March 19, 2012

Exploring the Lich-Queen's Beloved: Part 5

This post continues to document the journey through The Lich-Queen's Beloved (4E). The up to date conversion and latest notes and changes inspired by the actual play can be found here. Have at thee!


Room 38. Abilene's Reliquary
When we last left off, the group had discovered Abilene's Reliquary, the end point in the second level of the dungeon, and nexus chamber wherein branching paths of exploration convereged allowing the players to explore two side-dungeons: The Dragonborn Hatchery in the ruins of Vor Rukoth and the Rotting Body of Ioun.

As originally written, this room is a clusterbomb of monsters. A magical mirror traps multiple enemies (and some allies), and then releses them once shattered. On top of this, there are more enemies, liches and deathknights, whom appear in the room via the two extradimensional portals at the bottom points of the room. Abilene the Iron Lich floats her way down here as well, adding to the massive pile-up. I've never played the original adventure in its native edition, but at least in my 4E version this room really slowed everything to a crawl. There are simply too many monsters with too many hit points. My modifications to the standard stat blocks have done wonders for making quick, decisive combats, even in the Epic Tier. But this is essentially two encounters' worth of enemies on top of each other, and utter slog-fest.

Here is the setup for the start of the session; absolutely packed!

  • 6 Dungeoneers [Lvl 21]
  • 3 Henchmen [Lvl 20 - 22 Minions]
  • (2) Arkhosian Liches [Lvl 20 Artillery]
  • (2) Champions of Tiamat [Lvl 20 Soldier]
  • (2) Drocoliches [Lvl 18 Elite Controller]
  • Abyssal Eviscerator [Lvl 22 Brute]
  • (2) Succubi [Lvl 18 Controller]
  • (3) Fire Giants [Lvl 21 Elite Soldier]
  • Abilene the Iron Lich [Lvl 26 Solo Artillery]
I knew was taking a bit of a gamble with this encounter, and worried that I had let go of the reins too much. It was difficult for me to throw caution to the wind and do as I had planned at the campaign start: convert the adventure to the current edition, apply the lessons learned from Fourthcore Alphabet and treasures from Fourthcore Armory, and let the chips fall where they may. I felt like the table and the game, my game, could go out of control. I had to let go of the controlling impulse.

And it worked! I trusted my players, and they became immersed in the narrative.

Round 1: Seeing an overwhelming force, my expert 4E dungeoneers rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The group is heavy heavy on control powers, they have piles of spells and prayers that hinder wide swaths of enemies which a lot of Dungeon Masters complain about. Walls of illusion, blinding interrupt attacks, etc. They built their characters this way purposefully, in a desperate effort to stop cold all of the truly nasty Fourthcore creatures that were becoming increasingly popular at my table and whom could bypass their defenses otherwise or simply wreck house in some other non-typical way.

Round 2: Abilene, tracking the dungeoneers through scrying, makes her appearance. As a Level +5 Solo, she has made quite the impression on the dungeoneers from their previous sparring with her and they are afraid. The differences in levels between villain and hero coupled with the knowledge of the utterly brutal effects of her spells makes her extremely deadly. The heroes change gears entirely, focusing all of their dazings, stunnings, slowing/immobilizing walls, action points, etc. Pulling all the stops to simply get the hell out of dodge and jump through an open portal to escape. They knew that their only hope of killing Abilene was to find and destroy her phylactery and pick up a few powerful magic items as well, and take her six-on-one. And even then, it was going to be a crapshoot. Having a whole room full of enemies was a death sentence.

End Rounds: After struggling through the massive number of enemies and suffering devastating wounds, the dungeoneers are able to barely make it out alive. They jump through to Vor Rukoth, and Abilene is contented to let her platoon of enemies handle them there.

Later this week: What happened in Vor Rukoth!

Close up of the Mirror of Life Trapping sketch, done by The Pontiff
The second level of the dungeon.
Updated mini-map with notes.
Here's a magic item picked up long ago, with a Gamma World style of attacks and damage (based entirely on Level). One day I saw that the group left the item with me instead of keeping it in their own folders with their characters sheets. I took some scissors to it, removing the "twice" Level acid damage. From then on out, they always kept track of their character sheets and magic items.

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