It turned out the town elder we captured last time was just about as stupid as everyone else in the city, and while he couldn’t help us out with much in the way of answers to our burning questions about what the hell was going on around here, he could at least point us in the direction of the Evil Ones. Progress. We also somewhat awkwardly (and belatedly) discovered at this point that a trinket we had recovered early in the adventure last time was a Wand of Eagle’s Splendor, which might have helped us to not anger everyone quite so much. A little late now, though.
So we were off, down through a hole in the ground … only to get blasted by a barrage of Magic Missiles that almost killed Skervin (Dave’s character). No problem, Trinky, our Gnome Evoker, simply blasted ’em with a Fireball. That Magic Missile is pretty nasty for a low-level spell, guaranteed damage with no saving throw. Stuff like that makes Makai very nervous … as long as he gets a save, he’s got a fighting chance. Anyway, as demonstrated here, once your Wizard passes 5th level your ability to deal with hordes of low-level flunkies is dramatically improved.
It seems this culture on the Island of Death divided into two parts, the magic-deprived barbarians who live above ground and the magic-enabled people who live below ground. The underground dwellers seem more sophisticated and intelligent, but I was suspicious of them from the get-go. When we met the Elder who guarded the dragon Mehitoharo, my fears were justified … as soon as Skervin shook his hand, he felt his life force being drained; it was a Succubus. Succubi are AC 20 with damage resistance 10 and magic resistance 18 – both very, very nasty. We defeated her largely because a) Trinky cast the Web spell, which bypasses magic resistance and tied her up for a while, then b) Kala cast her Summon Nature’s Ally III which brought in 2 Hippogriffs who while physically incapable of damaging her, were able to basically sit on her while Kernighan enchanted his Spiked Chain to be Good (yes, really) in order to burn through the damage reduction. Dan has mini-maxed his Cleric such that he can normally do 20+ points of damage with that thing (don’t ask me how), and once he enchanted it to Good, it made pretty short work of the Succubus.
Mehitoharo was then roused to combat the forces of Evil. We never really did figure out what the deal was with the two separate cultures or why they thought of each other as Evil Ones, but I gather from what Sean told us afterwards the Succubus had been manipulating both of them. Like many good D&D adventures, Sean had put a lot of thought into the background of the adventure which didn’t come out directly in play, but did manage to give it a nice texture. I enjoyed this module … we’ve been having trouble with pacing in our group, but Sean managed to keep everything going nicely, keep it moving in the right direction and providing a good sense of progress. This was good. Our group seriously struggles with party/NPC interactions that don’t involve whacking things, but we’re getting a bit better.
I’m not sure I’m a big fan of those new damage reduction rules in 3.5. On the one hand, they are much cleaner than the 3.0 rules. On the other hand, there are now just so many types – Silver, Iron, Magic, all the multitudinous alignments in various combinations … it’s like you need a utility belt of specialized weapons for whatever resistant creature comes along. This has been brought home to me because my Monk actually has built-in ability to cut through Magic and Lawful vulnerabilities, which is pretty cool – but I have not yet met a damage resistant creature he could damage. The Succubus had DR 10/Cold Iron or Good (so the first 10 points of damage from each attack are ignored unless the weapon is either cold iron or good), but my Lawful Good Monk’s fists only had counted as Lawful and Magic, but not Good. Seems a little, ah, fine-grained. In the old days of AD&D, it was just “you need a magic weapon +x” to damage the creature, and in occasional cases silver would work too (the traditional Werewolves and some Undead), so you knew more or less what to expect. Now it’s become a bit of a crap shoot.
Next adventure is probably one in new campaign set in a fantasy world that is basically 1455 Europe, specifically Venice. A fascinating time period of course, the dawn of the modern world, but it’ll be interesting to see if the GM can meld this with the D&D world of heroic fantasy successfully. A nation of Christian Elves? This might take some getting used to.