Tonight’s Encounters session wrapped up a three-part storyline called “The Necromancer’s Cave.” Because this adventure was spread over three weeks, the players were not given a long rest… meaning that spell casters were all out of spell slots and those players who had not yet died and burned up their hit dice during a few short rests were most likely very low on HP. This was a slog, pure and simple… and the players were definitely on their guard tonight (sort of).
Last week, the group had seen one of their own fall to a trap. He was healed up, but I think the reality set in that they had used up their healing potion, their healing spells, and their short rest recovery hit dice. Not knowing how much of the cave remained ahead of them, I could definitely tell these players were concerned for the wellbeing of their characters.
For tonight’s adventure, I had to pull a DM-special and play with the universe a bit. The group found itself minus Tsunami but with the returned rogue (from Session 1), Lyanna. Just as a quick explanation–with the Adventurers League Encounters sessions, players can move table-to-table between sessions. Our four tables (and four DMs) communicate each week to try and stay together and end each session in the same stopping place. This allows for situations where a player arrives late and must join a different table. In this instance, I just ruled that the players were playing in a mirror universe tonight–Tsunami? Who is Tsunami? Lyanna was just… there. She’d never really gone anywhere (for Sessions 2 thru 5). If I had known this would be the issue, I might have been able to come up with some solid reason for the disappearance of Tsunami, but, thankfully, my players just accepted it and we ran with it.
Tonight’s session had the following adventurers present:
Tom, Goliath Barbarian
Stormwind, Half-Elf Bard
Krieger, Deep Gnome Barbarian
Thord, Goliath Monk
Donovan, Human Cleric
Lyanna, Halfing Rogue
Last week, the players found themselves in a cavern with half a dozen fractures circling the room. After exhausting a search for an exit (from a previous cave-in), the players focused on the only remaining fracture that hadn’t yet been explored. Unfortunately, when Stormwind walked into that fracture (with a rope tied around his waist), he fell asleep. They pulled him back, and the injured constable informed them that the caverns had been rumored at having unusual rocks that when cut appropriately and placed in certain locations could cause a strange effect that would knock someone out. The constable explained to the sole cleric that if he could manage to put himself into a meditative/trance-like state, he might be able to ignore the effect. It was also explained that he would have to be on the lookout for the blue stones that should be destroyed to cancel the effect.
Krieger chose to ride on his shoulders and try to shrug off the effect. They succeeded halfway into the fracture when Donovan failed a roll and began to get dizzy. They backtracked until the effect passed, but I informed Donovan future rolls would be harder to make (-1 for each failed attempt). He was having to roll below his Wisdom and he managed to do it as he and Krieger spotted a blue stone hidden underneath a pile of rocks. Krieger destroyed the stone with his axe but Donovan still felt the effects… there seemed to be a second stone nearby. They proceeded further into the fracture and found another blue stone. Donovan chose to go back and inform the other players who had slowly moved into the fracture while Krieger investigated the new found stone. As he moved towards it, the fracture expanded and he saw three stone altars in a large cavern. A figure had its back to him at the farthest altar and he could hear a strange skittering sound.
Krieger gave the stone a whack but didn’t do enough damage to destroy it. The noise alerted the figure that slowly turned in Krieger’s direction. Krieger also saw strange small shadows darting on and over the altars. He wanted to run back to the players, but I gave him an Intelligence roll that allowed him to realize that, if he ran, they might not get a chance to destroy the stone before the unknown figure reached him. He “yell-whispered” (???) to his party to move forward while doing some final damage to the stone. The blue stone shattered and the effect dissipated.
In came the players… they were all in a line exiting the fracture as a zombie and five Creeping Claws attacked. The Creeping Claws weren’t much of a problem, but I had an amazing number of rolls (in plain view) that kept the zombie popping back up after being reduced to 0HP. How many times? Five! My players were quite worried as some of them took some serious claw damage from the creepy-crawly hands that were attacking them. It took some time, but they finally took down the zombie. Tom began exploring the area and found a small vial in a pile of garbage. He found it without the others knowing, so, rather than share it, he missed out on the cleric recognizing the strange rune on its surface that indicated it was a small vial of healing (1d4). Oops.
The players chose (wisely) to ignore a small pool of water in one corner of the cave, and instead moved towards the rear of this large cavern. Stormwind and Krieger were the first to spot a small group of “dancing” skeletons along the rear wall. They were moving in such a way that it was difficult to estimate their number, but five or six seemed likely. A loud voice boomed–it was the Lord of Lance Rock! He taunted the players before running deeper into the cave. From a distance, most of the players took easy shots at the skeletons and did some good damage. Thord rushed in along with Donovan and did some up-close damage. The skeletons didn’t last long, but… the players were definitely injured.
A slow exploration at the opposite side of the cavern revealed a curving exit that led into a split. The party divided up and moved forward cautiously, but ended up back together when the tunnels joined again. By this point, they could see another cavern ahead with purples curtains circling the room and a strange altar in the center with a glowing symbol floating above it.
The players moved in cautiously. There was no sign of the Lord of Lance Rock. And then things got interesting.
Thord decided to do some serious roleplaying and began taunting the Lord of Lance Rock. He yelled out some insults and gave a nice hand gesture that wasn’t magical in nature at all. I really was doing my best to try and NOT kill the players outright… to give them a chance to maybe reason or negotiate. But that went out the window. A burst of green energy shot out from behind the curtain… Thord has an AC of 19. I had a +3 To Hit. I rolled the d20 in plain sight. A 16. Add the modifier and Thord took the blast square in the chest. Damage was 2d8. I rolled 12 damage, more than enough to kill him. But Thord is a Goliath, and they have the ability once per long rest to roll a d12 and shrug off a portion of the damage. He rolled a 12. #@$(&@#!
The necromancer revealed himself and took some damage from Lyanna’s bow. Thankfully he had the teleport ability and used it. Most of the players thought he’d teleported safely away, but he was hidden behind one of the curtains again. Tom ran in and destroyed the altar and the glowing symbol. Unfortunately, that was a nice magical item that was no longer magical. Or an item.
Thord once again started taunting the necromancer, figuring he was hiding. Out stepped the Lord of Lance Rock with plenty of targets. As with previous rolls for deciding on the target, Krieger was selected. Sorry, Krieger. Fortunately for Krieger, the three magic missiles that shot out of the wand missed him completely. The rest of the players rushed at the necromancer and finished him off with some amazing dice rolls. Stormwind took the wand while the rest of the group examined the room and found some coins plus a tunnel that led to the surface. A way out!
Back to town they trudged for a much needed long rest. Next week, I’ll be facing a group of level 2 characters… they all leveled up. Congrats, players!
It was a fun night. I really didn’t expect all of them to survive, and, had Krieger fallen from that initial blast, the fight may very well have gone differently as the necromancer had plenty of free spell slots, Mage Armor on full blast, and the dude was crazy to boot. He had some nasty spells, but I don’t fudge the dice rolls and the players beat him fair and square while he missed a couple of spell blasts that could have taken one or two more adventurers to their graves.
But… didn’t happen. I know the tension was high, but I do hope the players had fun. It was fun to run that little three-parter… and it looks like a few more multi-part adventures are on the horizon meaning fewer long rests and more risks to the players. Things are getting good… stay tuned.