D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 10 Multi-Session Extravaganza

Well, it’s been awhile, but there are reasons for that. Over three weeks ago, I wasn’t able to attend D&D Encounters due to quite a bit of work on my plate. Two weeks ago, I was able to attend, but it was as a DM (that’s Dungeon Master for you new kids,) not as a player, for reasons I’ll get into in the following paragraph. Anyways, after that play session, the next day, I went to Connecticon for the first time ever, judging / DM-ing tables of the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set adventure, the Lost Mine of Phandelver. I’m going to write a separate blog post on my Connecticon experience, so I’ll leave that alone for a bit. This past Wednesday, it was more DM-ing Dead in Thay for Encounters, so let’s catch up on that.

First, why the change from player to judge? Well, we have more than enough players to run two tables for Encounters. Our second DM had to drop due to school engagements, so I took over the second table, and with that came the end of the adventuring career of my Elven Mage. It was sad, and I blame sfdebris for sticking this song in my head when it comes to things coming to an end.

FYI, sfdebris does science fiction reviews, mostly Star Trek stuff, but he’s branched out to other stuff like anime and non-Star Trek related science fiction. Very amusing videos, and for the record, I’m a fan of his and nothing more.

Hence, the sad, yet fond retirement of the Elven Mage Gavan. I mentioned that the player characters have access to the Seclusion Crypt, more or less an extradimensional space where time passes differently. The only pop culture reference I can think of that even resembles what the Seclusion Crypt is, is the Hyperbolic Time Chamber from Dragonball Z.

Anyways, the way I like to imagine it, Gavan discovers a peaceful community living in the Seclusion Crypt, discovers the woman of his dreams, has kids, and decides to leave the Doomvault business to everyone else and enjoy retirement raising his family.

Hey, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

So two weeks ago, in Dead in Thay, we were still, inexplicably, in the Ooze Grottos. Third session there…I’m not sure what happened the week I wasn’t there, but apparently not much in the way of progress was to be had. The PC’s I had at my table included:

So in this extremely battle-heavy adventure, our heroes…immediately get into battle with a red wizard, two dread warriors, and a classic D&D monster, a gelatinous cube. They end up saving the lives of some Thayan warriors, forced into battle by their masters, with the gelatinous cube. In one of the more hilarious moments of the night, Raven successfully pickpockets the left-out-to-dry Thayan warriors. It’s not like they had any wealth on them to steal. The only other thing of note is that they end up in another battle with a red wizard named Sarkalla. The adventure describes this red wizard as “quite mad,” and thanks to some strong deception by Raven, they manage to convince the red mage that they will become servants of the Ooze Master. Naturally, the PC’s are lying like crazy and take her down in a surprise round. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!

Fast forward to last week, and having finally completed the Ooze Grottos, our heroes move on to a section of the Doomvault known as the Masters’ Domain. The PC’s at my table this week include:

  • Crassus Gaius, a Human Fighter
  • Livulcan, a…a…actually, I’m not sure. This person used to be known as Joefornow, and that player was a rogue. However, I seem to recall Livulcan casting Burning Hands at least once. Maybe he’s a rogue that multiclassed into mage? Or changed characters? I need to remember to ask him when I get a chance. Also, I probably got his name wrong. To be fair to me, oftentimes running a game at my FLGS is like being at a bar at peak hours. It’s loud, and difficult to have a conversation.
  • Maven, a Mage of an unknown race (I totally didn’t write this down), and newcomer to the party
  • Moonbow, a Monk Rogue, previously known as Goodnight
  • Sam, a Human multiclasser (Level 1 Fighter, Level 6 Cleric)
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger; unsure if he’s a Wood elf or High elf

So I ran my group through one of the zones of the Masters’ Domain, the Halls of Necromancy, which consist of two rooms. In the first room, they managed to save the life and soul (quite literally) of the long lost, but now found, Kelson Darktreader, an NPC friend from the Scourge of the Sword Coast adventure, which ran previous to this dungeon delve. Instead of “wasting” healing magic on him, the PC’s dragged his unconscious body back to the gatehouse and threw him into the Seclusion Crypt. Our heroes, ladies and gentlemen! Also, in this room were ivory urns “set with gold, silver, and precious gems,” which the party gleefully took. It’s interesting, because no one has been able to discern anything special about them…

The second room they invaded was more or less a battle of attrition with Red Wizards and Thayan apprentices. Yep, battle-heavy adventure. But at least they did save Kelson’s life, and I’m curious to see how they’ll do in the Halls of Obedience this coming Wednesday. They should be able to finish up the Masters’ Domain and move closer to the endgame by the end of the month. In theory, at least.


D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 9

So last night’s D&D Encounters session was madness! Okay, I’m exaggerating. It was, in fact, interesting, though incredibly slow paced. Unfortunately, our second DM had to bow out due to work issues, and the person who wanted to take his place had never DM’d before. Never. Not once. Ever.

Unfortunately, Dead in Thay is probably not the best adventure for a rookie DM to start off on, unless he / she happens to be particularly gifted in multiple areas, such as improvisation, terrific memory, organization, etc.

Anyways, we had people show up late again, so it was interesting to see our party start from three and balloon to ten over the course of a couple of hours. We had one GM throughout the night, where our regular started things off, then he tagged in the newbie GM to give him a shot. I’ll just list everyone at once. The big damn heroes of the week include:

So we start off in the Ooze Grottos. Interestingly enough, the area we teleport into is literally called ‘Entry Point.’ I guess the Red Wizards got tired of trying to think of creative names for their ‘Doomvault.’ Anyways, the first room we teleport into has a single wight and three ooze-like monsters that we later discover to be Ochre Jellies. We basically went in guns blazing, deciding that our previous attempts at subterfuge weren’t worth the effort. Then again, we only had two clerics and a mage at the time, so we may as well go for it.

We made short work of these monsters, discovering very early that these jelly monsters split into smaller monsters when damaged by slashing weapons like swords. These smaller monsters, while possessing less health, had the same attack strength, so we stuck to blunt and piercing weaponry, along with magic.

The second room we explored was basically a temple, with pews, an altar, the whole nine yards.. Arranged across the pews were skeletons, and three wights were pouring a slimy substance on these benches, creating ochre jellies! Taking out the wights became our top priority in the ensuing battle, before we took out the created ochre jellies.

Both rooms we conquered yielded nothing in terms of clues or treasure. Our gaming session basically ended here. We discussed re-organizing encounters; when it began we had agreed to meet at 6:00, but tardiness due to real-life issues had crept into all our lives.

For next week, we’ve agreed to have two groups: one will begin at 6:30, and the other will begin at 7:00. I’ve also agreed to step in and GM, and will thus be helming the 7:00 time slot, so that should be interesting. I guess Gavan is retired for the moment…

As for our rookie GM, I didn’t think of it last night, but he’s still interested in DM-ing, so I’m thinking the best way for him to get his feet wet is to buy the D&D Starter Set that comes out next week, try to organize a group of people to get together, and DM the Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure in the box. Alternatively, this guy is also a rather hardcore player of Warhammer 40k. His ginormous chest of Warhammer figures is impressive. Maybe he’d be more at home running RPG’s based on that intellectual property. Fantasy Flight Games puts out quite a number of products in that regard: Black Crusade, Dark Heresy, Deathwatch, Rogue Trader. There’s even a Fantasy RPG version of Warhammer: Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There are options; he just needs to put in the time to prepare and figure out how he’d like to proceed as a GM.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 8

So last weeks adventure in the Doomvault was interesting, as always. We started out with one group, but eventually split into two groups as people started piling into the game store. I suppose that’s one of the cons of a casual play program; it’s okay to show up late. So the initial group of Crassus (Fighter), Gavan (Mage), Raven Evergreen (Rogue), Sam (Cleric / Fighter), Tassidar (Fighter), and Waxon (Cleric) elect to explore the ‘Far Realm Cysts’ of the Doomvault.

We we teleport into an area called the ‘Lake of Madness.’ Yes, there’s a lake before us, as well as orbs of water floating around the it. We notice that there are ripples in the middle of the lake, slowly disappearing, so we know something recently submerged as we teleported in. Crystal, having fishing gear, courageously elects to toss her line in there. That does not turn out well, as an Aboleth emerges and mentally takes control of Tassidar to attack us. I honestly don’t recall how the battle went, but I believe either Crassus or Sam was poisoned by the creature. We parley, and for a glyph key (which we give him), he lets us know that to keep Crassus (I’ll just assume it was him) alive, we need to keep him hydrated, and a remove curse or lesser restoration spell can cure him. I think Waxon cures him.

At this point, we divide into two groups. Group one consists of:

Group two consists of:

So Gavan’s group teleports into the same area and we go south in a cavernous area filled with six wights and one dread warrior. However, all these creatures appear to not be paying attention to us. In fact, they’re completely out of it. That doesn’t meant things go well for us. As soon as we enter the cave, we’re asked to make wisdom saving throws. Everyone fails except for Szenden and Waxon. Everyone else succumbs to some strange force and enters the cave acting…out of it. It doesn’t take a degree in quantum physics to realize that this cave is magically trapped.

In initiative order, every turn we attempt wisdom saves, and slowly but surely retreat from the cave. Sadly, Gavan cannot cast dispel magic (he’s out of high level spell slots) to remove the trap, so a tactical retreat seemed to be are best course of action, for the moment.

Thankfully, there’s another cavernous area to explore east of the lake. In that area, there are holes, a glyph on the wall that allows us to communicate with our red wizard sponsor Serana, two zombie ogres and eight regular zombies. With no traps to keep us down, we make rather short work of these enemies and contact Serana for guidance. Naturally, she gives very little if any, but our Calishite friend Hadar (whom I mistakenly always call ‘Hodor’) emerges from the shadows, saying that it looks like we can use a hand, and gives us a scroll of thunderwave. We ask if he’s seen Kelsin, but he has not. Then he disappears in Batman fashion.

We then head south down a flight of stairs to an area called the “Warren of Eyes.’ There are hundreds of unblinking eyes staring from the greenish slime-covered walls and stones. Rather quickly, a beholder named Thaxileeya emerges, and he has a broken glyph key. We also notice that some of its eye stalks are damaged, probably from red wizard experiments. We test his key out, and confirms its ineffectiveness. Somehow, since the beholder hates the red wizards, we manage to use that ‘common enemy’ mindset to our advantage and it gives us free passage through his area, in exchange for…for…crap, I didn’t write it down. I must have been distracted at that moment, as I usually write all this stuff down. If memory serves me correctly, either we freed it or promised to eventually free it when we’re able.

In any event the play session ended there. As for the other group, while I don’t have all the details, apparently, our bard Coronna died…

Then somehow came back to life!

In the meantime, I have a theory going on; when we got trapped in Thay, we found Shalendra rather quickly, but have been rather unlucky in finding Kelsin. My theory is that we have X number of sessions to find him, and if we don’t something bad will happen to him. In other words, I am very worried we’ll discover his animated corpse, or his living, experimented-on body.

Finally, I don’t remember if I ever posted a map of the Doomvault. Here we go:

Doomvault_Map-Dead_in_ThayEDIT: Ooops! Forgot to mention an interesting and amusing development that slipped my mind earlier. So our group returned to the Forests of Slaughter to find that pool that restored health. Tassidar immediately drank its waters…and found his total hit points cut in half! Gavan’s diagnosis was that his body was basically overloaded with the strange magic found in these waters. Despite the multiple sessions we’ve played, it’s probably been at most a week (and probably far less) of time that has passed for our characters, so the waters magic was still strong in his body. I can’t confirm this, but I have a theory that remove curse might remove this condition…

I also forgot to mention that Gavan elected to use the Seclusion Crypt again. I really had to, since Gavan was completely out of magic, and since there’s no opportunity to rest…it’s either this, or run around with no magic to contribute to the group. Since it’s the second time he’s used it, his total hit points are now reduced by 5 (42 to 37.) Our Dungeon Master confirmed that a remove curse spell will get rid of this condition, which is why I think that same spell might be able to help Tassidar. The only issue is that it’ll take up one of my 3rd level spell slots, and I only have three of those to begin with.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 7

So this past Wednesday’s D&D Encounters session was insane, in that we had four new players and zero pre-generated characters. And while character creation is not terribly complicated, that is not entirely true the higher the level of your character. Create a first-level character? Probably can do so between 10-20 minutes, depending on if you’re a newbie, how fast you write, how fast you make your decisions, etc. Create a seventh-level character, with many more options to choose from, and the amount of time it takes to create a character multiplies exponentially. Add to that the fact that there was only one hard copy of the rules available, and creating the four new characters was taking quite awhile. I hope the seemingly in-depth character creation didn’t turn people off to the game itself.

Speaking of the game itself, since one of the dungeon masters was away at Origins, we ended up having one huge group with one guy to run the game. So predictably, combat was as slow as a turtle (not the teenage mutant ninja variety), and with people talking over one another like at most bars and taverns in the world during peak hours, I hope the new players weren’t turned off by the experience. I did make an effort at the end to explain that we normally split into two groups, so it normally isn’t this much of a slog.

I also found it interesting that some people did have the playtest rules on their tablets, but it was honestly easier to look up the rules on a hard copy, and to find what you wanted much more quickly. Despite the dominance of digital over the printed word, there are still moments when a hard copy is superior. This was one of those times.

But I digress…

Our big damn heroes for this week, together once again, include:

  • Anya, an Elven Mage; unsure if she’s a Wood Elf or High Elf
  • Coronna Tumblebelly, a Gnome Bard
  • Crystal Evergreen, a Human Cleric
  • Crassus Gaius – A Human Fighter
  • Emrose, a Half-Elf Cleric, and newcomer to the party
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Genju, a Human Monk and newcomer to the party
  • Jarvan, a Human Barbarian and newcomer to the party
  • Rob, a Human Ranger and newcomer to the party. Also, apparently his name isn’t really Rob, but for this week, it is indeed Rob
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter, specializing in being seven-feet tall, and three-hundred pounds

So we had some unfinished business in the Blood Pens to take care of. One of the groups last week peeked through a door that led into, according to our map, the ‘Dark Gardens’ with a young black dragon, as well as one wight, two dread warriors, and eight zombies wearing robes, all commanded by a red wizard. This week, we returned to cause some ruckus.

And ruckus, we caused, as after strategizing, we basically charged in. We allowed our bard to sing us a song that buffed our stats, which tipped them off that there was noise coming from the door. Perhaps our strategy wasn’t as sound as we had thought?

In any event, we were told way back when we first came to Thay that the Dread Warriors, if they weren’t defeated in the first round of combat, would be able to communicate telepathically with the Lich leader whose name evades me at the moment…wait, Szass Tam? So we made them the priority, relying on long range attacks and spells to wipe them out. The red wizard instantly surrendered, and after some parley, we agreed to let him live for loot and information. Among our newest acquisitions are: 2 glyph keys, a gold circlet set with rubies, a gold cup, a potion of healing, a scroll of fly (this spell will probably go into Gavan’s spellbook), oil of etherealness (basically rub it against yourself and become incorporeal & invisible for 1 hour; could be very useful), a potion of poison, a diamond, and 100 platinum pieces (worth 500 gold in D&D terms.)

So the red mage (whose name is Thuria) tells us that a demilich slumbers beneath the Doomvault, and that in the Far Realm Cysts (an area of the Doomvault we haven’t explored yet), the creatures there guard a powerful shrine…perhaps the phylactery vault we seek is there?

In any event, our short venture ends here. Gavan did suffer quite a bit of damage in the battle (in D&D terms he went from 42 to 17 hit points,) but He only cast one spell, so I’m not sure it’s worth it for him to rest in the Seclusion Crypt. Perhaps one of the Clerics can heal him before we begin exploring next time? Or he could probably down a healing potion.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 6

Including myself, we started the play session with three players; we ended it with eleven players, as people trickled in late one-by-one. It was perhaps the strangest play session I’ve ever experienced. Case in point, our dungeon master purposefully scaled down the first potential combat encounter. As people came in and joined us, he kept adding more and more miniatures to the playmat to scale things back up.

But I digress; Sam (5th level cleric / 1st level fighter), Waxon (6th level cleric), and Gavan (6th level mage) teleported into the Blood Pens, specifically the Hatchery, which was filled with pens. These assorted cages contained different creatures: lizards, spider-people, behirs, hook horrors, etc. We were suddenly joined by Tassidar (6th level fighter) and Szenden (6th level fighter.) Suddenly, the three guards in the room went up to four, there were now two red wizards instead of one, as well as an apprentice mage. Carvings of angelic faces adorned the walls.

Even though Gavan was disguised as a red mage, he is not trained in deception, nor is he terribly charismatic. In other words, a fight broke out, where Gavan unleashed a fireball, and the fight ended relatively quickly, with the female red mage (and apparent ‘leader’ of this area) bargaining for her life. After a ton of negotiation, we let her live for: a potion of climb, a potion of healing, a scroll of dispel magic, a magically embellished mace +1 (which Tassidar grabs), a crystal glyph key, and a ring of keys for the cages, and a passphrase (“That which is dead, stays so.”) that will allow us to go through an adjacent room, littered with zombies, unscathed. So we escort her back to the gatehouse and let her go. Which reminded me that the only way into the Doomvault is through the gatehouse, which explains why we can’t rest there for long periods of time.

So with everyone having shown up, we now split into two groups to continue exploring the Blood Pens area. Group one consists of:

Group two consists of:

  • Crystal Evergreen, a Human Cleric, and newcomer to the party
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter, specializing in being seven-feet tall, and three-hundred pounds
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety

The next room we inspect is essentially a converted slaughter house, with twelve humans butchering pigs, and an undead guy directing traffic. Some of the twelve humans are feeding the pig guts to an Otyugh, chained to a wall. Despite some initial fumbling, we actually make our way to another door, walk through, and slam the doors shut.

Before our eyes, we appear to be on a segmented catwalk, approximately ten feet above the ground floor. Below us are massive wine pens, with one smaller pig getting beaten up by the others. Standing on the catwalk are five skeletons, two apprentice mages, and two wights. Tassidar jumps down to save the smaller pig, while a fight breaks out. The battle isn’t terribly difficult, but takes longer than it should do to our inability to better position ourselves in battle. In other words, there’s not a lot of space on the catwalk to maneuver. Still, we win the battle, and searching the bodies, we find four more glyph keys, one on each apprentice and wight. Gavan casts ‘Detect Magic’ on the pig we saved, and discovers that it is the product of transmutation magic. Gavan asks the pig to oink once if it was magically transformed into a pig, which it does. We have a nice scroll of ‘Dispel Magic,’ but decide to hold off on using it until we return to the gatehouse and tie up the pig. No telling what we’re unleashing on the world.

At the far side of the room appears to be a floating disk. Gavan recognizes it as a Tenser’s Floatking Disk spell, and it appears to float on over to a corridor. However, an invisible wall of force protects the corridor. It doesn’t make sense that the disk would float on over there, unless there was a way to get through. After some experimentation, we discover that as long as each of us hold a glyph key, we can pass through. We have five in total; four from this battle, and one we acquired from Serana to explore this area, so we’re set.

Or so we think; we don’t really explore the next area in detail. We know from our map of the Doomvault that there’s a room with a teleportation circle nearby. However, peeking through the door, we see that it is filled with an very large number of enemies, and we’re thinking that we may be biting off more than we can chew. So we opt to retreat to the gatehouse to re-think our options.

At the gatehouse, Gavan uses up the scroll of ‘Dispel Magic’ on the tied up pig, and it transforms into a Halfling named Dreven. He appears harmless, though he doesn’t really have much, if any, knowledge of the phylactery vault, nor has he seen anyone resembling Kelsin. Our journey for the moment, ends there.

The funniest story of the night was the other group; they apparently entered a room filled with zombies that gave them no attention. Then Coronna decided to poke one, and they suddenly became very hostile. They all made a break for it. Even though I wasn’t in that group, simply imagining how it went down gives me a chuckle.

In great news, we’re to level up our characters to 7th level next week!

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 5

So back in the gatehouse we discuss for a bit, and agree to make the Golem Laboratories our next destination. Team one includes:

The other team is comprised of:

  • Crystal Evergreen, a Human Cleric, and newcomer to the party
  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Szenden Avere, a Half-Elf Fighter specializing in defense. On a side note, I just learned that Szenden has a surname! There goes the neighborhood
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter specializing in offense
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety

Team one teleports into the ‘Iron Golem Foundries,’ while Gavan’s team elects to go to the ‘Flesh Golem Mortuaries’ of the Golem Laboratories.

The room we teleport into is filled with eight zombies, three wights, and a creature we’ve never seen before. Two of the wights and the unknown creatures are at the end of the room in cages, suspended over the floor by metal chains. It’s a rather bizarre sight, and to our left our double doors slightly ajar, propped open by large stones. Since we haven’t been able to rest (i.e. we’re not at 100%,) we try talking to anyone. The unknown creature in the cage asks: “Who?” I jokingly say “The Doctor?” but seriously say the name of the Lich Lord (aka big bad), Szass Tam. That was apparently the wrong answer, because the unknown creature orders the creatures in the room to attack us. D’OH! Despite being outnumbered a little over two-to-one, we actually make short work of these creatures, and in searching the bodies we find a crystal key. Score one for the (mostly) good guys!

The walls of the adjoining room show nobles at a great feast. There is the smell of formaldehyde (eeewww) and there are various tables littered throughout the room. On some of the tables are flesh golems in the midst of being put together, I guess in the vein of Frankenstein’s monster Two red wizards are in the room, as well as two other wizards in dark robes, presumably low-level apprentices of some sort. There are also skeletons in each corner of the room, and an undead zombie mopping up the floor. We make conversation, them suspecting that we don’t belong here. Like an idiot, Gavan asks what they think about the Lich ruling over Thay. I was trying to get a sense if they were possibly aligned with Serana’s rebel faction, but in hindsight, that was not the smartest play, because they immediately hurled insults our way, saying how the rebel faction was reduced to hiring sellswords to do their bidding. A short time later, fisticuffs ensue, and when I say fisticuffs, I mean wizards casting necromantic spells like ‘blight.’ I quote from the D&D Next playtest rules: “Choose a creature within range that you can see. Necromantic energy washes over that creature, draining moisture and vitality from its body…” OUCH! All you need to really know is that it does a lot of damage, to the tune of 8d8 (roll an eight-sided dice eight times and add it all up) necrotic damage. If memory serves me correctly, Tassidar went down with one shot of this spell, though our clerics got him back up rather quickly. Also, Gavan confirms that none of the flesh golems being  put together resemble Kelsin, so he’s hopefully alive and well somewhere in the Doomvault.

Speaking of clerics, our new friend Crystal was probably the MVP of this encounter, casting a silence spell that made it impossible for the wizards to use magic within a certain radius. It bought us time, and allowed us to mount a comeback and claim victory. We acquired two more crystal keys, and thanks to a successful arcana check, found the magical junk in this room, over ten pounds worth, to be worth 1500 gold pieces! Naturally, we make Tassidar carry it all. He has a strength score of 20 (the highest possible for a PC under D&D Next rules), and as he’s fond of reminding us, he’s 7’0″ tall and over 300 pounds. We also find a healing potion, which Waxon drinks immediately out of necessity. Overall, we’re doing well, but we’re running out of healing, and may need to access our emergency stash of healing potions.

The third and final adjoining room we enter has walls adorned with carvings of human monarchs, and twenty huge, white pillars. Standing against some of the pillars are three suits of armor, as well as two flesh golems. There are blue sparks comings from the pillars to the creatures. We surmise that they’re getting recharged. Thanks to a successful arcana check, we determine that the armored suits are helmed horrors, which have tons of innate resistances against physical and magical attacks. In other words, getting into combat with them would probably be a bad idea. There are doors leading to the right of this room, which we slowly try to make our way towards, but unfortunately, Gavan moves adjacent to a pillar, which not only teleports him to a random different pillar, but damages him with blue lightning. The blue sparks stop charging the golems, who are now aware of our presence, and see us as hostile.

While not the most heroic option available to us, we pull our best Monty Python and the Holy Grail impression and…

We retreat and teleport back to the gatehouse where we meet up with the other group, also battered and bruised from their venture into the Golem Laboratories, having fought off iron golems and stone gargoyles before retreating. We also gain some clarification on the ‘Seclusion Crypt,’ an extra-dimensional space where we can take a full rest. Every hour we rest there, when we return to the gatehouse, we age one month. After the first time one uses the Seclusion Crypt, when one rests there, one’s maximum hit point value drops by five. This effect lasts until one is able to take a long rest elsewhere, or one is able to cast ‘remove curse.’ Gavan actually has that spell in his spellbook, but it’s a trade-off; if he casts that, he loses one of his high level spells (i.e. fireball, lightning bolt.) But I digress; we end our play session with most of us electing to use the Seclusion Crypt. The spellcasters and healers are low on magic, so it’s a no brainer, really. The only one who elects not to use it is Szenden, who is actually doing rather well.

D&D Encounters, Dead in Thay, part 4

So to follow up from last week, my hunch was incorrect and Valantis, Dovahkiin, and Bernard Valyrian have all permanently perished. The players were looking forward to making new characters, so it turned out fine. I’ll talk about our new party members when we split up into teams. In any event, we all meet up at the gatehouse to share our findings, though there’s no time for even a short rest. D’OH! Some newcomers “captured” by our benefactor Serana join us to replace our fallen comrades. The next zone we decide to explore is the Abyssal Prison. Obviously, we have no idea if Shelandra or Kelsin have been captured, but on the off chance that they were, the prison would be the most logical place to look.

So Serana gives us some keys to teleport into the Abyssal Prison zone. We split into the following teams:

  • Anya, an Elven Mage; unsure if she’s a Wood Elf or High Elf
  • Sam, a Human multiclasser (Level 1 Fighter, Level 5 Cleric), and newcomer to the party, replacing Valantis…rest in peace, my monk friend.
  • Scoiatel, a Half-Elf Paladin, and newcomer to the party, replacing Dovahkiin
  • Selwyn, an Elven Ranger

The other team is comprised of:

  • Gavan, an Elven Mage of the High Elf variety
  • Crassus Gaius – A Human Fighter, eternally sarcastic and quick-witted, and a newcomer to the party, replacing the other former newcomer Bernard Valyrian
  • Szenden, a Half-Elf Fighter specializing in defense
  • Tassidar, a Half-Orc Fighter specializing in offense
  • Waxon, an Elven Cleric of the Wood Elf variety

Gavan’s team elects to go to the ‘Fiendish Arena’ area of the Prison, so we teleport into a room adjacent to a fighting pit, where we can hear the faint sounds of fighting and occasional screams. Standing in the room with us are six undead people, who are capable of speech! One of them asks us what we’re doing here. We mention that we’re here to watch the fights, to see if anyone we know is in there. They do confirm that there is a female combatant in the fighting pit. They get a bit suspicious of us, thinking we may not belong there at all, so we quickly make our way to the pit with the intent to join the fight and save whoever is down there.

The area with the fighting pit had a figure sitting on a throne overseeing what was going on, a pale figure wearing expensive clothing. Everyone in the party was guessing this guy was likely a vampire. As he seemed to be the guy in charge, we ask to join the fight below. The vampire, whose name we never actually learn, asks for a drink, confirming his vampire status. We decline, but he lets us join the fight anyways. I guess our politeness was paying off?

So into the pit we went. In the pit were ten other prisoners, and one of them we recognized to be Shalendra! But there was no Kelsin in sight. The prisoners were fighting a vrock. We join in the fight, and while the vrock eventually was defeated, it rather easily killed six of the prisoners. We notice that the vrock appeared to have been tortured, which confirms the strange experimentation’s we’ve heard goes on in the Doomgate. The vampire watching the event thought we’d kill it sooner…jerk! However, he also states that he needed the vrock to die anyways, so he was letting us all go. How very considerate of him.

We take Shalendra and the three extra prisoners back to the gatehouse, when Gavan receives a strange telepathic communication from Selwyn via the circlets we got from Serana. Their group found Shalendra…wait, what? Clones? A changeling? Split into multiple beings / personalities? Who knows, but suddenly thing just got a lot more complicated. Shalendra refuses to talk to Szenden or Tassidar on account of them being half-breeds, and she’s a bigot, which is consistent behavior from the Shelandra we met in the Scourge of the Sword Coast adventure. Gavan asks her what happened after she was sucked into the bloodgate. She says that she was captured by the red wizards and held in a cell, before being forced to fight in the pits. When asked about Kelsin, who ran after her, she states that she doesn’t know. Gavan tries to communicate telepathically with the other group, to try and get them to return to the gatehouse and hopefully get to the bottom of this mess, but he learns that they’re indisposed at the moment battling a fire elemental. Gavan whispers to Jek and Hadar about what the other group shared with him, and to keep an eye on Shalendra, while we decide to continue exploring.

We return to the arena area and eventually find ourselves in a room with three mystic circles on the floor. Naturally Gavan blows his arcana check, and the best he could figure out is that the runes are abjuration runes. There happens to be a globe hovering above us, and lightning suddenly rains down on us every minute or so. There happens to be locked steel double doors in front of us, but no amount of strength can budge the doors open, and of course, we have no rogues in the group. It doesn’t help that lighting rains down on us every few moments or so. We eventually turn our heads in shame and return back to the gatehouse, where the other group is waiting for us. There are indeed two Shalendra’s…well, there goes the neighborhood. Also, Selwyn is acting rather strange, overly chummy with the Shalendra they found. Not only that, she gave jewelry to Anya, originally gifted from the Duke of Daggerford, as payment to protect her…which is odd. A number of us could not recall Shalendra having any type of relationship with the Duke during Scourge of the Sword Coast. What could be going on here?

At some point, Gavan suggests to our newcomer paladin, Scoiatel, to use his divine senses to see if they can reveal anything about the current situation. This prompts Selwyn to try and stop him, and naturally, chaos ensues. Some people attack Selwyn, Selwyn attempts to stop Scoiatel and fails, it was all rather chaotic. Not just figuratively, but literally as well; for whatever reason, nearly every player was talking over one another.

So while in initiative order, Gavan was planning to ask both Shalendra’s what item was taken from the estate by us and returned to her. Actually, I was planning to have Gavan whisper the question to each Shalendra. The correct answer should have been ‘diary.’ But it never came to that, because our new paladin rolled a higher initiative and went first, and was able to use his divine senses to sense the presence of a fiend from the fake Shelandra. Her cover blown, she transformed into the succubus, and it becomes apparent that Selwyn is under her thrall. The battle continues for a bit in really cramped quarters, before Szenden finally put her down with his magic sword and as the last time we fought a succubus, she was literally reduced to a pile of ash. Selwyn snapped out of his charmed state, rather confused over the past several moments.

In hindsight, I should have thought that the succubus in question could have been Natasha from the previous adventure. After all, she was betrothed to the Duke of Daggerford, which explains why she had so much jewelry from the Duke himself. It made no sense that the real Shalendra would have that stuff.

On a side note, I am incredibly excited that Wizards of the Coast finally revealed their release dates for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, including a Starter Set, Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master’s Guide,  and two adventures: Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat. They’ll start trickling in this coming July, with products released throughout the remainder of the year. To top that all off, it looks like wholesale changes are coming to D&D Encounters