Week 4 - Field Report

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We ran three tables with D&D Next at the store this week: a table of regulars, a table of semi-regulars, and a table of kids.

The regulars have been playing all factions against each other, but are one week behind. I haven't gotten a report from that DM yet.

My table was the semi-regulars, who are also a week behind. They have also been playing one group off against another, but with less luck. This week they investigated the hand theft. Once they figured out it was a couple of noble kids, one character used his Spy Background Contact to find out where they were last seen. They confronted the kids at Horgold Hadru's, but didn't spill any blood. They gave the recovered hands to Ravengard, but returned the kids to their families for blackmail money, which was good since I hadn't been distributing much by the way of rewards. Afterward, they witnessed the ceremony where the hands were restored to Minsc's statue, which ended with Ravengard laying the groundwork for his Ducal politicking. Coran threw them a celebratory bash, then they ended up at the Blushing Mermaid (for some reason), where one of them saw a bunch of sailors goofing around with little smokepowder snappers they had  rigged up; he also overheard them talking about the large quantities of smokepowder they had been bringing into the city. (I've noticed I need to work on my foreshadowing; this week, I think I got it right.)

The kids table last week ended up murdering a bunch of Flaming Fists when they stopped the Flaming Fist Thuggery;one of them murdered the innkeeper after mugging him for the cash in the strongbox. In discussion with that DM, we decided to do something out of Les Miserables. I figured Rael has kept track of malcontents and revolutionary-minded youth in the city, especially among the patriars. When she got wind of the riot that erupted at the inn, her runners alerted the revolutionaries, who see this as a chance to light the fire of rebellion in the hearts of the Lower City folk. They go there and and set up a headquarters in the immediate aftermath, while the Flaming Fist bring in reinforcements. While the Flaming Fists barricade the inn and bottle up the defenders, the revolutionaries arm themselves along with some thugs Rilsa recruited. The commoners in the inn want none of that, so they try to signal the Fists from an upstairs window. When they're caught, the revolutionaries hold a show trial and execute them; the PCs don't intervene, instead choosing to rifle through the commoner's belongings. The Fists, once they have reinforcements, barricades, and a bucket brigade, start throwing alchemist's fire and oil to set the building on fire, then pick off people who try to flee. The session ended with one PC captured while disguised as a commoner, two making clean getaways, one hiding in the cellar of a nearby building, one running along the rooftops, and one bleeding out in the courtyard.

This would not have been possible with the more scripted adventures of last year, is all I'm saying.

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D&D Next: VALOREIGN Home Game Development, Grifford's Protection cleric domain, gojirra's (Un)Death cleric domain.

General Campaign Stuff: Bawylie's Budget Dungeons

We had two tables again running Next this week, though our 2nd table was lower on numbers due to work commitments and illness one of my players volunteered to switch for the session and make the numbers up.

my session write up is on my blog, and I will add the 2nd tables once the DM sends it to me.

I agree totally with AlHazred above, the flexibility this season is allowing is refreshing and works really with the open play style of Next, though I have heard that some groups running 4E have struggled being more used to the more rigidly structured previous seasons.

"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!

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@Vobeskhan: The store manager runs the table of kids, and also has to manage the store. I basically write upthe week's scenario for him, 4E-style, with stat blocks separated out, and maps with tokens, the whole nine yards; and the kids run it off the rails every time. It's not a bad way to go, but I can't really write ahead -- the kids would totally void the warranty on any kind of railroading.

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D&D Next: VALOREIGN Home Game Development, Grifford's Protection cleric domain, gojirra's (Un)Death cleric domain.

General Campaign Stuff: Bawylie's Budget Dungeons

Field report for D&D Encounters: Murder in Baldur’s Gate (Week 4) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.

This was one of my least favourite sessions in a long time. It felt unnecessary and no matter what the PCs did the events were going to play out in pretty much the same way. The players are starting to make more noise (and rightly so) about the lack of meaningful combat. Overall not a great week for me; hopefully next week will be better.

We discuss the ups and downs, what worked and what didn’t in this week’s Recounting Encounters Podcast (also available through iTunes).

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Game HQ in OKC:

We had 3 tables of 6 players each. At this point, all of the tables' stories are vastly different.

For my table, they have decided they are not crazy about being aligned with the Guild. After being approached by a FF guard that they questioned because of excessive force at the docks, he informed them that Ravenguard wanted to see them. Ravenguard layed out his desire to bring them on board with the Fist, even going so far as to inform them that he was informed of their exploits for the Guild, none of which were directed against the Fist, that he knew of. He told them that he saw their nature during Founder's Day and was confident he could count on them. They agreed to join him and to begin to get Lower City under control from the recent unrest, (fires, rat attacks, roof slate deaths and most important, the recent statue vandalism). 

While traveling through Bloomridge in route to Upper City to investigate the statues, they witness a roof slate murder of a Lower City merchant (from the alternate events supllement). Acting quickly they are able to notice and follow the culprits, three Fire Mephits. After a pretty tough fight, they are able to defeat them, (2 unconcious). Now they are faced with another mystery, although they are fairly certain that the Mephits were not acting on their own and will eventually tie them back to Skoond who has targeted particular Lower City merchants to serve his schemes.

Since they have left the Guild's service, they obviously know too much and will be vulnerable to Rilsa's who probably thinks they know too much. This will come back to bite them, probably at the worst possible time.

I agree that the open format is very nice and gives the DM's lots of options for creativity and improvising. However, it also requires much more preparation. I'd like to see some optional encounters with maps built into the Encounters Kit that are not included in the normal product. This would aid DM's in preparation, could be used or adapated to enhance the Encounters experience and set it apoart from the home game, but don't railroad the adventure. I think half a dozen very likley encounter locations such as the Docks, Basilisk Gate, High Hall, Undercellar, Sewers, a Pub, etc..., would be good. These can be used or not, but it gives the Encounters DM something to fall back on or use in a pinch or when they have a tough week and can't prepare completely.

We ran 3 tables of 5-6 (all in 4e) this week at our FLGS.  We've been using a modified version of the for-sale product, as we found that the wide variety of possible events caused problems when folks had to switch tables in an organized play setting... and also we needed to alter the rest/resource-usage metrics used across the 12 sessions.  

I also wanted to vary the enemies, so players wouldn't get bored with always fighting humans, and provide a more linear RP + Fight scenario each week, matching previous seasons.  Having seen how poorly complex political scenarios played in previous seasons (like the Drow season), we also wanted to make things a little more straightforward.  

All that said, this week we had the party hired by their faction leader to investigate the cemetary prior to Duke Adrien's funeral.  Of course, they found undead (grasping zombies and a mage wight), and eventually learned that killing energy was empowering awful things in the city, like these undead they'd just fought.

Prior to this, we've been saying that even though each week's adventure might have happened on a different day, something about the murderous energy in the air and the city's tension made getting a "good night's rest" (i.e., an extended rest) impossible.  After this week 4 session, the party was finally able to get a full extended rest (and level up to lvl 2).  

This week we had only one table and we had already decided it would be side quest week since they wanted to do some interesting quests.  The table this week was:

  • Half-Elf Wizard (Twil)
  • Human Ranger (Owl)
  • Half-Orc Cleric (Lucy)
  • Wood Elf Paladin (Woodarrow)
  • Tinker Gnome Rogue (Nezzle)
  • Half-Orc Rogue (Jackal)
  • Half-Orc Barbarian (Torrak Karrot)
  • Stout Halfling Barbarian (Kah-Kaww)

 

So we started off where we finished.  I gave a recap of the events from last week and we started with the group witnessing the youth being torn to shreds by the crowd.  The group was very disturbed by this and felt better giving 3 to the Flaming Fist and 2 to Silvershield.  Silvershield asked the group to stay at the Three Old Kegs Inn and stay on his retainer but they declined and decided to head back to the Guild and Little Calimshan. 

 

Upon entering Little Calimshan the party quickly noticed that the place was wrecked and a lot of things were out of place.  They learned that the Flaming Fist raided Little Calimshan and caused all this damage.  They decided to head to Rael shop so they could talk to her about what is going on and to see about the Flaming Fist Uniforms.

 

When they got there they got into a small fight with Rael about why they did not give all the kids to them and allow the people of Baldur's Gate to make the decision.  The Party had some great arguments and made some good rolls so she was OK with their answer, that is why Owl decided to tell Rael "Oh and we did it because we got a Writ signed by Silvershield to help us investigate."  This started a CHA test between Rael and Owl to see if Owl would be forced to give her the Writ (which she would use to cause a lot of issues in the city).  With some assistance of the others in the Party and a bad roll on my part they made Rael believe that the Writ was destroyed by Silvershield after the task was done.  Rael was able to get them enough Flaming Fist Uniforms and she found a Town Guard building they could assault and complete their goal from Session 2.  The party asked to stay there until later tonight but Rael denied them.  She said her place is not available right now because the Flaming Fist might be back any time and cause problems (her real reason was that she is not trusting the group anymore and wants them to stay away from her contacts so they would not be able to betray her later).

 

The Party moved around town and around 10 PM they heading back to Rael's place and were lead to someone to help them.  Rael introduced the party to Osgur Hallorn who was a jolly overweight man.  He was nice and allowed the group to blindfold themselves (which he checked afterwards to make sure they were secure).  He lead them though the Undercellar to a small room near the Town Guard's building.  He told them that they would have to find their own way back and wished them luck.  The trip though Undercellar took about 1 1/2 hours so it was getting close to midnight.

 

The group took a little time to check their equipment.  They noticed that the Town Guard's building (Not the main one but a smaller on near the Heap Gate) was attached to the wall to allow the Guard to watch the wall and get troops to the Gates as needed.  The Party saw the walls were 30 feet tall and 5 of them had 50 feet of rope so they could go over the wall to escape.  The Party then dressed in the Flaming Fist Uniforms and headed to the Town Guard's building and rolled Initiative.

 

The Party some of the Watch relaxing with a servant assisting them, getting them food and drink.  The Party snuck into the room and in one quick turn silenced all of them (just knocked them out not kill them).  One person used his rope to tie up all three together and search them for some money (found 5 GP total).  Jackal tried to move silently to the other door way but was seen.  This started the Watch into an active search mode (still not attacking but now in the initiative since they saw something).  The rest of the group moved up and Nezzel attacked a guard who was not paying attention and took him down to 1 hit point (Sneak Attack with her Dual Short Sword).  This started combat and the group split up (3 heading up stairs while the other 4 headed to where Nezzel was).  The fight was impressive.  The Watch took a turn getting out weapons and everyone noticed someone that should not be there was there (he looked like one of the people from outside the city that does not belong in the upper city at night).  Total enemies were (3 Watch Sergeants, 9 Watch Soldiers, 2 Human Bystanders, and 1 Unknown)

 

The fight continued and one of the Watch's men ran out on the wall yelling "The Flaming Fist are attacking us" which started my 1d4 roll to see when the reinforcement would show up.  I rolled a 4 so it would be a while.  The Watch fought back and took Lucy, Love and Twil down to 3 HP each.  Also the strange person dropped to the ground and started to yell, which Nezzel though was odd so she approached him and attacked.  Even though she did 9 damage it seemed the wounds were healing in front of her eyes.  Nezzel yelled for help while the others continued to battle.  The 3 upstairs got into major trouble with Kah-Kaww taking 15 damage (down to 7 thanks to his rage) and Owl taking 10 damage.  All the party was bloody upstairs and Lucy used her Divine Light power to explode over the area.  She rolled max damage (22) on the dice and took out 4 Soldiers (they only had 11 hp) and 2 Sergeants (19 hp) leaving 1 Sargent left.  She then cast healing word on herself and rolled a 1 so one more hp for her (now 4).

 

The unknown person stood up and was now a Werewolf.  He slashed at Nezzel and did 14 damage (she only had 15 hp) leaving her with 1 hp.  On Nezzel's turn she disengaged and ran to Love that used her Paladin Spell of Cure Wounds to heal 16 hit points back.  Torrak moved forward and attacked the Werewolf slashing deeply into it but not doing much as it kept healing (Werewolves resist all but magical and silver damage).  Twil move down stairs and back to where he could see the Werewolf.  He cast an acid arrow that did only 7 points of damage initially but another 12 at the end of the Werewolf's next turn (Werewolf was at 17 HP at that time).  So the Werewolf tried to bite Torrak but rolled a 1 (lucky).  The Werewolf succumbed to the acid and fell leaving just the one Watch Sargent left.  He ran out after the other soldier yelling that they were being attacked and Kah-Kaww ran after him so he could keep attacking (keeping up his rage).  Twil ran up and searched the Werewolf and found:

  • 12 GP
  • Letter from the Werewood's Werewolves (asking for a bribe or they would attack the caravans trying to enter the city and cause more problems for the Watch since they could not handle the Flaming Fist or Guild).
  • Sword of Mirabar (Rolled on the Magic Item DM Table and then rolled up the weapon/item details from the Magic Items Document).  This created a polymorph one handed sword (so could be any 1 handed sword) +1, that was dwarven made and made it's user feel no temperature from 0-100 degrees.

The party loved this and they were going to search it for more but Torrak set the Werewolf on fire to keep it dead.  The rest of the group searched the soldiers and sergeants but only finding minimal gold 1d4 gp a person).  Lucy rolled a crit on the search and I let her roll a 2nd time and crit again.  I decided that the sergeant had a magic item and rolled up a Pearl of Power (which she needed since she used 2 of 3 of her heals on herself getting her only up to 10 hp).

 

At that moment the other Watch appeared.  I (as the DM) loved this since I put another 70 soldiers on the board heading to the Watch Building.  This scared the crap out of the party and they ran for the walls.  Kah-Kaww (who finally took out the last watch sergeant and still raging) decided to just jump over the wall to the ground.  I told him it would be 1d10 per 10 feet so 3d10 but he took it.  Well I did 20 damage to him (knocked down to 10) as he face planted into the ground.  3 others set up ropes and started to climb down.  Everyone got down but Lucy wanted her rope back so spent a turn recovering her rope.  By that time the soldiers made it to the wall and I had 15 attack her with arrows.  I was able to hit her 3 times and take her back down to 1 hp.  She ran and escaped before the Watch could climb down and chase them.  The group spent the rest of the time making it back to the lower city and got rid of the Flaming Fist uniforms (into some of the trash heaps that were now forming).  They all decided to stay at the Blushing Mermaid in the Lower City and wait for the morning.

 

Conclusion:

This was fun and the players loved that I was able to use my Dungeon Tiles (City) to create a great map.  They also loved the tension and that a lot of their resources were spent already (Twil used 2 first level spells, Lucy used 2 first level spells and Divinity, Owl used 1 first level spell and Love used 1 first level spell).  They also loved the unique magical items and felt it was a great reward for what they did.  I will have the Watch now keeping the Flaming Fist out of the Upper City and think the Flaming Fist is trying to take over Baldur's Gate.  Next week we should be starting Stage 4 so we will see what they want to do then… Only a short rest this week (Lucy used 1 of her Hit Die and Kah-Kaww used both of his)

We had 4 tables again, this week.  They are also running very differently.  One of the 4e tables and my 5e table both started at 1st.  The other two 4e tables started at 6th and 11th - the idea being that the themes of the adventure were too big for 1st level - we have enough 'regulars' who are up for higher level play to populate both those tables, so no worries about new players.  

My 5e table just barely went off with 3 players this week.  We're really falling behind with the party wanting to play through each day in detail even when relatively little is happening. They have visited the Blushing Mermaid, Low Latern, Elfsong Tavern, Blade & Stars, Little Calimshan, and Shrine of Suffering, though - doing the tourist thing, I guess. ;)  

They've met Coran and finally settled on working with Ravensgard, so I'm hoping to make more progress in the coming weeks.  One minor fight this week, a few of the Stage 2 vandals were killed (spells can't be used to KO like melee attacks, it turns out, so one thunderwave with a good damage roll and three dead thugs).  No PC fatalities this week, though.

 

 

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I am really enjoying these reports!

Some sessions are proceeding more or less along the lines we envisioned, but others -- wow. I love the way certain players and DMs just take the bit in their teeth and head for the hills.

Steve

If your only tool is a warhammer, every problem looks like a gnoll.

I began this session of Murder in Baldur's Gate began with some material from the previous stage; members of the Flaming Fist harassing workmen from the Outer City. Jonas Valerian (Tim) had been in the Lower City causing trouble and so witnessed this; he and his friends persuaded the Flaming Fist to back off. This earned them a summons from Ulder Ravengard, who was impressed by their diplomatic skills, and wanted them to work for him. The group agreed - with Jonas making plans to use his contacts in the Flaming Fist to further the revolution he was fomenting in town. 

(Harry and Lee, who have been working for Ravengard, weren't around this session). 

However, the main part of the session was taken up by looking for the dastardly criminals who had been defacing the statues of Baldur's Gate. Well, perhaps "dehanding" is the better term, as the hands of several statues were broken off and removed. The group asked Rilsa Rael if she knew who was involved, and she told them she'd investigate. 

When the statue of the Beloved Ranger was also "dehanded", things were getting serious with a lot of the city very unhappy with how things were going. Rilsa revealed that a gang of noble scions was responsible for the threats, and wanted to turn them over to the mob. The group needed to just work out where the nobles were. Asking at their homes, they discovered that the scions' parents didn't know where they were, and just wanted them taken home safely. Following advice from Coran, the group discovered they'd left the Upper City through one of the gates, and then made their way down to the harbour, onto a ferry, and eventually to a shop not fifty paces away from the headquarters of the Flaming Fist! 

The nobles tried to fight, but they were severely overmatched by the group.  The group chose to turn them over to the Flaming Fist, who assured them that no harm would come to them and they could return to their families after their punishment. That punishment turned out to be ten years imprisonment! Well, what Ravengard said was technically true... 

Apart from dealing with the main plot of the session, we had more character and side-plot development. The note from the kobold needed to be translated, and Jonas took it to the House of Wonders to find an priest who could help him. Who he got was Devotee Chesserie Waters, who was somewhat starstruck by the "Hero of Founder's Day". She took the note and took a couple of days to decode it; she met Jonas over dinner (where he was oblivous to her flirtations) where she revealed it was in kobold and thieves' cant, offering money to the kobolds in exchange for breeding crocodiles in the sewers.  

Jonas and Medrick (Rich) also joined the Sages' Guild, at a discount, with Ravek Tillerturn being the guildmember who took them through the process, whilst Bob (Lachie) got a new bow from Ettvagh Stodge of "Ettvard's Bows" in the Lower City.  

This was a fairly role-playing intense session, with the only combat being quite minor. I expect I'll have to modify the next session to put in more combat to make up for the lack last session. 

Merric Blackman

Blog: Merric's Musings; On Twitter: MerricB