Our heroes meet up at Annette Weber’s bookstore around five just as the last customers are leaving. There’s a bit of banter between the PCs (particularly Daniel) and a gaggle of students, then it’s down to business.
Annette’s research has revealed there may be a link between extreme weather and demons. Several occult texts (particularly one from the 14th century) report that extreme and unusual weather is a result of one or more demons breaking through the planar boundaries and appearing on Earth. I don’t even need to ask for an INT check on this – they quickly twig that means extreme weather = new demon arrival. No extreme weather means it’s already here. It’s not a lot to go one, but it’s a start.
One more titbit is also revealed: the older the weapon, the more likely it is to harm a demon. That’s why guns don’t work against them (they’re much too new) and even a newly-made sword wouldn’t do much good. The weapons and equipment our heroes manifest are all well-worn and aged.
I’d primed Daniel’s player ahead of time. He brought a newspaper where there’s reports of a string of mysterious killings over the last few days in Agua Dulce. The bodies were all found in highly inaccessible locations, and were physically torn apart as if by a powerful beast. Lovely.
There’s a terrific in-character discussion about whether Our Heroes should investigate. It’s ended with Annette Weber saying “But what if there’s another death tomorrow, and another, and another. And we’re just sat here knowing we could have stopped them. Could you live with that? I couldn’t.”
It’s decided. Time for a road trip!
Looking back over the previous sessions they’ve fought a freakin’ horde of demons in session one, and a fair number in sessions two and three. Time to break out a Solo beastie.
And boy, what a beast he is too.
Source: Monster Manual II, © Wizards of the Coast
The Neldrazu is a four-armed four-clawed teleporting Demon of Awesome. He’s also (by default) a Level 8 Lurker, but I want him lower level, but Solo. Thanks to the wonder that is 4e D&D’s easy monster customization rules, it’s a matter of minutes to jot down the follow and apply it on the fly to the MMII statblock.
Level 6 Solo Lurker 1250
-2 Will, -1 Damage, +5 Saving Throws
2 Action Points
As I’ve yet to score a copy of DMGII, I’m using the rules from DMG I, but only doubled the Hit Points rather than quadrupling them. With his ability to Abduct as an at-will Move Action (teleport one foe 50′, then teleport next to him) I figures he’s going to be more than a challenge for the PCs. Even though we’re playing High-Speed D&D where the character increase a level at the end of every session, I’m using the XP values to eyeball the expected difficulty of the encounters. At 1,250XP this critter on his own should be a very tough battle against four 4th level PCs.
He freakin’ almost slaughtered our PCs! They find him holed up in an old junkyard where there’s wrecked cars and industrial equipment piled high forming corridors and open spaces – in essence, a modern-day Dungeon layout, only with the option of climbing to the top of the “walls”. I use Dungeon Tiles to map out the rough layout, and the game is on.
Now here’s the thing. We’ve got two Fighters, a Rogue and a Wizard. That’s great for up-close and personal melee, but less so when you need to fight at range. Against a Demon with Reach 2 and the ability to Teleport, ranged attacks are pretty essential. It didn’t help that Nelly managed to abduct Annette Weber in the first few rounds. 34HP don’t last long against Flaying Claws that do 4d6+4 damage + 5 ongoing. Ouchy.
So, they land a few good hits but know they’re outclassed. They beat a hasty tactical retreat lugging Annette’s heavily wounded (but alive) body with them. Time to hit the nearest motel to recover, regroup and plan.
That’ll teach ’em not to respect mah monsters!
Next session: Neldrazu, defeated?