Field Report Week 9: Dead Rat's Lair

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Had two tables at the Matrix again tonight. My players were uncharacteristically non-focus firing and tried to engage the Dead Rat's in a ranged duel through the portucullis (something they changed their minds on when hidden rats threw daggers at them). Two characters ended the session with Filth Fever and the warpriest finally got revive a dying ally.
I decided to have an unseen enemy (no surprises for who) trigger the hidden lever that washed the party to the next encounter instead of one of the rats, I intend for one of the rats to revive at the start of the next session for the roleplay/exposition portion of the session.
My party saw the lever. They decided that was the target. I can't figure out why. They STILL didn't trigger it until there was only one bloodied enemy left because it took them THAT long to get to it.

The paladin blew through nine healing surges (ten because of the after battle effect). He and the other dwarves also have the Tribal Feat that increases his surge value by x+number of allies with the feat. I didn't even want to count the damage he took. But the entire table has been exposed to Filth Fever now. The endurance checks will be interesting.
At my store we have advanced players who wanted the game to go further, so we are running the campaign levels 3 to 5 at my table. I leveled up the were rats and even set five players against 6 of them because they like a challenge. My players had no problem getting the gate up and were able to have a surprise round. They took out 2 of the rats during that round. The rats rolled only moderately for initiative as well, and 2 more were dropped before they even got to attack [despite me having the rats go in two groups of 3] only three attacks were even made against the PC's, and only one hit. Overall my players took a total of 7 damage, and the one player that was hit saved against the fever. Needless to say we started the next session a week early after they breezed through this one. They rolled high, I rolled low, and it was completely in their favor tonight. 

One of our regular DMs was out again, so we had two packed tables of PCs that haven't exactly been gaming with eachother all season.  I was shocked to find myself in a 'balanced' party - well, Striker-heavy, but still with one of each of the other three rolls.  We blew through the Dead Rats pretty quickly though the DM upped their numbers (to 8, IIRC), a surprise round dropped one and bloodied another, and, then the 'Rats somehow positioned themselves perfectly for a Burning Hands (between a buff and the half damage on a miss, it inflicted 80 damage spread over 6 targets - dropping 2 and bloodying several), they didn't last much longer - the one that triggered the lever was at -29hps when he did it.  The combat ended on round 3, initiative count 22.   Two PCs were exposed to the Fever, one saved.  With one fever victim from last session, that makes two.  Ironically, more of the players are sick than the characters - there's a nasty cold going around.



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My table went pretty well. For 6 PCs, I upped the rats to 6 and added a wererat mugger (from the NWCS) for extra coolness. The idea of a "boss" appealed to my players, and a level 4 brute was a good challenge.

[spoiler]I added Charl, who was being interrogated by the rats for "selling them out." One of the PCs (the thief) tried to shoot the big rat but hit Charl instead (body shield). The halfling then ended up in the drink. The bladesinger heroically saved him, then used suggestion and hit like a DC 34 to make him a complete and total ally. The halfling sprung his lurker hit on a wererat, dealing 20 damage, then went down. The halfling expired asking the bladesinger how he did to help--the bladesinger (in typical eladrin fashion) kind of shrugged and said "meh."

The elf thief got jumped by a number of rats lurking in the sewer water and was in serious trouble, but with two healers, she stayed up. The wererat mugger moved people around with his scrabbling charge, and I managed to hit the eladrin mage for the first time in several sessions, when I had a couple rats pop up to attack him.

The bruising trip through the sewers went pretty well, with about half of the party making the checks, and half of them failing. The ones who failed were the ones who weren't hurt as bad, so that worked out mathematically.[/spoiiler]

I was playing at FCB games (in Alpharetta, GA). We had two tables with 5 players each.

One of Charl's gang escaped from them back in Session 6, and was actually how the group found the lair, since I didn't have Seldra show up at the end of that encounter. I decided to use the proprietors of the House of 1000 Faces in that role, instead. If six players showed up, I was going to add that member of Charl's gang in as a sixth opponent, but only 5 did, so he turned out to be one of the bodies floating in the sewer outside the lair. heh.

The group picked the lock on the portcullis and tried sneaking in, but the wererats heard them and the fight started. The thief and archer ranger took out two opponents fairly quickly, and the warpriest, thief, paladin and ranger teamed up on another to remove him shortly thereafter. The paladin tried to lock down Nix, but he shifted into his rat form and scurried between her feet and across the water. The group teamed up on the last wererat, the paladin followed Nix, but missed him, and as his last round of the fight, Nix shifted across, back to the lever, leaped up on it in rat form, and used his weight to trigger the lever, flooding the tunnels and washing everyone down the sewers to the Kracken cave.

I don't believe that any of the PCs took any really significant damage. I don't recall dropping a "Bloodied" marker onto any of their initiative cards.

The thief and the ranger were the only ones that avoided losing a healing surge during their trip, as the others either swallowed disgusting sewer water or thwacked their heads on the wall on their way through.

This was an interesting encounter. Had the players had a jerk DM the game would have gone wrong, boring, or a TPK. The players came to the corner (I just put out the entire map) and peeked around. They saw the 5 rats playing cards, going through the loot, and smoking a pipe by the lever. They sneaked around to the portcullis hugging the wall while the wizard tried to quietly pull up the portcullis. He failed. Meanwhile the Dead Rat Deserter(DRD) turned into a rat to get through the bars and over to the lever. He thought it controlled the portcullis. The Slayer ran forward and lifted the gate, but having to hold it open for the party he was granting CA. The Dead rats tossed daggers at him and while they hit did horrible damage.

Meanwhile the DRD turned back to human form and hit the lever. Now at this point I could have ended the encounter, but instead I had the chamber fill with water. In the first round the water was challenging terrian and then the floor was difficult. In the 2nd the people in the watter had to make an Athletics check or be pulled 1d4 towards the pool. The floor squares became challenging. You see were this is going.

The players managed to fight a war of attrition with the Dead Rats while members of both sides were being sucked down the drain. When the last player was sucked down I had them make the checks as I described the failures to them. The poor Slayer crotched himself. The Mage took a pipe to the chest, and the Seeker was impaled.

I dropped them on the next map and let them know one of thier party members was there (in real life he moved out the state and is not comming back). I am going to kill him off to set tention for the next encounter.
BTW, the 'Lever' was at least the second time the 'rails' in the this adventure have been particularly visible.  The struture of D&D Encouters requires a good deal of RRing, so it's more an observation than a complaint.  The 'Heir' turning the Dragon to stone though the party had clearly killed it; and, the last Dead Rat pulling the lever no matter how numerically dead it may have been are the kind of conciets that happen in fiction all the time.



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The 'Heir' turning the Dragon to stone though the party had clearly killed it;

I dealt with that specific one by making it seem as though the dragon was going to burst again when it was killed, just as it did when it was bloodied. The Heir used the crown to absorb the burst, turn it back onto the dragon and turn it to stone. So, at least in my game, that particular one didn't look quite as railroady.
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