Week 6 - Field Report

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This week we had 10 players, which made the table of regulars and a spillover. The new school year seems to have changed everyone's schedules so that the kids that were making their own table can't easily make it.

The table of regulars has been trying to play all sides against the middle with varying degrees of success. Surprisingly, what did them in was the sumptuary laws. When the DM had one of the City Watch confiscate the silk kerchief of the wizard and then put it on, she initiated a fight that saw the player characters (except for one, the wily rogue) incarcerated in the Seatower of Balduran. So, next week the DM gets to run one of the Jailbreak scenarios. Awesome.

My table has been running it cautiously. They have actually been careful to conclude their various investigations with minimal bloodshed (for example, ransoming the hand-stealers back to their families but delivering the hands to Ravengard). This week, they decided to check out the Harbormaster's office. They ended up setting off the manifest, which led to a merry chase through the streets of the Lower City in the dead of night, dodging piles of trash. Finally, the PC with the book hurled it through an open window and fled. PCs who had gotten badges from Ravengard made friends with the Flaming Fists who reclaimed the book, and were able to learn enough to successfully consult it the next night. They followed up leads and I got a number of groans at "Horus Kope." I ended up with the rat attack optional scenario, as this is the combat-light portion of the book. They'll start next session chasing the wererat -- I've half a mind to let them overhear some shady dealings in the Undercellars as a reward if they do some good roleplaying.

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Murder in Baldur’s Gate (Week 6) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.

We had 14 players and 3 DMs this week at Harry T North in Toronto (down from our 25+ players earlier this season). I ran a table of 4 PCs, 2 were brand new to D&D. The new curfew in Baldur’s Gate made the PCs mad especially when they realized it would screw over the middle class and poor folks. They decided to help the merchants by exploring Underceller and finding a safe passage between the Wide and Lower City. This would allow the merchants to stay in Upper City a lot later and still make a profit. An ad hoc combat vs. skeletons wandering in Underceller was the highlight of the night.

We're only half way through and as the DM I'm already feeling really burned out. This adventure is dragging on and on. It seems that DMs who are running tables where they have the same players each week are having a much better time of it than I am. I seem to get all the new players every week. This season is not conducive to new players joining mid stream and it's really beginning to show.

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 - OKC, OK

We had three tables of 6 players each again this week. My group had dispatched the wererat halfling twins from last week and discovered and nice secret access from the Upper City sewers to the Lower City sewers. When they emerged from the sewers, the city was in a huge uproar because the Minsc and Boo statue was discovered to have been vandalized. Because of the rat and roof slate adventures, they were a little behind on the main flow of events. Ravenguard spoke with them briefly telling them that he wanted the culprits captured and brought in alive to stand trial and that this was to be their sole focus, since mobs were forming outside Flaming Fist offices demanding justice.

One of the PCs decided to go off on his own for some reason, and check back in with Rilsa. He seemed to think it was it was no problem going to see Rilsa after not seeing her for quite some time, joining the Flaming Fist and completing tasks for them counter to the efforts of the Guild. He acted surprised when his character was jumped in Little Calimshan and knocked out cold for the remainder of the session.

The rest of the party found the clues at the Ranger statue which lead them to the patriars home. They also encountered the Master of Cobbles at the crime scene who emplored them to kill the offenders and enticed them with a 150 gp reward. Once at the patriar's home, they find Silvershield who was personally looking into the matter. Recognizing them from Founder's Day, The Duke put his cards on the table and, together with the parents, offered the PCs a 300 gp reward for the decrete and safe return of the teens, even giving them the idea that they should begin their hunt with talking to the gate guards.

They had no trouble tracking them successfully to their Outer City hiding place. Convincing the potter to give up the teens, they decided to dress them down, diguising them as commoners and to casually proceed back to Upper City. They took the ferry back to Brampton and were proceeding through Lower City just fine when they encountered a little rub. From a side alley they notice a dark figure whom they recognize as the man who accompanied Rilsa back at the beginning of the adventure. He is accompanied by two thugs who are carrying another man. When he lifts the uncounscious, bloody face of the man, they realize it is their companion whom they had not seen in quite a while. The man's only comment was, "Trade?" 

We ended things there, but it was clear that we will begin next week with an initiative roll.

This session, even though there was no combat, was great fun. I can, however, sympathize with what Ameron, (previous post), is saying regarding the difficulties of the adventure when you have a rotating player base each week. Our table is pretty much the same players every time, so I love it. But he has a point. I think that WotC needs to provide a supplement to adventures of this style in the Encounters packet that is a more traditional linear option for tables with constantly new players or DM's with little time for preparation. This should come with battle maps. This adventure is a huge time investment for the DM. This is counter to the spirit of the Encounters format. The whole point to Encounters was to get a quick simple game in each week that doesn't require much preparation and gives the players a little taste of all three pillars of the D&D experience. If you have a consistent turnout of players, then you can deviate from that and realize the potential of an adventure written like this one. Otherwise, it becomes very difficult to DM and not as much fun to play.

 

So this week started off with everyone in the group spending the first 30 min to update their characters to the new Next rules.  I felt it was better to change to the new rules since they will match the final rules and give them a better taste of what Wizards will be doing with the product.  The main things we noticed were:

  • Barbarians were cut down in this release.  No more 1/2 damage and only a few extra hp.  Also losing the ADV on melee attacks hurts too.
  • Bards are now in the game.  I did not allow anyone to switch to a bard but people were happy to see them
  • Drows, Tieflings, Kenders, Warforges, and Dragonborn oh my.  Yes so many races and so little time.  One that stood out the most for me was Drows.  If they are in sunlight they take a Disadvantage on all rolls just like how they were in the original books.  I also liked the Dragon Color determined the Dragonborn's powers.  Finally if Kenders were in the game before the last update they would be perfect for Baldur's Gate.  Their power would help a lot in the game.

 

So after a week of political intrigue the party went a rested at the Blushing Mermaid.  They all had bad dreams and thus were only able to get a short rest.  The party this week consisted of:

  • Human Ranger (Owl)
  • Half-Elf Mage (Twil) (2 1st Level Spells Remaining)
  • Half-Orc Cleric (Lucy) (2 1st level Spells Remaining, 0 Divinity, 0 Hit Dice)
  • Wood Elf Paladin (Woodarrow) (1 1st level Spells)
  • Tinker Gnome Rogue (Nezzle)
  • Half-Orc Rogue (Jackal)
  • Half-Orc Barbarian (Torrak Karrot)
  • Stout Halfling Barbarian (Kah-Kaww) (0 Hit Dice, 1 Rage)
  • Half-Elf (LG) Paladin (Jeff) (2 1st level Spells Remaining)

 

Blushing Mermaid and Upper City (Everyone):

The party woke up and everyone talked about their bad dreams.  Nezzle decided it was time to have one of them in the running for Duke.  The party spent 15 minutes discussing why they should not be Duke until Nezzle said she would do it.  She then went with the group to the hall of records and forged a birth certificate of her and that she is a Noble so she could be Duke.  The party as they moved around town kept hearing about rat attacks and people getting sick.  The group decided it was time to clean up the streets so they headed to talk to Silvershield since he was in charge of the sanitation of the city.  Silvershield complained about how his friend was being blackmailed and forced out of running for the Duke.  He wanted his name cleared and to find out who set him up.  The party of course knew it was them but kept quiet.  Finally the party got Silvershield to pay them 6 gold each to take care of the sanitation problems of the city.  They were heading back to Baldur's Gate when the clock struck 3 bells (5:30PM).  The Watch closed the gates and started arresting people.

 

Jackal, Woodarrow, Twil and Owl all ran for it while Nezzle trusted in here standing to get out of trouble.  The guards (20 of them) stopped Nezzle and her group and demanded documentation or they would be arrested.  Nezzle produced her papers and said she belonged here.  Her papers held up and she was told to head back home before anything else happened.  Nezzle then told them that the others were part of her group and they were let go too.  The ones that ran had a small skill challenge where Jackal and Owl were captured and the others got away.  Nezzle and the group headed to the Watch's prison and collected Owl and Jackal.  They all then headed to the Three Old Kegs for the night but noticed rats breaking into houses and people screaming.  The group followed some of the rats and it lead them to the sewers.  The group decided they could stop the rats and get some more support for Nezzle for Duke.

 

Sewers (Everyone):

So I drew out a map on the dry erase graph board and added some sewer tiles to complete it.  The group made it to a break in the sewers where there was a cave.  The rats kept going in and out of the cave.  This started the combat for the night (30 rats, 2 unknown vs. 9 PCs).

 

The combat vs the rats was quick but still they got hit once and a while.  Woodarrow and Jeff suffered some ill effect from the bites and are now diseased (I am going to make them suffer DIS on all CON, STR and DEX rolls till they get healed).  The party fought their way into the cave and met Thurgo Songbuckle.  Thurgo told them they needed to leave or suffer the fate of all in the city.  The Party did not even talk but attacked Thurgo and he call his assistant to help him (a generic Werewolf).  This fight the Werewolf did nothing (missed all 3 turns) and got hit by some silvered arrows and magic.  Thurgo critical hit on Jackal and also diseased him (same as the others.  I decided that he would not suffer lycanthropy).  The party took them out but spent more Spells and resources.  They also found a magical mace in but are not sure what to do with it.  The party left the sewers and then headed to talk to the sanitation people.  After talking to a few of them they were able to figure out it would cost 150gp to get them working again.  The party pooled resources and were able to get the sanitation people back on the job.  They then told everyone in Baldur's Gate that is was Nezzle that was the one that got rid of the rats and cleaned the streets.  People are now looking at Nezzle for Duke.

 

GM VIEW:

OK the party really needed a fight so I included the special rat attack into the game.  They liked it but still are not sure which way to turn since so much is happening.  Next week we will get the Taxes and Party completed and move into Stage 6 but still there is so much to do and not enough time for everything.  This week we went for 3 1/2 hours and we could of done more but it was late.  I think maybe in a week or 2 things will get the characters focused toward the events coming up but right now I have to prod them a lot to go somewhere.  They want to do so much and are having a lot of fun Roleplaying but it makes the sessions a lot longer since we keep doing a lot of side quests.  Still I am enjoying this a lot even if it takes me 4-6 hours a week to get ready for the next session.

We have been lucky at Tabletop Tyrants this season to have had both tables fairly consistantly full of the same players, with 3 new players joining us this week.
This week saw the most prep put into it, but that was because we wanted to run our modified version of “planted evidence” crypt crawl with the Ravenloft tiles.
To be honest it was a nice diversion but I think most of the players actually prefer the combat light RP of this season.
We also chose to switch to the latest playtest packet “Mid-adventure” as we thought it was better to test the newest (and final) version rather than wait another 6 or 7 weeks before changing.

"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/

How do you know that 3 bells is 17:30? As a Navy Brat and graduate of Navy JROTC, I'm well aware of how ship's bells work in the real world, but I haven't seen anything to make me assume the same is true for Baldur's Gate.

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I think it refers to the hourly chiming of the bells i the High House of Wonders (page 14 of the Campaign Guide), we have been taking it as 3 bells = 3 o'clock.

"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/

Vobeskhan wrote:
I think it refers to the hourly chiming of the bells i the High House of Wonders (page 14 of the Campaign Guide), we have been taking it as 3 bells = 3 o'clock.
That was my first thought too, but it struck me as absurdly early. Then again, perhaps that's the point.

About.me

Drive like you love your children

Through faith you have been saved by grace and not by works. -Ep 2:8-9

Grammar Made Easy – now there's no excuse for sounding like an idiot online.
Games From the Mind of fewilcox – my blog about writing; games, including, character sheets and other roleplaying accessories; and game design.

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