Session 3 Notes (DM Only)

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Hi all,

A few notes before you prepare to run session 3 tonight:

Like session 2, session 3 was lifted directly from UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave, and of all the encounters in the season these two are the most like the original module; they're basically straight up conversions.  

Mud Men
The mud-men originally appeared in UK1, and I devised 4e stats to replicate what they did back then. Basically, they'd hurl a clod of mud at you or they'd engulf and smother you. In the initial draft, the minions would die upon smothering a PC, but in the print version they're a bit tougher. 

In playtesting, this encounter was tough for the melee-based berserker.  The mud-men are extremely sticky combatants. They'll stop PCs in their tracks, especially if they win initiative, and melee PCs are going to find that extremely frustrating. Be prepared for that eventuality; it will happen. (Ranged PCs won't care all that much). In addition, players may freak out over the seemingly endless stream of mud-man minions emerging from the pool. 

My advice: The stream flows from the Feywild, instilling inanimate things with semi-life. The narrative text refers to that, but keep reminding the PCs about the way the stream sparkles in the mud. Especially describe that to characters with Arcana skills who can perceive it, and have the power to stem the tide of mud-man minions with Arcana & Nature (see the Development section). Finally, nobody--especially a melee fighter type--wants to spend the session stuck in one place. If an exclusively melee combatant misses 2 turns due to the mud, just let him or her move regardless of what the dice say.

The Crystal Cave
In the last notes, I talked about "stuff to play with" in the Crystal Cave sessions. The waterfall presents another puzzle. My gut impulse is to let players mess around with the logic puzzle here for a while. Some will figure it out right away, and some won't. I'd say stick to the narrative text and description, letting them play around with the waterfall until they figure it out. If they haven't figured it out after 15 minutes, that's when I'd start getting liberal with the clues. In our playtest, they probably spent about 7 or 8 minutes messing with the waterfall until they figured out how to get through it. The eladrin just teleported through. 

Other Notes
Try to play up the fact that Orlando and Juliana might be the dead bodies in the mud heap. Nobody's really going to believe it, but the object is to create a little bit of suspense. Just a little bit. That maybe you've only just begun on your quest and here they are dead. Now what?  

Finally, this is the session from which the season and the UK1 module draw their namesake. It's the Crystal Cave. Really try to evoke a magical feel to that cavern. It's hard to do in a game store, but this is a place of magic and enchantment where nothing actively threatens the characters--it's the place Orlando and Juliana fled to for refuge. One additional line from the narrative text to describe the crystal cave's music went: "like tiny wind chimes or, more precisely, like distant memories of childhood laughter, when the world was young and hope was green and summer days stretched on forever." 

Work to hit that moment if you can.
Good luck!