Monday, October 20, 2008

10/18 Actual Play

We had 6 PC's this session, the Human Cleric, the Halfling Cleric, the Elven Fighter, the Human Wizard, the Human Rogue, and the Elven Ranger. The Halfling Cleric just happens to be the same halfling we had join us last session, only now she is a male cleric. Convenient. Onward ho!

The next room is a large, mostly empty stone room with a 5x20 foot altar in the center that rises about 4 feet high. As the party begins to enter the room they see standing in front of the altar a robed figure, moving slightly. The Elven and Half Elven party members see more in the dim light. At the other end of the long room are two pits. They also get a better look at the altar. It is covered with grotesque imagery, and from what they can see, it is a twisted fountain, with many spouts that dribble blood that collects in a trough around the base. Thankfully it appears empty right now.

The Rogue sneaks up behind the figure. As he gets close it turns, and he and the rest get a good look at it. Taught skin pulled over dry bones, draped in shapeless robes. Unholy light burns within and animates it's movements. They attack each other.

As the Wight screams it's unholy scream a handful of zombies climb from the pits. As they near the party, it is apparent that these are the same hobgoblins that they defeated not that long ago. Highlights:
- The Halfling Cleric manages to catch about half of them in a spectacular display of his Deity's power. The zombies flee and two of them tumble into the pit.
- The Half Elven Cleric does the same thing, and pretty much eliminate the zombies as a threat.
- The wight was too exposed to do much besides die. Melee characters charged in and ended it quick.

Exploration following the fight illuminates a few things. The pits are full of dead bodies, all in more advanced states of decomposition than the ones they fought. Of the three exits out, one is a dead end, and one is easily barricaded by the Rogue, leaving and obvious choice for the party. Not before the clerics take their time to rob this altar of it's power, just as in the previous room. Once done, the party noticed that the pits full of bodies began to stink. Before there was no scent.

The room the party chose was once a beautiful stone room with decorative pillars spaced throughout. Many of them had fallen, leaving piles of broken stone on the floor. In the corner were some stairs down, and opposite them was another door. After cautiously exploring the room and finding nothing of interest, they decided to move on to the next door.

This room held something interesting. The door opened on three dark elves gathered around a large table. The table had a body strapped to it, and appeared to be purpose built for torture and dissection. To the right was a dividing wall with living quarters, and in that room were three more Drow. The apparent leader began speaking with the party, but was interrupted by an orb of force streaking into the room and striking two of the guards. Important stuff:
- The Human Wizard put down an area of force daggers right in front of the door, anticipating the Drow's charge for the party. Unfortunately they had reach weapons and this only hindered the party during the first round.
- The Rogue shouting at his allies to keep out of that room and move the enemies to their room. They had good defensive position with pillars to hide behind and a choke point. This would have worked perfectly except...
- The Drow Wizard hitting the grouped party with a power that made four of them fall prone, and dazed them. The pole arm fighters were able to move into the room once the force daggers were down and attack the party in the open.
- The other two Drow were quickly dubbed 'cabana boys' and after one was dropped quickly it was decided to try and keep the other alive.
- The Elven Fighter attacking from the ground and shoving his trident under his assailant's armor, killing him. Afterwards he said he planned to go down, just for that purpose.
- Once the battle started turning against them, the Drow retreated into the room and slammed the door, attempting to get away.
- The Fighter leaped at the door, kicking it down after a vault with his trident, burst through, and charged the remaining guard, taking him down.
- The fight was largely over, but the Drow Wizard did not know that. He ran down a hallway and opened the door at the end. The other Wizard conjured another region of magical daggers behind him, trapping him.
- The Fighter (again!) bullrushed him into the daggers, and he dropped to his knees, protecting his face from the slashing. He did not see the rogue's dagger find it's mark between his fingers, and he fell to the ground dead.

The party took two prisoners, the living cabana boy, who the wizard had abandoned in his flight, and the last guard that had been taken down by the fighter. They examined the body and discovered that it was the man that they had been looking for, and that he was dead. The two clerics laid him on the bed and began to perform rites on him, while the party interrogated the cabana boy.

Through some clever trickery involving whispered words of his former master being conjured into his ear, he spilled all he knew. This was a Drow Temple of Vecna. Long ago a powerful Drown Necromancer had come to the surface world and enslaved or destroyed many. He had build temples like the one they were in all over, to enable him to perform his unholy rites. The fountain in the last room was an artifact that animated the dead placed in the two pits nearby. the current Necromancer was seeking to raise an undead army and begin the work of his master anew. The party learned:
- The dungeon was two levels
- The man the killed was not the Necromancer
- There were only a handful of followers, all outcast from the Underdark and Drow society as a whole

While the Clerics finished their rites the next room was explored. This was the final room on this floor. In the corner were five square obsidian pillars, each five feet on a side and going floor to ceiling. They were written in a language unknown to all present, but following a brief ritual the Wizard was able to discern that these contained the knowledge for using the altar in the next room. Essentially these were the Necromancers' spellbooks. With help from the Rogue they used a hammer to obscure or obliterate key parts of the rituals, rendering them useless.

Placing the body on a floating disc, they returned to the city to report their findings. The prisoners were taken to the Sheriff's office. While Constable Blackshield was initially reticent to take the prisoners, he loosened up after a long night passing the flask with the Rogue. The two Clerics took the body to be lain to rest at one of the town's temples, and Wizard went to the tavern to unwind. Following an unpleasant exchange with Constable Blackshield's wife, the Half Elven Cleric decided that the children needed a better place to stay.

Early in the morning they met at the sheriff's office to talk to Constable Morlinar about what should be done. The sheriff was summoned, and although gruff at first he agreed to speak to the Lord Mayor about what should be done. The question of the two recently orphaned Graygrinder children was addressed, and the Rogue produced a sack of gold to be put in a trust for their safekeeping. The Wizard offered them a place to stay as hired hands at his master's tower, and Constable Morlinar promised to check on them to see how things were going. The party all knew that their job was not yet finished, and left soon after for the Scarred Caverns and the Necromancer, who was likely waiting for them there.

Not even bothering to sneak, the party marches down the stairs and into his lair. The Necromancer was working on some type of magical sigil on the floor, but stood and commanded his undead as the party walked in:
- Two clerics in the party meant this fight was doomed from the beginning. Despite having an aura from the Necromancer that boosted their power they were turned and out of the fight almost right away.
- The Wizard conjured a fiery sphere that he controlled with his mind. He harried the Necromancer with it the entire battle.
- The Necromancer got fed up with this and unleashed Necromantic energy on the party. Four of them were caught in a vortex of dark energy and flung back.
- In the following seconds he paid dearly for putting himself out there. Crippled and stunned he again blasted everyone back.
- Feeling the end creeping close and not wanting to face his master after such a complete failure he leaped through a portal and down the hall.

The party chased him only to run right into a trap. The last room in this complex contained an elevator powered by powerful enchantments and guarded by crossbow firing automata. Three Drow soldiers barred the way, attempting to give their master time, but as it became clear that the party would break through, the final soldier hit the kill switch and sent the platform plummeting into the Underdark.


This is what I get for planning the inaugural session to introduce (1) The Underdark *scary* and (2) Undead.

I get two clerics! 4e Turn Undead is brutal. Having played a 3.5 Cleric I can say with authority that without special attention from feats, domains, or prestige classes, turn undead was usually a bust. 4e Turn Undead is super awesome. As it should be for an attack that only works against certain types of enemies.

The last encounter for this adventure got lopped off. We were out of time and 20 minutes from the end of the session so it just gets described in cinematic terms. Since Colin is running next session it would be a huge time waster for me to DM the wrap up and then turn things over to him. This way he can weave the end of adventure infodump/interrogation with the authorities with the beginning of a new adventure seed. Not that they will necessarily need to follow it. I did try to introduce possible adventures into the sessions that I ran, and I got two in. Not a world record, at all.

So, what did *I* learn? Three combat encounters per session, tops, end of story, no argument or addendum. Do not plan for more. Do not try and anticipate what the party will do, you will always, always be wrong. Controllers belong at the back. Minions work best when scattered among rank and file troops, and in moderation. Do not assume that your players will want to know everything about everything when given the chance. In fact, that is practically what this game is about.

And the Halfling thing. . .Different player, and the best option was to pretend that it was that Cleric all along.

Next week I get to play, wonderful!


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