D&D Encounters Season 14 – Search for the Diamond Staff – Session 3
This weeks group consisted of Liam’s Dwarf Paladin, Vipin’s Half-orc Rogue, Tom’s Elf Ranger, and Chris’s Human Priest.
Having tracked the Fangfist orc’s from Imani’s tower to the cave entrance in the ravine the heroes cautiously entered to find a largish natural chamber with a pair of tunnels leading deeper. In the chamber stood a trio of good quality horses and their gear stored tidily. Closer inspection revealed the gear to bear the mark of the Zhentarim and after a little brain storming the rogue used his talent for false identities to fashion crude disquises from the saddle blankets for the party.
Of the two exits, the narrower on their left had a soft blue glow further down it, while the wider on the right disappeared into darkness. Choosing to examine the narrow tunnel first with the dwarf in the lead the dour paladin was so engrossed in the “good stone” of the walls that he walked face first into the source of the glow. A naturally luminescent fungi which, as the armoured dwarf collided with it, spewed forth a cloud of tiny glowing spores. Overcoming the initial shock and not worrying too much about the minor inconvenience of further disturbing the spores they pressed on, discovering the fallen form of an orc amidst the fungi. The ranger sank an arrow into it, just to make sure, and when it failed to react the dwarf rolled it over to reveal that it was truly dead – apparently asphixiated by the spores. Beneath the dead orc were a pair of silver bracers, which the paladin tried on. They immediately shrank to fit but he felt no other benefit from them. When he tried to remove them they came off easily and he passed them back to the rogue to try as he explored the end of the tunnel, only to find a small it ended in a small chamber with more of the fungi growing on what appeared to be piles of orc refuse.
The party returned to the entrance chamber and realised that several of the spores had collected on their clothing, making them glow gently. They took a few moments to wash them off, the priest doing so in the water provided for the horses. The rogue tried the bracers on again, feeling no benefit, then remembering he had heard of such devices being used in place of armour he stripped his hide armour off and tried again finding that he felt better protected than before (Identifying magic items without a wizard in party definately sucks!).
When they were ready they explored the second tunnel which twisted and turned before coming to an small series of chambers. Here they saw a trio of orcs and a pair of humans (from their garb the heroes deduced they were Zhentarim and Fangfist marauders). Rather than charge in they decided to risk using their hasty disguises and bluffing their opponents. The dwarf decided to use his military bearing to blag being sent by the Zhent commander to check on the progress of the mission and backed this up with a charisma roll. I rolled an opposed wisdom check for the Zhent mage who then asked the dwarf to confirm “HE definitely sent you?” When the dwarf replied yes the mage became outraged “The commander is a woman, fool, and left here a little over an hour ago with the prize. Kill them!” he screamed.
The orc leader and one of his cohorts moved to engage the heroes, facing off with the paladin and rogue who had led the party in. The rogue decided to try and convince the orcs to switch sides, saying he was the son of a chief of a northern tribe and if the orcs brought him the head of the mage their leader could marry his sister and gain alliance with his tribe. Again we used charisma opposed by wisdom, and the result was the orc leader replying “Korzu unlucky in love, accept bride for ‘umans head – get ‘im boys!” and redirected his orcs to attack the Zhents.
The Zhent soldier backed up to protect his mage commander as the orcs engaged him, but the paladin cast command and ordered the mage to “Flee”, causing him to run deeper into the cave complex. The orcs made short work of the poor soldier and the rogue directed them to “get the mage, get the mage!” and they charged ahead with the paladin and cleric only to find the deeper chamber empty.
The rogue and ranger stayed back and began to rummage through the orcs campsite just as the mage magically reappeared with lightning playing across his hand as he attempted to goose the unprepared rogue. Despite moving to enagage the mage they missed him and he managed to break away, turning only to throw a handful of coloured sand at the pair which turned into sparkling multi-coloured lights before them. The rogue and ranger both failed their saves against the colour spray and I let them each roll a d6 to see how it affected them – coming up a 5 & 6 respectively, and causing them to run screaming away from the mage (who then was able to get to his horses and escape).
Meanhile Korzu and the orcs were getting irate at being unable to pound the missing mage, and without the rogue to keep convincing them decided that a dwarf was the next best target and set about the paladin. The divine duo of the paladin and cleric took several heavy hits (I managed to crit the dwarf twice – luckily my damage rolls were poor in comparison) Eventually the rogue recovered from the colour spray and regrouped trying to diffuse the situation once more. Korzu the orc leader and his remaining orc warrior agreed to leave (being now outnumbered and not liking the odds) if the heroes vowed not to hurt them in return. Trying to look braver than they were considering the beating they had taken, the paladin puffed out his chest and said “go now and never return”, but once the orcs were out of sight he practically collapsed from his bruised ribs and numerous wounds.
The heroes finished examining the orc camp, discovered their lockbox and the the rogue easily accessed the contents, pocketing a small potion vial without the others seeing before showing them the shiny magical longbow and coins within. The ranger lifted the bow reverently, marvelling at the exquisite craftsmanship (+1 longbow). They also found Phoedele’s letter and took that for future reference, while the cleric stripped the scale armour from the Zhent soldier and donned in place of his chainmail.
The heroes return to Imani’s tower with the sad news that the staff was still in enemy hands. The rogue also stated he was going to examine his potion to try and determine its use, rubbing a little on his fingers he felt little hairs grow out and found his grip greatly improved when attemting to climb (potion of climbing), re-pocketng the potion for when needed.
Despite the very linear story of this session (and chapter to be frank) the players had fun with roleplaying this session, and I was once again impressed with Vipin’s attempts to avoid combat through fast-talking his way out of trouble – its sometimes hard to remember that this is the first time he’s played any D&D at all.
With the exploration of the other tunnel and extensive roleplay both before and during the combat phase this session actually overran our estimated time slot of 2 hours by another 35 minutes. Despite having to pause once or twice to double check on a couple of the spells the session ran smoothly and both myself and players appeared to be having fun. The only thing that felt lacking was any type of tactical advantage in combat for mobbing an opponent, maybe that will appear in a future playtest packet.
The players now have an extended rest and the opportunity to advance to level 5, I also said they could spend any gold they have in Hap but could only afford standard items listed in the equipment list, one player asked if basic potions were available to which I replied no, the village isn’t big enough to warrant regular trade of even “common” magic items, which he accepted as a good enough reason.