Monday, May 2, 2011

MotPB, Session 12: Demolishing the Duergar

In Session 12 of March of the Phantom Brigade at Total Escape Games in Broomfield, CO the players finally learned what happened to Salazar Vladistone sixty years ago at the abandoned dwarven monastery. After the previous session’s exploration of the complex’s sleeping quarters, six PCs moved across the hall this past Wednesday night and checked out the meditation room. Arturo (human fighter), Belgos (drow ranger), Enzio II (human assassin), Jarren (human wizard), Melek (tiefling mage), and Thoradin (dwarf cleric) boldly continued the search for the arrow of time.

When the six adventurers cautiously entered the meditation room, they saw several duergar. Just as everyone realized that the duergar were not moving to attack but were instead frozen in time, a pulse of magical energy signaled the start of another ghostly vision from the past. Tomas Alderson, the human wizard seen in the previous vision, was speaking to the other three members of the Silver Company. He said, “I have prepared a ritual that will allow us to subdue Actherimos and the duergar. When it triggers, it will lay an enchantment over much—though not all—of the monastery and the caves below. It will freeze in time everything caught in it. Our enemies will not die or age, but neither will they be able to affect the world around them.”

After the vision faded, the duergar started to move around and stagger a bit. The adventurers’ presence in the meditation room had disrupted the portion of the ritual that had held the duergar frozen in time for sixty years. For the brutal and savage duergar, no time had passed since the Silver Company was in the monastery, so to them our heroes looked like just another group of invaders. It took the duergar scouts and guards just a moment to orient themselves, and then— with weapons at the ready— they advanced on our heroes.

The players pretty much breezed through this encounter, which was nice for them after last session’s near-TPK. I added an extra scout to the monster mix, but the party still cut through the duergar with a vengeance. Of course, contributing to the adventurers’ domination might have been the fact that I completely spaced on including the three scouts’ Shadow Attack, which would have allowed them to deal a 4d6 extra damage when they hit a target that couldn’t see them. Oops… my bad. Anyway, I thought the players might have trouble coping with the scouts’ Underdark Sneak power, but they very quickly (at Melek’s suggestion) figured out that the best way to negate the scouts’ advantage was to ready actions and hit the duergar hard as soon as they lost their invisibility.

After the PCs wiped the floor with the duergar, they went back out into the long corridor and investigated the previously sealed entrance to the stairs. With the seal broken, the adventurers were able to see that stone steps descended into an icy cave. At the top of the stairs, the party experienced another vision.

Salazar Vladistone clapped his eladrin companion on the shoulder. “Go,” Vladistone said. “I will stay behind and occupy the dragon.”
The eladrin knight frowned and shook his head. “That is suicide, and you know it.”
Vladistone shrugged and unsheathed his sword. “Perhaps. But it has been too long since I saw my Oldivya. Take the others and get out before Tomas’s time trap is sprung. By the time Actherimos is done with me, it will be too late for the monster to escape.”
“At least take the arrow of time with you then,” said the knight. “Perhaps with it, you can find a way to survive.”

So Faldyra was right, after all. Vladistone was a hero. He had sacrificed himself to save his companions and to make sure that Actherimos and the duergar would be caught in the time trap ritual.

Next session, with the thrilling conclusion to March of the Phantom Brigade, the heroes will find out what happened down in the caves below the monastery. And they’ll need to decide how to use the arrow of time. Will they use it to slay the dragon in the past, setting off a chain of events that would see Vladistone never having been killed by the dragon, and thus never having become a bitter ghost? Or will they give the arrow to Vladistone and let him take it back to the Ghost Tower, in the hope that returning it will allow him to commune with his beloved wife again?

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