Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dark Legacy of Evard, Session 9: Here's Your Minion, Take Good Care of Him

At the end of Session 8, the PCs were still rarin’ to go, ready to head out to the ruins of Saint Avarthil Monastery and kick Vontarin’s butt. At the start of Session 9: Vontarin’s Wrath, however, they found out that before they could check out the monastery, they’d have to defend Duponde against a force of skeletons unleashed by Vontarin.

Dark Legacy of Evard continues to be a popular season of D&D Encounters at Total Escape Games. We once again had enough players to run two tables. The players at my table ran Arturo (human warpriest), Kyle (human assassin), Nadarr (human knight), and Torinn (dragonborn weapon master).

Picking up right where Session 8 left off, the creeping dread of the Shadowfell held sway over the town of Duponde for a second night. Once again, the shadows were full of unsettling phantoms, sinister presences, and roaming monsters. Our heroes had already dealt with one threat after darkness fell, but dawn was still hours away. Most of the townsfolk were gathered in a few defensible spots like the chapel or the old armory. Since Grimbold’s men were stretched thin, the PCs found themselves helping patrol the town.

Shadow’s Influence

At the beginning of this session, the characters quickly discovered that the townspeople had reached the end of their endurance. Monsters that roam the Shadowfell are trouble enough, but the plane of shadows holds a more insidious peril— pervasive, soul-crushing despair and hopelessness that slowly saps the will of those who are exposed to it. As the hours passed and Duponde sank deeper into the Shadowfell, the malaise slowly deprived every living soul caught in the town of the will to fight on. Over the course of their watch, our heroes came to realize that they had to do something to fight off the creeping despair, both for themselves and for the townspeople around them.

Skill Challenge: Creeping Despair

This was a Level 2 skill challenge with a complexity of 2 (6 successes before 3 failures). The primary skills were Arcana or Thievery (DC 13), Diplomacy (DC 13), Endurance (DC 13; group check), Heal (DC 13), Insight (DC 20), Intimidate (DC 13), and religion (DC 9). As we went around the table and the players performed various actions to rally and inspire the townspeople, they eventually racked up 5 successes and 2 failures. It was Torinn’s turn, so it all came down to what the dragonborn fighter would do… cue the drum roll, please… He used Religion and succeeded! The party claimed victory in the skill challenge, so I gave each player a Duponde Guard (Level 1 Minion) to control during the upcoming fight against the skeletons animated by Vontarin.

Vontarin’s Horde

As our heroes and their guard minions came to the town square after completing another round of their patrol, a cry went up from the direction of the armory. In the distance, the PCs could see bone-white forms surrounding the building.

As the characters and guards hastened to intercept the skeletons before the monsters could attack the townspeople sheltering on the armory’s upper floor, they found themselves battling a Shadow Stalker (Level 3 Lurker), 2 Blazing Skeletons (Level 5 Artillery), and 8 Decrepit Skeletons (Level 1 Skirmisher).

Several decrepit skeletons used their longswords to engage the PCs in melee combat, while a couple of them hung back and attacked from a distance with their shortbows. The blazing skeletons had a good time popping PCs and guards from a distance with their Flame Orb ranged attack. The shadow stalker didn’t enter the fight until the third round, but on his very first attack (Shadow Stalk) he cut down the already bloodied Kyle. By that time, Arturo was inside the armory fighting two decrepit skeletons, so the unconscious and dying assassin was left outside to his own devices. No problem, since on his second death saving throw he rolled a 20!

I’m glad the party succeeded at the skill challenge since I think the players enjoyed having some minions to boss around, although the guards all went down rather quickly (except for Nadarr’s, who hung in there for a good four or five rounds). After our heroes had defeated the skeleton force, they noticed that each decrepit skeleton was dressed in the tattered brown robes of a monk. This discovery simply ramped up the PCs’ desire to head out to Saint Avarthil’s Monastery and hunt down Nathaire/Vontarin.

As our heroes bandaged their wounds and checked on the townspeople sheltering in the armory, daybreak was at hand. Duponde shifted from the Shadowfell back into the world. However, the characters noticed that the town’s return to the world seemed sluggish, as though the Shadowfell was clinging to Duponde. Uh oh.

* * Note: At the conclusion of this encounter, everyone gets to take an extended rest. And if the character was present for all 9 sessions, they can advance to level 3.

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