I guess healers worshiping the Raven Queen or Kelemvor would have an easier time explaining away their own ineptitude. "Yea, for the Lord of the Dead hath decreed that I not heal ye in time and thus join him this day."
Cassandra got to learn about the classic bane of level 1 D&D characters: kobolds. And we both got to learn a new feature of the 4th Edition of D&D: Kobolds can actually be quite vexing! One the biggest advances of 4th edition was making a lot of low level creatures complex, but still appropriate for beginners. In ye olden days a lot of low level monsters and opponents felt more or less the same mechanically. In some cases lower level monsters would simply level, have their defenses, saves, and attack bonuses increase and be new monsters. Goblins basically graduated to being orcs, which in turn would graduate into being hobgoblins, etc.
Of course, many good DMs just worked through this monster progression. With a good story you could easily forget that the orcs you were fighting were basically enlarged versions of the goblins you fought last level. A good DM will still do this, of course, but what 4th edition brought to the table were some game mechanics that match the story flavor of each monster. Monsters in 4e have a unique character and that uniqueness is backed up mechanically.
Kobolds, for example, have always been the skittery ambush and trap laying weaklings of the D&D world. In 4e they all come with a movement mechanic called "Shifty" that fits their flavor wonderfully. Not only does the name of the ability hilariously match what we all thought about kobolds anyway, the mechanic allows all kobolds to shift as a minor action. This means that kobolds can zip around the battlefield more nimbly than the average player character. They can surround PCs and gain combat advantage quite easily thanks to their mobility.
In addition to their increased mobility certain 4e kobolds have a certain horrible ability called "Gluepot." Gluepot is a ability that apparently most of the kobolds we ran into had plenty of. It imposes a immobilization (save ends) effect on the players.
Our adventure had taken us deep into the sewer system of our beloved city. Apparently D&D cities are often infested with both bandits and kobolds. If only they had made those tunnels a little less roomy, right? This town apparently was particularly poorly planned as the sewer system connected to a series of caves.
What lives in caves? Harmless bats, salamanders, and maybe creepy looking fish? Oh no. Not alone anyways. Not in the D&D universe. All caves everywhere are infested with some sort of level appropriate clan of monsters. Through the series of caves we met stiff resistance from the resident kobolds. They were no match for us though. After all we had a great minotaur absorbing damage for us, a druid controlling the field of battle, a half-orc barbarian rending our foes in twain, a half-elf cleric casting sacred flame to free us from hail of gluepots we met, and a lovable gnomish bard (AKA the competent healer.)
We had a good rhythm going and Loran probably planned it that way. Eventually we met the wrench thrown into our well oiled machine... the black dragon and his five or so kobold adherents. I assumed that the tactics we had used up to this point would be enough to handle this new threat just fine... how wrong I was.
See, if you people keep flushing your dragon whelp pets down the toilet when they start to get too big this is what you're going to get in your sewers.
The kobolds promptly glued us in place with their wretched pots. Then came the acid breath... oh yes.
See, a dragon's breath weapon is kind of its signature, but one thing they all have in common is that they typically bathe an entire area in a lovely rain of death. A usual strategy is to keep spread out, but this is difficult when you are entering in from a small doorway and are immediately glued in place.
Sacred Flame did actually manage free up most of my companions from the glue pots, but I also had ongoing damage to help people to save out of. Saves are much more forgiving in 4th edition. After all, all I had a 50/50 chance to save out of each effect, so I focused on liberating our melee combatants first.
Luck was not with us that night. I knew it wasn't with us because I knew whom exactly it was with: the black dragon. That dragon recharged its breath weapon (a 1 in 3 chance) nearly every round. Meanwhile. I never, NEVER saved out of that first gluepot or the pool of acid that eventually took poor Iannan's life.
It was a tragic death for poor Iannan as he could have possible saved himself if he were not so obsessed with Sacred Flaming others out of harm. It would have been indeed sad if he had died with healing powers left to give out, or a great deal of gold on his person, or an engaging personality, but he had none of those. In the end, his sacrifice was quite worth it. His friends survived and his death led to the creation of a far greater character that would become the namesake of this blog. The subject of many a song and story and the first great herald of Tiamat, Xolok the Terrible.
Next post: The Introduction of Xolok the Terrible.