LotCS Field Report - week 2

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We picked up from where our party left off at the launch event, the write up is here.

 

Not knowing which way the party would go I pretty much had to run this "on the fly" but I feel it worked well. I was particularly impressed with the players plan and use of the Disguise Self spells to try and discover Slim's hideout, and the random enounter info on the DM Screen was a great addition.

 

I would definitely suggest DM's either create a calender of events (or use the one on these forums) to keep track of the "off screen" goings on.

 

I'm looking forward to next week, and in the meantime will be reading up on the "getting lost" rules, just in case

"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/

Calendar of events is a great idea--recently, in a twitter conversation, someone was explaining that creating a sense of urgency is one of the keys to successfully running this season. I am not sure how to do this--I am thinking some kind of 'school planner' looking player handout to give them that middle school sense or urgency--you know, you do not know where your third period classroom is on the first day of school, but you have to be there in 3 minutes! Of course, something a bit more serious would also be nice.

 

Is anyone doing anything specifically to incorperate the Calendar of Events timeline into the adventure?

 

My photo revew & actual play video us up on my blog. Also, I have created a FlipBoard to collect stuff about this season--let me know if you would like me to add you as an contributor.

I'm still waiting on the adventure, my LGS ordered it late, but I do plan on using the calendar Spykes put up.

@feetz_grande on Twitter

Sorry for the delay in my post but the holiday week really threw me off. Although to be honest I know that nobody was counting the days until it would arrive.

 

                Alright! Session #2 is wrap and things went well if you ask me. Not nearly as much role playing this encounter and it was mostly combat and exploration. LOTS of enemies to get through (I adjusted the numbers to make the enemy forces much larger than they were in the book) and a few traps.

 

                I expected a smaller table this week and originally set my character in as playing and then had a few people show up just as we were approaching the lair. I asked the group what they wanted me to do and they opted for me to leave Alden in.

 

The players this week:

  • Rob: Dwarf Warrior, prefers axe & board
  • Jason: Dwarf Cleric of War, believes himself to be the chosen of Moradin
  • Derek: Elf Paladin
  • Trevor: High Elf Evocationist
  • Tom: High Elf Cleric of Light
  • Sean: Dysfunctional Wood Elf Rogue, DEX based rogue that uses a long sword 2-handed on most of his attacks
  • Alden Brumblefoot: Lightfoot Halfling Bard (in play tonight)

 

Map I drew for the week:

 

 

                After the burglary, the group made off for some rest as the sun started to rise. Not wanting to waste a full day, the group opted to go with a partial rest that way they could see what is going on in town. With a new day upon them the first thing they wanted to do was to see what the small black trinket was that they acquired during the last session. The first lead was to speak with Helda since she was their best merchant contact, she filled them in on what it was and expressed how she wishes she could obtain some for selling but all the supplies are out at this time. I am surprised that the group didn't try to offer it up to her for some coin.

 

                Once the party felt they have done all the follow up they felt they needed to I had Aglonell search them out and explain how he was recently robbed. Sadly, both barbarians that assisted him last session were gone but I was still able to work the hook in well enough. Feeling that there wasn't much else going on in town the group agreed to go out and track down the bandits. Before setting out though, they wanted to let Sheriff Markham know what was going on and wanted to make sure that they would not be in trouble for doing so.

 

                The group left at mid-day, putting their arrival at the hideout at night. They were able to cross the open tundra with any issues and found the hideout pretty easily. As they approached the hideout I had the group roll for stealth checks, Sean and Trevor were the only two of the group that had their sneakin' boots tied tight enough to get to a surprise round. Sean used his to gain a tactical spot behind a rock while Trevor had let off a ray of frost (thinking shoot first, ask questions later). With the spell going off combat outside the lair had begun!

 

                Combat rolled pretty quick and I found that my newly adjusted ACs of the enemies worked out pretty well. The party took a bit of a beating thanks to a few lucky crits but nothing that they couldn't handle. After his initial sneak attack, Sean felt the bandits looked a bit cold and decided to throw some alchemist's fire (he used 3) on the them. Trevor ended up rolling a botch (natural 1) at a target when he had 3 friendly players in the way. I rolled my percentile and it came out as him pegging one of his teammates (Rob, the dwarf fighter). Luckily, he only ended up doing 2 damage since it was a cantrip, but it still caused Rob to be slowed for a round. The enemies outside the hideout didn't last too long against the party and they were able to take out the group without much noise and only I n a few short rounds.

 

                Once inside the group had to decide which direction to go. After some quiet contemplation the group overheard several bandits nearby drinking and gambling. With a few stealthy peaks it was confirmed that there was 3 bandits all somewhat deep in their cups. One of the members of the party (forget who) made some ruckus while trying to stealth around and caused the group of rowdy drunkards to fall silent. After giving it a few moments without any of the groups moving our Dwarven Fighter, Rob, decided that he was thirsty and was going to “demand” a drink from the bandits. By demand I mean charge in axe first ready to split some heads open. After charging though Rob realized that there were a few more bandits than originally reported. And like that, a new battle had begun!

 

                The meatier players did a great job clogging the tunnel so that the soft undersides of the squishy characters were protected. Sean, the rogue, thought that since the fight looked well under control that he would scout the rest of the hideout and also keep an eye out for additional bandits. During this fight there was a good bit of exchange between ranged attacks, both groups having a front of members keeping the opposite forces from advancing. Seeing how all the known bandits were trapped in a small area Tom, our cleric of light, felt it was a good place to use his channel divinity which went off with devastating success. Due to the amount of damage the bandits took from the channel divinity and seeing how they were on the ropes the 2 wererats in the bandit group opted to change forms and tried to taint as many of the adventures as they could. Unfortunately for the wererats all successful bites, while tore flesh, failed to spread their “gift” to any of the party. With the wererats showing their true form they became the primary targets of the adventures, knowing that their life was near an end both wererats attempted to shift into rodent form and make a scurry for it, only to fail and die at the entrance to the hideout.

 

                Meanwhile, as the fight raged on, a lone rogue scouted the tunnel leading the other way. Failing to believe that a group of drunkards such as the bandits were could be responsible enough to set any traps ended up costing Sean few hit points with a nice clamp on the leg by a bear trap. Luckily, he was able to slip out of the trap with ease and continued down the hallway (limping now) and leaving a nice tail of blood. With confidence Sean continued town the hall, only to barely dodge one more unnoticed bear trap. With a second trap the rogue finally thought it was a good idea to check for traps. Rounding a corner the rogue came to a well-lit area with an ornamental rug. Thankfully, our rogue learned his lesson and checked for traps and while he could not tell for certain that the rug was trapped his inner rogue intuition told him there was some sort of magic cast on the rug. Wanting to mend his leg Sean sat down and waited for the rest of the party to arrive.

 

                Back with the main force, the adventures thought it to be a good idea to search the bodies of the bandits (both inside and out) and search the bandit room while waiting for the scouting report from the rogue (go figure). After some time without the rogue most of the group went off to find the Sean, however the two dwarves felt their time was better spent testing the beer they found during the search. After rounding the corner and seeing some blood on the floor the group continued into the hideout with caution, finding the rogue leaned up against a wall. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt and thought a nice catnap would do the trick while he waited for the group. With the group present the rogue explained how he believed the rug to be trapped. It didn’t take long for the Evocationist to discover that it was indeed trapped with a hold person spell.

 

                Having no form to dispel the trap the group had to figure out a way to get around the trap. Trevor & Derek really wanted a way to save the carpet for themselves so they were thinking of all sorts of odd ideas. Some of the ones that stick out in my mind are shaking out the rug with multiple mage hands, placing a dead rat on the carpet with a false life spell (if they would have used a humanoid I would have gave it to them) and threatening to toss the rogue onto it since he is supposed to disarm the traps. Eventually the group gave up and opted to torch the rug, much to the dismay of the two who wanted to keep it. With the rug in ashes all the group tried to open the door ahead of them to find it both locked and trapped (surprise surprise). It didn’t take long for the trap and door to be straightened out and then the group readied their weapons (they heard growling as the door was being tampered with).

               

                When the door opened a series of bolts, arrows and spells flew both into the room and into the hallway, striking a few on both sides but no major damage. At this point in the evening time was running really short so we speed rounded combat. The rogue charged into combat (like I said, not the most effective rogue) setting off a trap right inside the door but was able to dodge it as it went off. Following the rogues gutsy move the cleric of war opted to charge in as well not thinking to eye the floor for traps getting himself snatched up in a snare. Given some quick teamwork the cleric wasn’t trapped for long. I didn’t get into any theatrics in combat due to time and just went straight forward with basic attacks. The enemies were quickly dispatched and the party decided they would stay the night at the hideout for a couple reasons. First, it was late and crossing the tundra while it is dark didn’t sound ideal (especially after pulling an all-nighter the night before). Second, they had some pretty decent wounds and depleted most of their spells/resources. Third, in case more bandits opted to return to the hideout they could easily be taken out. Last, to properly loot the place. I did not disclose the note inside the chest but that will be the first thing I do on Wednesday.

 

                Thoughts: The really liked my adjustments I made to the ACs. Combat felt balance and the only time it came down to a slightly boring was at the end when we were speed rounding it. I debated putting it off until this week and looking back at it I should have saved the encounter Wednesday, oh well. I really enjoyed the traps and I thought my players would have learned after finding the first trap but the only one they ended up noticing was the magical carpet trap.

 

I read something about why the AC is so low- I forget about it now.. do any of your players have magical weapons? They definitely should not! 

 

 

Check out my resource post for PDFs you can print out for letters! 

Nope! No magic weapons on our end. I don't plan on dishing any of those out until end of this season. I think part of the reason the +s to hit are so high is because we rolled for stats so almost all the players at my table have a 18 in their primary stat. I really wanted to do standard array or point buy but I left it up to the table and they wanted to roll.

You rolled an almost all have 1, 18? That's pretty incredible rolling. Assuming you rolled 4d6 drop the lowest.

Well, with bonuses they were able to get a 18. All rolls were at the table with the group watching so I cannot disput them. I let them roll 4d6, drop the lowest 6 times and they can assign which stat the rolls go to instead of first set going to Str second to Dex  and so on. I still let them know I really felt we should have gone with buy or array. Its ok though, they got the crap smacked out of them yesterday by some dwarves, although in the end they pulled through.

We had 4 tables at Game HQ in OKC again this week.

My group started their first full day in Brynn Shander and decided to look into several leads they discovered on their arrival to town the previous evening. They visited Mithann and learned quite a bit regarding Aarun and the reasons for his murder, also learning of Anglonell. They then visted Duvessa Shane and were able to get Hengar released with his sentence rediced to banishment. Telling him that they would accompany him to his tribe's camp the next day, they escorted him from town and agreed on a meeting place. They then met with Anglonell and learned more about thugs hanging around the town to the north. Unfortunately, this was general area were Hengar told them that he would be waiting for them. By this time it was nearly dark though, so there was no time to send Hengar a warning. Assuming a seasoned barbarian could avoid bumbling city thugs in the wilderness, they trusted that he would be OK. They then went to fullfill their obligation to Dunavann, who requested their services to guard his second warehouse that night. Merek and his thugs, (2 wererats and 3 human warriors), showed up to attempt to find the silvered weapons. The battle was intense, however the party was ready for the attack and was able to get the jump on the thugs. Marek tried to escape, but was unable to get away. They found a small black ice amulet on the hobgoblin, but are as of yet, unaware of its origins or properties.

 

Interesting game notes:

  • It's important to note that the days this far north and this late in the season are very short.
  • Since Marek was killed in the warehouse invasion, I'll probably place Slim in the hideout battle in his place, should they decide to investigate that.
  • The party is going to attempt to follow the dwarf line and the barbarian line since the Dwarven Valley is on the way the Elk tribe, meaning they will miss out on Highharvesttide and Duvessa Shane's public meeting.

 

 

We had three tables of this go off. One group is slooow, but they love the roleplaying so it's all good. Another table is a bunch of kids, so we cooked up a little GTA/Rainbow Six style action sequences for them, light on roleplay and heavily-railroaded, but it fits their style and they really seemed to enjoy it.

My table went to talk to the priestess who sent them to Dunavan. They didn't want to wait after their run-in with Slim, so they all trucked down to the warehouse that evening, where Marek was in the midst of his skullduggery. The fight went well -- even though the warriors had a low AC of 12, the PCs still ended up missing the "right" amount of the time so it felt like a real fight, but one they were ultimately supposed to win. After arming themselves with silvered weapons, they went back to Mithann, who directed them to Algonell. We set it up that next session will begin with him guiding them to the cave, then we'll see which way they go.

So far, they're liking this better than MiBG -- less moral ambiguity, and plenty of fight scenes with clear benefits/rewards.

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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

  This week we had 2 new players join putting the table to 9 players. Yeah my 2nd worst fear on deciding to DM an Encounters game has come true. The 2 new people were a little late and knew nothing of 5e/Next. I gave them what info I'd printed out and let them get to making characters while I got the party going. Unfortunately (and really I should have done something but in the interest of just keeping it moving I let it slide) 1 new player made a Drow and the other made a Deep Gnome, ugh. I see plenty of random encounters & attack focus in their future.

  The party got rooms at the Northlook for the night. In the morning they met the Drow character (Klepto the rogue, double ugh) and gathered some info about who Mithann was. They went and met with Mithann and told her about Aarun. She directed them to Dunaven to see about the weapons. She also told them about Algonell and his concerns. As this was happening I had someone come in and tell Mithann about the fire. The party split with half going to talk to Dunaven and the others to Algonell, actually the Paladin stayed behind to talk with Mithann. Around then is when the Gnome character, a Mage with multiple personality disorder (?) and conviently a friend of the Drow, joined up. This split helped me feed a lot of info to the characters. Mithann filled in Kor on Auril and her cults while Dunaven & Algonell dropped more info about Slim & Marek. The party took the warehouse guarding job and sort of agreed to look into stuff with Algonell but didn't want to head that far out right away. Using some overheard conversations and having guards & merchants give the party's barbarian some nasty reactions I introduced the Hengar plotline. Yeah I know it was supposed to happen the first day but I didn't get it in so I carrid it over to the 2nd day. Since it was still early in the day most of the group decided to follow up on this. They met with Duvessa Shane and Sheriff Markham who basically just told them no he wouldnt let Hengar free and then sent them to talk with Brinna Alcott.

 - Here was my lack of DM experience shining through. As it's written (to me anyway) it gives very little info on this whole crime thing and why the Sheriff won't listen. It ended up making most of my NPCs just come off as "racist" (as the Drow player kept saying) towards barbarian tribes. I wasn't really sure how to handle the players inquiries to Markham since it just says he needs proof so I decided they would have a shot at shaking down Alcott and getting her to confess. Not sure why but I wanted to avoid having them confront guards and break Hengar out, which they had stated was their backup plan.

  So the group went to Alcott, I dropped some subtle hints about her involvement with a cult (for one; her door was propped open despite the cold) and they went through various interrogation tactics. Kor succeeded on an Intimidation to which she broke down and admitted what she'd done claiming it was all to protect Ten Towns from Auril's wrath.

 We wrapped there since it was after 9. Next week I will do the warehouse encounter and try to get some more info in about the various plots & subplots and get pressing on the time urgency.

 

After the game the store owner told me that next week we wil have to spit into 2 groups. However there isn't another DM lined up. If they get the guy who usually agrees to be the back-up/if-needed DM (who happens to be playing the Dwarf Cleric in this game) he doesn't really do 5e/Next. So I'm not sure what's going to happen with the party. I'm certain of 3 players that will stay on with me but will just have to wait and see what everyone else decides to do. I was really hoping to have a solid group of players that were here every week unlike the times I've played and the party was different almost every week.

@Gonchar, you seem to be doing very well. Improvisation is a key skill for this adventure since it's so loose on the details. Good job!

Thank you, it's very encouraging to hear that from more experienced DMs.