D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 3)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 3 of D&D Encounters Season 4 - March of the Phantom Brigade.

For more reports and reviews of Encounters check out these blogs (and please suggest more):
Dungeon's Master
Glitterdust
Perpetual Geek Machine
Wielding a Bohemian Ear Spoon


Please realize 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


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once you remove the *.

Just got to work after helping run session 3 at the Game Matrix in Tacoma (its snowing out and for the first time we were able to field 2 full tables with most of the new people promising to return, Yay Us.).

Fun at my table


I had most of the new people, about 45 minutes to prep for the encounter and am fighting a nasty cough. We had a blast. I ended up with a Dragonborn Slayer, a Half-Elf Sun Domain Warpriest (Pervious, we'll get back to him), a Human Sun domain Warpriest, a Human Storm Domain Warpriest and a Human Knight. Based on the way the party decided to search the ruins, the Fountain was the first place they hit after the main gate. The Jellies were able to obtain suprise and attack Pervious and Grimundirr (the slayer). During the following rounds, Pervious ended up flanked and, despite numerous opportunities for saving throws, was rarely without ongoing 5 damage. The sheer healing power in the party kept him on his feet but he qualified for a moment of Greatness, taking 50 damage and is the only person I know who got 22 reknown in their first session of Encounters. Drake, the Knight was bloodied at one point but the party managed to focus fire the monsters down, especially when Pervious busted out Lesser Aspect of Wrath to punctuate his displeasure. Grim had some difficulty hitting with a string of low rolls but Sol and Cassi (the human warpriests) were able to consistently hit and pass out attack buffs or defense buffs, saving throws and heals.
 
The other table had much less difficulty as their strikers destroyed one Jelly on before its second turn.
Well again only 4 players. There was a 2nd table (5 players),but that was earlier in the evening.

We had at tonights event:
Pre gens only:
Mage
Hunter
Cavalier
Slayer(new player)

Notice no leader this time. Yep, that leader would come back to bite us and with sad dice rolls there was 2 PC's killed.
death in the party

The Mage and the Hunter ,quickly moved out of range about 12 squares away and peppered the creatures with long range spells and arrows. Rapid shot and Arc Lighting did consitent damage to the things. The Cavalier and Slayer were quick dropped by the creatures. The Slayer didn't hit once before he was dropped. They were doing 2d6+1 damage and for 1st level PC's was pretty much half if not little less then max. There is nothing the Mage/Hunter could do from range for the if either of us had moved in to help we would have both dropped for our AC isn't that high and the DM's dice were hot. But we had to figured out that they couldn't move very fast and we could out run them so that is what we did. We would move 6 away and shoot and then repeat. The mage took a hit from one of the smaller ones,but magic missle was his friend tonight.
James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.
Show

My table was 6 players - Paladin, Paladin, Barbarian, Hunter, Mage, Warpriest

The party spent a while outside the archway, before even entering the keep, so they had a heads up about the ward before entering.  Due to history checks, and talking previously with Faldyra they knew of the fallen member of the Silver Company.  So upon entering the courtyard the first place they wanted to investigate was the graveyard.  While the majority of the party is searching the tombstones, the Hunter sneaks off to investigate the fountain.  Perception + Dungeoneering check, he's able to spot the jellies, and the effects they have had on the fountain, so he hurries back to the party in order to tell them.  The rest of the party has found the inscription, but are then distracted with the hunter's news so all head over to the fountain.  When they return, since the hunter has informed them, all are allowed to make perception checks as they are trying to find where the jellies are...  To which everyone (including Hunter) roll dismally low, so the jellies get their surprise round...


I added an extra jelly, and gave the splits a few extra hp (my table prefers more difficult encounters, so I bump things up usually)  I was also playing the oozes provoking lots of the paladin marks, though I hadn't realized one of the paladins somehow only does 3 damage when provoked?  Anyways the oozes were always attacking, then using their power to shift 4 as they "flowed over the characters".  This made all the characters constantly have to stay on their toes, and keep moving as well.

Overall though, I only rolled well on damage a couple times, and missed quite a few.  I think the party did almost as much damage to each other than I did to them (2 dragonborns, and burning hands, and rapid shot).  I think 2 players might have gotten to bloodied, but nobody ever seemed to be in any real danger.
 

Always a GM, never a player (not really but sometimes feels like it).

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DungeonScape

This week things finally got interesting (story wise). My players really enjoyed the story this session and I can see it only getting better. They really liked getting the chance to explore around and the descriptions of the various places within Inverness.

I only had 3 players this week so one of my more experianced players played two chracters and I had to scale the encounter back just a little by removing some XP from the Jellies. One of the players was brand new so thankfully one of the experianced players took him under his wing and helped him learn the rule system as we went along.

The party really go caught up on the graveyard and were very curious as to why it was tended so well when everything else was not. They looked for footprints but found none despite taking a 20 and that only further elevated their skepticism. Combined with the knowledge this keep seems to have been moved here, the alien language and the alien magical ward the place really wasn't sitting right with them. They checked each location multiple times before calling it safe enough for the caravan to move in.

They were set at rest a little by Splintersheild's desire to ward the area from undead. 
Same table at Modern Modern Myths Northampton, Ma

Eladrin Knight
Slayer
Sentinel druid
Thief
drow hexblade, white well pact.

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Overall I enjoyed the chance to do some exploring in this encounter.  My eladrin knight was able to use his arcana to sense the aura of lingering magic around central tower, and discovered some arcane runes he could not read.  The graveyard occuppied our attention as we noted that it was being tended and kept clean, and that one headstone seemed to be more intect than the others.  We ended abruptly without reporting back to Aldus, so have not pursued these details.

The fight was the most challenging by far.  Our group is beginning to work well togther, as it has no pre-gens and none of us are new to the game.  No one went down, and the druid had to use a minor heal on me.  The druid did play a fortune card that allowed me to make an out of turn save when I had 5 ongoing damage (and only 5 hp). The slayer was bloodied, but I don't think anyone else took damage.  So our group was challenged, but not pushed to the edge.  I do wonder how the other groups of less than five PC's, or groups with new players will have fared this time. 

The fortune card played did not save me from being unconscious, as the druid was going to heal me before I dropped, but it did at least save a surge and play a big part in keeping me conscious.  if I go down, the party still wins the battle easily, but slayer and the rest of the party have to burn more surges.  So that is the first time I have seen a card played at our table have an impact.

Our DM had a lot fun describing the movement, attacks and bloodied subdivision of the jellies which he called "splutching." 

I did not play in any previous seasons of encounters, but MotPB has RP, exploration, and clues hinting at the unfolding story that lies ahead.  I enjoy this style of play and believe Rodney is doing a great job of showing new players the range of possibilities in D&D.  Bravo Rodney!
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6pm flight at Warp One in Edmonton, Canada. Seems the ongoing cold damage our city has been under lately finally started taking it's toll on our players (currently -36C with the wind chill, or -33F for you flat-earth types) Wink , as our turnout was the lowest it's been since Season Two. Still managed two tables, 4 and 3 players. I played two characters at the smaller table to round out the party:


  • Elf Hunter (Crossbow)

  • Dwarf Sentinel (Summer)

  • Eladrin Knight (Quarterstaff) (me)

  • Half-Orc Scout (Axes) (also me)


And the adventurers set forth to explore the ruins...
Paranoia ruled the start of the day as we kept rolling low on our perception checks, which of course makes us assume that we simply failed to see the inevitable ambush/trap/portal/whatever. A decent arcana check did help identify some of an ancient ward placed on the castle gate, long since faded beyond effect, though we did feel a sence of "displacement" as we passed through.

We enjoyed the story notes as we applied various skills (History, Dungeoneering, etc.) to the ruins, picking up on how the castle seems to have been dropped or placed on this spot as opposed to having been built there. We checked the gravesite area first, took tracings of both the gravestone and the foundation cornerstone at the center of the keep, before deciding to look at the fountain. Fortunately, it was the Knight who decided to go up to the fountain and search it, as everyone continued to roll dismal perception checks and were easily surprised by the Ochre Jellies.

Hunter went first, sliding one Jelly back away from the group and setting up the Scout for a big opening charge with massive damage and prone (Aspect of the Charging Ram). Prone would be a common theme this battle between our two Rangers. We had some fun at the table trying to describe how a blob could be knocked prone; I figure the Scout could use his big axes like pancake flippers, but we were all lost on how the crossbow bolt managed it (thoughts of a punctured water balloon did come up).

We were a little concerned when the Scout was bloodied in a single hit, plus ongoing damage, in the first round, but the rest of the fight went fairly easily. The Jellies' defenses seemed very low (I think only one of our attacks missed the entire encounter), and the Knight was able to keep attention focused on him without taking too much damage. The Hunter used Clever Shot and the Scout kept his Aspect of the Charging Ram going, so pretty much every round the Jellies would be prone, severely limiting their multi-shift movement ability we saw at the beginning of the fight. The Knight used his teleporting to keep them in his aura, as well as position for flanking. They were basically punching bags most rounds, and we cleaned up the fight without anyone going below bloodied (thanks in no small part to the Sentinel's handing out temps to soak up 4 of the 5 ongoing whenever it was applied).

I can see how the multi-square shifting ability of the Jellies could have made for a more dangerous battle with a lot of strategic positioning and their decent damage output. Once they split into two after being bloodied I thought we were in for a tougher fight, but the Scout and the Sentinel dropped one each in single hits (well, Combined Attack for the Sentinel but YKWIM), and the other two went down in short order.

Fun session, more good story and an interesting fight once again. Still loving this season, though I do hope we see some more challenging encounters soon. Our DMs routinely scale up the battles already, but I just don't see anyone feeling like there is much of a threat. Say what you will about the Dark Sun season of Encounters, but every week people came to the table not knowing if their character would make it through that night's session, and they worked hard to find every opportunity for a tactical advantage. I liked that aspect, though I know not everyone did.

Once again, Fortune Cards were a non-starter at my table. Two of us had them and drew every round, but they were always a afterthought and never came into use for this battle. More and more I feel that the current system for the cards just doesn't fit into the natural flow of play. I think I would prefer something closer to the Gamma World system of having one at the beginning of an encounter, and maybe random effects (i.e., rolling a 1) causing a change, instead of a new card every round. It just breaks strategic flow to add a new element that may change my plans for that turn and make everyone wait while I think about whether or not I can take advantage of it. 
Same table at Modern Modern Myths Northampton, Ma

Eladrin Knight
Slayer
Sentinel druid
Thief
drow hexblade, white well pact.

[sblock]
Overall I enjoyed the chance to do some exploring in this encounter.  My eladrin knight was able to use his arcana to sense the aura of lingering magic around central tower, and discovered some arcane runes he could not read.  The graveyard occuppied our attention as we noted that it was being tended and kept clean, and that one headstone seemed to be more intect than the others.  We ended abruptly without reporting back to Aldus, so have not pursued these details.

The fight was the most challenging by far.  Our group is beginning to work well togther, as it has no pre-gens and none of us are new to the game.  No one went down, and the druid had to use a minor heal on me.  The druid did play a fortune card that allowed me to make an out of turn save when I had 5 ongoing damage (and only 5 hp). The slayer was bloodied, but I don't think anyone else took damage.  So our group was challenged, but not pushed to the edge.  I do wonder how the other groups of less than five PC's, or groups with new players will have fared this time. 

The fortune card played did not save me from being unconscious, as the druid was going to heal me before I dropped, but it did at least save a surge and play a big part in keeping me conscious.  if I go down, the party still wins the battle easily, but slayer and the rest of the party have to burn more surges.  So that is the first time I have seen a card played at our table have an impact.

Our DM had a lot fun describing the movement, attacks and bloodied subdivision of the jellies which he called "splutching." 

I did not play in any previous seasons of encounters, but MotPB has RP, exploration, and clues hinting at the unfolding story that lies ahead.  I enjoy this style of play and believe Rodney is doing a great job of showing new players the range of possibilities in D&D.  Bravo Rodney!
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okay... not my table, not matt's table (we both had brand new players).  I'm guessing you were at Jim's table.  The hamming it up should've been the clue...
Sorry I have not introduced myself.  I know the other two DM's by sight, I just don't know which one you are.  I'll be sure to say hi next time.

In lieu of an actual field report (my players this season are distressingly competent, having trashed the jellies as they have every other encounter so far), I'll honor a request for a photo of the homemade slimes in combat:

 

In addition to the four ochre jellies (one of them had split after being bloodied), we have a tiefling cavalier, a half-elf sentinel and her wolf companion, Merric the halfling thief, Jarren the human mage, a human hunter on the wall, Hagen the human warpriest, Keira the elf thief, and Gorbie, a goblin cutthroat the PCs captured and then allied with in the previous week.
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