- Mikal, Level 3 Human Infernal-Pact Warlock
- Althea, Level 3 Eladrin Wizard
- Uthal, Level 3 Goliath Barbarian
- Tavar, Level 3 Deva Invoker
- Jovanni, Level 3 Half-Elf Bard
- Kordan, Level 3 Human Fighter
While settling in to this site the party sees another group moving into the area, consisting of 3 figures in black robes and a few fighter types in black armor - apparently others have some bad intentions towards the Banites as well. This is not a tenable situation and as soon as both parties spot each other initiative is checked and battle is joined.
Fighting in a ruined section of city can be messy - there are only limited clear areas, there is plenty of cover, and it's difficult to move quickly if a situation develops. This proved out as the wizards on both sides unleashed big blasting magic right away and the more mundane types opened up with missile weapons. Uthal was the exception as he charged in.
In short order two of the guards are down and the Invoker is seriously injured. The two war mages have a power that does area burst poison damage and ongoing poison damage making them quite nasty. They can also blind a target and have various other ranged attack powers. The Black Sun adept has a power called "Rebellious Limbs" that lets them move a target against their will and them make a basic attack against themselves too and this was used against the barbarian very effectively, eventually causing Uthal to drop and begin making death saves. Uthal and Tavar took the brunt of the attacks but everyone was wounded at some point during the fight and it came down to one of the war mages blasting away as the entire party converged on him and blew him to cinders.
Fixing up the two most-wounded party members, the group searched the black robed strangers and determined that they were Zhentarim, an evil criminal organization thought banished from this area. It was not a good sign, but at least this particular problem had been solved. Hoping their cover had not been blow with all of the pyrotechnics, the party staggered back into the ruins to hunker down and wait for the real ambush.
Uthal's take on things
DM Notes: This was a long fight, 8 rounds, that took several hours of real time, pretty much the whole session. These kinds of encounters are very different from a solo encounter like a dragon - this was more similar to the early early fight against the other adventuring party (outside the tavern) in that this enemy group had defender-types who could tie up an opponent while the 3 striker/controller types in the back could unload freely. This kept the barbarian and especially the fighter from closing on them and locking them down until the very end of the fight. Of course, with a wizard, a warlock, and an invoker, not to mention the bard, the team does not lack for ranged blasting abilities of their own - it was just a different kind of fight.
One interesting part of this encounter was that the party was reluctant to use their daily powers because they knew their true quarry was coming along soon and they knew that would be a tough fight, possibly tougher than this one. Once the hurt started coming in though, they did go ahead and use their big guns. Then of course they spent a week of real time worrying about whether they would have time to rest before the next fight. There has been some discussion about players who go 1 encounter, nova off all of their powers, then retreat to safety before starting the next encounter. There are several ways around this, as shown here, and they mainly involve the concept that the players do not always get to decide when they will take their next extended rest, the DM does. Now they can certainly try to take one, but the monsters don't always stay in their holes and wait to be attacked - sometimes they come after you. Other times an entirely different set of monsters stumbles over you and screws things up. There's just no telling the future at 100% accuracy, even in D&D 4.