Monday, January 10, 2011

Return to the Ruins of Adventure - Session 13:

Our heroes:

Mikal, Level 3 Human Infernal-Pact Warlock
Althea, Level 3 Eladrin Wizard
Uthal, Level 3 Goliath Barbarian
Jovanni, Level 3 Half-Elf Bard
Kordan, Level 3 Human Fighter

Hiding in the ruins for the night after the battle with the Zhentarim the party rested their bodies and refocused their will on the upcoming ambush. Their preparations were complete and they expected to begin combat sometime before dawn. Soon enough, the slightly muffled tramp of booted feet can be heard approaching. Peeking out of their positions, the heroes take in the sight.

The hulking form of an Ogre leads a small procession. Behind him a half-orc in black plate armor carrying a shield and a massive flail appears to be the leader of the band. He is accompanied by another half-orc in chainmail and bearing a shield with the symbol of Bane and carrying a mace. Five orcs escort them with heavy armor, shield, and battle axe while hovering over them is a flaming green skull that darts back and forth, scanning the ruins. It looks like a tough bunch, and a hard fight.

(DM Note - it was. This was the longest fight of our 4E campaign at 14 rounds)

With their extra preparation time the party achieves surprise and opens up with ranged attacks and some repositioning. The Ogre is the primary target and he roars in pain.

After the initial surprise though, fate turns against the party as almost all of their attacks go wide or are deflected by the now alerted Banites. The Flameskull moves into optimum position and begins flaming party members, eventually dueling at range with the wizard. Kardon the fighter has to fight through the orcs to engage and slays two of them as he does so. The cleric becomes a target after firing off a nasty spell and he goes down quickly. Mikal the warlock concentrates on the Ogre until his infernal feedback loop (Hellish Rebuke) takes down the Ogre when the Flameskull blasts him and this turns the tide. Uthal the Barbarian fights through orcs as well and engages the half-orcs but is hit by a spell and has trouble shaking it off. The fighter keeps the Banites busy until he can shake it off and then things thin out quickly.

In the end, the Half-Orc Hand of Bane stands through it all with the flaming green skull keeping overwatch near him as he duels the barbarian and the fighter. Both of them take beatings from the leader but he is eventually overwhelmed and falls. the flameskull takes one last shot, nearly killing the bard, then turns to run but the barbarian finally lands a hit on it and shatters it forever.

While the rest of the party catches their breath Kordan searches the bodies and eventually finds a large sack on the leader. He opens it and finds the armor rolled up inside.He unrolls the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd as sunlight shines down and dramatic music swells in the background, and realizes his destiny is now set.

That's when he hears a small voice call out to him from the ruins

"Well I thought we might have been too late to the party but I see you've saved us some trouble.  Now hand over the armor and we'll let you live."

The party glances around and notices a lot of heads popping up in the ruins. Small heads. They appear to be surrounded by halflings, and they wear the colors of the Fire Knives.

Uthal Commentary

DM Notes: This was a session-long combat, our longest by far, but it was pretty dynamic with a lot of movement back and forth, ranged attacks, and some minions that actually survived more than 5 rounds. The warlock, the wizard, and the bard all took pretty good beatings too, which is unusual. Even a single tough fighter type, assisted by a buffing buddy and a ranged combatant and some minions to hold off the concentration of fire, can be a challenge for the party.

Round 2 saw an almost 100% miss rate by the party so Round 3 saw 3 action points being burned which helped turn things back the cleric was killed by this extra effort. After that there was some effort to focus fire on one target but it was not totally successful as even if 2 or 3 characters focus on one target it's rare for the entire party to do it on one. This will be a theme that shows up in future summaries too.

This was a level 8 encounter, 5 levels over the party, and they handled it - it was tough, but no one died and they did slaughter all opposition. I think same-level encounters may be too easy for them (and I haven't done many of those after 1st level) but I am encouraged that a +5 encounter was something they could handle. This gives me more options down the road in terms of opposition.

It was long and it was tough but I think everyone was happy with it. I thought the nastiness of it served as a pretty good test to acquire the armor but I didn't want them to just walk away with it, so another group has been watching and plans to move in now to seize the prize while they are (theoretically) weakened.  The party was concerned but not afraid. More next time.

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