This session was a 3 hour session with only 2 players. Overall, there was roleplaying, exploration, and the equivalent of 5 combat encounters.
Mythra – High Elven Wizard (Evoker) – 5th level
Rynlore – Human Paladin (Warden/Nature type) – 5th level.
The adventure began in Wrafton’s Inn. Edgar Scrope, the archeologist who had asked the party to retrieve a stolen map (prior adventure), was speaking with an Elven wizard named Mythra.
Elifar and Jaden had gone off with a few Winterhaven Wardens to deal with Goblins that attacked the caravan earlier, leaving Rynlore to deal with Scope.
Rynlore produces the map and Scrope is pleased. He rewards Rynlore with 100 gp. Then he asks Rynlore and Mythra up to his room to look at the map. Mythra is able to help unravel the last of the magical wards on the map, and Scrope asks the two heroes to accompany him to the excavation site of Sayer Valdem. (He tells them the back story about the Valdem brothers, etc….the players introduce themselves to one another and Rynlore tells Mythra about their last adventure).
As the small party travels at a normal pace, Rynlore plays music, Mythra keeps watch, and Edgar keeps the map and navigates.
After about 6 hours, a Manticore flies overhead circling, and then it dives at Rynlore doing a flyby firing some quills at Rynlore and Mythra. Still 20’ in the air, Rynlore prepares for attack, Edgar hides behind a tree, and Mythra hits the Manticore with a lightning bolt. The beast is enraged so it fires all three quills at Mythra hitting her and injuring her badly. Then it flies south to a small plateau (60’ climb). Mythra is able to unleash another lightning bolt, but it does not kill the Manticore before it disappears on the top of the plateau. Rynlore runs to the base of the plateau and begins to climb. Then Mythra joins him. At the top, Rynlore heals Mythra and the two walk cautiously toward a hole in the top of the plateau that becomes a cave entrance. Rynlore can see that the cave goes down and then elbows so that he can’t see completely into it. Mythra hears the growling of a Manticore within. Just then, a Manticore jumps out of the cave and attacks Rynlore. This one is not the injured one; it must be a mate. The two adventurers battle the mate and finally prevail. Then Rynlore goes into the cave to find the wounded Manticore nursing its wounds on a nest. The beast leaps at Rynlore and the battle each other until Rynlore’s morningstar smashes down upon the beast one last time.
Searching the nest, they find over 200 gp, 2 healing potions, and a set of finely made banded mail sized for a human. Rynlore strips down and dons the armor with satisfaction.
After another 6 hours of uneventful travel, the party camps without mishap. Then after another 6 hours of travel they near the site they’ve been looking for. Through a grove of trees, the group sees a tower. They attempt to sneak closer, but Hobgoblins in the tower hear them.
The adventurers fight the Hobgoblins in the tower while Edgar Scrope hides. One Hobgoblin warrior escapes into the excavation pit beside a shack, and 3 rounds later 3 warriors emerge. In this battle, Rynlore moves around the tower and encounters the Hobgoblin Warriors and the normal Hobgoblins with long spears (reach 10'). One Hobgoblin on top of the tower throws down some stone debris and smashes Rynlore on the head. In combat, the long spears hurt Rynlore as well, so to enhance his attacks and boost his defensive position, Rynelore uses Nature's Wrath and entangle, slowing the oncoming Hobgolins so that he had time to step back and heal. All the while, Mythra makes pop out attacks using Ray of Frost to conserve her magic.
After the party deals with the Hobgoblins, they investigate the shack. Mythra goes in and finds it to be a two room house built for humans. There are two old urns on a table, so she calls Edgar in to see what they are. These urns must have come from the excavation. Someone must have known about the site and the Hobgoblins must have surprised whoever was here before them.
Edgar decides to stay hidden as the others go down the ladder into the excavation site.
In this large underground room, a Hobgoblin leader calls others to attack. 8 Hoboblins train their bows on Rynlore as he goes down the ladder, and arrows rain down but Rynlore and Mythra get lucky and none of them hit the mark. Mythra fires a more powerful magic missile at the leader, and then Rynlore faces the leader and kills him. Then he intimidates the others and tells them to run from here…far away. All but 1 listen. After taking a frost ray to the abdomin, the remaining hobgoblin decides to run too. Mythra does not let him - Frozen Hobgoblin.
Rynlore and Mythra call Edgar down so he can look at the mosaics and the strange eye design on the tile floor. He says it is the symbol of Sayer Valdem. They have found it.
Mythra sneaks down another corridor and hears the sound of pick axes all coming from a rough cave area. She sees a troll working some bugbears as they use pick axes on the walls. Rynlore moves in to the rough cave area as Mythra hides down the corridor. Rynlore draws the troll and 8 bugbears to him. He takes a number of injuries, but before he goes down under the crowd, Mythra casts a maximized fireball, killing all of the bugbear and seriously wounding the troll. The troll tries to run, but he falls a few times after Rynlore connects with his morningstar. Mythra casts another fireball and the troll goes down, but it still regenerates some of the weapon damage and it continues to run. Eventually Rynlore is able to tip a brazier over on the troll, and then Mythra does the same.
In another cave, the two see and smell a refuse pile, and a stream that leads out through a closed portcullis. There is a windless device next to the portcullis, and behind them in another corner of the cave, they hear a huge monster in chains, roaring and rattling the chains that restrain him. It is a crazed Ettin. The group decides to move back to the main cave, avoiding the Ettin, and then Rynlore bandages himself.
They find a chest behind some of the smoldering supply boxes (Mythra’s fireball all but charred the Hobgoblin, Bubgear supplies). Inspecting it closely, Mythra sees that it is trapped. Then, she tells Rynlore that they should check the leader’s body and the troll’s body for keys. Low and behold, each of the monsters has a different key. The leader’s key seems to fit the chest. Still unable to disable the trap, Rynlore opens the chest with his shield up, and he is able to avoid taking damage from poisoned darts. Inside the chest they find over 500 gp, 1 potion of healing and a magical warhammer. “Brightbeater” – This warhammer deals 1d6 damage per round to any evil being that holds it, and it can be commanded to shed light like a magical torch. It is a +1 weapon.
Mythra explores a southern tunnel and sees that there is no threat. About 15’ down they will have to squeeze by a rocky area, and then about 30’ further down they see some support beams. It looks as if the tunnel goes further beyond their vision.
This session worked really well. Although the adventure isn’t finished, the players have made it pretty far. Rynlore has used all of his HD of healing, and all of his spells and his channel divinity. Mythra still has all of her HD of healing, but she only has 1 first level spell, and 2 2nd level spells remaining (plus Arcane Revovery which we totally forgot about). They did however find 3 healing potions during the adventure, so they can continue to explore next session.
Both PCs played major roles and each played very differently. I am amazed at how easy it is to run an adventure for just 2 players. The more I play this package, the more I feel that it is easier to run/build adventures for 2 or 3. With each PC above 3, it becomes exponentially more difficult to challenge the party.
There were moments where the PCs were in danger, and there were moments where good or bad die rolling made a difference in the game, but more importantly, player decisions made more of a difference. For example, when Mythra used fireball vs. the bugbears and the troll, the player decided to maximize it. Two of the bugbears made successful saving throws, but even so, ½ of 36 hit points still killed them. If the blast was not maximized, they would live, and they could have attacked Rynlore and prevented him from chasing after the fleeing troll. If the troll would have escaped, he would have released the Ettin and that would have been bad for the PCs.
Also, Rynlore was able to use his nature abilities, entangle and nature’s wrath to control the battlefield against the hobgoblins when they fought at the tower. That was very nice. His healing also helped when both of them were low.
Both players were able to feel their PCs, and roleplay accordingly. At 5th level, not much seemed to be broken or strange in play. As DM, I love how lower level monsters like Hobgoblins and Bugbears can still be a threat to the PCs. Fighting the pair of manticores was also very challenging. The troll, although tough to bring down, could probably do more damage with its attacks. The bugbears were much more deadly when attacking than the troll. That seemed a little weird.