D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 10)

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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]

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will produce

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once you remove the *.


Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
At Guardian Games in Portland, OR, we are going to start setting up Warhorn in two-week bursts. Setting up a chapter at a time has proved unreliable. We filled all our Tuesday tables but with some 6 people that had not signed up. Some that had signed up did not show. Our other night now has three tables, for 7 total tables each week. I have a stack of 7 brand new RPGA/DCI cards from new people that signed up this week! Incredible! I keep on being in disbelief that there are this many potential D&D players out there.

Everyone had a good time with this encounter, even with one of our good GMs making a minor mistake. As usual we discussed a few changes on our DMs list.

spoilers for 2-5:

This encounter seemed to me potentially dangerous but probably reasonable. The solo has low defenses beyond the aura and the damage is not very high. The minions are... minions. I really like the encounter, because it has the kind of homegame feel where a DM can do things as needed.

First, the important bits for DMs to recognize:
  • PCs should be encouraged to use daily powers, action points, and any other resources since they will get an extended rest. Story-wise, they can guess this is the end of the temple as there are no exits.

  • DMs should not forget the concluding boxed text on pages 8 (both session 10 and the text for the Ch2 Finale)

  • The solo has phasing, which means it can move through walls (but must end in an open square). I used this to provoke OAs from Shikirr (which is cool for the player) but to then end up in tactically superior positions. Phasing does not mean insubstantial - one of our DMs made this mistake for a few rounds and it dragged out the combat way too long.

  • The solo has an aura. PCs adjacent to the solo see it as concealed (-2 to hit it). PCs further away see it as totally concealed (effectively invisible, but PCs in the aura can communicate the square). This means the PCs outside the aura are at -5 with ranged attacks. Bursts and blasts are not affected by concealment. This is all very important because without the aura PCs will hit very easily.

  • Also, the aura drops when bloodied, making it easier to hit. To counter that, the solo now gets to use bursts.


For a table of 6, I would recommend increasing the HPs of the creature to 228 (bloodied 114) and increasing attacks by +1. This worked very well for me. In addition, I would roll init for the two minion types. As needed, add more. I had some story mechanics for this that worked well.

The two minions are pretty useful. I would have the three tomb motes attack a single PC for the synergy to damage. If the PCs are in trouble, spread them out or have them charge a PC so only the last one may get the higher damage. The Wisps can shift to get to rear ranks as needed.

The terrain is the same as before, so you can continue any RP stuff you had. I gave my table an extra special action point and 5 temp HPs for having lit the braziers and removed the necrotic taint from the pillars. They had not used it in the last fight, so I just gave it to them for this one and upped the challenge level accordingly.

Story-wise, I had the encounter begin with a modified version of the boxed text. They felt the disturbance in their mindscape and saw a vision of the temple long ago, covered in green flowering vines and with the walls' carvings brightly painted and the pillars glowing. Several priests chanted to elemental spirits and spirits of each element were being summoned and strengthened by the chants.

When combat began, only the solo was on the board. He first appeared in their minds as a man in archaic robes, but quickly took physical form - but the form wavered between wind and man as if he was an amalgam of both (which he is... story-wise I made him a person that combined arcane and elemental magic the way Dragon Kings combine psionic and arcane... but he turned defiler trying to withstand the end of the Green Age). Over time I gave out more visions of his rise to power and his becoming tainted. When PCs spoke to him, they received a vision instead of words.

On the init for the minions the solo called them forth. The Wisps were elementals of wind that were tainted. The Motes were hunched and withered priests that had become undead. Both chanted the entire time. Story-wise, this helped the solo. I brought minions out a total of three times (yes, three times the stated amount!) and this worked fine. My first wave died easily (less than a round), so I waited one round and then brought a second wave. I had one more wave a few rounds later after the solo was bloodied, but I made it clear through RP that this was the last wave.

Mechanics-wise, I added a bit of fun in that when the solo went bloodied he was killed... but then the minions brought him back. They saw the priest chanting and then they called him back. I was lucky that some minions were still on the board and that the solo came up in init... other DMs that try this may need to perhaps change the init of the solo to make this story aspect happen. When he came back, a free arcana or religion check tipped the PCs off that the final wave of minions would need to be killed before the solo could be killed. They worked awesomely as a team to get that done, with some PCs readying actions to take out the solo as others cleared the last wisps and priests.

It was a truly fun finale combat. But, it would have been a bit too easy as written. I encourage DMs to play it fast and loose and keep it thrilling. After all, they get an extended rest.

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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).

This encounter was a great end to chapter 2.  I ran one table of 4 PCs at Pandemonium in Garden City, MI.

Spoilers

I used Alphastream's idea of giving the players flashes of memory from the spirit during the course of the encounter.  I created a story of four brothers who each specialized in one of the primal elements fighting against the future Sorcerer-Kings at the end of the Green Age.  The players got pieces of the story each round, which set up the appearance of the earth and water brothers at the end of the fight.

The PCs ganged up on the spirit early and beat it hard for a few rounds; it just couldn't connect with its immediate interrupt and teleport away.  Even worse, Phye hit it with her dazing daily in the first round, and the spirit missed its save for 2 rounds!  It used action points to get a second action even in its dazed rounds, but it was certainly less effective than it might have been.  It eventually got free from the daze and pounded away at the PCs, dropping three of them before Phye gave it the finishing shot with only 8 hit points remaining.

All in all, a good fight with lots of tense moments and solid tactics.  And everyone groaned at being captured by cannibal halflings at the end.  Anticipation for next week is high, especially with the option of creating their own PCs!

Our group here in Altoona, PA happened to have 7 people show up! I exclamation that because our normal is 4 (and occasionally 3 with a player doubling characters). Turns out Phye had a second brother named Barcup for this encounter. Realized that our group of Barcan/Phye players were actually brothers and sisters (each playing the appropriate character gender wise), which immediately garnered them the nicknames of Yakko, Wakko, and Dot.

Show
For once, one of the players (one of the new guys, the Jarvix player) was smart enough to realize "Minions hurt - kill first." Before the end of the first round, all of the minions were dead, including Barcup knocking out 2 of them at once thanks to Phase of the Sun. The rest went down quickly, especially when a Tome Mote and a Wrath both gang up on Jarvix, who was trying to stay out of the way (big looming sarcophagus and all that) instead was standing right by where the two appeared at. He managed to roll a whopping 2 Initiative (total - roll of 1 +1). Everything was dead by the time it got to his turn in the order.

At this point, Castri and Shikirr are beating on the spirit alternatively. Castri gets a good hit with Twin Strike, so the Elemental is ticked off. Perhaps I should've read Shikirr's marking power better, as the ticked off Elemental decides to dump an action point to use his triple-bite attack twice. Hit for 4-of-6 and 21 damage, and right back at him comes that same damage. Ouch.

Yuka decided it was a good time to use his Stance. Yuka, Shikirr, and Castri had surrounded the Elemental in the back corner of the sarcophagus chamber before it had a chance to move out (and he was missing his teleports as well). That being said, Yuka decided it would be a good idea to try and shove the Elemental into a wall, I imagine hoping that it would do some damage to him. I don't think he realized he was going to do it literally (I hope I understood the "Phase" move speed correct in that interpretation) as the Elemental then proceeds to move into the wall. Shikirr proceeds to act stupid and gets bit for it to put him back in line.

At this point, the Elemental is bloodied. Now was as good a time as ever for him to hop into the middle of the group, dump his other action point, and drop both of his Close Burst attacks. From then, though, it's 7 on 1 and he goes down without much more issues.


On an (ironically) more positive note, I'm now 3-for-3 on knocking Barcans unconscious! Giant Sand Worm, Hejkins, and boss monsters now each have a successful KO against him. Glass cannon anyone?

A random question regarding Reckless Breakage. Does it apply to Implement attacks as well, or just weapons? Jarvix got a crit-1 on his daily, and I ruled that he could try it again but his orb would shatter. Did I do it right, would Implements just not break or does it have to be a Weapon attack?
Prof_Siccus, the brothers idea is awesome! I love it when my half-baked idea is fully cooked by someone else! Bravo!

A random question regarding Reckless Breakage. Does it apply to Implement attacks as well, or just weapons? Jarvix got a crit-1 on his daily, and I ruled that he could try it again but his orb would shatter. Did I do it right, would Implements just not break or does it have to be a Weapon attack?


The rule is just for weapons, but I think that is pretty cool!

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).

Ok the finale for Chapter 2 and people are low on HP and out of surges so lets see how they take on the final fight.

The PC's are split if they want to make new characters for next session for if they do they lose their reknown points they have built.

The Unknown Games, Scranton ,PA,
Session 10

So they finished looting the hejkin and chopping off their arms for the Monk, has a trophy thing and is taking spoils of war.

As soon as they move up to the tomb the Air Spirt comes out of the tomb and does his little voice monologue. The party responds ,by attacking. His little motes come out the wall and floors. Glad the ranger decided to stand in the back of the room for that means they can all attack him.

The rest of the party goes after the Haunt. They are unloading everything they have ,but I forget about the Reactive Swipe for the first 4 rounds so the PCs are able to deal a good amount of damage to it. They are getting a bit worried for the amount of damage they are dealing and it doesn't seem to be worse for wear.

The PC's quickly mop up the minions and all focus on the Haunt. The Ardent tries to make a flank on it ,but gets hit by the Op attack and goes down. She is behind the Haunt and in a corner. Everyone else is on the other side so how to save her?

Luckily I finally remember to use the Reactive Swipe and the Haunt Teleports out of the corner it was in and into the open space ,but the PC's are able to get to the Ardent to save her.

Now the PC's think they can surround it ,but then the bloodied powers come into play and it starts to hit and push people away. Everyone is taking damage from the AoE and they all start to spread out so it has it only could get 1 PC in the AoE. They step up to try to finally take it down with melee attacks ,but the Reactive Swipe comes into play alot and the Haunt teleports aways from the strikers. The only PC that can keep hitting the Haunt at range was the Sorcerer with his fire powers.

At this time everyone is down to single Hps ,except for the Sorcercer, they are all spread out over the tomb to prevent the AoE attack.  The Sorcercer keeps attacking and whittles away Haunt.

The Party is able to kill it and then the other 2 spirts come of the out and the PC's think they are the reinforcements. The earth and water spirit give the party the gifts and tell them to go out and show the world that defilers aren't the way.

The PC's exit out of the tomb and get captured by the cannaible halfings and chapter ends. 
James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.
jtrain - Why would they lose renown? It's a player reward, not character reward.
The PC's are split if they want to make new characters for next session for if they do they lose their reknown points they have built.


Interesting question. I would think they stack. I've asked over here.

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).

The minions were a complete nonfactor, wiped out in the first round before the solo waded in.

The solo was tough! Six players were nearly TPKed. It came down to a final swing: if the haunt hit with his burst again, the last two standing would go to zero and most of the unconscious would be killed outright; the haunt literally had 1 hp remaining.

Luckily Barcan hit. He then Heal checked the rest.

Then things went nuts. The players were mad at Yuka who had drug them into the hjelkin fight without giving anyone a chance to parley. Yuka died in that battle and so was at a disadvantage in this session. So the party roleplayed some PvP, which resulted in Yuka tumbling into the rift, the other players diving inafter him or getting pulled in as they tried to break up thhe fight, Yuka dead and on fire. The scent of cooking meat attracting unwanted attention, and then the flames and foul smoke blocked their retreat back into the tomb.

The only person who isn't bringing their own character next week is the guy who played Jarvix, but even he is rebuilding him from the ground up.
Thanks, Alpha.  That's why I love this forum.  I get great ideas, excellent support, and I enjoy hearing about what others are doing.
Here's the blog report from Uncle's Games in Southcenter Mall - Seattle.

adayinthelifeofanadventurer.blogspot.com...

We're having lots of fun, but a couple of us are wishing this adventure had a little more plot/NPCs/roleplaying opportunities.  I think we're all sticking with the pregen characters since we're pretty invested in them at this point.
Great fun!


The ardent put an Implanted Suggestion on the Haunt. The barbarian hit it with something, triggering reactive swip. Then Sugggestion kicks in.



Repeat until the Barbarian has done 138 damage in one turn.
Shaman: "Why doesn't the squirrel shoot the wizard?" DM: "Because the last squirrel who tried to shoot the wizard missed, then was pulled out of his tree and incinerated." Wizard: "He has a point."

The ardent put an Implanted Suggestion on the Haunt. The barbarian hit it with something, triggering reactive swip. Then Sugggestion kicks in.

Repeat until the Barbarian has done 138 damage in one turn.



Infinite attacks loops in D&D...?  I'd never allow that, would limit it to Attack / Reactive Swipe / Suggestion Attack and that's it.  Otherwise, getting a bit too much like Magic The card game to me.

And yes, I see why you could interpret the rules that way.  I would simply disallow it, but even if you did let it loop it should end as soon as the Haunt hits and teleports 3 squares because the Suggestion attack is not also an immediate interrupt...

That being said if your version was fun for the whole group - that's great.