon, a three-day long fete featuring costumed merriment, entertainment, somber remembrance, and feasting. During the festival the Wide is transformed into a festival ground. There was plenty of free food, masks and costumes, minstrels and dancing, puppeteers and fireworks, and games of chance. All citizens were welcome.
Death from Above
The first day and night of the Festival of the Moon proceeded without incident. The people of Baldur’s Gate enjoyed the festivities and took their first steps towards healing the city.
During the second night an elaborate fireworks display erupted above the Wide. The crowd’s initial cheers turned to screams as the fireworks rained down burning shrapnel upon the Wide. The explosions continued above the Wide and more and more people got hurt. Fires erupted as the flaming shrapnel made contact with the stalls in the Wide.
Panic set in and people began pushing and shoving as they tried to find safety. The PCs used their influence to guide many people to safety through Underceller. The majority of the guests, however, charged towards the gates out of Upper City only to find them all blocked.
Careful observation indicated that the explosions originated as shells being launched from the roof of the Seatower of Balduran. Using the Underceller passages, the PCs made their way towards the Seatower. When they arrived it was under full lockdown. Four of Ravengard’s elite guards were blocking the entrance.
The PCs tried to pull rank and convince the guards of their urgency, but the guards were well trained and did not waver. The guards warned the PCs that if they tried to enter they’d be met with deadly force. Seeing the shells continue to launch from the roof, the PCs engaged the guards in combat. It was a tough fight but the PCs managed to defeat all four guards without killing any of them.
The Flaming Fist soldiers the PCs encountered inside the Seatower allowed them to pass unmolested. They assumed that the PCs were authorized to be inside since the guards let them pass. The PCs managed to get to the roof, but what they saw shocked them.
Chosen of Bhaal
On the roof a trebuchet was being manned by four more of Ravengard’s elite guards. They were loading the explosive shells into the war machine and firing it into Upper City. Commanding them was a large demonic creature that the PCs knew immediately was Ravengard.
Ravengard had become something unholy – a Bhaal Spawn. The essence of the god of murder had corrupted this once fine man and transformed him into a foul mockery of his former self. This explained Ravengard’s erratic behavior and recent bloodlust.
The heroes didn’t hesitate at the sight of this creature, they attacked! Ravengard commanded his four guards to engage the PCs, forming a wall between them. The Monk and Carl the Paladin managed to get through and engage Ravengard directly.
The guards were no pushovers and gave the PCs a difficult challenge. The Warforged Fighter decided to use the terrain to the party’s advantage. He threw a lit torch on the readied ammunition resting near the trebuchet. The explosion badly damaged the siege weapon making it useless, and caught two of the guards in the blast. This was a pivotal turning point in the melee.
The Mage heard reinforcements running up the stairs and realized the PCs would be outnumbered if they didn’t act quickly. He and the Cleric stopped fighting and barred the door, keeping the newcomers trapped inside.
As the battle continued the Warforged Fighter and Mage both fell unconscious but were revived by the Cleric and Paladin. As the battle neared its thrilling conclusions Carl the Paladin scored a crit on the Bhaal Spawn Ravengard. This killed Ravengard and exorcised the evil essence.
Ravengard’s men immediately stopped fighting; clearly they were under some kind of charming effect that was now gone. Likewise the reinforcements stopped banging at the door. The PCs had vanquished their enemy and saved Baldur’s Gate.
In the days following the Ravengard’s defeat a weight was clearly lifted from Baldur’s Gate. The reputation the PCs earned by defeating Bhaal’s Chose was immeasurable. The Parliament of Peers convenes a special session and officially offered Carl the vacant seat of Duke, which he happily accepted.
In the days and weeks that followed the PCs used their influence to help unite the people of Baldur’s Gate. The general mood in the city improved considerably and the people began working together to rebuild their city. The new Council of Four began discussions about how to more equitably govern Baldur’s Gate. The dark days Baldur’s Gate recently experienced were clearly behind for now, thanks to a group of brave adventurers.
So ends Murder in Baldur’s Gate, season 15 of D&D Encounters. Thanks for playing.
Today we’re only going to discus the final encounter. Next week in the Report Card we’ll look at the season as a whole and discus all the ups and downs.
I actually ran the last two sessions together as one. I felt that the final encounter lacked substance. Knowing it was going to be a final confrontation it didn’t seem like groups using the D&D Next mechanics would need a lot of time to complete the combat. Even though I beefed it up and added a confrontation with the guards at the base of the Seatower it still took less than an hour to play out the final encounter.
The fact that the final blow against Ravengard was a crit from the Paladin couldn’t have been better if it was scripted. It was the logical conclusion to the adventure for this party.
What the players likely didn’t realize was that the outcome was uncertain. The final confrontation could have been with any of the three “villains” depending on how things played out during the season. The DMs secretly kept score and the NPC with the highest score became the Chosen of Bhaal. I was glad the math supported Ravengard at my table because it would have seemed like a cheat to not let the party fight him in the end.
Which of the three major NPCs – Silvershield, Ravengard, or Rilsa – became the Chosen of Bhaal at your table? How did your group handle the final confrontation? Did anyone spare the villain by banishing the essence of Bhaal? How many people realized in the end that the creature they fought in week 1 was also a Chosen of Bhaal once they saw another version of him in the finale?
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.