Quest II - The Masquerade Ball
As a reward for flushing out the goblins from their den and rescuing one of the former Shadow Binders, Baron Greigory invited the heroes to the social event of the season - Lord Theodir's masquerade ball. As Lord Theodir was himself once a member of the Shadow Binders, Greigory was concerned that his old friend might be targeted by the Overlord. [The heroes won the previous quest, and had chosen The Masquerade Ball for the second quest of the campaign.]
Joining the heroes was Jain Fairwood, an experienced Wildlander who had been stalking goblin raiders menacing the local countryside. Together, the four heroes departed for Lord Theodir's estate to the north of Arhynn. Along the way, Jain's experience in the wild allowed the heroes to take a shortcut and make good time. However, in the distance they saw smoke rising from a small hamlet - no doubt the work of the Overlord's minions. The heroes hurried on to the masquerade ball, lest they arrive too late! [For the Travel Events, the first card allowed the heroes to skip the second Travel Event, and the third granted an extra Overlord card.]
No sooner had the heroes arrived at the ball than a beautiful, golden-haired woman - Lady Eliza Farrow - arrived with the Overlord's minions at her side. She grabbed a nearby guest and sank her fangs into his neck, drawing blood and revealing herself to be a vampire! The guests began panicking as goblin archers and cave spiders poured into the Library and Chapel, while the heroes rushed forward to save the guests. As the cave spiders moved forward to attack the heroes, the goblins began unmasking guests. To the heroes' surprise and dismay, four of the guests were cultists in the disguise! These flesh moulders bolstered the ranks of the cave spiders assaulting the heroes, as Lady Eliza Farrow casually moved forward. [Things looked pretty rough for the heroes starting out, as the cave spiders held the line in the first room (the Chapel) while the goblins proceeded to unmask guests. Within the first two turns, all four flesh moulders (cultists) were unmasked and on the board, and there was a wall of enemies between the heroes and the two remaining guests!]
Heedless of the odds, Grisban charged forward with his new steel broadsword and iron shield, cleaving a path into the spiders. The dwarf had developed quite a hatred of the creatures after being overwhelmed by them during the heroes' attempts to secure the farm in their previous quest. Avric, wielding a new crossbow, opened fire as he advanced, followed by Leoric. Jain, her fire blocked by the ensuing melee, moved forward and unmasked a guest. Her guest turned out to be one of the nobles, so she began covering his retreat to the entrance. [Grisban's new Whirlwind attack was devastating to the massed numbers of monsters crowded into the Chapel, and his new steel broadsword allowed him to reroll the red power die when attacking - ouch! The tables quickly turned in the heroes' favor as the number of monsters dwindled rapidly. The Overlord's plan of drowning the heroes in sheer numbers was only partially successful.]
As the Overlord's minions fell to the combined onslaught, they managed to take down Avric and hold the heroes in the Chapel. Two goblins escaped with captive nobles, as Jain successfully secured one of the nobles. Lady Eliza Farrow attacked the heroes, but Grisban was in a sour mood and quickly put her on the defensive. Her attempts at vampiric seduction were lost on Grisban, as the drunken dwarf continued his assault. As Leoric added his runic blasts in support, Lady Eliza shrieked her fury and faded into a fine red mist, streaking down the stairs to the basement. As the last flesh moulder was attempting to escape with the remaining noble, Grisban quickly recovered and rushed forward, slaying the cultist and rescuing the guest. [Grisban put a serious hurt on Lady Eliza Farrow with three attacks (two Actions plus his Heroic Feat), taking her down to one health in one turn! She managed to hang around a little while longer, but was largely underwhelming. Perhaps with more support she might have been more useful, but the heroes were keen to take out the Overlord's Lieutenant.]
With guests secured and the Overlord's minions chased into the basement, the heroes were relieved to learn that Lord Theodir was among those rescued. Oddly, he did not seem overly concerned with the Overlord's attack, and told the heroes to hurry along to his family vault to secure Fortuna's Dice, one of the relics used by the Shadow Binders years ago. [The heroes rescue two of the four nobles, and rolled a 2 to determine if Lord Theodir was one of them. This meant that the heroes won Encounter 1 and Lady Eliza Farrow would have to test to answer the riddles in the second Encounter.]
As the heroes entered the basement, they were forced to clear out a cave spider den as Lady Eliza proceeded on her way to the vault. The doors were all magically sealed, requiring a riddle to be answered in order to pass beyond. Grisban, having none of that, smashed the first door off its hinges and revealed a cave full of goblins. In an astonishingly bad display of marksmanship, the five goblins all fired at Leoric and failed to take him down. Clearly, they had been surprised by the door being knocked down! [The heroes quickly dispatched all but one of the cave spiders in the Spider Den, and Grisban smashed down the door to the Goblin Cave. Leoric was out front, and all five goblin archers fired at him. Three of the archers missed completely, and the others did minimal damage. This was not going terribly well for the Overlord, but at least Lady Eliza had gotten a respectable head start on the heroes.]
The heroes whittled down the goblin archers as Grisban smashed through the next door. By this time Lady Eliza Farrow was in the Tomb, and had gotten stuck on the riddle to the door leading out. The few remaining goblins took shots as the heroes, and moved to slow down their progress through the corridor (not that they had much hope in accomplishing that, but it was worth a shot). The one remaining cave spider managed to take down Leoric, and then began harassing Avric. [Leoric finally went down between the remaining goblin archers and the cave spider, and the spider subsequently went after Avric who was doing some significant damage with his crossbow. Despite being Poisoned twice, Avric managed to roll a challenging Might check to shake off the Poison both times.]
Jain Fairwood, more fleet of foot than the other heroes, hurried forward and successfully picked the lock on the next door. Opening the door to the Tomb, she found herself facing two ettins! One goblin and one cave spider remained, and Lady Eliza was almost to the last door! The ettins moved forward and held the heroes back at the entrance of the Tomb, eventually taking Grisban out of the fight. As the dwarf recovered, Avric and Jain continued to attack the ettins, killing one of their number. However, despite their heroic efforts, they were too late: Lady Eliza Farrow had entered the vault of Lord Theodir and secured Fortuna's Dice for the Overlord! [The Overlord's minions had done their job of delaying the heroes, and the ettins in particular did a good job of holding the line against the heroes. Lady Eliza Farrow entered the vault first, so the Overlord won the Quest and gained the Bones of Woe relic.]
Despite the Overlord's victory, Lord Theodir was safe and Baron Greigory was thankful for the heroes' aid. There were rumors that the Overlord's minions were making a move in the south, so there would be further quests ahead...
I thought this encounter would be a breeze, with the sheer number of monsters I had arrayed against the heroes (full groups of cave spiders, goblin archers, and flesh moulders, plus a Lieutenant!). Unfortunately, Grisban's Whirlwind attack and the increasing power of the heroes quickly whittled down the ranks of the Overlord's minions. With four heroes, they only have to rescue two nobles to have a very good chance of winning the encounter (though I was close to getting the third off the board!).
I was fortunate, as even without Lord Theodir's answers (from an Encounter 1 victory), Lady Eliza still managed to slip past door after door and maintain a healthy lead on the heroes. In fact, she only got stuck twice, while the heroes were getting caught up by the Overlord's minions. I chose goblin archers as my first open group (for the Goblin Cave, naturally). The Goblin Cave allowed me to spread out the monsters so Whirlwind or Blast attacks wouldn't slaughter them all at once. This forced the heroes to chase down the goblin archers (or at least exchange fire with them) and slowed them down a little. The second open group was ettins, which I placed in the Tomb and used to block the doorway. Overall, I felt my strategy for this quest was very sound and contributed by my solid win as Overlord.