D&D Encounters Season 14 – Search for the Diamond Staff – Session 6
- Liam – Dwarf Paladin
- Vipin – Half-Orc Rogue
- Tilly – Elf Ranger
- Jodie – Halfling Rogue
- Shane – Elf Wizard
- David – Human Wizard
- Glenn – Half-Orc Fighter
David had unfortunately had his car broken into and the thieves had taken his backpack containing his D&D stuff, including his previous character sheets, so he created his new character for this week. A human wizard called Jotun with his fire spells reflavoured to frost/cold and his cat familiar reflavoured to a snow lynx. He was concerned how the fireballs chance of igniting combustibles would translate, I said leave it with me and, well, read on….
The party ventured into the web-covered ruins, quickly coming upon an old plaza that was surprisingly clear of webs and detritus. At the centre stood a statue surrounded by black pillars. Examining it, the two elves recognised it to be a representation of Chomylla, ancient elven wizardess (and coincidentally creator of the Diamond Staff they sought). Reading the runes on the statue triggered an image of Chomylla to appear and impart a description of how fair Uvaeren was destroyed. Following the statues gaze the ranger discovered the tracks of the Zhentarim leading through a white marble arch and deeper into the ruins.
The paladin stoically led the way, oblivious of a thin strand of webbing strung across which he broke with a twang. Before he had time to question what had happened a handful of bone darts dripping with venom were flung out of a intricately crafted web, catching the dwarf full in the chest. Despite their impact and the virulent poison coursing into his blood, his dwarven heritage allowed him to shrug the worst of it off and stride on.
The heroes could see that the encroaching forest covered almost everything, with only a trio of other buildings remaining recognisable within the clearing. The ranger advised that the Zhent tracks led over to the ruined porch towards the east of the clearing but strange sharp, three-toed tracks crisscrossed everywhere – particularly where the webs were heaviest.
The party chose to investigate the closest building, the paladin and human mage approaching what looked like it used to be a doorway. The mage put his back to the wall and slipped his hand beyond to have a quick feel around – doing so caused “something” to skitter within the darkness. More than a little panicked, Jotun responded by conjuring a Frostball and blasting it into the interior. The spell blasted shards of ice around the room, shredding anything unfortunate enough to be in the way. As the mage and dwarf moved in to check the aftermath they found a pair of figures laying lifeless amidst shredded webbing, their six limbs curled up in an ineffective protection.
The half-orc rogue’s eye caught sight of a shadowy figure within the webbing on the ruined porch, fearing it was another of the strange creatures he nudged the ranger and pointed it out. The ranger tied some rag to an arrow before lighting it and firing it toward the center of the porch. The arrow struck true and the extra light revealed a large human shaped figure within the webbing. The ranger suggested the rogue go take a look and so along with the paladin and fighter they investigated the broken porch. Cutting carefully into the web they found an apparently lifeless man in dark armour. Before they could investigate further one of the six-limbed creatures leapt out of the rubble and attacked with a venom coated dagger and crude hand-crossbow. The trio of heroes were quick to deal with it even as their companions moved into positions to provide assistance if needed. The halfling rogue climbing onto a rubbled section of the northern building before taking a shot with her crossbow that ended the beasts life. As the party cheered the half-orc pulled the human free of the web, revealing him to have been a Zhent warrior with a nasty looking bite in his neck that had already festered. He also noticed something glinting in the vacant web, reaching in he found a short sword. The wizards in the party examined it and realised it was a +1 sword. Before the party could get too excited though the air was split with the halflings shriek.
More of the spider-creatures were within the north building and one had attacked the diminutive rogue. The remainder of the party rushed to her aid. The elf mage and half-orc rogue heading to the rubble entrance while the human mage, paladin and fighter headed to what looked like the original entrance. The ranger chose to remain slightly behind to provide covering fire.
The creatures began to swarm over the ruined walls, webs and elven statues in their assault on the party. The mage’s fired spells, the rogues and ranger relied on their missile fire, while the paladin and fighter engaged any that came close enough with their weapons. One of the warrior creatures managed to get close enough to attack the human mage in melee and was able to cause some serious wounds, luckily the paladin was able to channel his gods energies and heal his ally.
The battle was vicious and the party were taking heavy damage until the mage threw another frostball managing to take out several of the creatures. The remaining few were quickly brought down with focused fire, despite one trying to hide atop a ruined wall while firing its bow.
The shredding caused by the frostball also revealed the creatures accumulated treasure, consisting of gems, coins (many with the Zhentarim mark), a pair of healing potions and a suit of glamoured studded leather armour (which our two female players – the ranger and halfling – renamed the “gimp suit”), as well as a hidden trapdoor leading to the tunnels and caverns below the ruins. The ranger was able to determine that the Zhentarims tracks led to the trapdoor – but not back out.
The heroes decided that although they were sure no creatures remained in the area, it may be safer to recuperate back where the statue was, as it seemed that the creatures avoided it (deduced by the lack of any webbing) and so retreated to prepare for their descent after the Zhents and the Staff of Chomylla.
As with session 4 there were areas in this session that while described in the text were not apparent on the supplied battle map and so I drew up the map (see above) to help set the scene once more (I also posted it to the WotC forums for others to make use of as they wished) and printed 2 copies off so that the players didn’t have to crowd around a single one (with 7 players this proved a good idea).
The session went really well, and when I showed them the picture of the Chitine (see above) from my eReader, they actually gasped. Although I added a few extra monsters with the larger party size I had already planned on spreading them out around the ruins a little more and I think this worked quite well. My only “complaint” being the weapon choices given to the Chitines in the conversion document. If I were to run it again I think I’d have had the basic ones using the daggers and having a small supply of poisoned darts, while the brutish warriors wielded greatswords or greataxes to take advantage of their multiple limbs.
The dwarves resistance to poison added flavour and the other pc’s soon envied him as the poison damage stacked up.
The session lasted about 2-1/4 hours and everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves, feeling a sense of relief once they survived and took their rests. Although I forgot at the table I have since informed the players to level up to 6th level in preparation for next week, which is where we realised that those running the pregens hadn’t been given any specialties (and therefore no feats) so far, so I have allowed the to “back-date” this, so they can have the 1st/3rd/6th level feats choices.
We also discussed the upcoming season and its launch weekend event, I asked which rule set they wanted to use and the vast majority have said they want to continue with Next. I’m more than happy to continue DMing using the playtest rules, so that’s what we’re going to do.