Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
 
The Favorites of Selune - Gardmore Abbey - Session 17

In the previous session the Favorites of Selune cleansed the main temple of Gardmore Abbey, and learned how the Deck of Many Things had caused the downfall of the abbey 150 years ago. They had killed most of the gnolls in the vaults, which left only the gnolls' rivals, the minotaurs, plus a big bronze door behind which the party suspects a dragon.

Entering the room of the minotaurs the heroes found them to be not immediately hostile. The minotaurs seemed quite amused by the fact that the party had killed their rivals, the gnolls. They freely gave the group information about the layout of the vaults, and confirmed the presence of a dragon. The other unexplored room contained the mysterious new chief who had united the rival tribes of minotaur and gnoll and stopped them from fighting. The rogue suggested they might go and kill that chieftain, and the minotaurs agreed to help under the condition that they would leave the minotaur bodyguard of the chief alive and only kill the chief and the remaining gnolls. But something didn't feel right about that offer (intuition check), and the group wisely declined. Apart from "cleaning the dungeon" they actually didn't have a reason to fight the minotaurs and the gnoll/minotaur chief, and so they decided to leave instead.

Using the other entrance to the vaults they returned to the bronze door and the dragon's den. They had been told that the dragon was too fat to leave his den, and that his kobold minions were digging a tunnel for him to the outside. On opening the door they found that the kobold and the tunnel was true, but the young red dragon was not so fat after all. Fortunately the dragon was asleep. As usual the heroes stayed outside the room and started firing at the kobolds. The kobold shaman started praying to Mekkalath, the dragon, besieging him to wake up and slay their foes. So the warlock decided to cast an area spell centered on the kobold shaman to stop him from waking the dragon, but that area included the dragon. So the damage from that spell woke up the dragon earlier than the kobolds would have managed. Oooops!

At first the usual battle tactics of the group worked: The warrior and the rogue tanked at the door, while the others launched spells and arrows from behind. But the door was 4 squares wide, and the kobolds opened then second half of the bronze door so that all 4 squares were accessible. And when the wizard cast a stinking cloud on the dragon and kobolds, they started to push into the room where the group was. The group killed all the 1 hitpoint minions, but only one of the four kobold defenders. And in spite of me giving them too much information about how the kobold shaman was healing and buffing the dragon, they also didn't attack the shaman, but concentrated their fire on the dragon. Unfortunately the dragon had a huge amount of health, so that wasn't the best tactics.

The dragon also turned out to be scarier than I had thought. Monsters in 4E have the same sort of at-will and encounter powers as player characters, but they also have a kind of attack with a different cooldown that players don't get: Recharge powers; those are encounter powers with a probability to recharge each round. The red dragon's fire breath recharges on rolling either a 5 or a 6 on a d6 at the start of each round. So as luck would have it, the dragon got to use his breath weapon twice in two subsequent rounds, catching 3 players each time. He also managed to grab the dwarven warrior in his mouth with a bite attack. The dwarf had found a dragonlance earlier in the abbey, which reduced all dragon damage by 5 points. But with the dwarf in his mouth and the rogue pushed aside by the kobolds the dragon was free to storm into the room with the casters. The wizard panicked and tried to run away, getting knocked down in the process by a tail swipe from the dragon, but then using an action point to get up and flee towards the stairs.

Unfortunately we had started the session rather late, and we had to stop at that point. Stopping a session in the middle of a fight is annoying, as one has to write down all positions and effects. But with the tactical situation now being much less favorable and the dragon not even bloodied yet, maybe the group needs some time to think how to continue that fight.

Comments:
Tobold, notwithstanding the 'dice fudging' policy position you have outlined above, are you going to prevent the possible TPK that seems to be brewing?

I know TPK's should be possible if the mistakes are egregious enough - interested in whether you think 'not killing the healer' plus the wizard's desertion qualify as that?
 
I do like my players worrying about the fight going badly, but in reality a TPK isn't all that probable in 4E. The players still have lots of healing options left, including an item that heals the first player dropping to 0 health.

Ultimately I'd react to a TPK with some Deux Ex Machina story device, unless I actually wanted to end the campaign.
 
Sounds fair. Was the main healer hit with the dragon special?

Is that healing item one of the cards? And if it is, are the players aware of that?
 
I distributed the cards randomly at the start of the adventure, and the players haven't found the healing card yet. But they do have other magic items and powers that heal, and they know them.
 
Thanks for sharing!

I'm looking at TPK situation in my Gardmore Abbey run as well. After the battle of the watchtower one of my PCs (dragonborn/evil aligned) decided to broker a truce with the dragon while the other PCs were looting the Keep where the orc chieftain had resided.

Lord Padraig and Sir Oakley have been involved in a power struggle the entire game with Oakley being the secret collector. Last the party heard Sir Oakley had returned south to bring news of Lord Padraig's conquest of the Abbey.

Perhaps Mekkalath will spare their lives long enough for Sir Oakley to return with a cadre of knights and liberate them....

We shall see! :D
 
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