D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 13 Recap

Our heroes infiltrate Rivergard Keep via a captured boat. Their ambush quickly turns into a giant battle with the Keep’s forces.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

We had brought our characters from our first adventure, “The Lost Mine of Phandelver” over to “Princes of the Apocalypse.” This meant that my players were slightly over leveled for the beginning of this adventure. They hit level 5 soon after reaching Red Larch. Even skipping most of the newbie content, my players were over-leveled for the beginning of the main campaign (which is designed for level 3 heroes).

This hadn’t really been too noticeable until last night’s session at Rivergard Keep. I didn’t make any scaling adjustments. When the PCs sprung their ambush trap from the boat, the noise drew a large amount of defenders in the barracks. A long battle ensued, with dozens of combatants. Too bad Bandits really really suck.

The PC’s arrived at Rivergard Keep via the Dessarin River. They had coerced Shoalar to help ferry them, and stayed hidden while he steered the boat inside the Keep’s giant chain-fence.

A couple reavers were sent down to handle the supplies. My players opted for the sneaky route. But while an ambush isn’t a bad idea, doing it in broad daylight in the middle of the keep is tricky to keep quiet. Even more so when the party immediately splits up to try and lock down multiple areas.

Kalinaar did a cool, dramatic teleport off the boat toward the East wall, killing the bandit sentry in a single blow. Next he headed toward the other docked boat, attacking the bandits and pirate captain single-handedly.

Kethra and Miri ran to the South Eastern guard tower to root out Reash and the one Reaver I left with him. Talus stayed on the boat, but was soon met with several new additions as bandit and reaver sentries wandered close and shouted the alarm.

I had Reash go invisible after a brutal tag team from Kethra and Miri. He later reappeared and got a single attack off (Vampiric Strike, and he missed) before being overwhelmed.

The barracks contained about a dozen bandits and reavers, and they quickly spilled out down the stairs. Talus teleported back and launched a fireball right in the middle of them, hitting six and killing four outright. Wow!

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At this point the combat was more like Diablo than D&D, with nearly every attack hitting and killing their opponents. Unfortunately D&D combat still takes awhile, even when the heroes are basically in no danger. Talus took a few hits before he teleported and Miri sustained some blows. But soon over a dozen enemies lay dead around the Eastern court yard.

The party then set the pirate boat on fire as a distraction, and explored the keep in a U shape, starting at the Southern wall. I had a few of the bandits in the South West tower run outside shouting about the fire. The heroes entered the tower and slaughtered the few remaining foes.

Upstairs the bandits heard the commotion and launched an ambush of their own as the PCs headed up. It failed miserably because bandits are terrible. Stats-wise they’re basically goblins with slightly more health.

Rivergard Keep is supposedly designed for a party of level 4 adventurers. But my level 5 party was absolutely slaughtering everything with little need for even a Short Rest.

They continued this reign of blood through the North West tower, and ended up looting the boss’ room full of gems, scrolls, and coins. We left off just as they neared the balcony and saw the grand hall below.

Rivergard Keep

The PCs gained enough experience to hit level 6. I have a rule where they have to Long Rest at the end of a session before they can level up, giving them a definite break to learn new skills and abilities. Given their speed so far, I expect we’ll finish Rivergard Keep next week and level up at the end.

I had previously suggested the party hit Rivergard Keep, knowing it was the lowest level content they had left, and that they were super close to level 6. In hindsight I should have tweaked the enemies slightly to make it a bit more interesting. Simply changing some of the bandits into thugs or adding more reavers might’ve helped make things a bit more challenging.

Overall none of these NPCs are particularly fun to battle, having no real abilities. Rivergard Keep lacks the variety and size of Sacred Stone Monastery, and the role-playing opportunities and unique tower set-up of Feathergale Spire. Hopefully it’ll be the most boring of the dungeons. In a way I’m glad they’re simply running through it, so we can get to better stuff soon!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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