Home > Heroic Tier > The Darkest Night

The Darkest Night

Encounter Level 5 (1000 XP)

The characters discover a building in which an unholy ritual is taking place, and arrive in time to confront the leader of the vile cultists, Kershad. Dressed in his red robes he is busy performing a ritual that is infusing a Bone Mongrel Dracolich with greater powers… perhaps a shortcut to creating a more powerful undead Dragon…

Light comes from only one building in the settlement, and between the flashes of lightning you realise that light comes from some unholy magic being worked within the building.

When the characters have finished describing their approach, and dealt with any guards you may have added read or paraphrase the following:

Entering the large building the first thing you see is the couriscating energies, some as black as the deepest grave, and others bright as angels swirling around the skeletal form of a huge dragon suspeneded in the air by the energies. Then you notice a man dressed in red robes. As thunder booms through the room and the door slams shut he turns to face you.

“You are to late, the ritual is done! Soon the dracolich will be at my command!” he shouts, black spittle flying from his mouth.

The encounter hinges around the characters being able to disable the ritual, it should provide both a threat in the form of the hazard, and the possibilities of what the future will hold should the cultist by correct.  Kershad is more than a little deranged, and shouts constantly about his imminent triumph “Just a few more moments and you will be my dracolich’s first feast!” and similar things, giving the PCs clues that maybe they can still stop the ritual.

Be clear to the players that there is a time frame for completing the ritual. They have 10 rounds in which to stop the last of the energies being gathered. (See the Skill Challenge below for details.)

Setup

Kershad Red Robed x1
Dracolich’s Claw (Hazzard)
Stop the Ritual(Skill Challenge)

Features of the Area:

Illumination: The inside of the building is brightly lit by a mixture of torches and the glow of the magic from the ritual.

The Ritual: While the Ritual is active the Hazzard of the Dracolich’s Claw functions and Kershad tries to remain adjacent to the ritual circle. (See the Skill Challenge and Hazzard for details.)

Roof Height: The ceiling is 20′ up so the Bone Mongrel Dracolich cannot fly out of the PC’s melee reach should it be released.

Tactics:

Kershad tries to remain near the ritual so that the trapped dracolich can claw at the PCs. He uses his burst and blast attacks to try and keep the PCs on the back foot, while also trying to force PCs close to the ritual circle so the dracolich will attack them.

Ending the Encounter:

The characters have triumphed if Kershad has been slain and the ritual stopped, however they may have to settle for lesser results such as Kershad slain and the Dacolich escpaed.

If the Dracolich escapes it should become an ongoing threat and menace in the campaign until at last the PCs are able to confront it near the end of Heroic tier at which time it should be a Solo monster with allies.

Mechanics:

Dracolich’s Claw (Hazard) (Level 2 Hazard 125 XP)The trapped dracolich extends its claw from the energies that bind it and swipes at those close by.
Initiative: +5
Attack
(Standard, Reach 2)
+7 vs AC;  2d6+5 necrotic damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 damage.
Countermeasures

Stop the ritual (see Skill Challenge)
Stay out of the hazard’s reach.

Stop the Ritual (Skill Challenge)
Level
2
Complexity
1 (requires 4 successes before 3 failures)
The ritual is building to its crescendo, and in 10 rounds will be complete if the PCs do not stop it before hand. Each time they gain a success on a Primary skill they extend the time frame by 1 round, as the energies they disipate must be regathered. But each time they earn a failure they shorten the time limit as the ritual draws energy from them or the surroundings.
Initial Skills:
Arcana (DC 10): The character determines the nature of the ritual and that it is gathering divine and arcane energy to infuse the Bone Mongrel Dracolich. This use of the skill opens up Arcana and Religion for stopping the ritual. (No Successes)
Perception (DC 10): Notices that the ritual is feeding into the Bone Mongrel Dracolich through the statue. This use of the skill opens up attempts to stop the ritual through the Athletics, Endurace and Thievery. (No Successes)
Religion (DC 10): The character determines the nature of the ritual and that it is gathering divine and arcane energy to infuse the Bone Mongrel Dracolich. This use of the skill opens up Arcana and Religion for stopping the ritual. (No Successes)

Primary Skills: The Primary skills can be used in any combination to earn a maximum of 3 successes towards disabling the ritual. If no success were gained with Perception one success on either of Arcana or Religion will reveal the use of Endurance or Thievery.
Arcana (DC 15): The character disperses the arcane energies growing in the ritual.
Endurance (DC 10): The character must endure some of the energies and sacrifice in order to bring the ritual to an end. This can only be attempted after at least 1 success on an Arcana or Religion check to reduce the energies in the ritual. Each failure at this check costs 1 healing surge.
After a success on an Endurance check the character may loose a healing surge to negate any other failure earned in the challenge so far (including for Endurance checks)
Religion (DC 15): The character disperses the arcane energies growing in the ritual.
Thievery (DC 17): The character disperses the arcane energies growing in the ritual.

Concluding Skill: The ritual requires someone to plunge into the heart of it and push over the pillar that is the focus of the ritual for it to be completely stopped.
Athletics (DC 10): The character topples over the statue in the center of the ritual. Can only be attempted after 3 other successes have been gained.
Each time the character fails at this check they loose a healing surge or 1/4 of their maximum hit points if they have no surges left (this damage cannot be reduced in any way) as the foul energies of the ritual course through them in addition to earning a failure.
Failures at this check can be negated by loosing a additional surge or taking an additional 1/4 of maximum hit points in damage if they have no surges left.

Victory The ritual is halted and the Bone Mongrel is destroyed by the resulting collapse of the arcane and divine energies.

Defeat
The Bone Mongrel Dracolich is released. It attacks for 2 rounds before it escapes bursting through the roof.

Enchanced Bone Mongrel Dracolich (Quick Information)
AC 24; Fortitude 23, Reflex 21, Will 20
Resist: All 10
Action Points: 1
Hit Points: 240

Flensing Teeth: The dracolich makes a bite attack against each of two different targets.; +13 vs AC ; 2d8+6 necrotic damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 damage.

Breath Weapon: The dracolich unleashes a blast of bone shards: close blast 5; +11 vs Reflex; 2d10+10 necrotic damage, and the target takes ongoing 5 damage (save ends). First Failed Saving Throw: The ongoing damage increases to 10.

Categories: Heroic Tier Tags: ,
  1. March 22, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Loved everything about this one. Definitely passing this on to my DM as fuel for the fire.

    ~krypt0

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