In my efforts to level up my Four Against Darkness party to level 5 to try out the “Four Against the Abyss” book, I played what ended up being my shortest game to date at just under 20 minutes.
In the first room of the dungeon we ran into our first-ever dragon. As a level 6 boss monster, this would have been ruinous for a low level party. But right now our Barbarian is packing a +5 bonus in combat, the elf lays out a nice +3 (+4 with his bow), and the cleric and rogue are essentially there as meatshields / healers (the rogue’s high defense means he’s almost always the first thing that monsters attack).
If anything, the dragon’s breath weapon is a welcome attack form, as it spreads its damage over the whole party, grants a saving throw of 3+ (2+ for the barbarian) and keeps the dragon from clawing at us. The battle ended up running for a few rounds as the barbarian beat the beast to death, with the rogue never landing a single blow.
An encounter with a firebreathing chimera awaits us in the next hall, and then we meet the white lady who tasks us with a quest to bring back the next dragon we find… alive.
And in the next room, we meet the Dragon. And this one is also the “boss monster” of the dungeon. This battle is a lot harder – we are fighting at -1 because we are trying to subdue the beast. This means the rogue needs to roll a 7+ to hit it, the cleric a 6+ (effectively the same thing), the Elf a 4+, and the Barbarian a 2+. And it has extra toughness. And an extra claw attack. And the alternate to beating it unconscious at -1 to attacks is to knock it out with a sleep spell… which dragons are immune to.
The fight took many more rounds than I expected. I gave the boss dragon its extra claw attack even on rounds where it breathed fire, and neither the rogue nor the cleric ever landed a blow on the beast, leaving the battle to the elf and barbarian again. But the Barbarian’s Rage helped a lot, and the dragon was beaten bloody, thrown in a giant dragon-dragging-sack, and hauled back to the White Lady who rewarded us with The Book of Skalitos – a full spellbook for the elf that can be used as six individual scrolls, or to add spells to his spell selection. Plus dealing with a dragon as the final boss gives 2 XP rolls, and completing the quest for the white lady gave us another, bringing the Barbarian to level 5, and the rest of the party to level 3.