LOTCS Field Report – Week 9

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Field report for D&D Encounters: Legacy of the Crystal Shard (Week 9) now available at Dungeon's Master.com.

 

We began Act 2 with the party arriving in Easthaven. I skipped the whole part about the pirates and moved on to the Verbeeg Lair. The party had a lot of fun and enjoyed the non-stop combat as they delved deeper into the mountain side hide out. Next week they’ll finish exploring leaving us with two weeks to wrap things up in Act 3.

 

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.

Visit Dungeon's Master.com – The D&D Resource Blog For DMs and Players.
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Haven't read yours yet but will make sure to do so.

 

I had a harder time with this write up for some reason. A lot of time lines are jumbled in my head so if anything flows or reads wonky forgive me. Also forgot to mention that my players will be level 6 at the end of this.

 

We had a smaller group last night at Fun4All in Ann Arbor due to the weather and road conditions. But what started out as 3 players (one who ran an additional character at my request) and the DM (myself) using my standby character turned into 5 PCs plus the addition character and myself, forming a party of 7, battling barbarians. Not a bad turn out with all things considered.

 

The players:

  • Drea: Orcling Barbarian
  • Rico: Woodelf Druid
  • Rico: ??? Monk
  • Tony: ??? Ranger (came in during the middle of play and forgot to confirm)
  • Trevor: Highelf Evocationist
  • Sean: Woodelf Rogue (I have been putting Human but corrected me that it is indeed an elf)
  • Brian (Myself): Lightfoot Bard

 

The evening started off at a meeting in Lonely Wood with the tribe elders (mixed tribes, not just Elk). As the elders agreed to prior to coming to the towns, they would discuss assisting the adventures in investigating the structure on the ice flows. It was determined that the best course of action would be to perform a nighttime coup on one of the smaller Bear tribe camps and use it as an outpost for staging the investigation. The coup would have to be swift and subtle, meaning no burning tents or massive fireballs, so that nearby camps (within sight but not sound) would not notice. From there, the adventures and their supporting barbarian group (made up of young barbarians out to make a name for themselves) would pose as the Bear tribe members while they rest before setting out for the structure. This not only helps satisfy the adventures’ needs but also will give the tribes that are not following Auril some satisfaction of revenge. The party excitedly agreed to the plans.

 

I gave the party the option to start out right away but could persuade their barbarian counter parts to wait if the stated their case in a well thought out manner (not that it was going to be hard to do), which the party succeeded in doing. Given the extra time, Rico scouted out the tower a bit more in eagle form and confirmed his suspicions that the tower was indeed made of black ice and then returned to Lonely Wood. The group never expressed interest in vendors so I never made any (just had basic goods available) but this time I pressed a traveling vendor on them where they could buy goods. For the members that made it to the session I gave a hefty discount to (explained by Drea’s use of the Begger’s Small Clothes) on the cost of the goods. Rico purchased the wand, Trevor the cloak, Sean and Tony each a Vat and Drea didn’t make a purchase of her own. With all ends tied up in town and the party rested the adventurers and eager barbarians went out into the wild.

 

The party approached the target camp well after sunset but at a time when there was still some activity about. With some mighty stealth checks I allowed the party a surprise round which they could have capitalized greatly if all went according to plan but there were a few snags. Drea opted to cut into the backside of a tent (only to find 4 drinking barbarians), Trevor skirted around the outside of camp  and targeted what seemed to be their leader only to miss, Rico’s Druid attempted some animal handling on the pack dogs in a pin, succeeding on some by slightly angering others, the Monk moved in for a strike to missed and Alden (my bard) used Phantasmal Force on a barbarian sitting around the fire with great success (illusion of a frost wyrm since I got a new frost wyrm mini that I wanted to use). With one barbarian running around fearful for his life, 2 being attacked and a group being disrupted the jig was up and full combat began.

 

*NOTE* I really wanted to overwhelm the group, make them feel like they really were attacking a populated camp, so each turn I rolled 1d6 which determined if a Fury, Warrior or Shaman would join the fight and then 1d4 standard barbarians (used Commoner as the template) each round until 4 rounds passed (no additional at first round). The fight didn’t get out of hand but surely felt populated, all enjoyed!

 

As the fight went on the Druid kept attempting to soothe the dogs before their kennel was opened but never succeeded. The monk attempted some one on one combat only to have it quickly turn into 1 on 3. Drea mowed quickly mowed down 2 of the barbarians in the tent but was joined by another enemy so it was still 1 on 3 in there, still better odds than 1 on 4. Tony and Sean arrived at this time so Alden went into torment mode and continued to have his imaginary wyrm chase the poor barbarian. He was pretty much auto-pilot of using hand crossbow for the rest of the fight except for 1 use of Color Spray which missed its intended target but hit Sean near the end of the battle. Sean managed to get a sneak attack off and took a target out quickly and quietly while Tony attempted to rain arrows only to miss badly and piss a drunk barbarian off so it threw one its swords at him.

 

With the next turn more enemies came on, first was a Warrior who seemed a bit too big for his britches. It was safe to assume he was the lead hunter. He strode effortlessly into combat with a cool and collected manner only to miss and be mocked. His 3 lackeys (who probably idolized him) attempted to do the same but didn’t have the same heart for battle in the end and attempted to stay out of melee range.

 

At this time the door to the kennel came open and the hounds were eager for a hunt. Seeing that his attempts to soothe the beasts didn’t work Rico’s Druid instead opted for some battlefield control with Spike Growth followed by Sleet Storm. This was a major relief to the party since there were some decent distances between members and they were starting to get ganged up on. The Sleet Storm really worked wonders to slow down the hounds that couldn’t pass the checks as well as any additional forces.

 

Trevor did a good job not going crazy with spells and keeping to small, less visible from distance stuff like scorching ray. He gave up on the casting on the shaman when the shaman retreated around the back of the camp and went back to assist Sean and Alden in fending of the stream of dogs.

 

With the center of the battlefield well under control thanks to Rico any of the additional threats could be handled with ease for the most part by the ranged (Sean, Tony, Trevor and Alden). Drea came pretty close to death inside the tent after taking two massive critical hits but came out victorious and then started throwing a copious amount of javelins to help the ranged people. Rico’s druid managed to get into a caster war with the shaman and came out victorious by landing some massive hits. Alden grew tired of chasing around his victim and made the illusion attack the barbarian, causing the barbarian to die.

 

In the end we had 4 dead hounds, 1 dead Shaman, 4 dead Warriors, 3 dead Fury, 13 dead common barbarians and 1 prisoner. Not bad for a group of 7. And with that we end on the party changing into barbarian clothes, covering the blood and hiding the bodies.

 

Thoughts: Once again, we had a smaller table and it was REALLY enjoyable. I felt bad having my bard in there but when we first started combat it would have only been the 4 characters (3 PCs) against what I had lined up. I was thrilled to see I didn’t have to ease up on the encounter when Sean and Tony arrived. I also wasn’t a big fan of not having much roleplaying in this session but afterward I explained how I was moving us to be back on track with the close of the campaign since I think there are some interesting battles.

 

The Traveling Vendor's Inventory

Item Name

Price

Effect

Potion of Healing

50 GP

A character who drinks the contents regains 2d4 +2 hit points. Drinking or administering a potion takes an action.

Vat of Healing

150 GP

Contains enough liquid in it to effectively be three standard potions of healing. A character who drinks the contents regains 2d4 +2 hit points (can be done three times). Drinking a standard amount of potion takes an action. Or in desperate times the character can quaff the entire contain at once to regain 3d8 + 6, but doing so takes their entire turn

Potion of Extra Healing

200 GP

A character who drinks the contents regains 3d8 +6 hit points. Drinking or administering a potion takes an action.

Potion of Speed

200 GP

Allows the user to move their full movement + half each round for 3 rounds. If taken before the start of encounter (within 30 minutes) the potion will grant a +3 to initiative and full movement + half for the first round of combat.

Basic Poison Ingredients

100 GP

A character proficient in using poison can use this to create a poison to coat one slashing or piercing weapon or up to three pieces of ammunition. Applying the poison takes an action. A creature hit by the poisoned weapon must make a DC 10 + the poison creator’s proficiency modifier Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 + the poison creator’s proficiency modifier worth of poison damage.

Arrows of Madness x 5

100 GP each

When these magic arrows strike a creature that creature must pass a DC 14 Wisdom save or suffer a form of madness. Roll 1d6 and use the result to determine the madness.

  1. Until the end of two turns the creature will go berserk and randomly attack a target within range with a melee attack, these attacks do double damage but with attack with disadvantage
  2. Until the end of the two turns the creature is frightened by you and must move as far away from you as possible before taking an action
  3. Until the end of the two turns the creature will lie down and contemplate the meaning of life, if the creature is attacked the effect is ended early
  4. Until the end of two turns the creature can only see creatures that have moved within the current combat round
  5. The creature is paralyzed in terror for 1 turn and then frightened by you and must move as far away from you as possible before taking an action for the next turn
  6. The creature will attack its closest ally with its strongest attack/spell, this attack has disadvantage

Whet Stone of Fast Fading

200 GP

If applied to a weapon the next strike will deal and additional 1d4 damage if the attack hits the target. This effect ends regardless of if the attack actually hits the target or not. Can only be applied to slashing weapons while outside of combat.

Feather Fall Cloak

300 GP

This cloak is made out of black swan feathers and will allow the user to cast Feather Fall on themselves (cannot cast on other targets even though the spell states up to 5 targets) once a day. The magic within the cloak recharges each morning at dawn.

Wand of Dispel Magic x 1 (3 charges)

400 GP

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 2nd level or lower on that target ends. Any spell 3rd level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your magic ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell’s level. On a successful check, the spell ends.

Ring of Rope Trick x 1

500 GP

Allows the user to cast Rope Trick at the expense of 3 charges. The ring contains enough magic for 7 charges and gains 2 charges back each day at dawn.

Scroll of Raise Dead x 1

600 GP

Same effects as the Raise Dead spell but useable by anyone who can read common.

 

Battle Map *Spells might not be to scale but they are close enough for who it is for*

Some great write ups guys, here's ours.

 

My players had been feeling unthreatened this season, not just by the poor damage output of the monsters but the over-riding threat of the Frostmaiden just didnt feel like a threat. This session has gone some way to shifting that back into the right direction.

 

I think the biggest problem (and partly my own fault too) was that there was no clear threat presented in the storyline, the 3 way plot worked well in Baldurs Gate but I think fell a little flat this season.

 

One of my players (Sunyi) said at the start of the season when he heard the name Auril "that sounds pretty, I'm going to like her" and so his tielfing bard has been a "quiet" follower of Auril, with him donning one of the cultists robes this week I'm thinking of having it awaken a latent power as a Chosen.

"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/

Vobeskhan wrote:

One of my players (Sunyi) said at the start of the season when he heard the name Auril "that sounds pretty, I'm going to like her" and so his tielfing bard has been a "quiet" follower of Auril, with him donning one of the cultists robes this week I'm thinking of having it awaken a latent power as a Chosen.

I have a similar situation with an dwarf in my group who wore a black ice helm and wielded ablack ice battle axe for much of the first half of the season. Since the tower is made of black ice itself, that energy force has got to be pretty strong. For someone that has already been suceptible to its influece in the past, it may be too much resist, making that person extreamly impressionable by a strong, influence of Auril's power.  oh yeah.

Four full tables again at Game HQ in OKC. Two brand new players as well, so D&D is going strong in the heartland.

 

For my table, the party had just, through much effort, made their way up the switchbacking steep trail that they had tracked Akar to, dodging boulders, mostly, as they went to make it to the Verbeeg Lair. They defeated a pack of goblins, three hill giants and their leader, a verbeeg-frost giant half breed named Dardo that was particularly mean. After doing that, they decided to risk a long rest, which went surprisingly uneventful. 

 

Once they began to move deeper into the complex to find Akar, they start to hear a commotion from ahead. Deep thuds that shake the walls and ceiling. The go down a hall that is lined with living quarters, but all are empty and appear to be recently abandoned. moving ever closer to the sounds, now accompanied by screams, they open the door at the end of the hall. There they find a dining hall with a door oposite them where 5-6 cultists are doing all they can to hold the door shut. One can take it no more and turns to flee. She is restrained by the party and they attempt to question her but all they can get from her is, "He left us to die... he left us as...  food!" She screams and runs out. The dwarf in the party attempt to aid them in keeping the door closed, but it's no use. It bursts open, knocking all of those barring it prone. On the other side is a huge Remorhaz in the kitchen beyond. There are several bodies stwen about and it has a cultist in its grap. It quickly snaps her head off and eats it, tossing the body aside. Everyone is shocked. Initiative is rolled.

 

The following battle saw the party do incredible amounts of damage. The Ranger put out 31 points of damage with his first two attacks. The creature was pretty lethal though, making attacks and then burrowing into the ice walls of the complex, only to surface next to and under people. This happened a few times but it didn't really help the beast that much, since everyone had readied actions and unloaded on him the moment he burst through, sometimes putting huge amounts of damage on him before he got off his attack. I don't think I handled it very well though. I probably should have treated his attacks as a surprise attack for the individual being attacked. At one point, I popped the creature out of the wall in a hallway directly on the ranger who had readied an attack. When he poped out, the Ranger reacted and was able to get off two arrow attacks for another 30 damage, as well as all of the other party member's reactions before the monster could attack him. This almost killed him out right. Did I handle that right? Seems like a huge creature popping out from under the snow would gain surprise instead of everyone else getting to interrupt his attack. I welcome feedback on that one.

 

Anyway, they killed fairly easily what I thought was a very tough monster. After exploring the rest of the rooms, they found the scrying room with the mirror inside. The mage, making a great arcana check, revealed the mirrors properties. It also revelaed that to use it as a portal, you had to "convince" the mirror that you were supposed to be using it. This was a tough sell for the Paladin, who carried the best Charisma and was the best choice to attempt. After some convincing, he agreed to try and killed it with a nat. 20. He opened the portal and everyone stepped through. This is were I had some fun describing how they felt like their bodies were being stretch thin and they were traveling through a long worm hole, etc... When they arrive, they are disoriented and not totally aware of what is happening.

 

Daverick Fain, sitting on the throne, immediately begins chatising them for killing his pet. No don't know what's going on. He turns angry and say that they will pay what they have done. Four Yetis come into the room and initiative will be rolled there when we start next week.

 

 

 

   So when I asked the store owner for the signin sheet this week he informed me that his store would no longer be associated with the Encounters program. He is quite upset with how WotC is handling D&D, the Encounters program, & their customer relations. I kinda saw this coming. So he told us that we can finish the Encoutners season and then continue to play in the store on Wednesday nights as a home campaign if we want to. As I said I thought something like this was going to happen but it is still a relief to no longer be under the restraints of the Encounters timeline. I will continue to run this adventure and let it take as long as needed, and not worry about getting the party to the key points in any rush or even at all.

 

This week's party;

Kayla - Elf Mage

Nalden - Dwarf Cleric

Muscles - Human Fighter

Clepto - Drow Rogue

 

   The party began back with Silverstream and his dwarves. After explaining what had happened in the mines with the zombies and their leader, specifically the taunts he(it) had made, Silverstream told the party of Akar Kessel and his assault on Ten-Towns in the past. Silverstream told how the evil army had been trapped by collapsing the southern mines on them. The party grabbed onto this and wouldn't let it go. They were convinced that Akar was arranging a new assault from the south. Despite the fact they had just encountered him and apparently run him off through the northern most mines and that all zombie attacks had been in the northern mines.

   The party finally agrreed to go try and convince Hammerstone to reconcile with Silverstream. I tried to let this play out as naturally as possible as suggested in the adventure guide but I really feel some of these players are just set in the ways of "I do X- roll dice" and may not ever really try to work anything through. I know as a DM I'm supposed to encourage them to but they've all been playing longer than I've been DMing and I'm not sure I can break it anytime soon. The group threw me for a loop when their initial attempts to calm Hammerstone failed and they decided to try and convince him the real threat was the barbarian tribes and not the Ten-Towns residents. I honestly was at a loss and didn't know what to do. As written the plot is to basically get Hammerstone to surrender to Silverstream and here they were pumping him up to battle. I had Hammerstone tell the party to deliver an order of surrender back to Silverstream and once the dwarf clan was reunited under his rule they would attack the barbarian tribes.

   After the party returned with this info to Silverstream they, with some input from me, came up with a plan to untaint the Black Ice. We worked out a plan to have some dwarven mages and clerics team up and perform a Dispel Magic Ritual. Kayla & Nalden joined in. the only Black Ice the party had was one small pendant so I just had Kayla roll and anything other than a 1 resulted in the Blck Ice pendant shattering. She rolled a 5. So we decided that they could destroy the Black Ice a little at a time if they could get it away from the dwarves, but that this wouldn't help in a combat situation since it required a ritual. The group then got back on their obbsession with the southern abbandoned mines. Now instead of just running with this and letting it play out I gave them some very minor "you go down one tunnell it ends, you go down another tunnell it ends" trying to get them back on plot. I could/should have handled it better but I'm still getting used to the adapting on the fly thing. So then the party decided to check some tunnells on the other side of the valley. Here I think I used a little creativity. I had the party encounter a group of Hammerstone's dwarves leavng the mines. The group chose to just follow and see what happened. Once the dwarves were outside the mines they assembled a large sled and led it off with a team of wolves towards the Spine of the World. The idea was basically they were going to retrieve more Black Ice. The party had been considering going to look for the source of the Black Ice hoping they could somehow break it's influence from there. It took a bit of pushing for me to get them to accept that the Spine of the World mountains were at least 50 miles away through the frozen tundra and would take days to reach and that it was a bad idea to atempt this.

   The group once again returned to Silverstream and came up with a plot to try and sneak into Hammerstone's lair and subdue him. That's where we ended it.

 

So we are no longer under the gun of wrapping this in 3-4 weeks so i feel more relaxed to just let the players run however they want. I'm going to hopefully do a better job of quickly adapting to off script situations. If i just have to throw random encouters at them because they decide to spend all day exploring mines then so be it.

As far as the Silverstream/Hammerstone plot, I think I'm going to have Hammerstone come in and confront Silverstream before the party can set their sneak attack in motion and if the party wants to follow through with their idea of turning him on the barbarian tribes just play that out. Basically I would just have them go with the dwarves and run the Elk vs Bear encounters but with dwarves, maybe have them run into the Elk tribe on their way to assault Evermelt. We will see where it goes.

I'm kind of bummed that now that the adventure has gotten to the point with some larger encounters my party is slowly dwindling.

   Our group continues to be about a month behind the rest.  I note the next game has already started, and we are far from done with this one.  Or are we?

    Having finished with the zombies, we got a mission to serve as diplomats to speak to the other band of dwarves.  We were expecting trouble, but went anyway and persuaded hostile guards to let us by.

    However, the meeting didn't go well.  [I gather this was box text more or less]  So we got into a brawl. 

    That has gone very poorly.  While we have disposed of several of the lesser troops, the two main enemy are  still healthy [tho the chief is at least bloody]. and we have 1 man down and 2 bloody.  I'm the only one still healty, and I have used just about all my powers.  I think we will face a TPK next week unless somebody comes to the rescue.  I gather we are supposed to have several assistants in this fight, so maybe they will show next time.  Or maybe the DM will rescue us some other way.  But right now things look very bad.

Nothing wrong with playing at your own pace. Honestly, I feel that LotCS moved too fast and needed to be slowed down a bit. So I say "Enjoy the scenary!"

 

Side note: Don't fear the TPK. I would rather have a TPK (or give one to my PCs) then have them saved each time they are at the brink of death by X, Y or Z. TPKs show that the players cannot go in to a fortress of 300 soldiers, guns blazin, with a party of 4 people and expect to get our alive. Think of TPKs as a learning experience and if you do experience one don't be mad, it was you and your groups decision(s) that lead to the TPK. Nobody ever said you had to stay and fight when you normally always have a chance to run if you look hard enough.