While wandering aimlessly through the Dwarven mines, the PCs were ambushed by Black Ice Zombies last week. They fought the good fight and defeated the undead creatures but in the aftermath of the battle the party’s Revenant Assassin was overcome by the Black Ice’s evil influences. He attacked the party and they were forced to kill him.
Eventually the PCs found their way to Battlehammer Hold where they learned that Stokely Silverstream was preparing his people for a mass exodus of the mines. They would head to Easthaven to take temporary refuge from the undead threat while they mounted ample forces to return and wipe out the Necromancer, the source of the undead problem.
Our attendance has been very consistent after a missing a couple of weeks over the holiday and then a rocky first week back. We ran four full tables at Harry T North in Toronto. My table is using the 4e rules and is currently level 4. One of our regular players was absent, but another player brought a friend so we had a full table of five. The party consisted of: a Dragonborn Cavalier, Tiefling Paladin, Gnoll Barbarian, Tiefling Warlock and Drow Ranger (Hunter). One of the tables running D&D Next had a new player as well this week so we are still getting walk ins, even into the ninth week of the season.
With only four weeks left in the season we still have a lot of ground to cover. Realistically there’s no way we can get everything done (which is unfortunate). So at the beginning of this week’s session I explained the situation to my players and suggested they let me narrate a bunch of stuff to move the story forward. They agreed.
Act 2: Deepwinter
Act two is divided into two parts. I decided to try and summarize the high points of the first part in order to get the PCs into the second part as quickly as possible. Here’s the short, short version of what happened. Picture it as a montage of sorts.
Part 1: Pirates of Lac Dinneshere
The PCs accompanied the Dwarves from the valley to the nearby town of Easthaven. As they approached the town a small advanced patrol came out to meet them to determine their intentions. After all, when 100+ Dwarves come a calling, you’d better make sure they’re friendly.
Stokely Silverstream explained the situation and the patrol returned to Easthaven to advise the townsfolk. Two of the members of the patrol took particular interest in the PCs, especially when they added details about the dangers of Black Ice when speaking to the patrol. A Tiefling and Drow identified themselves as citizens of Easthaven with adventuring experience who happened to be helping the patrol today. They wanted to know more about the experience the PCs had with the Black Ice so the Warlock invited the party to dine with them that evening. The party cautiously agreed.
I gave the players a chance to role-play the PC intros over dinner and then I hand waved the next few days and just explained what happened in Easthaven.
Raid on the Docks
The presence of Black Ice trinkets in Easthaven was making a lot of the townsfolk suspicious, aggressive, and violent. With the streets becoming more volatile a band of pirates took advantage of the chaos and attacked the harbor. They made it all the way to the town’s armory where they stole arms and armor. Unfortunately the PCs weren’t in the right vicinity of this event to intercede.
Part 2: Fangs of the Frostmaiden
Meanwhile the Dwarves from Battlehammer Hold found refuge in a few barns on the outskirts of Easthaven. They’d witnessed the violence in the town and knew the Black Ice was bad news so they kept to themselves for the most part. They even posted guards to keep an eye on the perimeter of the barns where the Dwarves were staying.
One night while on guard duty, two different Dwarf patrols spotted a pair of very large Craig Cats prowling near the town. In the morning numerous people were found torn to pieces. The PCs were brought in to investigate.
The Dwarves described the cats as unusually large and using tactics that seemed beyond mere instinct. It was as if they’d been trained or were being controlled. This got the PCs’ attention. They decided to track the Craig Cats back to their lair, hoping to ambush them before they could kill again.
The Verbeeg Lair
The party’s newest member, the Ranger, had no trouble tracking the Craig Cats across the frozen tundra and up the side of the mountain. However, as the terrain became more rocky and less snowy he lost the trail. He guessed that the Cats were likely nearby so the party was on full alert.
When the PCs left Easthave and began tracking the Craig Cats, the Cavalier decided to summon his Celestial Mount. This was the first time he’d felt he had suitable opportunity to do so since he got the power a few sessions ago. When I pressed the player to name the horse he drew a blank, so I dubbed the horse Clipity-Clop. The whimsical name drew laughs and immediately stuck.
As the party continued following the curves and contours of the cliffside they happened to catch a whiff of smoke. Before they could determine the exact source they were attacked by Goblins hiding in the nearby rocks and snow. Only the Ranger’s keen senses (and amazing Perception) allowed him to avoid the ambush.
The Goblins fired crossbows at the PCs and then three of the six slid down from their elevated position to engage in melee. As they descended, they slid down the frozen slow fully upright. The PCs had to give them style points for looking so cool doing it.
During the first two rounds the PCs and Goblins exchanged blows. The Barbarian easily climbed up to where the archers were nestled but had trouble hitting any of them with his hammer. The Goblins had there way with the Warlock and Ranger but couldn’t get through the defenders’ high ACs. After the first Goblin fell and two others were locked down by the defenders, one of the remaining Goblins who had thus far avoided taking any damage decided to flee through an open door to get reinforcements. The Ranger shot and killed a nearby Goblin, then ran to get a better vantage on the one running away. Using his action point he shot the fleeing Goblin with a power that slowed. The natural 20 nearly killed the fresh monster, but it did slow him. Unfortunately on his next turn the Goblin merely closed and barred the doors.
The Warlock ran to the doors hoping he could pick the lock or smash the doors down. He quickly realized that neither of those options would work without help so he called for the Barbarian’s aid.
The Barbarian managed to kill his nearest Goblin opponent and then decided to slide down like they did earlier. He needed to make a successful Acrobatics check. He was rolling on a 3. But he got an 18 so he did it and looked awesome the whole way down. When he reached the level where the doors were he was still too far away to get there this round.
The Cavalier decided to have Clipity-Clop ram the doors. The Warlock managed to get out of the way just in time and the mount crashed through the doors. Once inside the PCs spotted six more Goblins (plus the one the Ranger critted). Clipity-Clop charged ahead and trampled three, wounding all of them badly.
The Paladin was having the worst luck with his attacks. He rolled a natural 20 for initiative and then rolled nothing above 5 for the next 45 minutes. He even borrowed another player’s hot dice only to cool them off in a hurry. With his pride on the line the Paladin insisted he could take down the one Goblin he’d locked down in the first round so the rest of the party followed Clipity-Clop inside. It took the Paladin another three rounds to kill the Goblin.
Inside, the Goblins were startled by the unexpected Celestial Horse that came crashing through the front door. The party managed to get good positioning on the monsters and wasted no time killing them. One observant Goblin realized his brethren were doomed after six of six attacks missed Clipity-Clop in one round. This Goblin crawled down the far passage and then finally got to his feet and ran away.
The Paladin managed to join the party just as the mopping up was happening. The remaining Goblins were all down to 5 hit points or less and dropped with any hit. By the time all the Goblins were killed three of the five PCs were well below their bloodied value and two had already used their Second Wind.
The Goblin who fled was only one round ahead of the PCs. The party could give chase or take a short rest and regroup before going deeper into the Verbeeg Lair. They decided to rest so we called it there for this week. Next week they’ll continue exploring and likely face a lot more combat.
I really didn’t want to gloss over such a big part of the story but in the interest of time there really wasn’t any other option. I think the party would have enjoyed the pirate section and going out on the lake to pursue the bad guys but it would have taken way too long. My feeling was that it’s more important to move things along and give the PCs a chance to get to the end of the adventure by the last session.
When the PCs finally got to the Verbeeg Lair they certainly had a lot of fun. The Celestial Mount was a great addition and proved to be a powerful ally. Well see how good he is inside the confined quarters next week.
My hope is that the party will clear out the Lair by the end of next week. That will give them two sessions to complete Act 3. It will be tight, but I think they’ll have a good chance of finishing without being too rushed.
With three weeks to go where is your party? Do you think you’ll finish in the time remaining? What are DMs planning to do to get to the end on time? What level are your PCs now? Has anyone suffered PC deaths this season? Any TPKs?
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.
Note: New episodes of Recounting Encounters will be available in our D&D Encounters Archive and on iTunes on Wednesdays moving forward. Now DMs can listen before they play.
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.