Session 2 Field Report

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Web of the Spider Queen (Week 2) now available at Dungeon's Check out our D&D Encounters Archive for weekly write-ups, actual play podcasts and new pre-generated characters.

A well-meaning PC duped by a cleverly disguised doppelganger lead to a near-TPK at our table this week.

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Having decided to fully embrace the evil nature of my PCs, I let them run amok.

One player from last week was absent this week, and a new player came in. She brought a female bard (changeling), so I gave her a little backstory-- her bard and  the absent bard are rivals (this fits very nicely with their personalities).

So, she decided since she didn't have any gear, that she would rob the absent bard. She convinced the rest of the party to assist.

I let them.

Next week, when the missing player comes back, there will be bloodshed. The more surges they sap from each other, the better for the drow....

Oh, and speaking of the drow, not content to just say "we've interrogated the drow," they had to describe in excruciating detail *how* they've gone about molesting him.

The combat encounter in this session went too well for the PCs. I rolled really badly all night-- lots of 2's and 3's. Even combat advantage can't help with that.

I did decide to level up all the future encounters-- the PCs are hitting on 5's and 6's, and I'm unable to hit even the leaders and controllers when I roll a 10. The drow almost took out the striker (leading to renown for the striker and for the bard), but all the other PCs were unscathed. This isn't a challenge-- it's a bloodbath. We pre-ran this encounter on Monday with the DMs of my group, and it was very tough. With bad dice and overly optimized PCs, I didn't feel this was all that much fun.

I awarded the gem thingie to the PC in the party who is least evil (the striker). He's just mercenary. Why did I do this? Because when the rest of the party realizes he has something of power, they're going to try to kill him to get it. In my campaign of "dead means dead," killing a fellow PC to take their stuff is a perfectly valid way to get something powerful.

I would never do this with a non-evil campaign, incidentally. I would never do this with new players. This is definitely a tutorial in "how not to run an Encounters group."
I found the combat in session to be particularly hard to run following it the way it was written. The Drow were too spread out to really be an effective threat for the way my players approached and entered the tower. 

Only one of my players entered the front door at first. The rest stayed back about 20 feet. He tossed in a sunrod and combat began. The monsters won initiative (I use one initiative for all monsters) but I only had the one templar act on the first round, as I was anticipating the party encountering the other drow as they moved into and around the room. However, their turns the rest of the party moved into and basically stayed right in the area of the front door, so it was hard to manuever Drow around them to be really effective quickly.

In hindsight, I should have ignored the starting positions for the other Drow and placed them in reaction to the party. And, instead of having the one Drow Templar near the front door and the Doppleganger a little ways away, I probably should have had him start adjacent to her and when she pleaded for the adventurers to leave or the drow would kill her, grab her and drag her further into the tower to draw the PCs in. Then I could have manuevered the drow and the changeling around to greater effect. But hindsight is always 20/20.
- Rico
I dragged Lady Ulphor in and through a doorway, so the PCs had to split up and confront two groups. That part worked well, as did Lady Ulphor trying to trick the PCs (and players!) into believing that she'd only attacked after the seeker had shot her and made her attack someone (which he had, but only after she had already attacked a party member).

Web of the Spider Queen – DnD Enc – Session 2
(unfortunately, only a few photos this week as the battery on my phone died)

Cast of players and their characters for early group:-

  • Chris Night, playing Dwarf Knight

  • Tom Wright, playing Dwarf Sentinal

  • Bryce Palmer, playing Human Mage

  • Glenn Waters, playing Eladrin Thief

  • Daniel Creedy, playing Human Warpriest

As the mage received the mental message from Elminster and relayed it to the party they set out through the now deserted streets to the Twisted Tower of Ashaba. Deciding to split into two groups and come in through both entrances at once.

As the Warpriest and Thief open the Dock door they see two drow, one in armor the other in a thick cloak, though the cloaked one immediately disappears from sight as the Warpriest moves forward to engage the armoured drow. The Thief holds back warily. Meanwhile the remainder of the party enter the main foyer to see a battered and bloodied Lady Ulphor leaning heavily against the central sepulcher as another armoured drow stands ready before them. The mage sends a magical light into the shadowy tower as the dwarven knight engages the drow.

Unsurprisingly the cloaked drow near the Dock door reappears behind the wounded warpriest and combined with the armoured drows assault drops the beleaguered cleric unconscious to the floor. More drow enter the foyer, another armoured one steps from around the corner as a previously invisible one appears behind the Knight as his allies begin to move in to assist him. Lady Ulphor drags herself around the stone sarcophagus, trying to keep it between her and the drow.

As the party begins to gain the upper hand and their drow foes lose numbers, the Thief fey steps into the central area and makes his way to Lady Ulphor to stabilise her. As he administers aid he is utterly shocked as her form shifts to that of a pale skinned, white-haired humanoid that suddenly stabs him with a previously hidden short sword. As he slips into unconsciousness he glimpses her retreating towards the cellar steps.

The remaining drow not in combat also attempt to retreat but only one makes it to the cellar, the remaining drow fall to the heroes attacks and they are able to resuscitate the Thief, sadly the Warpriest was beyond saving.

A quick check shows that the cellar door has been secured from the other side and the heroes rush up through the tower only to discover that the Pendant of Ashaba has already been stolen!

 Cast of players and their characters for later group:-

  • Robert Cleale, playing Human Knight

  • Matt Mawdsley, playing Dwarf Knight

  • Simon Hunter, playing Human Mage

  • Phill Norman, playing Elf Thief

  • John Gray, playing Drow Hexblade

The second group chose to stick with just the front entrance, encountering a pair of drow templars between themselves and Lady Ulphor. Both of the knights charged in as their more cautious allies used ranged abilities. One of the drow broke from invisibility to take Lady Ulphor at knife-point and began to retreat towards the cellar. The other drow capable of invisibility continued to harass the party as they moved further into the sepulcher, the mage receiving a serious blow and the knights taking heavy damage.

As the battle progressed one of the cloaked drow took Lady Ulphor captive at knife-point and began to drag her towards the cellar. One the drow templars moved to guard them but the hexblade and thief managed to drop both of them. As the Lady of Shadowdale fell backwards into the arms of the thief she shifted form, stabbing the surprised elf-maid before escaping through the cellar door.

As the thief lay bleeding out on the stairs one of the templars managed to drop the human knight into unconsciousness before being despatched by the other party members. Before the party could help their injured comrades the mage realised there was still one invisible drow to deal with and attempted to catch the foe with his magic, unfortunately his aim was off and the dark elf materialised beside him . Before it could cause too much trouble though the heroes defeated it as the human knight recovered from his wounds (natural 20 on death save!) and they administered aid to the thief.  They hurried to the upper chambers to discover that the Pendant of Ashaba had already been looted!

"Well that encounter was, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog

One thing that I couldn't reconcile in my mind was that in the module it kept saying that the doors upstairs were spiked shut, yet supposedly, the drow had just come from upstairs where they had stolen the pendant and were eacaping down into the cellar. Did I miss something? What was the point of the spiked doors?
One thing that I couldn't reconcile in my mind was that in the module it kept saying that the doors upstairs were spiked shut, yet supposedly, the drow had just come from upstairs where they had stolen the pendant and were eacaping down into the cellar. Did I miss something? What was the point of the spiked doors?

I think it was intended just to make sure that the drow only tried to retreat via the cellar and that the PC's didnt try to flee that way if the fight went pairshaped - personally I never mentioned the spiked doors to my groups and until the doppelganger fled they never even investigated that side of the tower.

"Well that encounter was, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog

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