Posted by : David Guyll August 06, 2011

Gates of Neverdeath is a two-encounter, potentially two-skill challenge mini-adventure ran as part of Neverwinter Game Day. As best I can figure the event is a way for players to pick up some cheap swag--promo Fortune Cards, theme card, map, etc--and roll up the characters that they actually want to play in the upcoming D&D Encounters season, Lost Crown of Neverwinter, instead of having to largely rely on pregens. Oddly everyone at my table ended up using pregens, even the players that initially already had characters.


The adventure starts out with the characters being hired to protect a woman named Seldra as she travels from Waterdeep to Neverwinter via ship, to the tune of 300 gp and free passage. The only catch is that they need to keep her mysterious box from getting stolen...which happens as soon as the ship docks in Neverwinter: while the players are distracting trying to fight off skeletons, zombies, and a Thayan archer with an ability that literally takes Selda out of the fight as an effect, a necromancer named Tolivast teleports in, nabs it, and legs it.

One of the players tried to throw a monkey wrench into the adventure's script by trying to chase the necromancer through the city, but the archer just kept shooting her until she ran back in order to get healed by the warlord. Another potential problem could have been the cavalier using his shielding ability to take a hit for Seldra, so if you happen to read this before running and have a cavalier I would try beating the shit out of her with zombies until the power gets used. I really think the whole thing could have been handled more elegantly (such as by making Seldra a minion or something, but whatever).

The skill challenge went well because I did not tell them that they were "in" one. I just had the guards talk to them and allowed them to question the captured archer, having them make skill checks until they reached a logical point where they could move on. They actually managed to pass the harder skill checks, picking up the trail of necrotic energy and beating information out of the archer, surprising Tolivast in Neverdeath graveyard just as he wrapped up his fell ritual.

This last battle was fucking hard. Beset from all sides by ash zombies and gravehounds, things just got worse when Tolivast cluster-fucked them with grasping claws from below, a power that I had been giving to my necromantically inclined villains since 4th Edition was released. Since the warlord went down pretty quick I threw them a bone by having Tolivast and his gravehounds bunch of next to the cavalier, making them ideal targets for the hunter's rapid shot exploit and the mage's fountain of flame spell. Despite handicapping myself, by the encounter's end almost everyone's hit points were in the single digits (except for the mage, who had one).

At that point people needed to leave, so we skipped the last skill challenge and wrapped things up by having Seldra limp into the graveyard, give them their money, and leave. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and a few of the players are planning on coming back regularly for Encounters, so hopefully I will see them next week. Despite the Thayan archer's "railroad" power I liked the adventure, and might use it for a side-game along with Lost Crown of Neverwinter for a foundation to a larger, long term Neverwinter campaign.

{ 1 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. i was drafted to DM a table, as the regular second DM was at Gencon.

    the second encounter was hilariously tough, but the players handled it well.

    despite nerfing the Ash Zombies a bit by forgoing their triggered effects, *every single party member* spent at least a round unconscious.

    the only party member who died was the mage, who went unconscious, got revived, went unconscious again, got revived, finished off a zombie with a hobo-crit on a melee basic staff attack, then died again, this time permanently.

    the party scout also dropped twice, but two natural 20s on his death saves made the whole situation ridiculous.

    only one party member was left standing at the end of the fight, but since it was the healer i decided that he could revive the fallen troops post-battle.

    the players seemed to get a kick out of how swingy the fight was, and to their credit were able to drop Tovilast early, before he got into position to set off the Grasping Hands from Below.

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