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Merwin, Elf Sorcerer (Angelic)
Sir Scruffy, Human Paladin of Iomeda
Unnamed Dwarf Monk
Weasel, Goblin Cleric of Sarenrae
ARRIVAL AT THE TEMPLE
The PCs found the hidden cache in the study, and learned about the magical properties of the stain glass window and the altar. Despite hints that the window appeared fragile, they immediately cast light on it, so it only negated the resistances of the Slaver Demons, of which they had none.
Event 1: Slaver Demons
The slaver demons showed up as indicated (each 10-20 feet from a PC). As their tactics indicate, the started with Enslave Soul, then cast Haste (2 actions). With their Quick action, they closed for melee, but were unable to attack (the stated tactics should have had the demons cast Haste before Dimension Dooring in, or arrived adjacent to a PC and attacked without “charging”). The PCs started burning through their attack spells (such as the goblin cleric casting their 6th-level fireball). A question arose as to whether or not the monk could be disarmed of their fistwraps, which I ruled they could not since it was a Worn item, not Held. The paladin was disarmed of his sword, but he spent an action to pick it up. Since the Slaver Demon had already used its reaction to Disarm it, he could not capitalize with an Attack of Opportunity.
Event 2: Treachery Demons
The treachery demons arrived. The PCs had bundled up close to the stairs and were all hit with a reverse gravity. The spell description lists that they can fall upward a max of 40 feet, but the adventure clearly states that they fall 50 feet up and hit the ceiling. I went with the 50 feet and all PCs took 25 damage (except the Monk who only took 10 thanks to Catfall). If the intent is to limit Reverse Gravity to 40 feet, they should hit a force wall at that height at take 20 falling damage, rather than no damage as written, as it makes physical sense given how the spell works. Since the demons lacked ranged attacks, they then Dimension Doored onto the ceiling and engaged in melee with their pincers and claws. The sorcerer attempted to cutoff the treachery demon with a Blade Barrier, but a Dispel Magic took it out (this would be a recurring theme), and he was knocked down to the Dying condition. The goblin cleric used the reroll from an altar on a missed Searing Light but still missed.
Note, Sir Scruffy's player could not make this fight, so his PC was run by Merwin's player.
Event 3: Ooze Demon and Blood Demons
The reverse gravity spell was still in effect from the previous fight (do spells end if the caster dies, or do they still last their full duration). As the Blood Demons approached from the south, the sorcerer once again attempted a Blade Barrier, but a natural 20 on a Dispel Magic check dismissed it once more (poor sorcerer). The blood demons Dimensioned Doored onto the ceiling and engaged in melee, and the Ooze Demon revealed itself with a Stinking Cloud and ranged attacks (although it failed to trap any with its Slime Trap ability). The Stinking Cloud both helped and hindered the Blood Demons, as they could use the concealment to Sneak and trigger their abilities, but as they are not immune to Poison, they were afflicted with Slow and Sick at this point. In the middle of the fight, the Reverse Gravity terminated, dropping all to the ground. I was unsure how this would affect the Stinking Cloud, but ruled that it fell with them. The Monk once again reduced damage with Catfall, and the Angelic Sorcerer avoided falling due to Angelic Wings. The paladin’s blade took one dent from the Slime Demon’s Protective Slime (it might have been more because I believe I forgot to have him roll the save a few times). Once the PCs were on the ground, the Slime Demon closed for melee, but was unable to cast Cloudkill (3 actions; it had 2 after moving). It instead Struck and Grabbed the Monk, but was unable to use Smother as it was out of actions. The Slime Demon did not survive until its next turn to use either of these abilities.
1 HOUR INTERLUDE
The party healed using Treat Wounds. The cleric rolled a natural 1 on his first attempt, so he was unable to assist. The paladin and sorcerer were able to pick up the slack and get everyone up to max save the goblin cleric who was 2 hp short. The paladin also used Quick Repair to remove the dent in his bastard sword. I noted the sun was setting, so the cleric and sorcerer cast light on the paladin’s bastard sword as well as one of his arrows.
Event 4: Dread Wraiths
The dread wraiths rolled poorly on their initiative, so the party was able to act before they could. The paladin and monk attempted to bottleneck them at one of the holes in the temple wall, but being incorporeal, they were able to circumvent them. The PCs then clustered up and the dread wraiths surrounded all four PCs. However, their Draining Presence was completely unaffected on the party, even with each PC needing to roll 4 saves. Initially, I thought the party might have more difficulty with this fight between the Wraiths Resistance and the fact that they healed 10 HP every time they hit (or was it the intent that they only gained HP on a successful Drain Life). The cleric attempted to use a heightened Spiritual Weapon, but his attempt was foiled by an Attack of Opportunity The sorcerer cast Death Ward on himself, which was really effective against the Wraiths (as it should be, naturally). I failed to inflect a single point of Drain as the Dread Wraiths had a difficult time hitting the PCs and they consistently made the save against Drain Life. As the PCs began using positive energy attacks (plus scoring a few critical hits to overpower their resistances), the dread wraiths fell.
Couple points of confusion came up. First, I assume the resistance applies to each type of damage separately, so the paladin’s +2 cold iron holy shock bastard sword would deal 3d8+5 physical damage reduced by 10 , then 1d6 electricity damage reduced by 10 (or 0) and 1d6 good damage reduced by 10 (also 0). Second, I assume the 1d6 electricity and 1d6 good damage do not multiply on critical hits. I will review the rules for Runes to make sure this is the correct interpretation and things have not changed here since first edition.
Event 5: Lich and Ghost Magi
As per the rules, the Lich started with Flame Shield, Fly, and Mirror Image. The Ghost Magi as written would have precast Resist Energy, but they (A) did not have the spell and (B) even if they did, it would not benefit them more than their natural resistance to all energy attacks.
The Lich won initiative, and started things by flying into the temple with a Chain Lightning. The goblin cleric deduced that he had a Fly spell (in hindsight I should have made him roll an Arcana check on this) and successfully used Dispel Magic to send the Lich to the ground, allowing the monk to get in his face with his magical bludgeoning unarmed attacks, and with some Ranged Strikes from his allies, swiftly took out his mirror images as well as clocking the lich once himself on a critical hit. The ghost magi circled around and unleashed their Frightful Moan, which along with the Lich’s Frightful Presence had a minimal effect on the party as they all rolled well on their saves. The ghost magi caught the PCs in a perfect crossfire for their Cone of Colds (using the three action variant to extend the range). The Lich attempted to coerce the Sorcerer to his side with a Dominate, but another successful save negated the attempt. The Lich then cast Vampiric Exsanguination to damage the party and heal himself (I assume undead heal from this spell as normally, even with Negative Healing), and then struck the monk with his Paralyzing Touch, but again another successful save negated the effect. The ghost magi both cast and failed with their Phantasmal Killer spells. The Lich the succumbed to the monk’s attacks before he could dip into his Staff of Fire or his 5th level spells. The Flame Shield was completely ineffective as the party (in particular the Monk since he was the only one to attack the Lich) went all in on Rings of Fire Resistance during character generation. The Ghost Magi then cast Blindness, with the Paladin failing his save and becoming Blinded for 1 minutes (which will continue into the next event). With the Lich down, the Ghost Magi then fell back solely on their Melee Strike attacks as they did not have any other damaging options. The cleric, having exhausted his Channel ability and most or all of his prepared Heal spells, finally started using the Wand of Heal offensively on the Ghost Magi as the party wrapped up the encounter.
TO BE CONTINUED
Event 5: Demilich
The paladin started this event still blinded from the Ghost Magi. The sorcerer also still had his Circle of Protection active. Also, I only had 2 players for the conclusion as the other two could not attemnd, so each player ran 2 PCs.
At the start, 1 rolled the maximum 5 for the Risen Corpses. I would then roll minimum (2) in the 3 subsequent rounds, leaving 1 to "arrive" on the fifth round. The Demilich then opened things up with a Polar Ray on the cleric. This would have been a Critical Success on its ranged attack, but if I am understanding the rules correctly, the Polar Ray damage does not double unless it says so in the spell description (as opposed to Ray of Frost which explicitly says the damage doe double on a critical success). The sorcerer countered with a blade barrier between the temple and the graveyard, which would greatly weaken the Risen Corpses as they would move through.
In the second round, the Demilich trapped the monk with a Maze spell (there appears to be no initial save on this spell). The sorcerer then blasted four of the Risen Corpses and the Demilich with a Flame Strike, which activated the Demilich's Contingency spell, so the Demilich Dimension Doored to the opposite side of the temple. The Demilich then trapped the sorcerer with a Maze spell as well (rolled a on the recharge so it was available the next round). He then spent two actions every turn to concentrate on both Maze spells, cutting the party in half while the Risen Corpses enganged with the cleric and the paladin to soften them up. They made the occasional hit on the first Strike, but the PCs never failed their saves against their Despair Auras or against Mummy Rot. The Demilich used its remaining third action to move and position its Telekinetic Storm to further wear down the PCs during this phase of the combat.
As the Risen Corpses were almost completely defeated, the Demilich released the monk from its maze by breaking concentration and began blasting the PCs with Polar Ray and Vampiric Exsanguination. The paladin had to resort to his composite shortbow, which was not even magical (the player had chosen a magical bastard sword, armor, and the ring of energy resistance for his 3 magical items) and was largely ineffective against the Demilich. The goblin cleric did a little damage with his +2 Flaming Sling accompanied by Fire Rays. The monk used Wind Jump to leap into the air, make a Flurry of Blows, and land. The high AC of the Demilich as well concealment from the Telekinetic Storm made him a touch opponent to strike.
The sorcerer eventually escaped the Maze with a natural 20 on his Perception check. The Demilich then unleashed Wail of the Banshee on the party. The sorcerer then attempted a Spirit Blast, but had his spell reflected back at him due to Spell Turning. Another Maze spell removed the monk from the combat. The goblin had one of his Fire Rays reflected back at him and was repeatedly knocked out from the Demilich's spell as he spammed Vampiric Exsanguinations at and the occasional Polar Ray at the party. The goblin would drop 3 times, then upon dropping him a 4th time, the sorcerer cast Breath of Life to revive him. The goblin cleric attempted to hide around the corner and heal at this point, but a Cloudkill spell was positioned such that it caught him the effect. He then stuck his head back out for a Fire Ray, which the Demilich reflected back at him with Spell Turning. The next hit dropped the cleric to Dying 4 and killed him.
The sorcerer had used his Angelic Wings and cast Disrupting Weapon on his longsword to engage the Demilich in melee. The PCs also started targeting the Demilich with Heal spells, so that if the Demilich reflected them, they would heal instead of harm the PCs. The sorcerer also burned through the last of his spells, attempting to hit the Demilich with Flame Strike and Divine Wrath, though with its high saves did little or no damage. A Polar Ray eventually dropped the sorcerer, and demilich used its Trap Soul ability. Despite using the extra reroll from the altar as well as burning his 2 Hero Points on this roll, the sorcerer failed and was reduced to dust. Since the Demilich used its third action to Trap Soul instead of concentrate on Maze, the monk was returned to the battlefield. Running low on resonance points, the Demilich began using its Telekinetic Projectile cantrip, eventually using its last Resonance Point on a Polar Ray that would drop the monk for the third and final time.
That left the paladin, with a medium Dex score and his non-magical bow, and he was unable to hit the Demilich's AC 36 (plus a 20% miss chance from Concealment) all combat. Even though the Demilich was done to hits Telekinetic Projectile cantrip for offense, it was clear the paladin was not going to win, and the player's forfeited at this point.
The Demilich fight was extremely long, taking nearly 3 hours on its own and comprising nearly our entire play session. The fight lasted 21 rounds (39 rounds when added to the other Wave 2 fights), and would have lasted longer had the player's not forfeited. With its high ACs and SVs, the Demilich. The high spell DC on its spells really made it difficult for the PCs to succeed. The Monk was effectively neutralized for two long stretches of gameplay as he was not able to succeed on two Perception checks (the player even used a reroll at one point to reduce a Critical Failure to a regular Failure after previously making a Success and exiting the Maze). Coupled with the fact that their is no initial save on this spell, it was extremely effective. The Demilich also had significant defensive abilities: Telekinetic Storm provided concealment, Blink provided damage resistance to almost all damage types, and its free Countermeasure action allowing it to gain Spell Turning each round. With Fly further reducing the party's effectiveness to mount an offensive as they were lacking in spells and ranged attack options at this point in the Heroes of Undarin. The Demilich was able to survive long enough that it actually ran out of Resonance Points to use its most powerful abilities against the PCs.
After the combat, I informed the players that the intent was to see how long it would take to get a TPK in this part of Doomsday Dawn, and let them know what would have awaited them in the next wave. I got the impression some of the players suspected or guessed that this was the intent of this portion by their responses, particularly during this final fight. They were surprised to find out at their was another wave of three combat encounters to come.