D&D Encounters: Scourge of the Sword Coast (Week 12)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on May 8, 2014

scourge-of-the-sword-coast-coverOrder was restored at Firehammer Hold as the Duergar were defeated and the fortress put back under the control of the Dwarven Clerics of Haela Brightaxe. The PCs agreed to escort the captives taken from Julkoun back to Daggerford. We picked things up this week as the party arrived in Daggerford.

This week at Hairy T North in Toronto we finished up the season with four tables. The 4e table and the other D&D Next table each had six players. Craig and I had our hands full this week as the grand finale drew in a full group of 10 players for our super table. The party consisted of the following members: Half-Orc Paladin, Half-Orc Cleric, Half-Orc Mage/Barbarian, Elf Cleric/Rogue, Elf Ranger, Human Monk/Barbarian, Dwarf Fighter, Drow Paladin, Drow Rogue, and Gnome Druid.

Getting Caught Up

With the party back in Daggerford they decided that their first stop should be to visit Sir Isteval. After all, the last communication they had with him was a note delivered by carrier pigeon saying to stay away for a while. Fortunately the PCs made it into the city and onward to Sir Isteval’s home where he greeted them warmly.

Jekk was happy to be reunited with his friend and the two spoke of what happened to each since they last met. Jekk and the party told the story about Firehammer Hold and the recovery of the Delimbiyr Bloke. Sir Isteval seemed relieved that the object that was causing so much strife and misfortune in Daggerford was finally found.

The PCs were somewhat reluctant to hand the Bloke over to the Duke given his strange behaviour and the powerful magic contained within the Bloke. After a long discussion the party decided they would trick Duke Maldwyn and return the fake Bloke that Jekk carried. Jekk and Sir Isteval would hide the real Bloke and insure that it didn’t fall into the wrong hands.

With a course of action decided the PCs next wondered how to carry out their deception. They feared that handing over any Bloke, real or fake, to Duke Maldwyn might result in their punishment or death. To shield themselves they decided to enlist Lady Morwen, the Duke’s sister, to deliver the recovered item.

She agreed (reluctantly) because she knew that when Duke Maldwyn got the Bloke back he would open the city gates again and finally allow the refuges to enter. Lady Morwen was suspicious of the PCs’ motives and accused them of trying to extort favour and riches from her brother in exchange for the retuned item.

After the Bloke was taken care of Sir Isteval shared some information with the PCs and Jekk. While they were away Sir Darfin Floshin learned of strange things happening at his family estate to the north. When he investigated he discovered that a magical portal on the grounds though to be deactivated was reopened by a Red Wizard. The Thayan was using the portal to summon unnatural creatures.

Sir Darfin was able to fend of the Wizard and his monstrous companions. Unfortunately Sir Darfin’s sister Shalendra Floshin was missing. They found her journal in which she described having strange dreams and seeing bizarre visions. She described whispers in her mind and even argued with herself in the pages. Sir Darfin remains at the family estate reinforcing the defenses and ensuring the Wizards don’t return to try and gain control of the portal again.

Almost a full day passed after the heroes gave up the Bloke and nothing happened. But as the evening approached the PCs heard town criers declaring that the gates would be opened the next morning and the Duke would be addressing the people of Daggerford in the square at noon. A messenger knocked on Sir Isteval’s door and handed the PCs a notice. It was a thank you note from the Duke. He was holding a special ceremony in their honour the next day at noon and he expected them all to be present.

Honouring the Heroes

sotsc-npc-maldwynThe city’s population doubled in a matter of hours after the gates were opened the next morning. Refuges poured inside the walls and caregivers set up tents and medical stations outside the city to handle those unable to get inside Daggerford.

As noon approached the PCs went to the ceremony despite their suspicions surrounding the Duke. When things got underway the Duke begrudgingly acknowledged that the heroes of Julkoun were the ones who recovered the Bloke. He presented the PCs with a ceremonial gold key to the city and made them honourary citizens of Daggerford. The townsfolk cheered and called for a speech from the heroes. The Half-Orc Mage made a fantastic speech that got the crowd all fired up.

After the ceremony the Duke’s aid said that the Duke wanted the PCs to dine with him this evening. The Duke also wanted to reward the party further for their actions but didn’t want to do so in front of the crowds lest it seem like he was too generous. The PCs were still on edge but agreed to go.

The Dinner Party

Before the dinner the PCs talked about what they expected to happen at dinner. Most of the PCs believed that it was a trap and that Duke Maldwyn would likely try to kill them. They talked of how they could preemptively kill him first despite no actual evidence of him being anything more than a pompous jerk.

When they got to the castle for dinner they were shown inside and made to wait for over an hour. When the Duke finally arrived he was accompanied by his girlfriend, an elegantly dressed women who had accompanied him to the ceremony earlier that day. According to the Duke’s aids his mood was improving since he began seeing her.

The Duke gave an insulting speech that only angered most of the PCs. The Drow Rogue asked to be excused to use the privy and was escorted out by a guard. The Duke ordered the start of the meal and the appetizer round was served. A few PCs decided not to eat even though the Duke and his girlfriend both ate the same food as the PCs.

When the appetizer round was finished the duke stood up to make another speech. Before he spoke the PCs heard the sounds of the doors to the dining room being locked. The Duke gave them a cold stare and accused them. “I know someone in this room stole the Bloke. No one’s leaving until the thief confesses.”

The PCs denied the theft but the Duke wouldn’t let up. He drew his sword and held it upward to emphasize his point. The sword ignited into magical flames making quite a spectacle. Some PCs interpreted this as posturing before an attack so they jumped into action.

The Cleric jumped up onto the table, ran across the food and plates and swung his mighty hammer at the Duke. Only one PC, the Drow Paladin, felt this action was inappropriate so he was the only one to take an opportunity attack as the Cleric ran past. Unfortunately he missed. The Cleric did not, striking a blow against the Duke.

Eight of the nine PC present attacked Duke Maldwyn and his girlfriend (even though she had not taken any actions against the party). The Fighter copied the Cleric’s actions and jumped on the table before charging Duke Maldwyn and his girlfriend. The Fighter tried to lock the two NPCs together with manacles. He managed to get one end secured around the woman’s arm, but wasn’t able to restrain the Duke.

The Rogue dove under the table and shot his crossbow at Duke Maldwyn’s privates (scoring a direct hit). The Duke defended himself and lashed out at the nearby Cleric, hitting him with the flaming sword. The rest of the party ganged up on the NPCs.

At the end of the first round six small imp-like demons stepped out of the shadows and attacked the party. It was unclear if they were there all along or if they just showed up. Regardless of their origins the Monk and Fighter made short work of them.

The Rogue in the restroom was likewise locked in but she easily managed to escape, knock out her guard and return to the dinning hall and join the rest of the party.

After Duke Maldwyn took many blows from the PCs a demonic visage appeared above him in silhouette. The Duke’s expression changed briefly as he spoke to the adjacent Half-Orc Paladin. He said he couldn’t control it for more than a few seconds. He handed her his sword and said to finish it. She took the weapon and assumed he meant she should kill him. So she plunged the flaming blade into his heart.

His skin burned and then his body was consumed by the magical flames. The demonic image seemed to spring forth from Duke Maldwyn’s burning body and fly away. With the spirit gone the Duke’s body was incinerated and burned to a pile of ash in seconds. The Duke’s girlfriend screamed at the horror, cast a spell of invisibility and then disappeared.

The Aftermath

Guards rushed in to see the PCs standing over the ashes of Duke Maldwyn. They secured the room and called for reinforcements. With the Duke dead the guard captain took control of the scene until Lady Morwen could be found.

The PCs explained what happened and many of the guards told how they were not acting of their own free will for some time. Sir Isteval pleaded on the heroes’ behalf and they were released into his custody while the matter was investigated.

The next day Lady Morwen took charge of Daggerford and demanded the PCs be executed. Fortunately the overwhelming public support for the PCs and the public support Sir Isteval gave them forced Lady Morwen to impose a lesser sentence of permanent banishment from Daggerford.

Sir Isteval suggested the PCs travel to the Floshin estate to meet up with Sir Darfin. He was going to continue investigate the strange things that happened at his estate and would appreciate the PCs’ help if they were still looking for adventure.

That’s how we ended the Scourge of the Sword Coast. Next week we’ll pick up this story as we begin the second part of this adventure in Dead in Thay.

Thoughts

I felt that this finale was a bit of a bummer. It seemed lack-luster and flat. This could have been due to the large party of 10 PCs but I think it had a lot to do with the “big boss.” Until this point the PCs may not have liked Duke Maldwyn but they certainly had no reason to kill him. I was actually disappointed that all but one player had their character attack without real provocation.

I think the players knew it was the last session and just expected that there would be a big bad guy to kill. When presented with the Duke they figured he’d do. He was possessed and would have attacked them eventually, but they could have easily subdued him rather than kill him outright. They made almost no effort to engage the girlfriend who was more of a boss villain than Maldwyn.

The highlights of this weeks session for me was when the party had to decide what to do with the Bloke and whether or not they’d return the real or fake one. By not returning the real one they now have that in their bag of tricks for next season.

Overall I though the adventure had lots of potential and would make a fantastic home campaign, but there was just way too much stuff going on for a public play season of D&D Encounters. Hopefully next season’s massive dungeon crawl will be more suited to weekly public play sessions.

How did things end at your table? Did the party kill the Duke? Did they kill his girlfriend? Did any PCs die? How many from your group will keep on playing the same character next season?

Additional Resources

  • Pre-generated characters: Visit our D&D Next Pre-Generated Character Library where you can download the level 2 pre-gens that came with this season’s adventure.
  • Maps: A two-part poster map came with the Launch Weekend kits. If you want your own copy you can now download the poster map. Half is the map of the Sword Coast, half is the detailed map of Daggerford.

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.

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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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe May 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

As we were running my very pared down 4E version of the season at Modern Myths in Northampton, MA, we had a somewhat different ending, a little closer to the eventual ending in the Next version (though we skipped a good half of the sub-plots and other meanderings of the more sandboxy, for-sale version). I ran a table of 8, and thus had to up the HP of the monsters a little.

After fighting off Red Wizards at the Floshin estate last week, the party had seen the Thayan portal energy sucked into the floor. Having heard an interchange between Pencheska & the duergar back at Firehammer Hold, they knew that she planned to use the Thayan’s magic to bring her Devil Lord Baazka back to full power, so that they could “build a throne of corpses on the Sword Coast from which Asmodeus himself could rule over this mortal realm.” Needless to say, the party headed down the hidden staircase to stop Pensheska.

The party dealt with a rather crazy magical simulacrum of Lord Floshin at the bottom of the stairs, learning that the carved door in front of them would actually teleport them to the area where Pencheska was doing her ritual, but that chaotic energy was changing that region, and that the door would try to protect them. Basically, as each character touched the door & teleported away, they rolled a d4. The character then got resist 5 (or +2 to an existing resistance) vs one type of energy: fire, cold, radiant, or necrotic. Throughout the next fight, at the start of each round, reality would warp and the room would do 5 damage of one of those four types (it changed every round) at the start of each character’s turn.

An insubstantial Baazka and a very compulsive Pencheska were the big foes of this finale fight. However, in the corner was a strange stone statue that looked like a large dwarf… though it was missing its face. Whenever the room shifted, the statue remained “constant, unmoving, made of stone.” This was the “Delimbiyr Body” that matched the “Delimbiyr Bloke” partial artifact they’d found earlier. When the party finally got over there and assembled the artifact, it came to life & stopped the elemental damage aspect of the room, as well as making Baazka no longer insubstantial (which made the fight a LOT easier).

SIDE NOTE: The specifics of the Delimbiyr history were kind of vague in the published adventure, so I decided on my own history. Back when the gods all teamed together to bind Tharizdun for eternity, the dwarf god Moradin sealed the soul manacles that bound the insane god. I decided that Delimbiyr was the dwarven hero/exarch/angel who held the manacles as Moradin pounded them closed. With that history in their minds, the activation of an artifact in his likeness felt more badass to the party, who actually cheered when they succeeded at activating the relic (which was totally different than the rather underwhelming effect in the Next version).

After the fight concluded, the area started to collapse, but the Delimbiyr Body teleported them to a rock quarry just outside of Daggerford, where they were shortly joined by Sir Isteval and Khelben the Blackstaff. They were told of the NPC’s efforts to shore up support in Waterdeep, and learned that an army was being raised to attack Bloodgate Keep (which will be the first adventure of next season). They also learned that Daggerford was going to have a feast in their honor that night, and they settled in to an evening of revelry before the next step in their struggles against the dreams of the Red Wizards.

Overall, I had fun with this season, though I totally agree that there was WAY too much in it for discreet, 2-hour weekly sessions. It gets even worse next season with Dead in Thay, sometimes having 8 or so fights per week, plus roleplaying… so needless to say that’s a challenge I’m trying to wrap my head around as well before trying a 4E conversion. But Scourge of the Sword Coast did allow the players to be heroes, which is what I hope for in any Encounters season. The story worked (once you found it amid the other stuff), and it felt like the actions of the heroes actually mattered. We had fun, which is the end goal for any of this.

2 Zeroun The Quick May 8, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Well, I managed to get my group through that last battle…but the Half-orc Barbarian managed to kill 4 guards in a drunken rage and killed the duke. Our druid managed to save the duke with a healing spell.

3 Vobekhan May 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm

My table took a brutal beating last session and so wanted to take a long rest, fair enough I let them find a defendable position bu reasoned that would then allow the Thayans to add more defenders to the final chamber and so included a trio of dread warriors to accompany the imp and Shalendra.

I was planning on running the part with the Duke and Pencheska but the final fight took all of our 3 hour slot (those dread warriors just didnt want to die) but our second table had dealt with the pesky succubus.

So we’re all set for the Launch Weekend (which I’ve actually just come back from today).

So another great season ends – a thoroughly excellent adventure, I just wish we’d had more time to play the bits we had to skip to try and keep on track
Vobekhan´s last blog post ..D&DEnc 17 – Scourge of the Sword Coast – Session 12 Season Finale

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