Session 2 Field Report

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Council of Spiders (Week 2) now available at Dungeon's

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I ran the encounter twice, once for a level 4 party, once for a level 1 party.

Level 4 party did ok. I had to tweak the adventure to convince the PCs to advance. I said the Svirfneblin had the whole upper passage set to collapse and after a few rounds they sprung the trap. The heroes had two rounds to run for safety. They didn't. Acrobatics checks were needed to get out. Failure meant loss of healing surges. When the PCs got to the bottom of the stairs the Svirfneblin all had readied actions and attacked. Brutal fight, but lots of fun.

For the level 1 party I used the same collapsing tunnel trick, but this party noticed the trap and then ran like hell for safety. The collapsing passage didn't really hurt them but the readied Svirfneblin sure did. Near TPK for the level 1 party. Ended with 2 dead, 4 very badly wounded.

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I know I sound like a broken record, but the damage output on the MM3+ higher-level enemies versus level one characters is just too blasted high.  First level characters likely have an an armor class of 14-20 and a surge value of 6-8.  If enemies are hitting AC over 50% of the time for double a character's surge value, you've turned Second Wind in to a trap.

The original post points this out nicely - the level four crew triggered a trap, got jumped by the Svirfneblin, and still made it out okay.  The level one party avoided the trap but nearly TPK'd (in a virtual mirror of my table - two characters dead, three maimed and only surviving because the last wounded slinger retreated after the bard stood back up for the second time in the encounter having aced a death save).

Level one characters aren't heroic anymore.  That's a shame.  Now they're just loonies gambling with their lives hoping they'll live long enough to strike it rich.
Guardian Games Player Report

5 players:
Female Chaotic Evil Drow Avenger Pursuit of Lolth - House Melarn (me)
Male Dwarf ? Berserker - Slave of House Melarn
Female Unaligned Drow Paladin of ? - Bregan D'aerthe 
Male Drow Enchanter Mage - Bregan D'aerthe
Male Drow Hunter - Bregan D'aerthe

The ambush is sprung and we are hit with the auto surprise round.

Instead of reading an action the Protectors charge up and smack the hell out of the berserker sending him in to negatives. Not a good start.

The rest of the gnomes position or ready an action.

First up for team drow is the mage (he used a treachery card to hit the dwarf for -4 to his initiative and +4 to the mage) and he throws up a zone that slows anyone that enters it (which ends my plan to put my oath on one of the slingers and kill him quick, this will haunt us later). He kills a minion and damages a slinger.

The paladin runs up to a protector and smacks him and marks it.

Berserker fails first death save
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />I go, and swing out hitting my secondary target with my encounter power bloodying it. I shift away. 2 minions use ready actions to charge me and I get hit once.

Lurker comes out and misses me

Minions move and attack me again (the DM didn't move the 2 minions that used their readied actions in the initiative order (I chose not to fight the DM on this) and I get smacked hard by 2 of 3 minions for 10 more damage I am now bloodied.

Lurker jumps out and misses me, otherwise I go down and probably die.

Hunter Ranger fails to hit his Lurker.

Slingers light up the paladin.

Top of the order

Mage does not have good targets delays at my request.

Paladin swings and misses. lay on hands the dwarf.

Berserker stands up, does not rage and misses protector.

I pop darkness (I am surrounded by four enemies I don't want to fight, my oath target has moved away from me). I move up to my oath target and kill him in one hit.

Mage jumps in moves up and fries the three minions that were dogging me (saving my PCs life) and damages the remaining protector. This turns the battle, if he had not killed these minions my PC would likely go down.

The rest of the battle was tense. I pulled the protector off the paladin and the mage at one point that let the kill him. I killed the lurker. The slingers were brought down by the hunter whose dice finally started hitting.

Every PC, except the Hunter was dying at one point, the dwarf failed 3 death saves and died. I revived the mage at one point. The paladin used her last lay on hands to get me back into the fight. The Mage failed 2 death saves and only lived because we ended the combat and were able to render first aid.

At the end I had 5 hp left. I had taken a total of 46 hp in damage (missed the renown by that much).

The fight was tense, hard and the enemies were hitting very hard. I advised the squishier members to get to cover as the slingers lit us up and did the most damage to the party.

If the mage had not put up the damn zone I would have killed one of the slingers with my first attack which would have made this a completely different fight.

Considering how hard this encounter was, I was surprised with survived.

My two coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz

Our session 2 reports are

Majority of our players are still not embracing the love of the drow and in fact our dragonborn paladin has said he will kill my priestess before the end of things - oh he wishes Innocent

"Well that encounter was, 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

The encounter was easy for our group. I think the DM noticed the high number of enemies/damage output and decided to throw us a bone... which I jumped all over.
The deep gnomes used their surprise round to surround our defender. Out of character, I remarked, "lookit that nice burst 1 formation." The DM kept it going. On our turn, I rolled lowest on initiative, so as free actions, my wizard kept yelling out, "yessss" as more deep gnomes piled onto the defender. By my turn... Fountain of Flame, targeted on the defender. We had a new player in the group with a wizard as well who threw Phantom Chasm in the same zone. Using defender aura and Hypnosis to keep the enemies there, the rest if the encounter was a massacre.
Our store ran 2 tables with 2 vastly different outcomes. My table was Drow Avenger, Drow Invoker, Drow Warden, Drow Seeker, Drow Ranger(the controller build from essentials), and Deva Cleric. Our DM forgot to run the surprise round, but then rolled high 20s for each of the monster init's, and they ended up going first anyway(the missed surprise saving us a grand total of 2 of the protector attacks). Protectors block us in the entrance(i SO hate encounters sessions that start with the party getting pinned into their 3 by 3 starting grid) doing a little damage to the party members in the front row, and the slingers proceed to nail everyone they attacked with their rebounding hit. Avenger goes and activates cloud of darkness at the front line, ending the enemies line of sight to the party. The whole party other then the invoker(who delays til the cloud drops) attack the protector on our side of the cloud, but the only one who hits is the clerics astral seal. Protectors attack through the darkness(missing), and the rest of the enemies also delay until the darkness drops. Avenger moves out of the darkness and into the side room dropping a minion. The invoker tells the monsters to go first(hoping theyll cluster up a bit more), so the lurker pops out and chokes the avenger and the slingers rebound through the rest of the party again(the DM didnt miss a single recharge roll all night), the hit on the seeker being enough to knock him unconcious(and if he hadnt used his Elderboy theme power it would have killed him outright). Minions miss half their attacks. Invoker drops an encounter area burst killing 2 minions, and hitting one protector and 1 slinger with a heavy debuff(i think -3 to all defenses?). Seeker fails his death save, ranger and warden do a bit of damage to a protector.

At this point everyone in the party except the invoker and the cleric are bloodied or dying, but the cleric uses healers mercy to give everyone a heal and the fight turned on a dime. The following round sees the last of the minions drop, the avenger promptly escape from the lurker, and the first of the protectors drop. The slingers continue to cause havoc, but they start missing their attack rolls on the rebound shots. Lurker switches to trying to choke the cleric, who only escapes by using Memory of 1000 Lifetimes to augment the roll, but the cleric counters with Bane(-5 to attacks and defenses) and the lurker and final protector promptly die. The slingers turn to run the following round, but cant escape the range of the seeker and rangers bows and die 2 rounds later after taking one last shot at the party each. Fight ends with everyone standing, everyone in the party used action points, but only half used dailies. The only person to go unconcious was the seeker.

Our other table had a very different experience. At about the same time we were dropping that cloud of darkness toward the top, their healer went negative bloodied. When we were figuring out the monster order after 2/3rds of the board delayed, half their party had joined the healer. At the end of the day they had 5 dead, and one drow rogue(the pregen no less) who had a string of luck and won the fight on his own. Their DM rolls openly 90+% of the time, our DM rolls behind a screen and has been known on occassion to fudge for a more exciting fight(in his favor if we're doing too good, in our favor if we're in trouble). After the session all he could do was complain that his lurker never got to do its super choke(im his roommate, so i hear a lot of these things after we get back home - and the seasons that i DM he tends to hear what went wrong too). Our store also has a third table that cant make it on wednesdays and plays some other day, but i havent heard how they did yet. The third group struggled pretty bad with the first week while both other groups sailed through with no trouble, so they might have a hard time. And from what ive heard table 2 had half of its players doing something new or outside of their usual comfort zone, and since half of the dead are making new chars i would guess that theyll be back into what theyre more used to and doing better in no time.
Let see, this week was a surprising experience - The party consisted of  a Drow Priestess, Drow Wizard and Drow Executioner representing the Masters. Kobold Rogue, Dwarf Warpriest and Human Fighter representing the slaves.

Round 1&2 Protectors and slingers making it hard on the party. Masters give slaves conflicting orders but manage to take out a protector and half  the miners. half the party is bloodied or closed to bloodied.
Round 3 - Executioner go's down after ambusher enters the fight, Dwarf makes a run for the cave in!
Round 4 - Kobold and Human take out the miners and then make for the cave in! All slaves now in skill challenge to escape by digging through the cave in.
Round 5 - Wizard takes down the last protector, but is taken down by the slingers. Priestess takes shots at the slaves. Action points to take down the ambusher.
Round 6 - Executioner makes a death save with a 20, back in the fight, priestess heals the wizard, and crits on a slinger.
Round 7 - Slaves are escaping!!. 1st slinger takes out wizard and in turn is taken out by the Executioner. Slaves are escaping!! 2nd slinger takes out Excutioner. Priestess crits on last slinger and bloodies him.
Round 8- Slinger crits on the Priestess and takes her out. The slaves have escaped.
Round 9 -- Fade out
I mentioned in a previous post:

"Our group completed session 2 of Council of Spiders tonight and found an apparent error.  The svirfneblin slingers do 2d6 base weapon damage with their slings?  Tell me this is an editing error on WotC's part..."

We played through the encounter as a four character, 1st-level party.  Two successful attacks in one round from the slingers put our defender precariously close to 0 hit points.  As players, we questioned the damage output of the slinger's attacks - they do 2d6 damage with a sling versus our party's ranged attacks doing 1d6 damage with a sling?

Our DM could find no plausible reason or explanation in the written encounter, the monster stat block, or elsewhere to justify why these svirfneblin slingers were given an extra d6 damage die for their sling attacks.  The DM adjusted their sling damage down to 1d6 for the encounter.  Can any other DM or coordinator offer thoughts, insight, or explanation?

Our group are all long-time, experienced D&D players (pre-1st edition AD&D myself) and are quite familiar with WotC products having errors (and pages of errata to fix said errors).  This 2d6 sling damage now has us wondering what other encounter info could be inaccurate.
Those slingers were brutal.... not only the 2d6+ damage, but also the ricochet. I was a bit wary of that damage but we survived... if we had a defender to run up to them and get them in an aura it would have been a lot easier.
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