This past Wednesday, we reached the epic conclusion of the “Scourge of the Sword Coast” storyline. It was so epic in fact that our DM running the game decided to use 3D model terrain. I think it was Dwarven Forge tiles, but I could be wrong. More or less everyone that was a regular or semi-regular showed up. In other words, our party was massive. Not quite Legion of Super-Heroes massive, but close enough. The big damn heroes of the week include, in alphabetical order:
- Dovahkiin, a Dragonborn Ranger
- Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
- 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 (yes, it’s a huge sausage-fest in the Forgotten Realms)
- Rook Trillcook, a Halfling Rogue
- Santahl, a Halfling Cleric (I think…)
- Szenden , a Half-Elf Fighter
- Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter
- Valantis, an Elven Monk, of the Wood Elf variety
- Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety
Having rescued Shalendra and returned to Daggerford, we were handsomely rewarded by her brother Darfin for our services, as we related everything we discovered, including her diary to the high elf noble. I was entertaining the notion of interrogating Shalendra, but decided against it. She’s been through enough, even though she’s not entirely blameless in this. Anyways, while we were enjoying our key to the city privileges (free room & board, including meals!) at a local inn (probably the Lady Luck Tavern), we received a scroll from a page. Gavan generously gives the page a gold coin and proceeds to open the scroll and read its contents to the party.
It’s an invitation to have dinner with the Duke and his betrothed, Natasha at his home. It’s so nice of him to invite us to dinner! Surely, nothing can go wrong at such an event, right?
So some of us go buy noble clothes; Gavan, for his part, decides to wing it, thinking his usual Wizard’s robes are good enough for this affair. It’s not like he cares if the Duke is insulted or not; he’s not fond of the Duke as is. We inform Sir Isteval of this event and even though the invitation does not state we could bring guests, we try to convince him to come, but he politely declines.
So the day passes uneventfully until the appointed hour, and we go to the Duke’s keep, where we are led to the dining room. Interestingly enough, we are allowed to keep our weapons with us, which never bodes well at an event like this. To top that all of, some of us successfully perceive a clicking sound by the door we entered through. We’re locked in…fantastic! We meet not only the Duke and Natasha, but his aide, Gilleon and proceed to dine on gourmet food and fine wine. Well, as gourmet as medieval fantasy fare can be. David Chang, this food is probably not (though I could be wrong; my foodie knowledge is rather limited.)
Describing the scene, it’s essentially a very large room with a two long tables in a T-shape. At the top of the T-shape sit the Duke, Natasha, and Gilleon. The rest of us sit on both sides of the bottom of the T-shape. There are doors to the south, east, and west of us, with two guards stationed at each door. There are also four guards standing behind the Duke near a fireplace.
So while we eat and make small talk, I suddenly remember that Paladins have these weird sensing abilities. Specifically, they can sense celestial, fiend, or undead creatures, as well as any place or object that’s been consecrated or desecrated. So I suggest to our two Paladins, Javert and Malice, to use their super senses to see if anything’s amiss.
In hindsight, this was the catalyst for the battle ahead, so perhaps this wasn’t the wisest course of action. In other words, it’s all Gavan’s fault, though in his defense, a battle would have likely broken out at some point.
Natasha merely smiles at this and waves her arms, suggesting that there’s no need for such hostile action. Both Paladins fail their wisdom checks, and find themselves thinking that Natasha is a friend. They’re ordered to move towards her. The rest of the party try to trip them up, grab them, but while the dice were unfriendly when it came to resisting charm spells, they were very friendly towards opposing their own party. So Malice and Javert are now at the head of the table near Natasha, who wraps herself around Javert and kisses him, doing an ungodly amount of damage to him (in D&D terms, 21 hit points off, and his maximum hit points are reduced by one.) Interestingly enough, he’s not killed, but he’s not looking all that good, and he still think’s Natasha is a friend. At this point, all hell breaks loose. The Duke draws his flaming sword (not joking here; at least it’s not a blazing sword. That would have been truly problematic,) and Gilleon stays nearby to help his master. Natasha’s form changes to that of a succubus, and six demonic creatures are summoned, surrounding Valantis and Waxon. To their credit, over the next several rounds of combat, they make short work of the six demons. I thought they’d last longer.
Actually, our DM more or less said exactly that when the succubus went down, courtesy of Gavan’s magic (the spell: ‘Melf’s Acid Arrow,’ was especially effective!) and Szenden’s melee expertise. Surprisingly, when the succubus falls, while the guards are no longer charmed, just confused, the Duke continues hacking away at us. I guess he wasn’t enthralled by the succubus, but is possessed by something more sinister. Not as surprising is that there’s no body; Natasha dissolves into a pile of ash. Also, to the guards credit, they don’t do too much to get in our way as we take on the Duke.
In one of the more hilarious combat moments, our half-orc fighter, Tassidar, crushes a guard to death with his maul, despite several of us advising him to use ‘non-lethal’ damage (i.e. subdue, do not kill.) Waxon did manage to save the guard from the brink of death with a healing spell. Tassidar feigned ignorance…or did he? Actually, this brought up an interesting dynamic in the play group as a whole. The Paladins especially wanted blood (As an aside, there’s nothing in the D&D Next playtest rules about Paladins being restricted to a specific alignment. This might be brought up when 5th Edition officially releases.), but the rest of us finally convinced them to go non-lethal.
So as the Duke takes damage, we see the same thing that happened to Shalendra; an image of a huge demon appears above his head, as his facial expression changes and he shouts: “Help me! Use this!” and he tosses his flaming sword to Javert, who gladly accepts it. Then the demonic image disappears, and the Duke looks ready to kill us all. In due time, the Duke and Gilleon are both subdued.Suddenly, a door bursts open and in comes the Duke’s sister…wait, the Duke has a sister? Where has she been all this time?
We immediately surrender, and share our story of what happened. Sir Isteval is summoned to confirm that the ashes were indeed a succubus (she doesn’t trust Javert or Malice to do this), and when the Duke regains consciousness, he confirms our story. he also wants his sword back. Naturally Javert is bummed that he doesn’t get to keep the Duke’s flaming sword.
All’s well that ends well: we’re all hailed as heroes, and are knighted. Sir Gavan…doesn’t have the ring I’d like it to have. I’m going to have to think about this, but it needs to be something like Sir Robin the-not-quite-so-brave-as-Sir-Lancelot from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
We also receive 250 gold pieces each. On a final note, the devil Baazkaa (I have no clue how it’s properly spelled), who I guess was able to possess both Shalendra and the Duke simultaneously, needs to be dealt with. Several quests ago, we had found a map (I think at Firehammer Hold) with an unmarked location. That unmarked location refers to a structure known as Bloodgate Keep. Of course, it’s Bloodgate Keep. It’s never Delicious Bakery Keep, or Tea and Scones Keep. Never. But I digress; we surmise that this location is the base of operations (or at least a key location) for the Red Wizards of Thay, who…wait, are they the big bad? Or is Baazkaa the big bad? Who’s Megatron in this scenario? Well, in any event, Scourge of the Sword Coast has come to an end.
There were a few unanswered questions, such as what would have happened had we inserted the real dwarven bloke into the statue we found at Firehammer Hold? Would great treasure have been revealed? Forbidden knowledge? Or would we have unleashed a great evil? Who knows, but I wish I knew! I’m thinking of buying Scourge of the Sword Coast on drivethrurpg just to find out.
So this weekend is the launch event for the next D&D Encounters season, Dead in Thay. We can keep the same characters or create new ones, but in any event they’re to be bumped up to level 6, from level 4. Yay! This means Gavan (whom I’ll keep using) can now cast lighting bolt and fireball spells! I’m both excited and a tiny bit concerned. Reading Wizards of the Coast’s description of this adventure, “Dead in Thay is a tribute to Tomb of Horrors, The Ruins of Undermountain, and other killer dungeons. The monsters, traps, and hazards in the adventure create a deadly challenge.”
Now, I never played Tomb of Horrors, but from what I’ve heard of that particular adventure, if Dead in Thay is anything like that adventure, then the cause for concern is definitely justified.
In any event, let’s go out with Gavan’s unofficial dance theme sung by Akira Kushida. It’s just so catchy! And 80’s!