Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dark Legacy of Evard, Session 3: The One with the War Cart

In Session #2 of D&D Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard, the adventurers ventured forth from the Old Owl Inn and confirmed that Duponde was no longer in the natural world. The town had somehow been transported to the Shadowfell! They learned not only that Nathaire’s servant, Remy, had fled Duponde, but also that the local armory was infested with shadow monsters. The characters faced a choice: Follow Remy or clear out the armory so the militia members could arm themselves. At our game, the characters decided to clear out the armory.

Clearing out the armory was an excellent first step to helping the townspeople make it through the night, but dangerous shadow creatures were still roaming the streets. Worse yet, panic and despair had descended over Duponde. As the party set out from the armory, they could hear bedlam breaking loose in the darkened town. Someone needed to search for the creatures threatening the town, help people in need, and spread word to stay inside with doors barred and windows shuttered. It sounded like a job for our heroes!

Streets of Duponde

We once again ran two tables of four players at Total Escape Games. The guys at my table played Arturo (human warpriest), Eldan (elf necromancer), Nadarr (dragonborn paladin), and Silas (drow vampire).

The party breezed through the skill challenge that opened this session of DLoE. In making a sweep through the town, alerting the townspeople to danger and searching for the pack of beasts roaming the streets, the party succeeded at covering a lot of ground in a short span of time (Endurance group check). The characters calmed panicked Duponders and quickly gained reliable information on monster sightings (Diplomacy check). After that, they were able to use their knowledge of the Shadowfell to ascertain that the most dangerous threat remaining at large in the town was a small pack of dusk beasts, predatory shadow creatures that would hunt down and feast on the terrified, helpless citizens of Duponde (Arcana check). Having identified their enemies, the PCs were able to make educated guesses as to where the dusk beasts were likely to lurk (Arcana check) and to anticipate the movements of the pack through the streets and alleyways (Streetwise). For successfully completing the skill challenge, each character gained a +2 bonus to attack rolls during the upcoming encounter.

Streets of Shadow

As our heroes made their way toward the center of town, the gloom hanging over Duponde made the streets a hazy maze. Turning a corner, they spotted three creatures prowling from door to door. Made of solid shadows, they resembled predatory drakes. Each had a long barbed tail and two distinct heads, each one’s maw full of fangs. With menacing hisses, the beast-shadows turned to confront the characters.

Now, you need to know that at the end of the last session, Eldan’s player (a very imaginative, creative kid named Kyle) was busy ordering around the militia and using some of the equipment in the armory to build a “war cart” out of the wagon that was parked outside the armory. I had completely forgotten about that until, at the beginning of this Streets of Shadow encounter, Kyle asked if Eldan could take the war cart into battle. Mindful of what the Dungeon Master’s Guide says on pages 28-29 about the importance of ‘Saying Yes’ when a player comes up with something creative and unexpected, I told Kyle, “Sure, yes, definitely.” And so Eldan the Necromancer rode into the Streets of Shadow battle on his War Cart. Isn’t D&D great?!

Unfortunately for Eldan, riding a war cart into battle garnered him more than his fair share of attention from the shadow monsters. And, who would’ve guessed, but the lumbering ox pulling the cart proved to be a particularly vulnerable component of the contraption. So fairly quickly, the poor ox was cut down (someone call the ASPCA!) and Eldan was bloodied. Eldan abandoned the war cart at that point and retreated up some nearby stairs where he rather frantically tried to get into one of the houses. Unfortunately for Eldan (hmm, that’s a familiar refrain), the terrified folks inside the house thought he was a shadow monster trying to break in and eat them. So Eldan then spent several rounds trapped at the top of the enclosed stairway as a dusk beast snarled and growled at the bottom of the stairs. Isn’t D&D great?!

While Eldan was busy doing Eldan-stuff, the rest of the party was battling monsters. There were the three dusk beasts, of course, but then from out of some bushes and hedges, a leeching shadow abruptly emerged and flowed toward Nadarr. It hit the dragonborn with its Shadow Meld attack. (Hey, didn’t that happen to Nadarr in the last session too? Hee hee.) And then, sneakily waiting until the characters were busy with the dusk beasts and leeching shadow, a small cloaked humanoid with a crossbow began to snipe at them from some distance away. That shadow bolter was particularly effective during the encounter, hitting a PC almost every time he used his dastardly Black Bolt ranged attack.

They eventually prevailed, but this encounter proved to be a tough fight for our heroes. Nadarr found himself taking a dirt nap once, and then Silas actually found himself cut down twice. Everyone was pretty beat up by the end of the fight and wanting to know when they’d be able to take an extended rest. I had to tell them it wouldn’t be until after next week’s encounter. Sorry, guys.

After dispatching the last of the shadow creatures, the party made a quick check of the houses in the area and found that the townsfolk were unharmed. After thanking the characters for their help, the citizens hid behind locked doors again. No sooner had the last of the townspeople disappeared back into their houses than a pair of town guards found our heroes and informed them that Brother Zelan at the Chapel of Peace was asking for them.

What does Brother Zelan want with the characters? Tune in next week to find out!

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