So last Friday we played our second session of my D&D campaign, which wrapped up the first adventure. Let me introduce the characters, since I'm planning on posting about this campaign a fair amount.
Syragus Trent: A human cleric of Ioun (goddess of knowledge and prophecy), Syragus has come to Fallcrest to build a library there, since there hasn't been a functional one in a century or more. He has recently run into some funding trouble, and things aren't going as well as he'd hoped.
Kieranda Leaftoke: An elf ranger, she's a deadeye with a longbow but isn't particularly motivated. She mostly tags along because somehow her and Syragus became friends.
Venison: A minotaur warden, Ven is technically evil, although he's working on redeeming himself, but he doesn't know how. Currently in chains and a captive of...
Caranthir: An elf avenger, Car used to be a bounty hunter until he dedicated himself to Corellon, god of the arts. He captured Ven because, well, minotaurs are evil, even though Ven has done nothing wrong yet and has been very helpful, albeit violent and weird. He has a vested interest in Syragus' library project.
Galed: A recently reborn deva wizard, Galed is obsessed with learning everything he can about, well, everything. Half of this party is of above average intelligence, but Galed is the clear winner in the knowledge department. He may or may not also be the subject of a prophecy and the chosen one who will defeat a great evil mentioned in said prophecy.
Gorram: A human shaman, Gorram stumbled upon Galed in the woods, and is convinced that Galed is the prophesied hero who will stop the unknown bad thing. So he's taken on the role of Galed's bodyguard.
The gist of the adventure, for those who don't know, is that the market green collapsed and some huge insectoid monsters called kruthik came out. After a decently bloody fight, in which Kieranda shot the minotaur who she thought was a monster, the PCs tracked the kruthik back to their lair. They soon stumbled upon a human alchemist who was experimenting on the kruthik, as well as a group of humanoids who seem to have been killing staff in the laboratory. They don't know who any of these people are, although they do have two pages of the alchemist's journal, and a list of names, all but one of which has been crossed off.
They then killed the kruthik hive lord, which would have probably been a horrible fight if Galed hadn't used his daily to put the bug(ger) to sleep. They then proceeded to murder it quite effectively.
The hive lord was too much to throw at them, but my philosophy on encounter design is generally to make fights more difficult and then ease up on them during the game. That would have been difficult in this because one of the problems was that the hive lord has some pretty high defenses, which would have made hitting him difficult, no matter how many times he "missed" the characters.
What I Learned
Mostly the above, that even though a higher level monster might technically fit into a suitable encounter for characters, you still have to watch for their defenses, etc. I also need to watch out for that Sleep spell. It can essentially end an encounter far easier than normal if used right, as we saw above. Not every monster will get knocked out by it though, so there's that. Sleep has always been a really troublesome spell for me, theoretically, because it does exactly that. I think this is the first time I've ever had a player cast it though. Since it's a first level spell, and a daily, it's not something that I feel right mitigating. Making monsters immune to sleep, or using lots of monsters that are, punishes Galed's player for taking a perfectly legal spell, and that's not fun.
I haven't started writing the next adventure yet, although I have it pretty well plotted in my head and have figured out the hooks. I'm going to try and run this one over the course of one session, for a couple of reasons.
1) The first adventure probably shouldn't have taken two sessions, but we ****ed around even more than we usually do, and we're not a group that takes itself very seriously.
2) I wanted to keep the adventures short anyway because we're only playing every other weekend.
3) I want them to be level 2 by the end of this next story so that we can start The Reavers of Harkenwold the next session. Bonus: That session will be the weekend before spring break, which means I can run two weekends in a row without having to drive back and forth twice (which is why we don't play weekly), which is really exciting. Especially because Reavers is a longer adventure, although it should break up into sessions pretty well.