Encounter Level 11 (2400xp)
“You are wasting time pursuing Baldwin,” the voice that utters these words is deep and carries a weight beyond its low volume.
“Yes my Lord,” Answers the half-orc sorcerer Jargesh who kneels before the unknown speaker.
“These others, the children of Tralvaile and their allies, they are causing your plans to come undone.” The deep voice continues. “They are leaving Kalafort, do not waste this opportunity.”
“I will set my allies upon them my Lord,” Jargesh replies.
“Heed me Jargesh, if you do not destroy them, your destruction is assured.”
That is how I introduced this encounter to my players, a cut-scene showing that the campaign’s current main villain is answering to someone else, and that they have the attention of that larger player. Then when describing the scene the Cambion, who was disguised as Jargesh, was described as “a figure who could only be Jargesh” and there was much “OMG” and thinking of running away, but how do you out run the dragon? It was a cool moment in the game.
In this campaign white dragons are a recurring theme, and so having fought a solo one back at level 1 there was a certain nervousness at facing one again (after all they couldn’t tell it wasn’t a solo). Also the players have in the past had some terrible luck fighting animals (specifically snakes) and so placing the wolves on the table to act as the two hounds also made them a little twitchy.
Now I only have 3 PCs and 1 NPC in the party as well, and they were 8th level at the time of this encounter, it was a tough fight and saw them reach 9th level at the end of it. All of that should give you some idea of how I used this encounter which gives it more scope than its raw mechanics might also indicate. Finally Iceheart’s special power was inspired by the Worldbreaker article over on the At-Will blog. So now onto the encounter…
- For 4 PCs: No Change
- For 6 PCs: Increase each hound to 5.
Features of the Area:
Illumination: Encounter is assumed to happen during the day, and so is well-lit. Should the encounter happen at another time you will have to impose appropriate vision penalties for the situation you create.
Pool: Light blue areas are difficult terrain, dark blue areas are impassable except by swimming (DC10)
Rocks and Skeleton: Are difficult terrain.
Tree Trunks: Are impassable and can provide superior cover.
Tree “Canopy”: Represents the area affected by the tree and its roots, and is difficult terrain.
Small Trees: Provide cover for creatures in their square and are difficult terrain.
Stairs: These stairs lead down, characters that are on the first square have cover from creatures more than 4 squares away. Creatures on the 2nd square of squares have total concealment from creatures more than 4 squares away.
Iceheart and the Cambion hang back and let the Hounds engage first. The hounds and Iceheart open with their breath weapons as soon as they are able seeking to catch as many enemies as they can in the blast. Iceheart does not worry about catching the hounds in its breath if that will result in more PCs being affected. The Cambion hangs back and uses his ranged attacks until the hounds are down, at which time it will close and use melee attacks to support Iceheart.
If the party is having trouble save Iceheart’s Blizzard’s Heart power until after it is bloodied, if they are doing well use it frequently, until the Cambion has fled. Once the Cambion is gone (see Ending the Encounter) the Dragon will stop using this power and concentrate on its direct attacks.
Ending the Encounter:
The encounter “ends” when the Cambion is reduced to half his hit points. At this point his disguise falls and the truth is revealed, and he should use Burst Skyward, and his Fly 8 speed to escape from the encounter. Depending on when that happens in the encounter the remaining creatures should either flee or fight on. When I ran it the party used focused fire to eliminate the two hounds then the dragon before finally turning to the Cambion, so there was little need to worry about it.
The key here is that the Cambion should have a good chance of escaping depending on your party’s available options, and this allows him to be a recurring villain for at least a short time.