Field Report: Week 14 The Dragon Returns.

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Well, we only had 7 players this week and my primary DM (the store organizer) ran. I decided to play instead of go home with a half-orc scout I specced for killing large monsters. We killed the Dragon in the top of the second round when the Half-orc slayer who went first hit it again. The DM doesn't read these threads so he just let the Dragon take a standard action on its Instinctive rampage (including breathe). It was ugly. Most of the fight, the dragon was dazed, immobilized, prone, -2 to all attacks and defenses (my Hellfire and Brimstone), -7 to attack anyone but the Knight (aura and Glowering Threat).
It was a large letdown for me. And before anyone assumes anything, it had nothing to do with the story or encounter.

If you've been reading these field reports, you know I've been running a set table of dwarves since the first session. Only one missed night as a group and a couple floaters came in every now and then. After the epic end point they had last session, I had only one of the dwarves return. One had work, he was the ride for another, two others (dating) were busy with family, and one other was MIA (probably working). So we ended up with one sentinel who has been playing half the season, a dwarf hunter (the only original), and two new players. I was incredibly bummed out that our epic season and storyline ended in such a manner.

As for the fight itself - the sentinel had missed last session so we played it out thus... The hunter (being one of the three who wanted to kill Seldra) took a careful shot and finally felled the careless traitor. As the arrow pierced her heart, she cast off one final spell teleporting all the other dwarves away (destination unknown). The hunter quickly cried out to the crowd looking for allies to support him in his quest to protect the people of the city from the dragon. Three rough adventurers stepped forward, drawn by the sound of fighting and spells to quickly throw in their abilities. It was pretty solid running, not too much to mention. The pregen Fargrim rolled a one on his charge, rerolled it with the twitter buff and turned it into a crit then rolled an 11 on the bonus die and added his power attack for a solid 41 points of damage. The pregen Kiera rolled a 4, used his reroll twitter for a 1, then elven reroll for a 9. It was a fantastically failed attack. The hunter twice got rampaged on while he was standing in the alley (the exact same spot, five turns later) and got locked into taking fire damage to escape the alley. The sentinel did pretty good until she decided to pick up the crown and get dominated at the last round, becoming easy fodder for the dragon as she killed Fargrim.

A fantastic story and season thanks to Erik, but a gigantic letdown due to real life issues on the last session.
So, for some extra fun, I borrowed my friend's Huge White Dragon. It looked badass on the battlemap, and properly intimidated my players.

Had 4 players:
- Dragonborn Knight
- Human Scout
- Dragonborn Warlord
- Human? Sentinel

The battle was freewheeling madness. The Dragon's instinctive action meant lots of rolls and yet combat was surprisingly short. The party all survived, but it was really close. If I'd wanted to TPK, all I needed to do was use the Dragon's breath weapon to knock out the Sentinel (had 2 hitpoints) and possibly the Knight. The Warlord and Scout were both unconscious when the Sentinel got up resummoned her wolf and used both of her Combined attacks to finish off the wounded Dragon. Yay for campaign winning action points. Seldra valiantly sacrificed herself to save the warlord, but the Dragon's next rampage knocked out the Warlord. The Scout got taken out when he charged the Dragon and got tail smacked into the air.

Monster Vault Dragons are so much better than MM1 Dragons. 
Fun Final week. I blogged a review & actual play [including the PvP Final Showdown for the Title of Neverwinter Champion] . 
Doubled the dragon's HP for 7 players- there was some confusion when I plopped two dragon minis in the initiative-count lineup (I use the reward initiative cards, which allows status tracking as well). The huge white mini from the first appearance was no surprise, however.

The dragon provided a harrowing (and royally pissed) enemy, who recognized a certain seeker as looking very much like a bard who had insulted him prior to being turned into a statue. However, due to much cowering away from the party on the seeker's part, Sir Dragon didn't get many shots at him. The battle ended with 2 PCs near death, including one player who picked up my shifter warden, more bloodied, and the one leader's healing exhausted as of the third round.

But as the dragon used his death throes to dive for that "blasted bard", his nose resting a hair's bredth from our seeker, the seeker made a nearly fatal error. He began to gloat and pulled out an arrow and stabbed it in the dragon's eye, which triggered the curse from the Crown he had picked up earlier. The fell power flowed into him, and he was overwhelmed by it as he had been by the crown, and promptly began to try and kill Seldra, who had regained consciousness shortly before the dragon's demise.

Even after being nearly burned alive by rogue fire elementals last session, it still proved an impossible task for the seeker to hit her (as was the case with the dragon). Most of the party, already doubting his loyalty as a newcomer and chaffing under his abrasive manner, was fully prepared to Kill Him Dead. But the wizard put him to sleep instead. 

Seldra had been tackled and kept safe during this, though, so she didn't know that he was better until he regained his mouthy mannerisms and she'd nearly beat him unconscious again with her sword hilt Laughing

All in all, a memorable session, even if I was barely conscious enough to run it. Apparently our next party is going to be based off of the A-Team, including "the guy who hires them" and "the Team's van". 
My party made short work of the dragon, killing it in the second round, after it failed its saving throw versus the mage's Sleep spell.
RS: 60/60 CS: 60/60 RotS: 60/60 U:60/60 CotF: 60/60 BH: 60/60 A&E: 51/60 TFU: 53/60 LotF: 37/60 KotOR: 37/60 CW: 26/40 IE: 31/40 JA: 17/40 G@W: 7/40 DT: 7/40 Good trades with: Lily_Wan, creme_brule, suki_jedi_apprentice, Ephant_Mon
My party made short work of the dragon, killing it in the second round, after it failed its saving throw versus the mage's Sleep spell.

Solos have +5 to Saving Throws and it failed two in succession?  Surprised  I would have fudged that, if I were the DM, because it was supposed to the epic fight of the entire season.
My party made short work of the dragon, killing it in the second round, after it failed its saving throw versus the mage's Sleep spell.

Solos have +5 to Saving Throws and it failed two in succession?    I would have fudged that, if I were the DM, because it was supposed to the epic fight of the entire season.



He failed the first one that actually put the dragon to sleep with a 2 on the die, if I remember correctly. Plus, he only rolled the save on one of the dragon's two initiatives. Should he have gotten to save on both?

He also doesn't roll behind a screen (his preference). 
RS: 60/60 CS: 60/60 RotS: 60/60 U:60/60 CotF: 60/60 BH: 60/60 A&E: 51/60 TFU: 53/60 LotF: 37/60 KotOR: 37/60 CW: 26/40 IE: 31/40 JA: 17/40 G@W: 7/40 DT: 7/40 Good trades with: Lily_Wan, creme_brule, suki_jedi_apprentice, Ephant_Mon
No one showed up for Wednesday night session again, which was disappointing to say the least, but we had 4 show up last night. One of the players, the one who grabbed and put on the crown last session, was not there, so I played it out for them, swinging madly at Seldra. Thankfully, the mage was able to Suggest they remove it, which they did with some confusion.

The dragon used its Breath weapon at once, but couldn't seem to recharge it until the very end, which was wholly disappointing.  On the second round, the dragon flew past everyone, missing Seldra entirely before massively striking the fighter of the party. Enter Seldra's sacrificial action. I tried to guage the players and the characters reactions, and after they expressed their grief at her death and gratitude to her sacrifice, I figured it fitting to throw them a +1 to attacks for the rest of the encounter. They don't use the Twitter buffs, though I record them every week, so figured why not?

Due to the fact that the players kept slowing the dragon, its charge was hardly worth it, though it did end up getting some good swipes in as it passed and dropped the PC-turned-NPC, as well as the healer after the burst from being bloodied. It was a hard fought match, but they came out victorious with two characters still standing, though in bad shape.

I went through what happened next, remeeting Neverember and getting their reward, but lo and behold, a soldier arrives saying that after searching the marketplace where the battle was fought, no one has been able to find the Crown! Real or fake, it was too powerful to fall into sinister hands. Eye witnesses claim they saw a man in red absond with it, but no one can agree as to which direction. Sequel or not, I just like ending with that little hanging thread =)
Yeah, Sleep is pretty much a "pwn you, solo!" power. While it is unlikely the dragon would fail two saves in a row with the big bonus to saves, it's still possible.

D&D is just a very swingy game, and while 4e has done a lot to whittle the random/unpredictability of it away, there are still those freak occurences that steal the drama from any given situation. In such cases, it's up to the DM to manipulate the system on the fly (or not do so) in order to optimize the play experience.

Cheers
Aye, the mage tried to do that with the dragon last night (forgot to put that...) and it saved remarkably with a Nat 15. Honestly, I was sad it didn't work. It would have been a good Moment of Greatness. It's not like it would have killed the dragon with coup de grace, just whittled it down a lot.
We had 6 players out of the 10 I was expecting but I still buffed the dragon's HP to 180% of original and used all the new powers.

I started with the adult Gray dragon on the board - because he was stone.
When he broke free I switched to the new White Dragon from the Collector's set - which drew an oooo even from my old time players who hadn't seen it yet.
I put hanging slips of paper with the monsters and PC names on my DM screen in init order and due to some amazingly bad init rolls I had Dragon Moves! at the beginning and Dragon Attacks! in 4th place.
At the end of the first round I put Dragon Grows! at the end and replaced the Dragon with Aspect of Bahamut.
At the end of the second round with the dragon not quite bloodied he was replaced with Icingdeath.
Those increases in size made his fire-trail lots of fun!

Right before the fight started the Dargonborn Paladin (with the Spellscarred Harbinger background) picked up the crown and chucked it into the water, but not before getting possessed. He didn't roll above a 6 on any of his anti-domination saving throws. He was bloodied on the 2nd round and then killed Seldra and attacked the Cleric who had the Neverwinter Noble background. At one point there were 3 of the PCs underneath the Dragon and I forgot my camera too

The final count was 1 dead cleric (past negative bloodied), 1 dead paladin, 1 dead fighter and the other 4 were all in the single digits and seven happy players - all very excited about the next season.
They are discussing the possibility of an all pixie group

Thanks for the ideas Erik!
Since I had 8 players at my table, I used an augmented version of the stat block I posted in the other thread, doubling the dragon's hit points, and adding in a few more things that Erik suggested. I used my Dracolich miniature so that it would be Huge instead of Large.

The dragon rampaged to start, knocking the Bladesinger and Seldra prone. The first few PCs got their hits in, with the bladesinger having to crawl over to the dragon to hit it, then it breathed on a few of them, Seldra included (although he missed her). I got good use out of Tail Slap as the PCs moved in to flank the dragon, although it's a shame that it's an immediate action, and the dragon can only do it once per round. The mage used a power that dazed the dragon, but as soon as he ended his turn, I was able to roll a save vs it (due to Erik's "Spellplague Purification" power) and the dragon shrugged it off.

It rampaged again at the top of the round, hitting the bladesinger again and the swordmage. The hunter knocked it prone, and it spent a round granting combat advantage, which the scoundrel took advantage of to deal a lot of damage by jumping off the roof of one of the buildings onto it. 

It rampaged again, regardless of being prone. There was some small objection to this at the table, but other players immediately chimed in with "It's a solo. It's supposed to be able to do remarkable things." I'm glad that some got the concept, but I did have to reinforce that idea from the DM chair.

"One problem with solo monsters is that everyone suddenly throws all of their status effects onto it, and even with the saving throw afforded to it on its turn, it is typically denied the ability to fight back effectively, and the fight changes from an exciting battle with everyone on the edge of their seats to a hum-drum arithmetic exercise involving the subtraction of random numbers generated by the players, in initiative sequence. One could even wonder why such a monster, even those with limited intelligence, would bother setting foot outside their lairs, because all they have to do to guarantee a powerless, pathetic end to their existance is come within 100 feet of a group of player characters."

The hunter then immobilzed it for a couple of turns, but it saved vs that before its turn came up. And there were further attempt to daze it, but I was fairly lucky with the saving throws. The group finally bloodied it on round 4 or 5, and it set off Blue Fire Burst, scorching a few of them. I believe I crit'd the Bladesinger. The reaction of the guy playing the Ranger, sitting just to my left, who could see behind the DM screen, was priceless. Shortly before, I'd questioned how the bladesinger was doing such massive amounts of damage (I'll need to look at the class, but seeing it in play, without examining it closely, it seems awfully broken), so the Ranger's player laughed out loud and shouted "That's what you get for pissing off the DM!!". I just shrugged, but it was pretty funny. 

After it was bloodied, I started rolling fairly poorly for attacks and saves, so it was just a game of whittling down its hit points after that. One of the turning points was the Warlock conjuring a "Malicious Shadow" (just realized that was from Heroes of Shadow, and not technically legal for this season, but oh well), which did 10 damage and immobilized the dragon each time it tried to rampage after it was bloodied. That was a very successful use of the power, and locked the dragon down against rampaging. I had the conjuration get caught in its next breath weapon and be destroyed, although I don't think that the conjuration would be effected in this case, now that I have a chance to look it up, but the player thought it was reasonable.

The dragon fell to the wizard, who fired off a spell that did 15 points damage when it only had 14 hit points left. 

Victory was proclaimed, and everyone thought it was a great fight!
Cool, SM!

Yes, because the dragon's rampage attacks all creatures it comes into contact with during its move, it's reasonable to have it attack the conjuration as well. That way, at least it's rolling to hit the thing. If it were just a "does damage to everything within 10," then the conjuration would be unaffected.

At least that's how I rule on the subject. Conjurations are a little bit wacky, so you'd need to use your own best judgment.

Cheers
When I played on Wednesday, we had a LOT of party in-fighting. Three of us had the Noble background, and 3 of us had touched the crown. I started with the crown on my head, so we spent about 3 rounds fighting amongst ourselves. Nobody died, largely because we were a party of leaders plus a controller. It was less satisfying in general, but we did all right and finished the season off well.

Yesterday was our catch up day. We run an LFR game every other Sunday, and we've run a catch up session after each chapter ends so people can play any missing encounters. I had missed a week (!), so wanted to play session 11 (the double encounter) with my warlord, and encounter 13 with my swordmage (who I hadn't played last week). We only had 3 players: VileSin (playing his eladrin bladesinger), me (human warlord and "eladrin" swordmage), and our DM's brother (visiting from out of town), playing a 3rd level bard.
[spoiler]
The double encounter was pretty fun, and we barrelled ahead without the short rest. My warlord did her lazy thing with initiative, which was cool and appreciated by most.  The bard used taunting words to enrage one of the grunts-- who then critted on him and one-shotted him to below 0. My warlord was out of inspiring words for him, but came over and poured a healing potion down his throat. He felt better after that... Which was good, cause a minion took my warlord to -2.... grrr! The DM's comment: "The minion levels up!"

We took a longish short rest and used comrade's succor to move surges around, because the bard was down to 2 surges and we knew time was a pressure (a little meta, but we could justify it).

Now, my "eladrin" swordmage, Naya, has some interesting RP. She's my secondary character-- I don't track renown for her, and basically made her so we'd have enough players for all the tables. She's a changeling. The swordmage pairs well with the bladesinger, so she usually hangs out with VileSin's bladesinger, Aramil. At least, she did until the sewer encounter, mid-season.

See, that day she changed her face to look like a Dead Rat and bluff their way past the portcullis. Except she rolled a 1 on her bluff check to change back to looking like an eladrin. And the PCs saw it. "Oh my god! What did you just do!" The horror and disgust (and keep in mind, these are people who just scraped gooey tentacles off themselves) was palpable and well role-played. Ever since then, Aramil has had a revulsion towards Naya, who really just wants to be friends with him! After all, they're both eladrin and spellscarred-- the fact her spellscar makes it so she changes her face is really immaterial, right?

Naya believes it's her spellscar giving her the changeling abilities, and that the teleport (which is actually her spellscar effect) is her eladrin fey step. She really thinks she's an eladrin, and is confused by Aramil's insistence that she's not.

Anyway, the party arrives at the marketplace (Naya had fought the dragon before), and we said that somewhere between one fight and the next, the warlord was replaced. Suddenly, the warlord shifts form and is actually Naya, and Aramil freaks out! Much fun RP was had by all.

They fight Seldra, defeating her, and in the short rest where they can question her, Naya's only question is "you know about spellscars? Tell him that my spellscar makes it so I can do this" and woojie'd her face. Seldra's reaction was similar to Aramil's, and Naya's confidence was shaken by the realization that her whole life may be a lie.

The dragon wakes, we fight it. The bard takes the crown but overcomes his domination quickly. Naya finishes that fight much the way she did the first time she fought the dragon-- almost out of hit points and teleporting the dragon around the battlefield so it can be pushed around, slowed, and knocked down by Aramil. Seldra survived the battle-- amazing!

I want to keep playing Naya in our LFR campaign, but only if VileSin keeps playing Aramil. Aramil is 4th level, while Naya is 3rd, but she'll totally tag along after him until she figures out this whole spellscar thing.

We're looking forward to next season. The all-pixie table is getting munged up by me wanting to play a goblin... who thinks it's a pixie.... ;)