Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dark Legacy of Evard, Session 2: The Fight at the Armory

I’m fairly certain that a pouring rainstorm here in the Denver area this past Wednesday evening was responsible for a slight drop off in attendance at the second session of D&D Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard at Total Escape Games. We were still able to run two tables, though, with four players at each table. The players at my table ran an eclectic assortment of characters: Silas (drow vampire), Arturo (human warpriest), Nadarr (dragonborn paladin), and Eldan (elf necromancer).

Previously, in the adventure’s first session, the heroes— weary from travel— were forced to spend the night in Duponde because the city’s two bridges had been damaged by recent flooding in the Nentir River. At the Old Owl Inn, they met a few fellow travelers, including the wizard Nathaire, who told them the disturbing story of Evard. Later that night, the PCs were awakened when Duponde and its surroundings were suddenly shifted into the Shadowfell. Gargoyles adorning the inn came to life and attacked alongside two sinister Shadow Stalkers.

Witching Hour

The second session of DLoE began with the adventurers gathered in the Old Owl Inn’s common room. The night outside was supernaturally gloomy, cold, and menacing. Tilda, Harald, and the three dwarf stonemasons were pretty freaked out and ready to start barricading themselves inside the Old Owl until morning. There was still no sign of Nathaire or his halfling servant, Remy. Based on the clues that Eldan had found while searching Nathaire’s room at the end of the last session, our heroes decided not to remain in the Old Owl but to head out and investigate the town’s graveyard instead.

As the PCs left the inn, they immediately noticed that an eerie gloom had settle over Duponde. Light sources only illuminated half their normal radius (this applies for the rest of the adventure whenever the party is in the Shadowfell). There was also an oppressive sense of anxiety and dread pressing down upon the characters. As a pervasive chill seeped into their bones, everyone noticed that the town didn’t seem to be the same Duponde they’d entered hours ago. Streets didn’t seem to meet the same way anymore and buildings stood subtly distorted and menacing. The Old Owl Inn and its environs were definitely no longer in the natural world. Our heroes knew that areas of the mortal world can shift into the Shadowfell, the dread plane of shadow, because of the effect of powerful curses. Such an event is called a shadowfall.

As the party continued to explore the streets of Duponde, they caught frequent glimpses of threatening shadows that quickly slipped out of sight. They also heard strange sounds in the darkness— odd clatters, mysterious thumps, and muffled shouts of alarm. The PCs were understandably on edge when a dim light appeared in the gloom and several figures approached them. But then the lead figure raised his lantern high, and in its light the characters recognized Grimbold with a couple of armed townspeople. “Ah, the travelers,”
he said. “I’m glad to see you.” Grimbold asked what the party had seen and listened carefully to the account of the battle at the Old Owl and to the news of Nathaire’s disappearance. “Yes, I fear some dark curse has fallen over Duponde,” Grimbold replied.“But you look like you can handle some trouble. Can you help us? Monsters are roaming the streets, and people are terrified. Something is lurking in the armory, and our militia volunteers need to get in there to properly arm themselves. And, not ten minutes ago, I found poor Eddin, the guard at the north gate, bleeding at the side of the road. He told me that the halfling— the one who serves that young wizard who’s been poking around Evard’s Tomb— fled the town like he had a dozen demons on his heels. When Eddin tried to stop that little scoundrel, the halfling stabbed him. I think that halfling’s got something to do with this trouble, but we also need to get the armory open. The armory or the fugitive— which can you do for me?”

The Armory

The players decided to stay in town and deal with whatever was lurking in the armory. Following Grimbold’s directions, they moved through the darkened streets toward the armory. The gloom seemed to be alive; shadows flowed around the dim light sources. Finally, the party reached the edge of the river, where an aqueduct ran through the town. They could barely make out the silhouette of a large, two-story building in the shadows across the aqueduct. Two small arched bridges crossed the water. Silas, Arturo, and Nadarr started across the bridge to the south, but Eldan decided to head for the northern span.

As Silas came off the southern bridge, the cautious drow vampire could see that the door to the armory was ajar, and the body of one of Duponde’s town guards lay on the threshold. Drawing closer, Silas could see that the guard’s body was covered in dozens of small bites. Then the windows of the armory started to undulate as hundreds of spiders began to pour out of the building. Man, I was really hoping the players would choose to chase Remy… I hate spiders.

As Silas, Arturo, and Nadarr began to engage the two Spider Swarms that burst out of the armory, a hidden Leeching Shadow crept up behind the dragonborn paladin and attacked him. The shadow hit, dealing Nadarr 4 necrotic damage. It also shifted into the paladin’s space and melded with his shadow (save ends). While it was so melded, the shadow was removed from play, and the target granted combat advantage and took ongoing 4 necrotic damage. Yikes! As if that weren’t bad enough for poor Nadarr, a Deathjump Spider suddenly launched itself off the roof of the armory and used its Death from Above power to attack the dragonborn. Luckily for Nadarr, the huge spider’s attack missed.

Meanwhile, as Eldan was crossing the other bridge all by his lonesome, another leeching shadow emerged from the darkness and attacked him. That shadow also hit with its shadow meld attack, shifting into the elf’s space and dealing him 4 necrotic damage. It took Eldan a couple of turns to save against the shadow meld, but even while he was dragging around the leeching shadow, he didn’t allow it to slow him down very much. According to my notes, the necromancer ended up accounting for four of the party’s kills (including the vile deathjump spider).

Arturo spent most of the fight laying into the spider swarms with his mace and using Healing Word on Nadarr a couple of times. He also used Burden of Earth a few times, which surprised me since I didn’t remember anyone ever utilizing that particular power before… but it was actually quite an effective attack. (Burden of earth is a melee Cleric Attack 1. It targets one creature. Attack: Wisdom vs. AC. Hit: 1[w] + Wisdom modifier damage. Effect: The next time you or an ally attacks the target before the end of your next turn, that character gains a +1 power bonus to the attack roll.)

I’ve been glad to have a player with one of the new vampires because after picking up Player Options: Heroes of Shadow, I had been wondering how the vampire class would work in a game. I was especially intrigued to see that a vampire only gets two healing surges. Of course, that trait is meant to be offset by the vampire’s use of powers like Taste of Life and Blood Drinker. Two weeks into DLoE, Silas has been doing alright, so far. After he has a few more sessions of play under his belt, I’ll try to get some vampiric impressions from Silas’ player so you can have an evaluation straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

After the party defeated the spiders and shadows, a handful of Duponde’s militia began to arrive on the scene. The citizen-soldiers thanked the PCs for the help and then they began to arm themselves. The militia members reported that more monsters had been seen roaming the town, but Grimbold was leading some of the town guards on a sweep of the streets. They also said that Grimbold had sent a couple of guards after Remy, but unfortunately they didn’t catch him.

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