As you enter the room, the horrid smell of decomposing bodies forces you to pause momentarily.
A very wide circle is drawn on the broken stone floor. Glyphs and symbols cover the inside of the circle.
Your attention is immediately drawn to the center of the circle. Upon a large circular platform – adorned with sharp spikes – lay the decomposing cadaver of what used to be a white dragon… the source of the smell.
Near the platform, three Kobolds are chanting. You notice that a long chain binds them to the center platform.
Between you and the circle, a group of Kobolds are glaring at you menacingly. You easily recognize two Wyrmpriests at the back, readying their orbs. Seven other Kobolds are also slowly moving towards you…
The chanting Kobolds were Kobold Ritualists. Out of the pack of seven Kobolds, five of them were minions and two of them were Kobold Shieldbearers.
The « Traps »
The Kobold Ritualists were originally designed to be more a trap than actual creatures – I’ll talk some more about them in a later post.
The basic idea was to have them chained so they could not leave the circle. They’re goal is to get killed by the players while in the circle. Their blood gets soaked in the circle and contributes to speed the process of bringing the dragon creature back to life. They cannot commit suicide. They want to die for the cause.
They are rather formidable close-combat opponents – especially when bloodied. They also have a recharging encounter breath weapon to make them more threatening.
The Kobold Shieldbearers each have three spiked grenade balls. When picked up by an uninitiated person, spikes come out and cause damage. Spikes also come out when the ball is in movement and hide back in when it is not moving. At any time, the ball can explode and hurt the surrounding creatures.
I wanted to have the players play « hot potato » with that thing and kick the ball around.
Basically, I was to try and have the whole group attract the players near enough to the center to force them to kill the Ritualists and bring the beast back to life.
The minions were to swarm melee players and boost the Shieldbearer. The priest was to bolster them (and give extra resistance to the minions) and provide a cover from range.
The Ritualists were to do nothing until someone was close enough. They either belched lightning (I still can’t figure what that looks like) to get the player’s attention, or try to grab players to push them in the spikes. Of course, they would have loved to be impaled on the spikes themselves.
What I Hoped Would Happen
I decided to try my best and let the players – through their actions – decide the outcome. The dragon might be raised. They might fight it. They might all get killed. They might succeed – most likely through means I was not prepared for.
The combat started in surprise – the players surprised the Kobolds.
This is my first experience in surprise round here. With a group of 6 players. And they get to basically have two rounds in a row. And they had enough action points to spare.
Needless to say, they started off strong – isolating the Shieldbearers, area-effecting the minions (I’m starting to dislike those) and punishing the casters.
I had not started my turn that I already had a few bloodied soldiers. Nevertheless, finding strength in their faith, the Kobolds pushed on. Bolstered by the Wyrmpriestess, the minions shifted and swarmed around the paladin. I finally got a good grade at Kobold Tactics 101! The Shieldbearer was already in the fray and the paladin got enough punishment for the rest of the crew to show a little worry.
The Shadar-Kai tried to use its force tricks to bring a ritualist out of the circle. Of course, the ritualist being chained, that didn’t work as well as expected. The ritualist fell prone at the end of its leash and belched out lightning at its attacker, sustaining a gleeful, bloodied smile.
One of the Wyrmprised trusted in her god and spat lightning at a group of players/kobolds, hoping the true believers would be spared and that the players would be rightfully felled.
Of course, the dice decided that her tactic killed three kobolds and barely scratched a player.
The players quickly organized and used efficient strategies to get the kobolds under control.
Noticing that the blood of the ritualists was absorbed in the ritual circle while any other blood was ignored, the players quickly managed to figure out that the ritualists should be taken out of commission, but not killed.
At this point, I wanted the dragon to rise – the combat should have been harder! At least one of the players should have fallen!
Arkanys came up with a neat strategy: the paladin would section a leg of one of the ritualist and we would use his Scorpion-Inspired force power to pull the body out of the circle.
I didn’t really want this to succeed, but hey – that deserved some cool points if it worked and was ready to allow it to seriously impact the ritual.
But it failed.
They still managed to knock the remaining two ritualists (one had already bled to death in the circle) unconscious.
Unfortunately for them, they had bled enough to allow the dragon-like creature to slowly rise.
The creature was in a weakened state and was chained to the ritual circle as well. It was scared and cowered as far as possible from the players.
This caused them to pause and discuss about their course of action.
Would they destroy the abomination? Free it? Try to talk with it? Rest?
The discussed at length, during which time, they nearly failed to notice that the dragon had somehow been untied and was starting to slowly fly away from the room – which had no ceiling, as previously established.
Rolen the ranger rapidly let loose an arrow upon the beast who got injured, but still managed to fly away… but not before Rolen got hit from a dagger sent from on high.
Now, I don’t know about you, but even though I think spitting lightning is odd, I’m not aware of any dragon that spits out daggers…
So that was 5 fights in a row. Without anyone getting seriously hurt. Am I doing something wrong or are my players just that good?
Coming up next: post mortem of this encounter.