DnD Encounters ran on Wednesday evening at The Gaming Goat and a good time was had by all. The regulars were present per usual, Anthony joined us as a first-timer, plus we had several of our part-timers join us this week, so with eleven people present the decision was made to split the group into two parts. After a brief discussion to ensure the two groups had an appropriate split of character types a night of double barreled fun was ensured. After the usual set-up with maps and miniature selection the two DM's (Jack and Steve) began to read through the adventure set-up, often in unison.
It had been two months since the razing of Inverness. Brother Splintershield's dream of establishing a new town had been burnt to the ground by Salazar Vladistone and his ghostly henchmen, and the villages and party members had been forced to trudge back to Hammerfast to ride out the winter. The first few weeks found everyone adjusting back to life in Hammerfast, whether it be helping to build up the towns defenses or more mundane day-to-day efforts. Splintershield had left town to further recuperate at a Temple of Moradin elsewhere, and Faldyra had been working furiously in the library looking for an answer to Vladistone and his ghostly minions.
After a few weeks back in Hammerfast the rumors began to swirl about Vladistone. The party had defeated Vladistone back at Castle Inverness, but his death only appeared to have made him stronger. The stories told that Vladistone was currently roaming the Nentir Vale to raise an invincible ghost army, and that he was currently headed towards Hammerfast. The current town of Hammerfast had been built upon the ruins of an ancient Dwaren settlement that had been destroyed and served as the burial ground for thousands of dwarves, orcs and goblins. It was not unusual for the residents of Hammerfast to see ghosts floating harmlessly around the town, but if Vladistone could successfully reach the town who knew what kind of influence he might have over the formerly friendly specters.
Early one morning one of the guards on the wall gave the alarm. From the early morning mists emerged a ghostly army, lead by their commander, Salazar Vladistone. Vladistone bellowed at the city, demanding that the leaders of Hammerfast, the Highmaster and the Lady of Gold, allow him to extract his revenge for the injustice that had befallen him. The Dwarves of Hammerfast, using the elements of Dwarven tact that we have all come to know and expect, politely told Vladistone where he could stuff his request.
Enraged, Vladistone spat, "I warned you. I gave you a chance. Now you will pay the price." and his army began their attack. Just as the attack commenced a runner found the members of the party with a message from Lady Faldyra, saying, "Please come to the library. The lady believes she has found an answer for defeating Vladistone." Given the size of the ghostly army arrayed outside Hammerfast's walls the party decided Faldyra was more likely to have come up with a better solution to this problem, so off they ran.
Salazar's presence outside the city was already having an effect on the ghosts living inside Hammerfast. Many ghosts began to unnaturally rise from their resting places and the party was forced to attempt to dodge as many of them as they could on their way to the library. As the party ran past the plaza area in front of the temple five ghostly warrions arrayed themselves in front of the party, allowing no further anvance without a fight. The ghosts, two dwarves and three goblins, began their advance towards the party, so the brave paladin ran forward and began with a series of sharp blows. Unfortunately the brave - but maybe not so smart - paladin found himself fighting four ghosts at once and almost immediately found himself unconscious.
The remainder of the party stepped up with their attacks, and the rogue was able to sneak through to the paladin with a Potion of Health. With the party now back in tact, they began the process of hewing down these ghostly warriors. As the battle continued, the party noticed several things. First of all, the ghosts seemed to be struggling against themselves, as if whatever had called them to fight had overpowered their natural instincts. The party wondered if they could avoid actually killing a ghost, maybe only maim it, if perhaps the spell would be broken.
Secondly, the party had a terrible night for rolling attacks. Our ranger had performed as a dependable source of long range damage for several months now but tonight was mostly frustrated as his arrows went for naught. In fact the other table was already wrapping up at about this point. The ghosts were insubstantial so damage was halved, but no damage was still no damage.
Finally the party's luck began to change. The first ghost was knocked unconscious (i.e., not killed), and after a turn the ghost arose and began to fight with the party. The magic user finally fired a magic missile and as usual it's force damage was not halved, but it also forced the ghosts to stay in a substantial form for a turn. As individual ghosts began to turn substantial the party ganged up on them, and as they became unconscious they too revived and began to fight for the party.
With the battle finally tilting in the direction of the party the paladin used his healing power to revive the fighter and then charged and destroyed a ghost threatening the magic user. The rogue cleverly kept his combat advantage over the ghost as he attacked and did his damage, and even our ranger, frustrated with his lack of success with his bow, drew his sword and entered the fray.
As the last of the ghosts died or drifted away the plaza in front of the temple was again quiet, but the party knew they still had to get to the library and to Faldyra. A quick look around resulted in two additional Potions of Healing being found, and after a short rest the party was on their way again.
One more note: Those of us that have attended all nine sessions so far have reached enough XP to get promoted to Level 3.