Session 6 Field Report

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I’m wasn’t sure if there was a need for a separate week 6 field report thread or if everyone was just going to post their feedback in the “Interlude: Session 6 - It's A Mess (DMs, Coordinators, Spoilers)” thread.

Field report for D&D Encounters: Council of Spiders (Week 6) now available at Dungeon's

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as actual play podcasts and pre-generated characters.

This was a challenging encounter to run and a difficult encounter to play. It was not the typical D&D Encounters session as it was driven by the role-playing and there was no planned combat. Many of my players didn’t care enough about the developments to have strong feelings one way or the other. The majority of the players didn’t really understand the objective which made things additionally complicated.

I applaud the effort of the designers to try something different but I think the results were fairly negative for most groups. You either had short sessions where either a few dominant players did all the talking or worse still a group where no one talked. The alternative was to resort to some meaningless fight just to let people roll dice and kill monsters. One table at my FLGS had the players siding with their leader and the result was a 3-way pvp.

We discuss the ups and downs, what worked and what didn’t in this week’s Recounting Encounters Podcast.

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Separate thread is better.

I was unable to play this week do to a judge's work schedule changing and as the back-up DM I was up.

My table was 5 members of Bregan D'aerthe (The only opposition would have been from my PC from House Melarn).

The role-playing was hard. We had 3 members active, while 2 others were uncomfortable role-playing.

They first convinced Ro'kolor to support the Demon Weave without taking sides. They justified this stance over staying out of it all as currying favor with the goddess and that their own wizards would benefit from the boost in status and power.

They then hit upon a plan to set House Melarn and House Xorlarrin at each others throats to foment conflict that would profit Bregan D'aerthe by making their services in demand from all sides in the conflict.

They first convinced Ash'ala Melarn to oppose the Council of Spiders by appealing to her faith. She was an easy mark.

They then convinced Hoshtar Xorlarrin that the wizards deserved power and should teach the wayward priestess a lesson in Lolth's will.

This took about 45 minutes.

I then ran the ambush encounter I posted up in the Session 6 - Its a mess thread.

The party had a great time (hated the Leeching Shadows of Moil, but loved them too, got several requests from fellow DMs for them to use in their home campaigns, thank you Dark Legacy of Evard). This combat was fluid and the back rankers (the hunter ranger finally took damage, in fact at one point he was taking 9 ongoing (4 cold, 5 necrotic) and he went unconscious at the very end of combat. The wizard got very mobile and I forced him to finally use shield to stop being melded by a leeching shadow.

Good session, but the players are looking forward to some straight up combat in the next session.

Bryan Blumklotz

My group really was not into the whole Drow intregue element of this season. Most just want to roll dice and have fun. I rewrote this session and told the heroes that they should lobby to the 3 Drow (Wizard, Priestess, and Bandit). I allowed them to use what ever skills they wanted to argue for their side, against another side, or just plain cause havoc.

Things occured like a priestess being pushed into the poor while she gave an impassioned speech reguarding how the mages should know thier place only to be pushed in by a bumbling goblin.

Another priestess was stripped as a thief undid the links of her chainmail and while she finished naked she moved the council with her words (she rolled a 20).

I then had the council summon a Yochlol to speak for Loth who asked the players to prove the strength of their arguement in a skill of arms. The 9 players made short work of the level 4 solo controller only to have it speak in thier mind telling them to rise up against those who disagreed with them. I did this by handing each one their own note. The table fell silent as everyone looked around and it became a Mexican Drow Standoff.

Everyone moved around the room, making no sudden movementes untill the Hexblade shot the Domination Priestess. It became a grand melee as Priestess fought Mages (and thier supporters) until the Brigan D'arthe got involved. The monk walked up to the group and I asked who he was going to attack...his response: "I attack everyone" and dropped a close burst 1 and then flurried into the mage dropping him.

The two Brigan D'arthe players double teamed the Death Priestess until the Monk played a card that allowed ths Rogue to get a free baisic on the Priestess dropping her.

The Rogue then stabbed the monk in the back and was the last one standing. She was then shot with a poison bolt. The party awoke (I made it clear I would allow no character to be killed when they dropped below 0) to find the council of priestess, mages, and Brigan D' arth dead. Fade to black

The plot for next week is to have them figure out a priestess is missing and that she had assassins kill the council to further lead to civil war and say that the PCs were rogue agents struck down by the council with their final breath.

While I am off script my group is having fun, and that is what Encounters should be about!
I had my full table this week, which includes:
2 Xorlarin Wizards (1 Male, 1 Female)
3 Bregan D'aerthe (2 Female, 1 Male)
2 Melarn Members (1 Priestess, 1 Male Warlord)

Anyways the group was quick to latch on to getting the Demon Weave completed, if there were to be any changes to the Ruling Council, it would be the possibility of Female wizards (of which there are very few to begin with).

All in all, there's little room for any of the patrons to argue much with that. Ash'ala can't contradict the Will of Lolth on the Demon Weave. Hoshtar is getting the Demon Weave, with the possibility of some wizards getting promoted (and with the Demon Weave there's always a chance for more change later). And Ro'kolor can get enough work just helping to keep the extremists on either end in check. Basically none of the patrons had much reason to disagree.

And since we had 1 member who had been absent for this whole chapter, and was really excited to be back, and "wanted to fight something". On to the combat that was provided in the other thread.


Overall, encounters has mainly been a chance for people to bash skulls. The side quests etc, this season are fun and add some great inter-party dynamic to the sessions. But having a whole session that completely removes everything the players have come to expect each week just doesn't seem to work. Stronger story elements/puzzles etc, should be interwoven into the encounters, not set aside for a full session itself.

So for this one it would have been better to use the first chapter to introduce the factions (defiant priestesses, council of spiders, hidden threat), and give the players a chance to determine which side they are going to back. Then over the next chapter continue to deal with each of the factions, and at the end have a chance to meet with 1 of the patrons and work towards swaying them. An encounter with Cave Fishers did nothing for the story, the svirfneblin barely provided anything. Those 2 sessions could have been used to provide more detail as to what the whole season is about, and start making decisions for courses of action in later sessions. Instead though we end up taking a week off to try and cram purpose into the characters actions, and make them care about complex drow politics (backstabbing through mini-quests and treachery cards was enough for my table to get the drow ideal).

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

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(Moved from repeated thread)

We had our usual 2 sessions this week and both ran surprisingly well and without a hitch. (also without a single die roll!).

Robert DM'd the early session, while I did the later one as usual. Both sessions saw the players separate into discussion groups with their relevant patrons and decide on their course of action. We dealt with it all through straight roleplay, everything said was taken as in character and it made for a great change of pace.

Even the hack and slashers had fun and got into the RP of the session, big surprise of the night was the usually reserved and quiet ranger of the early session, who became very animated in voicing his cause.

All in all one of the better Skill Challenge sessions we've had over the 3 seasons we've ran so far.

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

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

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