D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 4)

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Sorry mikethemountain, I'm too impatient to wait.

Had 2 full tables again this week, everyone had a great time. The addition of a hexblade and a hunter to my table (instead of 3 warpriests) really helped move the adventure along. Team Hero at my table actually had a turn of 'Ready for a new batch' in turn 5. Awesome night for everyone. Our afters game was a blast to.
well things are not looking to good for the Encounter sessions at my store. Last week we had a full table the first session and 4 the second. Now the first group didn't show up and the second session was at 3 people. I don't know if the season will complete if we don't get enough players. For the DM won't let us gain xp/reknown points off the books so if we go into chapter 2 or 3 still at level 1 so it will be tough.

So we played anyways off the record, of the 3 players each of us took 2 Pregens each.

waves of fun

In the fight we get the set up and the events that are occuring with the appearance of the temple so that gives us the willys. Then we are told that undead are just tromping up to the front gate to sell girl scout cookies and we would have none of that. Therefore all 6 characters rush to the front gate to fend off such a horrible attack.
The Rogue goes first and rushes out to engage ,but with out support she is quickly overwhelmed by the undead and goes down. The Cavalier and Slayer rush out to block the tide with the Warpriest supporting them. It is then we realize that the undead are trying to get past us and towards the ritual. Therefore the Mage and Hunter climb the walls and start peppering the undead from there and the other 3 form a bottle neck at the archway to fend off the rest.

The fight went pretty well all in all. The Zombies didn't make 1 saving throw therefore couldn't come back with 1hp ,but ,they did hit for alot when they did.

After the fight the lonely ghost shows up and demands entry. Splintershield says no, but we say why can't you let him visit his wife on one side of the ruins and we live on the other ,but the ritual doesn't work that way. We also ask why can't we just exhume the grave and bring it outside of the circle for him to visit ,but the ghost will have none of that. So the ghost gives us the dire warning about the spooky tower and leaves in a huff.

On the bright side we get to sleep and recover our hp. On to next week which I suppose will be exploring the tower.

James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.
Since the renown rewards are per chapter this season, instead of only once per season, I've been trying to get everyone their points whenever possible...


First since my group had more or less packed up as soon as combat was over last time, I let them finish exploring the keep, and then report back to Brother Splintershield with all of their news.  Once the Ghost Tower appeared, they were very preoccupied with how to get into it, as Brother Splintershield started the Ritual.

The group was very excited to know that the scouts were fighting additional undead on all sides of the keep, planning on going to assist them as soon as they had their side handled...

Party of 6 people, Wizard, Dragonborn Paladin, Dragonborn Paladin, Hunter, Barbarian, Cleric...  As you can see of those, only 2 people do not have some form of an area attack (actually after the encounter the cleric realized that he does have one as well).  Also one of the Paladin's hadn't gotten his 50 damage yet.

The spawning of the minions was way too slow, and way too few for this group, as shown by their eagerness to leave and assist the other sides.  So instead we only did 3 rounds, and I was spawning creatures 2 times per round, with an extra zombie spawning each round as well.  I gave the zombies the chance to stay standing on 10 or higher, instead of 15 or higher as well...  Because I enjoyed them cutting zombies in half, but the legs keep shuffling towards them.  Overall the Wizard, and both Dragonborn got their 3 minions.  The Paladin who wanted the 50 damage, stood more or less alone 4 squares in front of the keep (he climbed over the wall to break through the masses of undead), for the first 2 rounds, while everyone else dealt with the creatures at the gate.  At one point he was 4 hit points from being dead (negative bloodied), but 3 hit points away from his 50 point mark...

After the fight was done, and Vladistone marched up to the gate, my group did not do well at trying to win him over in any form...  Havign the name on the stone in the graveyard and connecting it to him, they instead chose to taunt him about it.  From saying they had dug it up, and also they had kicked over her headstone, they pretty much ended any conversation with him.  As he storms off with his final warnings.

I think Vladistone might have a personal vendetta against them now for sure.

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

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Sorry mikethemountain, I'm too impatient to wait.

No problem at all! Thanks for getting it started.

Final session of the chapter was a great one to set up the rest of the adventure. Liked the story, liked the plot development at the end, and the battle was suitably dramatic.

Two tables, five players each. Mine was:

  • Eladrin Knight, Quarterstaff (me)

  • Dwarf Sentinel, Summer

  • Half-Orc Scout, Axes

  • Halfling Hunter, Crossbow

  • Elf Hunter, Bow

As Brother Splintershield began the cleansing ritual the party was allowed to wander around the camp, roleplay a little with the characters. Knight stood guard at the gate, Sentinel went to talk with Faldarya and give the children rides on his bear, Scout and Hunters rested against the wall.

Off in the distance...
... Knight heard shuffling and moaning coming up the trail to the gate. Rolling his typically low initiative, he was sadly stuck at the entrance while the Scout and Sentinel charged out to engage the skeletons. The two Hunters each hit and slid one zombie off either cliff edge beside the trail, both failed their saves so that took them out of the battle for an extra round.

Once the waves of skeletons reached the party, the strategy became "target the Knight!" with the Hunters' Rapid Shots. It worked well, as they would routinely take out 2-4 skeletons, damage a zombie, and only hit Knight twice and Sentinel and Scout once each. Unfortunately, the Knight did take a ghetto crit from the Bow Hunter, which hurt.

Our DM has a good grasp of what our groups are usually capable of, so he scales up the fights quite a bit. Five waves of skeletons, the last one having 10 of them, and a couple extra zombies. He did allow Splintershield's completed ritual to wipe out the remaining 6 or 7 minions that we hadn't mopped up by the time it was finished. The interaction with Vladistone was fun, as everyone at the table stayed in character well and reacted as they would. Knight tried to reason with him, Scout wanted to fight, Sentinel dragged Splintershield out to speak with Vlad (that didn't go over well). The Hunters just sat back with readied attacks in case he tried anything.

The final tease about the Soul Stone was a nice touch, and as Knight offered to retrieve it and release Vladistone, he faded away laughing at our arrogance. Very cinematic.

Great first chapter, loving this season so far. My only hope is the challenge factor ramps up a bit, but our DM seems capable of managing that on his own.

Fortune cards were used to actually very good effect this session. Everyone had decks, though not everyone remembered to use them every round. I think enough people at our table have built decks to suit their characters that the cards now help more than just take up time.
I couldn't find a thread on Session 3. So, I will put both here. More players. We had 7 at my table, and 4 and 3 at the other tables. The characters where.
Eladrin Fey-Pact Warlock - Summer Court - small changes on the powers from the Winter Court Pact in the book.
Elven Druid Summer Aspect.
Drow Thunder Warpriest.
Halfing Rogue.
Human Sun Warpriest.
Half-Orc Knight Fighter.
Tiefling Infernal Pace Warlock.

spoilerey stuff

The Human Warpriest, Knight and Tiefling had all played before, so they where scouts from the caravan sent to check out the fortress. To introduce the others, the Rogue decided that he had been send ahead to check out the fortress by Hammerfast. Aldas had a few words about the lord's second guessing his leadership by sending a scout ahead. The Eladrin, Elf and Drow where from the Harkenwood. They where sent to see what their new neighbors where up to and make contact. They where part of a (vain?!) attempt by some members of the Eladrin, Elf and Drow communitys to end the millenium long conflict between their races - good luck if these characters are any sign .
The Rogue met the scouts and told them what he had found and showed them around the fort. This played well as a discovery tool (I was able to describe the location to the Rogue's player, the other characters with very different skills where still able to discover things, but it through roleplaying between the players). The elves watched studying the newcomers. As they where examining the fountain, the Druid came forward to speak with the party. They where not sure about a Half-Orc and Tiefling as Scouts for the caravan and thought that something might be wrong. The Rogue saw a Drow lurking in the trees and attacked. Not an illogical thing to do to a lurking drow. So, the battle with the Jellys started with a fight between within the party with most of the characters trying to stop the conflict. This made for an exciting battle when the Oozes fountained out of the water and attacked.
The fight resolved the conflict between the party members - mostly. The Rogue was sure that they should not stay, as he was sure that Vampires where lurking in every corner. But, Aldas was adamant. The Eladrin wanted to know more about Olyliva's well cared for grave and felt for sure that a tragic romance had happened in this place. It was amazing how right and how wrong she was .

Chapter 1 ended with the players quite happy with the session, and chapter as a whole.  They are all looking forward to next week!

  The assult by the undead opened with a bang!  The 1st rogue to go scored a natural 20 on a zombie and BOOM!  No more zombie!  The same rogue got 2 more 20's in a row, earning a Moment of Greatness (unfortunately the other 20's were on skeletons).  To karmically balance it out the Warlock (Fey) rolled three 1's in a row.  I added over a dozen skeletons in round "7" just to scare the bejezzus out of them, and it did.  Then I described the powerful ritual of consecration "Brother Splintershields voice cuts through the night like a warrior's sword!  BY MORADIN'S WILL THIS LAND BE CLEANSED!  And a wave of radiant energy washed over you all."  And with that I swept the army of undead off the table.  The players all cheered.

We did have one near snafu.  The players upon making the connection between Salazar Vladistone and his wife were actually fairly moved.  They discussed siding with him over Brother Splintershield.  I had to play up the darkside a bit and force Salazar to demand "Retribution against the Priest of Moradin for this slight against my Love!"  Once the players were convinced there was no reasoning with him on the matter of Splintershields life, they sided with the dwarf.... but still reluctantly!

This was the first combat of the season where the players really took it to the DM and owned the fight from start to finish.

This was probably due to:

spoilerey stuff

A. Having 8 players at the table. Even with extra monsters factored in, we still had the decided advantage. Having 2 warpriests with Smite Undead and Radiant aura's helped too.

B. Our dice were hot. Several crits from our side of the table.

C. Last encounter of the chapter, so players went all out with Daily powers and Action Points.

By the end, the Zombies were quite smote (smited? smitten?), and the minions mopped up even before the ritual was completed and would have wiped out the stragglers.

All in all, a welcome change from the previous week, which was mostly notable for more failed saves vs. ongoing acid damage than you would believe. One poor guy was given 2 Holy Cleansings (+5 to save) and failed both times. He nearly melted but scraped by in the end.

Looking forward to taking over the DM Shield next week. Respect My Authority!!
I've been posting all my play reports to my blog. My Session four play report can be found here.
I've been posting all my play reports to my blog. My Session four play report can be found here.

Cool, thanks. Guess I should post the other blog links again as well, and as usual ask for anyone else who wants to add their blog to the list:
Dungeon's Master
Perpetual Geek Machine
Wielding a Bohemian Ear Spoon 
I had the same group from the previous week. With the Drow Hunter back from a missed week.
Eladrin Fey-Pact Warlock - Summer Court
Elven Druid Summer Aspect.
Drow Thunder Warpriest.
Halfing Rogue.
Human Sun Warpriest.
Half-Orc Knight Fighter.
Tiefling Infernal Pace Warlock.
Drow Hunter.
   I had a full table. We had one other table with four players. The cards have basicly vanished from play. The game started normal, but took a left turn of the Script.
spoilerey stuff

   The game started with the PCs helping set up the camp. The Elves talked with Aldas about his plans for the settlement, wanting to make sure that the Harkenwood did not become a Lumberyard. The Drow Priestess trying her best to find information on the settlements plans and intelligence for her superiors. The Eladrin Warlock tryed to find out more about Olyvia Vladstone as he detected a tragic romantic tale. The Halfling Rogue was STILL convinced that there where ghosts and vampires lurking about and tryed to convince everyone to leave before the army of undead showed up - (he was right, no one listened). The Sun Priest of Pelor had found a Symbol of Life on a Pelorian priest from the previous encounter and so was giving him a proper burial in the graveyard with the aid of the Druid. (Note: I am making some of the Cleric powers Implement Powers so there is a reason for a Symbol). The Knight was delittling the Halfling's fears and looked over the fortifications for clues on how to defend it - that came in handy during the battle. He also questioned a goblin captive that they had taken in Session 2 to find out what is knew of the fortress. Which was basicly not much. The Tiefling and Drow Hunter continued to progress their mercantile plans with the members of the caravan.
   Then the Ghost Tower started to manifest! All hell broke lose. They first gathered to defend the caravan folk. The Rogue being the one who tryed to escape, but was too scared to run through a ghost wall. Aldas started the ritual with the two Warlocks, Fey and Infernal aiding him. The rest investigated the walls. Even putting the goblin captive through the ghost front gate. The Goblin Fainted! After a moment of terror of thoughts of being trapped inside a deathly ghost fort, they realized that he was OK.
    It was at that point the army of Undead descended on the fort, virtually comeing right up under the Rogue and the Knight. The Rogue paniced. The Knight grinned and started to lay upon the hordes. The fight went well. Everyone once again did their part perfectly. The Knight was the bulwark at the gates, roaring "None shall Pass!". The Rogue dodged about behind the lines. The Priests smited and healed. The Hunter blew up archers at the rear. 
  Meanwhile in the ritual, the Eladrin Warlock, played by a fan of Romantic Fantasy that could sense a tragic romantic plot a mile away. He specificly tryed to work into the ritual a way for the person connected the tended grave to be worked into the defense of the fortress! I don't like to say "the script says X so what you did is worthless". So, I ran with it. The Tiefling tryed to extend the protect down the road and put more power in and end it faster. They put Dailys in the rituals to help, they put in Action Points. They stood on Chairs and Gave speaches and invocations to their powers. So, the changed the future flow of the game.
     When Vladstone showed up shortly after and demanded to be let in or there would be blood, Aldas followed the script. The Eladrin, noting the part of the ritual that he put in. Invited Vladstone in as long as he honored the rules of Hospitality. Vladistone entered. But, the Ghost Tower was now manifested and it recognized Vladstone. A Door appeared in the Tower and opened. An ominous light issued forth, transfixing Vladstone. A voice intoned "Return that Which You have Taken". Vladistone said that he could not. "Then you shall be punished" and Vladistone was drawn into the Ghost Tower, and the doors slams shut and disappeared! 
      I have a plan for keep the story on track - ie all of the Encounters will mostly be the same, but the story will change. I have to do that to keep the Encounters path intact. Vladistone is the character of a tragic romance and the person who must be saved, not the main villian - well, the Time Warping issue - he may sort of still be the villian. If they do things right the Vladistones will be reunited.
This should be interesting.
Ramses, while I can't be sure, it really sounds like your group has knowledge they shouldn't have.  I suggest you watch them closely for that kind of metagame thinking.  Going forward, you can use the NPCs as foils, even the good ones.  Brother Splintershield most likely never would have allowed for any alteration in his ritual.  Still, DMs perogative to an extent.  Good luck going forward, hope you can get the plot back on some semblance of a track.  One fun thing about encounters is that everyone has a similar shared experience!
Dreamdarwin, I understand. If this where any other player, I would have been suspicous. But, this guy usually plays Blue Rose and romantic storylines are his natural environment. This would be the way that he thinks. There was some argueing with Aldas, both before and after the ritual. Dwarves are stubborn, especially when some elf (...err Eladrin ...) wants to add a bit  But, it seemed a cool thing to do. Also, the player got a number of things wrong ... Such as what Vladstone's connect to the Tower was and other points. He was clearly guessing. Thanks for the point though. There have been people that have cheated in games at our stores - there a little bit of extra treachery in Season of the Serpent. Didn't work out too well for the plotting player . I do agree that the story Must similar, that is not a problem. I can easily make this work.
Three tables still running at Modern Myths in northampton, Ma

My usual group of 5 was down to 4 players.  The hexblade was absent

Sentinel Druid and cougar companion
Eladrin Knight

[sblock/]  Our gm started the session by asking how we were interacting with the caravan as it moved into the shattered keep.  Aldus began his preperations for the cleansing ritual while wwe stood guard. lWhen the ghost tower appeared Falydra ran up to tower in the ensuing choas, scribbled some notes in a book, and then struck it with a small silver hammer.  On that signal the DM commenced the attack.  The druid had went well beyond the walls (10+ squares) and found himself quickly surrounded.  This was risky positioning on the druid's part, and the VERY kind DM gave him a chance to retreat due to his cougar sensing the attack. 

The DM had cold dice, and missed us alot.  We only had to defend the main gates, and for the most part hand no problem interdicting the skeletons.  My eladrin knight blocked the entrance and was able to keep 3-5 enemies adjacent at all times.  There were a lot of skeletons minions, but cleaving assualt took a big toll on them over the course of the battle. The only real problem we had was when Splintershield was about to complete the ritual.  At that point all the skeletons on the map charged by us trying to reach Splintershield.  Two got through and attacked the priest, but were quickly wiped about by the slayer's AP.  I was able to draw the majority of the attacks, and the druid was able to get out of trouble quickly.  With only four PC's a few better roles could have dropped two of us.  I doubt the attack bonuses of the zombies and skelton's was very high.  My AC is 21 with +1 delver's armor and the DM had a hard time hitting me.

Vladistone appeared and challenged our right to be in the area.  He demanded access to his wife's grave and ordered us to dispel the ritual.  He seemed menacing but not overtly evil, and disappeared when Aldus arrived and insulted him.  Vladistone warned us to prepare to face the wrath of the phantom brigade before vanishing.  As a player I can't tell if he is the central villian, or an important NPC through which to access important info. 

All in all the encounter had an Army of Darkness feel and served to make the PC's feel powerful slaughtering all the minions.  Having never played in the previous encounter seasons, I am wondering when (or if) the encounter difficult will increase. [/sblock] 

Having never played in the previous encounter seasons, I am wondering when (or if) the encounter difficult will increase.

Every season is different.  The Dark Sun game, for example, could have pretty easily been a series of weekly TPKs during the characters' run at first level. 

Also, every table is different.  Once your DM gets a feel for what the table is capable of handling, he's free (and encouraged!) to tweak the encounters to keep them interesting.   
Still running 3 tables in Fredericton, NB.  The interesting thing is that a lot of the players from the last 3 seasons have dropped off but I have managed to attract 8 (!!) new players so far this season of which 3 are totally new to D&D.

All is going well, but we did hit 1 snag in this encounter... at one of the other tables 1 player absolutely refused to go to the front gate.  She wanted to stay and defend the villagers... this resulted in the DM having to split the party and run the encounter on 2 maps (he used the one from session 3 with the fountain as well as the gate).  It required the addition of some creatures over that which the encounter called for, and ran longer... but the players enjoyed it.
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