How's H1 going for everyone?

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I had my first session today which I wish went better... We had 6 of us. DM, Fighter, Wizard, Rogue, Warlord, Paladin. Started at 2:30 P.M. had to teach rules to the noobs first (Paladin and Wizard were newcomers). That took an hour then by the time we finish the first encounter it's 5:00. Our most experienced player is the rogue but his girlfriend was playing the Paladin so he was... distracted... and even with the other two players being good at the game, the new rules threw us off. So while it was fun, the pace was really slow. We got through encounter 2 (another hour) and went out for food where the paladin had to leave and her boyfriend went with her. That ended the session. Two of like the 25 encounters. It was pathetic. They need to learn how their characters work, how to work as a team, how to keep organized, and how to keep things moving. What about the rest of you? In the mean time, I'm gonna run through, polish up my encounter tactics and make the monsters more annoying to handle. That way people might realize that teamwork is essential to the group.
I haven't started running the module but over my 25+ years experience it sounds very familiar.
I think the main thing to keep in mind are the new players. A lot of the fun in trying a new game is discovering how it works. If the group is having fun let them take it slow and learn as they go. I wouldn't judge whether or not a session was successful based on the number of encounters you can get through but by the players reactions. If they have fun then you've done your job. As they learn the game it will speed up.
If the story itself felt slow then I would have to put that on you, the DM. Sometimes you get a group that needs to be led along a bit. So keep em moving ahead. As they get more comfortable with your game they'll start to act on their own. Patience, grasshopper. And good luck!
Follow up question: for those of you who have run the adventure already, with a party of five, have you had any character deaths? I am wondering how deadly this stuff is going to be.
Follow up question: for those of you who have run the adventure already, with a party of five, have you had any character deaths? I am wondering how deadly this stuff is going to be.

My experience was very similar to the OP's. We ran with 5 PCs and me DMing. PCs were Wizard, Paladin, Rogue, Warlord, and the Ranger from DDXP.

The first encounter went really well. One PC was dropped to negative HP, but was healed by a party member fairly quickly. The minions worked really well, and the players had a hard time telling which was which. (The last kobold standing was actually a minion). The Dragonshield Kobolds gave the PCs a really hard time.

I used the Mentor hook, and so the RP in town centered on finding their mentor. This went pretty well, but they didn't talk to many villagers other than Eilian, Valthrun, and Padraig.

The second encounter was where things fell apart. I followed the advice of the Tactics section, and had the Dragonshields charge the strongest PC (the Paladin). The Skirmisher hit the back of the party (the Rogue and Ranger), and the Wyrm Priest blasted the party's center with his dragon breath encounter power.

The Paladin fell in one round to the Dragonshield due to high damage roles, and being caught in the blast of the Wyrm Priest. (The blast didn't affect the dragonshields too much because of their resistance.) The dragonshield then turned on the Warlord, and killed him in two rounds, although the Warlord downed one of them. The skirmisher lasted longer than I expected, and managed to knock out the rogue. The Wizard had a couple of bad rolls, but managed to take out one of the two remaining dragonshields. The other one put her down. At one point, the Ranger was the only one who was still conscious, and she managed to revive two of her comrades. In the end, the PCs barely won, but it was a very hard, and ultimately unsatisfying fight.

My main problem was that there were long periods of game time when one or more PCs were doing nothing except hoping they didn't fail that last Death save.

I left the table unsatisfied. I really liked the first encounter. It was fast paced, fun, and had a real element of danger. The second encounter was just sad. I nearly wiped out the whole party with ease, and they didn't have much fun either. I really don't know how they're to survive the Kobold Lair.

All in all, I think the adventure is great, but my experience with it was so-so.
we got through the first encounter, some general RP'ing in Winterhaven, got the chance to revisit the second encounter twice, and went to the dragon burial site. all told, we started friday night around 7pm and wrapped up around 11:45-midnight.

the first encounter, the PCs discovered how much fun could be had mowing through minions. i had to color code the critters to keep track of them so they could figure out who was who before too long. the interlude at winterhaven was rather quick and they had the opportunity to talk to all the main people straight away. the second encounter proved to be difficult and they decided to run away to fight another day. it kind of threw me for a loop and i was a little tired so i just reset the ambush with new stealth rolls and used some trees as cover. this fight was especially bad because our party wizard had some trouble hitting with anything. the third encounter was at the dragon site and the PCs mopped up the opponents there (they were suspicious of the leader and made good use of the insight skill). i followed the tactics as written and the dice gods smiled on my players.

throughout the entire thing it struck me that each character had cool powers to use and something to make them stand out. i nearly killed a few of the characters and they were saved by the timely application of clerical abilities and paladin skills. while not through it all (3 encounters out of many) the players seemed to like the new rules and, from a DM perspective, i really like what i have seen and am even more excited to see the new edition. ny biggest problem was that i did not use counters or anything of that sort to tell when there was a persistent effect and was forced to rely on my memory. this worked out in both the DM and the players' favor, but i think i am going to have to find a counter system i am comfortable with to remind me.

my players and i are stoked and i think we are eagerly awaiting the rule books. is there any way to make it the 6th faster?
Follow up question: for those of you who have run the adventure already, with a party of five, have you had any character deaths? I am wondering how deadly this stuff is going to be.

No deaths here, but several PC's knocked to the negatives (often multiple times during the same fight). I've run three of the encounters at this point.

In many ways, combat is deadlier than 3E, but the PCs have multiple abilities to save one another from death. It's not hard to take a PC down, but it's hard to keep them down.
I just ran my second session last night (it was quite long). As the DM I had to be nice a couple times to avoid killing players (one died in A3, but that was it).

The first session (which only lasted the first encounter and Winterhaven, and was cut short by a phone call) was played with only two characters. I had only skimmed the rules at that point. One of the characters was good with 3.5 and caught on quickly (could have played some other preview with someone else 'er something, not sure) and the other one was new to D&D period (and they got by).

My dad came home for the weekend and all of the sudden the party has a halfling rogue and a tiefling warlord with them (which was played more like Jack Sparrow than a fearless leader). My dad picked up the game so fast I could hardly believe it but the Tiefling was struggling a bit.

The only problems came when Mr. Sparrow there decided to run for the treasure room instead of help the party (A3, second wave). I could actually picture Jack Sparrow doing what he did. Irontooth chased him around for a while before getting distracted by the rogue. Instead of flanking or using one of his super abilities he just waltzes of into the treasure stash.
The second encounter was nerve wracking. My players got themselves surrounded by the dragonshields and the skirmishers, and the wyrmpriest sat back and lobbed acid at them. I dropped my paladin quickly, and the cleric barely saved him.

The third encounter was the dragon burial site. My players saw through the gnome's deception and succeeded in leading the drakes away from the human rabble after the attack on them was ordered. It was somewhat anti-climactic, considering the difficulty of the second encounter. They slaughtered the drakes by surrounding them outside of the chasm, and then charged down into the human rabble. The halfling that was positioned over them--who could throw three sling bullets a round--gave them some trouble. But the rogue used athletics and climbed the wall quickly enough to engage him.

All in all, I like the new rules. They do seem more deadly than 3.5, but the fights are much more action-packed with less book-keeping. We worked through our awkwardness with the rules in the first encounter, but by encounter three my players seemed like veterans with their character's ability.

I'm really surprised by the warlord, however. I expected more from him. He wasn't nearly as useful as I expected.
Follow up question: for those of you who have run the adventure already, with a party of five, have you had any character deaths? I am wondering how deadly this stuff is going to be.

On an interesting note, we have had our fighter in the negatives because he didn't realize he was the tank so he went off soloing. A wyrmpriest got him. I was dishing out some heavy damage with my dragonshields, first round of A1 two of them crited, one on the fighter and one on the warlord. The third did max damage on the rogue anyway.
I think I'm going to wait for the Core books to come out, probably because I plan to continue H1 into H2 and I want the PCs to have the experience of using their own characters for that. I've looked over the book, and I do have one problem:

Even when using the mentor hook, PCs will have to enter the Shadowfell to get to level two. (Even if they go to the kobol lair- which does look tough.) I'll make sure they were rested before they do this, but interlude three says this battle occurs when the PCs first leave KoSF. This means level 1 PCs are in a level 4 encounter. I could let the PCs get level 2 in KoSF and instantly give them their bonuses, but I plan for Interlude Three to let them hit 2. And I don't DON'T like the idea of instantly giving the PCs their new powers, etc.(Btw for the kobol lair the first wave is level one and the second is level 3.) There is the matter of the magic circle, but this could fail and tactics say anyone who tries might get a few arrows.

Anything to say on this?
from running the session with only 4 players and no cleric a few things that I notices is that combat is much more fast paced that in 3e. The damage output from the mobs and players are way higher than I expected.

my players decided that they wanted to go after the kobold camp right away and then go to the dragon's resting place cause that is the way the paladin thinks I guess and the fight with irontooth I did not kill anyone but the paladin went down 3 times and the fighter went down once. I am hoping for the books to clarify on the shapes of spells and all that fun stuff but that is not allthat far away.

the only complaints that I had was that they felt that the level 3 elite brute was to much. they did not realize that they should not be there and they need to stop constantly seperating. The other complaint was that the paladin was worthless I am not sure if this is cause they played them wrong or that the rules were not well enough explained which would of been my fault. All in all we got through a total of 3-4 encounters rp'ing the city of winterhaven and going over the rules and eating in 5 hours. that is a pretty good clip with the new system.

that and paper work for the dm was way down I used an excel combat tracking form to help out like I do with 3e and was really happy when I could just check minion 5 dead instead of tracking hp for every single peon in case the fighter min dam and didn't deal enough.

all in all I do like the new system it feels like a tuned up version of 3e and with the changes it is not just a I hit I miss game any longer.
It seems the problems some of the groups had with KotS is the lack of PC organization. I am thinking I will probably have this problem with my players but I have always told them they need to be more organized in combat.

13 more days...
I tried H1 (first and second encounters) The figther figther was an inch away from dropping in the first fight. Found out that apart from his two Healing words, the cleric was pretty useless (except when he rolled two nat 20 an destroyed a dragonshield.

The rogue. is. god.
I really hated rogues in 3ed (like, a searing blistering hate). But now they own, HARD! Too bad the dragonshields are nigh-impossible to flank, but still.

For some reason, they have +8 to hit, while the figther only has +6 (a big difference, didn't use the paladin)

I'm gonna run it again with more pp, (and change a few feat choices, such as removing the rogue's backstabber to Improved Initiative :D )
About an hour ago i finished my first session of KotS. I had 6 players, using all the pregens and the warlord (the wizard and paladin were both n00bs). In 7 hours we got through the first ambush, winterhaven, the second ambush, the lair and then the burial ground.
As I had six players i dropped in an extra dragonshield on the encounters and an extra guard drake. and the party was sorely challenged (everyone dropped to negatives at one point or other, but no deaths). All of my players had an extremely positive experience and they were all amazed at how quickly the game progressed. No encounter took more than an hour and everyone, including the n00bs grasped the rules very quickly.

All in All we are eager to continue next sunday when we head to the keep itself.
We got through the kobold lair. Two players down once inside, and the wizard and the rogue had to go outside to get a few surges (the tielfing kept telling them to do it, so when they got down to 2-4 HP left they finally did.)
The pally and the 'walord' went down shortly after they came back in, but the fighter and the two of them finished off the wyrmpriest and the slinger.
That last raises a question. I can't see how it was very likely the slinger was going to be kept from running inside, but no mention of him ("if the slinger has entered the lair") was made for that part of the battle. I would have thought there'd be a difference in preparation, and his possible location should have been noted. He was definately a thorn in the party's side, though.

I thought the biggest key to both the outside and inside battles was getting rid of the minions quickly, which the wizard did very well. They tend to gang up, and his area spell wiped out all of them in the area of effect. I thought the warlord was the weakest character, though I may not be interpreting all of the move stuff correctly.

We had a lot of fun-nothing like barely surviving to get the blood pumping.
After a 7 or 8 hour session we managed to get the players just inside Shadowfell keep. We only had 3 players, Fighter, Cleric, Rogue. Despite the lack of bodies my players managed to get through the encounter only having to flee from the kobold lair after killing most of them, but with that encounter I did have the elite mob stand back because I knew that would kill them.

Good things
-The players did enjoy their at will powers and their dailies.
-The healing surges provided needed HP, and the fact that the Second Wind ability does not provoke
-The rogue enjoyed his sliding powers and liked using them a lot
-The warrior enjoyed marking once he figured out how it worked.
-minions - minions rock, they allow non combat characters to feel effective and their low HP helps make sure the strikers and guardians focus on bigger targets, while still remaining threatening enough to remove if possible. Massed minions are a threat to any character, the fighter can't shake off 12 damage.
-Surviability - despite being perpetually 2 man down the players still worked well enough to go through encounters listed. The cleric did have to blow all of his healing every encounter, but surviving the focused dps of the minions was a success in itself.
-Good mix of magic items. cleric fighter mage and general armors and side items. The surges did mean that the party didn't need the requisite Healing potions and wands of CLW.

Bad things
-Equipment imbalance - The Paladin has Plate Mail! The warrior has Scale Mail. Besides the fact that plate mail is prohibitively expensive, the difference in AC between Plate+Shield and Scale + 2Hander makes it really unfair to the fighter. A more balanced approach may have been Plate + 2hander and scale+ Shield. A 17 AC on the fighter means a lot or regular mobs can hit the fighter 45% of the time. 19 would bring it down to 13+ to hit giving the fighter that desperately needed with the slinger and dragon shields dealing an average of 6 damage.
-Lack of purchasables - The rogue was annoyed that he couldn't buy anything in terms of Tanglefoot bags or Alchemist fire that he wanted to use to help out with ranged damage and control effects.
-Clerical problems(HA puns) - The cleric felt he was lacking in melee abilities that heal at will. The fact that the errata lists a power that he should have had did not fill me with joy.
-Lack of detail in town - The inn should have had a brief map in case of bar fights. at the very least, drawing the map would have made it easier to show the denizens and everyone to talk with. Non combat encounters(My weaker section) didn't go very well.
-Quest EXP, suddenly the players don't get exp because they didn't know the good deeds they were going to do ahead of time? I rewarded it anyways, mostly because they needed it.

Thats it for now.

:Edit: Got another one! how deep is the *spoiler* pit trap in the first room? 10 feet?
Well I did my first session last Thursday and it went pretty well - 4/5 players where very happy, one wasn't satisfied with the pretty low battle/rp ratio, but he seemed pretty interested in using all the powers of the party together to their full potential.

We played only from 7 pm to 10 pm (after work rp) and went through the first two encouters.

This was my experience:

- The new rules are far far more easier to explain to newcomers. The pre gen char sheets are great, since all the rules are on them
- The rules text is not as precise as in 3.5. There is much more leeway to interpretation. So it is more difficult to keep rules lawyer players in check. I would have preferred the clearer 3.5 style.
- Combat is much more fun than before. Couldn't say much about the skill challenge or other rules, since there wasn't much of it in the module.

I will propably DM the module three times this week, with three different groups, so I guess I can say more later :P

P.S.: The total lack of any equipment lists for shopping is a big problem. Fortunately the dragonborn paladin was so interested in that dragon tomb that there wasn't much time spent in town, so the problem did not occure in this session. If it will occur if have to stick to the 3.5 equipment lists for the time being.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Over at the local gaming store, one of my friends who works there has been running keep on the shadow fell. I think this is our third weekend playing. We have one DM and a fluxuation between 5-7 players. Usually there is one person per character, cleric mage, thief, fighter, excuse me, cleric wizard, rogue, fighter, paladin, and someone runs the monsters besides the DM. I am running the cleric. We just figured out he is a cleric of Bahumet. Lets see over these three weeks, we have gone through a kobold ambush; we have fought some giant rats, and what else? There has been a graveyard fight with skeletons, and we have faced some sort of tentacled slime beast in a pool of water and another slime beast. My friend is doing a good job at DMing. The parts in town were we are role-playing are lots of fun. Unfortunately, most of us find the combats to be exercises in frustration.
We don’t quite understand the rules yet, between marking, and everything else.
I have found the role of the healer has changed. Instead of healing, it seems as if I am primarily enabling others to use their healing surges as a free action in combat.
Oh well. We will figure this all out eventually. Someone pointed out that he felt as if he was playing World of War craft on paper. I have never played World of War craft, so I cant compare the two. Then another player said “ this is how we should do this Use our once a day power in the combat, then we should camp.” Seemed like a good idea to me. Someone else said “ I’m breaking out the food, let’s wait for our cool down times to pass” .I realized that they were making World of War craft references. The Dm didn’t let us rest. I think he wanted to show us a variety of combat encounters and to show us how 4e characters are more durable. 4e characters may be more durable, and I am sure we will get better, once we see the rules. However two party members are usually killed per combat, and anther two go unconscious, leaving one character standing. Three death marks. I know that we are making lots of simple mistakes, I am sure I am making lots of them because as the healer, I seem to be having a difficult time keeping people on their feet. I do what I can using the beacon of hope, mystic word x3 and the healing strike, as well has lance of faith and that other at will ability that gives the players Cha mod in temporary hit points.
Anyways. Over the past three weeks, at least once during each gaming session someone has suggested we return to the 3.5 game. All of the players at the table so far have said they would like to go back to the other game, but we are sloughing on at the DM’s insistance. He keeps saying it will get better once we get more familiar with the rules and have our own characters.
I remember feeling a little frustrated with the conversion from second edition to third edition, but not down right irritated and frustrated. The last change in edition, I could see the evolution from Thaco to BAB and the changes from the saving throws paralyze, poison death magic, rods staffs wands, petrify polymorph, breath weapon, spells to the simpler Fortitude, Reflex, Will saves. These changes made sense. I could see the connections.
Right now I feel quite frustrated because I cant see the connection between saving throws and their next iteration which I think is the attack vs. melee, vs. fortitude vs. reflex, vs. will, and people having “armor classes” versus fortitude reflex and will. I assume the marking business, is a reaction against the mobile tumbling monk and rogue, who can with relative ease, move into melee combat with your enemy spell caster.
I am hoping things will make more sense when I can lay out the 4e rulebook next to the 3.5 rulebook, and I can compare things.
I am not sold on 4.0. I don’t have enough data to make an informed decision. My play testing experience has been one of frustration so far (I know this is to be expected with a new rules set). I expect once I have the rules books, I will actually be able to make an informed and reasoned decision about whether 4e is an improvement on 3e or if it is simply a new game entirely. I am suspecting the latter is the case.
After buying Wotc Presents races classes and worlds and monsters, I was not thrilled with the “fluff” changes. I can think of one positive example, which I liked, but there were angels serving the various gods, and having angels of “death”. I personally do not like the idea of the Shadar-kai. In my opinion, conceptually, they are merely drow with dark hair and piercings. With the raven queen they remind me of githyanki with their lich queen. As for all of this “ points of light “ business, campaign world can certainly areas of primitive barbarism, and areas with kingdoms and armies clashing, and lots of court intrigue. The whole world doesn’t need to be a bunch of isolated backwaters.
I suppose the one thing I found to be a constant minor irritant was how I was told the game would “increase my fun” and how it would be “more exciting”.
In my experience playing the Keep on the Shadow fell, I found the most enjoyable times I had during the game were the moments when we were role playing. This shows me that my “fun” comes from the time I spend around the table with my friends, and this transcends editions. On the other hand I have found the combats using the 4e rules to be frustrating and irritating, I do not find the system to be more streamlined, nor has my “fun” been increased. I suppose this frustration will pass once I can read the rulebooks and I can become more familiar with the rules.
Well those are my two cents for what they are worth.
I have KotS but I'm holding off on running it until the core rule books arrive. I figure my players will enjoy the adventure more if they do it using characters they've created on their own from scratch instead of pregenerated ones. Plus the quick rules have some minor holes, so if I wait until the full rules arrive I'll be able to run things without worrying about gaps like not having item prices and rituals, etc.

What I might do, though, is take a session to run a sample combat or one of the unofficial playtest adventures floating around using the pregenerated characters in KotS. That way the players can get a feel for how the new combat system works and see what the new classes are like. Doing that would possibly help them get a better idea of what kind of character they'd like to make for the full KotS adventure.
Keep on the Shadowfell is going great for me and my players as we started it yesterday. I had one player as the Half-Elf Cleric, one player as the Dragonborn Paladin and Human Wizard, and one player as the Halfling Rogue and Dwarf Fighter. We started off with a brief overview of the rules that took about a half hour to cover and that they were able to grasp really quickly. Then we jumped in with the characters on their way to Winterhaven in search of their mentor. (I also told the Paladin and Cleric that the High Priest of the church of Bahamut had told them to be very careful because it was rumored that an evil cult had been seen in that area about a year ago.)
The first encounter went really well, the players really liked the powers that they had. The biggest shock for them was how difficult some of the kobolds were to take down (SURPRISE). My players are all veterans of D&D from way back so there was a few shocking moments there. But no real difficulties and lots of fun, for me as well as them.
Then came the roleplaying aspect of the game as they went to Winterhaven and did a great job of interacting with many of the locals. They decided to take the offer from Padraig and take care of the kobolds as soon as they had a chance to find their friend.
The next day off they went and were jumped by the kobolds on the road once again, they handled this encounter fairly well but the battle certainly left no one undamaged, the wizard player did complain a bit that the encounter would have been a bit better if there was more detail on what some of his powers (i.e. sleep) would do.
So next stop was the dragon burial site. This encounter also went rather well even though they all fell for the gnome's ruse with the exception of the wizard who was very suspicious of everyone and decided to wait up top. The battle ensued and went well, the paladin took quite the beating and even went into the negatives at one point during this fight but was quickly returned to the fight by the cleric. So the heroes won the day and rescued their friend.
Next they decided since they were only a few miles from the kobold lair that they would camp in the woods overnight and strike out at first light to have a look. This encounter actually went better than the previous two, (I think they were getting the hang of the new rules) and with the help of a few lucky die rolls they dispatched the kobolds outside the lair rather quickly with the exception of the slinger who fled into the lair to warn the others.
This is where we chose to stop as we had been playing for about 7 hours and do an after action breakdown. We all weighed the pros and cons of the new edition of D&D, there were several valid points made for and against but for the most part I think we all agreed that it was certainly very entertaining, easy to learn, not as much headache for the DM, and worth the time and money to get 4th edition.
We got through the first two fights with 6 chars last night (threw a couple extra kobolds in each). The players had a blast and I had fun DMing! We love how much tougher and varied the fights are even at 1st level, the synergies and party-benefit powers various characters have, and just the different things the PCs can do. Great cheers erupted when someone made good use of a power and deep intakes of breaths when kobolds burst from hiding and started doing much more than just dying like cannon fodder. Money quote from one player as he left: "4e rocks!"
My group played on a minute's notice on Friday with just three players. We had the Dragonborn Paladin, Half-elf Cleric and Tiefling Warlord for characters, and both of the combats we got through came within a few poor rolls of killing us off.

In the second ambush my paladin just kept getting knocked out. I think I was down to three hit points at the end of the surprise round. It came down to our cleric (with two hit points) against the kobold priest; the warlord and I were both unconscious but stable. The cleric finally killed the kobold priest.

At the end of the combat, the DM told us the kobold priest only had one temporary hit point left before the cleric killed him, so if he had beaten the cleric, he would have immediately keeled over, too.

I really think we're going to need another character or two to make it through the adventure.
In the group I played with, we had the paladin, wizard, warlord-download, cleric, rogue. We made it past the the two kobolds ambushes and defeated the kobolds outside the lair, but one got inside.

We went in and all died. I played the wizard and ended up killing two of my party members, the paladin and cleric-who got critted.

We did a reboot and brought the fighter in, dropping the rogue. We were able to survive and we switched up some of the characters. I took the fighter.

Keep on shadowfell was alot of fun.

Well I guess I will throw mine in as well. First I have now 3 groups I game with and will be running some stuff for my flgs. The first group unfortunately was my little sister and her 3 friends. For the record running a game with 4 14 to 15 year old girls as the first experience with 4e was hell.

The funniest thing was they had a blast and even though they tpked in the 2nd encounter. We reset the encounter with the famous "You wake up at the inn after a terrible dream" and I went ahead and threw my good friend Tordek in to help them out. They had the Paladin, Rogue, Wizard and Cleric to work with and when good old dwarf fighter came in they plowed through the encounter pretty quick.

We didn't have time for anything else mostly because it took a long time explaining everything. I am really looking forward to this weekend when I get to run it with 6 players who at least partially know what’s going on. Also playing with the girls Sunday again so that should be another adventure.
My group seemed to have fun, but our Paladin felt unsure about the Paladin class. He wants to try the Warlord next time.

I probably didn't spread out the damage enough, and he took the brunt of things a few times. He was 2 failed rolls towards death on 2 occassions through the night, heh. It probably makes it harder not having a leader in the battle.

I'm looking forward to the actual rules, there are so many questions that I, and my players, have so far about 4E that weren't addressed in KotS.
I play in a 3.5 group which has been very resistant to 4e. To get them interested in playing 4e (as I've been excited about it) I offered to buy KoTS and the 4e books. That way they wouldn't be out anything if they didn't like it.

I received KotS last week and rounded up 3 of the 6 players we normally have. I modified the first few encounters to work with 4 1st level characters and played the cleric myself.

The group glanced at the rules and then wanted to play. They picked things up very quickly, and it only took once or twice of me pointing out rules differences between 3.5 and 4e for it to stick. Everybody took damage in that fight, and the wizard came close to going down a couple of times.

They were disappointed by the Winterhaven roleplaying, mainly because there was no information about items or prices for items in town. They were also disappointed that they had no way of knowing if any of the armor they looted from the kobolds was better than they have (or if they could even wear it because it was too small). I liked the information in the adventure about the various knowledges the people in town would have. I should have spent more time getting familiar with the characters to better roleplay them and flesh them out but I was more interested in the encounters in 4e.

They went south to the dig site. Being seasoned players they didn't believe anything they were told. They were attacked while still standing on the rim. I liked that fight, and they were satisfied when the fight ended. One of the players left in the middle of the fight due to personal reasons so we ended after it.

As a GM I thought it went well. I feel hindered by not having the core books, but as we won't be playing it again for a couple weeks I will be better prepared next time. Overall, I thought it was challenging and exciting while being easier for the GM to run. Even reducing the fights to accomodate 3 or 4 players only took me a few minutes per encounter.

Oh well. We will figure this all out eventually. Someone pointed out that he felt as if he was playing World of War craft on paper.

It is a little like WoW on paper. However, IMHO the managed to get some of the good stuff of MMOs into PnP pretty well, without taking the bad stuff. And the adventure definitely gives a lot of hints to the DM how to create a story instead of a series of encounters.

Then another player said “ this is how we should do this Use our once a day power in the combat, then we should camp.” Seemed like a good idea to me.

Looks like a good idea to me, too, especially regarding the high death toll of your party members. I would talk to the DM and tell him that the way he runs the adventure is frustrating and not fun. He should allow you to rest after each encounter, and be more forgiving if you don't use your characters abilities to their full potential.

I am sure I am making lots of them because as the healer, I seem to be having a difficult time keeping people on their feet.

Well it isn't allways the healers fault if the party dies. We had one player down to three hit points because he was darting to recklessly into combat. Especially the shifty kobolds can move into a killing position very quick and a player character has no chance to escape because of the dragon shields ability to shift if he shifts. Try to stay in formation. The two defenders on front the healer behind them and then the wizard and the rogue. The rogue should do exactly what is stated in his character sheet: Dart in and deal massive damage, and then run like hell. And only after all his good ranged attack powers are used up.

At all costs try to evade a war on two fronts. As the cleric you have the leader role, you may try to convince your comrades that it is good for them to fight together as a team and that they shouldn't take unnecessary risks.

Don't heal to early in the battle, and help your party members to remember, that once per encounter they can heal themselves. The dwarf can use a minor action for it, that's why he should be the one who takes the damage. He should mark as many enemies as possible.

On the other hand I have found the combats using the 4e rules to be frustrating and irritating, I do not find the system to be more streamlined, nor has my “fun” been increased.

I guess this is really less a problem of the system, than the DM. The real advantage of a PnP RPG over an MMO is, that the DM is capable of adjusting the difficulty to the needs of the party, and may keep a constant watch about if his players are having fun or not. Since you parrty constantly changes it should be no big surprise that you are doing worse than a party where all played together each time and learn more and more to work as a team.

If the DM recognizes that his players are frustrated, he should act to fix the problem. If he does not, I would look out for a new DM who better fits your needs.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Everybody took damage in that fight, and the wizard came close to going down a couple of times.

To any KotS DM reading this: Kobolds have an Int of 9, and are propably dumber than you. Please remember this when you play them :D

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Okay, so our group managed to prove 4E is still as deadly as any other edition of the game. I killed all the characters in our game last weekend with the kobold fight w/ irontooth. Unfortunately, it was from me using what I felt was the "smart way" to run the encounter instead of the way they had it written (i.e, set up the monsters at their starting location and activate them when PCs enter the lair and start mucking about, instead of the build-in delays listed. The dragonborn paladin got mobbed, and it just went downhill from there, even with 6 PC's present and no extra monsters added.

So we re-ran the encounter as it was written - they handled it the second time around easily when using the delays as written. Didn't help that irontooth didn't get in a hit at all. Fun had by all, but I had to keep biting my lip about how poor the built-in tactics were for the encounter (IMHO). It tried too hard to make it easy for the PCs.

I do not like the video-gamey "spawn points"/"activation points" of 4E - or at least of the writers of this module. I like the 4E rules, but I just don't like this module very much. I'll be writing my own rather than be using the rest of the adventures in the series.
I don't think the set-up inside the kobold's lair was similar to a video game. I think it made sense given that the kobolds probably never even told Irontooth what was happening, and when they did come in, he (and a lot of the second wave) probably assumed the first wave would easily dispose of it.
... Unfortunately, it was from me using what I felt was the "smart way" ... Fun had by all, but I had to keep biting my lip about how poor the built-in tactics were for the encounter (IMHO)...

Just to repeat it: Remember, they are kobolds. They are not very bright. They are lazy. They want to kill of enemies with traps. They don't want to fight ;)

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Just to repeat it: Remember, they are kobolds. They are not very bright. They are lazy. They want to kill of enemies with traps. They don't want to fight ;)

I agree with you, but these Kobolds are deadly. I DM'd the game with 5 seasoned players and with the delay of 3 rounds between the two waves [in the Irontooth encounter] and even if they managed to kill all mobs, they finally died from Irontooth (all of them) using up all their daily powers, encounter powers, second winds and action points.

The silly thing is that it would have been easier to pin the goblin down and stab him to death. Too bad there aren't any rules for that in the adventure :'(
Thompson, Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. Having never played World of Warcraft I can’t compare 4e with the computer game. I have played the various Warcraft games up to the “Frozen Throne” and I enjoyed them. I have played Star craft, and I still enjoy playing a game of star craft every once in a while, but I have never played World of Warcraft. My friends told me how much time it sucked up . Between work related photography, my personal photography, Tae Kwon do, an attempt at a social life, and D%D, there isn’t room for Wow. So I can’t make the comparisons.
I do intellectually understand, that when I am playing a cleric, I can’t always keep everyone on their feet, but with two characters being killed, and two dropped to negative hit points, every combat encounter, something must be going wrong and I have difficulty not feeling somewhat responsible. But there we are. One critical difference I realize is that the DM isn’t running the monsters, an extra player usually does. They don’t pull their punches and try to beat the party.
As for the frustration, I think it stems from more then one source. 1) The rules are new and I am unfamiliar with them. 2) I have no rulebook to read and digest. 3) I have no means of comparison, nor can I learn by making associations between 4e and 3.5 with out the rulebooks. 3) After reading and purchasing the preview books Wotc presents races and classes, and monsters and worlds, I constantly came across the refrain “this game will increase your fun, its more exciting”. This became irksome because the publishers were not backing their statements up with any examples I could sink my teeth into and come to my own conclusions over. I realize they were simply on a sales pitch.
4) The DM so far seems intent on dragging us along into 4e even though most of the players at the table have voiced their desire to return to the 3.5 game we were running.
To me it seems like having to compose photograph with out being able to see through the viewfinder. AlI can do is point the camera in the general direction and take the photograph.
Thank you for the advice about healing. It will take getting used to.
You are using some terminology I am not entirely familiar with. You mention defenders and leaders. Is a defender the party tank? What is the “leader?” Thank you.
You are using some terminology I am not entirely familiar with. You mention defenders and leaders. Is a defender the party tank? What is the “leader?” Thank you.

Leaders are the cleric and the warlord. Basically they can heal and buff (grant bonuses to the other characters attacks and defenses)

Defenders take the damage and try to make sure that nobody attacks the parties less durable characters (Especially the wizard and the rogue). They also can deal some significant damage.

Btw, taking the warlord (the bonus char for download) with you is a big plus in the fights against elites. Your DM should help you figuring out who the elites are by describing them as better armored, togher looking or simply making a better impression.

A combo which is particulary useful is the following (if you have a warlord):
Cleric attacks the boss with a lance of faith, using an action point, which grants him +2 to the attack.
The rogue moves the boss into a position where the warlord has or can easily gain combat advantage (delay if necessary. It isn't even a bad idea for all party members to delay so that they can act as one group in some encounters)

The warlord uses his action point to attack the boss with his daily power
to attack the boss. He has an additional +6 bonus to the attack (+2 combat advantage, +2 lance of faith, +2 action point from class feature). If he hits the remainder of the party gets +5 to hit during the remainder of the battle.

One of the parties I reffereed was able to drop Irontooth in two turns using this tactic (he was only able to attack once)

The dwarf should allways start to attack bosses with his daily ASAP, since if he misses, his power isn't used up.

The cleric should allways use lance of faith to help a character getting +2 to get off his daily. All chars except the dwarf should use their action point to attack with their daily, to get the +2 from the warlord.

Also, against kobolds it is absolutely mandatory to maintain a continous line of defence, to deny them combat advantage. Characters should stick together. The wyrmpriests are a danger here (the before mentioned party almost got completely roasted by one), but I would take the risk, because lots of kobold minions double (or triple!) shifting into your back are a real pain if there are skirmishers and dragon shields around.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

My experience as a player is that many of the fights are very, very hard.

Not "Wow, that was awesome that we won!" hard, but "What the heck? These guys are much higher level than we are and have many times more HP. Who the heck designed this adventure? They know we're level 1 right?" kind of hard.

And we also had 6 players in an ostensibly 5-PC adventure module...

If the goal was to prove that low level adventurers have it rough, well, they sure succeeded. Several of us spent combats face down for a long time. Not done yet, so maybe it will get better.

I swear, I wanted to go roam the forest looking for random encounters to level up before having to continue the adventure.
My experience as a player is that many of the fights are very, very hard.

Not "Wow, that was awesome that we won!" hard, but "What the heck? These guys are much higher level than we are and have many times more HP. Who the heck designed this adventure? They know we're level 1 right?" kind of hard.

And we also had 6 players in an ostensibly 5-PC adventure module...

If the goal was to prove that low level adventurers have it rough, well, they sure succeeded. Several of us spent combats face down for a long time. Not done yet, so maybe it will get better.

I swear, I wanted to go roam the forest looking for random encounters to level up before having to continue the adventure.

I totally agree. Very tough encounters...but I guess going into the forest you never know what kind of "friendly" creature you're gonna meet...might be a fatal decision too

Well, my group left off the previous saturday at 2 am in the morning having just finished A1 battle.

First order of business was thus treasure from the battle and xp.

The players then asked the halfling to use his trained perception to track the kobolds back to their lair.

Two rolls of 5 by the kobold later and I was in the midst of a skill challenge to see how lost the players would get (it is at times like this it would have been nice to have the 4e MM to throw some sort of 'reward' for stellar navigating by the halfling at the party :D ).

Another roll and the players this time were a bit more on track and I choose to use this moment to have the players come upon a farm that had evidently been attacked.

The players investigated and determined after a few rolls that the place had likely been attacked by kobolds and the people taken. They were unsure as whether this might be for sacrifice to Orcus or for food as the Wizard's attempt at nature roll resulted in him not knowing what a kobold eats.

They also found three chickens and a dog. The dwarf immediately said 'I always wanted a pet dog' and then rolled a 3 for nature to convince the dog that the dwarf was friendly. 8 points of damage later as a result of a vicious bite the dwarf unfortunately decided that he did not like this dog.

Night was coming so the player's camped for the night in the farmhouse. The next day they tried to puzzle their way back to Winterhaven. The dwarf grabbed up the three chickens and stuffed them into a sack and put them on his back for the journey. After this point, whenever the Dwarf was asked on clucking noises and how he came by the chickens he would respond happily, 'They were free range chickens. Field rations.'

The group decided this was euphonism for a wide variety of things that might be acquired including carts, cattle, and houses. They were all 'free range'.

The party got paid by Lord Padrig for the 5 kobold hands they took as bounty in A1.

The priest then found the priestess in the inn and discussed the necklass that he had found with her. He pointed out the symbol on the necklass.

The priestess assured the cleric that there was no one in Winterhaven that would ever be associated with such a foul religion. I put plenty of stress into the wording and the player decided that he would not roll insight but take the priestess at her word on the matter. He also gave her the necklass to keep and properly see it was destroyed.

The group though joked thoughts that they think that they may end up seeing this exact same necklass appear again later in the adventure. Since this conversation took place openly in the inn, I am sure that the necklass will end up in the proper hands. :D

The players spent the night in Winterhaven and in the morning went out looking again for kobolds. The halfling did much better this time (well the first roll was pretty bad but the second roll was a 20) and I had them find the kobold lair.

I changed the rules slightly with the trees. I charged 2 squares of movement for going through the trees. I said that 2 squares of trees blocked full line of sight and 1 square of trees gave cover that resulted in a -2 to shooting.

If players were beyond the tree line and had not made a perception check of 12 or higher then they could not spot any of the kobolds (15 or higher to spot all kobolds not attempting stealth) and could not use out of player information to fire attacks or charge.

Initially, it was a bit of problem as most of the party but the dwarf on the first round failed to spot anything and the dwarf barely spotted a pair of minions. This gave me time to gather all the minions together at the circle (the players were not attempting stealth and were easily noticed by the kobolds).

The dwarf finally stated breaching the trees north of the circle. Unfortunately, he went alone as the others stayed behind him. He choose to equip himself with a shield (called it a heavy shield) that he had acquired from the previous encounters with the Dragonshields.

The dwarf then took the first of two salvo's of javelin (9 javelins in each salvo) fire while the rest of the party got organized. I played the kobolds according to the stated tactics of them trying to stay with the magic circle that gave a +1 to hit. The dwarf returned fire with a gluepot that he had found on the slinger in the first ambush.

Finally, the party got themselves organized and started to move on the kobolds with the Paladin coming in from the north west side of the circle. The cleric moved up beside the dwarf to help the dwarf fix some javelin wounds and the rogue moved out to the east in the trees hoping to move around back of the kobold group.

The mage was a couple of squares back of the dwarf and still not making a perception check to see much beyond the trees. With the mage alone and all the rest of the party occupied, I revealed that I had snuck the skirmisher from his initial spot into the woods at the north edge of the map and come around behind the back of the party. I then had the kobold charge out at the back of the mage that was still wondering what was going on and ram his spear in the back of the mage.

I rolled a 2 to hit!

Again, the mage escaped me!

Last ambush I had two dragonshields leap out of hiding and go for the mage and could one of them hit the mage in the surprise round?? Nope. This is one lucky mage but I know his number will be coming up.

The rogue halfling then had to come back and rescue the mage from the skirmisher.

While this was going on the kobold slinger managed to immobilize the dwarf fighter for a round with a gluepot. I also managed to put some damage on the paladin. The cleric spent his daily fixing up mostly the dwarf but also the paladin.

I got to use my last round of javelins on the dwarf from the minions.

Then the battle broke into two big swarms of kobolds. The skirmisher moved away from the rogue halfling and into the back of the dwarf while the minions and the dragon shield moved as many as they could around the dwarf. The rest worked into positions around the paladin.

I bloodied the dwarf some more from these attacks.

The rogue managed to finish off the skirmisher clearing that threat which allowed the mage to move up and cast burning hands. The blast torched several of the minions but it also did 14 points of damage to the Paladin :D who got caught in the blast and it missed the dragonshield.

The loss of the several minions though pretty much ended the battle for the kobolds. I sent the slinger off to warn Irontooth. I did a bit more damage to the dwarf but that was pretty much it.

By the end of the battle, the dwarf fighter had used 4 surges and the paladin had used 2 surges and several of the people had used their encounters and the cleric had used his daily.

I then asked how long they were staying and what they were doing. They told me that they did not want to spend long as they just wanted to cut the hands off and grab any quick loot.

The cleric though had the wizard cast light on his shield (aquired from a dragonshield in a previous encounter) and decided to poke a look into the cave.

It was 12:30 AM so we left it at that point with the cleric having poked his nose beyond the waterfall (though I had not set up anything inside). Just unfolding the map to show that there was a big area beyond the waterfall was dramatic enough.

Further, the group has not even taken a short rest; so, they do not yet have their encounter powers recovered and the cleric is a fair distance from help.

Next saturady looks like it might be interesting. :D
Last night we got through a few more encounters. The Warlord wasn't there, but the Rogue joined us. Encounters go a lot faster when you have a striker, from what I've seen.

It seems to me that the designers of H1 may have gone a little overboard with the minions.

We got to Irontooth's lair in pretty good shape, but the fight in there took all we had, plus two pieces of DM intervention to not kill us all. I think we would have been alright if we'd had five characters. It still would have been a challenge, but we wouldn't have been wiped out.
My group just started the module yesterday. After an hour waiting for the remaining players to show up we started playing with only 2. Each of my players controlled an extra PC. We went through the 2 Kobold ambushes and the Dragon Excavation encounter. I adapted them for 4 PCs, by taking out 100 XP worth of monsters off each encounter. I have to say that the combats are muuch more fun and streamline, easy to manage for everyone especially the DM. They look hard at first, but the key is good tactical decisions and a teamwork mentality. If the party does not use teamwork, they're dead. No one went in the negatives in my game and I think the encounters are fairly balanced, although the Kobold cave one looks really difficult.

Next saturady looks like it might be interesting. :D

Well actually, they will propably die if they are a group of five.

If you don't use a very coordinated approach and use your daily powers to full potential, ironrooth has a good chance to wipe the floor with a level one party.

I would recomment to bring in the monsters in three waves instead of two.

irontooth and one dragonshield in the second wave.

And then watch what happens. If the players allready take a beating, just skip the second dragonshield and the wyrmpriest. If they are doing well, let the second ds and the wyrmpriest enter as third wave.

Ceterum censeo capsum rubeum esse delendam

Lots of fun, so far. Four hour game got my three players up to the waterfall. One PC death in the ambush when leaving Winterhaven and a few close calls. Very good, overall.
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