D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 2)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 2 of D&D Encounters.

Keep in mind that there are people all over the world that will be taking part in D&D Encounters, so try to avoid spoilers in your posts. If you absolutely must use spoilers, enclose them in [*sblock=spoiler stuff][*/sblock]  (just remove the *) spoiler block tags so that players who haven't played yet don't have the surprise ruined for them.

[*sblock=spoilerey stuff]

blahblahblah

[*/sblock]

will produce

spoilerey stuff


blahblahblah


once you remove the *.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Super Secret Information


I'll tell you when I play on Wed!

Just got back from session two and I had a blast. This time I'd had time to prepare, and also played with a whole new bunch of guys who were a heap of fun. The encounter itself is a little small and the players found it very tough (I ignored the Mob benefit to the minions because they were just clogging it up). I also upped the damage done by the fish in the water based on how damaged who ever was in their (flavoured it that they ate wounds and would ravage a blooded creature) this made a great moment where the played pushed one of the guards into the water only to realise he was currently unscathed so they all rushed to deal a single point of damage before his next turn.
The Gaurds +10 to attack and reach made them very nasty foes, as for the scorpian he died rather early due to a bookkeeping error on my behalf.
The party was very lucky that they had a warforged who spent most of the game unconscious rolling death saves (and not failing 'cause he's a warforged).
My table also had a new player, brand new to the game who played the Tiefling Psion, he had a blast and was great to have at the table, he was constantly getting dropped below 0 then popping back up (his first death save was 20, which was just amazing). Unfortunately, once all the baddies were dead he got his third failed death save before anyone could remind him, and they way everyone reacted earned him his moment of greatness.

Over all a great session, and a really good encounter perhaps on a little on the tough side, but that could just be because I had hot dice.

(pictures to come tomorrow)

Edit: A second thought I had is that the pregenerated character cards are awesome; my new player picked up so much of the game so fast because it was all layed out for him. He was making jokes about his character writing in deep speach so that no one could read his notes which was just brilliant.
Guardians of the Gameday Report:

Tuesday's game had 3 full tables once again. Some of our players could not return from the previous week because they were out of town for Spring Break. In all it looks like I will have to add another table to the Tuesday game to accommodate all the player demand.

My awesome judge core was augmented by more volunteers last night as well. Teos was one of those on Spring Break with his family. I had a player step up, read the mod 15 min. before the game and run a brilliant table. His buddy is volunteering as well.

At this time I have 7 judges (plus myself as a backup). Only Teos and myself have any long experience with Organized Play which means this program and my shameless begging has netted Portland, OR 6 new judges. This is pure gold in my book.

How we handled 6 player/Strong Tables for Session 2:
Our Solution

We added 4 minions, but...
We placed only 4 to start. When 2 or more will killed we brought in 2 "reinforcements" on the following round during the minions' init turn.


In all it was a blast. Having 3 judges working the tables while I floated answering rules questions, making sure everyone had a DCI number, giving out WotC supplied Cheetos and Funyons was ideal. The twitter feed hit about 7:30 PT and there were groans when I called for all three tables attention and announced:

Twitter Effect

Malevolent whispers pervade the area for entire session. Any creature rolling a natural 1 is dazed until end of their next turn.


Sign-ups for our Wed. table are full and plans for Monday table are in effect. In all we should be running 6 or 7 tables in a week or two.

Cheers,


Bryan Blumklotz
Guardians of the Gameday Organizer
www.warhorn.org/guardiansofthegameday/




Had a good session at Hobby Town in Lincoln, Neb. One new table, one table with the same players from the previous week, and one table with a couple returnees and a couple newcomers. My table was the mixed one, and the transition with the members of the group changing went smoothly.

The short night (we were wrapped up in less than a couple hours) will take some getting used to, but the format has some definite potential to get some gaming in without a 'full-night' commitment.

-(Kharybdis, the Hobgoblin Bard)
We had a great group this time. I took over 50 damage (almost 70 actually) and allowed three people in the party to get bonus renown for saving a dying adventurer. I was critted by the same guard 3 turns in a row.Yell
I am Gazra. This is my DDI account. Gazra is my forum account. Sometimes I get lazy and post with this account.
This session started off with a dirty and ugly combat. 2 players have 1 healing surge or less left. No one dropped this time for the Drow's assassins becoming shadow ability helped alot for the guards went after her for she was doing alot of damage to them in return.

The ruffins just got in the way and did a few hits ,but that was about it. When the PC's started to pick them off the combat went much smoother.

The controller did his thing and picked off the ruffins, the Leaders both stepped up to the front line to absorb the hits and they did and it hurt for the halberds did the majority of the damage. The Leaders did provided the flanks for the assassin.

The Scorpion grabbed one PC and then stung them. The scorpy then died quickly.

It might get a bit touch and go as they get deeper for there is no defender,but they might do alright for they have alot of high damage dealers and zone attacks with the runepriest.

Can't wait to see how they take on the skill challanges.
James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.

We had two groups this time, which was much better. They split 7/3, which was not. I wound up in the group of 3. More experienced DM, other two players n00bs. One had a Warlord whose race escapes me, the other had a Shifter Warden I threw together for them in character builder in five minutes, and I was playing a Drow Ardent.


We started off with what we didn't do last time, which was talking to Fayne. It led to some amusement, as my character's thing is that he is, or rather was, a priest of Corellon Larethian before the Spellplague hit and the way divine magic worked changed. He couldn't find anyone willing to instate him as a priest after the spellplague so he simply taught himself a new way of working. So he's dressed like a Corellite priest, and comments that the retrieval of lost magic items would likely please Corellon, leading to some amusing 'wait, what?' moments and having to roll a(n unsuccessful) bluff check to tell the truth. :P


We got boxed in first thing and intiative was against me, so I couldn't used my Ardent's bloodied trigger encounter.  The Warlord ran off by himself and got pummled by the Scorpion. I kept spamming the same at-will over and over because we needed the temp HP badly. The Doppleganger took advantage of my Cloud of Darkness to try to impersonate me, which didn't work at all for her since I followed her in initiative and thus my power ended and there I was perfectly visible two squares from the guy she was stabbing. Hmm. There's my ally. There's my ally again. One of them is stabbing me. I wonder which is the real one? The Warlord ran off right away and had fun with the scorpion by himself, and by fun I mean coming close to negative three times, and wound up using his daily. We dealt with them fairly well, though.


No deaths yet, but unless we steal a couple of the other group's members, preferably a striker and a controller, we're going to be in bad shape soon.

It's spelled Corellon Larethian, not Correlon, Correllon, Correlllon, Corellion, Correlian or any other way of getting it wrong. I'm a total grognard and I still play 4E.
Here's the report from Double Midnight Comics in Manchester, NH.

Actually ended up with 7 players this week (6 last week), not enough to split into two tables, and turning folks away is simple not going to happen at any event I'm involved in, so off we went.

I have been running this adventure with more of a campaign feel, trying to encourage role playing and making the PCs role play and general approach to each encounter meaningful.  So I had a number of innovations for Week 2.

First off I decided that Fayne had actually bought a freeze where no one was getting lowered down the Yawning Portal until her group went.  I thought this made sense and it tightened up a few loose ends in the adventure, such as how the ambushers know they are attacking the right group.  Xeres hires them to attack the first group that comes down knowing about the freeze.

Then I introduced a bounty hunter up above who had been waiting to go down the shaft to pursue a fugitive hiding in Downshadow.  This created an opportunity for the PCs to learn a few things about Downshadow if they chose to question him.  Also created the possibility that they might offer to let him go down first which would have had an interesting effect on the encounter...

Then for the actual process of going down the shaft, I knew my group would not like the implication that they all go down one by one, and the folks down below are essentially stuck in one spot until the whole party descends (and it also didn't make sense to me that this shaft could accomodate a whole party going down at once easily).
NOTE:  This is a problem with canned text like this.  It should never dictate what the party does in my opinion, because it takes free will away from the players (maybe they want to send a scout).

So I had the winch operators ask them whether they would go down 4 then 3 or what they wanted and they said sure let's go 4 then 3.  Had they insisted on all descending together this would have been accomodated (but more effort on the crew), but they didn't, nor did they send the Bounty Hunter down first.

So four characters descended (Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, Sorcerer) and then upon reaching the bottom met up with the shapechanger disguised as Xeres!  The players hadn't heard anything about Xeres from Fayne so I chose this as a nice way to introduce and foreshadow him.  This also created some nice tension as the four characters below began a conversation with "Xeres" who was asking them if they were the ones his sister had hired.  Unfortunately, they very quickly revealed that more party members were coming down which was the ambushers queue to take advantage of a split party and attack. 

To account for 7 characters and the change in tactics I did two things to the opposition.  I added a second scorpion (so each guard had one) and bumped the shapeshifter's HP a bit since he was now acting more as an obvious leader.  So the fight opened with only 4 characters against this enhanced group and things got quite tense quickly.

The three characters up above (Paladin, Ranger, Wizard) heard the commotion below and so rather than wait to be lowered, two of them grabbed ropes and asked the winch operators to let them run free and try and brake the fall just as they reached bottom.  They both had good help from the winchers but failed to hang onto the ropes (Athletics) and still took a hard fall at the bottom.  The third character, an Eladrin Wizard, decided to forego any ropes altogether and free fall all the way down with an elaborate plan to teleport at the last second and land on any enemies.  Again a heroic and fun plan but she failed to land on anyone (for those interested I had her use a combination of Arcana and Athletics to time the fall and teleport action well and then Acrobatics against the enemies Reflex to land on them - missed).  Bottom line is all three came down quickly taking a ton of damage and ending up prone - but their bloddied selves were there to help around round 3!

Then the rest of the tense fight.  The Cleric in the group had used Beacon of Hope early which was a great use of the daily as it buffed all the healing the cleric did afterwards which was significant.  Unfortunately the cleric spent almost the whole fight in the claws of a scorpion getting zapped and poisoned and was making death saves by the end.  Everyone  burned through many surges, encounter and other powers until they finally got down to just the two bloodied guards who eventually surrendered.  Fighter marks and Paladin divine challenge played key roles in keeping the enemies from overwhelming them.

So, I gave the party an opportunity to make the encounter easier or harder on themselves and unlike last week they really made the decisions that made it harder this time - but having the shaft itself as an obstacle was a blast and really made this a more interesting encounter.

On to next week.  I fully expect we will have grown to two tables and call on the backup DM.

TPK.


We had an experienced monk and a semi (experienced but not in 4e) experienced cleric, the tiefling psion who was having his first RPG experience, and a bugbear rogue (copying off another player in the store) who had played some D&D before and was a fair player.

I told the players the encounter was designed for 5 players and asked if they'd like the regular version or the easy version. They took the regular version.

The monk went first and went after a minion splattering it into a fine pulp, the psion did the same and shattered another poor minion's mind.  Then the guards went. The first one let the scorpion lose and fired a crossbow bolt, missing, then moving into flanking position. The other guard took up the flanking position and isolated the monk. Dealing fairly impressive damage.

The cleric went after the other minions, while the Rogue tried to dance with the scorpion. He missed but the scorpion didn't. He was grabbed and electrified. On his turn he managed to escape but took the stab from the sting.

The cleric was taking out minions and healing as best as he could, he was mostly near the pool of water while everyone else was more toward the guards starting position. The psion wisely stayed back and blasted the 'minion' who was the doppleganger in disguise. He fell but waited. 

The monk was dropped by the guards, but healed by the cleric. She decided to stay down and play dead. She took some flak from the players for this. Which surprised everyone when 'she' got up and started stabbing the other players. There was a good bit of drama and confusion before anyone figured out what actually happened.

By this time, the guards were flanking the rogue, the scorpion was in front of stabbing with his tail and the doppleganger had shifted behind for flanking on 4 sides. The rogue fell. The psion finished off the scorpion that the rogue had bloodied, while the monk scrambled to do *something* plagued by horrible rolls.

The guards moved on and utterly violated the cleric. He had taken one hit from the minion, putting him down to 18 from his starting 22. The two guards each rolled highly and did maximum damage with their powerful strike. The first one did 17 putting him to 1, and the second dropped him to -16, killing him instantly. He was less than amused and stormed out of the store before I had a chance to adjudicate.

With the rogue down and the cleric dead, the guards quickly moved to corner and take out the psion, then onto the monk. They left the scene with the doppleganger and I gave the players time to save, but they all eventually bled to death.


I felt pretty bad about it, but... no one used an action point, one person used a healing surge, and hardly any encounters and no daily powers were used. I think the poor tactics ensured their death.


The other table did much better. The scorpion was taken down in one hit by the other bugbear rogue. The drow assassin darkened everyone, while the warlock kept cursing the minions and building his power. I beleive only 1 player fell, and he was brought back by the end of the encounter. That was a party of 5 strikers, all of them with good or better experience.

I'm curious if it was just me, or if that really was a rough encounter,



 
I should get in on this after action reporting, too.  I run Encounters out of a store in Westborough, MA: The Whiz.  We had expected pretty low turnout in week 1, but got enough players for 2 tables, so week 2 we did the right thing and split the party.

The first table to go was using the pre-gen Paladin, a Runepriest, a Barbarian and a Sorcerer.  There were a few close calls when the barbarian got hit with back to back criticals, using up both of the Runepriests heals in the first two rounds of combat, but in general the fight was good and close, with no fatalities.  The Doppelganger was able to disguise his identity for a while, due to not being able to get into a flank, and not wanting to draw the Paladin's attention with a feint.  The Paladin's plate armor proved too much for the heavy hitters to deal with, but eventually he took enough damage to be worried at the end of the fight.  If not for his use of two Lay on Hands, it seemed like the fight would have gone worse, but they prevailed.

The second table didn't go nearly as well.  I only had one critical hit, which was when the Monk made the Scorpion attack a Guard.  I didn't need many criticals to deal a lot of damage, though.  The Doppelganger was able to get into a flank right away, the minions piled on the Monk, leaving him easy pickings for the Doppelganger.  The Druid's low AC made her an easy target, even with the Swordmage's proximity.  The Bard was able to buy time by using his heal to slide an ally out of the grasp of the Scorpion, but the reach granted by the Guard's halberds made escaping from a bad situation basically impossible.  The Swordmage was able to stay standing long enough for the Monk and Druid to fail all of their death saves, and the Bard would have been able to give the Monk his second wind if he didn't leave himself set up for a flank by the doppelganger.  Rolling a 5 and a 6 was already 1 point of damage more than he could take, and the encounter ended in a TPK.  At least the players had fun - they said they would still come back next week.
What makes me sad - no more compiled magazines: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27580349/Dungeon_and_Dragon_Magazine_PDFs&post_num=24#495423645
TPK.
We had an experienced monk and a semi (experienced but not in 4e) experienced cleric, the tiefling psion who was having his first RPG experience, and a bugbear rogue (copying off another player in the store) who had played some D&D before and was a fair player.



Did I miss something but when did Bugbears fall into the Player Resources available to the D&D Encounters Campaign? Unless Bugbears were in a Dragon article I missed, they are not a player legal race because they are in the MM.


I told the players the encounter was designed for 5 players and asked if they'd like the regular version or the easy version. They took the regular version.



And there was your error. You gave them a choice. You had a 3 player table (again, not a legal table, but hey) which was seriously underpowered and missing 2 of the 4 roles a party needs to be effective.

By allowing the to "play up" as 5 player table you killed them right then and there.

Even the downgraded 4 player version taking away all the minions would have been a tough fight for these guys.

In the future, you will need to tone it down for a 3 player table. Trust me, the rest of the encounters are only going to get tougher.

My Two Coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz
Guardians of the Gameday Organizer
We ran twice over at Your Move Games near Boston, MA.

The first table was an experienced group and so I took the suggestion to add rolling minions coming in to up the challenge. I was able to keep them fairly busy and had the Seeker unconscious (yo-yoing) for much of the fight and was able to knock several other unconscious a few times. I had them on the ropes for much of the combat but they were able to pull it out and defeat the encounter. Good team work and not panicking served them well. I suspect they don't like me right now

The second table I played at and the GM kept it a bit easier because we had a new player at the table. So we played the combat straight, but he didn't adjust the combat down for only having four players and having a new player, and thus we had a few moments of roughness with all of us being bloodied and nearly unconscious. My defender hybrid had to go to her Second Wind with 3 HP left and no other healing available in the party. A few lucky shots, and a crit from our Psion and we pulled it out with no deaths at the table.

I can totally see how this combat could be a TPK, we skirted that in both combats, but concentrating fire, and sticking with the "plan" helped us keep the fights from being killers.

For first level PCs with no magic items, I think that these combats have been very challenging and so I think that it would not be bad advice for GMs to be warned to maybe tone things down if players are struggling or feeling put upon. However, I, personally, have had great fun playing this time and GMing it has been fun too. I hope the players have had fun as well.

I played in Session 2 this week, and blogged about it here.

Fun times for most of us, but a little douchebaggery was present.  Apparently, the DMs were having a contest to see how many PCs they could kill tonight.

Coup de grace on a downed player when other viable targets are close by? Not cool.

Our sorcerer now has a decision to make: Make a new character or suffer through the Death Penalty. 

nametag_koroth.png

Small turnout this week, a table of four and one of three. I with my Warforged Battlemind (slightly rerolled into v2 since he had died so epicly the first week), the Goliath Cleric (she's a big lady), and joining us from the other table an Elf Seeker. Party tensions are a bit higher, since my being rather... unnatural... is a touchy subject for the others, and I don't care too much for squishy things (sort of ironic that I died so quickly the previous week, but it makes it more amusing).

The DM ended up forgetting about the fishies until almost the end of the encounter. Not that we went in the water much, but she did have the monsters in the water. 1 damage isn't much, but considering we rolled *so* terribly (eg: I spent my augment points turning Whirling Defenses into a burst, and only hit the non-minion out of five targets in range) that damage would have helped. Like killing the scorpion that kept jumping on me, but we couldn't hit it round after round when any hit would have done it in.

I'm glad she forgot though. The encounter ended up being much more amusing that way. I kept firing off Iron Fist for the resist 3 all (that power is so amazing), in spite of crap attack rolls. We basically ignored the minions, and let them "play the drums" on me since they rarely hit, and even when they did it only did 1 damage. Eventually though, since I couldn't hold all the aggro (being surrounded by minions and such), the Seeker dropped. The Cleric raised him, and he managed to get out of harms way, but the aggro shifted to the Cleric who blew every encounter and daily and then went down. The timing worked out though, because the Seeker dropped the minions and we were left with one guard only when I had to revive the Cleric (after failing two death saves). The final guard managed to get away though, after seeing us clear house.

A fun encounter, moreso than the first one (because we weren't stuck on a bottle-necked bridge). Also, having the well-operator bring out extra rope to get me down the well was a great bit of added flavour. This could have been a real slug-fest, but both of the DMs that have been running encounters are great at injecting extra flavour when it's needed. I can definitely see this being a TPK if the rolls go badly though, even though the three of us managed to pull it out without any modifications (thanks to Iron Fist). A +10 attack mod on a pair of Halberd wielders is pretty painful.

Ok, so I added a bit to the encounter...used the elevator as a 3d piece to give the terrain some flavor, made the chars come down in groups of 4 so it left 2 players sitting in the elevator when combat started. Nobody noticed the Doppleganger and he ended up hitting the Bard pretty badly, then later criting the Defender.

Swordmage went down to -8 before rolling a Nat 20 and getting back into the fray...otherwise encounter went ok. First week certainly had more action, but we will see whats to come next week.

I figured this was going to be a much tougher fight than session 1 after reading it...but the sorc dropped and aoe, and the dragonborn breath weapon can be pretty painfull if used properly

first photo shows setup while doppleganger hiding and minions getting destroyed...second one is the wake of the first two rounds of combat.



I played in Session 2 this week, and blogged about it here.

Fun times for most of us, but a little douchebaggery was present.  Apparently, the DMs were having a contest to see how many PCs they could kill tonight.

Coup de grace on a downed player when other viable targets are close by? Not cool.

Our sorcerer now has a decision to make: Make a new character or suffer through the Death Penalty. 



Unfortunately, that attitude is not uncommon in the RPGA. My suggestion would be to complain to the Senior GM that the judge at your table is being unfair. Failing that, complain to the store owner that the RPGA judges are being jerks. Receiving stern words from those in authority over them usually puts jerk judges in their place.


I told the players the encounter was designed for 5 players and asked if they'd like the regular version or the easy version. They took the regular version.


And there was your error. You gave them a choice. You had a 3 player table (again, not a legal table, but hey) which was seriously underpowered and missing 2 of the 4 roles a party needs to be effective.

By allowing the to "play up" as 5 player table you killed them right then and there.

Even the downgraded 4 player version taking away all the minions would have been a tough fight for these guys.




There were 4 players actually, Monk, Rogue, Cleric, and Psion. I thought I mentioned them all in my AAR, but I could be wrong.

As for the Bugbear, the character was made using character creator by the store owner/organizer, so I'll have to talk to him about it not being a legal character. It'll likely irk a few players.

The downgraded version removed the Scorpion if I read that right, since it's the lowest level creature in the encounter. Or did I get that wrong as well
Just point the store owner to the following link or print it out for him or her...
community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons...

Rules for 4 or 6 player tables:
The basic rule for the campaign is remove a creature of a level equal to the encounter for 4 players (or "weak" parties) and for 6 player tables (or "strong" parties) add a single creature of the same level as the encounter. See ADJUST1NG THE ENCOUNTERS sidebar on page 7 of the adventure.

Now the only creatures in Session 1-2 that are second level are the minons. In the previous encounter you had the Dwarf or the Halfling Slinger.

As to your party composition, you had 2 melee strikers, a leader, and a controller. I am going to assume the Psion was a pre-gen PC which means it didn't have an area attack. You also didn't have a defender to soak up the damage that the scorpion and his 2 handlers were going to dish out.

These guys were in a sub-optimal situation because they didn't have a key role for this encounter (the Defender) and a lot of them were new to the game and probably hadn't played much together (if it all).

Removing the 4 minions would have been a good call, that would have put pressure on the Changling who didn't have a bunch of flank buddies to play with. The two Human Guards and their pet scorpions still would have been a tough combat.

Removing a Human Guard would have been a choice but that is less optimal because now your party is being nibbled at by the Rabble and the Scorp and 1 Human Guard left still do some effective damage.

If there was a controller with area damaging powers that could sweep the board of minons I would consider removing the 1 soldier and adding 1 or 2 minions in his place.

Here is one other thing to remember. You know what is coming up against the players. It is your job to assess the players abilities and the party composition. By giving them a "choice" of what difficulty to play at you still doomed them because they don't have the proper info in which to make the call (i.e. they don't know what coming).

This mod is tough, there is a reward for completing 8 sessions in a row without dying. The trick is to not make it impossible.

My two coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz
Guardians of the Gameday Organizer
Update from The Outer Limit, Murfreesboro TN:

The store still had 2 tables going which was great. Our original group of 3 had 3 new players! Two were new-ish to 4e, so they used the pre-built characters: the Ranger and the Warlock. One had a CB made Dragonborn Fighter (had his own minis, and a clever way of marking w/ small hairbands so I assume he's played before).

The senile cleric was replaced by a bow wielding Elven Ranger, so we had 1 defender, 1 leader, and 4 strikers. (The other table, which faired much better, had 4 defenders I was told...)

Unfortunately, Undermountain (read the DM) was waiting for us with a vengeance. Team Good Guy had some bad rolls (mostly my Ardent and the Barbarian); and the ambushers had a LOT of good rolls. So many in fact that the Fighter and the Barbarian DIED (from negative bloodied damage; not death saving throws- both ended up with ALL the status effects available at the same time: prone, grabbed, immobilized, and ongoing damage); and I was unconscious- having used my 2 encounter heals AND my daily cleric heal (multiclass feat) AND failing at my encounter-version Engerizing Strike.

At one point, as a joke, I offered one of the Halberd wielding soldiers a chunk of gold if he'd switch sides. The DM unfortunately declined.
I think that having time to prepare really helps with running of these games.  If I can offer up a suggestion for season 2, provide PDFs to the DMs ahead of time so they can read and understand the story, rather than the day of the event getting to quickly read the adventure.

I blogged about my encounters session 2, so I won't totally recap here, but I felt that this was a good test for level 1 characters.  It was clear that very experienced parties had no real problems with the encounter and were done with it quickly, while less experienced parties took much longer to get through it.  My table was done in about 45 minutes, some tables took much longer.

I was very impressed with the monk's first strike abilities, wow that's a spicy meatball!  Killed the critter on the chain outright before it had a chance to even act.  Things might have been different had that not happened.  I did manage to do 50+ points of damage to two characters in the encounter, so it was tough.

We ran 7 tables, with a few less people this time, and a few new faces as well.

Edit: Sorry, it was 6 tables, with another table of four people expressing interest and a possibly willing DM
Great time and solid turnout at Warp One in Edmonton, Canada. Two full tables (5 and 6 players) at 6:00pm, and another session at 8:00pm.

Our table had the same six players and characters as last week, a nice bit of continuity that likely won't last much longer (character-wise at least). Our sole Defender took a mighty beating and is down to his last Healing Surge, with no extended rests in sight!

We have a fairly diverse but well-balanced group:
  • The Defender mentioned above is a Goliath Grappling Fighter

  • Human (I think) Rogue; first-time 4e player and incredible artist

  • Shifter Cleric (Strength build)

  • Elven Seeker|Ranger Hybrid

  • Pre-gen Psion

  • I'm playing a Goliath Monk (Stone Fist)


The Fighter was definitely the hero of this encounter, but he paid the price. Coming out first in the initiative, he immediately tied up the scorpion, also drawing the attention of the guards. The rest of the party all focused on the scorpion as well, dropping it in one round. Unfortunately this left the Fighter flanked by the guards. The Rogue and Cleric stayed to help him; the Psion went to the ledge on the far side of the water, hoping for a safe vantage point to snipe at the enemies; the Seeker|Ranger played "shift-back-Twin-Strike-to-the-face" with the third guard [edit: Changeling] that had engaged him in melee; and the Monk triggered his Stone's Endurance and went to engage the three minions.

Stone's Endurance worked out really well for the Monk, as two of the three minions hit him for 4 damage each (negated by Resist 5). Surrounded by all three, he dropped two with his Five Storms burst attack, taking out the third with Flurry of Blows. Sadly, it was judged that this did not count as "Killing three minions with one attack," so no extra renown. Afterwards, he stepped in to flank one of the two guards playing ping-pong with our Fighter's head.

As said above, the Fighter did the Defender's job admirably. The two remaining guards focused almost exclusively on him, allowing the Rogue to really stack up damage (two crits!) and the Seeker|Ranger and Psion to continue pummelling them from a distance. Sadly, I don't think the Monk connected with a single hit the rest of the encounter; just bad luck. Fighter was dropped unconscious three times, but revived immediately by the Cleric each time, plus one Heal check from the Seeker|Ranger once the Cleric was out of healing options. Our Grappling Goliath (awesome WWE name!) easily took over 50 enemy damage this session: the guards consistently hit him for 14+ damage each round. Bit of a grind near the end, but we finished the last guard off with a dramatic mind-crushing critical hit from the Psion. At the end, the whole party was still standing, everyone but the Fighter in good shape.

So with our sole Defender down to his last Surge, I think we might be seeing a new character join us next week. The PCs all played their roles effectively given the encounter setup. Everyone seems to be really enjoying the sessions, our DM is enthusiastic and fair, and we are all looking forward to next week!


**One Twitter buff did come through during the encounter ("You are overcome by a feeling that you've done this before. Once this session 1 PC may use the same at-will power 2x on their turn."), but sadly the DM decided not to allow it.

Sympathies for TPK groups. This is indeed a potentially very tough encounter, and it's up to the DMs to play it appropriately for their groups. Please, by all means, alter and fudge as needed--the point is for everyone to have a good time, not to feel beholden to a strict interpretation of the rules.

My report from week 2: Stopped into Southcenter's Uncle's Games last night to check out what is apparently a rockin' spot for the D&D Encounters series, only to be wowed by the sheer volume of players (both in number and in enthusiasm). They had seven tables, each with a DM and six players, for a total of 49 people. DAYYYYYMN!!!

I had stopped by to fill in as a DM or even player if needed, and there was simply no room for me! This afforded me the chance to walk around to the various tables and listen in on how people were doing the encounter. Seeing the various interpretations of my encounter (for which I conceived a certain impression as I wrote it) was a real treat.

(I will also say that in some of them, Fayne was *very* sexy indeed, while in others, she's a total airhead. Both interpretations are correct! :D )

My favorite aspect of the evening was seeing everyone having a good time with the adventure.

Kudos to Chris Tulach and Greg Bilsland for setting up the game at Uncle's, and may they continue to have that much success!

I also plan to DM again at Blue Highway Games in Queen Anne (www.bluehighwaygames.com) this coming Wednesday (March 31). Come one, come all!

Cheers
I think that having time to prepare really helps with running of these games.  If I can offer up a suggestion for season 2, provide PDFs to the DMs ahead of time so they can read and understand the story, rather than the day of the event getting to quickly read the adventure.

I blogged about my encounters session 2, so I won't totally recap here, but I felt that this was a good test for level 1 characters.  It was clear that very experienced parties had no real problems with the encounter and were done with it quickly, while less experienced parties took much longer to get through it.  My table was done in about 45 minutes, some tables took much longer.

I was very impressed with the monk's first strike abilities, wow that's a spicy meatball!  Killed the critter on the chain outright before it had a chance to even act.  Things might have been different had that not happened.  I did manage to do 50+ points of damage to two characters in the encounter, so it was tough.

We ran 7 tables, with a few less people this time, and a few new faces as well.

Edit: Sorry, it was 6 tables, with another table of four people expressing interest and a possibly willing DM

Okay, I thought it was impressive when we had 6 tables with 30 players last week, but to move up to 7 tables in week two?!?  We've had to use two in-store posters just to track all the player's Renown Points!

Do I need to ask Wizards CustServ for ANOTHER kit?  (By the way, we got the extra kit you sent to Game Empire Pasadena in time for Tables 5 and 6 to play Week 2 without xeroxed materials- THANKS for the quick response!) 

And other organizers are reporting increases from Week 1 to Week 2.  This gives me hope that with committed organizers and DMs, we can actually have a weekly format that brings in new players (and DMs!)... There are plenty of little things I can think of that Wizards "should have done," (DDI fuly updated for PHB3, more kits, more Delver reward cards per table, different reward structure to allow more card choice/use during the season, more magic items in the adventure, etc.,) but all in all, I think people are enjoying the new delve format!  It's a solid adventure and I like the book tie-in.  Just wait until Dark Sun hits in the summer...

-Colin
-Alveric "And the sword that had visited Earth from so far away smote like the falling of thunderbolts; and green sparks rose from the armour, and crimson as sword met sword; and thick elvish blood moved slowly, from wide slits, down the cuirass; and Lirazel gazed in awe and wonder and love; and the combatants edged away fighting into the forest; and branches fell on them hacked off by their fight; and the runes in Alveric's far-travelled sword exulted, and roared at the elf-knight; until in the dark of the wood, amongst branches severed from disenchanted trees, with a blow like that of a thunderbolt riving an oak tree, Alveric slew him."
I should get in on this after action reporting, too.  I run Encounters out of a store in Westborough, MA: The Whiz.  We had expected pretty low turnout in week 1, but got enough players for 2 tables, so week 2 we did the right thing and split the party.

The first table to go was using the pre-gen Paladin, a Runepriest, a Barbarian and a Sorcerer.  There were a few close calls when the barbarian got hit with back to back criticals, using up both of the Runepriests heals in the first two rounds of combat, but in general the fight was good and close, with no fatalities.  The Doppelganger was able to disguise his identity for a while, due to not being able to get into a flank, and not wanting to draw the Paladin's attention with a feint.  The Paladin's plate armor proved too much for the heavy hitters to deal with, but eventually he took enough damage to be worried at the end of the fight.  If not for his use of two Lay on Hands, it seemed like the fight would have gone worse, but they prevailed.

The second table didn't go nearly as well.  I only had one critical hit, which was when the Monk made the Scorpion attack a Guard.  I didn't need many criticals to deal a lot of damage, though.  The Doppelganger was able to get into a flank right away, the minions piled on the Monk, leaving him easy pickings for the Doppelganger.  The Druid's low AC made her an easy target, even with the Swordmage's proximity.  The Bard was able to buy time by using his heal to slide an ally out of the grasp of the Scorpion, but the reach granted by the Guard's halberds made escaping from a bad situation basically impossible.  The Swordmage was able to stay standing long enough for the Monk and Druid to fail all of their death saves, and the Bard would have been able to give the Monk his second wind if he didn't leave himself set up for a flank by the doppelganger.  Rolling a 5 and a 6 was already 1 point of damage more than he could take, and the encounter ended in a TPK.  At least the players had fun - they said they would still come back next week.



Runepriest from the first table here, I stuck around to watch the second table go at it, to see if there was something we were missing as it was a yo-yo ride for us in group 1.

I figured they had all the elements of a good group, as ours was lacking a proper controller, but having 2 people who were strikers, and some whose secondary role was controllerish, I think we had good rolls, except the barbarian who seemed to be eating nearly every hit (he ate 50 points in the first game, and I think ate nearly 70 points this time, with some DR to keep him fighting).

But back to that second table, they seemed to have it all going for them, the monk opened strong, the swordmage was tactically in a good position, and everything seemed to be going good... until the monsters just got everyone surrounded. Then it was open season. One by one, it was just like a sniper sitting on a rooftop, everytime it came around to the bad guys, there was another dying character.

They did vow to come back stronger for the next session, they divvied up the roles, and decided to bring their 'A' game and best dice for the next week.
That sounds very similar to my first group. Yo-yo and all.

Those guards are nasty. Their Powerful Strike at 1d10 + 7 (and prone!) is a nasty bit of damage at first level. Two hits from these guys and your front line fighter/defender or other PCs are going to fall down fast. I tried switching off to their other at-will attack once a PC was prone but even then, 1d10+3 is still pretty powerful.

And the scorpion is nasty too. Its saving grace is that most PCs, once they try escaping, will be able to save on the end of their turn to get rid of the damage effect.

All in all, this fight was far more dangerous than the first one (imo) and deserved to be approached carefully by the DMs, as well as the PCs.
We had two tables at my location, and I am very thankful for the one I ended up at.  Last night was my first D&D Encounter session and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  For anyone interested I will break down the group mechanics and the overall storyline that occured, well, from my Dwarf's perspective.

Our group consisted of myself, A Dwarven Battlemind, a minotaur fighter, a gith seeker, a war-forged swordmage, and a half-elven bard. ( 3 defenders, 1 striker, and 1 leader)

The action ensued as follows, we agree to explore this undermountain place, and descend down the entrance, (a well of sorts?), and upon our arrival we are greeted by some not so friendly adventurers and their pet scorpion.  My Dwarf took point, and immediately upon landing I was assailed by the scorpion (critical hit, first roll!, ouch), and one of the halberd wielding gentlemen saw fit to attack me as well, bloodying me in the first round.  The rest of my party immediately set to work killing the minions off and our minotaur and war-forged polished off the scorpion after a couple rounds, (oh and the ongoing poison damage i incurred from my first little go around with the scorpion was fully resisted because of Cast-Iron Stomach), I was last in initiative, and we had about 4 or 5 complete rounds, and in each I focused on pushing the halberd wielding guards away from each other.  When we had finally delt with all of the opposition, no one had died (thanks to our bard and his majestic word and other neat ablities, and my second wind as a minor action), and it was overall a successful encounter.
But back to that second table, they seemed to have it all going for them, the monk opened strong, the swordmage was tactically in a good position, and everything seemed to be going good... until the monsters just got everyone surrounded. Then it was open season. One by one, it was just like a sniper sitting on a rooftop, everytime it came around to the bad guys, there was another dying character.

They did vow to come back stronger for the next session, they divvied up the roles, and decided to bring their 'A' game and best dice for the next week.


I think one thing I need to do next week is have initiative tents to give out.  Going in order around the table makes things run much more smoothly, but it has the nasty side-effect of setting up the "sniper on a rooftop" situation sometimes.  It usually balances out when both sides are doing it, but it is probably safer to run initiative like normal.  Next time, I guess.  I got the impression that pretty much everyone was having a good time, anyway, so that is what counts.


Those guards are nasty. Their Powerful Strike at 1d10 + 7 (and prone!) is a nasty bit of damage at first level. I tried switching off to their other at-will attack once a PC was prone but even then, 1d10+3 is still pretty powerful.

I flipped the damage equation around (Knock prone was 1d10+3, normal mark was 1d10+7), to try to make them slightly less dangerous, but my dice were on fire all night.  Most of the d10s I rolled were at least a 7, probably 50% of those attacks were doing 11 or 15 damage.   When the doppelganger attacked, it seemed that one of the d6s was always turning up a 5, which didn't help.
What makes me sad - no more compiled magazines: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27580349/Dungeon_and_Dragon_Magazine_PDFs&post_num=24#495423645

I'm running table two with Dreck2k1; thought I'd chime in, as well.

Highlights:

  • Only three players went bloodied this week, no one went down.  They really fought well together
  • The dwarf tempest fighter named his axes "little sister" and "big sister"  to much laughter.


Low points:

  • The terrain was so-so, this week.  I didn't care for the empty room.  We made the lift-cart with 3-d tiles, but that barely helped.
  • Two daily powers were used to little effect.  The ranger missed both attacks, and the cleric's beacon of hope only hit two of the monsters, despite having everyone in his burst area.



It is insane, though, how many people are showing up.  Our town isn't known for having any conventions or game-days, and yet we're up to almost 20 people in the store.  any more and we'll likely be at capacity!


(Oh, I'd post pictures, but Dreck hasn't sent me mine...)
I am a "cruel DM" and never pull punches, roll in the open and run the badguys as what they are: dangerous criminals (in this particular case) who have no care for their victim's lives, only their money. 

I had the bad guys ask for the money in exchange for their lives... the party refused.  What law enforcement in downshadow?  Ha!  They make a living at killing foolish adventurers.  So no powering down my bad guys, and they work as an effective team.  The party still survived.

Our group fared quite well overall. We split the initial group of 9 into two tables and then filled out each group a bit so that ours had 6 at it: Deva Panther Shaman, Longtooth Shifter Maurading ranger, Deva Seeker, Human Wizard, Human Swordmage/Warlock hybrid, and Revanent (Githzerai) Assassin. So, 1 leader, 2 controllers, 2 strikers, and 1 defender/striker.

The shaman kept the scorpion and guards mostly pinned down with the spirit as the guards and scorpion had a hard time doing enough damage in a single attack to disappate it (the scorpion critted and still didn't have enough damage to disappate the spirit). The assassin and swordmage had a bit of trouble hitting, but when the assassin did finally hit the doppleganger (who had no chance to fool any of us with a disguise... we're an observant group)... it was with a crit from a fullblade and expending three shrouds for 34 damage in a single hit! The wizard and seeker kept up the ranged attack and had the guards and scorpion bloodied with some charging attacks from the ranger. By the time the guards did finally manage to disappate the spirit, the rest of the group had finished off the minions and doppleganger and were ready to handle them (the scorpion was dead).


Admittedly the fight was tough, but I think the swordmage only used 2 surges, the assassin 1, the ranger 1, and the shaman 1. No dailies used and the seeker and wizard are untouched It was a matter of tactics, luck in abilities, bad luck in their damage, and good experience on our part that won the day. I hope it continues to hold next week.

My table of 6 descended down the well into a shanty town of underdwellers. They were met by the sneak, disguised as an elderly dwarf, who tried to pump them for information about who they were and what their purposed was (wanting to confirm who sent them and all). They were tighted lipped and didn't say much.

The Guard showed up with his pet, the sneak vanishing back into the crowd. Taking some suggestions from the  board here, I had changed the second guard to a gnome arcanist (and took his level to 2nd, since I was also bumping the scorpion up to 2nd. I like giant bugs).

My table had three experienced players, and three a little new to 4e using pregens they just picked up. I was a little easy on them with and just added more minions to increase the 6 player difficulty.

Players struck fast and hard. The Guard got darkfired and a monk went straight at the gnome. The gnome vanished, but when he reappeared later, got targeted quickly again. The minions kept popping up all over the board, appearing from the crowd. I let the players use perception to spot them, but only one player tried that. As one player observed, having minions appear was a bit cheap -- but they were just minions.

The Guard and the scorpion got ganged up on. The guard lasted a bit, but the scorpion got pushed from its grabbed prey and went down soon, mainly due to the elf ranger. The sneak ran out to attack, then  retreated. I was strongly tempted to have the sneak avoid the rest of the combat, since things weren't going well, (in order to survive to report to his boss) but the monk made himself too tempting a target and the sneak brought him down to 0 HP.
 
The sneak managed to dive back into the crowd before anybody could attack him further, but after the mopping up, high perception roll picked him out*. He got intimidated into talking, revealing that Xeres was responsible for the ambush. Then the party killed him and burned all the bodies! Seems like the party is a bit on the grim & gritty side (it did include a drow and a shadar-kai).

There was some good player movement tactics and teamwork and they soundly beat what turned into a chaotic melee of enemies. I probably could have been tougher, but I also see several tactical mistakes I made, so it wasn't a "killer" combat for my table.

*if we had more time I would have made that into a skill challenge, but we were already running late so it was just a couple rolls. 
Summary:
I'm not sure what encounter everyone else was playing, but we absolutely conquered this one. Combat lasted all of 4 rounds. Greatest damage any PC took was 15 point, 5 of which were THP. The entire session from sit down to g'night was 60 mins.

Details:
I played my first D&D Encounters session at Dragon's Lair in Austin, TX. We had 2 tables with 6 PCs each. Each table had a fairly balanced mix of noobs and experienced players.

My table consisted of:

Human Orb Wizard (me)
Goliath Rageblood Barbarian
Wilden Eagle Shaman
Tiefling Avenger (unsure of build)
Half-elf Bard (unsure of build, mostly melee)
Fighter (didn't catch race or build, brawler maybe)

My human wiz brought a balance of powers to the party. I had Magic Missile, Winged Horde, and Thunderwave as at-wills: 1 single target, 1 area burst, 1 close blast; 1 targeting FORT, one REF, one WILL. So i was ready for anything that may be thrown at us. Additionally, I had a very wicked enounter power combo prepared (see below).

I have been playing D&D in some form or another for 20+ years and have DM'd a weekly 4e home game for the past year. The goliath and half-elf had played in a few home games but were new to public play. The fighter and shaman were regulars at this FLGS and seemed experienced. The tiefling was a complete and utter noob (which I mean with the greatest of admiration). The poor guy had his character written in pencil on a blank sheet of paper. The shaman let him quickly rebuild it in char builder on his Mac.

The DM of this session was experienced and came well equipped with minis but unfortunately used the poster map. I was very disappointed in this, as the encounter was basically in a featureless 9x13 cave. That should have taken all of 5 mins to build with tiles. The DM explained the back-story to those who weren't at session 1-2, read us some description blocks from the book, then we were all down the rope and in combat. No RP, no fluff, no mess. Just 5 mins of exposition then BAM, we're in combat.

Combat narrative:
I rolled a 20 for initiative which is exactly what a controller wants. I moved behind the party and stood in an alcove well out of melee range. I then dropped Orbmaster's Incendiary Detonation, spent Orb of Imposition to expand it, and then used my Expand Spell feat to increase it again. This ended up filling the entire main cave and targeting every enemy but one of the guards. I rolled poorly (including d20 rolls of 1, 2, & 3) and only killed 2 minions and hurt the doppelganger, so his disguise was given up before he even had a chance to act. When the remaining minions started their turn, my auto damage zone killed them. The DM ruled this counted for the minion killer renown bonus (woot).

The barbarian sauntered up to changeling who had entered melee combat with the bard. The goliath dropped Avalanche Strike on him and hit for 36 damage. This was enough to kill him, triggering his free charge, which he used to deal 16 damage to one of the guards. The shaman summoned his spirit and used it to grant a melee basic attack to the barbarian which he used against the guard. This short burst of primal angst earned him the Moment of Greatness renown bonus.

Round 2 started and I dropped Winged Horde on the scorpion and 2 guards only to roll two 1's, but I did manage to damage the same guard the barbarian did. By now, The shaman and I are sitting in the corner while every other creature is huddle around the cave exit. Round 3, I killed one of the guards with a magic missile for 9 damage. More melee skirmishing occurred. Round 4, I shot at the remaining guard with magic missile but missed. By the end of the initiative in round 4, the fighter dropped the last enemy and we were done.

The barbarian took the most damage, which was 15 points from one of the guards, but 5 of those were absorbed by THP granted from a bard power. The bard took maybe 8 point of damage from the changeling and that was all the damage our entire party took. Total time from sitting down to shaking the DM's hand and leaving was 60 mins. Combat itself only took 40 mins or so.

In all, I enjoyed the experience and will return next week. I got enough reknown to earn the 10 point card which should come in handy if I ever get attacked in combat. :P

Analysis:
I think we did so well where others didn't because:

1. The barbarian and I were fully optimized characters. We both came to do our jobs and we did them very well.
2. We had all 4 class types represented and experienced players sitting in the same rolls as the noobs (strikers and leaders specifically).
3. The DM wasn't too "into it", meaning he really didn't go out of his way with RP, tactics, planning, or strategy. He just sorta plopped the mobs down and let them die.

 At last nights Wilsonville Encounters session ( held at Hobby town Wilsonville) we encountered a slight problem.

The organiser had discussed moving from a 5pm start to a 6pm start to allow the opportunity for more players to join us, everyone present the week before had agreed, in fact most of us were in favour of it.  However to do this he deleted the warhorn entries and re-created them with a 6pm start, and forgot to tell us.  Therefore people who were already signed up (myself included) found their slots taken by new players without being aware.  Sadly the numbers were insufficient to run two tables we still only had 8 players and if one of them Dm'ed a 2nd table we would have a table of four and a table of 3.

we ran with a table of 8.

A Wildeen Battlemind
A Dwarf Battlemind
An Elf Seeker
A Half-Elf Ardent
A Half-Elf Ardent
A Dragonborn Sorcerer
An Elf Monk
An Assasin ( can't remeber the race)

Unfortunately due to the numbers of players ( I'm assuming the DM made no adjustments to the encounter for 8 players, I'll ask and mention what we fought later so people can confirm or deny) the Encounter was in my opinion far too easy and unmemorable. 

No-one went down ( out of the players anyway), the doppelganger didn't really case a problem as the assassin and the monk were dealing with the minions due to lack of room to get at the two scorpions and four guards.

In fact if I recall properly no-one even used their delver reward card to get a new saving throw, as the only character who suffered a save end effect was a new p[layer and didn't have one.

So what we did we learn last night? Well 8 players is too much, I knew this from older editions - but it's nice to have it confimred in 4th Ed.

Next week we'll try and run two tables I'll be running one and our organiser and current Dm will run the other.  All we need to be guaranteed success is 1 more player and I think i'm going to invite (badger) my wife to come along as I think encounters is a far better introduction for her than LFR
so that leaves 4 open spots for players.

come along and give it a try

warhorn.net/Wilsonville/
The first night of D&D encounters we had 8 players and a DM at the store I attended.  The second week we had 3 players and a DM.  We had split into two groups last time, and the other group had a TPK and failed the encounter.  Not surprisingly, none of them returned for week 2.

Our table only had me (a shield Fighter) and our Assassin player return (the Artificer that got beaten up on all game last time was a no-show).  We got a new player who brought a Monk, so we had no healer.  The DM scaled it down for three players (or thought he had), but didn't do anything special for us not having a key role.  Halfway through the encounter he realized he had actually scaled it for 4, so again we had a rough fight.  We won barely, with all of us down to just a few hit points (and the DM perhaps fudging on his die rolls).  Our healing surges are down pretty low, I doubt we'll live through the next one.

I might bring a modify my build to be a Fighter/Cleric or Fighter/Runepriest next time and see if that helps any.  I suggested the DM play a leader, and he might do that instead.

Otherwise, was fun to play again.  Hope the group doesn't fall apart on me.  There is another comic shop in town that had 20 players the first week, I may jump over there if this group fails.
Report from Agents of Comics in Wichita, Ks.

We had the same 5 players for session 2 as we did for session 1:

Half-orc Great Weapon Fighter
Asteronn Half-orc Stone Fist Monk
Belaern Caustic Soul Genasi Combat Leader/Skirmishing Presence Warlord
Dakshai Githzerai Centered Breath Monk
Caericaq Elf Marauder Throw and Charge Ranger


We did pretty well the 1st round bloodying the Sneak and getting the Fighter into position to clog up 1 guard, the Sneak and the Scorpion. The 2nd round saw the dropping of the Fighter by the Guards and the Sneak but also saw the loss of all of the minions and one Guard was bloodied. Round 3 saw the death of the Sneak and the bloodying of the other Guard.  We mopped up pretty quick after that. The GM had some pretty crappy dice after rolling high on init.  He did crit a couple of times but mostly missed.  We all had a great time and are looking forward to Session 3.
DM's report from Champions of the Realms group at Saltire Games in Indianapolis, IN, home of Gen Con. We ran 3 tables, with me DMing one. Unfortunately I was delayed by work showing up 15 minutes after we should have been rolling dice. My friend the organizer gave them crits on 19s and 20s for compensation, which would turn out to be essential. Hey, I brought extra pizza, cold pizza as I had ordered assuming I'd be there 30 minutes before rolling dice. They all said either they were on diets or had eaten. Sheesh!

Since we were behind and the party seemed gung-ho to have at the enemies, I read the box text and started the combat right away with normal monster strength and positions. The party consisted of a Human Hybrid Wizard|Warlock, Hybrid Seeker|Ranger, Dwarf Hybrid Cleric|Paladin, Genesai Swordmage, and Dragonborn Monk. I had put out a number of generic human minis for the minions (including the actual human rabble mini) and used a rust monster mini for the scorpion, luckily nobody noticed to panic. The doppleganger was the pig farmer mini.

The combat got started very much against the party by the guards and doppleganger rolling up top initiatives with the Ranger then the scorpion, followed by the rest of the party and the rabble pulling up the rear. Since this essentially made for both a high front end assault, minion "cleanup", and "sandwiched" enemy rounds; it was quite deadly.

Both guards opened with their powerful charge (which would never recharge during the encounter), both connecting and knocking prone the monk and cleric. The doppleganger then stepped up, drew its short sword and stabbed the cleric nearly to unconsciousness. The party fought back over the succeeding rounds, but was never able to catch up with that opening salvo until near the end. The Cleric missed a great deal of the time and the monk put out damage but was unable to fell but a couple minions. The wizard also took out a minion or two but got sandwiched early by moving into a corner and getting 2 rabble and a guard in his face. He took an number of opportunity attacks and fell (luckily I counseled him not to waste Wizard's Fury if he was committed to tossing Magic Missiles and try the normal standard action one instead - he did end up saving the daily use).

One by one the party members fell to their relentless attacks. The Swordmage manage to break free of the scorpion's claws to assault the offending doppleganger. He also put quite the hurt on the pair of guards managing to knock them down to single digits. However, scorpion poison fell him to unconsciousness not long after. Finally it was down to the Ranger, bloodied and flanked by two guards with the unbloodied doppleganger having just dropped the only other conscious ally and looking to come around with rabble backup.

She swiftly put away her bow and drew 2 short swords, cutting into each of the flanking guards dropping both instantly. She then spent an action point to heal check the cleric and headed for a bit of open ground. The cleric revived the swordmage, who would otherwise have died of ongoing poison damage, and readied for an oncoming attack. With a downed defender and a standing leader, I had the doppleganger choose which to attack based off a feint. If the feint worked on the dwarf leader, it would choose the leader otherwise the prone defender. Turns out is was not to be in the dwarfs favor and she fell again. Fortunately the Swordmage and the Ranger were able to finish off the doppleganger and the remaining rabble, with the Swordmage critting the doppleganger out of existence.

The Ranger had also gotten Moment of Greatness the previous week and so the table voted for the Swordmage to get the renown this time. The Swordmage also ended up with 49 damage taken in the encounter and so I let him take a dip in the fish pool for the extra point of damage and renoun. We at the table wondered at what form that renoun would take, but it was in good fun.

In all, no one died but some got to get an extra point of renoun for reviving a party member.
We faired quite well against the Scorpion and his crew I Barley made the lift cart but was helped  by a ranger in my group. few people where Bloodied  but we still over came the Minions,Scorpion and The
Guards they Tried hard to take us with there powerful swings. but in the end we came victorious.

 
the two scorpions and four guards



the encounter calls for 1 scorpion and 2 guards, so he definitely scaled it up for you guys.  i'd say way up, considering the scorpion and guards are the real threats in this encounter.  congratulations for handling them so easily.

we had five PCs and they had an incredibly hard time handling the 2 guards and 1 scorpion.  the avenger died.  3 of the 5 PCs were in a dying state and i believe all 3 were went to the dying state multiple times.

they kept saying how hot my dice were, but those guards' +10 to hit AC was the real killer.
Week 2

The fight was generally a cakewalk. We had 9 PC's, which made it pretty impossible for us to lose. And that's not counting the Summond Angel of Fire or the Beastmaster Rangers wolf. The session, of course, took a while, and was made worse by some truely aweful dice rolls. The strikers just could not connect.

Next week we'll be splitting into two tables, one of them DM'd by me. And it's a skill challange. Ugh, not the most intresting ways to start a session, so I plan on following the suggestion in the module and running a fight - only instead a random encounter, it will be against the other tables PC's (reskined monsters, of course). I'll have Xeres offer them a better deal, so I can introduce him into the plot.

At least that's the plan.
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