Several months passed in real time compared to 4 years gametime (where the PCs gained no experience, natch) so some email cajoling got everyone back up to speed. Stevie changed character because he wasn’t sure about the Monk class and switched to a Shadar-Kai Rogue. A bit of back-story saw all five converge on the rooftop, in two pairs and Omega Pi going it alone.
I set up the map, everyone rolled for Initiative then set up in reverse order, with no idea where the threat would come from this seemed to build a bit of tension. With no opportunity for Oriel to twin-strike Kapphrin sniper style I unleashed the Mourning Haunt upon them!
This battle was markedly different from the previous cakewalks. The Mourning Haunt was happy to go toe-to-toe with the Warden, something that caused me a lot of pain last time round. The Haunting fog protecting him from ranged attacks and doing a burst attack kept Kapphrin and Oriel well away, Stevies Shadar-Kai was very mobile and Aramil found it difficult to get any purchase on a solo, looks like Orbmaster Wizards are proper controllers that work better against armies of Minions. I was having a great time but looking back it may have been frustrating for the PCs as they wore the demon down, most of them reaching bloodied (and possibly single digit hps). The tide turned when the Haunt hit bloodied himself and the fog aura ended. L1 twin-strike rangers hurt. Go Strikers.
After a short rest and some treasure we started to talk about who, what, where and when and moved into an extended skill check. It went well to start with but in the end could’ve gone better. In summary: Good Bits - The adventure hooks and background gave me enough to present a couple of NPCs at the site. A professor (Gydd Nephret..?) and plenty of deposed nobles were easily at hand. - After 3 fails the adventure suggests throwing in some combat, I’d put the ‘street-scene’ poster map out and a L1 encounter with one Brute and a few minions only lasted a couple of rounds but was a welcome diversion. Gamewise it also cost Kaffphrin a healing surge]] Could do better -I gave away too much info too early which meant the last 3 successes didn’t really feel like they achieved much, ingame the PCs were already where they wanted to be. -The DCs were low (10+) depending on skill and despite racking up a few fails there were some stupendous successes (25+) which should’ve earned more than one success. -Some PCs will always miss out on skill challenges because of their skill-set. I should’ve supplanted my own skill challenge – a rooftop chase! Mixing the physical skills (athletics\acrobatics\endurance) to keep the momentum and the soft skills for keeping things on track (streetwise\perception\history at a push). I think skill challenges should involve everyone wanting to roll instead of looking around for the Charisma\Int build in the party.
We ended with a cliffhanger. Omega Pi booted in the door to the house the Mourning Haunt came from, only to find some goblins in there ready for them. Oh and a pair of Guard Drakes – they must’ve known the party were coming…