Friday, March 23, 2012

Madness at Gardmore Abbey... Session 3

The gaunt and hunched human advanced toward the conveniently clustered group of adventurers. The man didn’t seem all that imposing except for the madness in his eye and the unmistakable aura of evil around him… and also, of course, the wicked looking +2 vicious mace clasped in his sweaty hand. Stopping a short distance away from Dagon, Blake, and Lord Bothwell, the creepy Level 10 Elite Soldier (Leader) with 212 hit points opened his mouth and let loose with a Howl of Madness. Under the piercing psychic attack, the three heroes’ will defenses crumbled faster than Newt Gingrich’s presidential aspirations. Each of them took 1d8+8 psychic damage and was stunned (save ends), prompting a chorus of “Stunned? What does stunned do? … Whaaaat? NO actions?!?”

For our third session of Madness at Gardmore Abbey, the party was a man down since Drew couldn’t be with us, so you won’t find any mention of rash actions or snarky remarks by Silas, the eladrin vampire, in this post. But not to worry; Blake (razorclaw shifter barbarian), Boojum (pixie wizard), Lord Bothwell, Dagon (watersoul genasi artificer), and Gaultis (goliath warden) continued to explore the catacombs under the ruined husk of the abbey’s once-glorious temple. 

We started this session with the continuation of Encounter 24: Font of Divine Health, which we had to break off last week when we ran up against closing time at our FLGS, Total Escape Games. 

As the party battled the skeletons in this room, the first time one of the undead monsters was destroyed, the dusty and chipped mosaic depicting the dragon-head symbol of Bahamut began to glow with a dim golden light. Every time a skeleton was cut down, the light increased in intensity, small motes of fire burnt away the dust, and the damage to the mosaic began to magically repair itself. When the last skeleton fell, the mosaic was once again in pristine condition, and each member of the party regained hit points as if he’d spent a healing surge. 

Once combat was over, everyone drank from the font of clean, clear water bubbling softly on the northern wall of the chamber. As Silas had discovered last week, the font not only allows a character to regain hit points, but also allows him to gain resist 5 necrotic (until the effect has blocked 20 necrotic damage or until the character leaves the catacombs)

Besides the mosaic and the fountain, the only other objects of interest in the chamber were the two stone sarcophagi. Both were decorated with elaborate carvings venerating Bahamut. One bore the name “Errin of Moonstair,” while the other was inscribed with the name “Dorgia Vann.”

After taking a short rest, the party decided to head through the doors in the northeast corner of the room. That triggered Encounter 27: Great Hall. As they cautiously passed through the doors, their footsteps echoed throughout an enormous chamber. They could see at least half a dozen stone sarcophagi arrayed around the shadow-draped room, and more probably stood in the darkness deeper inside. A strange reddish glow tinged the shadows, apparently emanating from something near the wall across the way. In the glow, our heroes could see several dark figures moving stealthily toward them. Something heavy was also dragging across the floor nearby but out of sight. 

  • Vadin Cartwright— Level 10 Elite Soldier (Leader)
  • Venom-Eye Basilisk (Level 10 Artillery)
  • Snaketongue Vampire (Level 10 Controller)
  • 5 Elder Vampire Spawn (Level 10 Minion Soldier)

This was a villain encounter. Vadin Cartwright had three cards from the Deck of Many Things: the Skull, Sun, and Balance of Power cards. In a villain encounter, the bad guy’s collection of cards enhances that creature’s power and its capabilities, exerting a powerful and dynamic effect on the battle. Each villain has a number of hit point thresholds determined by the number of cards in its possession, as specified in the villian’s statistics for the encounter. Crossing a threshold triggers the use of a card. Vadin used the skull card at the beginning of the encounter. The sun card triggered when Vadin’s hit point total dropped to 141 (out of 212). And then the balance card came into play when his hit point total dropped to 70.

This was a long, difficult encounter for the party— mostly because the players didn’t focus their fire once the minions were out of the way. Blake took on Vadin Cartwright. Bothwell tried to take down the snaketongue vampire. Gaultis and Boojum had their hands full with the basilisk. And Dagon was kept busy healing whoever needed it. Blake even went down at one point, but Dagon stepped in with a timely healing word and quickly brought the shifter back into the fight. 

Oh, and it warmed your humble DM’s heart when— after the vignette you read at the top of the post— Blake proceeded to fail 3 or 4 saving throws, so he was stunned for quite a while after Vadin’s howl of madness attack. Hee hee. 

I guess WotC felt they just had to insert something about the stupid abyssal plague into Madness at Gardmore Abbey because the strange reddish glow from across the room was coming from an altar to Bahamut that was now home to some of the Voidharrow. Vadin Cartwright was supposed to be a mad priest of Tharizdun who found his way into the vaults below the abbey and discovered the strange red substance in a tiny vial among the forgotten trophies of the knights. He was using it to experiment on the undead in the catacombs; he himself was at stage 1 of the illness. Ugh, enough about that nonsense. 

So after they captured Vadin, our heroes took a look around the enormous chamber where the encounter had taken place. It appeared to be a mansion for the dead knights of the abbey. The heavy stone sarcophagi were each decorated with elaborate carvings venerating Bahamut. Near the statue of Bahamut (depicted as a human knight in plate armor) in the northwest corner of the chamber the party found the resting place of Gardrin the Hammer, founder of Gardmore Abbey. Besides relieving Vadin Cartwright of the 3 cards in his possession, the adventurers also snagged his +2 vicious mace. In a sack near the Voidharrow were 850 gp and a magic longsword (special item: “Moonbane”)

Tune in to the next post to see what other trouble the party can get into as they continue to explore the creepy catacombs below Gardmore Abbey’s temple.

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