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Subject: The Silver Scepter rss

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Previously my groups hadn't been able to win at The Silver Scepter. I thought that maybe four heroes could succeed where two or three had failed, and recently we tested it, albeit late at night.

I had an experienced Dragon Strike adventurer play the role of Dragon Master in my place. I told him how he could move the contents of the rooms around if he wished to make it more random (he didn't, but I didn't figure that until the third room). Also, I suggested different ways he could play the transformed prince for him to chose (see my variant fix). He hid the scepter then our group containing two or three newbies chose characters and drew treasure cards. Our youngest player chose the Warrior and since I had recently acquired a Valkyrie figure she went with that and sat in the fourth position. Next, a neophyte chose the male Thief and sat in the #2 position. The next player chose the Dwarf, while I chose the Wizard and sat to go first. Normally the heroes get 6 treasure cards, but the DM allowed us 2 each, and someone was allowed to trade-in an "Elf only" card for a new one. After trades I ended with 2 wands and the Crystal Ball.

I took two steps forward (from the bottom entrance), saw two Bugbears in the Hall of Slime, and cast Fireball which killed them both. The Thief put on his Boots of Speed (changed to "Any Hero"), instead of swapping with the Dwarf, who moved 5 spaces (a stat change). He wanted to attack the Orc on the overlook with his bullwhip, which we decided should have a range of 1 square in the air or 2 on the ground, but the DM didn't allow it up the cliff. So he ran across a pit trap, which he dexterously avoided and searched a Bugbear for treasure - nada. The Dwarf moved on the board and failed his Find/Disarm Traps roll. The Warrior turned right at the new tunnel marker. This adventure the figures started off the board, instead of the first space, so she didn't have the movement to run up the cliff with her Ring of Free Action. The Orc on the overlook fired the crossbow but it missed.

While we were all in the Hall, we decided two should go left and two right. I followed the Warrior, while the Thief went left. The Dwarf, after checking the second Bugbear, spent a turn going right, before turning around towards the Thief, who was now so far away, he'd discovered the Troll. Since one player alone couldn't defeat it without magic, he got into the empty chest (broken trap) and fled that chamber, after suffering a bit (a bite, that is). Instead of futily attacking, he searched the Troll for treasure (only the Thief can search a live monster) and found the Ring of Spell Storing, which had Invisibility and Detect Invisibility.

Before the other chamber I used my Crystal Ball to look through the wall to see the Manscorpion, his chest, and the trap in the entrance (which turned out to be broken). The Warrior entered and made an attack, and faced a counter-attack. On my turn I used my Wand of Paralysis which after a failed Save vs. Magic, "pinned him to the wall" as I said. Perhaps this should work like the Death Knights' paralysis for one turn, or the Web spell, where they get to attempt an escape every turn, but the DM allowed it to work for the entire adventure. I hadn't seen this treasure often enough to decide to reduce its power previously. One of us busted open the chest with a Feat of Strength and got the first piece of the Scepter. We should have found a random treasure, but the mapbook has an error by not showing one there. Also, if we had thought about doing it, we could have searched the paralyzed Manscorpion, since the rule states you can search a monster that's asleep, dead, or tied-up, so paralyzed should count. Anyway, we had enough good treasure from the start.

The Dwarf and the Thief each put a hit on the Troll the same turn, but they weren't in the clear to take more shots. This would have been a situation for my house rule of "one order change per adventure" so the Dwarf could then attack first and move out of the way so the Thief could rush in and try for the third hit. Instead the Thief went after the Orc who'd come down the stairs and proceeded on towards the chest in front of the Death Knights.

Meanwhile we had a player change, as the woman playing the Warrior retired and another inexperienced lady took over her character. Her first challenge was to deal with the Prince who was transformed into an Orc. I'd suggested that for the story's sake he'd be banging on a locked chest, and the DM went with that. So after he cried, "Leave me alone," she had to decide whether to do as he said, attack, or talk. She attempted to open the chest but the DM had the Orc figure throw himself on it so she couldn't. She thought about attacking, which I knew would have meant failure for our adventure, but I restrained myself from telling her what to do. She chose to talk, and got him to be an ally, but didn't ask him where Scepter pieces were. Oh well. The DM declared that the Prince was a V.I.P. who mustn't die and must escape the Cavern alive. Because of this and since monsters can't perform a feat (to open the chest), the Warrior player sent him for the explored exit on the lower right. Meanwhile, we got a piece of Scepter from that chest (the DM was generous in placement). The Wizard then moved around the corners, saw two Gargoyles and hit them both with the Web Spell.

The Thief had now reached the treasure chest in front of the Death Knight but had trouble opening it, while the Troll was in between the Dwarf and Thief. The Thief found the third part of the Silver Scepter, but was paralyzed after being hit by a Death Knight and failing his Save vs. Magic roll. The Hourglass was on 4, which meant we had to decide whether to flee the cavern, hoping he'd escape on his own, or attempt to come to his rescue. We chose the latter. One Gargoyle got free of the web and came at my Wizard, so I cast Lightning Bolt Spell, which caused 2 damage on each since they failed their Save rolls, then I ran for the Hall. The Warrior finished off the near one, covering my back. Instead of leaving, The Dwarf performed a Feat of Dexterity to slip between the Troll's legs and run up the stairs. After losing a turn, the Thief was hit by both Death Knights but amazingly made both his Saves! He turned Invisible and fled for the exit, as the Dwarf led the Troll to the overlook. I used the Paralysis Wand which, due to his failed Save, turned the Troll into another statue. The Warrior finished off the second Gargoyle, who'd freed himself, then searched and found Plate Mail, which was interesting, and headed for the exit.

Unfortunately, the Dwarf was now stuck on the overlook and couldn't make his Feat of Dexterity to climb down. He had one turn to run before the Death Knights blocked his path, but he chose to attempt the Cliff. It was time for the Dragon, so after casting Cure Light Wounds on the Dwarf my Wizard fled. I had no other items or spells to aid him because I'd forgotten to ask for the Ring of Free Action from the Warrior when our figures were together. The Dragon didn't attack with fiery breath or with tooth and claw by flying/hovering next to the cliff - perhaps because the player had revealed he had the Ring of Fire Resistance, the Death Knight was in the blast radius, or the DM didn't think of hovering. When the Dwarf finally climbed down the cliff, the Dragon blocked his path and made physical attacks. His next turn, he tried to dash under the Dragon, like he did with the Troll but that failed. The Dragon took his last two hit points by tooth and claw. Unfortunately, we forgot the Dwarf had a Potion of Invisibility, which meant once off the cliff he could have drank it and then made a leisurely walk out a side entrance. Argh!

So our story goes: The Dwarf perished in the Cavern while our heroes found the 3 parts of the Silver Scepter and after escaping and reuniting, combined them to use its power to heal Lord Narran and restore the Prince to human form. All in all, a partial victory!

Since the Dwarf didn't accomplish anything (other than bringing two treasure cards), we might have been able to win this with three heroes. I wouldn't have thought the Thief would be safe on his own, but in this scenario his power and versatility seemed to make up for the lack of armor and hit points. His Sneak Attacks match the Warrior's attack (for a time) and his Dexterity to pick a lock is comparable with the Warrior using Strength to bust a lock. If the Wizard were allowed to use the Knock spell to open a locked treasure chest, then I'd say these three characters could head in three different directions successfully. Of course starting treasure like the Boots of Speed and the Wand of Paralysis may have led to success in this adventure.
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