D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 9)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 9 of D&D Encounters Dark Sun. 


Please realise that both players and DMs read these threads, so do not put spoilers in your posts. If your post goes into enough details, then you absolutely must use spoilers. Enclose the spoilery bit 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 *.


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Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

I am off to Gen Con in way too few hours  , so I'll recount things quickly and in ways that may help DMs.

Guardian Games ran one table less, but one of our nights is seeing more growth. Signups have been erratic - we had 25 players signed up for tonight and only filled 3 tables.

At various tables we used the themes of the encounters in different ways. One of the strengths of 4E is that very new DMs can do a very good job with some help (such as from forums or our store's e-mail list for DMs). Our new DMs are doing all kinds of minor but very cool stuff with each week's session.

spoiler for Encounter 2-4 Session 9:

At my table I added a few things:
  • Had their torches burn out, burning one more survival day to make new ones.

  • Started them further back in the hallway, allowed them to come up and basically get surprise or use the light source. 

  • When they see the PCs or their light, all foes burrow. They reappear once the party is inside the room. (This is important, removing the possibility of a boring fight locked around the doorway).

  • 4 black squares were pillars covered with vines with necrotic taint (arcane or nature to figure out). This could be ended with a survival day's worth of nutrients/food and a group check free action where everyone recites elemental-themed words found on the walls. Doing so would remove the taint turning them green and also restore any lost action point or allow a second action point to be used in the fight.

  • 8 sconces were empty. Could spend a survival day to create enough flammable material to start them. Free action while walking past lit them. If 5 were lit, would gain 5 temp HPs.


The fight was pretty good at my table. They heard the Hejkin, identifying their voices with a high dungeoneering check. They moved in and started working on sconces and then the creatures burrowed back up and attacked in initiative order (no surprise since both sides alert). Proper spacing kept foes capable (especially the chanters).

I found that their low HPs and defenses made for a properly balanced fight. My concerns I had were largely misplaced - the encounter can be lethal (Jarvix was unconscious and Shikirr nearly outright dead), but it can also be easy if the party rolls well up front. Action points really helped the party drop foes and there were some good tense moments.

I set the stage for the next encounter by adding some of the boxed text for the future encounter. This gave everyone a sense of what is coming.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).

This fight was definitely the most challenging so far of chapter 2.  The party wasn't in danger of a TPK, but I did drop 3 PCs, one of whom missed two death saves before being revived.

Edit (since it looks like everybody else is doing this): I run at Pandemonium in Garden City, MI.

Spoilers

I only had three players running 5 PCs this week (summer vacations and GenCon took their toll), and the PC they chose to leave out was Castri.  Unfortunately, he was the one with the best chance to sneak up on the hejkin, so that option was out.  I did use someone else's suggestion of having the hejkin light some of the globes and be arguing, so the PCs did know they were in the room.  They just couldn't roll high enough on stealth or dungeoneering to get into the room quietly.

The chanters' dazing blasts really messed the PCs up, as did the brutes' high damage strikes.  I used burrowing to get bad guys back to the second rank folks, and this was the first fight of chapter 2 in which Jarvix took damage (down to 1 hit point by the end of the fight).  All in all, the encounter was challenging and fun but not overwhelming.

I'm a bit concerned about the big solo fight next session, however.  Two PCs are at 0 surges, two have 1, and the remaining have 2 and 4.  With two PCs (Castri and Shikirr) being unable to benefit from healing, I don't think they'll be up too long against the big level boss...
Goldpiece will report in depth on his blog but here is the short and sweet of my two sessions.
BTW two tables one 6 and one 5 at 5pm and 4 tables of 5 or 6 at 7pm Uncle's games Southcenter mall Seattle WA.

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At 5pm the party managed to surprise the Hejkin and the lowest PC initiative roll beats the best Hejkin roll!!! Surprise round a couple of mellee with LOS charge everyone else posistions. Round one every player unloads and AP's results both Chanters dead one Sparker and one Raver dead...Raver and Sparker go do 10 damage to one character and 5 to another....Round two Raver and Sparker die.

At 7pm players do not surprise Hejkin and Hejkin intitiave beat about half the party. Results Barcan and Jarvix end up unc Castri Blooded. Surprise and quick death of the Chanters made all the difference.
I'm second from the left in the picture.


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This fight almost took out the party. We had four players and four characters, including the optional Goblin Seeker character, Ixyllblat. We played at Uncle's Games Spokane Valley Mall, Spokane WA.

spoiler


Last week I followed Alphastream1's lead and went with the restoration of the elmental temple. The players loved it! They really enjoyed the story level of this one. When they left the temple and entered the hallway Ixyllblat heard the hejkin arguing.

They weren't able to sneak up on the little buggers, but they knew to expect something. Shikirr threw torched into the room to provide light and the characters entered an empty room...

The hejkin popped up a wave at a time and caused general havoc: dazing, proning, bloodying, and splitting the party around the room. Poor Ixyllblat was the first to be flanked by the Ravers, bloodied, and shredded. Phye got shuffled around the room by the chanters and marked by the sparkers--damage shadowing her every step.

During the fight I kept mentioning that the Hejkin were looking over their shoulders at the sarcophagus as if expecting something. This created tension among the players as they had flashbacks of the Ankheg and wondered what else was coming. I was thinking about the Hejkin cohabiting the tomb and how it might have altered thier behavior, plus it will be a good set up for next week.

Shikirr never even made it into the room, he was engaged by wave 3 in the hallway. Yuka was tag-teamed by the "flanking Raver brothers" and Phye only just saved his bacon after her Sparker nemesis finally fell (Ixyllblat's player was allowed to return in the form of Morg, Mul Thunderborn Barbarian from Bloodsand Arena.)

Attrition finally favored Yuka in his face-off with the Ravers, and between him and Morg the evening ended in a pyrrhic player victory. Now they are wondering how much rest they will get and what the Hejkin were waiting for...

Inconsistency and procrastination...in practice.
Our group continues to have a fun time playing at Uncle's Games near Seattle, WA.  This encounter was particularly deadly for us - I believe two of our PCs have zero remaining healing surges.  Next week will be interesting!  Blog updated with details and a neat picture:

adayinthelifeofanadventurer.blogspot.com...
I tend to let my players play their characters how they want. I think I need to recognize that their way of playing has them with an Intelligence of about 5...

After buzzing through 2-3 because we missed it last week, I ask the group what they want to do. The Shikirr and Yuka players (Cousins) decide they want to go screaming down the hallway as loud as they can. They follow that up by throwing a couple of Sunrods into the room straight out from the hallway, as well as Barcan dropping his AoE Fire attack for a little extra light from the Zone.

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Of course, since they've made their presence very clear, I decide that they won't get an easy start on this. Initiative is rolled, and I have one Hejkin step out on the far side of the room, visible from the hallway, as 'bait.' Another Hejkin hides around the corner from the door. Sure enough, Shikirr attempts to charge at the bait, and gets sucker punched by the ambush. Yuka steps into the room next, at which time, the Raver (dropped one for party of 4) walks up, sucker punches the both of them, and drops them both prone.

Barcan and Castri step into the room and start beating up on the guy who Ambushed, so it was time for the bait to step up and laugh maniacally. By walking up to the group and unleashing his Close Burst attack on the group. Needless to say, they were scrambling for the rest of the encounter.


Actually managed to kill off Barcan. The Barcan player never got a chance to get himself separated from the rest of the group, unfortunately. This would be the second time that Barcan has been fully killed off this campaign, the first time being after he decided to put the giant Sand Creature thing from 1-5 into a headlock (successfully, I might add) after getting himself cornered against the rock while trying to distance himself from everyone.

Of course, it doesn't help that Barcan also managed to step on 2 poison dart panels during 2-3.

*serious look* "Click."
As long as the group had fun, thats the most important thing. I hope your Yuka and Shikirr learned thier lesson though!
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My group got about half way down the hall from the first gate when they heard the hejkin. They tried to sneak up, but were rolling less than 10 on the dice, so the hejkin heard them too. I asked the party what they were planning on doing they just kept mulling around (in the dark as I had their torch go out at the end of the last encounter). So the hejkin burrowed into the hallway and surrounded the party in a 2x2 group. The party could easily have been killed from the brutes' free action claw attack, so I didn't use it. I was already brutalizing the party. Barcan originally died because he didn't spend any healing surges between encounters to heal up, so we retconned that. He still went down, but not totally dead. Barcan was out of healing surges until he got the twitter buff and the party got to the canopic jars after defeating the hejkin. The last battle should be tough since most of the party is low on healing surges. Even Phye took quite a bit of damage in that one.
 
Your location is using the normal characters + the freeRPGday characters (updated to lvl2)

The metagame is that the player-controlled PCs go one way, and the non-player controlled PCs either wait or explore other paths.

So, Morg (Mul barbarian), Pak'cha (Thri-kreen shaman), Vinara (human warlock) and Kindrak (goliath fighter) went into the ancient tomb.


Hours later, the second group led by Phye ventured into the same area.
They found shards of bone and iron, from shattered weapons.
They found the bodies of their fellows, desercrated.
They found the bodies of their enemies, cut down.

Phye saw all this and felt the fighting spirit of her collegues falter.  She needed to say something.  Do something.  Change things.

Phye cleared her throat.  "There is the blood of twenty men in this room!"

Dispite the blood, dispite the death, her followers cheer.

Patriot Games, Huddersfield, England
4 players, but they are all using freeRPGday characters, who all seem a little stronger, so I offered them the choice of weak/normal/strong party options.  They choose the normal difficulty.

So, they carefully moved down the corridor, looking for traps.  They found none, but some of them heard the voices (but not the ones who understand dwarven).  The move upto the door at the end and Kindrak just bursts through it, ignoring stealth.  Still, this is ballsy and withing character, so I have him make an athletics roll for how well he bursts through, to see if there is a surprise round.

Kindrak does indeed smash through the door dramaticaly and gets a surprise round.  The others follow, with Pak'cha using her action to force-move Morg into the room so he can charge one of the chanters.  This charge sets the tone for the fitght:  Bloody and painful.

Morg gets a nat1 and invokes 'reckless breakage'.  His next roll is 16 and the damage roll is enough the bloody the chanter in a single hit as Morg strikes into it and through it, shattering his bone greataxe. 

the fight is joined, with Hejkin blasting people back and savaging them with their claws.  Kindrak get a nat1 on his very 1st attack and (against advice) invokes 'reckless breakage' for... another nat1.  Kindrak misses the Hejkin next to him and smashes the almost-irreplaceable blade directly into the solid stone pillar next to him, shattering it!

The fight that follow is the very definition of knock-down, drag-out.  People and hejkin are being knocked back, dazed, wounded at every turn.  One of the chanters is taken down early, but the other gets up close to Vinara.  Vinara responds with a beautiful augument+curse attack in melee, which results in 3d8+4 and a high roll to do serious damage to the second chanter.

In the scrum, there is much forced movement, flanking and nadty blows to both sides.  A raver bloodies Kindrak and then wounds him with his follow-up action.  At this, the party collectivly **** a brick.  Pak'cha (who is at the back and hasn't been attacked by this point) considers running away.

The fight contiunes, with harsh wounds to both sides.  Notably, both of Pak'cha's healing spirits are used when both Kindrak and Morg are dying, which results in the Hejkin yelling "why won't you die!" several times.  Pak'cha even moves into the melee to use Heal and bring Kindrak back into the fight for one more time, even as the Hejkin surround them.

In the end, the 1st chanter is taken down by Morg, who blooded it in the surprise round.  The 2nd chanter is taken down by Vinara, but she is taken down and slain by a Raver.

Pak'cha does an incredible work with healing her allies and bringing them back from the brink, but one of the ravers takes offense at this moves up to take her down.  He knocks her down to single-digit HP.  Pak'cha falls prone at thois point and the Raver belives that she is dead (the others don't though).  Pak'cha gets off one last attack (which takes the last raver to 1hp) and is then destroied (crit for 24 damage.  The Thri-kreen's head is just plain ripped from her body)

In the end, a single raver (with 1hp) and a bloodied sparker are left alive.  The fighter-types have returned from dying several times, but they return no more.
Well I wrapped session 9 and 10 into one night because we were a week behind.

this is what we are at.
Ranger 0 healing surges left at 6 hp left
Ardent 2 healing surges left
Homebrew monk 3 left
Sorcercer 6 left (he is never on the front line)
Battlemind 6 left(he missed last session)

The Unknown Games ,Scranton PA
battle report

Ok. The fun begins. They hear the sounds of something talking in the room and send the Sorcerer to open the gate and scout. He fails the DC and makes to much sound which triggers initiative. The battle is on.

The Ranger goes first due to really high roll. He rushes into the fight knowing that he will drop on 1 hit ,but that is the lucky part of it. He doesn't get hit for 3 rounds and is able to deal decent amount of damage to the Hejkin reaver.

The rest of the party moves into the room to engadge ,but the Chanters and sparker AOE knocks people back and starts to take it's toll on the hp of the party.

The Battlemind who can move like the wind goes to engage the chanter in the backfield. They both miss each other for 5 rounds. Even with a +8 to hit with the Trikreen razor claws he rolls 5 and lower.

The Ranger drops from a hit and then only fails 1 death save before some one stabilizes him. At this point the whole party is now blooded from AoE attacks ,but they are killing the Hekjin 1 at a time. The Sorcerer's range and AoE powers are doing most of the damage to the creatures and he is staying out of range of their burst powers.

So, in the end they kill all the creatures and find some loot and survival days stuff. Now here is the kicker they have 6 odd healing fruits ,but at this time 2 of the PC's are completely out of Surges.

They all move towards the sarcophagus ,except for the ranger at 1 hp, and that triggers the next session.


James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.