Session 1 Field Report

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Search for the Diamond Staff (Week 1) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.


I ran the encounter at two different FLGS. My tables in both places decided to move to D&D Next for the season. Most of our regular players were at Game Day and carried those characters forward into this season. It made the transition to Next a lot easier and smoother.


This week's session was short (1 hour 15 minutes each) as neither of my groups really felt any need to do the "get to know you" role-playing with the locals. After all, the players assumed they'd be leaving Hap soon and didn't want to slow things down with dialogue that wouldn't advance the game. Combat was fun but very quick even with a few additional monsters thrown in. The players liked that they could hear the sounds of combat in the distance, clearly indicating that there was still danger about. It was a good tease for next week.


We discuss the ups and downs, what worked and what didn’t in this week’s Recounting Encounters Podcast (also available through iTunes).


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.

Visit Dungeon's Master.com – The D&D Resource Blog For DMs and Players.
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We had a great opening to the season at Game HQ in Oklahoma City. We ran two tables of five players each and only 2 players used pre-gens. Everyone else had players from Game Day or brought a new player ready to go. For my table, after a brief background opening, I let the players that participated in the Game Day event summarize that session for the new players. I filled in a few gaps.

Explaining that Immani was studying the staff and making plans for the upcoming trek, I basically gave them a free day to explore the small town. I heard on the podcast by the Dungeon's Master guys that this was a little slow going for their group as people didn't seem interested in roleplaying in a town that they were soon leaving for the "real quest". Understandable. Our table seemed to embrace the time to take advantage of some of their character backstories which made for some nice roleplay at Delmuth's Barrel. I took some liberties with the Dwarf's personality and it turned into some great fun. 

After their meeting with Immani, they were excited about securing all of the supplies they needed and decided a cart was among the items required to carry the vast amounts of gold with which they would be returning. This also provided great opportunities for roleplay fun.

When the orcs attacked, the s**t got real pretty quick as I described the scene. As they came out from the Inn, the orcs had dragged a villager from the far house out into the street and slit his throat before they could prevent it. This seemed to get them pretty upset.

The party was made up of a Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, Wizard and Rogue. The Barbarian and Paladin moved in to engage in melee while the Wizard and Ranger stayed back to attack from range. The rogue went around the near hut to engage the orc and wolf attempting to flank.

The rogue was very creative in his attacks attempting to do things like use a vial of sand, which he indeed did have on his equipment list, to throw in their eyes, or douse them with oil, and the most ballzy move, to plant a vial of alchemists's fire on the person of the orc he was fighting. He was incredibly descriptive in his explaination of what he wanted to attempt and how he would go about it, so I allowed it, requiring a successful pick pocket with disadvantage. He succeeded! His intention was to then try to break the vial the orc was carrying with his subsequent attacks after disengaing. This seemed outlandishly difficult. He was throwing daggers at the vial in an effort to break it. My ruling was to give the vial it's own AC of 19, so he could conceivably still hit the orc without hitting the vial. It took a couple rounds, but he did eventually score a hit and the orc and wolf both caught fire from the oil. It sent the table cheering.

On the main battle front, the babarian was hitting and killing everything it attacked, having gone into a Rage. The Paladin was positioned in the middle of the battlefield and took the brunt of the attacks. towards the end of the battle, he fell unconscious. The Ranger was quick to come to his aid though. Before he fell, the Pally did get off a great AoE Channel Divinity that hit three orcs for some nice damage.

The Wizard went invisible and tried to get to the archers, passing a wolf who has a bonus to detect. The wolf rolled a 1 on his attempt though, so the wizard was able to get off a nicely positioned Thunderwave on the archers. One archer tried to escape but the Ranger wasn't having any of that.

I thought the battle was perfectly tuned for 5 players and offered a great challenge with plenty of opportunity for strategy.

This battle, mainly because of the crazy things attempted, such as the Ranger trying to tame a wolf in combat... yes he failed miserably, went a little longer than normal 5e battles. However, I think if it was 4e, we wouldn't have finished. This new combat encourages players to be creative in the actions they attempt. However, they need to be prodded to think in this manner. I had a pretty good group, but players that are just plodding along in 4e mode might need the DM to ask for more information from them. 4e allowed the power they chose to describe the action. 5e allows the player to do that and they may need a little push in that direction during this transition period.

As a DM, I'm having to retrain myself to react differently to something that in 4e would have brought combat to a halt. Now it can be handled easily and quickly and provide for some very unique scenes. It requires some player thought, which also needs to be encouraged, along with a willingnes from the DM to go along with what you may think it crazy at first. Set your DC and let them try. Even if they fail, it's gonna be fun!

At first glance, this opening scene looked like it was going to be pretty boring. But for our table, some very imaginative player actions and a simple ability check sytem to allow them to easily try whatever they could dream up resulted in a great session.
vobeskhan.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/dd-en...

Our first D&DNext Encounters session (only our second session ever, the first being Games Day) and I think the players are enjoying the "freedom" they have to play their actions - even though they had this option in 4e a lot of them fell into the unintentional trap of only relying on the powers title to denote their actions.

We have a few hiccups but isnt that what a playtest is for, see what works for you and what doesn't?

Looking ahead to later sessions I notice the Zhent Mage's have Expeditious Retreat on their spell lists but it looks like this has been culled from the spell lists - any suggested replacements?

"Well that encounter was easy....er, 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 http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/


After taking last season off, I am DMing using D&D Next rules. Six of the seven players who showed up also played at the Game Day, so they were already familiar with the story and had met Amani. I gave each of them a little background information on the Dalelands, the issues between Cormyr/Sembia/Netheril, the history of Cormanthor, and the role of the Zhentarim in the Moonsea region.


They got their plot hook from Amani, and they went off to visit the various shops. For the first time in a long time at my table the adults outnumbered the kids, and they were incredibly focused. They really roleplayed well, digging for information about what they might face on their journey, so I leaked a lot of information that wasn’t in the adventure for their efforts.


When the attack started, I broke the monsters up into waves, and I added a couple of extra orcs and an ogre. My dice were cold, and they got away with barely a scratch. I did not give them a short rest since they still have most of their resources, although the young man playing the wizard was blowing his prepared spells rather quickly, so I took a moment to explain to him that he will need a long rest before getting those back.


For players used to the “fiddliness” that sometimes crops up in 4e combats, Next can sometimes be a bit flat. If you run small combat after small combat after small combat, this tends to even out in Next. With Encounters, where there is just 1 fight, the DM sometimes has to make tweaks to keep each encounter “special.”


For the next session, I plan to do something different with the large berserky thing [intentionally vague for spoilers]. It is already a potentially hilarious encounter because of the situation, but adding a couple more wrinkles could make it run very interestingly with Next rules.


Looking ahead to later sessions I notice the Zhent Mage's have Expeditious Retreat on their spell lists but it looks like this has been culled from the spell lists - any suggested replacements?


Yes, that was originally a Ranger spell and has now been replaced by Longstrider, I believe is the title. I think the difference is it designates a distance rather than a flat double move.
 
Yes, that was originally a Ranger spell and has now been replaced by Longstrider, I believe is the title. I think the difference is it designates a distance rather than a flat double move.



Thanks Spykes

"Well that encounter was easy....er, 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 http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/

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