‘D&D’ Encounters DM Report: Elemental Evil Session 4

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Elemental Evil

My players hadn’t even been back in town for an hour after last week’s Big Chicken Hunt when they were asked by the town’s unofficial leader, Elak, if they might undertake a rescue mission. It seems that the constable had returned with Pell. (Pell is the young girl with the missing chicken–what chicken? Session 3 DM Report. I’ll wait.) It seems that after the adventurers had left to investigate the strange cave Pell had reported, three of the town’s deputies (really just common townsfolk with very little skill with a sword) tried to catch up to the group but took a wrong turn. Stupidity? Bad directions? Misinformation? It didn’t matter… they were headed to a cave that was known to be the home of one very strange hermit who, over time, has been exhibiting more and more dangerous behaviors.

For Session 4, I had six familiar faces at my table:

Tom, Goliath Barbarian
Krieger, Deep Gnome Barbarian
Stormwind, Half-Elf Bard
Tsunami, Water Genasi Monk
Thord, Goliath Monk
Donovan, Human Cleric

Elan asked the team to go to the other cave, find and bring back the town’s constable (oh, and the deputies if they’re around) for a small reward. Elak also mentioned that the town’s leadership has had a few run-ins with this hermit in the past and believe him to be a “danger to the town.” While Elak didn’t go so far as to suggest the players eliminate the hermit, Elak did tell them that they could keep anything they found in the cave. Hmmm…

Off the players went… a short walk and the the entrance to the cave was discovered along with a strange sign posted on the trail leading down into the large open cave mouth.

The Sign

Plague? Donovan (cleric) wasn’t too happy about that word–clerics have a strong aversion to plagues. Was this a trick? Was it a real sickness? There was some serious hesitation among the players, but finally they moved towards the cave entrance. Krieger and Stormwind had excellent dark vision and were able to make out an (unmoving) set of books and legs just inside the first cave chamber. Tsunami and Donovan each cast their own version of a light cantrip on various object (water ball for the Genasi and a stone for the cleric) and used these to provide more light and detail for the team. Three dead bodies, face down, were seen in the first cave chamber. In the team moved cautiously… no movement from the corpses, and a few good Perception rolls allowed them to determine the bodies were “fresh” and showed bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Thord decided to roll one over to search… and that’s when all three zombies became animated and attacked. Zombies do NOT like to drop easily… when they hit 0HP, there’s a save they can make that will allow them to stand right back up with 1HP. As a DM, they’re pure gold for level 1 adventures. All the players were mostly healed back up from last week’s adventure, but not fully.

I’m a fair DM. With multiple targets, I’ll roll a die and let the dice decide which player is targeted. I also rolls these in the open. Krieger took some early damage after I rolled for him to be the target. Next, it was between him and Thord–I let Thord roll a d6 (1,2,3 – Krieger, 4,5,6 Thord) and Thord rolled a 3. Krieger took more damage. Meanwhile, the other players were dishing damage to the zombies who continued to make their saves (once again, I rolled this in the open) and pop back up. Next time around, the same zombie could choose Thord or Krieger. I let Krieger roll this time–to be fair! 1,2,3, Krieger, 4,5,6 Thord. Krieger rolled a 2. He took some more damage and died. Oops.

This is one of those times where when a party has a Cleric you can actually hear the angels sing. Donovan toasted his last spell slot for a Cure Wounds and Krieger was back up and kicking. Of course, this was also about the time that the entire party realized that they were being beaten to pieces and had expended their healing potions and spells. Oh, and this little cave adventure would carry on through Sessions 5 and 6. Yikes. As one player said (and I’m paraphrasing a bit): “It’s almost like Wizards of the Coast wants to kill off the entire party and have us making new level 1 characters.” You said it, not me.

Tunnel
Chamber 1 and a tunnel leading into Chamber 2.

First cave chamber cleared, the players moved into a thin tunnel that led to chamber two. They were cautious… looking for traps, checking the wall. Nothing. So, into the second chamber went Krieger and Thord. Just as they crossed the boundary from tunnel to chamber, two zombies on a ledge overhead dropped a bunch of big rocks down. Krieger and Thord both made their Dexterity saves, so they took only half damage. Still… at this point damage is damage that cannot be undone.

Two zombies weren’t too bad, but they did manage to pop back alive a few times. Tsunami took some serious damage. As did Krieger and Thord. Meanwhile, Tom did some exploration of the second chamber and found a very odd silver ring with two small symbols inside–a teardrop and a flame. Tsunami and Donovan did some inspecting but could come up with no explanations for the symbols. Tsunami actually put the ring on but nothing happened.

Two exits existed for the second chamber–a very thin tunnel leading east and a slightly wider tunnel to the west but blocked by a large pile of small stones. In addition, Krieger discovered some footsteps leading into the very thin tunnel, but a good Perception roll allowed him to figure out the footsteps were intentionally placed… they were too “sharp” looking. The players suspected a trap and chose to head west. Krieger climbed over the rocks while the other players moved the pile and he proceeded down a short tunnel that turned north. A quick look around the corner (with the glowing water ball sent by Tsunami) revealed twelve skeletons in a small circular room–the skeletons were in a semi-circle around the back wall, backs to the wall and feet pointed out. Something glittery could be seen in the ribcage of one of the skeletons. Krieger chose to ignore it, but Tom rushed forward–apparently he has a weakness for shiny things. He put his fist into the ribcage and grabbed the jewel… and also triggered the Firebolt trap–3 points of damage. Oh, and the explosion triggered four of the skeletons to stand up and attack.

Third Chamber
Third Chamber to the east.

Fortunately, most of this group was equipped with bludgeoning weapons–they deal double-damage to skeletons. It only took two rounds for the skeletons to be completely destroyed. The players pounded the remaining skeletons into dust (just to be sure) and searched the room. Nothing. So back to the second chamber they went.

As they returned to the chamber, they began to discuss possibly returning to Red Larch without the constable. That would have been a good idea, but Stormwind was the first to notice that the tunnel they had traversed from the first chamber into the second had collapsed. More than one player was beginning to become suspicious about being sent to this cave…

And that’s where Session 4 ended. Next week, my players will have to decide whether to push on through the thin tunnel or try to dig their way out of the collapsed section. I’ll be back next week to tell you how things progressed.

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