D&D Encounters Season 13 – Storm over Neverwinter – Session 8 finale
We had to play the season finale a week late as our FLGS (Tabletop Tyrants) was closed last Wednesday due to staff holidays, but as luck would have it our new packs for Season 14 havent arrived as yet so we had nothing for Session 0.
The heroes exited out onto the rooftop and began talking to Vargas, discovering why he had taken up with the Ashmadai and the cause of the storm. They had just about decided that no matter his good intentions to help his stricken wife he needed to be stopped, when Chartilifax the dragon burst out of the storm and combat began.
The party concentrated their attacks on the dragon, despite Karis’s lightning strikes and Vargas’ spells and despite taking heavy damage themselves (using up the majority of their healing) they managed to drive the beast off. Turning their attention to the other pair they realised their lack of ranged assault as a limitation when trying to target Karis.
The halfling barbarian asked if, with assistance from his allies, he could leap high enough to strike at her. Unfortunately as both the cleric and druid failed their aid another rolls abysmally they didnt add anything to his athletics check – which was even worse!
By this time all four heroes were severely bloodied and the Deva cleric decided to try and bull charge Vargas off the roof, unfortunately Vargas passed his save to cling on to the parapet and the cleric sailed over it and rolled over the edge of the roof top into the storm below. To his and his companions surprise the tumultuous winds buffeted him up and over the rooftop and amazingly passing close to the floating form of the storm witch. The cleric made a grab for her and managed to cling to her trailing legs, eliciting a sharp cry of shock from her.
Vargas saw his beloved wife being “mauled” by the cleric and totally lost the plot, snapping his lightning spear over his knee and blasting all with its stored energy. The blast seemed to unhinge his own mind, leaving him a gibbering wreck, but had an opposite effect upon Karis. The last big jolt of the staffs power was the final piece of the ritual her subconscious had needed to bring her back to her senses.
She lowered herself and the cleric to the rooftop as the storm rapidly subsided, and knelt beside her husband. Craddling his head tenderly as he stared wildly off into space and muttered gibberish. Karis apologised for her husbands actions and confirmed what he had told the heroes of their past was true. She said that Vargas and she would remain at Helms Hold, he as a patient and she to help care for those that still hadnt recovered from the terrors Vargas has caused.
Descending to the great hall of the Hold the party found Lord Neverember and his retinue had (finally) arrived and they received their reward and we declared Heroes of Neverwinter!
The heroes burst onto the roof barely giving Vargas opportunity to explain his actions, taking the stance that his wifes condition did not excuse his terrible acts of torture and kidnapping. They had only just engaged him when Chartilifax emerged from the storm, eyes rolling crazily until it spotted the elven hunter. Its memory of the elf’s stinging arrows drove the beast to strafe the party with its poisonous breath as it began to circle the tower edge.
The shade mage realised he could divert the storms lightning strikes from Karis to a target of his choice, so he did, which only angered both Vargas and the dragon even more. The heroes split their assaults between Vargas and the dragon, keeping both off-balance and more often than not, off their feet, but the retaliatory strikes and Karis’s lightning strikes were taking their toll too.
First to fall was the dwarf druid, suffering from ongoing psychic damage from the dragon, he dropped into unconsciousness before he could enact his healing magic. Shortly thereafter the dragonborn hexblade and shade mage were also laying bleeding out on the storm wracked rooftop. The elf hunter had a moment of brief victory as the dragon staggered back to his feet and prepared to flee, but not before it belched forth another gout of choking gas, then flying off into the stormy night air.
The elf prepared to face the wrath of the wizard but the residual effects of the dragons breath laid him low, and as he slipped into unconsciousness he caught a fleeting image of the wizard standing over him, spear raised!
Well, two very different outcomes. I think my dice rolls in the late session were a major factor as both the dragon and Vargas hit regularly and hard, though the heroes did manage to get Chartilifax down to a single hit point before it could flee, through judiscious use of attacks that immobilised and kept him prone (we have a house rule that immobilised prevents you standing up – basically you lose the use of your legs) this also prevented the dragon performing at least 2 of his extra fly-by attacks too.
The scenario didnt give an indication on how long Karis’s ritual needed to take, aside from that she miraculously snaps out of it once all enemies are down. I felt this was a little harsh so had set myself a 5 round limit (which was in why she “recovered” in the early session).
All in all this as a good season, story driven, but brutal. Nearly every opponent dealt multiple typed which few players had resistance too, and although the multiple encounters between rests made sense and highlighted the problem of the “5-minute work day” many of the players at my tables thought it was too harsh.
With the numbers of players beginning to drop we have decided to drop down to single sessions for the next season and following the Games Day being D&D Next only have decided to carry that on through the season as a trial. That is, if the pack finally arrives!