Breagan, Gath, and Kai were led by Sergeant Dural to meet Captain Lanyard and the Eladrin intelligence officer Briana to discuss their next mission. They were told that time was running out for the Lions and that they desperately needed to get word to General Tork in Kenting for reinforcements. All attempts at sending messages or runners had failed thus far. Intelligence acquired from a captured kobold indicated that an enemy watchtower had access to some sort of magical beacon, one which could be used to reach Tork and call for aid. The heroes were told they had been chosen to infiltrate the watchtower and contact Tork. If they were unable to complete the mission or Tork could not send help, Lanyard told them, they would have to attempt a dangerous fighting retreat. Surrender was not an option.
Dural led the heroes down into the lowest levels of the citadel, and they briefly encountered the impulsive and hotheaded fellow private, a dragonborn named Karsh. Dural showed them the way to an old city sewer system which had yet to be discovered by the enemy. He mentioned that Corporal Stone had led a small unit on an earlier scouting mission of the tunnels and had not returned, and also warned of the likelihood of rats in the sewer. Giving them their directions to the enemy tower, he wished them luck and watched them walk off into the darkness.
The trip through the sewer was uneventful, and the heroes came out of the indicated grate in an alley of the ruined market square of Geist. Across the street and through the rain they saw the tower and several Crimson guards outside. They quickly attacked the guards and killed them, but one escaped inside the tower to try and get help. Rushing in after him, Gath cut the man down but was attacked by a posted elven archer and two goblins. Breagan and Kai joined the melee and the party defeated their enemies. They also discovered and rescued Corporal Stone, who had been undergoing torture and interrogation by one of the goblin officers. Stone told the heroes how his unit had been wiped out save for him, and also shared what he knew about the tower commander, a goblin shaman named Kezzek. Kai took the sylvan leaf armor of one of his dead comrades, an elf named Zenna. In no shape to fight but able to walk, Stone fled the tower to escape back to the citadel through the sewers. The heroes ascended the winding stair to the top level of the tower. On their way up, they witnessed peculiar green lightning flashing across the city.
As they attempted to sneak up a hallway to the magical beacon, the party was attacked by Kezzek, a kobold dragonshield, and several goblin minions. The enemies were slain, but Gath was wounded and knocked out during the fight. After he had received medical attention from Kai, the heroes entered the chamber where the beacon was said to be kept. Here they encountered a floating glass orb with an image of an eye. The eye spoke to them, asking for their authorization for using the beacon. After negotiating with the eye and claiming to be sent by Colonel Zamos (commander of the Crimson forces in Geist), they convinced the magical guardian to activate the beacon and let them speak to Tork in Kenting. As they did so, however, they saw a nightmarish scene. Kenting was aflame, and so was the Aurum expeditionary force’s fleet. Tork began to explain that strange monsters had attacked the city suddenly and that he could not send reinforcements, but was slain by some terrible creature of the Abyss before he could finish. With this grim news, the heroes descended the tower to return to the sewer and then the citadel to inform the others.
On their way down, however, the tower began to shake and pieces of the ceiling fell down around them. Quickly escaping from the tower, they came out to find that it was in the clutches of some giant serpentine monstrosity. They also could tell that the Crimson forces in the area were being attacked by monsters similar to those which had destroyed Kenting. Running into the sewer, they escaped more falling masonry but were beset by a swarm of panicked rats. Kai was able to improvise a flaming arrow and burned most of them and scared off the rest. Eventually the band made it back to the citadel, and reported their findings to Lanyard.
Lanyard told the heroes that they should rest, but that he and the others would have to prepare for the fighting retreat he’d mentioned earlier. With the Crimson forces distracted by the appearance of the demons in their midst, Aurum knights under his command would charge out from the citadel to cut a path to a bridge leading out of the city. The infantry forces would move across the bridge as the knights covered their retreat. The heroes, meanwhile, would be tasked with setting up several explosive blastglobes to destroy the bridge and cut off enemy pursuit once they and the knights were safely across. He gave Breagan the rank of Corporal and then left to let them rest and recuperate from their watchtower mission.
I miscalculated the XP reward for the first five encounters of the adventure; it should have been 650 XP per character. Greg G’s character also gets this experience even though he wasn’t able to come to the session. Absent players will still accumulate XP assuming the rest of us play, allowing them and their PCs to keep up. Its not enough XP to make 2nd Level, but you’re close.
Kai got Sylvan Armor +1 (named “Copperleaf”). The party also got 2 potions of healing, 220 gold pieces, and a gem worth 100 gp. It may be some time before you can spend any of this to get other equipment, but its worth noting.
All in all, I enjoyed the game. People are still figuring out what they can do, but I think each player got a chance to contribute something in and out of combat. It was mostly fight scenes, but despite our lack of experience with the system, it seemed to move along at a nice clip and not bog down into nothing but die rolling. Holly stated that she liked the Skill Challenge we did (the negotiation with the magical guardian), so I’ll probably include more of those in the adventure after this one.
One thing I noticed while making some NPCs was that Breagan could probably have helped keep Gath from almost dying in the watchtower. His Inspiring Word class feature/power only takes a minor action and lets himself or somebody within 5 squares or him use a healing surge. You can also use it twice in an encounter, if only once per round. Its no big deal, but definitely something to consider next time around.
I’m considering trying to speed up leveling somehow, since we won’t be able to meet that often. Its said to take about eight to ten encounters to gain one level in the current edition; I might tweak things to make it once every five or six.