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(12/7/02 10:05:25 pm)
Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Warning - this is long and a little rambling at times, so bear with me...

Well, my PC's finally assaulted the Outer Fane for the first time, and it did not go well for them at all.

6-person party, all PC's:

Elven Ftr/Clr 5/4 (Clr of Corellon Larethain)
Human Rng/Rogue 3/7
Dwarven Ftr 10
Dwarven Clr 9 (Clr of Moradin)
Human Wiz 9
Human Brb/Sorc 5/4

A bit of background:
Hedrack is aware of the group and has been scrying on them periodically (this has prompted the Wiz to cast Detect Scry every day to cover themselves). The party has also been forced into a deal with Thrommel to recover his coffin, or have 18 dwarves taken from Rastor turned into vampire spawn (just a little basic blackmail from the Blackguard). They have fought the Earth and Air Temples, destroying them both. After that (while they were at Verbobonc), the Water & Fire Temple fought it out with Fire being victorious. The Fire Temple remnants (basically the high lvl NPC's) pack up what was left to head to the Old Temple with the Champion of Elemental Evil to summon the first Prince (Imix). The CRM is basically abandoned at this point with only a few creatures remaining and has been "cleared".

How It Went:

With ochre robes and Earth Temple symbols in place, they cross the Earth Bridge. A Spider Rider flies down to buzz them and check them out. Since they have the right look (including symbols), he lets them pass without trouble. They reach the other side, and following instructions left by Varachan in a note to them, assemble the key and enter.

They encounter one of the guards in the room (note - there are only 2 of the eight remaining due to a previous encounter in the wreckage of the Earth Temple where the guards were overseeing the clearing of rubble 2 months after the destruction of the altar). The elemental does nothing since they look like clerics of the EEE.

The guard questions them - "Who are you here to see?". After a brief pause, one PC steps forward and announces they are there to see Hedrack. The guard asks if they are expected. Another brief pause (with no out of game discussion between players - I was proud of them) the PC answers "yes".

The guard calls down the hallway to the other guard to "go inform Hedrack the visitors he is expecting have arrived". The other guard waves and leaves.

The party waits a few seconds then strikes, easily taking out the guard. This action alerts the elder earth elemental that they are enemies. It rises and attacks.

They don't do too badly against the elemental, liberally using the Hammerspheres from the Dwarven Temple against it. They take damage but the fight goes fairly well, except that it uses up more resources that they would like.

Behind the scenes - the other guard passes though Victors room, alerting him of visitors. (note - Bethe is dead, killed along with a raised Chatrillion on a mission from Hedrack to "convince" the party to leave the CRM). The guard proceeds down to Hedrack's chambers.

Guard: "Master, the clerics from the Earth Temple you were expecting have arrived"
Hedrack: "What? I'm not expecting anyone. What did they look like?"(He is aware that it is only a matter of time until the Fanes come under attack)
Guard: "Three Humans, two Dwarves and an Elf"
Hedrack (realizing this is the makeup of the PC party): "They might be intruders! Go fetch Prince Thrommel and have him check them out! Send Victor to me on your way there!"
Guard: "Yes Master!"

Hedrack begins buffing with Shield of Faith, Magic Vestment, Spell Immunity (I picked Magic Missile, Lightning Bolt and Blindness).

The guard runs off, hustling to Thrommel's chamber and gets the Prince then proceeds back with the Prince to the guard post. Counting out some time, I figure this takes a good two minutes for all this (before they start the fight with the elemental so I know when someone will arrive). The party dispatches the elemental and has plenty of time to heal up before then. On the way, Thrommel orders Victor back to Hedrack.

Meanwhile - As the party is checking out the guardroom and door, it opens revealing the Guard and the Prince. The guard becomes suspicious immediately upon seeing all the "clerics" up in the guardroom, two with drawn weapons (a greatsword and a greataxe) and no guard in view. He steps into the room in front of the Prince and demands some answers as he and Thrommel draw their weapons.

Thrommel recognizes the party, and strikes down the guard from behind as the party gapes at him.

Party: "How do we open the doors in here?" (They had just been examining the door, which you have to press the gem to make it slide into the floor)
Thrommel: "Press the gem in the middle. Beware! Hedrack knows you're here!" (At this point Thrommel casts Darkness on the doorway and leaves, heading back quickly down the hallway towards Hedrack's room).

The party doesn't hear the Prince leave, but waits a few rounds, then they cast Light into the Darkness, negating it and revealing the empty room with the weeping statue. The party advances.

Behind the scenes - Thrommel moves back up the hallway to where Hedrack and Victor stand waiting behind the four-sided statue, out of sight from the hall.

Thrommel: "Master! Intruders! The might of their Gods drove me away! Be ready!" (They Turned me!)
Hedrack: "Go fetch Varachan! Tell him to attend me!" (Hedrack is a little worried. It would take a powerful cleric to turn Thrommel). To Victor he says "Take a place on the wall and watch. Signal me when they are coming!"
Victor casts Spider Climb and waits around the edge of the hallway in the four-sided statue room, hiding and watching. Thrommel heads out to get Varachan.

Meanwhile - the Wiz cast Invisibility on the ranger/rogue, and last minute buffs are applied (They did the long duration buffs before crossing the bridge). The Rng/Rg slips silently down the hallway. Victor and the rogue neither hear nor see one another. The Rng/Rg see Hedrack standing behind the block, and via the Message spell communicates this to the group. (The party Wiz previously managed to Scry on Hedrack and got a look at him, so they know what he looks like. They also did a Spellcraft roll on the magic sensor from Hedrack's Greater Scrying and identified the spell, so they figure he's at least 13th level due to the spell level (7th) being cast).

Behind the scenes - Victor moves and gives Hedrack the high sign that they are coming. Hedrack casts Freedom of Movement on himself.

Meanwhile - The Rng/Rg sees the casting, but is too far away. Figuring Hedrack know they're here, he gives the signal to the rest of the party. The party moves into the lower end of the hall as the rogue moves out of hiding for the opening shot, striking for sneak attack damage.

From here my memory gets a little hazy on details and what happened when so bear with me:

The Rng/Rg hits, doing around 25 or so points of damage (he moved and attacked, only getting one hit) and becomes visible. Hedrack is able to confirm he's a rogue from the damage.

The party starts moving forward almost to the end of the hall. Hedrack moves forward and casts Blasphemy - no save, less than 12 HD dazed 1 round and weakens for 4 rounds (get all party except the Wiz (who went Imp. Invis).

Hedrack moves back towards the Rng/Rg, then casts Blade Barrier during their dazed round, placing more of it in front of the party that behind it. (If they make the save, they must move out in shortest route, which is back down the hall.) Entire party hurt (14d6 does that) except the elven cleric who I allow to drag the unconscious Wiz out of the area of effect back down the hall.

Rogue attacks again. Brb/Sorc charges, along with the Dwarven Fighter (Boots of S&S). Hedrack, knowing he will be flanked next round, turn his attention to the Rng/Rg and casts defensively - Destruction, Fort save DC 26. Rng/Rg fails and burns to ashes, consumed by unholy fire.(!)

Victor, still hiding, studies the dwarven fighter

Elven cleric casts Hold Person - fails
Dwarven Clr - Activates Hammersphere.
Wiz casts Magic Missile - 5 of them hit, but blink out. Wiz does Spellcraft to identify what's protecting him and makes it.
Dwarven Fighter and Brb/Sorc attack, the dwarf doing nice damage.

Hedrack turns his attention to the Dwarven Melee Machine and casts defensively - Disintegrate, Fort save DC26. The green ray strikes the Dwarf, who fails the save (even with a total of +14 to the roll). The dwarf turns to dust, equipment clattering to the floor.

Victor begins studying the dwarven cleric.

Brb/Sorc rages and attacks. Hedrack (at about 1/2 his HP's) casts defensively - Cure Critical.

The Wiz, seeing things are going bad tries a Dispel Magic, trying to strip off a buff spell (the fighter types are having a hard time hitting Hedrack's boosted AC of 29). He fails all the caster checks. He then drops a fireball, getting Hedrack but not the Brb/Sorc (ouch!)

Brb/Sorc attacks. Two Searing Lights from the clerics. Ice Storm from the Wiz. Hedrack is looking pretty shabby (single digit HP's). Hedrack 5' steps away from the Brb/Sorc, pulls his scroll and casts Heal (ahhh, full HP's!)

Brb/Sorc is now pretty PO'd! Moves for the grapple! Hedrack get an AoO, smacking him with Tentacle rod (non-animated), hits and damages stopping the first grapple attempt. Second grapple succeeds and is not opposed. Hedrack is grappled and damaged!

Hedrack calls to Tharzidun, animating the rod. Three tentacles hit the Brb/Sorc forcing a save, which he fails (by 1). The Brb/Sorc is Slowed for 12 rnds.

Elven clr moves up through the Blade Barrier, taking the damage and making the Massive Damage Fort save. He Disarms Hedrack, knocking the Tentacle Rod from his grasp.
The Wiz pulls a scroll and makes a Spellcraft check - Antimagic Field! With the dwarven clr within 10', they move through the Blade Barrier, suppressing the effect around them! (This was a nice move, I'll give my players credit for that. Knowing what the players didn't, I also saw what was coming next...). Hedrack sees the casting and makes his Spellcraft roll to identify the spell. He knows what it was and it worries him. With an AMF, he cannot flee quickly with Word of Recall....

Slowed Brb/Sorc pins Hedrack! However, Hedrack makes his Concentration check and casts a Verbal only spell, Greater Command - "Flee!". Will saves, DC 26 for the Brb/Sorc and Elven clr. Both fail. The Elven cleric flees down the corridor away from Hedrack, deeper into the Outer Fane (he can fall back, the Blade Barrier is there, he can't try to go through the nearby door, it takes a full round to open). The slowed Brb/Sorc lets go and stands up (all he can do with a partial action). Duration of Greater Command 1 rnd/lvl = 14 rnds.

Hedrack stands up and picks up the Tentacle Rod. Wiz and Dwarven clr move up past the end of the hall, passing within 10' of Victor. With his Spider Climb negated by the AMF, Victor falls to the floor! Unfortunately for him, as the Wiz and dwarven clr move on, the Blade Barrier springs back into effect and there is no saving throw. Poor Victor suffers 45 pnts of damage and expires. (This was a classic!) Closing on Hedrack, the Wiz draws his dagger (first time he's ever used it), swings and actually hits!

Cut to the fleeing elven clr - runs down the hallway, picking left or right. He runs down the spiral stairs into the Machine Room, but doesn't spy and exit (or come with 5' of the Machine). He runs back up and down the hall further. Encountering a door he goes through it. Unfortunately, it is the room with the trap. Triggering the glyph, he is attacked, grappled and crushed to death over three rounds by the black tentacles. (This was a bummer)

Meanwhile - Hedrack is sorely pressed. The AMF has his buffs suppressed, including his Endurance, items, etc. He moves away (no AoO from the Brb/Sorc, nothing in hand) then casts and Word of Recall's away.

The Wiz and dwarven clr catch up easily to the slowed, fleeing Brb/Sorc, suppressing both the slow & "Flee" command with the AMF. They move on cautiously, finding the crushed body of the elf. Recovering the body, they fall back to the four sided statue room to regroup.....

That's where we left off. Man, what a nasty fight! 50 % casualties for the PCs, two of them so dead it's going to take a True Resurrection to get them back.

Player comments - "Woah! What the heck was that?!?! Man, that was nasty! Holy S**T!"

DM conclusions - Hedrack is one nasty customer! With his 7th level spells (and other lower lvl ones) and his DC's he's hard to stand up to. The PC's didn't have any prior experience with Hedrack's spell repertoire, so they didn't know what to expect or what to prepare for. Originally they said to themselves "Why is he taking us on alone?" I think by the end of the fight they realized why(!).

I also think they didn't expect to run into him so soon. The Earth Door entrance to the Outer Fanes is almost a channel right into his room. This is dangerous, and something for other DM's to be aware of. They probably would have had an easier time coming in through the Air Door.

I felt the PC's made some bad choices (Asking for Hedrack directly) and that they didn't REALLY realize what a high level cleric could do. They had prior warning (knew his approximate level from the type of scry spell) and had Thrommel's warning that Hedrack knew they were there (which should have implied that he was preparing with spells, buffs, protections, etc.). If they had caught him unaware, it might have gone better for them, but I think there still would have been PC deaths involved.

It was an EL 14 encounter almost directly after an EL11 (the earth elemental). Even with 6 of them (which I figure them to be around an APL of 11 when awarding XP due to the fact that there are 6 of them instead of the 4 standard), the 3 or 4 difference was really devastating to them.

In future encounters with him, I think they'll have a better chance now that they've seen what he's capable of. That might give them an edge in preparing their own defenses like Spell Immunity, Death Ward, Spell Resistance, etc.

Edited by: Zenon at: 12/7/02 10:34:02 pm
(12/8/02 12:30:47 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Sounds awesome, man! A truly memorable battle. Love it. Thanks for the heads-up concerning the Earth door.

Devourer Of Worlds, Destroyer Of House Rules

Tristan DArque
(12/8/02 4:15:40 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Zenon, that was a classic battle, fantastic account. I look forward to my players mixing it with the high level clerics, though since they're currently halfway through the moathouse and we don't play that often, that isn't going to happen for well over a year real time.

One thing, which also applies to my campaign so I thought I'd raise it:

(which I figure them to be around an APL of 11 when awarding XP due to the fact that there are 6 of them instead of the 4 standard)

Does this work for you? My party is bigger than 4 (either 5 or 6, depending) but I don't boost their level for the purpose of assessing XP, because I figure they have to share the standard amount between more people.

(12/8/02 10:00:47 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
I just use the boosted EL of the party to assess challenges they come up on.

To figure XP, I do the following:

Calculate APL like the DMG says (so in my case above I have a lvl 10, 10, 10, 9, 9, 9 for a total 57. Divividing that by 6 (and rounding down per 3E rules gives me a APL of 9).

With the APL 9, I compare it of the DMG chart vs. the CR of the creature for XP. I add up the total XP, then divide by 6 to find the individual award.

Just make sure (through listening to your players) that they realize how dangerous these high level clerics can be! If they don't drop some subtle hints inconversation.

(12/9/02 1:11:10 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
That was a very good account, and one that has given me food for thought. Y'see, my group has 6 PCs - 2 10th levels, 3 9th levels and 1 8th-level. They have waltzed through everything - even the Fire Temple - despite the fact that I've boosted the entire CRM 2 ELs. Admittedly, I've remained faithful to the chaotic and insane nature of the enemy forces, but still, it's been so ludicrously easy that I've also boosted the Outer Fane. I'll post the altered stats, maps, etc. shortly.

So IMC, Hedrack is level 15. And yes, he gets 8th-lvl spells. I think that it might very well save my party's bacon that fully half of them are Neutral rather than good. But the daze'd result from blasphemy was one that I'd forgotten. Thanks.

Siobharek is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

(12/9/02 6:41:40 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Nice write-up and well juggled - what's Thrommel up to now?
Has he gone to alert Varachan and if so is he taking his sweet time about it?
It could be tricky for Hedrack to figure out who's screwed him over though if both turncoat Thrommel and Varachan are involved - or given the brevity of his battle he might have no idea of whatever treachery one or the other concocts - for all he knows they were on their way to him as ordered when he was forced to flee.

I overlooked a detail until the last minute - Hedrack has a Contact Medallion, so can order Varachan or Naquent about himself if he likes (well, once a day) - also, if you're using any of the BoVD add-in suggestions, giving Hedrack a Master Ring and Naquent/whoever a Slave Ring means he can also mentally contact his 'slaves'.


(12/9/02 10:41:20 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Heh, I didn't forget about the medallion. It was Hedrack's plan to keep the charge on the medallion until it looked like the party would retreat out the Earth Door, then use it to alert the lightning tower sorcerers and have them send out the Spider Eater Riders in force. That's why he sent Thrommel in the beginning to get Varachan.

IMC, Hedrack doesn't have any reason not to trust Varachan yet, but doesn't trust Thrommel that much.

From Hedrack's side, sending Thrommel to get Varachan is a test to see if he will. From Thrommels side, he'll be happy to go get Varachan and let Hedrack take on the party by himself. That's why Thrommel beat feat back from the party with the whopping lie of "They Turned Me!".

Hedrack's madness chose to make an appearance then ("Why keep this sniveling weaking here with me when he can be used as an underling and go fetch me some REAL help!"), so Hedrack didn't bother to try to bolster Thrommel or counter the supposed "turn".

Thrommel's blackmailing the party to get his coffin out of the Outer Fane for him. In his first meeting with the party he gave them some info about the Outer Fane defenses (just general stuff really). He didn't get too specific so it would go too easily for them or make them look like they knew something they shouldn't be able to know.

(12/9/02 11:02:51 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
That is a really cool account, Zenon, thanks for posting it. It would be really nice to have, say, a separate board for threads like this such that they don't expire; or, have them pinned up? Dunno. Reading this account a year from now, when my party actually gets there, would be very useful. As for now, I merely save them, but other DM's later down the line will miss out.

Your idea about contacting the spider eater riders is great! Btw, Zenon, did you realize that Greater Command requires a save each round? By typing out 14 rounds, you implied otherwise.

I like the use of the AMF. Your party deserves a lot of credit (and you must be proud of them) for not giving up on the campaign. That's my biggest fear in this.

(12/9/02 11:21:30 am)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Yeah, the player of the elven cleric just shot me an email today about that. Man, what a big Oopps!

With Magic Circle against Evil and his +2 vs. Enchantment from being an elf it makes his Will save a +12 against the DC 26. He was running for about 7 rounds, so I'm giving him the option to let me know if he wants to try the rolls to see if he would have made it at any point (in which case I'll do a little "creative editing" of the last few moments), or just taking the results as they stand. The player has always said if his PC dies, that he doesn't want to be raised. (He's been playing him since we started with 3E, and I think he's itching to try some other characters out). I'm leaving the choice up to him of what he wants to do.

Dang, I hate screwing up like that (as a DM), but we finished up about 2:30 in the morning for that session.

The Brb/Sorc was only under Greater Command for about 3 rounds before they supressed it with the AMF, but since his Will save is a mighty +5, I don't think there would be any change in the results there.

Edited by: Zenon at: 12/9/02 11:23:42 am
(12/9/02 12:22:34 pm)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
If it could be condensed down into key points, it could very easily wind up in the "Best of the Boards" as an example of how to run Hedrack and Thrommel.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

(12/9/02 12:48:21 pm)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
Thanks for the compliment!

I really wish I had a tape recorder going during the session so I could have had everything recorded in the right order. I know when I wrote it up that there are either things I missed, or things happening in the write-up are out of order.

Actually, I decided the key to playing Hedrack was to take off the gloves. Like others have said, my PC's have had it fairly easy in spots around the CRM due to the CE craziness there. Shoot, IMC the Air Temple forces were fighting amongst themselves WHILE they were fighting the PC's.

But when it came to the Outer Fane I thought to myself "It's time for some serious opposition. This guy didn't live through the original ToEE and make to it where he is by being a pushover!" But at the same time, I have to keep in mind that he's mad, MAD I TELL YOU! BWAHAHAHAHAH!

So I led of with the 7th level big-bang, save-or-die spells after he had time to suitably buff himself up with protections from really common "fight-ender" spells (things like Hold Person, Blindness, the ever-popular, always hitting Magic Missile). Heck, he still had some left in the rack (Slay Living, Phantasmal Killer) that I didn't get to use. In short, I played him like a PC would be played, while still making one or two suboptimal choices for him. But these choices didn't involve anything directly tied to the combat at hand.

I think that's the key to running Hedrack to his full potential as a memorable foe for the PC's to face (and he'll get to be a recurring one if I can help it. Like a bad penny, he'll keep turning up until they kill him, now or in the future).

Edited by: Zenon at: 12/9/02 12:50:09 pm
(12/9/02 3:27:52 pm)
Re: Hedrack - One very, very dangerous man!
My PC's finally killed Hedrack (disintegrate touch AC was pretty hard to hit, SR was tough to beat, Hedrack had great Fort saves... but alas poor Heddy I knew him well) and just because he was SOOO tough it almost stopped the campaign due to "Their too tough gosh!". Good job playing the man... I did the same thing for combat. Make 'em work for it!

Do not Meddle in the Affairs of Dragons,

for you are Crunchy & good with Ketchup

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