Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Shards of the Gate of Darkness, Part 4

After battling the tiefling at the Dragondown Grotto, the group had to return to town to take an extended rest. Fortunately for them, I had already decided that the tieflings would find themselves overmatched at the third location, so they had time to do so. Unfortunately for them, I had made the other encounters they would face pretty tough.

The final location was the Dragon Graveyard map from Fantastic Locations: Dragondown Grotto.
I had decided to use a version of Mike Mearls' skill challenge version of random encounter generation, throwing decrepit skeletons and zombies at them on a roll of 15+(number of successful Stealth checks in the group) or higher whenever they tried to rest. I described the place as misty and foreboding, with shuffling sounds constantly echoing in the distance. I had them make Stealth checks as they approached, and their 3 out of 4 successes meant that they didn't encounter an initial random encounter from my check of 16.

They discovered the tiefling from the grotto, dead from multiple stab and slash wounds. His killers, three boneshard skeletons, immediately set upon them. A chaotic flurry of hacking and slashing followed, and the party took a ton of damage from boneshard bursts. After the first burst it took quite a few rounds and some nudges from me for them to spread out so subsequent bursts wouldn't hit the entire party (except the wizard, who after the first burst cast flaming sphere and hid behind a wall of bones).

Once the skeletons were defeated, they decided not to rest and just raced to the center of the map to try and quickly recover what they came for and get out. There they found another dead tiefling. The ranger looted his body while the warlord and wizard dug frantically for the buried shard he'd been after. Just as they got it unearthed, a wight came out from behind a wall and hissed at them to stop. His allies appeared from behind walls all around them (the photo from my Plexiglass post actually shows the setup for this fight).

This encounter was:
1 deathlock wight (level 4 controller, 175xp)
3 Zombies (level 2 brute, 375xp total)
6 decrepit skeletons (level 1 minion, 150xp total)

The warlord won initiative, followed by the monsters. They decided to try to escape with the shard instead of fighting, so the warlord grabbed it and ran. Unfortunately the wight's grave bolt stopped her in her tracks and his allies closed in around her. On the party's turn the warlord fey stepped to a clear spot where the ranger could run by her and grab the shard, then race away from the undead, using an action point for more movement and getting off the map.

With the shard gone, the undead turned on the rest of the party. The wight kept them from simply withdrawing by continuously using grave bolt and keeping someone immobilized. Finally the paladin charged the wight and kept it in melee long enough for the other two PCs to regain movement. It looked for a moment like she was going to sacrifice herself so the others could escape, but the warlord refused to run and together they killed the wight and ran from the last two zombies. All the healing in the party had been used up and the paladin escaped with one hit point.

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