The Cathedral of Shadow beckons. As the party peek through the doors they see the Orcus underpriest chanting away at his traditional blood soaked altar. He’s got the whole set: bald, tattooed, big collar, prepared solioquies, everything you need from your Big Bad underling.
The party advance pretty cautiously, which is a fair idea as the cultist berserkers surge forward hefting battleaxes and a coven of vampire spawn scuttle across the walls and ceilings, homing in on the scent of blood. Rhogar and Sebastian stepped up to face the enemy, taking their by now traditional stances. Flynn kept mobile, using shuriken and sling shot to harry his foes. Team Magic set to with flame and force. Clara hefted her Holy Symbol and kept the worst of the vampire onslaught at bay.
The combat went well for the party. By staying within the entry chamber they could keep their enemies bottled up nicely, taking them down one by one. My cultists weren’t so stupid as to keep throwing themselves at defenders though. I had a Dark Creeper in reserve, as well as the Underpriest himself. The Creeper headed left, the priest right to try to get behind the line of armour the party had set up. The Creeper soon had to tangle with Kallista’s magic. He was a slippery little customer (all Kallista’s powers target Reflex) and she had trouble inflicting much damage. Moon’ had issues of his own as he slipped into the shadows and came face to face with the underpriest at full power. The Rod of Ruin did it’s dirty work and in seconds Moon’ was out cold being carried towards the altar on the shoulders of the priest. The parties big hitters were still tied down with frothing berserkers so it fell to Flynn to get in quick and help out. Dark Creeper dealt with, the rogue and the wizard faced off with the underpriest. Flynn didn’t last long as he fell to the dark bolts, yet Kallista prevailed and scorched the evil priest to his doom. The mop up was swift and the party had a decision to make. Press on into the well of blood? Or sit tight and get in a little R and R.
No contest, Flynn started climbing down the bloody chains, straight into the black heart of the Shadow Rift.
Kalarel waited patiently for his victims.
In hindsight, things started going wrong when the party pretty much all failed to climb down the chains into the chamber. Even Flynn, with a Safewing Amulet, hit the deck hard. 3d10 is hefty damage, and the monsters below lapped it up. The party never really made it out of the blood pool at the centre. Rhogar had set up a magic circle, but when you add in the Deathlok wight’s immobilsing grave bolt, it massively restricted their mobility. Kalarel was able to pick his targets with impunity, and before too long the whole party was bloodied at best, unconscious at worst. Things were looking bleak at this point and then Rhogar and Flynn’s attempted flank on Kalarel came to nothing and Rhogar got grabbed by the Thing in the Portal, while he was already out cold. TPK was looking very, very likely. No dailies left, nothing hitting it’s target, and I couldn’t stop rolling crits. I had to throw the team a lifeline as both Flynn (to be expected) and Moon’ (et tu Warlock?) made an escape attempt back up the chains. Kallista’s rage knew no limit. I pointed out the existence of the big bad ritual book still sitting on the altar, and Kallista took the hint. A not so acrobatic couple of moves later and burning torch met papery tome. The Thing had already swallowed Rhogar whole and in it’s last throes grabbed Kalarel and dragged him to his Shadowy Doom for ever…
Total treasure? a magic dagger+2. For all that!
Great maps, some cool moves, but ultimately it was a bit of a slog to be honest. The party needed to be at full strength but the scenario didn’t accomodate extended rests by that point. Some atrocious dice rolling certainly didn’t help matters!
In the next installment, I’ll go into my thoughts on D&D 4e as whole, but for now, it’s a relief to have played all the way through this scenario, and I’m looking forward to Thunderspire Labyrinth.