Field Report Week 12: Plaguechanged Invasion

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Two tables at FCB Games again. We handled the Bregan D'aerthe addon this week, as a flashback, since we received those materials a week late.

My table made short work of the Ooze and Hound, taking only two rounds to kill them. The hound fell in the first three turns of round 1, due to good initiative rolls on the PCs part, and the Thief's "First Strike" ability. He charged in first, bloodied it in one hit, and the Warlord, who went next, granted him an attack that finished it off!

The Ooze got one round of attacks in, and was dead before its turn came up again.

They immediately ran on to the second encounter, and recognized that the gate needed to be closed. The Maniacs swarmed the paladin and swordmage while the Thief and Warlord once again teamed up to make short work of the two Grunts. They only lasted two rounds, and the Maniacs would have been gone as well, if it wasn't for their reinforcements. The Ranger and Swordmage made it to the cranks to close the gate and end the encounter.

The Ranger, with the highest perception, has been the one that has noticed the peculiarities about The Heir as "he" ran towards the Enclave and towards the Hall of Justice, and concluded that The Heir was the same as The Spy they met several encounters ago. This almost led to an unfortunate incident when General Sabine showed up, as the Ranger's player mistakenly thought that SHE was the spy they had talked to. He was about to confront her when the rest of the group talked him down.

They are now on to track down The Heir and stop her once and for all!

Oh, the "Moment of Greatness" went to the Thief tonight, for taking down the Plaguechanged Hound in the first few seconds of the fight. I forgot to mention that the attack the Warlord granted him turned out to be a Critical Hit! If he hadn't landed that previous attack, that crit alone would have taken the Hound from full hit points to zero! And, in an incredible streak of luck, he correctly remembered that the Grunts "popped" when they were killed, but he finished off the first Grunt with a critical hit, and I only rolled an 8 on the d20 for when he killed the second Grunt, so he avoided taking damage from both of them!
Well the dice did not like my players last night. To start, there were only 3 players, so I lessened the maniacs in the second encounter a bit.  It was an ill omen when they had trouble with the ooze and the hound because they couldn't land any hits. And though I made it clear they may not have a short rest between the fights, they used many encounter powers against the devilish duo.

After they finally splattered the ooze and put down the hound, they discussed whether or not to take a rest. Finally, they decided to not. I altered the cinematic a little so they interupted the Heir opening the gate and saw that it was Seldra. She taunted them and ran off. First turn, the maniacs came in. But, having used all of their Encounters and blasts, they had SERIOUS trouble with the horde of 8. I had two rounds were 2 more came through the gate and ceased it there. Then they got the gate shut but not before one had fallen to their negative bloodied value and failed 3 death saves (was trying to be merciful). The second party member to fall fell, leaving a cleric with very few HPs hiding in a building. It was clear he wasn't coming out to face the grunts (still alive!) and a handful of maniacs. So I has Sabine and her company come in and wipe everything out for them. The things I do to keep player morale up...

There was really no MoG, sadly, but they were just happy they, for the most part, survived.
We made quick work of the ooze and the hound (there were two tables of around 6 players each at our event) and similarly the zombie things as well in the second encounter. We didnt get any more coming through the open gate for some reason (I guess our DM just didnt want to do that bit) so we never thought of closing the gate.

I havent had much of a challenge in either of the games Ive played as yet (only the last two episodes). Hopefully the difficulty level will increase in the last episode.
My players blew through the first part of the encounter in two rounds. They took the hound out in the first round. Bloodied the ooze in the second round, then finished off the two halves that remained when it split. The hound got one attack in, and I think the ooze did too (but it missed). The second half took a long time, but only because I played the maniacs as elite minions, and the party didn't even try to get to the gates and close them until after the third round. So I had lots of monsters on the board. But ultimately the dice were very unkind to me and I kept missing and missing (sometimes even with four monsters attacking a single target). The store coordinator played at my table and I kept trying to hit his charcter, mostly without success. He made good use of a readied attack that allowed him to hit with an immediate interrupt, and push the monster back on a hit, when I would move a monster up to him. It actually became rather comical how hard it was for me to hit his character. Oh well. 
- Rico
My table of 6 didn't have any problems, even though the minotaur barbarian spent the entire session running at full speed after the Lost Heir! He ran straight past/through the encounters, dodging AoOs, filled with rage (though not the power kind) at the betrayal of the Lost Heir. I ended up running a mini-scene with him afterwards, where he... 
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... caught up with Seldra as at the beginning of the next session, tried to reason with her and generally invent Democracy, which went over well with the people. At the end of it he didn't feel like he'd done much, but I think that he shouldn't discount the smallfolk he's inspired so greatly Wink 


Anyway, due mostly to shrinking back down to one group, I gave our bard player a chance to play the kind of character he'd originally wanted to play, an archer (seeker, actually). Hopefully after the initial excitement outbursts at the awesomeness of his powers, the everyone will find this character easier to deal with. He was actually the first one to latch onto the idea of closing the gate. 

After some suitably slorpish descriptions of ooze battle, our Revenant Chaos Sorcerer threw an opening salvo in the gate encounter that totalled 9 hits, including 7 kills! Chaos bolt can be an amazing at-will.

All in all, an enjoyable night.
Night the second went much better for the players. 5 players, so I basically ran it from the book. These players took the same tack as their predecessors and went straight into second combat after making short work of the ooze and the hound.

This time I left off the discovery of who the Heir really is but still had the Maniacs start outside the gate. Very promptly, the defender and his Aura went right in front of the gate and waited for the horde to swarm in while the dwarven cleric ran straight for the crank, closing it slightly. The slayer got hit by the two Grunts, grabbed by one, slammed by the other, which eventually dropped them. Their first death save was a Nat 1, and I was so tempted to kill their character right then and there, but was merciful. What? I like drastic actions for crit fumbles...

The horde of Maniacs did little against the well-armoured fighter before the wizard decided to blow a daily and use pillar of flame, blocking all future Maniacs' path with a burning death. Moment of Greatness by unanimous vote. Still, the cleric found a moment to finish closing the gate.

And, the moment of sheer enjoyment was when the cleric, after the battle was over, ran excitedly over to one of the Azure Flames and used Create Water right on top of it. When it didn't put it out, he dropped trou to create more water, an activity that the fighter was all too eager to join in on, hahaha.

Since most players levelled up, I went ahead and had them interact with the characters in the square for the next session so they could add their acquired items to their new character sheet. Seemed the right thing to do *nods*
Two leaders in a party means never really feeling like pulling one's punches. My table:

Wilden Shapeshifting (Swarm) Druid
Dragonborn Knight
Dragonborn Bravura Warlord
Half-Elf Sentinel Druid
Human Scout with Spiked Chain and obscene attack bonus

The first encounter was a fairly frustrating affair for me, as I didn't feel like I could maneuver and use the two monsters to good advantage. But, the party expended a lot of encounter powers and the Scout did get hammered a little. So the party rested.

That meant I had more fun in the second encounter. Spawning swarms and swarms of minions is fun when you know there's a decent capability in the party to handle them. They would surround a PC and hammer him, then the Druid would drop Grasping Tide right on the PC, taking out a lot of minions. The free shift before attacking was quite good for getting flanking bonuses.

The Knight got flanked early and grabbed by the Grunts. He then forgot to try and escape the grab he was in. The Grunts both slammed him with a crit and a solid hit, dealing a total of 41 points of damage, nearly one-shotting him. A Healing Word and Inspiring Word later, he was back in action.

The Scout was the one tasked with closing the gate, as the rest of the party got tied up in the start area. He performed his task valiantly, but got bullrushed away from the second door and swarmed, and then knocked into negatives. But a natural 20 on a death save later, he was back in action and by then, the situation was under control.

That's rough with the three person group. It sounds like you could have been even more merciful, but c'est la vie.


When I ran this session, I had four PCs. The hound just couldn't be hit and couldn't seem to miss, which only got better for him when the ranger next to him got bloodied. The table unanimously decided he was in "dog" heaven.


That first part of the encounter was rough on my PCs, so they felt they had to rest (if only to recharge hit points the hound had gleefully chomped away). When they got to the wall, I reversed the scaling down I had done and they fought waves and waves of minions that were ready for them. They must have killed 20 minions in the fight, though to be fair, the paladin's defender aura wiped out a bunch of them.


This was the most tactical battle they'd done so far, partly because they hadn't had a defender in the previous encounters (mostly sailing through on the strength of strikers and the "I can do everything" bladesinger). It was a good thing the minions all charged the big glowing sponge of death, however. If the monsters had been smarter, they'd have one after the squishier PCs, but the effect was achieved none the less.


The paladin put himself down at least twice with that martyr's shield thing.


Onto the climax!


Cheers

Since most players levelled up, I went ahead and had them interact with the characters in the square for the next session so they could add their acquired items to their new character sheet. Seemed the right thing to do *nods*


I'd love to hear how you did that, or more specifically, how the players justified doing that under the circumstances. I've really been struggling with the logic of that. Here's my problem:
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The party has been chasing the heir through the city through two encounters. The heir has incinerated at least two Sons of Alogandar, sent plague-changed people to attack the party, changed countless people into plague-changed creatures throughout the city (who then attack other citizens) as he heads toward a showdown with Neverember, and opened the gate to let in more plague changed. When the party finally catches up with their target, they find him protected by a dome of magical force while trying to revive the dragon, and suddenly they decide to take some time to go shopping?

How on earth does that make any sense? 

I fully expect my players to completely ignore the merchants and to concentrate on trying to find a way to bring down that force field and fight the heir. And as a side note, assuming that the party does interact with the merchants, and gets a suit of armor from the dwarf merchant, who on earth is going to take the time to change into that armor? It's not like that is a quick process. Yes, I realize that this is a fantasy game, but the stuff that happens needs to make sense and bear some resemblence to reality. 
- Rico
My group played the penultimate encounter this previous Wednesday night. There were three players: half-orc slayer, drow corellon cleric, and human bear druid along with a double up of Bobo the 1st level meatshield human cavalier. They entered the market and never bothered with the shield (none had arcana) instead choosing to visit the burning wagon. Bobo, being dumb and not a regular player character, pulled a Nazi Raiders of the Lost Ark moment and grabbed some items that were surrounded by fire. He paid the price. I only wish there was snow around. The slayer, who was an uthgardt barbarian, went and received a special gift (+1 luckblade) for Bobo to use. The druid somehow talked the dwarf into a freebie with a 19 roll on a diplomacy. Then they chose to play with the shield. They couldn't break it so they waited and waited till it came down. I added a lot of townspeople to the map and made the encounter more challenging. I rolled init for the elementals and the "heir" but I also rolled a third initiative. When that init number came up, I had the "heir" do a spellscarred burst 10 causing blue flame to randomly strike three watchers in the crowd. They then became maniacs and immediately rushed the nearest player character. Each round I kept this going until the "heir" was down for the count.

Observations: 1) the elementals were not that powerful especially after they have gifted the characters with their basic attack. my group just ignored a useless opportunity attack and moved away from them. if you are running this, take this into account and at least roll some damage dice or the same thing will happen to you
2)the heir's bladesinger like power is powerful in combination with her aura but what happens to that bladesinger power in the final encounter. Are you telling me it is tied to the crown? That doesn't make much sense. Her healing power is cool one time but the elementals just drop too fast. I am glad I used minions to help on that end a little.
I'd love to hear how you did that, or more specifically, how the players justified doing that under the circumstances.


It started with them trying to push them out of the square faster. Just so happened that the Heir of Delzoun went to the armourer and got a free item (a shield) and the Uthgardt Barbarian went to the weaponsmith and got a free Luck Blade. The only other one who wanted something was a Druid who just wanted new robes, and he basically just stripped the robe off and threw another one. I suppose the logic was he had clothes on underneath. Besides, the barrier halted any of their other actions.

However, on the same tack, how is it that throughout the whole season, events are happening where they are on the move or recovering from being flushed or whatever, etc, yet when they find magical armour they don't usually worry about donning time. Although, that might just be my players.

However, on the same tack, how is it that throughout the whole season, events are happening where they are on the move or recovering from being flushed or whatever, etc, yet when they find magical armour they don't usually worry about donning time. Although, that might just be my players.



Five minute rest allows them sufficient time to don new armor.
- Rico

However, on the same tack, how is it that throughout the whole season, events are happening where they are on the move or recovering from being flushed or whatever, etc, yet when they find magical armour they don't usually worry about donning time. Although, that might just be my players.



Five minute rest allows them sufficient time to don new armor.

Yes, and this constitutes a short rest while the shield is in place. Had they tried to interact with the shield or anything, then yes, I can see how there wouldn't be enough time.

However, on the same tack, how is it that throughout the whole season, events are happening where they are on the move or recovering from being flushed or whatever, etc, yet when they find magical armour they don't usually worry about donning time. Although, that might just be my players.



Five minute rest allows them sufficient time to don new armor.

Yes, and this constitutes a short rest while the shield is in place. Had they tried to interact with the shield or anything, then yes, I can see how there wouldn't be enough time.


Right.

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And the module specifically mentions the party dividing their efforts. So the assumption is that some may be interacting with the shield while others are shopping.  It also says to begin the combat after a minute (I take that to be real time - otherwise at 6 seconds per round, we're talking about 10 rounds of actions). So that really only allows for one action per player going around the table. If a player's action is to interact with a merchant, and he gets a suit of magical armor, he'll be donning it during the first round of combat, and will have to sit out that round.


I have no problem ruling it that way, but I'm just having difficulty envisioning the party actually doing this.
- Rico
I see your qualms. But this is the party I have, and I am nothing if not lenient, haha.
I see your qualms. But this is the party I have, and I am nothing if not lenient, haha.



Oh, I'm not in anyway calling into question your actions. I'm just voicing my own struggles with how to run this upcoming session. Which is why I was interested in how it played out for you. I really hope my party does interact with them. I'm just not at all convinced they will. I have some ideas on how to encourage them to do so.
- Rico
Oh, I'm not in anyway calling into question your actions. I'm just voicing my own struggles with how to run this upcoming session. Which is why I was interested in how it played out for you. I really hope my party does interact with them. I'm just not at all convinced they will. I have some ideas on how to encourage them to do so.


No worries. It's a place for discussion so why not discuss? Truthfully, I found it very odd how no one thought to check out the Heir and the shield and tried to feed them information anyway. But they are people-persons.
The hound fell in the first three turns of round 1, due to good initiative rolls on the PCs part, and the Thief's "First Strike" ability. He charged in first, bloodied it in one hit, and the Warlord, who went next, granted him an attack that finished it off!

...Oh, the "Moment of Greatness" went to the Thief tonight, for taking down the Plaguechanged Hound in the first few seconds of the fight. I forgot to mention that the attack the Warlord granted him turned out to be a Critical Hit! If he hadn't landed that previous attack, that crit alone would have taken the Hound from full hit points to zero!

Heh.  Last season I played a Bravura Warlord, and my granted attacks - both from powers on my turn, and my Presence on allies' action points - similarly led to some 'moments of greatness' for our strikers.



Anyway, on to the field report:

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We had two tables again this week, that's starting to look about standard as we seem to have lost a longtime DM.  Both tables were crowded.  Mine faced the ooze and /four/ hounds, IIRC.  We didn't have too much trouble, though.  The party included two Theives, two leaders, a Hunter and a Bladesinger.  The Bladesinger and Warlord have set up some wicked combos, before, but this time the Theives were an even more tempting team-up, and monsters prettymuch evaporated under their attacks. 

The party decided to be all heroic and proceded without a short rest.  The second fight could have been tougher, as one leader was tapped out and some strong encounter powers had been used up.  Fortunately the Warpriest was fresh, it just worked out that way, somehow, and dropped her daily to help everyone get throught it.  The Theives rushed the cranks to close the gates (using near-immunity to OAs, Tricks, and the Shade's racial power), while the Bladesinger blew a faux-daily and the Hunter unleashed Rapid Shots to sweep away the minions (first time this season anyone's gotten renown for popping 3 minions in one attack, and they both got it).  We heard a description of the Heir, who finally took of /her/ helmet, and, yep, it was Seldra.   I was more surprised by her going nuts than her turning out to be the heir, which I speculated was likely early on (even on Game Day, the fact she had the Crown, alone, had to raise that suspicion). 

I don't know how other tables are feeling, but ours seems to have decided that she's under the influence of the Crown, which was presumably cursed by the Thayan on Game Day, and we're aproaching it as a 'rescue mission.'  Possibly a big mistake. ;) 



 

 

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What was the difference between taking a rest or not in the split encounter? The text infers that there's something but I found no details.
Straight from the author's mouth.
I believe my original intent was to give the monsters an advantage in the second encounter, as they've had longer to run amok before the PCs get there. If you want to simulate this yourself, then consider one or more of the following:

1) The monsters automatically surprise the PCs.

2) Add a dozen dead townsfolk, who've been killed in the delay.

3) Four more PCMs are on the board already.

In the interest of heightening the difficult, you also might consider making at least the initial PCMs elite minions--i.e., they take two hits to die.

Cheers

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