D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 18 Recap

Our final showdown in the Zhentarim Outpost offers a rematch with Captain Xelan.

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Previously on “Storm King’s Thunder”

The alarm bells rang out, and for a tense moment I wondered if we were doing the right thing. I ran to the door, practically barreling into it, shouting as if some foe were right behind me. 

“Captain Xelan,” I screamed in the acolyte’s voice. “We’re under attack!”

The Zhentarim leader whom we had thwarted at Nightstone, and who had tried to have us killed, stared back at me irritably. The well-dressed man to his left sighed. “Do you see, Captain Xelan? Your organization is becoming nothing more than a liability.” The large robed orc in the corner said nothing.

Xelan stood up from his desk, unsheathing a brilliant golden scimitar. “If you don’t want to die it’s your problem too.” He turned toward me. “Lead the way, Alicia!”

I hurried down the hall, pointing toward the west where the rest of my friends lie in waiting. Xelan nodded and charged forward, but the well-dressed man stopped to stare at me. I felt my heart beat rapidly as an uneasy force flowed around him. My mind felt the tiniest prick and I used all my concentration to retain my composure. This was no man.

My disguise held and the fake-man continued on. I heard Xelan cry in surprise as Halfred whirled around the far corner at the opposite end, dropping two arrows directly into his chest. A gout of acid sprayed across the other two, and T.I.M. summoned his terrifying spectral leech.

I stepped behind everyone as Xelan called out to me, “Heal us, woman!” My hatred of Xelan and unease over the odd nobleman coalesced around me as I shedded my disguise.

“Captain Xelan, I think you remember us.”

Xelan’s eyes went wide. “Gods damn it! You’re all supposed to be dead!”

I smiled wryly and held out an arm, channeling all my psychic energy forward. “Now you will know fear.”

Boss fight! As a DM I know all too well the awkward pain of having your spiffy, powerful boss monsters laid low and stomped all over. In one of our first major boss battles we came, we saw, and we kicked their asses.

After our battle in the north dining room area of the underground temple that served as a Zhentarim Outpost we questioned the surviving acolyte. She was forthcoming with information, most of which we already knew: Captain Xelan was in a room in the southeast, meeting with two unknown individuals, an orc spellcaster and a well-dressed man.

Naturally we went with what worked. I used my at-will Disguise Self to assume the acolyte’s form after letting her go (I’m an equal opportunity disguiser). We planned on setting off the alarm bells on purpose, then having me run inside and funneling everyone out for a good old fashioned ambush in the hallway.

The plan worked beautifully, with Xelan grabbing his sword while his two comrades followed. One of them, a well-dressed nobleman, looked me over and somehow nearly saw through my disguise.

I loved the way the DM described this uneasy figure – there was definitely something not quite human about him. Did it have psychic powers like Kazin? Thankfully I rolled 20+ on my Deception check to keep up the disguise.

After everyone made it into the hallway toward the central room, the rest of the team sprang the trap. Chromatic Orbs, Acid Splashes, Spectral Leeches and Halfred’s deadly arrows rained down on them. Xelan was a bit ahead of the group, but T.I.M. and I surrounded the other two figures.

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On the surprise round I opted to unleash my 3rd level spell that I’d yet to ever use: Fear. This was risky as T.I.M. was also in the direct path, in addition to all three foes. Both the orc and the nobeleman failed their saves, while Xelan and T.I.M. saved. I’ll take it!

That Fear spell would end up being hugely useful, as the orc was completely shut down for the entire battle. They both tried to barrel pas T.I.M. to get away from me. The nobleman shedded his human form into some sort of freaky eldritch horror thing, and shook off the fear after he rounded a corner into the storage room.

Xelan had taken some heavy damage but had some sort of magic bag on him. He pulled out a furry thing and threw it on the ground. That thing turned into a damn polar bear, saddling up right behind Korinn.

d&dThings got a bit dicey when we stated missing attacks. We also did a poor job focusing on one foe, instead spreading out and splitting up our attacks between all three of them.

Xelan tried to throw daggers at me to knock off my Fear concentration, but with disadvantage he missed my paltry 13 AC. The DM had some more nasty luck with a summoned polar bear – out of four total attacks he rolled a 1 or a 2 on three of them. For the fourth, Korinn used a Shield spell.

The odds turned back in our favor. T.I.M.’s spectral leech (his hilariously awesome themed Spectral Weapon) killed Xelan, and then he finished off the orc. Halfred downed the bear with several arrows, while Kazin decapitated the strange psychic creature.

We finished the boss fight without taking a single point of damage.

This was a best case scenario for our team. We had a plan, executed it, and it worked perfectly. Fearing opponents in a tight space worked wonderfully. There were many things that could have gone wrong – most notably that creature beating my deception roll and negating our entire surprise.

All three boss figures had some nice loot and magical items, including that magic bag of furry summons, a magic cloak, and the orc’s creepy staff. In the room Bryseis discovered a letter with some useful information. T.I.M. found a loose stone and activated it, opening a tunnel back into the caves.

It looked like Xelan’s personal escape route, which should make for an easy egress from the dungeon.

Not so much! T.I.M. and Bryseis stumbled into the lair of a Death Widow, apparently a strong ass version of a Giant Spider.

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T.I.M. exploded with a critical hit on Inflict Wounds, dealing nearly 50 damage in a single blow. We were cackling over our cocky abilities at this point, but the spider was still alive, and the rest of us were still hurrying down the tight tunnel to try and join them.

By the time we made it there, T.I.M. was suffering from the nasty poison of the spider, actually succumbing to the damage right when we killed it. We stabilized and healed him, but the poison rotted his leg into uselessness.

We use a modified version of the Lingering Injuries rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide (p272) as a penalty for dropping to 0 HP. It’s not in effect in the early levels (thankfully). Since then we’ve only fallen once more in this campaign – and that was me in the Yeti fight. The downed PC gets a single DC 15 CON save. If they fail they have to roll on the chart.

When I did it and failed, I rolled a 20, resulting in a minor scar, which does nothing. T.I.M. however rolled a crippled limb, and chose a leg since he wields a shield.

Thankfully we’re at the end of this dungeon so we can get back to town and get it healed – for a price. I imagine that takes the sting off the DM for our otherwise flawless run on on the trio of bosses.

Notably we also received a shit-ton of XP for destroying all these big bads and clearing the Zhentarim outpost. Level 6 here we come! We took down a major villain who had been hounding us and hopefully dismantled Zhentarim operations in the area, though the Weevil is still out there.

Streamed, recorded and uploaded every week. Subscribe for our weekly adventures. Join us live on Fridays at 7pm Pacific/10pm Eastern!

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

3 thoughts on “D&D 5E “Storm King’s Thunder” Session 18 Recap”

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