Week 8 Field Report

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Week 8.) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.


This week the party fought Dwarven Zombies while traversing through the mines. During the encounter in the Nexus they briefly encountered the Necromancer. During the encounter one of the PCs turned on the party and tried to kill them. He was eventually defeated. It was a strange situation.


By the end of the session the heroes had made friends with Stokely Silverstream and were joining the Dwarves as they fled the mines for Easthaven.


With only a few weeks left I have great concerns that we won't have enough time to complete this adventure. I know I'm not the only DM with this concern. I don't want to railroad my group but I see few other options.


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 for both 4e and D&D Next.

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I posted a similar thing on your page Ameron but;

1. I completely agree with the not enough time to finish this adventure part. My group will be continuing the adventure past the end date. I don't think my store will have anyone running encounters #17 due to the PDF only format, but the store owner has already made some weird remarks about following Encounters "rules" so we will probably have to move to a new location to keep going. Which is fine because that helps out with my second issue.


2. I also want to comment on the killing a PC part in your report. I totally agree on this as well and I so want to do something like this to a PC in my group. Is that wrong to WANT to kill one of the PCs? I feel like I'm probably not supposed to dislike the people/characters in my party but there's a couple... ha, especially one of them. Ugh. I feel kind of bad if I were to just obviously sending every monster directly after this PC. Though I have considered doing just that for several weeks now. I don't kick him out of the group since it's an open game session thing.

Eh I guess I sound liek a real ass.



Ok so "technically" this is Week 8 and my group played their 6th session. We missed 1 from xmas & 1 because I had a family emergency and had to cancel last week.

My group has ranged from 5 - 9 people over the weeks, with only 1 person being there every week. There's 1 that has only missed 1 week and all the others have missed 2 or more. Kinda makes it hard to keep this sort of "campaign" style adventure flowing. Moreso once the party gets out of the main town area. 

Oh 2 weeks ago I thought the group would kind of wrap up one of the Act 1 plotlines, which they didn't do, so I had told everyone to level up to 2. I let them do it even though they hadn't reached the point they should but I guess everyone was sick of being lv1 after 4-5 weeks. I went back and added up XP and nobody was even close despite having 4-5 combat encounters. Due to the larger party sizes and my faliure to scale the combats accordingly I guess.


This week's PCs;

Kayla - Elf Mage (Illusionist)

Nalden - Dwarf Cleric

Muscles - Human Fighter (Defense) - back for the first time since Week 2.

Goldsong - Halfling Fighter (Archery)

Clepto - Drow Rogue


So after barely making through a small zombie pack (6 zombies) last session the party escorted Palindor(the dwarf miner survivor from the Nexus) back to BattleHammer Hold to rest & regroup. The group was rejoined by their cleric Nalden and suprsingly the fighter Muscles whom they hadn't seen in a couple days. So after a brief talk with Stokely Silverstream the party head back out after the "big zombie", as Palindor had described him, which everyone took to be a necromancer of some sort.
As the party explored the old mines they heard a taunting voice which rang through the tunells. The voice claimed to have brought Icewind Dale to its knees once before and would again and then set a small group of zombies on the party. The group made it through these quite easily and then followed the voice to a large chamber where they found a humanoid undead mage, 4 zombies and 2 giant spiders. Since Clepto had cast his Faerie Fire into the room as they entered the spiders didn't get their suprise attack. Nalden Blessed the party then entered and attacked a zombie. Next up was Akar & the spiders.

*Ok side note; I REALLY wanted to have Akar focus all his attacks on 1 certain PC, but since 3 PCs had entered the room I couldn't come up with a logic to do that so he magic missled all 3(which I goofed up and forgot to add the +1s on) instead.

The spiders went after Clepto & Goldsong, both hitting. Then the heroes got their turns.I allowed Goldsong a 4e "shift", possibly a bad idea, and he fired off his bow and I think crit on Akar then used his Action Surge to fire and hit again. Clepto, having taken 2 hits now, combined a shift (again not my best idea) with her Cunning Action and ditched out of the room. Muscles stepped up and attacked a spider. Then Kayla blasted all 3 of her Magic Missiles into Akar. Bang - 1 round and Akar had taken 20+ damage, not exactly how I had planned this to go. The zombies closed in and attacked the closest PCs, which were Nalden & Muscles. Round 2: Nalden kills the zombie he is engaged with. Akar threatens the group and then disappears - Invisibility spell and runs out one of the exit tunnells. The spiders close in on Muscles, the closest PC to them. At this point Muscles is now surrounded by 2 spiders and 3 zombies. Luckily for him I never once remembered to give any monsters advantage and rolled low several times. He took a few hits but never anything too severe.

Ok so a couple more rounds back & forth and the party killed off all the baddies, took a short rest and used some Hit Dice to heal up. Then they took off after Akar down the tunnells... I hadn't anticipated that. They ran around a bit, met up with another small pack of zombies (which I made weaker having lost direct influence from Akar at this point) and ran around some more til they found the exit out the side of the mountain. The party, or more so Goldsong's player, was convinced there was a necromancer's lab/lair to be looted. After they discovered nothing they went back to BattleHammer Hold to report their actions to Stokely. He paid them as agreed and depsite hesitations to take non-Dwarves to a diplomatic meeting with Baerick invited the party to accompany him in the morning.



Game HQ in OKC had 4 tables running Encounters this week.

My table had 4 players (Fighter-Archer, Ranger, Mage and Paladin)

Last week, the party fought Akar's zombie horde at the Nexus in the Dwarven mines. Akar was there briefly when they were attacking Stokely, Helda and a few warriors, but when the PCs showed up, he immediately fled. The PCs didn't notice him. the party took a short rest and learned about Akar's presence. The decided to take up chase and track him.

They tracked the necromancer who fled deeper into the mines. Eventually he emerged from the mountain and proceeded to travel around the mountain and into a small hidden canyon. His tracks lead up a steep slope to a cliff. When the party attempted to follow, they were met with a barrage of boulders being hurled at them from a group of Hill Giants, being egged on by goblins. The Paladin squarely met the business end of one of the boulders on a crit and was flattened instantly. Fortunately, they had already done enough damage to the Giants that they were able to kill all of them without him. It's worth noting that a Ranger, Mage and Fighter/Archer can put out some serious damage at 5th level.
After healing the Paladin, they climbed up to the cliff to find a large set of doors leading into some type of chamber. Inside they see huge hallways and caught a glimpse of a goblin running from one place to the next yelling a warning to "Dardo". The Paladin decides to open one of the doors and found another hill giant and a few goblins waiting for them. after and exchange, another door opens at the far end of the hallway with a pack of goblins trying to flank them. The mage made short work of the goblins, sending a fireball into the room, which was filled with piles and piles of flammable stuff, creating an instant goblin BBQ, killing all 15 of them. Another fireball and some well placed arrows did in the giant and other goblins as well. However, this was not before Dardo, a huge Verbeeg/Frost Giant half-breed finally woke from his slumber and joined the fray.
He charged into the fight from the interior room and used the enormous reach of his greatclub to pound the Paladin into a pulp... again sending him unconscious to the floor. What followed was an impressive output of damage to Dardo from the other characters. Dardo was able to land a few nice hits, but the party proved to be too much for him.
A quick healing potion brought the Paladin back around. 
Looking in Dardo's room, they found a big chest, which the Paladin could not resist running to and opening. The action secured the "hat-trick" for himself, taking a full face of poisonous gas and rolling a 1 on his Con save. The Pally goes down for a third time.    Fortunately, the mage was able to was able to offer some more healing. 
I think the party is going to attempt to rest, although I'm not sure how successful it will be as they have made quite a ruckus.

Always love reading everyone's write ups.


Here is mine!


                We had another large group this week at Fun 4 All. Luckily, Jason is able to step up and run the 2nd table (from what I can assume is from here on out) and play his character. Had another new comer this week, Mike, and unsure what happened to Brandon and Tony. Guessing Tony wont coming back, but that is just a haunch.


This week’s adventurers:

  • Drea: Orcling Barbarian – Table 2
  • Rob: Dwarven Fighter – Table 1
  • Rico: Woodelf Druid – Table 1
  • Tom: Human Cleric of Flame – Table 1
  • Trevor: Highelf Evocationist – Table 1
  • Derek: Highelf Paladin – Table 1
  • Sean: Human Rogue – Table 2
  • Jason: Dwarven Cleric of Battle – Table 2
  • Tosha: ??? Ranger – Table 2
  • Michael: Half-elf Cleric of Life (new, will be of Battle next time) – Table 2


                As with the other times we have split the party during this season I did most of the roleplaying at one table. We started with the group waking up the morning following the goblin assult and then they made their way to the largest of the nearby barbarian camps. Luckily for them, it was the Elk tribe (one of the more peaceful tribes). Unlucky for them, the Elk tribe’s number have recent been decimated by raids and members leaving to join the people of the Ice Witch so all the tribe was on edge.


When the party neared the camp Hengar noticed the group and came rushing at them screaming about how “it was all their fault” (never saying what “all” is) and getting very angry and almost hostile. After letting Hengar blow off steam for a minute (felt great to dole out a verbal lashing to the players, is that wrong?) they asked what the issue was, Hengar explained how Bear tribe has grown restless and attacks and bringing Elk tribe members into their Auril worshiping, not worth the spit in his mouth, filthy yeti loving tribe. And the fact that this happened was the party’s fault since they did not assist him when he begged for it. Eventually he let up on berating and blaming the group and they had a productive conversation.


                As they conversed they moved through the camp only to discover that more than half the tents were empty and those that weren’t empty had members of other tribes mixed in. Hengar explained how there is safety in numbers and so in order to make their numbers appear more they set up additional tents. Even as they spoke though the tents were already getting taken down and prepared for the day’s march. Eventually, they met with the elders of the mixed tribes and the tribal head explained how they are making their way to the safety of the Ten Towns and how the tundra, in its current condition is not safe for their people. While retreating to the safety of the towns is unusual it is not unheard of during dire times.


                After some discussion the party walked with the elders and Hengar toward the leading edge of the camp. It was here that Hengar sprang his guilt laden trap. He made it loud and clear that while it was not the party’s fault things ended up this way (after first blaming them) they certainly could have prevented it, so in his mind the party owed his tribe. And he wanted them to pay back that debt by helping protect the tribe. This upset the party and caused Sean to lash back at the barbarian. The verbal assault by Sean lead to him getting lifted into the air by Hengar, shaken like a rag doll, berated his manliness and his honor follow by being tossed into a snow bank and spit on. Not wanting to upset the tribe any more the party agreed as long as the barbarians agreed to help investigate the structure out on the ice flows.


                At this point the tables split up. I described the barbarians actions as splitting the tribe(s) to head toward two of the closest towns since these were the smallest of the towns and couldn’t handle such an influx of population. Half of the tribe would head toward Lonely Wood (table 2; ran by Jason) and the other half would make way for Termalaine (table 1; ran by myself). Once the tribes made it to safety the group and the tribe elders would gather for planning on striking back.


                As the groups set out Rico opted to transform into a bird of prey (forgot which) and investigate the structure on the flows before the group got too. I gave a decent but not complete of the crystalline structure since he only went part way. As he returned to his party he opted to stay in his current form and act as a forward scout. The adventures thought it would be best if they lead the way and stayed about a quarter to half mile ahead of the tribe they were protecting (they wanted to be the front line defense).


                When the group neared a narrow pass Rico noticed a few barbarians laying in out what was clearly an ambush and circled back toward the party. He landed on one of the members and got their attention and went back and circled the rock the ambushers where gathering at. His circling didn’t go unnoticed though and he caught an arrow in the wing, bringing him down for a crash landing on the rock just above the ambushers. He lucked out though and the rock was about 15 feet higher than the ambushers. Rico opted to stay in bird form for the time being. And with that combat was on!


                Tom led the way in initiative and went into toward the ambushers (unusual for him). He bit off a bit more than he could chew though as several yetis appeared on high ledges and rained rocks at him and more bear tribe members appeared than first anticipated. Derek took up his bow and stayed at a distance while Trevor blasted spells, keeping at a minimum for the first round. Rob climbed one of the ledges and engaged a yeti.


                With the next round Rico reverted into human form and called for a furious lightning storm only to be surprised that the barbarians seem to have a crag cat under their control as well as the yeti, most disturbing! With Rico standing on the rock he painted himself the target for the yeti and got hit a few times by some well-placed throws. The crag cat rushed in at Tom and managed to land a hit, this played out well for Trevor though since several enemies lined up so he unleashed a lightning bolt which drew the ire of the monstrous crag cat only to have it die shortly after swatting Trevor.


                Mine while, on the ledge the yeti and Rob grappled. Rob managed to get solid hits on the yeti with his dagger, enough to drop it in a few short rounds only to have a barbarian warrior jump his face. As the two tango the barbarian attempted to push Rob over the edge. Rob severely overpowered the barbarian and tossed him over the edge not long after Rob jumped off the ledge leading shield first and his dagger sticking toward the prone barbarian. With a thud, squish and spurt he drove the shield and dagger into the now lump of human mess, quickly ending the attacker.


                The battle continued to rage, more attackers charged in from hidden spots further up the trail (including some shaman and another crag cat) and the party started to get hard pressed. Rico continued to be wrecked by rocks and arrows and managed to play dead on top of the rock with only 2 HP left. Tom took a beating from all sides but managed to let off a fireball that caused severe damage to several attackers and Trevor followed suit nearly ending 4 attackers in 1 move.


                With what should be a joyous turning of the tides things got their darkest. Tom ended up getting held by one of the shaman (hold person). The joining crag cat charged at Trevor and Derek because it saw a dead litter mate near them. Rico was still on the verge of being dead and Rob was engages with 2 attackers. The party was hard-pressed and a strong wind could blow them toward disaster!


                Luck was with them though, one of the shaman ran behind the rock that Rico was playing dead on to heal and with the rock flinging yeti dead Rico thought it would be a good time to spring (crawl) into action. Rico slowly crept toward the edge and said “BOO!” while letting out a thunder clap, causing damage to the poor frightened soul and causing him to impale himself on his spear as he stumbled back. This shaman also happened to be the one who had Tom held. And just as simple as that one kill the favor started to lean toward the party.


                With several key hits things turned swiftly to the adventure’s advantage. Derek ended the life a barbarian and the crag cat in a quick double slice combo. Rico created some battlefield control and summoned sleet storm only to have it quickly dispelled. Rob axed a few barbarians a question and ended up decimating them. Tom sought redeem himself and unleashed a series of scorching rays. This combination quickly caused the bear tribe members to think of tactical retreating.


                Seeing that the attackers were leaving Rico meant to contain them, unleashing a tangled growth in hopes of slowing the attackers retreat. Once again, that was quickly removed from the battle field. All out of containment spells the barbarians quickly fading into the surrounding area Rico was ready to let them get away (although he was a bit upset by it). Just at the last moment though Trevor managed to sleep one of the attackers and the party took him captive.


                After the assault was over, the party assisted the Elk tribe in making it to Termalaine without issue. From there they took a short rest and made their way to Lonely Wood (the party at Lonely Wood got a long rest) with their captive in tow where we will pick up our next adventure.


Thoughts: This week was something that I made up. I am resolved to not messing with what is in the campaign guide until the final two weeks (when I plan on doing the tower) and even then it will be highly altered, which I feel is fine and the way D&D should be played. The campaign is more of a guide and ideas not the story. Felt good not worrying about how do I tie in the next book encounter and with my players interest in the tower it won’t be hard to get them to the campaign finale.


                It will be fun thinking of what the prisoner will say. I think I will base it on how they treat him. Also, I really want to work an encounter that the party must run from but I fear it is too late into the campaign to do so and stay “on schedule”. I will rack my brain over the weekend though to see if I can figure anything out.


                As for combat, I really hope that we are able to run two tables from here on out. Having a smaller group really makes combat much more of a challenge. It felt good to bring my players to the edge of disaster only to have the triumph. It gives the players more time to shine and turns don’t take forever (although Next plays far quicker than 4e so I shouldn’t complain).


Our session 8 write up is here.


We too have gone the railroad route so as to finish on time, a shame as the setting is one of my all time favourites but we want to keep running the Encounters on time (especially being the only ones in our area doing so) - hopefully we're back up to strength next season with 2 DM's/tables and can then avoid the over-sized group I have ran with this season (though how I can seriously turn away anyone that wants to play I dont know).

"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/