Session 4 Field Report: Soryth arrives!

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Well, I'm back at the table (kinda unfortunately, means my wife isn't working but...).

Tonight we had 7 players and the DM at the Game Matrix. This is partly due to Holiday issues (seasonal work and the like).

The session went kind of well. The players mostly felt the question and answer session was boring (I know some people like that but apparantly there were almost a dozen particular questions the players were expected to ask, really? Condense some of that stuff.)

The combat on the other hand was very entertaining despite the Villain ex machina exit stage teleport. I managed to get both the leprecauns (sp?)  bloodied and diplomacied off the field on my first turn (earning an unsolicited moment of greatness, thanks Frank). Our hunter killed all the minions that Soryth summoned in one Rapid Shot. Despite being slowed or Immobilized, most of the party proceeded to defeat the smurf monsters in detail (I can't remember thier real name right now). On my second turn I oneshot one with a crit.

I really enjoyed my new character who is inspired by a composite of Hunter Black (see the web comic at and Graham, the huntsman on Once Upon A Time (who was killed last episode Cry).

Any way, over all a good session. Holidays are expected to really make the next two sessions sparse.
Field report for D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave (Week 4) now available at Dungeon's Check out our D&D Encoutners Archive for weekly write-ups, actual play podcasts and new pre-generated characters.

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The cigar-smoking, loud-mouthed, cursing-like-a-sailor pixie thief at my table turned 3 of the 4 xivorts into chunky salsa each time he hit. took one from full hp to below 0, and ziped in whenever one was bloodied to finish them off. I may have instigated the aggression though :P Soryth and the leprechaun went first, and the leprechaun hit the thief after soryth hit most everyone. Had the theif at 1 hp. Muahaha.
81259321 wrote:
My new rule for people who are obtuse is to just assume they're purposefully trolling. It makes me less sad for humanity that way.
In our group yeah, we kinda felt the same way about the question and answer session.  I prodded the players to ask some questions and then they got the hint and actually asked some really relevent questions, but the problem I had was simply keeping everyone's name straight - the fey agents, the archfey, etc.  I knew the plot, but I swear, I need to do some really memorization to get them all straight in my head.

As for the encounter, the PCs rocked it.  Soryth lasted a little longer than I thought she would because the PCs were simply doing a really good job and keeping her out of range of Julianna.  But she spent both her action points and in the third round managed to get over there after soaking up 60 damage - they really wanted to kill her but were getting worried when she wasn't even bloodied.  When she disappeared it was a combination of relief that they didn't have to actually fight her and disappointment that she just bugged out with Julianna.  But most of them figured it out right away that it was simply meant to be ...

The Xivorts were just roadblocks and were run over quickly.  Our Thief almost executed the Leprechaun in one attack but quickly realized it would be better to talk him down somehow - an Intimidate roll took care of that.

Our Slayer really liked the fact that since he was the only one willing to do a silly dance with the leprechaun, he got the Scent of Gold.  He can smell gold now ... GOOOOOOOOOOLD!!!!!!

All in all, not extremely challenging, but that's okay.  And they got to level up.  I think next week will probably make them very afraid ...

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Challenge" is overrated.  "Immersion" is usually just a more pretentious way of saying "having fun playing D&D."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

Our party of 3 (plus Silent Brandis, the paladin DMPC) had no interest in singing or dancing: the warforged artificer felt a drinking game was in order, and the leprechauns were happy to oblige! Unfortunately, there was no time to insert a real game of Red Dragon Inn. Anyway, they were more interested in the drinking than asking many questions, and had discerned little except some very good constitution checks by the time Soryth showed up to claim Juliana. 

Soryth's first hit bloodied everyone except the monk, who ran off to kill other things. Every party member except steadfast Brandis hit the dirt at least once, but all in all, fun was had. 

New things that contributed to the success of this session: 2-minute turn timing, pre-rolled monster initiatives and page layout for damage, noisy magic players that made the players less willing to engage in distracting conversation. 

VICTORIES OF VORDAL - 4. A kidnapping

Finding a cave and evidence that the alleged couple had traveled that way, we entered the cave, which was decorated with a forest design. This design became more and more real as we continued, when suddenly it really was a forest. When we recovered from the shock, we heard a woman crying and decided to find out what was happening.
We found an elven woman who was the missing girl, but was not. Or so the crazy elves in the party insisted. Conversation with the woman was equally confusing, as was conversation with these strange gnomes [leprachans?] who were more interested in dancing and games than in answering our questions.
We finally got a story, which might be complete nonsense since it came from these fey, who are insane even by the standards of fey. For what it was worth, some powerful fey had invaded the place and was doing some sort of magic when other fey got in the way. The result was a mess, and our boy and girl were in the area and got messed up too.
As we were debating what this meant, if anything, and what to do next, a strange fey woman appeared, apparently the invader, She demanded our[?] girl and we refused to release her. She got upset by that and attacked, and she had some helpers too.
We learned right away that she was tough. She whomped most of us with a spell that froze most of us in position [Cyrus, the elf ranger, stayed immobile for almost the entire fight.] and started dragging our lass off. Then her helpers, more of those little blue guys started attacking us. That kept most of us busy, but a couple managed to start after her. The bravest of those, and the most battered for the same reason was Abraxus the dragonborn paladin, who went down two-three times, but kept fighting. Orla the elf rogue did some of the work keeping him on his feet.
In the meantime, Kross the drow ranger, Merill the halfling thief, and I took care of the small stuff. I did fairly well dropping 2 of the blue pests and healing Merill. Then we rushed to help against this fey woman. It was enough to make her decide to leave, unfortunately with our quarry, and so we ended up losing the battle even if we held the field.
The strange gnomes were more friendly now, and offered us shelter and advice. They still could not be serious, but they were helpful, telling us what we had to do next and where we might be able to find this fey woman and our couple. So we rest and recover and prepare to continue.

SEASONING OF GREENBOW - 4. Success and failure

On the far side of the waterfall was a nice little room, and a cave, with tracks that told us the couple had gone that way. So we entered the cave and continued to follow. The magic of the area was clear and was made even more evident when the wall decorations of a forest became a real forest, and we found ourselves in a fairy ring and in the feywild. A bit of a shock, but the crying of a woman and tracks of the couple suggested we were on the right track, and so we continued.
We found the woman in a clearing, with a band of leprachans trying to entertain her.She was our missing girl, but something was wrong. She was also the wrong girl. We tried questioning her and the leprachans, with limited success. The little ones of course insisted on entertainment before answering our questions, which they did in confusing manner. However, eventually we got the story straight. A powerful, and evil, fey had invaded this large garden and was trying to take it over. Doing so involved a ritual, which was disrupted by attacks from other fey. But our couple was present and were affected by the mishap.
As we debated how to continue, this evil fay, an ugly hag, arrived and attempted to capture our woman. We protested of course and battle quickly followed. To our dismay, the leprachans sided with the hag [reluctantly they say, and probably honestly].
The battle was rather one-sided, and we were on the wrong side of it. Violet the pixie bard, Taragdin the satyr thief, and Tam Lin Pairsnips the pixie barbarian tried charging the hag, only to discover she had a very powerful spell waiting. The battle had barely started and most of us were down.
Fortunately Petunia Petals the pixie wizard and I had decided to deal with the pixies first and they were mostly taken out of the fight. [We were careful not to kill them.] And when we turn to deal with the hag, she decided we were not worth the bother, taking our maid and vanishing, presumably to try that ritual again.
Once the hag was gone, the leprachans decided to surrender and so nobody on either side died. They also provided shelter and advice, which was to seek out one of the greater fey who were fighting the hag, and apparently, each other.Once we have rested, we will take that advice.

The Dungeon Master write up is awesome--very detailed and there is an actual play podcast as  well--my photo review is also up. No video this week because of the crowd.

My table was crowded and loud--as a player I was very confused about what to do with first part of the encounter--not really sure why, but I feel like we stumble into interesting situations as a party, but then don't find the key to unlocking them--not sure if we are not paying enough attention or what, but my D&D senses are tingling & I am getting frustrated that I am not finding the easter egg if that makes sense.

The combat stuff was fun--I am of the opinion that every week should not be an uber threat and this one was not--the party is starting to work well together and have a lot of fun banter during combat. Also, the combat did not last that long.

The end role play section was just too much information--as a player I am currently very confused and unfocused. For example, we have run away lovers, a fey vs human feud, an oracle, a lost tribe [?], endangered leprachauns, an island at war, demi-gods returned, possession, castle keys, a hag--I am likely forgetting a lot and we may not be getting to all of it becuase of general table concern that this mod is going to 'wrap it all up' or even make it all matter is still very real. 

It was a brutal session for my group.  There were 7 players, 3 new to D&D.   I killed 1 PC, dropped 3 more below 0, and bloodied the rest.  I ran the Spriggan Powrie Steve Townshend suggested as an optional adjustment.  They managed to prevail in the end.  It was the first time this group had been seriously challenged.

The role playing pretty well.  The players were very suspicious of the Leprechauns and needed some prodding on my part to get them to interact.  The Leprechaun in the encounter turned the Dwarven Knight's weapon into flowers.  If the Knight hadn't been knocked out he would have gone for the kill.  He still may yet as they stay with the Leprechauns.

@feetz_grande on Twitter

The end role play section was just too much information--as a player I am currently very confused and unfocused. For example, we have run away lovers, a fey vs human feud, an oracle, a lost tribe [?], endangered leprachauns, an island at war, demi-gods returned, possession, castle keys, a hag--I am likely forgetting a lot and we may not be getting to all of it becuase of general table concern that this mod is going to 'wrap it all up' or even make it all matter is still very real. 

Consider this
It look like the PCs are being placed in lots of pressure; I agree. I think if you'll allow me, I can list the items in a slightly different organization:
* The feud between Crystalbrook and Sildaine has not swallowed up the entire countryside; Count Varis hopes to avoid the relatively small feud growing larger.

* As you learned, Lady Tamora and Lord Carric both seem inclined to believe that Julianna and Orlando are lovers and have run away together to the oracle cave.

* The Crystal Cave lies beyond the oracle cave; it no longer holds much importance to the PCs now that you've crossed into the feywild.

* I'm not sure that a lost tribe is really essential to the PCs' efforts and attention.

* The leprechauns are worthy of the PCs' friendly gestures, but won't be the key victim over the course of the sessions; don't go overboard worrying about them.

* The entirety of the island is not really at war; it has few residents, and many of those are trying to remain unaffected.

* There are two agents of archfey (comparable to demigods or deities) which are currently in dispute, but are not truly interested in killing each other; they've suffered a fall out while trying to work as partners.

* Julianna seems to be unnaturally changed; possessed might be too much to say; charmed might be too little to say.

* The Castle of Spires is where the leprechauns have told the PCs that Soryth, the hag, is carrying out her plans; they know you will need special keys to enter--one is the shamrock they gave to you. 

The PCs will meet and interact with a fey agent during next session; they don't have to team up with one or the other, but could gain worthwhile information regardless. That information could help focus the PCs for future sessions too. 

Session 4 was pretty easy for my group, tactically. They often have difficult times getting information out of NPCs, though.

The leprechauns would have nothing to do with the PCs at first, doing their best to cheer Caerwyn up. So, speaking with Juliana leaves them diagnosing her with some sort of traumatic event, or just plain old DID.  She did get to reveal that her man had left with a nymph.

I originally thought I was going to be clever and erudite, using pulled quotes from “Finnegan’s Wake” until the party glommed on and started doing tricks. After bleeding from the ears during my prep, I just decided to drop selected stanzas from old Clancy Brothers albums I had collecting dust. Turned out to be a schtick that dragged on far too long for my taste, as my players just didn’t get it, or I picked stanzas that didn’t offer enough prompting for the table to engage in a valuable back-and-forth in.

They did manage to get the leprechauns to talk sense (once I dropped the lyrics and just started freestyling my answers to draw the players in), and reveal that Soryth did this to Caerwyn and that Porpherio had run off with another woman.

Name-dropping wasn’t enough as either no one heard, or no one realized that I’d named the person who had cursed the poor elf maid… So I just dropped the hag into the middle of things when the Q&A dried up into dead-end questions.

Our berserker was the only one who beat Soryth in initiative. So he walks up and smacks Soryth around while she pretty much ignores his defender-ness, by dropping Visions on the party still in the box of death. That drops the beastmaster’s companion and one of the PCs. I believe only one was missed to get the slow effect, and that was our pixie witch. Almost everyone else ended up immobilized and bloody.

An aside on limiting player mobility
The Halfling slayer almost quit the table then and there. Each of the sessions he’s attended (I believe he missed Week 2), there’s been grabbed, immobilized, slowed, restrained effects dropped on the PCs – to great effect – and he’d had quite enough of it. In fact, when Week 1 was over, he actually said that if that had been his first experience with D&D (being locked down by the netcasters for the whole of combat), he never would have come back.

(For the record, I never singled him out for abuse. He was never making his saves, though, which really hurt his ability to contribute.)

Soryth vanished and the xivorts closed in, but were quickly mopped up. It was a relatively easy combat, with the bloodthirsty atogs (I’ve described them as resembling the Jesper Myrfors art) coming right up to be snuffed out.

A lot of the information about the archfey agents wasn’t conveyed, because the players were not asking questions that led remotely in that direction. I resolved that next session with a handout that detailed what the leprechauns knew about what was going on, listing the archfey agents’ feud, Soryth’s curse, the Palace of Spires and the keys required to enter. They had an extended rest inside the tree, so I assumed they would have talked about something.

Not my favorite solution, but it certainly felt better, and far more organic, than just spoon feeding them box text unrelated to anything they originally were asking about or wanted to know. I know I was glad the leprechauns offered the PCs sanctuary and had the time to share a pint and idle conversation with them in that tree.

One thing I forgot... I didn't have to use the Powrie. After locking down the entire party and seeing how bad on available heals they were, I wasn't going to make things any tougher than they were. The berserker got to whip around some al dente pasta because of the laprechaun's illusion power, but he was one-shotted by our skald who nova'd. He never declared non-lethal damage until after I said he one-shotted the poor little guy, so I gave everyone a round to get to the leprechaun before he died-died, at the start of the skald's next turn (they did).

But that did leave me having to institute a table rule at the start of next week. "Doing non-lethal damage? Have to tell me before, so we don't get the 'I wouldn't haves...' and so forth."

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?


An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:


Emerikol wrote:


Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  


    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.


Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?


Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

Oh, I forgot to post here. 

The only significant deviation from the norm for this session was that I used the idea to have Soryth turn the leprechaun into a spriggan/redcap. I still had him "snap out of it" when he became bloodied, as per the original text, since it has an effect later on, but as is typical in gaming, there was something I didn't anticipate.

The player playing the Pixie Hunter had some REALLY bad experiences with redcaps in his past, so he refused to trust the redcap, choosing to believe that the redcap was attempting to dupe the group into not attacking him. So, he continue to attack the leprechaun/redcap, but I had the little guy use Vanish and run away.

I'll decide what to do about him later. The rest of the group was shouting for the Pixie to stop attacking, so that will work in their favor.  
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