SotSC Field Report - Week 1 (Feb 19)

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Scourge of the Sword Coast (Week 1) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.

 

We did not run a separate Game Day so I realize the events from my week 1 will likely overlap with what some others did during this past weekend.

 

This season another DM and I decided to run our two tables in the same adventure world. The parties can interact with each other much like a battle interactive or the Vault of the Dracolich.

 

Another tweak is that we added an ongoing side quest: a scavenger hunt. Each PC has a list of 100 things they need to find this season. This was a huge hit with our groups. It's encouraging great role-playing and we're seeing creative and imaginative things happen as PCs try to find items on their list.

 

This week's session had each party heading towards Daggerford, one from the North and one from the South. Both had their own version of the farmhouse encounter. The two groups came together at the gates of Daggerford. Their attempt to gain entrance and to keep the crowd calm was chaotic to say the least. In the end everyone made it into the city and that's where we stopped things.

 

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

 

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as actual play podcasts and pre-generated characters for both 4e and D&D Next.

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Game HQ - OKC

 

We had 5 full tables again this week. 

My table picked up the action from last week's battle with a raiding gnoll band at the caravan grounds just before dawn. Having taken the gnolls out, they were able to gain entrance to the city by agreeing to stay in the barracks and aid in the city's defense. This did not stay te near riot scene at the gate with the guards. They party ended up paying for the Bowers' to enter snd gave them some extra money. They also spent some time trying to calm the crowd, but their rolls were terrible and Grengel let an arrow fly. Quick action from the druid saved the refugee's life and the others were able to restrain him. The halfling Curran and the PCs were able to get the crowd to disperse.

 

Once in the city, They stuck with Curran and were given the general tour. Having been up all night practially, they were only interested in getting rest though. One of the gnomes in the party is a distant cousin to Ballick the gnome who owner the Decorated Man garment store, so the three gnomes were able to stay with him, but since the house was built to gnomish porportions, it was not pratical for the Monk and Druid to stay there. They opted for the barracks rather than pay the outrages fees of the Shining River Tavern. After getting a long rest, they heard and follwed up on all of the rumors, Grengle killed himself while they rested, but they were able to visit pretty much every notable location in town, going to the jail, Tower of Light, Chauntea's temple, watching the Duke's tirade on the Shanties, Lady Luck Tavern, the Lizard's Gizzard where they met Natyssa, investigate Grengle's body at the undertakers and they attempted to locate Alven, who is nowhere to be found. In addition they talked to people at the places they are staying, the barracks and the Decorated Man. At the end of the day they were invited to dinner by Ballick at the River Shining Tavern were they heard a few more bits of information, as well as meeting Jekk and seeing the copy of the Bloke. 

 

They are now resolved to head to Joulken to investigate what trouble may lie therein. They have opted to take a boat, provided by the militia, but will retain a river guide to captain the vessle for them.

 

This session was entirely roleplay, and it was pretty awesome. The town and personalities were great fun and easy to run. Next week looks like it will be all action though. This adventure is a bit of a departure from past Encouters sdventure where they try to put a little of all three phase of the game in each session. This style is expecting you to have a more consistent player base so that you are able to do some sessions of heavy or exclusively roleplay and then some with just exploration and combat. I liked it and the player's seemed to enjoy it as well.

Here is the write up for our Launch Event and first session.

 

Despite the suggested content for the Launch being a little short, we carried on for the three hours we had available and then continued onwards for our regular 2 hours on Wednesday.

"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/

As always, good reads everyone. I REALLY like the idea of the scavenger hunt. I might have to steal that for the next season. It seems like a good way to get the players to turn roleplayig into a fun competition. Also nice to see that someone else is doing the 1 massive group, multiple tables approach. I think it will lead to being able to switch up the groups easier if people are missing thanks to everyone being in the same world and working as one. Plus, as you said, there is a LOT of ground to cover in this campaign.

 

Here we go!

 

Beautiful sunshine and close to 40 degrees makes for a great start at Fun4All in Ann Arbor, MI. Once again we are back to our larger numbers but it was handled like a champ. This season we are running SotSC as level 6 – 8 and will have 2 tables running but both tables combined make up the full party and they will interact and switch players at times based on the goals that each table will be hoping to accomplish. I will be running a table as usual and Rico will run the 2nd table as long as we have the players to do so. Both of us will also be using our PCs to round out the parties since they are utility characters (druid and bard) but will be leaving them on “auto-pilot” without any real influence to the plot.

 

Meet the Adventurers:

  • Rob – Dwarf Fighter (Table 1)
  • Tom – Human Cleric of Light (Table 1)
  • Trevor – Highelf Evocationist (Table 1)
  • Derek/Krug – Half-orc Fighter (Table 1)
  • Alden Brumblefoot (my character)  - Halfling Bard (Table 1 DM and auto-pilot character)
  • Sean – Woodelf Rogue (Table 2)
  • Mike – Dwarf Cleric of Light (Table 2)
  • Jason – Dwarf Cleric of Battle (Table 2)
  • Tosha - ??? Ranger (Table 2)
  • Rico/Perrin - Woodelf Druid (Table 2)

 

The day started off with a brief recap of all that happened during the launch event and laying out the discovered plot hooks and who was requesting each investigate or how the found out about each. The original plan was that Rico and I expected a split between Julkoun and Harpshield and I was going to run Julkoun and he Harpshield but it was nearly unanimous in favor to Harpshield (they knew there were fights to be had and possibly some undiscovered treasures) so that is where we all went. Luckily, I skimmed Harpshield so I wasn’t completely lost on it but the maps I drew for Julkoun where useless at this time.

 

As the group neared the ruins Rico joined the group (he was delayed in coming south due to building a new shrine for Auril and Hedrun) landing near the party in hawk form. Prior to interacting with the party, he scouted the surrounding area when he noticed orc encampments and explained the layout as best as he could once he returned to humanoid form. The adventurer’s had a minor discussion and felt that they would have a better chance going unnoticed and cover more ground if they split into two smaller groups. Table 1 would loop around north and check out the camp while Table 2 would stick along the tree-line and check out the camp to the south of Harpshield.

 

This is the story of Table 1:

 

The party made its way north and didn’t go out of its way to be stealth. Having 2 characters in heavy armor and 2 in medium armor they felt they didn’t stand much of a chance in attempts to be stealthy. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the party was going around trying to make noise, just not running from rock to tree to shadow and so on. As they neared the northern tree-line the party stumbled on a group of 4 orc scouts in mid-patrol route.

 

The battle with orcs was over almost as quick as it began. The brute force of Rob and Krug along with the triple threat of spell casting (cantrips only) from Trevor, Tom and my bard (arcane initiate) made it so that none of the orcs were able to get away. A quick search of the dead turned up nothing of great use but did land the party about 10g each richer. Pumped from their swift victory the group decided it was best to keep moving and not bother resting.

 

Eventually the group was able to see smoke rising from campfires off in the distance and Krug’s nostrils were filled with one of his favorite scents of childhood, roasting dog. It was easy to determine that they found the northern camp that Rico told them about. The idea was that the party would get close enough to strike and get into hiding positions while Krug (being a Half-orc) would attempt to infiltrate the camp but between Rob and my bard stepping on nearly every branch and twig on the path this was not possible.

 

The orc camp proved to put up MUCH more fight than the previous scouting party. The original 6 orcs in sight quickly turned into 10, which included 2 pit fighting champions. Alden started off being the primary target of the orcs taking 3 solid hits causing him to have to retreat and heal up. Trevor and Tom both launched a fireball, easily bringing about 5 of the orcs to the brink of death, toasted two of the tents and charred the dog so much that it was no longer worth eating, which only angered the orcs (and Krug). With the 2 explosions going out the primary targets switched from the poor halfling to the two spell casters. Trevor took a lump or two but not before Krug got a nice swing on one as it approached Trevor. Tom managed to dodge most attacks due to some luck flares.

 

Rob and Krug were able to being sweeping things up once the orcs were softened up thanks to the casters. Krug started tearing through them thanks to his two-weapon mastery with his halberd and Rob went toe to toe with the pit fighters. Rob took some solid hits from the 2 pit fighters but was able to get out of a critical miss and a critical hit thanks to his “Lucky” feat. Tom took out 3 orcs by channeling divinity for a Radiance of the Dawn. Trevor unleashed a scorching ray bringing down a few more. Once the orcs started dropping the party was able to quickly end those who were left standing.

 

A quick search of the camp after finishing off the orcs showed no real treasure but there were able to scrounge up another 10gp each from the bodies and the 1 remaining tent. Krug somewhat lucked out and noticed opossum roasting on another fire, not quite what he was hoping for but still a tasty snack for him.

 

The group choose to push on since they were not too badly injured and guessed that if any guards in the ruins (if there were any) would have clearly saw the 2 fireballs go off and it would not be safe to rest anyway. After doing one more quick search of the camp the party pressed for the ruins of Harpshield.

 

As they approached Harpshield they were rather impressed with how it held up. Excluding a decent hole in the curtain wall it looked like a pretty well intact fortress. The group was quickly removed from their state of amazement when arrows started flying past them that were launched from the archway. Trevor was able to get a quick hold person off thanks to his wand but the other orc was able to get off a few shouts that the keep had unwanted visitors. A quick glance into the keep by Rob let the party know that several orcs in the distance starting to grab battle gear.

 

Krug lead a charge for safety under the archway and noticed a door so he kicked in the door and was surprised to see a pigsty but continued to rush in. Just as he rounded the bend he got stuck by a pitchfork (covered in pig feces) in the hands of a large orog. Krug failed a saving throw and knew that such a wound would surely lead to an infection that wouldn’t be pleasant. Krug and the orog traded blows and krug took another feces covered wound in the gut.

 

Meanwhile, the party rushed toward the opening that Krug discovered and took out one of the guards on top of the archway along their run. The second guard (the held one) broke free of his hold and was able to escape and gather up more orcs. Another quick turn and the party made it into the sty just as Krug was finishing off the pig farmer. After finishing up the farmer, Krug immediately began to puke.

 

Having a group of angry orcs hot on their heels the group barricaded the door that they came through. Seeing that Krug was not in tip-top condition Tom asked his god to bless him with the powers to remove whatever ailment Krug was suffering from. Alden, not wanting to get in the way of the barricade building, used this time to heal Krug.

 

This is where we decided to stop at. The party has blood thirsty orcs banging at the door and their only option is to go up and across the archway. No time for a short rest. Will they make it to safety? What happened to their companions? Is there any hope of linking up and putting up with a fight or will they have to use hit and run along with close quarter combat tactics?

 

Thoughts: I ABSOLUTELY loved this session. It was probably my favorite session I have run as a DM. There was roleplaying, several combats, exploration. All the pillars of D&D! I don’t think that covering as much ground as we did would have been possible with a larger group so I am thankful for Rico in his decision to step up and run the second table. I feel that for the first time in a while the players really feel like they are in a tight spot. They used more spells than that have in the past thinking the same 5 minute work day that normally accompanies the Encounters program would continue so now they are nearing close to ½ of their spells spent. Luckily, there is some good balance with both groups (Table 2 will have Drea next week so that is another meat shield and heavy hitter for them) and I believe we should be able to make it out without any casualties but definitely with more than a minor scrape and some well-earned loot.

 

I have actual play video up on my blog. I have also started collecting stuff in a flipboard again this season [let me know if I am missing something obiouvs].

 

It was a fun week--we had too many people for one table & starting as caravan guards again is a drag, but the Forgotten Realm details were nice, the first fight was quick, the maps are amazing, the city is fun.

 

Our party theme this year is Fast Food--so everyone is basing their characters off Hamburgler, Church's Chicken, etc--which may lead to some whacky roll play!

Various factors combined to have us with fewer players this week than last week, which left my table of keen D&D players with only three players: Tim, playing a paladin, Tait and Harry, both of whom were playing rogues. As Tait and Tim were using characters they’ve played in previous Encounters seasons, that meant we had a 2nd level rogue, a 5thlevel rogue and a 4th level paladin at the table. It was a strange group of characters, and I threw some tough encounters at them during the session.

The game began where they ended the last session: looking at the river village of Julkoun and noticing that the guards on the walls were actually goblins! As the group began to absorb more of the details of the town, they realised that a squirrel was watching them. A squirrel, which had a leaf tied to its leg! Harry lured it down with some of his rations (as he was playing an elf, I assumed they were dried fruit per Dragons of Autumn Twilight), and recovered the leaf, on which was elven writing – a message from a dryad who had seen the goblin attack and wanted to aid the adventurers. The group visited the dryad, who told them of what happened to the town: how goblins and hobgoblins had overrun it, and many of the villagers taken northward. She offered her glade as a safe place to rest, which the three gladly accepted.

Based on her information, the group decided to take out an encampment of goblin wolf-riders to the north of the village. They discovered the camp in a meadow glade to the north of the woods, and the two rogues hid in the trees as the paladin stayed back. They saw the goblins were somewhat disturbed, as some of their colleagues had not returned from patrol (in fact, slain in the last session!) Feeling the time was right, they launched arrows at the group, killing one of the wolves before any of the goblins could react!

Working out exactly how many goblins and worgs would be in the battle was somewhat challenging – only three PCs, a moderate variance in levels, and the adventure doesn’t come with XP values for monsters. I turned to my slightly more complete playtest materials to estimate XP values (the monster stats are not quite the same as in the last bestiary), and decided upon five goblins and five worgs. The goblins took a couple of rounds to reach the party, which allowed them to inflict some significant damage, which was really important because three worgs against one paladin was not great for the paladin, although Tim was definitely holding his own. The rogues stayed in the cover of the trees, attacking and then fading into the cover so that the goblins were kept disorientated and mainly concentrating their attack on Tim. The worgs were eventually killed, and then the goblins likewise. Tim needed to use his Lay on Hands power to stay up, but it was a pretty successful (and intense) combat. Searching the goblin camp afterwards revealed nothing of particular interest, but at least they’d denied the goblins their scouting ability.

Not surprisingly, the group then rested for a night in the dryad’s grove to be fully healed!

The next day saw them entering the village. Their initial scouting attempts were too bold, and the goblin guards raised the alarm upon seeing Tait; the party retreated and stayed away for a few hours until the alert died down. Their second scouting attempt was more successful, with Harry finding a covered bridge that led into the hillside beneath the town.

Once they reached the “bridge”, they discovered that it was completely enclosed with no entrance from either side; it just went into the hill sides on either side of a chasm! However, it did have two windows, one of which was open, with a rope dangling from it… a human corpse at the other end. The group climbed down to the bridge and, with a little effort, entered through the open window (above the chasm… not too hard with a little muscle and some rope!) They found themselves in a corridor going north-south, with iron doors at each end. They pulled up the body and discovered it belonged to the village’s priest of Chauntea; obviously the goblins had hanged him.

Faced with a decision of where next to go, the group decided to go north, away from the village. Beyond the iron door was the village’s “bolt-hole”, one that unfortunately the villagers had not been able to use. Instead, the group found themselves in a fight against a dozen goblins who were now using it as sleeping quarters. Not all of the goblins were awake when the combat began, which made the adventurers’ job an easier one, but it was still a difficult combat. As I’m not using miniatures, I didn’t feel constrained by the “one goblin per 5 foot square” that has been the norm through 3rd and 4th edition, instead allowing four of the small goblins to fight abreast, which forced Tait and Tim to likewise fight abreast whilst Harry fired arrows at the goblins when they became visible in the melee.

The combat was going pretty well for the party when the goblin shaman arrived, accompanied by two large vipers. The shaman, with strong powers of elemental fire, created a flaming sphere which caused a lot of damage to Tait and Tim – unable to go back, and with the goblins in front of them, they needed to make a hole. This they did, and with a couple of goblins dead, they pushed through, leaving goblins behind them… but they were safe from the sphere! The shaman rolled it on towards Harry.

The vipers could have been quite dangerous, but Tim, realising that they needed to slay the shaman as quickly as possible, slew both in consecutive blows by using his Divine Smite power, which allowed Tait and Harry to finish off the shaman. She exploded in flames, burning Tim severely, as she died. The group realised they needed to rest, but first they needed to make sure that the place was defensible!

Their exploration of the bolthole revealed a storeroom, a number of bunks, and a shrine to Chauntea, now defiled. Harry was able to make sense of the writing, which seemed to have some relevance to the goblin attack, and he copied it down. The group then cleaned the shrine, and used they key they’d found on the shaman to lock the door to the bridge. As they got ready to sleep, a goblin knocked on the door, asking if the shaman wanted anything. Thinking quickly, Tim imitated a goblin in a rage and made the inquirer flee – they were then able to have a night’s rest, which they really needed at this point.

At this point, I ended the session; it felt about the right length, and it was a natural break point. Next week (with a couple more players, I hope!) the group will investigate the rest of the village, fighting the goblins and hobgoblins that remain. I’m very much enjoying how this adventure is starting; it feels like a properly heroic tale.

It just occured to me that the battle in Julkton takes places in the cottages area. The players are caught coming in, the goblins fire from the watch towers- grab laders and pour out from the wall

if the players go into the farm near the entrance (doesn't matter if they arrive from the north or the river) they fall in (fam trap) if they fall prone in the Lillies they get hit by the Goads. (BTW what the heck are Goads and why are there Lilies planted so close to them?! Then the heroes either use the ladders to get over the wall or the Breach


I just played today and the Goblins say them in the watch tower and refused to leave the wall- the heroes didn't want to attack it so they tried to cross the river and climb along the chain. Crossing the river mean they had to ride the boat into the beach, kill the goblin in the south gate and then figure out at a way to get across without getting attacked. They decided on minor illusion and fudged the rules since they were helpless. That's where we ended the encounter.

 

And another thing! How people from Juloun even get to that gate? There is no bridge after all. 

 

 

This town confuses me. 

sliceoffruit wrote:
(BTW what the heck are Goads and why are there Lilies planted so close to them?! 

 

I wondered this myself, so I did a little research. This is what i found:

 

"In front of these, pits were dug, arranged in diagonal rows to form quincunxes. They were one meter deep and tapered gradually towards the bottom. Smooth stakes as thick as a man's thigh, with sharpened ends and hardened in the fire, were set into these pits in such a way that they projected no more than four inches above the ground. To keep them firmly in position, earth was thrown into the bottom of the pits and trodden down to a depth of one foot, the rest of the space being covered with twigs and brush wood to conceal the trap. The pits were constructed in groups; each group had eight rows, three feet apart. The soldiers called them 'lilies' because of their resemblance to that flower. In front of these we had another device. Wood blocks a foot long were sunk completely into the ground, with iron hooks fixed in them, and scattered thickly all over the area. These the soldiers called 'goads'."

 

This site has a pic, but it's not very good. 

 

http://www.livius.org/aj-al/alesia/alesia_caesar_2.html

 

To me it looks like a fields of buried spikes followed by a field of small pit traps.

 

Edit:

This pic is better:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Archeodrome_Beaune_2.jpg

 

I had them pick actual lililes....

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