So one of the things that’s kept me busy for the past year has been getting back into roleplaying games. I’ve been a gamer since I was around 10 years old and have played pretty much most of the systems under the sun. I started with Rolemaster in the eighties and then moved to Dungeon and Dragons just before 2nd edition came out. So the plan here is to post a weekly summary of our adventures at D&D Encounters.
Traditionally I’ve been the DM for this group but I arranged for another DM James to take over my table for this season so that I could play in another city while I was on vacation. I’ll be back to DMing next season I don’t know just how that will affect me writing commentary on the encounters but I figure something out. Until then I plan to do a bit of a mix of in-character writing and some out of game commentary on the encounter and on things like mechanics.
I want to preface something about the in-character point of view stuff before I get started. Original the group of players had decided to build an all human group. In nine sessions we have not had a single one where we didn’t have some non-human jump into the group for the evening. Now through role-playing my character came out as a bit of a bigot and human centeric. Some of that attitude will come through in the post. Oh and the rest of the human’s in the group aren’t much better.
Our local brick and mortar store Pendragon Games and Hobbes as done pretty well by Encounters. When I compare it to what I’ve heard about a lot of other stores. We’ve averaged 3 full or nearly full tables for a long time now. 1 table is made up of the adult players and the other two table have a decent mix of younger (IE newer Gamers) and more experienced players to others learn the game.
This week we got off to a bit of a slow start when a mother should up with 4 kids around twelve years old who all wanted to play. It required more than a little bit of juggling to make sure everyone had a place to play. We also had a player, who is known to DM time to time, show up late. So he was parachuted in to run a fourth table. Thankfully he was willing and only lived about five minutes away and hurried off to grab a few things he needed. By the time everything was set and ready to go we had three tables of six and one table of four.
We started off the encounter with the DM handing around a sheet with stat blocks for town guards. The whole table really got excited at this. We all remembered how fun they were in Keep on the Borderlands.
Our Regular Party
Human Shaman – Keira
Human War Priest – Throne
Human Fighter – Ben
Human Bard – Drew DesJarling
The two additions to our table for this week
Drow Hunter – Belgos
Eladrin Wizard – Dracsal
The Halfling, if that is what he really was, had been pretty forth coming with information after a little bit of persuasion and fire. I’m not sure which encouraged him more and I didn’t much care either. Anything that would work with these shadow creatures and apparently army of the undead that planned to march on the city didn’t deserve any quarter. This whole situation was keeping me from getting to the next town with the mail and making it to the taverns to perform. Missing dates meant losing money as a Bard so I wanted to be done with this.
Once we had the information the group gathered around and I cast Comrades Succor. Our big hitter Ben was getting pretty worn out and need whatever we could share. I wasn’t doing all that much better either. Most of the group took part lending their strength to the ritual. The Drow was the exception and I was exceedingly grateful for.
Comrades Succor is such a useful ritual in the Encounter style of play. The ability to share and spread out left over healing surges really adds to the survivability of the tanks and strikers. The only problem was that in some of the Encounter seasons they seem to have forgotten to award gold.
As a group we began to patrol the streets and spread the word of the impending undead attack. It was pretty clear from each group of townsfolk we passed that their spirits had been beaten. A lot of the people seemed ready to just give up and maybe even flee town. There wasn’t anyone of authority around so we took it upon ourselves to bolster their spirit. Ben and Throne were the first to offer their own words of encouragement. I was honestly surprised this didn’t lead to a mass suicide among those who heard their words.
I took control of the situation and stepped up calling on my gift of the gab and my training as a Bard and really inspired them to defend their homes. To my surprise the Drow followed up with a threaten speech of his own that scared many of them and really sealed there resolve. Excited by the speeches Ben ran through the crowd cheering them on. I couldn’t see it from my vantage point but I would wager all the gold I had he was grabbing asses where ever he could. It didn’t do much for their mood, so I encouraged them to break themselves into smaller groups and patrol their town. Mostly I wanted them away from my companions in case any of them tried again to improve their spirits.
As they split up and head on their way a small group from the watch approached us. They had heard my words and wanted to accompany us as we patrolled. We are not ones to turn away help so we welcomed them and were on our way. There wasn’t a long wait before we found action. As we patrolled the streets a scream rose up from near the armoury and we rushed to investigate.
It was initiative time Drew ended up with a respectable 17 which put him second among the players right after our Wizard. I was a little surprised to see the map being reused a second time in the season, in fact this was the second time a map had been used twice so far. I’m hoping that we don’t keep seeing the same maps over and over again. At the same time it was interesting to come at the map from a different angle.
The snap of bow strings rang out from the skeletal warriors in tattered monk’s robes to announce the start of battle. I felt two sharp pains blossom in my chest. Arrows had punched through my armour and embedded themselves into me. To my surprise the Wizard acted first his attention focused on one of the skeletons. It then turned as if a puppet on strings and attacked one of its numbers and dropped it. Afterwards he ordered his guardsman to head around the far side of the building.
I sent my guard to the base of the Armoury and ran up the man like he was a ladder to get up on to its roof. It would give me a little bit of cover and keep me from their blades. As soon as I was in position I let out a staggering note that was enough to disrupt the magic and it crumbled a skeletal warrior right before my eyes. As it turned out the roof might not have been my best move. A blazing skeleton on the bridge lobbed a ball of fire at me. Thankfully his aim was awful and the flaming sphere ricocheted off the Armory and into the cart and started it smoldering. At least for once I wasn’t the one setting things on fire.
From where I was I could hear several of the guards being sent around to the far side of the Armoury. I learned later that the drow had gone with them. Now I’m not saying it’s was the drow’s fault or anything but it seems like it might be more than a coincidence that a lot of the guards didn’t make it back.
Thorne rushed to a nearby door and tried to open it, it was locked, then charged into combat and dropped another warrior. His guard moved up behind him and dropped another with a crossbow then dropped prone. These things were dropping like flies around us.
Keira, our Shaman, conjured up her spirit companion a massive panther right next to the blazing skeleton. The beast’s claws ripped blazing skeleton with a perfect strike. From my vantage point on the roof I could see bits of smouldering bone splash into the stream as they flew over the rail. She sent her guardsmen to join the drow and the others on the opposite side of the building. I thought she had more sense than sending the poor man to his death like that. Ben followed Keira’s lead and sent his member of the watch along with the other one and then moves up along the side of the build. Everyone is left with an uneasy feeling that all of this was just too easy and that we have only seen the first wave of the enemy.
I could only just hear the twang of bow that was followed immediately by a scream as one of the guards fell. The Wizard shimmered out of exisitance on the ground and joined me up on the roof of the armoury. I catch sight of a few gestures from him and glow cage forms around one of the Blazing skeleton on the bridge that is currently fighting with Keira’s spirit companion
Then the air is pierced by several screams coming from the far side of the building. I had no doubt that the death of those men was exceeding painful. If we hadn’t been in the midst of combat I would have rushed to the men’s aid but they knew what they were getting into when they joined us. Ever done dangerous work for the town already and it was way they joined us. So I guess in a lot of ways they are just paying the price for it.
The roof of the armoury had gotten a little to crowd for me. It didn’t help that the Eladrin wizard has an odd odour to him that I just had to get away from. I leapt from the roof with the skill of a train acrobat, twisted in the air and landed on the back of the wagon. Flames were starting to crawl up the front portion of it but I was able to land and slid off it to the back. As my feet hit the ground I let out another long staggering note. The energy of my scream focused on the blazing skeleton with the hopes of pushing him out of the energy cage he was trapped in. It screams as it passes through the bar, I only wish that stupid spirit companion of Keira’s would learn to take advantages of the opportunities I give it in combat.
The attack on the blazing skeleton brought up an interesting discussion and the idea of forced move causing damage. The DM allowed it but warned that it wasn’t allowed for in the rules, because it had been allowed at the table in the past. As a group of players we are far more focused on the story then a lot of groups we have seen and read about out. In the case of things like Phamtom Cage when something is trapped in something and the power reads that it will take damage if it moves out of it I honestly think they should take that damage. They are moving from the spot. Beside most things that cause forced movement generally do less damage because they have that addition of forced movement. So doing things like Phantom Cage and then causing forced movement is really just the players working together and they should be rewarded for that teamwork.
I can hear the sounds of more combat coming from the back of the armoury and I’m left to wonder if this is the second wave we had been expecting. I wasn’t standing long enough to find out. Two flaming spheres smashed into me and I drop like a rock. Thankful, I wasn’t out of the fight for long, Throne and Keira both called upon the powers of the respective patrons and healed me.
At this point two of the players both realized there pencils have gone missing and I had apparently started a small collection of them. Opps, say I admit it at gaming tables I am a pencil thief. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it.
Ben charged the nearest remaining skeletal warrior and missed. The two of them exchange blows but neither of them came out ahead. Another skeletal warrior attacked and hit Throne with strong blow.
Critical hits from minions are an absolute waste. That will be a topic for an upcoming blog post, we’ve got a few house rules that we use at our regular table when it comes to Critical Hits and Fumbles. I’ll talk about them at length but it will have to wait for another time.
The wizard tried to conjure something from up on the roof but it must have failed because I couldn’t see any effects on the battlefield. At this point the first blazing skeleton is starting to sputter and does seem long for this world. A second one has arrived on the opposite side of the small stream that ran beside the armoury. I call on a small amount of energy from the Feywild and pull Ben and Throne through it to place them in flaking positions against it.
I wave my guardsman forward to take a swing at the one on the bridge. He drew his sword as he charged up the bridged and swings that skeleton. Sadly his footing wasn’t what it should have been and he misses. The scream that came from his lips wasn’t one of frustration it was one of pain as the man flesh melted off his bones.
A quick out of character comment is required here because something happened here that Drew wasn’t privy to. At the back of the Armoury the drow, hunter, was fighting an insubstantial creature of the Shadowfell all by himself. The majority of the guards with him had already been killed by it. He attacked and scored a critical hit then action pointed and did it again for another critical. A few seconds afterwards the Shaman made an attacked and scored a critical as well. As a group we were all rolling super hot.
Across the river the blazing skeleton swings at Throne but misses. Throne returns the favour and misses as well. A blessing that came from his ancestral weapon enabled him to hit it on the return swing. It would have missed had it not been for a timely distraction by Ben
Three of the players at our table rewards that we had received past seasons of Encounters. While only a couple of us Encounter Cards. Ben and Throne both received the hundred point reward from Keep on the Borderland called Enchanted Heirloom that allows them to reroll a single attack.
The Shaman’s spirit attacked and took the head off the Blazing Skeleton. Which went splash and hissed as it fell into the stream. Then she moved forward to the edge of the armoury to see what was left. Across the river Ben swung at the final Blazing Skeleton and would have missed had it not been for the finely crafted family heirloom he used as a weapon.
One of the few remaining skeletons charged the shaman but missed. On the top of the armoury the Wizard decided he needed off the roof and makes jump for it. He must have either seriously miss judged the distance or was a complete idiot. I refuse to let my opinion of the Eladrin’s intelligence influence you the reader and will let you make up your own minds. In the end he landed hard and fell on his ass. A number of us offered what we considered to be helpful suggestions on how he could have done that better. I have no doubt that he didn’t find them very helpful.
I switched to my bow and let an arrow fly across the stream. I’m sure that there must have been water on the edge of the bridge or something cause I ended up slipping and landing flat on my back. The irony of the timing wasn’t lost on me. The only thing that was really hurt was my pride, but I think the wizard couldn’t have been happier at the situation. As I fell the drow rounded the corner and rambled about having fought something at the back of the building and fired an arrow that went wide as well. From the far side of the building a guard appeared and missed with his crossbow.
The blazing skeleton must have been getting nervous if it was capable of such feeling any longer. There wasn’t a lot on the field that could aid him. His attack went wide and I shouted something across the stream that distracted him enough that he nearly fell into the stream. A quick reach on his part prevented it but was not enough to keep him on his feet. Throne took the opportunity to smash in the face of his prone opponent. The final skeletal warrior met its end directly at the hands of the shaman with no assistance from her spirit companion. A rare feat that I’ve only seen happen a couple of times since I met her.
With the last of them dispatched and the area clear we all hurried back to the Gray Owl. There won’t be a lot of rest to be had on this day. But we watch as the sun struggles to reclaim the land as its own from the Shadowfell. When we wake up we learn from Grimbul the head of the town’s watch that the monks who attacked the armoury and a few other places about town all seem to have come from Saint Avarthil’s Monstry. He has asked us to go there and check it. I guess the mail will have to wait a few more days.
It was interesting to learn after the encounter that the opening piece was a skill challenge to see how the guards that joined us would react when faced with real combat. Also that the results of last week’s encounter impacted this weeks and it meant that we didn’t have to face as much in the way of reinforcements. As a player and as a DM I really like the way they brought the different encounters together and made one them affect the other. It just gives them all so much more meaning.