Session 9 Field Report

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Web of the Spider Queen (Week 9) now available at Dungeon's Master.com. Check out our D&D Encounters Archive for weekly write-ups, actual play podcasts and new pre-generated characters.

I did not like this encounter. The whole scene felt unnecessary and tacked on. The map was not conducive to combat. The only positive aspect was the potential for role-playing at the beginning during the skill challenge as the PCs talked to the Ogres. A poor end-of-chapter encounter that lacked excitement or danger.

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The group marched up disguised as a slave chain entering the city. Proceeded to free Dung, convinced Worthless to open the inner gate (with some Bluff and Suggestions) and pretty much walked on through the gate.
Ended up being a very short session. I'm not so sure about skill challenge, followed by another skill challenge the following week...
Our group also went the 'disguise' route, with the kobold standing on the halfling's shoulders, and a long cloak covering them both.  The kobold bluffed Dung into letting him unlock Dung's shackles with his "knees".

Later, Dung discovered it was not in fact a humanoid, but a tasty tasty kobold, and tried to eat him.  Twice.
My table had a huge success on their first diplomacy check... and an utter fail on the second, which left Dung confused enough to call for the guards. The bard continued with diplomacy during the combat, and even freed Dung, who ambled off, still confused (and bloodied). He took the avenger's Oath of Emnity with him... the avenger was super-pissed by that (oath doesn't expire until its target does-- I ruled that once Dung was off the board, the oath would recharge).

Meanwhile, on the other side of the portcullis, the drow templar commanded Worthless to block the PCs' passage-- so he did, by breaking the portcullis (I upped the DC to 30 for lifting, and made it impossible to winch up). The avenger proceeded to try to lift the portcullis several times... rolling a 1 each time. Sigh. My player was thoroughly pissed at this point, to the point of throwing a bit of a hissy fit.

Things continued, with Worthless one-shotting the party barbarian striker, *and* sliding him out of range of healing! The party's defender also went down. In all, I think 4 out of 5 players went down last night.

The PCs had rescued a goblin last week, who turned out to be one of the PCs' old friends (tie in to last season). So he was present in the party, but didn't do much in this combat. Until his friend the bard was down-- then he rushed up and administered her healing potion, saving her life. Unfortunately, that put him in position to have multiple drow archers shoot him, and he perished.

 All in all, it was a very tight fight, with a couple of PCs being ready to cut and run partway through the fight. They survived, though, and will rest up, level up, and hopefully slit each others' throats in their sleep....
My party succeeded in the skill challenge with the ogres, but continued their diplomacy check throughout the combat, as the drow priestess had quite a few things to say to the ogres about their newfound outlook on freedom. This lead to a philosophical conflict between Dung and Worthless... and by "philosophical," I mean they spent 3/4 of the encounter throwing rocks at each other! Thankfully, this gave the PCs the breathing room to mop up the drow opposition and explain to the Ogres that they should be "brothers." Asthere was discussion as to whether Worthless may have cannibalized Dung's actual brother in the past, our diplomatic goblin wizard explained to the ogres that they should be "brothers in meat." Nobody knew what in the wold that meant, but the ogres thought it was brilliant, put their differences aside and went on their way.
Later in the season, the PCs will catch wird of an unlikekly adventuring group fighting to protect Shadowdale, a dynamic duo of ogres known only to grateful locals as "The Meat Brothers."
My party succeeded in the skill challenge with the ogres, but continued their diplomacy check throughout the combat, as the drow priestess had quite a few things to say to the ogres about their newfound outlook on freedom. This lead to a philosophical conflict between Dung and Worthless... and by "philosophical," I mean they spent 3/4 of the encounter throwing rocks at each other! Thankfully, this gave the PCs the breathing room to mop up the drow opposition and explain to the Ogres that they should be "brothers." Asthere was discussion as to whether Worthless may have cannibalized Dung's actual brother in the past, our diplomatic goblin wizard explained to the ogres that they should be "brothers in meat." Nobody knew what in the wold that meant, but the ogres thought it was brilliant, put their differences aside and went on their way. Later in the season, the PCs will catch wird of an unlikekly adventuring group fighting to protect Shadowdale, a dynamic duo of ogres known only to grateful locals as "The Meat Brothers."


All right. Now that's just brilliant. Sounds like it was a lot of fun. Wish I could have been there for that one.
- Rico
Later in the season, the PCs will catch wird of an unlikekly adventuring group fighting to protect Shadowdale, a dynamic duo of ogres known only to grateful locals as "The Meat Brothers."



That's brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Good show!

Our two sessions for session 9 went as follows.




Cast of players and their characters for early group:-



  • Bryce Palmer, playing Human Mage

  • Glenn Waters, playing Elf Hunter

  • Matt Mawdsley, playing Dwarf Knight

  • Daniel Creed, playing Dragonborn Paladin


Approaching the ogre cautiously the heroes engaged Dung in conversation, discovering that both ogres were slaves indentured to the Jaelre drow. Gradually gaining the confidence of Dung they convince him to open his portcullis in return for freeing him of his bonds (while the dwarf “distracted” him, the hunter used his agile elven fingers to release the locks on his shackles and collar). Dung was clearly happy and readily agreed to help convince his “brother” Worthless to join him in freedom and the hunt for squishy-snacks. The heroes were able to convince Worthless almost as easily and as the released ogres departed for the wilds of the Underdark, they began to scout the buildings within the walls of the drow fortress.


They managed to find and surprise a group of drow guards and following a brutal but brief fight, they moved into a more secure room to prepare for the trials to come further in the complex.


 Cast of players and their characters for later group:-



  • Robert Cleale, playing Dragonborn Hexblade

  • Chris Norris, playing Elf Hunter

  • Tom Wright, playing Dwarf Sentinel

  • John Grey, playing Drow Hexblade


The heroes were understandably concerned when they saw an ogre smashing rocks “for fun”, but their concerns proved unfounded as they soon found him compliant as they used a ruse of being slavers bringing more slaves, though his erstwhile companion within the walls took  a little more convincing, eventually being cowed into allowing their entrance. The party then comanded the ogres to close the gates behind them “took keep out any unwanted visitors” and strode off into the assembled buildings.


Once out of sight of the gate they searched for a suitable spot and possible left over Jealre cloaks to add to their “disguises” to facilitate their further exploration, before settling in to plan their next move.


Skill challenges continue to be the only part of 4e that rankles with me, but presenting this one as a roleplaying interaction instead worked well (and also proved that you can roleplay in 4e in general and Encounters in particular). The two groups had differing approaches in dealing with the ogres and was great fun to run through. Both sessions were relatively quick as they got on with it instead of dragging it out with irrelevant dice rolling and I think we all had fun running it.



"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/

My party truly enjoyed this encounter. At my FLGS we have two current Encounters Tables and are quickly approaching a third. There were enough players this last week that we had to add more than 6 at my table, so I ran a party of 8. The attempts to negotiate with Dung fell apart when the party's hexblade challenged him to a rock-throwing contest which resulted in the hexblade summarily dropping the rock on his turn (nat. 1 on the athletics check) and then failing to bluff Dung with the statement that he actually had beaten him in the contest!

The party summarily defeated Dung, even as the Drow responded to Worthless' cries of "Guard, Guards!" As the battle raged on, Worthless managed to escape his bonds, careening through the now open portculli, and used his encounter power to devastating effect (nat. 20 on his attack roll against the party's knight). Insta-kill. thankfully, the party's cleric was able to assist in getting him back into working order on his next turn.

By the time the adventure was over, everyone in the party had been scathed by someone whether Drow or Ogre, and there was a general consensus that the session was great, and ran smoothly despite the larger than recommended party size.

I actually had a ton of fun roleplaying Worthless and Dung, especially attempting particularly dull smack talk. The Drow Spellspinner was an interesting part to play and her Dark Bolt and Lightning Web were an excellent source of damage for my players. The location of the Drow Archer behind the arrow slits was incredibly annoying to my players. And, although really only one of them at a time has the line of sight necessary to fire on the party, the -5 penalty that everyone took for trying to hit them in Superior Cover worked well for keeping them alive. When the party finally reached a point wherein they could scale the walls and come over the battlements, the Archers were done for, but it was well-earned and satisfying for the players. 

I did a small amount of improvising and decided that the Templars would enter from the place the party had entered from, as opposed to simply coming through the choke point that was the portculli. The truth is that it pressed the attack from an unexpected direction, and because I had so many mobile ranged attackers (3 rangers in the party), the Templars were able to harry the rear successfully, forcing a few of the melee players to pull back from the Ogre and Spellspinner, and focus on the new threats. 

Loved it and cannot wait for next week!