(PC/DM) Field Reports for Week 4

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We ran 4 tables last night: VileSin's dwarven table (Happy Birthday, VileSin!), two "General Mayhem" tables, and the Disney table (for our younger players). Two guest DMs meant two of our "regular DMs" got to play. We had three new players-- one brand new to D&D, and two new to our shop. One of the newbies sat in the dwarf table (brought there by his dwarven friends). The other two were on my first table.

I played twice: first a warlord in General Mayhem's table, and later a swordmage at the Disney table.
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 My warlord was much more into the RP with Lord Neverember, directly asking about Seldra's involvement with the crown, and hinting that he could have the best of both worlds if the true heir turns out to be female (nudge nudge, wink wink).
My swordmage was out of the room when the party RPed with the Lord Protector (I was making a food run), but that was fine. She was pretty much out of the adventure anyway, when she was dropped in the first round of the combat.

Highlights of the night:
At General Mayhem Table 1: I all but proposed to Lord Neverember (I'm playing the Noble theme and my PC cautiously believes she might be the heir, but doesn't want the job if it's a lot of work). My warlord is also openly displaying both badges from the Lost Heir and from Neverember. And she never rolled an attack roll, the entire session-- just pointed Fargrim at the bad guys and said "exactly *why* aren't they down yet, Fargrim?" giving the Slayer an extra attack when he's dazed: priceless!

At General Mayhem Table 2: The changeling rogue shifted form to the Lost Heir and
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convinced Seldra to spill her guts. She did-- told the party everything about what she's doing, including things other tables didn't know!


At Disney Table:  My swordmage went down in the first round of combat, before her initiative even came up. Our youngest player (age 8) showed great mercy in not only saving my life, but also by sparing the bandits' lives. We give extra renown to players who are under 15 who act merciful and honorable, so she earned her "Moment of Mercy" award this week.

I will let VileSin post the highlights from Dwarf Table. There's usually something exciting to talk about from that crew! I can only imagine what was on the menu....

Oh, and I got the whole game shop to sing Happy Birthday to VileSin. I'm really glad nobody thought to inflict the same on me 2 weeks ago! Actually, 3 of our regular DMs have had our birthdays on Wednesdays since we started running Encounters at the shop! Coincidence?
Please don't forget to put spoilers in for any information that could potentially "Spoil" the story for anyone.  [*sblock] and [*/sblock] without the * to make it work. 
Better?
This is something that's been bugging me. Why are we using spoiler tags... in the Field Reports? By definition of how Encounters works... there's nothing left to spoil. Unless you're referring to references of extra information that may or may not be public knowledge, but that typically shouldn't be there anyway, right?
Because not all shops run Encounters on Wednesdays (sssshhh!!!) and not all shops are caught up to the schedule (some had to start late due to late books and mods-- if you can imagine that!)
Also it's kind of nice to hide all those huge blocks of text and allow people to scroll quickly through and only open them on their own time. For instance, I wouldn't want to have to scroll through 2000 words of text when I can instead scroll through five posts with spoiler tags.

It's just easier for me, anyway.

Cheers
This week was Hat Week at Brookhurst Hobbies--once a season we all wear hats--it was much more popular this week then in the past with players bringing hats to share and everything--a totally fun thing we do at BH.

Ths shop ran three tables with ~19 players + 4 latecomers [more on them below].

DM Rico continues to run an outrageous table--I am guessing he will post his complete experience--but basically he anticipated the PC's attacking the Lord Neverember [yeah yeah he has THAT group!] & created an entire encounter just in case! Of course, the players went the other way, but the prep work he is putting into the storie is really showing. 

DM William was not avaible this week, so backup DM Jace filled in again this week. His reputation as a killer was once again earned--two dead Player Characters! This puts him in the lead for the DM Pool we started at the beginning of the season--each DM puts in US$20.00 and whoever kills the most PC's keeps the pot! In any event, DM Jace has just fantastic tactics at his table--players really have to work together or they are doomed. His RP is also very strong.

My table contined to be the loud chaotic mess.

I have images and general review of the night here:
  community.wizards.com/davidgiven/blog/20...
 
I had been in NY the week before and left my material with DM Jace to cover for me so I had not read the story recently--luckily DM Rico & DM Jace were able to huddle for 15 minutes before the Encounter to help review the RP & Bandit Tactics.

The Adventure Recap went really well--I have started offering XP for this--100xp for the player who does the recap & 25 xp for witty one liners interjected by the other players. Worked well, I think.

The Lord Neverember RP was awesome--I am giving away a LOT of magic to my PC's [I think the Forgotten Realms is basically dripping with items], healing postions, a martial boon, and a bag of holding which had been stretched over the seat of a Waterdeep Privey [Hey! the mage did role a 20 arcane check] were all awarded for great Roll Play from the players.

The PC's still do not seem all that connected to the story--the get NPC names wrong, the have no real idea where they are going or why at times--it is like some players are really following that and others are there to kill things & collect treasure--I am going to start awarding xp for remembering story elements next week...

Something interesting happened, four new players showed up late. The Event Coordinator, John was getting ready for So Cal Smack Down [our local con this weekend], and there was not anyone to get them introduced to Encounters, make sure they had characters and dice next week, just do the general pitch--I was busy running the table, so I let them run the Bandits for me. They seemed to really enjoy it, learned some of the basics of movement, range, defenses, etc. Plus they rolled insanely well! I hope that they come back next week.

One other thing I wanted to mention is that the Neverwinter Themes that we spent a long time discussing have have not been coming up at my table all that much--the Neverwinter Noble has been used a few times with Lord Nevermember & the Lost Heir,  but all the other Themes are not coming up that often--I may start a seperate thread on how to integrate the Themes better in week five. If I could get a break down on each theme & some potential roll play around them before the session it would really help me.

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game

Well, encounters really blew up at our store this week!  Over the last 5-6 weeks, we have usually barely had enough players to run, and sometime only had 3 pcs a night.  Last night we had 9 people show up!  We ran 2 tables, and I dmed my first encounters session(I have dmed home games before).  It went really well and I think everyone had fun, so we'll see how things go next week.  I think that this is a great seaon of encounters, story-wise, and as a poster said above(or maybe it was another thread) it really does feel like a home campaign, just split up into smaller chunks.  So far, I haven't read ahead, because I'm not sure if I'll be playing or dming each week, and I excited to see how this story unfolds. Something tells me that we don't know what is going on quite yet.
the DM Pool we started at the beginning of the season--each DM puts in US$20.00 and whoever kills the most PC's keeps the pot!


Wait a minute! You didn't tell me I was supposed to kill the PCs. I've got a lot of catching up to do. If the party had attacked Lord Neverember, I probably would have passed Jace.
- Rico
We had our usual 3 tables, but the two 'open' tables (the third is a regular little group) were both light, 4 players each, and we had to suffle players a bit.  Our table consisted of a Half-elf 'noble' Warlord (Game Day), an Eladrin 'spellscared harbinger' Bladesinger (Game Day), Elf Theif (pre-gen, no theme), and a Hunter (new). We didn't get too into interacting with Lord Neverember (except for the Warlord, a bit), but accepted his offer.  The fight was quick and surprisingly fun..

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Our table was really alarmed by the prospect of the gates being opened, so, even though they were jumped by three bandits and the leader almost dropped the first round, most of them went after the ones turning the cranks to some extent.  The Bladesinger & Warlord pulled quite a combo in the first round, the Warlord readied an attack which gave the Bladesinger an extra MBA /on his turn/, when he had Bladesong going, and then he spent an action point to make a 3rd MBA - all 3 on his turn, all three boosted by Bladesong and evoking bladespells.  He set up one of the crank-turners for the Theif, and pushed the other one away from his station and almost off the wall, /and/ dropped one of the three mobbing the warlord outright, /and/ bloodied and de-buffed another.  We had no defender, so our leader was doing the 'heal thyself' version of defending.  Hopefully our defender will be back next week.

After the fight, we encountered the half-elf chick (the one from Game Day).  She claimed loyalty to the Heir (who we're a little suspicious of), said she gave him the crown willingly and promised to set up a meeting for us.  But, she also claimed to be working for Neverember 'to keep an eye on him,' and offered to take our prisoner while we investigated her lead on where the bandits came from.

This last bit isn't really a spoiler...  ***speculation deleted***

 

 

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The group I ran had 4 people who played the game day and 'remembered' Seldra.  In fact they quickly questioned her about her involvement in both parties.  She was very forthcoming about her support of the Lost Heir and that she wanted to keep an eye on the Lord Protector.  The parties insight was she was nervous, but not exactly about what.  Several players chalked it up to the near incident with the Wall.
A couple of the party members indeed insinuated telling Lord Neverember, and she asked they investigate the theives that just assaulted the Wall.  The party quickly confered and actually like the idea of having some "goods" to hold over her if they needed.  It was a short RP scence, but one with lots of involvment from the vets and new players alike.

Adventure Pulp
  The party hoped out to stop the two rogues they could see, but got suprised by the other 4 (6 players).  There was a small hail of knives from the bushes as the rogues got off sneak attacks.  And three "1's" rolled by the thieves made us all laugh.  A couple of players ran forward to attack the ones near the Wall's winches, and then subsequently got swarmed by rogues.  The hits quickly added up and several of the party was down in round two.  Luckily the Sun Priest (a new player) quickly took to aiding his allies and everyone was in fighting form quickly enough.  There were a lot of blows and shots traded, and at one point well over half the board was covered in bloody combatants.  The party even took prisoners this time to question the pesky thieves!  This combat ended up being tougher than most so far, and more than I thought it would be for them.  But everyone seemed to have a great time!  Next week should be fun again.  I'm really liking this season!  Thanks!

Players should absolutely NOT read Mr. Vargas's spoiler post.

TV, are you a DM or a player? There should be no way players know that, unless they've been reading spoilers on this site.
The group I ran this week all survived, although it was really tough.

The players tried to talk to the bandits and find out what whas going on, through the conversation the players found out they were hired to "test the guard's strenght" as well as ensure the gate functions... which is when they started turning the cranks.

First up was the rogue with the shortbow. She hit one bandit on a crank really hard, bloodying him. She then spent an action point to shoot him again, and rolled a 1.  I decided that her shot was so far off the mark it hit the mechanism holding up a door built to keep the guardhouse safe in a siege, thus the door dropped blocking line of sight on this guy (and would require a standard action athletics check to open).  Over the next few rounds the group was continually hassled by the bandits in the courtyard keeping them from jumping through windows to get to the bandit hiding behind the door.  I described how far open the gates were each time the bandits had an action and the players were freaking out. On round three the door was open far enough that about 3 creatures could get in at once, and through the space in the distance some players with high perception saw they only had a couple rounds to get the gates shut before the monsters were on them. (I described the humanoids from the first encounter).

The rogue was nearly killed when she tried to get the bandit behind the door and another bandit came in behind her dazing her with only a shortbow in hand. The group managed to take out all the bandits and start turning the cranks to close the gate when the monsters got to the gate. A few bow shots through the closing doors and a beguiling strands (blast 5 with push 3 squares) cleared all the monsters away in time for the gates to seal shut.

The players were on riveted through this encounter and had a lot of fun with the obstacle of the sealed door in their way. 
Just a gentle reminder to players and DM's here to be considerate of what they post.  Even witha  Spoiler tag, the general rule is that it should be a spoiler for the encounter week just run.  Posting meta game knowledge or major plot threads that could ruin the suprise of later weeks should not be posted on the "reports" forums.

It is great that everyone is excited about this D&D Encounters, but keep in mind that what seems like harmless information reguarding the future plotline of the game might be bigger than you think, and spoil the fun for others!
Players should absolutely NOT read Mr. Vargas's spoiler post.

TV, are you a DM or a player? There should be no way players know that, unless they've been reading spoilers on this site.



Actually 3 different players (2 at 1 table and 1 at another) said the very exact thing.  And having played both the Saturday game day and so far this season that exact thought came across my mind.

None of these people come to these forums and the store keeps the modules so they cant have read them. 
I'm currently DMing the event, and I have a number of friends playing, all are gaming vets of 20+ years.  I have to agree with Erik.  There is no way to know the information without reading it from one of th many many sources available online, with one or two exceptions.  I've seen GM's in the past read or give away information, intentionally or not, that really shouldn't be presented.  Again, there is really know way to know the outcome of the plot without some forwarning from some other source.

That said, even if someone did make a super meta-game leap, I would hope most responsible players would refrain from actively spoiling the game.  After all its a group experience.
Unfortunately, its more like the Season of Serpents with Benwick. His 'sudden but inevitable betrayal' was seen a mile away by experienced gamers because the trope has become so ingrained in adventure writing.
Dwarven Meeting with Neverember
Sabine escorted the party to the entrance of Castle Never and handed them off to a couple guards to lead to the waiting room. While there the dwarves partook of the available drinks and noted the heraldry linked to Waterdeep. The dwarves met with Neverember and quickly took a liking to each other - good ale and food was shared and a friendly banter lifted the spirits of all. Eventually, Neverember got to the point and put his deal forward to the dwarves. Some who agreed quicker than others but when the down payment was received, they all agreed it would be a profitable job. The party is now mixed on which badges they wear - a couple wear none, a couple wear one or the other, and I think one is wearing both the Heir's insignia AND Neverember's. Lord Neverember was surprised to hear Seldra had brought the crown into the city but waved it off as of little importance.

They decided to see the Wall (many jokes about looking for Lord Snow were had) and arrived as the sun was setting. They quickly dispatched the rogues and secured the gate latches to protect the rest of Waterlake from the spellplagued threat. The hunter was nearly destroyed his first turn for moving forward and getting swarmed by the rogues from the side.

Afterwards, they were met by Seldra who quickly admitted her loyalty to the Lost Heir. She couldn't tell them much about who the Lost Heir is, but she promised they would quickly see the truth of her loyatly to the city and people of Neverwinter if they would help keep her secret until they knew all the facts. She suggested they continue on their mission for Neverember. Several of the dwarves started to get fed up with all the political intrigue and backstabbing (the characters, not the players) and one even walked away in frustration. They decided to continue on their way...
Players should absolutely NOT read Mr. Vargas's spoiler post.

I've removed the offending speculation from my original post, above.  So it's just a regular field report, now.



Edit:  In my defense, I've heard at least one other player at my FLGS jump to the same conclusion.  Jonathan's right, it's a 'trope.'

 

 

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This is a DM only spoiler. Players do not read. SERIOUSLY!!

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Speculation is one thing, but certain knowledge of reveals later in the campaign is pretty suspicious. And while I do agree that the "sudden and inevitable betrayal" is a trope, I don't think the revelation that was being discussed is an exact expression of it. It's a big leap to go from "this person will betray us at some point" to "this person IS this totally other person!" See what I mean?

That said, if you really think the story is bad, I am very sorry you feel that way.


Cheers
NOW SEE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!

You offended the Creator & may have violated Wheaton's Law--for this we will all surely pay!

Personally, I think that the Neverwinter Story is awesome regardless of any cliches, tropes, or other tried and true story telling techniques. You know, those silly old things that they taught in school because they make stories memoriable...and good...Speaking which, my Man vs. Nature theme has not been working to well at the table--I think I will return to that this week...

In any event, I think that this season Encounters is smarter then anything I have seen from WotC in a while--that Session 2 Dragon encounter is already LEGENDARY! Thanks, David S.

 

Copyright does not protect the idea for a game

Honestly, I'm looking forward to running this later with one of my regular groups. The one that almost exclusively plays politics roleplaying -heavy World of Darkness campaigns. 

[Spoiler=DMs ONLY!]
And while my current Encounters regulars aren't really a measuring stick for plot, I personally think that the plot resembling a common trope while not exactly replicating it actually provides a bit of a red herring, and potentially makes it more effective. We'll see how that plays out with the second group run-through though.

I'll reserve any more comments for the DMs-only thread Embarassed

No dont worry Eric loving the story so far.

I plan to convert this to a LFR adventure in the future. Would be a great intro module for some players. And perhaps some people from this seasons encounters will move on to LFR as well. 
Personally, I think that the Neverwinter Story is awesome regardless of any cliches, tropes, or other tried and true story telling techniques. You know, those silly old things that they taught in school because they make stories memoriable...and good...

Yeah.  If anyone ever did come up with something truely 'original' it'd just seem /weird/.  Someone clueing in to the structure of your story in an RPG just shows that you did a great job capturing the genre.

Speaking which, my Man vs. Nature theme has not been working to well at the table--I think I will return to that this week... 

That sounds interesting.  Are you discussing or blogging that somewhere?

 

 

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I want to be clear that I'm enjoying running this story and I do not think it is poorly written. I was just saying that the leap in logic is not as drastic as it may seem.
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