D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 2 aka the Launch Weekend Extravaganza Continued

…into a giant chamber, presumably at Bloodgate Keep, because the sight before our eyes is rather…disturbing. The portal we entered through goes lifeless. Across from us is another blue-green portal that goes lifeless, but standing in front of it is the dwarf Jek, the elf Shalendra, the half-elf Kelsin Darktredder (I think he’s Shalendra’s half-brother), the Calishite Hadar, and Menic the rebel red wizard that we don’t really trust but are following his lead anyways because…good is dumb?

There is a blue portal and red portal, both humming with life, which means either the party of adventurer’s failed to get the key they were supposed to, or are still in the midst of trying to do so and are extremely late to the party.

Surrounding the room in eight altars are stone slabs with sacrificial victims at each one. Standing next to each slab is an acolyte of some sort. Presumably, this is the hazing ritual to join the red wizards of Thay? At the center of the chamber is a giant stone arch, the magical Bloodgate. Eight channels connect from the sacrificial stone slabs to the Bloodgate itself. If we don’t act fast, sacrificial blood will flow from the slabs it. Standing nearby is a Lich, presumably the current leader of the red wizards of Thay. Oh crap! To top that all off, littered throughout the room are two red wizards, eight undead wraiths, and two darkened beasts (whatever they are, they take up a 20×20 foot area, so they’re huge…and mean.)

The battle that naturally ensues does not exactly go too well. We make it a priority to try and take out the acolytes, rescuing the sacrifices in the process. But the area is difficult to move around, and it almost seems like we’re sitting ducks. This is where having no melee types to tank for us really hurt. We try to take out as many acolytes as possible before they’re able to make any sacrifices, but there’s so much ground to cover in this chamber, and while we save one, another at the far end of the chamber is killed, his / her blood seeping towards the Bloodgate.

As for Gavan, heroes aren’t made playing it safe, but in this case, he takes one risk too many. One of the darkened beasts engages with Gavan, and instead of moving away at the first opportunity, I take the risk to cast a lightning bolt at it (that also hits a red wizard), with the hope of taking down two birds with one stone. Alas, I rolled far less damage than I would have liked, and they both continued to stand. The darkened beast took bites out of Gavan, and in the end, a necromantic spell from one of the red wizards drives Gavan to unconsciousness. (In D&D Next terms, with a mere 11 hit points, Gavan suffers 25 points of damage…OUCH!)

While Gavan lies unconscious, slowly dying from his wounds, things get interesting. Typical, just typical.

So on the other side of the room, Jek and his party are doing their part to fight, but don’t get very far. In fact, Hadar drops like a stone. Is he dead? NOOO!!!

At some point in the battle, the red wizard Menic shows his true colors when he suddenly scrambles to the archway in the center of the room, to the Bloodgate, and screams: “Baazkaa, the way is open! Help me escape!” So Baazkaa appears, a devilish looking creature about the size of the Hulk. The Avengers movie version. And Menic disappears.

Wow, nobody saw that coming! I mean, Menic seems so trustworthy!

Shalendra, when she sees Baazkaa, charges at it with furious rage, apparently upset from being possessed, and disappears into the Bloodgate. Kelsin follows after her, also disappearing into the Bloodgate. Jek is left alone, and though he is standing, he is bleeding profusely.

Baazkaa then speaks, proposing a deal: pull the broken blade from his chest, and he’ll shatter the Bloodgate, destroying it once and for all.

This introduced quite a moral quandary, as well as some interesting role-play. The DM generously let us discuss the issue as a group for a few minutes. He also let us know that devils like Baazkaa are lawful; that is, they honor their deals. That’s not to say that they’re not evil; they are, but they’re not monstrously evil. Interestingly enough, there was no group consensus, so we just decided to continue in initiative order and let everyone do what they wished. For Gavan’s part, he was unconscious and dying during this entire affair when Baazkaa made his offer, so the way I decided to play it was, when he was healed, courtesy of Bloodrose and Waxon, and regained consciousness, he continued to try and fight the acolytes and save the sacrificial victims.

So what did the remainder of the party decide to do?

Well, I’d say most of the party (Coronna, Dovahkiin, Gavan, Selwyn, and Waxon) continued to fight as best they could. Rook actually successfully retreated through the Bloodgate, though it’s unclear where he disappeared to. Despite this apparent betrayal, it actually is very much in character for the halfling rogue. In earlier adventures, if the odds seemed stacked against the party, he’d hide and stay out of the action.

Following his lead, Bloodrose also retreats through the gate.

Anya made the most interesting move; she made her way to Baazkaa; Selwyn tried to trip her up, but to no avail. She grasped the blade and cast the ‘Burning Hands’ spell, sticking her tongue out at Selwyn, but it proved to be ineffective. On her very next turn, she actually did attempt to pull the blade out, but failed her wisdom check. Yes, I said wisdom; she was given the option of making a strength or wisdom check. I’m not sure about the latter, but I’m sure there’s an explanation for it. On her very next turn after that, she decided to try and twist the blade.

That had a rather profound effect; Baazkaa screamed bloody vengeance against us (and Anya in particular), and disappeared…The Lich, whose name we learn is Szass Tam, laughs at us, and suddenly, the place seems to be falling down around us, and the Bloodgate was collapsing! Telepathically, Isteval tells Gavan to and co. to retreat through the Bloodgate, and so we do; Delfin the mage attempts to use his magic to power to bring us back to the estate, but the magical travel is collapsing. As we’re falling through magic gone wild,we all hear a female voice say: “Don’t worry. We can hold it! We have you!” We end on this cliffhanger.

The way I imagine it, we’re hurtling through time and space right now. Like Doctor Who’s Tardis (whistles.)

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