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The Brotherhood Session 3: Welcome to Fallcrest! July 12, 2010

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Narrative, The Brotherhood.
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I felt like this session went really well. This pleases me, mostly because I felt really under prepared for it and the game suffered at the beginning because of it. It was a small group of three–Jed canceled last minute–but it ended up being a lot of fun.

A Bump in the Road

The heroes start in Winterhaven. Carlsberg is sleeping off a nasty hangover (due to Jed’s absence) so Vellan sends the party on ahead to Fallcrest with the understanding that Carlsberg will meet up with them after he sleeps off his night of partying with Douven Stahl.

The PCs stock up on some gear, and then meet with Vellan for some instruction before heading off. Vellan explains to them about the Mortal World and its echo planes. Each of the three mirrors is tied to one of the three planes: the Mortal World, the Feywild, and the Shadowfell. He informs them that he now has two of the three mirrors (the Mortal and Shadow mirrors) but that they Fey mirror is missing. Members of The Brotherhood are currently searching the Feywild for the last mirror.

He instructs them to ask for Leucis Azaer–a tiefling member of The Brotherhood and one of Vellan’s trusted friends, who would introduce them to The Brotherhood–once they reach Fallcrest. They head out along the Old King’s Road, heading southeast toward Fallcrest. As they near Kobold Hall, they come across some overturned wagons in a bend in the road. When they approach the wagons, some kobolds jump out in surprise to ambush them.

Ambushed

The kobolds leap out from their hiding spots–a couple of them jumping on top of the overturned wagon. One of them hurls a gluepot from the distance and hits Perrywinkle, rendering him immobilized. It would be at least 3-4 rounds before he was able to make his saving throw–this despite the fact that Ocie used his Divine Mettle power to grant Perry and additional saving throw. It was the first time that I have seen a saving throw condition last that long. I loved it. That same hurler got another pot off with his sling that struck Dak and covered him with a debilitating stench of some sort. I’m really not sure how a stink pot lowers your defenses and attacks, but we went with it as best we could.

Perry is close enough to the kobolds to attack despite being immobilized. While he is fighting a kobold minion, the kobold slyblade (lvl 2 Lurker) comes around into flanking position. Ocie draws near and engages with another minion, and eventually Dak makes his way over to get into a flanking position against the kobold lurker. This set up one of my favorite moments from the night; there was a straight line of flanking/combat advantage that went like this: kobold skirmisher, Perry, kobold slyblade, Dak, kobold hurler, Ocie. I put on Ride of the Valkyries (it was still up on my laptop from the previous session with the KotS crew) and we all enjoyed a beautiful moment of strange combat.

The first kobold death comes at the hands of Perry, who scores an opportunity attack against a kobold minion who tries to leap off of the cart and slash at Ocie. Soon, Ocie has the other minion dead and is able to join the main fray. Dak steps up with some wild powers and is kicking, punching, and using his spear to stab the kobold slyblade. Then the slyblade yanks out his second shortsword and executes a double attack on Dak, scoring two wicked hits and knocking Dak unconscious on the floor. Dak misses his first death saving throw but Ocie is able to get over to help Dak heal before any more damage is taken. Meanwhile, Perry is able to kill off the slyblade with his blade erupting into green flame as he swings it down at the kobold’s head and strikes such a nasty blow that the kobold’s fingernails/claws fall off.

With Dak now back in the game but only at 5 HP, the kobold’s dagger attack seems like it might drop him again, but Dak is left with one HP left. He catches his second wind and uses an action point to then skewer the kobold hurler with his spear, lift up the kobold, and then slam his spear butt-end down into the ground, with the kobold hanging from it in the air. The kobold slides to the ground, where Dak calmly removes his spear and continues on with the fight. It was definitely an awesome moment. In fact, if this were D&D Encounters, Dak would have won the Moment of Glory award right there in my opinion. Maybe I will grant him some bonus XP for his maneuver. We’ll see.

This session saw Ocie finally break out of his very poor rolling. We started off rough with another natural 1 and some fear from Ben that it would be another one of those nights. Soon he was rolling consistently well though and I think he was able to enjoy playing much more because of it. He was definitely able to get involved in the action much more and have his attacks and actions be fruitful. He got a kill, he healed a fallen ally (that has to buy him some renown–he has raised up a fallen comrade laid low in battle twice now in less than a few days game time), and he thought to suggest capturing the last remaining kobold instead of slaughtering him to find out some info. The kobold didn’t have any helpful info other than to show the party where they had been camping out and the party was able to get some loot.

To Fallcrest!

Perry finds Luring Leather Armor +1 and the party gets some more lot that they can sell or use. Then they head into Fallcrest. When they get to the gates, they ask for Leucis Azaer. The guards direct them to a particular inn where Leucis is known to frequent and they meet him there. He was easy to find because he is a tiefling and tieflings are not terribly common to the region, aside from a couple of families with long ties to the area–like the Azaers. Leucis escorts them to The Brotherhood Manor (not actually named that) and introduces them to some members of the Brotherhood. He then spends some time going over details and info with the party. They learn that the Blackguard is indeed operating out of Fallcrest and that Akron is the man in charge of the day-to-day events here. No one has seen Davron Black outside of the closest inner circle of his cult, so The Brotherhood is at a loss as to how to pursue him. Leucis explains that they need the PCs to track down Akron, by finding where the Blackguard lair is. Thus begins our Skill Challenge.

This was the first time (2nd really for Matt) that these players participated in a Skill Challenge (SC). Matt’s first one didn’t really work out–it was fun, but they trumped my challenge with some awesome real life animal knowledge that basically granted them an auto-success for the whole SC. I felt like this one went very well. I feel like I explained what the SC is much more clearly than the last time I ran one and the players seemed to grasp it very quickly. They all had some great ideas on how to locate the hideout and I felt like I was able to roll with their ideas much more fluidly this time around.

We rolled for initiative in terms of who would actually go first to make a skill check, but the brainstorming aspect of it existed outside of turns and it was very helpful. Ocie starts off with the idea to go to a bar to see if they could get some info from that type of central hub of information. Perry–whose skills initially seemed rather out of place in this challenge–came up with the great idea to use his knowledge of history to see if there were any logical places for the hideout to be positioned. The SC started out with Dak making a stealth check at the bar to try and hear info as he moved around. Sadly he fails, so we decide that he bumps into some tables on accident and then is awkwardly leaning toward booths while people are talking, so that every time he gets near to one, the conversation just sort of stops. Next, Ocie fails a secondary skill check of perception to see if he could spot anyone with the Blackguard tattoo. Perry then fails his first role as well as he tries to search the city records for any logical place where the hideout would be.

After that rough first round things picked up. Dak climbs up into some rafters above the bar to listen in without the people knowing. Ocie talks to the Barman and gets a lead of someone in the poor section of town who might know something. Perry does an Arcana check outside of different buildings in town, seeing if he can spot magical items that might tip him off to a building being somewhat out of the ordinary. Dak stealthily makes his way through the rafters to get into a great position to hear some info and catches the name of the front or face of the Blackguard operation in Fallcrest. Ocie then buys some peasant clothes and goes about the poor section of town, gleaning information off of the people themselves. Perry visits one of the temples and asks about cults in the area. The high Priest there tells him that one section of town in particular seems to be losing members of the religion more quickly than anywhere else, which narrows the potential buildings down to about two or three. At this point there were 5 successes on a level 1, complexity 2 SC, so with the final success, Dak stealthily searches out those three buildings and confirms that one in particular looks very promising as the base of operations for the Blackguard.

Wrap Up

We ended the session there. The three players got some XP, got some loot, and had some fun so I am very pleased with the night’s gaming. Mike had come up with some backstory, and he shared it mid-game with us all. I was ecstatic. He basically is hunting down an old friend who he feels responsible for leading to the Blackguard. The Blackguard had approached him (Dak) and he was considering joining up before he realized their evil ways. Unfortunately his friend–who sort of worshiped Dak and started looking into the Blackguard because of Dak’s potential involvement–got caught up and lost in it. Now Dak seeks to destroy that friend who has become a monster.

What I Will Do Differently

I thought that everything turned out just fine for this session, but I will definitely spend a little more time in actual Get-ready-for-gameplay prep. I didn’t have my dice out, I didn’t have my books all marked and ready to go, and I didn’t even have the minis all out and ready. Granted, I had been running around cleaning and what not to get the place ready, but it made the beginning of the session drag a little bit in my opinion. The other thing I learned is that the encounters should be meaningful to the story. The combat encounter was basically just tossed in there as a sort of  “You get attacked on the road while you travel to Fallcrest” encounter. They got some XP and loot (Perry got a nice piece of leather armor) so it was alright, and really most importantly I think they had fun so it’s all good in the end, but I think Ben was trying to find a way to piece the two attacks together and there was just nothing there. I can see how that could be disappointing or a bit of a let down to find out in the end that basically you just had a battle that was fairly meaningless in larger story terms.

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