D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 13)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 13 (Encounter 3-3) of D&D Encounters Dark Sun. 

Please realize that both players and DMs read these threads, so do not put spoilers in your posts. If your post goes into enough details, then you absolutely must use spoilers. Enclose the spoilery bit in   [*sblock=spoiler stuff][*/sblock]  (just remove the *) spoiler block  tags so that players who haven't played yet don't have the surprise ruined for them. 

[*sblock=spoilerey stuff]



will produce

spoilerey stuff


once you remove the *

NOTE:  Decided to launch this thread borrowing the style and lead from Alphastream
Both I and the other DM changed things up a bit.  I had four players and the encounter had some interesting and fun moments.

Characters this week were a Warlock (defiler build), Shaman, Battlemind (Shikir pre-gen), and Ranger (Castri pre-gen).

The Encounter

I added a Gith Shaman who was just completing a ritual to call Lightning down on our hapless climbers.  The lightening strikes, they fall, but then to the Gith's dismay there is a huge secondary explosion of rock (ritual ignited the bolt stone) and the Gith Shaman is comical crushed as the chasm bridge is created.  Then proceeded with encounter as written giving the party the surprise round (only concession I made for only four PCs - almost).

The Warlock dealt impressive damage to the spear wielding gith attempting to guard the bridge as the Battlemind charged forward discovering the bolt stone trap during the advance.  But then the Battlemind was immobilized by the Hobbler encounter power (I described how a javelin went through the character's leg and embedded deep into a crack in the stone, pinning her in place (yup female version of character).  Then the Thri-Kreen stayed pinned in that spot throughout the entire remainder of the encounter.  With minimal ranged attacks, this didn't amount to much.  The player failed something like 6 saves including those bestowed by others trying to help, but just never got free.  Is there a Moment of Disability reward? 

The PC Shaman made masterful use of his spirit though and this really disrupted the enemy.   Castri ended up taking point and became the target of many attacks, but came through only bloodied.

The Warlock finally took out the most powerful Gith, then nearly succombed to its nasty psychic revenge power but held on and the warlock eventually had 6 curses up and proceeded to blast every enemy for 2d8.  This took the fight down to a couple of the Hobblers and the party managed to prevail.

Was a nice battle overall.  The only DM nerfing I did was when the Battlemind was hit with a psychic attack which normally would have pushed her one square (maybe off the bridge).  We had already established she was firmly pinned in place so I decided to ignoring the push effect was reasonable.

I converted the Staff to an implement for the Warlock (found on the crushed Gith Shaman's body).
I'll post a spoiler report later, first however, the highlight of tonight was Phye managing to recklessly three weapons in a row. First her magic (metal) weapon, then a pair of Javelins my character (Shikirr) had liberated from some previous encounter that I can't remember now.
We had a great time last night.  It was a tense fight, but all of the PCs survived, although every one of the them were bloodied at some point, and two lay "dying" at the end of the battle, and had to by stabilized and healed.  Here are some specifics:
Here are some things that deviated from the published encounter:
- The bolt stone shard spanning the chasm was already in place.  I allowed a passive nature check (DC 12) to know that there had been a recent rock fall, and an active Nature check (DC 20) to recognize that the cliff wall and the broken stone at it's base could contain bolt stone, which I explained not as "an elemental fluke of nature" but as a type of stone that attracts lightening and retains electricity.
- I added a gith drone who's telekenetic thrust explained the climbers being dislodged and falling.
- I used a house rule regarding saving throws for being pushed, pulled, shifted over an edge. It has always struck me as incongruous that someone with a high Dexterity and trained in acrobatics should have the same chance of falling over an edge as someone with a -1 modifier.  So I instituted the house rule that when saving for falling over an edge, you could add your acrobatics skill divided by 2 as a modifier.  A number of PCs still fell over the edge and took damage, but all of them managed to stop their fall and climb back up.
- In a few cases, I had the NPCs ready an action to attack the PCs when they entered an adjacent square, instead of having them attack outright.  This was very effective for the Spearhead who waited at the end of the bridge, and also for the piercers, who would retreated to the far side of difficult terrain and waited for melee fighters to engage them.  Then, as the fighters came up to hit them the piercers stabbed the PC and shifted them out of melee range.  This forced the Melee fighters to be more tactical in their movement.
- I was very dissapointed by the battle map provided for this encounter so I made up some Fat Dragon Games terrain.  The set shown in the pictures is mostly from the Cliffs and Mountains set.


"As the good archmage often admonishes me, I ought not let my mind wander. It's too small to go off by itself"

Danilo Thann

I suspect it was something our DMs missed, but no one really had a clear idea of why we were engaging the Gith.  If Castri hadn't won initiative and opened fire, we probably would have just hid in the forest until they left.

I'm a bit disappointed.  I keep hoping that we're going to link back up to the initial Wastewalker plot, but we're running out of time.  I'm not even sure that having the party blunder back in to the primary plot at this point would feel satisfying.
I suspect it was something our DMs missed, but no one really had a clear idea of why we were engaging the Gith.  If Castri hadn't won initiative and opened fire, we probably would have just hid in the forest until they left.

I'm a bit disappointed.  I keep hoping that we're going to link back up to the initial Wastewalker plot, but we're running out of time.  I'm not even sure that having the party blunder back in to the primary plot at this point would feel satisfying.

Good point - there was an opportunity for a different approach, in fact, my group did open with an Intimidate attempt, however even that player tried combining it with an initial attack.  Then even after I described how they stopped and took notice of the party afterwards (at least pausing to see what developed next), the other characters continued attacking and it turned into a fight.  I guess they were unwilling to give away a surprise round for diplomacy, but I was absolutely ready to roleplay the encounter and allow them to avoid the battle if they made a good approach (and more successful skill roles).

Regarding the adventure.  You left the desert to explore an old tomb, found your (only) way out into a perilous high altitude forest, and now have found a path back down off the heights reasonably close to Tyr (not sure if your DM mentioned that was why you wanted to cross the chasm in the first place).  In the next two weeks: Will you finally reach Tyr safely?  Have you lost your pursuer?  What were those elemental spirits trying to tell you?  Will you ever bathe again?  Have you ever bathed in the first place?  Can someone PLEASE spare a little sun block (SPF 100)?
Ah, that helps a great deal, thanks!  For all we knew we were just roaming aimlessly, still trying to put distance between us and the halflings.
The table at my location (note, I'm not the DM) consisted of the following:

2 Minotaur Barbarians (oddly played by two real life brothers)
1 Goliath Greatweapon Fighter
1 Halfling Rogue (who kept attempting to bite his companions)
1 Half-Elf Bard
1 Jarvix the Psioinic wonder Tiefling.

In our group the rogue scouted forward and thanks to a perception check heard the Giff.  We walked openly toward them and had our Bard attempt to talk to them.  Language barrier got in the way and the Giff formed into a defensive line on their side of the bridge.  Our Goliath Fighter and one of the two Minotaurs took point on our side of the bridge and a stand off began.

After a bit where everyone on both sides kept holding their turn the Goliath (who had died in 3-1 and didn't want to repeat that) waved a white cloth (his filter mask) and Jarvix used his Send message encounter ability to imply that the group was friendly.  The Giff believed the group and what happened next should have been caught on video.

For the next 20 minutes the Goliath's player, 1 of the Minotaur's player, and the DM played charades in character and worked out a deal. 9 survival days and our spear from Chapter 1 for 500 gp in gems and safe passage.

with nods of thanks the players walked through the map, without killing anyone or getting shocked by Bolt Stone.
Due to school starting in the area I lost a few players ,so I wing it with 3 players and ask one of them use two PC's.

SO on deck today is:
Org Dwarven Fighter with Minstral Theme.
Fozzbozz Human Sorcercer with Veilled Alliance
Jance Halfelf Ardent with Templar Theme
Castris Elf Range with Wasteland Theme(pre gen)

I also used one the Twitter Buffs for a person had a Iphone at the table.

On with the show.

How to talk to Cavemen and die trying

So I start off the session with some light role playing for they are still hacking through the jungle and underbrush.  The Sorcercer hears voices ahead ,but can't pinpoint it for that that moment the Fighter starts to scream with frustration from hours of hacking.

The Sorcercer throws an Arcing Fire like a flare to scare off whoever is ahead. It does the job for they hear bodies running into the jungle. The party runs forward to pursure ,but due to bad rolls the Fighter who is still in point runs head long into another tree. The Sorcercer who was behind him collides with the Fighter. The scale mail pointy bits poke into the Sorcercer's senseitive areas.

The Ardent and Ranger get tangled up in the vines and the pursuit comes to a close.

They all come together to the tree and the party assits the Fighter up the tree, so the Ardent and Sorcercer grabs a buttcheek to push him up. He sees a clearing with a firepit, but no bodies.

The party goes ahead to investigate and whoever was hear has made a clean getaway. They do find a wooden bowl with green powder in it. Tasting the powder the Party identifies it as a herb that when mixed with water and drunk will restore 1 healing surge. (my creation)

Onward the party presses and comes to the make encounter. They see the creatures climbing the cliff face on the other side of the abyss. That is when the flash occurs and the rock seperates from the cliff to make a bridge. After the dust settles and their vision returns, they see the degerate Gith on the other side. The Sorcercer tries to greet them in the universal greeting, "Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong." (geek points) The Gith repeat the phrase so the Sorcercer tries to approach the bridge with his staff held over his head ,in a non threating way. The SpearGith on the other side does the same ,but it sets him off and he starts the attack.

Onto combat, the Ardent goes first and is able to get up to the Speargith to attack with her Mantle of Speed. She discovers the Shock Rock first hand ,but contintues on to attack. She connects. The Speargith retailiates and hits back. The Piercer target the Ardent and push her back with a mind thrust. The Ranger moves up and finds the other ShockRock, but this time it spreads to the other surrounding rocks. He Twin strikes the Speargith for a good amount and draws his attention.

The Sorcercer attacks from range with his Burningstarfall and takes out some of the minions. He pays for it ,with a javelin to the leg and is pinned in place. The other Hobblergith hits the Ardent and because she is pushed back she is now pinned down outside of melee.

That is when the Twitter Buff kicks in and I tell the party that a really strong updraft is coming out of the abyss it might aid in jumping. The Fighter takes that as a challange and attempts ,but fails by 1. He also misses his saving throw and falls 10 ft before he makes a good saving throw.

Back to the action above. The Sorcercer is mainly dropping Starfall and getting good damage on it. The Ardent and Ranger work on the SpearGith ,but when it drops it takes the Ranger with him with the trigger effect.

The party quick mops up the rest of the Hobbers for the Fighter climbed back up and prevents the Hobber from throwing more things at the Sorcercer.

The Party heals up and finds ther monies and magic staff. (Yes ,something for the sorcercer)

James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.
Our party was a little split on how they wanted to deal with the situation...

We had Jarvix, a halfling (non-cannibal) rogue, "feral" dragonborn fighter, "mirror mage" elf chaos sorc, the pre-gen Ardent, and a ranger. Just the one group tonight.

Upon witnessing the scene, Jarvix wanted to negotiate to get past. The dragonborn and the ranger were up two trees surveying down the chasm, however only the ranger actually made his stealth check. The rest of the party was on the ground, trying to negotiate. That's when the ranger decided to start taking potshots at (one) of the Spearheads.

Jarvix fairly decently salvaged the situation by pretending that the party on the ground was also under attack by the same enemy as the gith, and due to proximity and the ranger's great stealth, the dragonborn was identified as the shooter. So he dove out of the tree.

He landed flat on his face, 40 feet out from the treeline on the base of the bridge. That's about when everything started to go to hell.

It ended with a hostage situation, people grappling each other off the edge, and the dragonborn chowing down on fresh (randomly determined) elf at the bottom of the chasm. "Feral" indeed. 

One thing I ended up doing was making the map 3D. I built up underneath with some empty cardboard boxes we had lying around (land boxes from Wizards for the Gith side, a From the Vault box for the PC start area), which gave a 2-square difference in height between the two sections. The players were going crazy trying to figure out what I was doing while I was setting up!

Afet, very cool terrain! I just lifted my tiles on some wooden blocks for height. It was still a good way to illustrate height differences.

Ah, that helps a great deal, thanks!  For all we knew we were just roaming aimlessly, still trying to put distance between us and the halflings.

It should be very clear that you would all like to get to Tyr. Weeks ago, your caravan was struck and the Wastewalker hunted you down. You fled into a tomb, emerging up in the Forest ridge. Now you seek a way down. Tyr is not far (as the Athasian Crow flies), but is down a steep climb. Whether the Wastewalker can still track you is an open question, though what the spirits said suggest you have not seen the last of him/it.

On my end, I ran a fun table at Guardian Games in Portland. We had another 5 new RPGA/DCI cards this week. If everyone showed up on one night we would be sunk.

Every player could read my glee as I pushed Shikirr into the chasm. Then there was my cringing as he failed three saving throws. He took some pretty impressive damage, ending up with something like 1-3 HPs remaining. I made the terrain very easy to climb and not half speed so he could get right back into the action, which he did after second winding.

The ranged PCs did really well focusing fire and taking out foes. Yuka is sometimes frustrated at the amount of blood he loses, but he did a great job of charging and taking down foes and not falling off the bridge. PCs were very lucky with the boltstone. It only triggered once and did not spread.

It was a pretty good combat. The three foe types kept it interesting and the terrain was fun for the players.

We are seeing some turnover of DMs and organizers for next season, but have some great people stepping up as replacements, so I am feeling good about the program. The store has been very thankful and gave out some coupons to the DMs. The DMs were very happy about that.

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Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

There was no negotiating with the gith for our group.  Our DM played it that we couldn't speak their language and the beasts were pretty intent on attacking us.  It feels like we're returning to the original plot, and I incorporated that into the journal.  Our party (using all pregens) did a nice tactical job on the combat.  Details in this link!

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