Another week of D&D Encounters sees our doughty group of heroic swimmer, the Bellyfloppers, looking to make their next splash. This time is the district of Black Lake, where the Sewer Rats make their hideout. They were attacked by members of the Dead Rats gang last week who also claimed to be good friends with the Lost Heir of Neverwinter. After the fight, the tavern owner congratulated them on clearing out the trash and offered them free room and board. He also told them where tofind the Dead rat hideout. “Follow the street out front until you can’t follow it no more.”
So bright and early the party makes their way down the ruined avenue towards Black Lake. Once a small pond in Black Lake Park, thought to be bottomless, the lake expanded to be over a mile across, flooding the neighborhood around it. Now forlorn ruins, steeples, chimneys and walls stuck out of the water at precarious angles as they neared the end of the street, which continued on right into the waters of black lake.
Next to the water’s edge, a small wooden boathouse sat, with an empty dock jutting into the black water. The ranger Belgos determined that many feet went in and out of the boathouse, and under a mildewed rug they found a big green sewer pipe with ladder rungs descending into darkness. Soon they discovered they were under the lake itself, and fould water dripped from th stones of the sewer pipes. The twisting and turnings were difficult to follow and each character took a turn leading the party.
They had a horrible time, getting stuck in one way tunnels, finding themselves in noxious fumes, and going in circles for hours. Eventually they came to an area that was recently traveled, and knew they were close. But turning a corner they saw a humungous fat crocodile, lazing half in the putrescent water Quinaro wasted no time but launched an arrow that glanced of the horny crocodile hide.
The rest of the party moved into the long narrow hall to attack, but no sooner had they done that, then two huge dire rats spilled out of a pipe behind them. Caught between rats and crocs, the heroes were hard pressed. At one point, the wizard Suldin was down to 1 hp, and his familiar owl was knocked out of the air by a dire rat. He risked all to get to his owl, and rescued it.
Not so fortunate was Jarvix the mentalist, who was grabbed by the crocodile and pulled to the back of the hall. Jarvix miraculously recoverd and pulled himself out of the crocs mouth, only to be bit again. This time, his legs and arms fell into the water as the crocodile swallowed what was left of the unconscious Jarvix. Played by my son, I showed no mercy describing the awful death of Jarvix. His half orc barbarian may have avoided the death blow for two years and 14 levels of play, but when I found the chance to slaughter Jarvix, I could not say no to the coup d’etat.
Nearly everyone else died in this battle, and I am sure they would have if I had not started pulling punched. When one of my favorite players Trent got quiet and ashen faced upon hearing the news that his owl was struck down by a rat, I knew that this was not the night for a lesson in hard core. The new player in the group, Belgos, was still standing and had a few hit points left.
One thing that was different from the way the encounter was written was that I used a large and a huge crocodile instead of 2 medium ones. The reason for this is that I have large and huge croc miniatures, but I would have had to use frogs if I went with the recommended medium, and that would be lame. Also, for whatever reason, any time I bring a croc into a fight, whether it be at Encounters or my home game, the battle always becomes intense, so I brought them for the drama. I kept all their stats as written.
About this encounter, the most I can say, is WOW was it deadly. Those rats hit for some major damage, and this ould easily have been a wipe if I had not let a replacement for Jarvix show up mdway throught he fight. Edith the fight came screaming down the stairs to help slaughter the implacable beasts and finally, luckily, the heroes vanquished their foes. Good battle, too hard, but fun. For once no one went swimming, must have been because of my 5 minute soliloquy on how disgusting, vile, and noxious the thick soup of human waste was.