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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.

The Brotherhood Session 2: Find Douven Stahl June 3, 2010

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Keep on the Shadowfell, Narrative, The Brotherhood.
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Tonight I had the pleasure of running Group 1 through the Douven Stahl side quest of Keep on the Shadowfell. We introduced some new blood to the group with our players Michael and Ben (it was Michael’s first time playing 4e and Ben’s second), and everyone seemed to get along well and enjoy the play session, so I’d say it was a success.

My idea for this session was to introduce the guys to one another and set the stage for the campaign to develop. I had taken the back story for Ben’s character and come up with some ideas for where it could lead, but I didn’t want to plan too far ahead before I could get a feel for what the guys would want out of the campaign.

Robot Rollcall

Carlsberg Torres – Human Ranger/Rogue (multiclass) played by Jed

Perrywinkle – Eladrin Swordmage played by Matt

Ocieleoz (Ocie for short) – Human Paladin of Ioun played by Ben

Dak – Githzerai Monk played by Michael

What Happened

We jumped right into the action, having the heroes arrive at the dragon burial site to find Ensil the Gnome Skulk (lvl 2 Lurker), his 4 Human Rabble (lvl 2 Minions), and 2 Guard Drakes (lvl 2 Brutes) gathered around a massive pit lined with bones. The party begins talking to Ensil, asking him if he knows Douven Stahl or has seen a dwarf. He says no but invites them to come on down to the bottom of the excavation site to see what he has found. As they near they notice a blanket covering a small bundle in the corner. Carlsberg and Ocie hear some soft mumbling coming from underneath the blanket and, as soon as they ask Ensil about it, he yells out “Attack” and disappears behind a rock along the edge of the pit. The fight is on!

Dak finds himself between the two Guard Drakes and immediately unleashes a flurry of blows on both of them. He and Perrywinkle spent most of the remainder of the fight focusing on those two nasty foes, dishing out and taking blows each turn. Carlsberg runs down toward the Human Rabble, flipping off of the side of the dirt slope and twin-strike launching daggers at two of the foes mid flip. Both of his daggers embed deeply into the throats of the Human Rabble minions, killing them both instantly.

Ocieleoz spends much of the fight doing his job of drawing fire from the enemy–the Human Rabble focus their attacks on him while Carlsberg cartwheels and flips around killing them–but is unable to land much of any blows on the minions. Dak is both dishing out and taking heavy amounts of damage, with the Guard Drakes flanking him at times and landing many bite attacks to his legs. The tough brutes were there to guard Ensil and to take lots of damage and they certainly do their job.

During all of this fighting, Ensil is trying to sneak around the pit to a more advantageous position where he can step out of the shadows and sneak attack someone into oblivion. Unfortunately his initial attacks prove utterly ineffectual as he (I) keeps rolling 1s.

Carlsberg kills off the next Human Rabble minion with a knee-slide maneuver that allows him a great angle to throw a dagger into his foe’s crotch. He successfully hits for some severe severing damage (if I haven’t mentioned already… Carlsberg fancies himself a bit of a potions master/experimentalist. He is constantly collecting bits and pieces for his alchemical hobby).

Perrywinkle and Dak team up well against their scaled foes, with one of Perrywinkle’s magic-imbued sword attacks sending off a chain of lightning from one Drake to the other. While they are thus engaged–and Carlsberg’s attention is on the only Human Rabble left, who was battling Ocieleoz–Ensil creeps out of the shadows and swings his war pick at Carlsberg’s back. Somehow he misses. Carlsberg immediately runs forward away from the devious gnome, jumps off of the body of a fallen human minion, and attempts to flip off of Ocieleoz’s shoulder so he can throw daggers at both the gnome and human while spinning through the air. Unfortunately, he slips on Ocie’s shoulder during takeoff, falling to the ground. He is able to get off his daggers though, one cutting into the gnome’s thigh and the other sinking deeply between the human’s ribs. He ends his turn prone, with no Human Rabble minions left alive and Ensil disappearing once again, using his Fade Away racial power.

With the Drakes being the only foes left to see, Ocie moves towards them to try and lend a hand–but continues his poor rolling instead. Frustrated, he moves away from the battle a few steps to try and clear his head. At that moment Perrywinkle’s blade erupts in green flames, and he slices his sword deep into the flank of the Drake and then swings his blade around to come stabbing down into the skull and brain of the now bloodied Drake; it collapses in a lifeless heap.

Dak continues his rain of blows on the remaining four-legged reptilian creature, who lands a return bite on the Monk. Right after this, Ensil reappears suddenly, standing over Carlsberg’s prone body, and swings his nasty pick down into Carlsberg’s shoulder, scoring a wicked hit. Enraged, Carlsberg grabs his two daggers and slices upward between the small thighs, dismembering the poor gnome’s “satchel.” Immediately afterward, Carlsberg flips up from his prone position, crosses his arms, and taunts his now manhoodless foe.

Back around the other side of the dragon pit, Perrywinkle’s blade erupts into green flames once again, this time coming down to kill the remaining Guard Drake. The PCs begin to move toward Carlsberg and Ensil who–recognizing that the battle was lost–decides to flee. He takes one last swing at Carlsberg (scoring a critical hit and dealing a tremendous amount of damage), digging his war pick deep into Carlsberg’s side; Carlsberg drops unconscious and dying on the floor. Ensil makes a break for it.

Ocie runs over to Carlsberg, lays his hands on his head and heals his wounds, returning Carlsberg to good health and conscious life. Ocie then, already on his knees, raises his voice in prayer to his god. Ioun answers and Ensil feels the terrible wrath of the god’s noble paladin servant; Ensil falls dead to the ground.

The Blackguard

The heroes search the bodies and find an amulet (which they soon find out belongs to Douven Stahl and which they return to him) and a tiny black shield tattoo on Ensil’s right ring finger. Under the blankets they find Douven Stahl, bound and gagged. He thanks them and points out the small wooden box hidden under some exposed roots that contains some gold and a tarnished, ancient looking silver mirror. Douven also points out another cache of bottles of ale wrapped in damp cloths, hiding behind some other exposed roots.

They get back to Winterhaven and split up. Carslberg and Douven end up in the tavern, laughing and drinking the night away. After a time Douven decides to give his amulet to his new friend Carlsberg. The other heroes visit Valthrun the Prescient’s tower, where they find Vellan the Mulletted visiting with his old friend Valthrun. They report on the events and learn that the mirror is one of three mirrors that Vellan is searching for. The men that attacked Douven Stahl were Blackguard and they are searching for the mirrors for some vile purpose. Vellan keeps things pretty close to the chest–he won’t tell them what the mirror is for or how it is used–but he does explain that the Blackguard is a secretive and very dangerous cult that has recently sprung up. They worship a mortal man named Davron Black who is convinced (from the telling of a prophecy) that he is destined to replace/become a god. His Blackguard are his mighty warriors who carry out his destructive purposes and his right-hand man is a heavily scarred (at least in his face) man named Akron. His followers all have the tiny black shield of Davron Black tattooed on their right ring finger. Vellan confesses that he now has two of the three mirrors and that some of his agents in the Brotherhood are currently searching for the whereabouts of the third mirror.

What I Liked

All four of these players bring something fun and exciting to the table. I am very encouraged by the interest that many are showing toward developing their back stories and playing out that story’s development in the game. I intentionally left the design of this campaign at a minimum for now, because I wanted to have the room to grow into the story organically, based off of what the players wanted to do or thought would be fun. Thus far, they are very interested in the mirror and heading to Fallcrest, where the two Blackguard said that Ensil should meet them.

I am also pleased to see that Carlsberg Torres’ character seems balanced with the rest of the party. Jed had a very specific character design at the beginning and I made some compromises that would allow him to build that character but not be overpowered. My fear has been that in doing so I may have made him underpowered, but he actually carried on well against the minions and Ensil, dealing out enough damage to fulfill his role as a striker without being too difficult to hit or dealing too much damage.

What I Can Improve

It is early still so perhaps this is premature, but I need to make sure that the players know their options better. I forgot to tell Michael about Action Points until after a round when it might have been very useful to use one (he needed to use his Second Wind to heal himself, but he wasn’t able to then make an attack). Michael didn’t seem bugged so I’m not worried about it, but I should review the options better beforehand so that players don’t feel cheated learning about something they could have done differently that might have been cool or fun for them (or worse, something that would have made a BIG difference for them in terms of success or failure in an encounter).

Enders

I have wanted to be careful that, for the two groups for which I am running campaigns, the plots and storyline are not the same. I now feel more confident that even if there are common elements, the development of these two campaigns will be unique and exciting for both the players and me as the DM. Exciting times my friends.

The Brotherhood: Kobold Hall & Valthrun’s Reagent May 29, 2010

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Narrative, The Brotherhood.
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The basic story for this introductory adventure was that Vellan the Mulletted is recruiting (as always) do-gooders for his band of brothers. He had sent an important reagent to his associate in Winterhaven (Valthrun the Prescient), when the caravan delivering it was ambushed and attacked by kobolds. Vellan tracked the kobolds to their lair and wanted to use the recovery of the reagent as an audition for these two recruits to join The Brotherhood.

The Cast – Both are Level 1

Ocieleoz – Human Paladin (played by Ben)

Drender – Wilden Druid (played by Tyler)

The Test Begins

Drender and Ocieleoz descended into Kobold Hall, looking to recover the small vial of bluish liquid. They met early resistance in the form of a solitary kobold slinger, standing about 65 feet into the entrance hall on the other side of a 10 ft. deep pit of green sludge. They dispose of the artillerist after a few successful attacks and Drender’s changing into his swarm form; the kobold slinger was encased in a cloud of insect swarm and when the swarm cleared, there was nothing left but his armor, dagger, and sling/bullets.

They moved deeper into the kobold safehold, eventually coming to an open room with four large, stone coffins on the floor, as well as many niches along the walls to either side of the coffins. Some of the niches had standing suits of armor in them. At the end of the room was a crudely made altar, obviously to the evil god Tiamat, and two kobold skirmishers standing guard over the altar. The heroes moved into the room, with Drender launching ranged attacks with his totem (he really seemed to like his thorny vine whip power) and Oceileoz closing the space and using a nasty daily power that nearly killed one of the skirmishers with some heavy radiant light. This was where the players got to discover the fun of traps; Drender stepped on a square next to a coffin and a dart shot out, stabbing into his arm. He made his saving throw so the effects were minimal, but it made them much more jumpy each time they moved around and heard that creaking of the armor suits’ visors rising.

They killed the skirmishers, recovered the vial of bluish liquid, looted some gold and supplies, and earned some XP. Most importantly they had a great time and caught onto the game mechanics very well (both have played lots of RPG video games so it wasn’t a big learning curve for them).

Tough Cookies

I’m really excited to play with these two guys. They formed a very competent and tough duo. Granted, these weren’t the most dangerous foes and the encounters were not overly challenging, but they definitely showed an awareness of battle tactics and teamwork.

Where Now?

I think that I want to get out of Winterhaven with this group; I have been in Winterhaven for a long time (between the two groups I started in Keep on the Shadowfell, I have spent almost all of my 4e time in or near Winterhaven). I am thinking that we will have them finish locating Douven Stahl and they will be pretty close to 2nd level (Carlsberg Torres ought to be there at the end of the next session). Then, we will see where the winds do blow…

New Blood May 17, 2010

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Keep on the Shadowfell, The Brotherhood.
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Last night my step cousin and his friend (my friend as well, but I met him through my step cousin) came over to give Dungeons and Dragons a try. We spent the first hour or so going over the basics of the game and creating characters. Then I ran them through the first two encounters of the DMG mini-adventure Kobold Hall. It went really well and they seemed to truly enjoy themselves.

My cousin (Tyler) decided to be a Wilden Druid and his friend (Ben) went with a Human Paladin who worships Ioun. The encounters weren’t very challenging but I mainly wanted them to get a feel for how the game works and how terrain can function in a 3D way, providing cover and helping/hindering them.

The plan right now is to incorporate them into the game I had been running previously for Jed (Carlsberg Torres). The rest of that group is not really interested in pursuing the game besides Jed, so I will start where he left off and add in Tyler and Ben, as well as another friend named Michael who wants to come give it a try. I’m going to break off from the Keep on the Shadowfell, though. I started running a different group through that one and I don’t want to do it twice. So, this will really be my first time having total and complete free reign in making up a world and campaign, all for new players. I have DMed long enough now to feel comfortable doing so.

Anyway, from now on the Keep on the Shadowfell write-ups will be about Group 2’s adventure and Group 1’s adventure will get a new name. For now I will call them the The Brotherhood, but that will likely change as the game goes on.

Consider yourself updated.

The Brotherhood: Session 2 December 10, 2009

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Narrative, The Brotherhood.
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Well, for maybe the first time in my brief DMing history, I had the exact same group of people for two weeks in a row. That certainly helps to bring a greater sense of cohesion to the story. I am a fan of that type of gaming set up. Anyway, on to the meat.

Heavy Roleplay

I introduced a heavy amount of non-encounter roleplaying this session. Beginning with the arrival in town and discussion between the party and the gate guard and ending with the characters interacting with the townspeople in the local tavern, the first hour or so of our game session consisted entirely of roleplaying.

I actually had a lot of fun with it at first, but I could tell that it was dragging on for my players before too long. None of us are experienced tabletop RPGers, so I think it was a little uncomfortable for my players. At times they seemed to enjoy the accents and voices that I would do, but at other times they seemed a little put off by the “scene” that I was creating. More than anything else, it just seemed like they had no idea what to do without  map and visuals at which to look.

I think that I need to find a way to ease them into it better. First of all, I will shorten the amount of time that they are required to spend roleplaying. At those times when everyone is just sitting around not knowing what to do, I will have an NPC come and directly engage them in a “leading” conversation. Perhaps for now, roleplaying for this group will basically consist of detective-style roleplaying, where the only times we actually sit down and force the roleplay is when information is needed.

What Was Good

Jed (Carlsberg Torres) seemed to understand immediately that roleplaying can be whatever he wants it to be. He immediately started having fun with his freedom to act out Carlsberg’s personality, ordering some drinks (he wanted to roll to see how many shots his character would do) and then heading to the piano to play some songs. As soon as I mentioned some of the other patrons in the tavern–and that one was a half-elf woman–he decided to go over and get to know her. I must also give credit to Jen (Phillip Rivers) for her wanting there to be a stage (like for karaoke) in the Inn. That was where Carlsberg got the idea to play a song.

Where We Faltered

It wasn’t until Jed started partying that the others began to see the light that there was more to this game than just simply rolling die. However, my other 3 players didn’t ever seem to fully embrace it like Jed did/does.

Even roleplaying in the sense as a plot-driving force for the game did not seem to fully make sense to them. So, I am thinking to re-explain the benefits of roleplaying as a form of detective work; it is the manner of information gathering. At least initially, if they can understand that there is a purpose to roleplaying, then I think they will be open to it (again, as long as it does not take up too much of the game time).

Another thing that made it difficult was that I did not always know how to appropriately convey information. I wanted them to meet the cast of characters so I introduced Eilian, Sylvana, and Ninaran in the tavern. They were all intrigued immediately by Ninaran’s sour demeanor and flocked to talk to her. I had decided to make her character very stand-offish (like the module describes her), but this form of response only intrigued them more. We spent a LONG time roleplaying a situation that was just really not going anywhere. They couldn’t grasp that she was unimportant at that time and that she would not offer anything of value to them (again, at that time). I imagine that this was my fault for not finding a way to make that more clear sooner or changing my approach so that she did suddenly become more engaging, because she realized that she could lead them all on a wild goose hunt or something. I don’t know.

“A Ha!” Moment

In the end, the party found lodging and, despite initial failure in talking Sylvana Wrafton into letting them stay there for free, found that saving Korg’s supplies and horses on the road brought an unexpected reward; Sylvana and Korg are good friends, so when Korg entered the Inn, shouting praises of the heroes exploits, the Innkeeper found plenty of motivation to treat the adventurers differently.

Another Kobold Attack

After gathering enough info and getting a rough map from Eilian (the old drunken codger), the party got a good night’s rest. The next morning they headed off to the Dragon Burial Site to find Douven Staul. A good ways down the road and outside of town, they were once again ambushed by kobolds. These ones seemed pissed and like they wanted revenge for their fallen comrades (the ones that the adventurers had killed on their way to town). The fight went well enough for the PCs, the kobolds never really offering that much of a challenge to the heroes. At one point Periwinkle the Eladrin Swordmage teleported on top of a nearby rock and cut his sword down into the skull of the kobold standing just below him. That seemed to be a highpoint for him on a night when far too many of his rolls just seemed ineffective.

That is all for now. I believe that it will be a little while before we are able to play again, so I may have some bits and tiddles from a different game before the next write-up. Good night.

The Brotherhood: Session 1 November 16, 2009

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, Narrative, The Brotherhood.
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Background Info

The basic story I have going for my players is that a wizard named Vellan the Mulleted (this picture doesn’t do that mullet justice; it is beautiful) has contacted each of them, recruiting them to join his secret band of do-gooders. His friend Douven Staul has been missing for a month now and he is hoping that these young heroes will be able to locate Douven, proving themselves worthy in the process.

Vellan also requested, as a personal favor to him, that the party help escort a half-orc merchant named Korg (idea stolen from here) to Winterhaven and assure his safe passage to and arrival there. Korg is a semi-crippled, trade-goods wagoneer and hardly worth anything in a fight. His half-full cart was drawn by a single large horse.

The party tonight consisted of four level one characters:

  • Carlsberg Torres (male human ranger with sub-class feat of rogue) who prefers to use throwing daggers/knives and attack from afar.
  • Joan Padraig, eldest daughter of Ernest and Vanessa Padraig (idea also stolen and then adapted from here – female human warlord with the inspire build). She ran away from home at the age of 16, so this will be her first trip back home in three years.
  • Phillip Rivers (yes, named after the quarterback) is the wizard of the party (female eladrin wizard, control build).
  • Perrywinkle is the last of the party (male eladrin swordmage, aegis of assault).

The couple playing the two eladrin are married to each other in real life. They played two sessions of the 3.5e Basic Game with me last year. This was their first time with 4e and third time playing D&D ever. They did very well. My wife played Joan and this was easily the most excited I have ever seen her for any semblance of back story or character development.

Combat Highlight

The party began getting ambushed by those dirty little kobolds. Carlsberg was up front and center for the initial kobold minion charge. Two of them hit him, decently damaging him before any PCs had a turn. Phillip was the furthest back and decided to play it safe by climbing a nearby tree. She then sent out a spell of icy terrain to hurt the kobolds and knock them prone (not knowing that they only had 1 hp). Unfortunately Carlsberg was standing in that burst as well. He was hit, suffering max damage, and knocked prone from the spell. Then, by the end of the round, the kobold slinger launched his gluepot at Carlsberg, immobilizing him. It was certainly a rough round for Mr. Torres. Yet, he survived it alright, laying a pretty nasty smackdown on some kobolds before all was said and done.

The Skill Challenge

The idea behind this one was simply that the heroes were to get Korg and his goods safely to Winterhaven. They did, therefore I gave them 75 XP (It was 3 successes before 3 failures in the end, which is less than Complexity 1). The kobold slinger–who was mercilessly being attacked by Perrywinkle–thought to escape by creating some confusion. He launched a firepot at the horse attached to Korg’s wagon. The firepot landed at the horse’s feet, causing the horse to rear back and then bolt forward, heading directly up the old King’s Road toward the heroes and the last kobold dragonshield.

Phillip, still hiding out about 10′ up in the tree, attempted to leap out onto the horse. Due to a low roll but clever story-telling/role-playing by the girl playing Phillip, we decided that she panicked at the last minute and spun around, grabbing the branch again. The rest of her turn was spent letting go of the branch and falling to the ground. This of course was the first failure in the skill challenge.

A whole round went by as the other heroes finished off the last two kobolds (the dragonshield’s head being lopped off by Joan and Periwinkle’s ferocious stabbing in the back of the slinger as it tried to flee) The cart continued forward, gaining speed just a few feet away from crashing into Joan and Carlsberg. Phillip ran alongside the cart, jumping/climbing atop it and grabbing the reins from the fairly useless Korg. This was the first success. Next, Joan leaped directly onto the horse’s back (she rolled a very high athletics check) to help rein it in. This was the second success. I counted the destruction of the kobolds as the third success and decided that it wasn’t worth dragging out that little scene any further. So I gave them some XP for successfully defending Korg and his goods upon their reaching the town of Winterhaven.

I really like the idea of the skill challenge. I can tell that I’ll need more time to get the kinks straightened out, but I thought it was a great way to add a different element to the encounter so the battle didn’t have to drag out as long. It also gave Phillip–who had not played as large a role in the fighting after the first round–a chance to shine and flex her creative muscles. I think she enjoyed that part of the game the most.

As far as XP goes, I am not sure if I short-changed them. It seemed like the skill challenge was a pretty easy one, so I didn’t think it was deserving of a ton of XP, but I want to reward the girls especially for stepping up to the role playing table and doing a great job. Any thoughts on how much XP should be awarded in this situation?

To End

The party arrived in Winterhaven as the sun was setting. The guards began to question them until one of them noticed the Lady Joan Padraig, returned home after 3 years of absence. He directed the other heroes to Wrafton’s Inn and we closed down shop for the night.