D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 15

So our big damn heroes of the week include, in no particular order:

  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Mave, a Human Rogue, and the only female in the party
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety
  • Dovahkiin, a Dragonborn Ranger
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger

Having returned to Daggerford, there are a couple of changes: the refugee camps outside the town are no longer there, as the town is now accepting refugees, since we’ve returned the bloke and shown that it wasn’t stolen by a refugee (good job there Duke of Daggerford! Anymore false accusations you’d like to throw around? Are you sure? Positive? Well, give it a few hours; I’m sure you’ll think of something!) We basically report everything we found at Firehammer Hold to both Sherlyn (militia leader) and Sir Isteval, before we settle in a private room at an inn (I’m guessing the Lady Luck Tavern) for drinks, and to figure out ways to get the bloke from the Duke. We think of a tiered approach, escalating as needed. The first approach is to simply ask, perhaps embellishing / holding back certain truths, but maybe saying something along the lines that the bloke is needed to reduce the monsters plaguing the Sword Coast, since that’s been a concern for the Duke. If that doesn’t work, Gavan has a newly acquired ‘Suggestion’ spell that may come in handy, assuming the Duke isn’t warded against magics of any sort. I have a suspicion that his newly betrothed, Natasha, has magical ability and is at least an accomplice to the scourge plaguing the Sword Coast, though there is no direct proof. The third and most dangerous approach requires Gavan casting invisibility on a party rogue and having him / her steal the bloke, though if the rogue is caught, the party as a whole will be of little help.

And then duty calls.

A knock on our door, and we’re greeted by the innkeeper, who lets us know that we have a visitor. The visitor in question is Darfin Floshin, a high-elf friend of Sir Isteval who we met several moons ago. He wishes to talk to us. We immediately accept this request, and Darfin enters. We note that his usual noble dress appears tattered and worn, somewhat unusual for him. He also has a servant with him, Gallan, who is looking rather ragged and bruised. He tells us a story of how he was headed home to his estate when begins to feel pain throughout his whole body. As he struggles to continue, he meets up with Gallan, who tells his lord that the estate has been taken over by gnolls, elementals, and undead. Even worse, Darfin’s sister, Shalendra, is still at the estate, and he’d like us to rescue her.

We immediately set off for the Floshin Estate, which is about thirty miles north along one of major trails off the main road. On the way there, we get into a bit of a squabble with 3 gnolls sand 2 hyenas, who we dispatch reasonably quickly, though one of the gnolls makes a break for it. Fearing reinforcements, Gavan casts a sleep spell on it, and all’s well that ends well. We discover a giant sinkhole nearby, but don’t investigate it as we feel time is of the essence. The trail ends and we find ourselves at a gatehouse, which leads to a bridge, and beyond that, the estate.

Entering the gatehouse turns out to be a hilarious affair. After various party members check for traps, and don’t find anything (which doesn’t automatically mean that there are no traps), our fighter pushes the door open, which activates the portcullis above him. Selwyn manages to grab Szenden and tries to pull him out of the way. But it’s up to Szenden; thanks to Selwyn, he has advantage on this roll. In D&D Next, what this means is that he gets to roll a 20-sided dice twice and take the higher of the two rolls. Szenden’s player clasps his hands together, shakes them for a bit, and throws two 20-sided dice onto the table.

Two 1’s stare back at him. (For those that don’t know, in D&D Next, rolling high is always good, rolling 20’s are considered critical successes, while rolling 1’s are considered critical failures.)

So the portcullis smashes into Szenden for 18 points of damage. Ouch!

Our strong-as-can-be half-orc, Tassidar, lifts the portcullis and Szenden is dragged inside, while the rest of us dash in as well before Tassidar has to let go. Naturally, 2 undead and 2 gnolls are waiting for us inside. Despite a numbers advantage favoring us, we’re confined in a small space, so the battle takes longer than we’d like. Still in the end, we dispatch our foes, cross the bridge, and continue on into the manor, and begin exploring.

Oak leaf designs, marble busts…yep, this is a high-elf mansion.

We eventually enter a room where, sitting at table, are six dread warrior undead. Why they’re sitting at the table is anyone’s guess. I’m thinking they were having dinner or playing Magic: The Gathering. We spoil their gaming with blood and battle (which incidentally, qualifies as the worst battle-cry in the history of battle-cries.)

It’s notable that all the undead we’ve encountered thus far have been humans; no dwarves or elves to speak of, yet.

We eventually find a brazier, with lots of burnt materials, most notable of which are metal plates with elven and human names. We then remember that we have met Darfin’s half-elf nephew, Kelsin Darktreader…or was it brother? The answer is probably somewhere in my blog posts, but I’m too busy to take a peek.

Into a nearby hallway we go, where we find some paintings of more humans and elves, but some of them are missing, and the name plates accompanying the paintings look familiar, as if we’ve seen them in a burnt state just a few moments ago. Naturally, three ghosts emerge to attack us. In fact, one of our members (I think it was Mave), suffers semi-permanent damage to her hit point total (maximum number of hit points is reduced). I say semi-permanent, because I believe magic of some sort can restore her lost health, but at least for the remainder of this venture, she has to bear it. We manage to dispatch the ghosts, and tread deeper into the Floshin Estate. At times throughout the night, we’ve debated taking a short rest, but we press on. Since we’re on a rescue mission, we’re certain time is of the essense. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this venture, Shalendra is the one who rescues us. Before we left, Gavan asked Floshin of Shalendra’s background, and found out she’s a capable ranger. Hopefully, we’ll see how this plays out tonight. I also hope that I’m just a bit luckier than last week. I didn’t really write much about it, but generally speaking, I kept rolling really consistently low tonight. Not a lot of 1’s (only once did that happen), but many single digit rolls, which often resulted in failed attacks. C’est la vie.

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D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 14

Yay, I’m behind on posting my weekly adventure in the D&D Encounters program. In my defense, Easter with family in addition to my cold from hell threw me off my game. The good news is that I’m feeling 90% better, and the cough is finally subsiding, though I still go through several Ricola lozenges per day. Honey-Herb is still the best flavor ever.

So this post is actually for the game played two weeks ago (Wednesday, April 16, 2014). The big damn heroes for that particular week were:

  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Mave, a Human Rogue, and the only female in the party
  • Rook Trillcook, a Halfling Rogue
  • Dovahkiin, a Dragonborn Ranger
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger and newcomer to the party

We’re still crawling through Firehammer Hold; in fact, when last we left the group, we were in the middle of a battle with Duergar, dark dwarves with a chip on their shoulder. Literally, not figuratively. Anyways, we start out the session in battle with twelve of them. Hurray for battle. Actually, I recall us taking a short rest (one hour game time) after this battle, so it certainly wasn’t a cakewalk, though we were victorious.

Other encounters of interest include:

  • A room of worship with a crystal statue of a dwarf. Some of us recognize this dwarf to be Dumathoin, a dwarven god of buried treasure, exploration and guardian of the dead. Written in dwarven at the base of the statue is an inscription. Thankfully, several of us happen to be knowledgeable in the dwarven language, and it reads “Friendship is more than a word. Weight it carefully.” The first sentence of that phrase happens to be what was written on the dwarven bloke we had retrieved for the Duke of Daggerford.
    • While this is off-topic, why is the Duke of Daggerford a greedy, self-involved, lying cheat? Is it too much to ask for just one of our political figures to be on the up-and up? Just one is all I ask. ONE!
  • In an adjoining room to this statue, we find a crazy puzzle room, forty feet across and thirty feet deep. The floor is made up of dwarven shields that depress whenever someone steps on one. On the other side of a room is a door, and various dwarf statues stand at the right and left ends of the rooms in alcoves. Written on each shield are dwarven runes, old dwarven names. We find that we can cross the room with no incident, but the door on the other side remains locked. However, we eventually find that the first rune of each name is never repeated in a row. In fact, if we spell out friendship (in dwarven), on the way to the other side, the door is unlocked. Weight it carefully, indeed.
  • Opening the door, we find another statue, but where the face  is, it looks like a stone tablet would fit. Like a dwarven bloke we used to have in our possession. D’OH! There is an inscription: “Greetings friends and allies of the Watchers…” This particular statue, we recognize to be another dwarven deity, Gorm, the watcher.
  • We had earlier found a map from one of the Duergar, with one area marked as ‘home.’ We had avoided the area as long as possible, but finally worked up the courage to explore it. It’s essentially a cavernous area roughly 40″x40″, but with slabs of marble lining the walls, a mausoleum. Symbols are drawn on the floor and above, written in blood and not in dwarvish. None of us are able to decipher the language, other than we not it is related to abyssal, the language of demons, but it is not in abyssal.
    • Traveling deeper into this ‘home’ area is is short cave, with walls covered with primitive murals depicting dwarves fighting what looks like a giant purple worm. We eventually find a giant hole, presumably where such a creature could emerge, but thankfully nothing does. Despite our investigation, we don’t really discover anything special about this hole.
  • Another area where we find a prisoner tied up, presumably the female we were trying to save. There are nine duergar in this area, four standing guard and five of them asleep. Naturally, violence ensues, and during the chaos, a duergar wizard joins the fray. Emerging victorious, we free the prisoner and find a set of studded dragon leather armor and a silver greataxe, equipment we recognize to belong to Jek. In an adjoining room, shackled in a Northeast corner, happens to be Jek himself, alive though rather delirious, thinking us to be some illusions of some sort.
  • To top that all off, there is a summoning circle here, written in blood…why is everything written in blood? Ink would be a less expensive alternative, wouldn’t it? We fail to determine where it goes, and none of us are keen on splitting the party to try and activate the thing. Gavan does make a copy of the circle on some parchment, and is able to eventually determine that the symbols written on it are in infernal.
  • We show Jek the room with the statue of Gorm. He appears rather confident that we must somehow recover the bloke from the duke. It’s a dwarven artifact! It belongs in a museum…at Firehammer hold!

Speaking of which, that brings us to the end of Firehammer Hold. Having rescued the pregnant female NPC whose name I’ve clearly forgotten, and Jek himself, we make our way back to Daggerford. Gavan is rather overjoyed, having acquired another the duergar wizard’s spellbook, so now he can augment his own spellbook with newly acquired spells. To top that all off, we’ve all leveled up to level 4. Awesomesauce!

Since I’m behind, I’m going to work hard to get part 15 up Wednesday morning, since tomorrow evening I’m playing through what will eventually be part 16. Because as the time between when the event occurred and the here-and-now grows larger, and I’m relying more-and-more on my feeble memory. playing catch-up is almost always never fun.

D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 13

So I’ve been combating the cold from hell as of late, for almost two weeks now. It’s strange in that for the most part I feel much better, but the cough simply won’t go away. I’m on antibiotics right now, and living off cough drops. I feel like I’ve sampled every cough drop on the market, and my favorites right now are Ricola Natural Honey-Herb. If Ricola were a publicly traded company, I should buy stock in them right now. I hate being sick; it’s really annoying, but c’est la vie I suppose.

Anyways, our big damn heroes for the week (prepare for a huge list) include:

  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Javert, a Paladin, formerly a Drow but is now a Human for some inexplicable reason
  • Malice, a Tiefling Paladin
  • Mave, a Human Rogue, and the only female in the party
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety
  • Dovahkiin, a Dragonborn Ranger, and newcomer to the party. And yes, his name is a meta joke, assuming you’ve played the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • Rook Trillcook, a Halfing Rogue, and another newcomer to the party. A welcome addition, as Mave is typically late due to the player having real-world issues making it at the appointed time

Yes, our party is huge and unwieldy. If this were a home campaign, I’m sure our dungeonmaster / gamemaster / judge / whatever you want to call him would normally scale encounters up as appropriate. I’m unsure if our DM is doing that though, because the issues with doing that with encounters is:

  1. the long battles will be made even longer, stifling progress even further, and
  2. As this is a casual play program, people come and go as they please.

It’s actually surprising that we’ve had a fairly consistent turn-out. When I started, the size of the party continually fluctuated with every session, but now we can count on at least seven player’s turning up. Still, this can change at any time, and that unpredictability is difficult to plan / adjust for.

But I digress…

So apparently I was mistaken for awhile, and we were actually in the ruins of Harpshield Castle last week; I had thought it was a different ruin site, but no harm, no foul. We had obtained the Dwarven bloke stolen from the Duke of Daggerford. Also, apparently a lot of the major bosses have been dying in a similar fashion: their skin would crack and break before exploding in flame, presumably of the magical variety. Clearly, dark magics are afoot…I think in an earlier entry we had found evidence of magic of the Red Wizards of Thay, or something like that…blasted feeble memory!

So we return to Daggerford and immediately go to the Duke to return the bloke. He was appreciative…well, not really. He thanked us and that was it. Some of the more mercenary types among us expected some type of monetary award, so there was a bit of disappointment in the air. We also share our latest findings, including the map we found, with the militia head Sherlyn as well as Sir Isteval. After some consultation, we agree that our next venture should be to Firehammer Hold, a dwarven fortress where we believe the villagers of Julkoun were taken to be enslaved. Also, a dwarf named Jek whom we met when we first arrived in Daggerford and his company of dwarves went to Firehammer Hold, but have not returned, nor has a message been sent. I ask Sir Isteval if he could try to talk to the local Daggerford mage Delfin asking for assistance, as Gavan is a low-level mage and with foul sorcery at work, he could probably be useful in saving Daggerford from the strange goings-on.

Fearing the worst for Jek and his crew, we head out the next morning. Having consulted the map, and realizing we would have to climb treacherous, hilly paths upward, most of us buy mules to help us on our journey. Before we leave the town gates however, we’re instantly summoned by the Duke to the marketplace. Natasha, the former escort / current murder suspect (by the party, not the town) / and currently betrothed to the Duke, is present. I actually try to cast Detect Magic to see if I can learn anything of what’s going on; there’s a mystery surrounding her, but apparently, the crowd is poking and prodding us so much with adoration, that I’m unable to concentrate. I’m somewhat annoyed at this predicament, but I like to think of it as the citizens jostling for position to ask for Gavan’s autograph, which he naturally signs with the ‘mage hand’ spell. Anyways, the Duke basically addresses everyone (and I paraphrase): “These brave adventurer’s defeated many monsters to return the Delimbiyr bloke. We recognize them as Heroes of Daggerford, and award them the key to the city. They’ll take care of your lodgings and board. I understand you’re here to defeat monsters. Let’s see them off!”

So imagine a parade held in our honor, and most of us are riding mules through the marketplace streets. Horses or carriages probably would have been more appropriate, but as we’ve already established, the Duke is amazingly cheap.

We travel the main road (called the ‘Iron Road,’ for whatever reason) for several days before making it to a gravel path that would take us to Firehammer Hold. When we reach about 900 feet up from the road, we notice a lot of birds, ravens and buzzards, flying around in circles. We eventually reach an intersection, where a ten foot statue of a dwarf, pointing up the hill with its right hand, and holding a coin (as part of the stonework; it’s not an actual coin) in the left hand. Some of us recognize this statue to be Vergadain, the laughing dwarf, one of the dwarven pantheon of gods. There is also a basin at the bottom of the statue, and nailed to the chest with an iron spike is a shield with a red symbol painted on it. This is the holy symbol of Laduguer, an evil god worshipped by the Duergar (pronounced Dur-EH-gahr.)  We remove the shield and bury it; when we do so, we hear laughter and the basin suddenly fills with what appears to be water. Some of us bravely drink some of this water, though nothing appears to happen.

The left side path leads up to an empty encampment with small wooden huts; the path continues to loop back to the main path, but near the encampment is a large hold in the ground, where we see a half, dozen corpses, some of them shriveled, human bodies. Shriveled in the sense as if their bodily fluids were removed. We take the time to cover the hole, and get back on the main path, and eventually arrive at Firehammer hold.

To our surprise, there’s no welcoming committee; no guards stationed anywhere outside. There are three notable entrances, with a varying number of footprints at each entrance. We settle on entering the entrance with the medium number of tracks to find…nothing. Well, not nothing, but not opposition. A search of the room we entered as well as nearby rooms reveal several empty chests, but we then discover something interesting: a wooden bookcase hiding a hidden door.

Entering the hidden door, we walk down a corridor before finding ourselves at a stairway at the midpoint; where we can proceed north / up or south / down. Gavan casts ‘invisibility’ on our new halfling rogue as well as ‘light’ on a copper coin to use as a light source. Since it’s a coin, he could easily keep it in his pocket (and thus it’d become invisible), pulling it out incrementally as need be. upstairs, there is a room with water channels; perhaps a temple or a bath? While there are no people present, there are iron doors, barred from the inside, which we surmise is to keep something out. Downstairs, there is a room with a lit fireplace, empty weaponracks, a table with a few stools, and an archway that leads further south. There are two Duergar / Gray Dwarves sitting on the stools, with spears and picks on their person.

With the scouting report in mind, we decide to collectively go south and with extreme numbers on our side, simply decide to charge in, with the intention of capturing one of the Duergar for questioning. We actually do succeed in doing so, though one of the Duergar manages to flee. Tying the unconscious Duergar to the mule Dovahkiin decided to bring into the hold, we proceed to follow the escapee. Two short hallways later, and we find ourselves in a large room with an entrance to an adjoining smaller room. The large room is naturally trapped, with geysers that spit fire across the room at times. In the adjoining room, we’re ambushed of course, by 2 Duergar that emerge from a small area hidden by a large banner, and six more from another part of the room. One things that was unclear is where these six enemies came from: where they invisible? Or did they perhaps teleport in?

After dispatching with our foes, in the previous larger room that was trapped, more enemies emerge from a secret door, but having run out of time, that’s an encounter that we’ll either fight next week, or we’ll have fast forwarded a bit to having defeated it, due to us making slow progress with our massive party chugging along as teenage mutant ninja turtle-ish speed.

D&D Encounters Quest, Scourge of the Sword Coast, part 12

So before I begin, I have to say that I just got a new keyboard (Razer’s Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth) to replace my eight year-old standard Alienware keyboard, and I have to say, it feels wonderful. The tactile sensation is just…ridiculously responsive. And it has a lot of neat little features, that I can definitely appreciate.

But I digress…

So our big damn heroes of the week include:

  • Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
  • Javert, a Paladin, formerly a Drow but is now a Human for some inexplicable reason
  • Santel, a Halfing Cleric, as opposed to Sandal, the comic relief dwarf
  • Malice, a Tiefling Paladin
  • Mave, a Human (I think) Rogue, and the only female in the party

Yeah, our party is huge nowadays. Good when it comes to combat encounters, bad when it comes to making quick progress. Battles are extremely long at times, and outside of battle, we can definitely be a bit over-talkative as a group and occasionally indecisive. Simply put, we’re just slow.

So after our battle in the courtyard with six orcs, a giant ogre, and an orc shaman, we elect to take a full overnight rest, as we’re currently out of healing magic, our drunken halfing is passed out from severe intoxication, and Gavan is out of spells, excluding cantrips. Searching the area, it’s noticed that some of the orcs weapons are dwarf-forged, and have a symbol of a flaming hammer etched into them, and one of the orcs has dwarf-forged armor with the same symbol. We also find a trap door at the bottom floor of the tower. We elect to use a barrel filled with water that we found to put on top of the trap door so that no one can come up it to ambush us during our long rest. As it turns out, that precaution was unnecessary, but better to be safe than sorry.

So the next morning, fully recovered except for Santel (who is hungover like no tomorrow), we carefully open the trap door, only to see ropes leading down to a 20×20 room, about 20 feet down. For the remainder of the evening, we essentially crawled through a dungeon, so as before, rather than talk about every single twist and turn we elected to take, I’ll just synopsize the more interesting areas we explored.

  • Orc living quarters, where we take down 3 orcs that appear to be tougher than usual. Their toughness can be attributed to all three of them wearing dwarf-forged armor and wielding dwarf-forged weapons, all with the same flaming hammer symbol we saw earlier. Besides tons of beds, there’s also a rather large fire where a pig was roasted. Szenden proceeds to eat as much of the pig as elvenly possible, and thankfully makes his constitution check vs. extreme gluttony.
  • A room with four undead pushovers…actually, that’s not true. The pushover part, I mean. They didn’t exactly have a lot of hit points, but they seemed resistant (though thankfully not invulnerable) to conventional weaponry. It is notable why these four undead were even there. Obviously, orcs live there; did they elect to leave them alone for some strange reason?  Regardless, in a closet leading off this room is an iron chest. Naturally, Mave fails to pick the lock. D’OH!
  • A cell with straw and excrement everywhere, along with a tortured-to-death elf body. Our cleric santifies the corpse
  • A room with a dead spider, which turns out to be bait for some green tentacle monster that was somewhat similar to the undead (low hit points, resistant to regular weapons), but with a lot more bite thanks to its tentacles giving it multiple attacks. We later learn that this creature is a grick
  • A nearby cavernous area where we fight three more gricks. Post-battle, we check out what appears to be some orbs, possibly eggs. Our meddling leads to five more gricks showing up. It’s also notable that Gavan’s advice to our fighter Tassidar more or less got him knocked unconscious, but the party as a whole was trapped in a tight five feet wide corridor, and the only way for people to maneuver was to get out into the cavern. Ideally, high initiative rolls from everyone would have helped as well, but that didn’t happen. If the grick’s had trapped us by blocking the entrance to the cavern, we definitely would have had a lot more problems.
  • A cell with the missing human woman that prompted this journey in the first place. She’s alive and well, all things considered.
  • The final room we go to appears to have a makeshift throne of skulls and bones. Sitting on that throne is of all things, an albino orc with glowing red eyes, and surprisingly, the Duke of Daggerford’s missing dwarven bloke (a stone tablet) sitting on its lap. There’s also a human standing nearby that seems somewhat familiar, but with stained clothes and a circular bruise around his neck. Naturally, battle ensues, and the human turns out to be actually undead. Thanks to some strong perception checks, some of us realize that he matches the physical description of the artist that went missing: Alvin Gessen.
    • With the battle won, besides treasure, we find Alvin wielding a battleaxe with a flaming hammer symbol, as well as a statuette of a female orc with enormous claws. The religious types in our party recognize this statue to be the orc goddess Luthic.
    • Just as interesting as the missing bloke (which the Duke was having a huge cow over), is a map of the Daggerford region, with various locations highlighted including the area we’re in, Firehammer hold, and a location we haven’t been to yet. Furthermore, various lines dividing the region cover the map. Written in orcish runes are the words: “New domain.” Gavan cannot wait to show this to Sir Isteval and figure out our next course of action.

So that’s where this weeks D&D Encounters session ends. It should be noted that our DM rolled exceptionally well this week, which hopefully means that next week everything will average out and he’ll roll rather poorly. 😉