D&D Encounters Season 13 – Storm over Neverwinter – Session 1
Having spent the day relaxing around Neverwinter as the storm arrived and the weather got steadily worse, the heroes made their way to the Moonstone Mask for their appointment with Lady Nidris who had left instruction for them to be given a bottle of feywine on arrival while she finished some other business.
The party – Diva Cleric of Amaunator, Goliath Warden, Elven Hunter, Halfling Barbarian, Human Monk.
The heroes took a table nearby Lady Nidris, the cleric sitting closest as her business meeting became quite heated, resulting in her associate slamming his hands on the table as he stood “This wont do, Nidris. I won’t stand for it!” before striding out of the Mask into the stormy night. A dwarven commander of Mintarn troops deep into his cups sat beside the fire while a halfing bard regaled him with renditions of drinking songs on his lute.
A group of rough looking men in cloaks entered and spread around the room, their very appearance twanging the “spidey-senses” of the heroes and the cleric instinctively took a protective step towards Lady Nidris. As the men threw off their cloaks with a cry of “For Asmodeus!” as they attacked, surrounding the heroes table. The halfling bard began playing exciting adventure music as the heroes drew weapons in response.
The cleric, having been bloodied by the initial attack, shouted to Nidris to escape out the back door. As she did so and the door began to close they heard her scream as another figure grabbed her around the throat and another one entered the main door garotte in hand.
The fight was quite vicious with the thugs ganging up on the heroes at the table with the goliath even being dropped into unconsciousness at one point. The halfling barbarian attempted to vault the table to get at one of the thugs but his trailing foot caught the edge and he face planted (the halfling bard played a suitable tune of comedic failure).
The monk managed to get free of the melee and sprinted for another door in an effort to intercept the fleeing kidnapper, eventually able to do so just as Lady Nidris had managed to break free of his grasp. The monk launched a flying kick at the Ashmadai sending him flailing over the edge of the mote and onto the rocks below, before returning indoors with Lady Nidris and his companions.
The remaining Ashmadai were begining to fall, though not before two of them had branded the goliath and barbarian with their flaming clubs, leaving the mark of their devilish god on their opponents flesh. Despite the remaining garotter summoning a cloud of horrid smelling brimstone smoke, the Ashmadai were soon defeated.
The party – Dragonborn Hexblade, vampire/sentinal hybrid, elven hunter
The heroes decided to spread out in the Inn and overheard several of the rumours circulating the taproom. The hunter paid the bard a few coins to entertain them with song while they waited to talk with Lady Nidris. The elf then decided to wait by the bar but in an attempt of bravado tried to jump it – only to fail terribly, landing heavily and scattering glassware to the dismay of the owner and bartender.
When the Ashmadai revealed themselves, knocking the drucken dwarf to the floor, heroes sprang to action. One thug scored a crippling strike on the hexblade who responded not with violence but with his Eyes of Charming, turning the brute into a temporary ally under his domination. The vamp/sentinal’s wolf took several blows from the thugs including being branded before it fell (the bard broke into a chorus of “Bright Eyes” from Watership down).
The vamp/sentinal suggested Nidris leave by the corner door as a garotter entered the back door. When the hexblade and vamp engaged him he threw up a cloud of brimstone to cover his pursuit, catching Lady Nidris and trying to drag her back to the rope bridge.
The hexblade and vamp tackled the remaining thug (the second still being dominated by the hexblade) who was quite surprised when his comrade clocked him with his club. Once only the dominated one remained the hexblade made him take a seat before he finally broke the charm, but by then it was too late and the vamp and hexblade despatched him.
Meanwhile the hunter had ran out of the front doors to intercept the garotter, who seeing his way blocked released Nidris as he charged the hunter with his sword drawn. His strike missed terribly, and to add insult to injury the hunter used a reaction power to uppercut the cultist and send him over the edge of the mote. The Ashmadai had one chance to grab the picket fence (but I rolled a 1!) but failed, falling to his death on the rocks below as the hunter cried out “THIS! IS! NEVERWINTER!” (a geat piece of roleplay from our youngest player), then escorted Lady Nidris back into the taproom.
Both groups readily agreed to escort the visibly shaken lady Nidris back to her compound, arriving to find her guards slain and the doors burst open and daubed with a bloody symbol of Asmodeus.
I think this session went really well for both groups, though the shock of just how hard the enemies were hitting back definately rocked a few of the players. My addition of the annoying halfling bard’s “mood music” was amusing, I only wish in hindsight that I’d took the time to actually put the pieces I described onto my phone for actual playback during the encounter.
The tradional “heroes meet adventure in the tavern” opening was a little dissapointing but as we used our session 0 to give this a reason it didnt work out to badly. The Thugs Tactics trait proved highly annoying to the heroes who initially found themselves surounded at their table in the early group but it encouraged some great roleplay and interesting tactical choices.
With the late group being low on players I reduced the enemies to 3 Thugs and 1 Garotter, though for the early group I added a 2nd Garroter to the suggested forces knowing that the players had highly optimised characters and I think this worked well. I know on some of the DM forums there has been concern over the enemies having low defenses, but I found this quite a balanced encounter, particularly when the Garotters had grabbed opponents to use as human shields (I ruled that any attacks that rolled a 1 would strike the shielding body). The only other addition I made (to both groups) was that if a Thug hit with his Invoke Asmodeus attack it would brand the symbol of Asmodeus onto the victim, when this happened to the vampire/sentinals wolf I ruled that if the wolf fell and was later resummoned it would need a basic save – if failed the creature is permantly marked with the brand and all future summonings would still be branded (but the player managed to save, much to his relief).
We had already discussed the setup for the season and so the players knew they weren’t getting an extended rest until after session 4 (the action taking place over looks to be a single evening and its following day) so the players were aware of resource management but I dont think this dampened the action in any way, it will certainly prove interesting by session 3 but thankfully the milestone rule should help with that.
All in all 2 great sessions and looking forward to the next one.