Field Reports: Week 2

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Some of us run Tuesday games, so I'll start the thread this time.  We have another 6pm table as well as an 8pm table on Tuesdays, plus the regular two 8pm tables on Wednesday, but here is how my  table went:
As DM arriving on the dot, the other table had absorbed all the walk-ins, and most of the regular players bowed out this week.  So I started with two players doubling up on characters, plus a late walk-in who joined at critical point of the fight.  We're running at 3rd level, so I had the monsters scaled up 2 levels, but with four PCs initially I dropped one of the spider swarms.  That was plenty for the party, as they had dreadful initiative and attack rolls all night, while my DM dice were hot. 

The swarm charged onto the closest bridge, locking down the melee party as they met them.  Once there, the deathjump spider literally jumped into the fight with death from above, knocking the tiefling death priest (pre-gen) prone and biting the elf avenger before jumping back onto the roof at the end of the second round, recharging its death from above for round 3.  The leeching shadows quickly attached themselves onto the shade binder, the death priest, and the vryloka blackguard (also a pre-gen).  The last leeching shadow was completely ineffectual against the vryloka with resist 5 necrotic, but stuck around anyways, since all but one player roll for the first 3 rounds was between 2 and 6, including saving throws against tons of ongoing poison and necrotic damage.   With ongoing poison damage attached to all spider attacks, and the leeching shadows all doing ongoing necrotic damage, the death priest was quickly out of Healing Words, and the entire party all used their Second Winds.

The result was a war of attrition with melee characters hacking at swarms with melee attacks for half damage, and the binder missing with repeated close blast attacks.  Right about when a TPK was looking imminent, our third player joined with an eladrin vampire (also pregen) and a set of dice that weren't stone cold.  Even though I threw in the second spider swarm to account for a 5-character party, luck shifted in the party's favor, but not before the two spider swarms reduced the tiefling death priest to a poison-ridden corpse.  ("Don't worry, he was just a pregen...")  The strange combination of horrible player luck and monster composition resulted in a marathon combat that took two hours and a LOT of healing surges.

DM takeaways:
- If the monsters are allowed to spread their attacks, this much ongoing damage will decimate a party.
- Parties without area and close attacks are in for a long slog against swarms, who will repeated stick ongoing 5 poison damage on slowed melee combatants.
- Sometimes luck can play a really big role: I watched the elf avenger attack its Oath of Enmity target using Stroke of Luck and Elven Accuracy roll 6 or lower on FIVE of his SIX attack rolls...

-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."

I ran one of 2 tables this week at The Game Depot in Tempe, Arizona.

 I had 7 returnees from week 1 and one new player (10 year old kid, first ever time playing DND), for a total of 8. So a very full table this week. My group, all level 1:

 Male Dwarf Slayer
Female Eladrin Blackguard (Vice of Fury)
Male Dragonborn Cavalier (Virtue of Sacrifice)
Female Half-elf Sentinel (Spring) w/ wolf companion
Male Shade Executioner
Male Revenant Hexblade
Female Tiefling Necromancer
Male Human Warpriest (Death Domain)


spoilerey stuff

The group spent the first half or so of the game exploring. Took stock of the Inn residents and determined that Remy and Nathaire were missing, but most of their possessions were still in their rooms and their mounts were in the stable. Went outside the Inn and checked the nearby street corners and such, made some skill checks to learn more about the Shadowfell and trying to determine what may have caused it/how to undo it.

 They ran into Grimbold and he asked them to either track down Remy or open the Armory for the militia volunteers. They waffled back and forth on what to do but eventually settled on opening the Armory.

 Once again, they were faced with creatures that take only half damage (the spider swarms taking only half from single target melee and ranged) which is getting a bit old week after week (the phantoms in last season and the shadows last session). The Cavalier locked down one swarm while the Dwarf Slayer (the 10 year old in his first game) was primary on the second.

 I had the shadow dudes swoop in from the sides on round 2 but they all went down in short order (only minions, after all). The Deathjump spider leaped into battle in dramatic fashion with his Death from Above in round 3, landing on the Hexblade and knocking him prone in the water (!) and poisoning him to boot.

 The Slayer (with help from the Druid’s wolf buddy) did well against the swarm, using his cast iron stomach to succeed on all his poison saves after only 1 round.

 The Necromancer took home MVP honors when she unleashed her Daily, nailing both 1 swarm and the deathjump spider with Fountain of Flame (swarms were vulnerable to AoE damage), creating a zone with ongoing damage.

In the end, the poison took a bit of a toll on the hexblade and the cavalier (lots of failed saves) but only 3 of the 8 companions were bloodied and all the spiders/shadows were wiped out.

 The Armory was successfully opened and the militia can now arm themselves properly and try to protect the town.

 Only a few fortune cards played this week, though the twitter buffs were a lot of fun. We are really grooving on the Twitter Buffs so far this season. Check them out if you haven’t tried them yet!

Only one table today at the Game Matrix so I watched people play Warmachine while our other DM ran. Everyone seemed to have fun. Hope we get some more people as the season goes on.

2 tables of 4.

Both tables survived.  Had lots of issues had both DM's said the statblock said the swarms were not vulnerable to blasts.  So it was like pulling teeth again this week.  Only one table had a leader and unfortunately I was at the table with 2 rogue with my wizard.  Entire table went bloody one rogue only got one action.  Thankfully we were successful in killing the toads.

Had lots of issues had both DM's said the statblock said the swarms were not vulnerable to blasts.

Yeah, the umbral swarm; but it also didn't say half damage from melee and ranged attacks.
Really glad to see someone else starting up these field reports; I'm not going to be able to play as often as I would like this season so I was hoping someone else would take over.

Warp One in Edmonton, Canada. Due to a shipping error we didn't get the package in time to play last Wednesday so we decided to run through session 1 and 2 back to back last night. Two tables, 3 and 4 players. My group:

  • Half-elf Bard

  • Pyro Mage (didn't get the race)

  • Human Blackguard

  • Shade Vampire (me)

Our DM has decided to allow all setting-neutral content, hence the Bard. On a challenge from my friend playing the Mage, I will be playing a Shade Vampire with 8 Constitution (Toughness/Durable not allowed). As we are all fairly experienced players, DM kept the encounters at their default (i.e., 5-PC) levels.

We used the Despair cards, which the table all seemed to agree are a lot of fun! Much better mechanic than the Fortune cards, less intrusive while adding story and character elements (which we did our best to play up). Unfortunately our Blackguard (the closest thing we had to a Defender) drew the "Frail" card, which gave him vulnerable 2 to all damage. Made for a lot of pain. I received "Covetous", which prevents me from flanking. Not great for a melee striker, but the Vampire's mechanics don't require CA like some others, so not the end of the world.

Blackguard and I also shared a deck of Fortune cards, built for melee characters so mostly useful, in particular the one that allowed for a rerolled saving throw. Finally our DM also used the twitter buffs that came up for each encounter. I far prefer the style of these buffs versus those of previous seasons. A little extra gold, xp, reknown, etc. with a minor story moment that doesn't change or interrupt game flow. I think Wizards has it right this time.

I am very impressed with the adventure so far. Both battles were challenging, near-TPKs but not unwinnable. A more optimized party (defense, range) would have had an easier time I think. The second fight (we took the option to go <<to the armory>>) was particularly challenging, and we did lose the Mage to a final failed saving throw versus ongoing damage that took him to negative bloodied. Thankfully it was after he did that thing that controllers do so well against that particular kind of enemy (i.e., <<area attacks on swarms>>).

Fun times, looking forward to next week!
Here’s the Week 2 field report from Dungeon's Master.

For weekly recaps, pre-generated characters and actual play podcasts of D&D Encounters, check out the Dungeon's Master D&D Encounters Archive.

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Three full tables at Uncle's Games in Bellevue, Washington. A fairly straightforward fight at our table, except that the DM was rolling gold and took out the defender, my character, in the first round. The two strikers and three controllers went on to win the day.

I'll be making a leader next time, not because I think the party needed one (I think my PC would have died anyway) but because strikers and controllers are very common here, and I don't want to make a cavalier or another knight. Shade druid, I think.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

A few of our regulars are on vacation but we ran 3 full tables. 

One table had a player try their hand at DM (with the Regular DM working as co-pilot) and that went well.

Everyone is enjoying it but I found that the wording of the pre-amble scared everyone into all making the same choice..... I mean, right after making an Arcane check that tells you that if you are not IN the town when it returns from the Shadowfell that you would be left behind.... someone gives you an option to go chasing off into the wilds outside of town?!?

Needless to say, none of the 3 tables chose that... and one even insisted that the guards sent out of town should be unmarried ;)
We ran three tables of the second session (also had three at first) this week at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA. We're over-subscribed by a lot this season, not sure what drove the rise but I suspect that the adventure name and the proximity to PAX East helped.

No real issues with the games so far, my table was trying to TPK* this week. I think it was the fact that they had very little in the way of controller power and everyone (practically) is playing a vampire. Ok, the vampire bit probably didn't contribute to the TPK-ness. The group did however fail or not get high enough on their Arcana to realize that they needed to
stay in town for when it returns/if it returns out of the shadowfell. As a result, they are chasing the halfling minion of the Scholar, Nathaire.

Over all, we're having fun with some of the setting and mood. Paraphrase quote from last week, "Oh, f***, not the eerily swinging shutters."
We had 2 Full tables of 6 at "Play the Game, Read the Story" in Syracuse NY and I was Playing this week!!  Last week I DMed for the guy who could not make it last week.  They adjusted the encounter by adding another Jumping spider.  At my table I had some interesting classes.

Wizard <-- Pregen
Faith - Quickling Avenger <-- Me

After last weeks encounter we had a Crit with the Arcana Check so we let the guards do the running around after the hafling.  The first turn I wandered over onto the bridge and waited for the Bard to get closer to the armory as he had the Light.  Once he got close enough to the armory I got to roll a perception check.
"Can I take my Passive check? It is a 19"  
DM "Naaa  Just roll it"  
Me..  "OK"  *Rolls D20 and gets a 10*  "Ok I got a 19!!"  
Like it mattered I saw the Spiders on the roof and yelled it out to the party that did not have the advantage of low light vision. We got another round of moving before The creatures acted and I got a shot off with my Ranged Avenger atwill before the monsters jumped into the action.   Our paladin took the brunt of the attack and the other one jumped after the bard.  Every one focus fired at the one that was on the bard and I finished it off.  we put the other one down fast too as the shades (Minions) and the spider swarms came out.  2 of the minions went after the Wizard and one of them jumped into his shadow.  The other minion went after me and missed.  One swarm went after the Paladin and the other went across the other bridge heading the wizards way.  we put the minions down fast and the last minion got dropped into an area that had a zone placed on it that dished out damage if you ended your turn in it.  With the Swarms left the Wizard and Paladin were hurting and used up the bards healing.  The paladin healed the ranger and I don't think the fighter got any healing but was hurting.  After an extended hack and slash we took the Swarms down!!

I believe I am DMing next week so we will see what happens!! 
Here's my report. I'm running the module vanilla style, but I'm allowing characters from all of the books:
Had two tables at The Raven's Nest in Marietta, GA for this session.

My table had four players from the previous session:

Tiefling Warlord (changed race from Eladrin the week before)
Eladrin Warpriest
Dwarf Slayer (kept the name Fargrim, but recreated and altered him in the CB)
Shade Blackguard

The session went really well, and everyone had a lot of fun. The Warlord almost went down a couple of times, but the party managed to keep her up. Interesting dynamic having two leaders and two strikers.

After searching around town and meeting up with Grimbold, they went to the Armory. Two of them on each bridge, they crossed over towards the building, and the two spider swarms entered the encounter, one going to each bridge.

Fargrim and the Warpriest were on one, and the Warlord and Blackguard were on the other. The shadows entered the fray the next round, to much groaning on the part of the PCs, but they found it more interesting when these shadows turned out to be a little bit different.

The ongoing damage from the shadows and the spiders was really tearing into the group. That's what everyone was most concerned with as the encounter progressed. The Warpriest had resist 5 necrotic, so her shadow, with its very low intelligence, kept jumping back into her shadow, much to the amusement of the group.

Overall, I think that was one of the most enjoyable sessions of D&D I've run in a while.

Sorry for the late report.

In "Devir Arena Porto", Portugal , we had 3 tables. With 6 ,5 and 4 players. We didn´t have any new players , being the players in the event, experienced players.
From my table , the group was the same of last time , with the added help of a fantastic Drow Hunter that unbalanced the table.
Neverthless , the encounter was difficult , with 2 players ( Vrylocka Blackguard and Shade Hexblade) ending being unconscious at the end of the battle ( see picture) , and with the Dwarf Knight being the punching bag ( he almost had  reward points, taking 45 damage).
The other tables were also pretty beaten up , but no one died this time.
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