Archive for March, 2010

Whew, what a night. It was loud, raucous, fast paced and furiously fun. And we wrapped up at 8:04 pm, right on schedule, the end. Ha.

Why is it that I always dread that no one will show up to play? It has always been that way, as far as I can remember. Some fears never go away, like the fear of cops, ingrained from a reckless youth all the way to my current esteemed patriarchal self, scanning the horizon as I drive 11 mph over the speed limit. I can’t help it, I was born bad, and bad I be. But enough of that, the game is what matters.

As usual I arrived at the store half hour early, talked with fellow dm’s a bit (2 dm’s had to cancel, leaving us short, and fearing either huge 10+ parties, or having to urn people away, which was an impossibility.) If only I could divide myself into 2 dm’s. In the end I think a brand new player stepped up to dm, and a veteran player of 4e offered to assist, and the table had a good time.

I walked downstairs into the dungeon, to find 4 or 5 of my 7 players sitting around our table already, which was another awesome moment. In the next few minutes the rest of the players showed up and my table of 7 was full. We ended up pushing 3 cafeteria tables to fit all 8 of us. Jenna was eating a taco salad (ooh it looked good) and Dana brought out a bag of animal crackers. Almost all of them had their own mini’s, and I had a few for the others to choose from, which was this hilarious demon thing for the genasi swordmage, and a bag-carrying minion as the brutal rogue. Both minis were chosen by the players, I will post a picture of these soon, as they are hilarious. Roy and his wife had each painted their own minis, a priestess and a dragonborn, which looked very nice. We chatted a bit and I slowly started mentioning some game bits, pointing out the map, joking about last week (the breath weapon attack was a hoot) and soon the game began in earnest.

I read the opening scene provided in the adventure, then reminded the party of the captured prisoner from the last encounter. They questioned him a bit, and learned the name of the lord, and his 2 siblings who each vied for the hidden chambers. They deduced much of this through skill checks. One player was particularly interested in the scorpions and how they got down here. He learned that the thugs came through the tunnel but the scorpions were kept below. It became somewhat relevant later on. The thug offered to lead them to Downshadow.

When they arrived, the thug escaped into the crowd of the main cavern (the rogue was offered the chance to chase him – he declined) while the party was mobbed by children (and halflings) with their hands out, ready to accept or take. Each player made acrobatics checks or lost a gold coin. OK, it was silly but I thought it was funny. Next they learned that the Downshadow was divided into two factions, the Lord of the Dungeon, who was of exiled or poor nobility, landless but trying to carve out some territory. he posts guards and patrols. The other figure was the Prince of thieves, Lucan Blacknife, who was reported to rule the thieves, cut-throats and assasins of the city above. He was also known to have his own entrance to the dungeon.

I was mostly ad-libbing this section. I wish I had made a list of names ahead of time, as I named one of the npc’s (a guardsman of the Dungeon Lord) Marcus. Sheesh. After Marcus I quickly jotted a few names down, Lucan among them. The party spoke to the Lord, who said they should leave, because he has seen too many inexperienced adventurers turned into piles of goo. He also says he protects his people, and offers them employment as guards or patrollers. They briefly consider, but the haste of their mission prohibits them and they decline. They finally make a skill challenge check – diplomacy, and the lord gives them direction to the hall of kings, the first landmark on the map.

The party then debates for a few minutes on whether they should confer with the prince of thieves, finally decide against it, and head off to the hall of kings. They find 14 dwarves sitting in thrones and a voice in the air repeats “the doom is upon us all” every few minutes. They use some more skills here, and dungeoneering finds a safe path through. Before they go through, they notice that the dwarves had been looted and disfigured. With a religion check, the deva recommends spending a few moments to straighten them up a bit. since there are 7 pc’s, they decide they can each take 2, and spend 30 minutes in hopes of better fortunes.

– Idea for next week: before the battle begins, each character is going to hear the voice from that hall, and it will say “The doom can be delayed” and each of them will gain a healing surge. Reward for the good deed, it is dwarvish in nature, and the party could really use some surges about now. End idea –

Moving on, In the adventure is described this statue one hand pointing at one door, the other hand pointing at the other door opposite. They had to cross the room. Ozone smell in the air. Perception check revealed thin trails of smoke coming from the wrists where the hands of the statue had been knocked off. Finally the dragonborn stepped into the room. Lightning lanced out, Acrobatics DC 15 to avoid, he fails and takes 2 damage (low I know, but this is part of a lengthy dungeon crawl as skill challenge) Finally everyone jumps through, about half taking damage.

The hairs raise on their arms as they approach the statue, is is sheathed in electricity. Arcana check reveals that thievery will work, he can take -4 penalty to skill check and do it without touching the damaging electricity, or take the damage and get take a check without the negatives. he takes 4 points, and diverts the energy into the ceiling, the trap is disabled for 24 hours, while it recharges. The party can safely exit the far end. This success was the 3rd or 4th, maybe even the 5th.

Next they came to the ice prison. The chamber was too cold to enter, and there was a row of cells, closed off by bars of hissing ice. All except the one on the end, where the bars were gone, only a puddle where they were. (A frozen puddle, duh). They decided to use stealth – a group stealth check – to sneak through this area to the next. I averaged their rolls, (looking back, I should have just went with number of successes vs fails, but I improvised, not remembering the correct way.) Either way, they failed at this challenge, so I showed them the picture of the hook horror, and said it was coming down the hall after them.

They decided to run, good choice. They made their final group skill challenge – Endurance, and got a success. They outran the hook horror and skidded to a halt right outside the hidden chamber. It was amazing, and I threw down the encounter map onto the table. This was the first time of the night we used a map or minis. Right as they caught their breath before going in to examine the secret chamber, the goal of their mission, they were surprised by a completely random legion of skeleton warriors marching past. There were 12 skeleton minions in all. I had to borrow 4 from the DM at the next table who showed me his tacklebox-full before we started and had offered… and I also got to use the 2 Reaper plastic minis I just bought upstairs. The girl was like “I just put those out an hour ago.”
Reaper’s Legendary Encounters

I was returning the borrowed minis moments later, the battle lasted fewer than 15 minutes, and we never got through the whole count. I am sure glad the skeletons rolled a 22 initiative, or they never would have gone at all. The best part of it was that everyone really got into this 15 minute battle. I believe the poor deva was the only one who didnt get a chance to whale on some skeleton, while 3 pc’s won the “3 minions in an encounter” award. After the battle, they got to loot some dead adventurers outside the hidden chamber (the unfortunate party who discovered the chamber) and received 2 healing potions and a cloak of resistance. I will bring them cards next week, I wish I had time this week. The party discussed the items and made very reasonable choices about how to divide the loot. I was surprised at how naturally it occured: the cleric got the cloak of resistance, while the two main tanks, the swordmage and the battlemind, got the healing potions. Incidentally those two pc’s are the only ones to drop to zero hp in an encounter so far.

They stepped into the chamber and owned the trap like there was no tomorrow. These veterans of Undermountain knew just how to skill it up, and got 6 successes without a single fail. The portal opened to reveal stairs leading downward (Oh goody, heh heh) and then they were attacked! But that can wait until next week.

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The night got started a little bit late, and ended a few minutes early, but was still a fun and exciting night. One player was missing due to illness.

Once more into the breach, they went. Having cleared the first level, it was time to move on. One door remained to be opened, ad they did all the usual checks, and finally muscled it open. The perception checks had revealed a moaning sound, as of wind through corridors, and with the doors open, stairs led downward into the dank depths. Moaning wind could be heard with a fetid air. They descended and a maze of corridors was revealed, leading generally north-west. They had a light source (unmentioned what type, perhaps a personal glow?) out to 30 ft, so that beyond was all darkness. To the north could just be discerned some type of glowing, which turned out to be glowing blue runic circles, completely filling the 10 ft square in the hall.

The seeker and the half orc tried some amateur thievery until the half-orc rolled a 2 while trying to disable. He tripped the alarm, and the moaning wind was eclipsed by the moaning of zombies echoing through-out all the hallways. By this point the characters had spread out a bit onto the map, and I placed miniatures just at the edges of the maps. There were 4 hallways that ended in darkness, and into each of them I placed 2-4 minions, 1-2 zombie brutes, and behind them a new type, the goblin zombie archers.

The battle was fast and furious. The elven priestess was needed to heal twice, and the seeker was charged buy three zombies and had to use her teleport to safety ability. She needed healing. Cordelia the barbarian was surrounded by 6 zombies, three of which were minions. She used cleave to knock them out and damage the three others. The druid was able to hold many of them off and destroy many with her flame seed, as well as her ability to turn into a horde of insects, which at some point we decided were actually a horde of tiny flying pigs (from her boar-form ability). Thokk charged down a hall and clove thru the zombies to take out 2 gombies single-handedly. He got some elven healing towards the end, being down to 4 hp’s.

The total zombie count was 14 minions, 5 zombie brutes, and 4 zombie archers. It was a pretty fun battle, and much different than the last big zombie affair, which was a race thru a cemetery against a truly countless horde. This was a battle of tight spaces, lines of sight, and areas of affect. Raven wanted to play, and so she was allowed to play Stella Luna Gabriella for her premier appearance. It was clearly not meant to be a primary PC, but she still had some fun with it, particularly during the healing rounds. The battle was won at last, with no fatalities, and without too high a cost in healing surges or daily powers. They were left with the decision to go towards the east, into a crypt-like area, or down another flight of steps.

I was planning on planting a seed for another special-event type session next week (in honor of Shannon’s birthday) but by the time we played, I didn’t have any good ideas. I’m still not ready to commit, but I have a few rough ideas

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Another Wednesday rolls around, and with it comes D&D Encounter week 2. I was looking forward to the game all day long, bu dreading the late night driving. Eating before the event was definitely a help, and I arrived at the store about half an hour early. This gave me plenty of time to hang out and chat with Shaun (the organizer and fellow DM) the other early arrivals.

To be honest, I was somewhat dreading that few if any of my players from last week would return. I had prepared a character (human cleric named the Berzerk Friar) in the event that I wasn’t needed as Dm. To my relief and happiness, all 4 players returned, and with them, 3 more! I now had a table of 7 players, and my previous worry was turned on its head, that I might have to give one or two up!! Fortunately for me, and everyone involved, the place was packed, and we went from last week’s 3, to 5 full tables, 4 of them having 6-7 players apiece. It was exhilarating, crowded, loud, and scads of fun.

The returning players were all there with their original characters. We have the Dragonborn Ranger, who loves to use all 3 of his actions, every turn. He makes the most of it. Last week he practically danced back and forth across that bridge whilst peppering them all with twin strike. He’s great. His wife with newborn babe of 11 weeks was a new player, and she played a great Deva Invoker. It was beatific. Ron was back with his Half-elf Battlemind. Steve was back with his Ardent, and Dave showed ready to continue playing his Genasi swordmage, and he also brought his fiance, who played the most hilarious halfling sorcerer, with incredible abilities to intimidate. Finally we have Eddie, who had last played 2nd edition AD&D. He played a great human “brutal” rogue. It was the first time I got to use “rattling” so that was nice. Also, he had good tactical sense.

Having gone long past 8pm last week, we still had the negotiations with “Rein” , which was great because it allowed for some awkward role-playing/skill checking for a bit, and yes that included some intimidation. I had the 3 new PCs show up just as Rein is coming to, and they instantly teamed up, which was nice. They questioned Rein for a bit, and learned a bi about the history of the place. They noticed she was concealing the whole truth but couldn’t learned little new information. Soon, it was decided, having agreed to a fine sum of 220 gold, payed afterward.

Next came some discussion as they decided what order they would descend. The Dragonborn stepped up and I made a few inquiries into his height and weight, and what type of armor he was wearing, as I described the rickety iron cage, with its frayed leather straps, and rust/blood stains covering it. He squeezed through the cage door and dropped 10 ft as the half-orc bouncer/winch operator (and yes, that includes p!mp) let loose the chain Then began a long descent into the real Yawning Portal. It was an odd moment as I attempted to give a sense of darkness and dread while being alone and the only one down there, especially as it was actually such a small encounter area, and when the enemy appeared, they were within 2-3 squares of the party.

As the last member arrived, the thugs stepped out of shadows into the pre-set positions. Steve had a new way to do initiative he wanted us to try, which was having index cards with the name, initiative, and Dex of each player and monster. Last week we used a magnetic white board, but the index card method also worked well. One cool thing about playing with these new people in public is all the new stuff you can learn.

The battle began with the dragonborn ranger blasting his acid breath. It was an exciting start to combat, made even more distinctive by the fact that he knew perfectly well he was getting 2 pc’s in the blast. He hit both players, killed one minion, and damaged one of the non-minions. He then went on to roll max damage, and so began his slide into the doghouse that night. She retaliated as any wise new mother and deva invoker should, with a blast of energy that neatly slew the 3 remaining minions. Her career as a dnd’er was off to an auspicious beginning, as was the night’s encounter.

The round continued with the pikeman and their scorpions charging into the fray. Much grabbing occured, but very few stings struck that night, even though I added a second scorpion, hidden around the corner behind the first. The genasi got right in their with the halbardiers and used his aegis of assault teleport more than once, and on one occaision, it saved him from the grasp of a scorpion who had stung and immobilized. I was spectacular to see him escape that hold when the halbardier attacked another. I took me a moment to decide about the immobilized, would he remain prone? Or would the teleport also turn him to the side, to a standing position? Hmm, I ruled on the fly that it removed all affects, as he was down to a few remaining Hps as it was. he wet down the next round, but was quickly bounced up by the ardent.
The battle continued. On the second round, I added one more monster, twin to the other “non-minion” who we’ll call charlie. They proved to be pretty tough opponents with their ability to create combat advantage, but I don’t think I used them very well to their fullest affect, ad there main ability went practically un-noticed. (Spoiler alert: after the game, Shaun told me how he used them: each turn that they ended next to a PC, they took their form and any other PC besides the adjacent one, had to make an insight check to be able to distinguish charlie from the PC. Pretty cool idea, wish I had thought of it!) I just used them to sneak and get combat advantage. And one randomly turned into a gnome with the dragonborn’s head, but that was ridiculous.

The added two opponents stretched the battle out, but with 7 PC’s it was required for a gripping encounter, and gripping it was. The battle ended with the poor battlemind unconcious and two strikes closer to perma-death. I informed the party ominously that if they did not finish the last enemy before it was Tordak’s turn, then there was a 50/50 chance he was dead. It was also 8:15 by this point, so I was really trying to get things moving. ANd in fact, they managed to kill him, the last halbardier, who strangely was almost at full before he was the last one standing. He held out pretty well, but in the end, even his knees buckled and he fell to the ground begging for mercy when the halfling sorceress turned her intensifying gaze upon him.

Many of the party were out of all of their healing surges. Most still have their daily powers, and all of them will have a action point to spend next week. I wish there were a fair way to give them an extra healing surge, and I have a few ideas of how, but I think that might be perceived as going easy on them. Now maybe if I kicked up the “optional encounter” a bit to make up for it…

The whole event has been great so far, and every encounter is better than the one before it. I am surprised at how much fun it can be to game with strangers in a public place, but I’m loving it. I think everyone at the table, or in the store’s basement game-room had fun that night, I know I did. I can’t wait for next week.

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Irish by marriage, we take St. Patrick’s day (week) very seriously around here. Since I was away doing DnD Encounters on Wednesday, we decided to celebrate a little on Friday. We were also having a guest player in the form of Khar’s mom, Donna, who watched us play last time she was in town a year ago or so. gave her the DnD Encounters pre-gen cleric Estella. For the occasion, I was inspired to make a delve that paid tribute to our allies on he Emerald Isle. Thus was the idea that inspired the leprechaun Maximilian Sinjin.

Having just finished a savage battle with a slave-taking war-party of hobgoblins, the party was in no shape when the sounds of another approaching group were heard. They left the site and followed a game trail into the woods. Finding a clearing they stopped to rest and soon fell into a bewitched sleep…

They awake and it is morning and the leprechaun Maximilian Sinjin stands before them in his finery of green velvet top-hat and matching vest. He tells them of his plight: the Changeling has taken over his magic hill and on the full moon when boundaries are weak, he brought them across to the feywild. Here, his home was a copse or small wood, and he asks them to root out the Changeling and regain his home. He offered a pot of gold as reward.

I described the pot o gold, as about the size of a honey-pot. It held 100 gp, but as they watched, he flicked a gold coin into the air, and as it landed in the pot, the pot grew slightly. He says he is open to negotiation, and a skill challenge was born. I was trying my best brogue he whole time (roll the rrrrr’s.) This was an open ended skill challenge (4 successes, 3 failures) that with each success enlarged the pot, and each failure shrank it. The part ended up with 350 gold. (or was it 375? hmmm…) The leprechaun said he might try to help them along the way, and that the pot of gold would be in the third, final clearing.

They entered the wood and followed a wide trail. I asked for a marching order, and then laid out a stream crossing on the board as I described the soft slithering sounds of a shallow stream. As the lead PC, Felipe the Druid, stepped into the stream, it shifted to reveal its true form of an endless parade of snakes of all different shapes and sizes. Two other PC’s adjacent to the stream were subjected to a weaker attack. I had them go in whatever order they wanted, but in retrospect I should have made a more concrete initiative order,though there was technically no monster, merely a hazard with reactive attacks (that of starting, ending, or moving through a square, or beginning or ending a turn in or adjacent to the stream.)

The snake bites had all sorts of fun consequences, from hp damage,to running away in fear, attacking allies, 1d6 for affect. It was a a fun encounter. When the first PC was attacked, the heard the voice of the leprechaun – “Look for the big fat blue snake sunning himself on the largest stone in the stream. He is the Snake Staff and will be helpful to defeat the Changeling if you can grab it.” The druid spotted the snake, but it was the ranger who managed to grab it. Once held, the snake transformed into a staff and the snakes would no longer attack the PC. Thus the staff was handed to the barbarian (the first) who carried them all across.

Moving on down he path it became cold and iced and they came upon the cairn of the Blarney Stone. I used Harrowing Halls 3D Tiles or this one, including the large platform and the stairs leading up to it. I also used water tiles to simulate a 2 square wide frozen moat. A the top of he stairs, one on each side, was a chain chomper. Lightning arced between the chompers and the stone.

The party stood back and fired on the chompers while the half orc Thokk attempted to charge across the narrow bridge, but fell into the frozen moat. He was rescued and made it to the top where they had to solve a riddle carved into the ice coating of the blarney stone:


They finally figured out he answer after receiving 3 hints, and no one really was happy with it. They then each got to kiss the blarney stone and receive a permanent benefit to their character, most of which were +5 to charisma based skills, but both elves received a permanent +1 o charisma, by rolling a 6 on the 1d6 random affect chart I made.

It was now time to move on to the 3rd and final encounter. Time was getting short and we had less than an hour to finish. I was determined to finish the delve tonight, as it was a special event, and was a side-trek from our exploration of the Keep on the Shadowfell. Therefore, I made some on-the-fly changes to the encounter. In the first encounter, when a PC was bitten and rolled a 6 on the affect chart, they thought they were safe, as I described it as “apparently non-venomous.” This was originally meant to actually cause a PC to become dominated when within 20 squares of the Changeling, save ends. I scrapped this, and thus removed a huge factor from the final battle, due to time constraints. Instead, it became a quick straight-up fight, with the only twist being that the changeling was disguised as one of the two gnome skulks.

The fight was between the changeling, a level 8 Doppelganger Assassin, 2 gnome skulks, an umbral swarm, and 12 shadow-motes, which began their turn concealed around the outer edge of the clearing. The three gnomes (including the changeling) were upon another 3d cairn, with stairs leading up to it at one end of the clearing. There was a terrain affect in the form of patches of shamrocks scattered across the battlefield. When standing in a patch the PC gains a bonus +1 to hit and damage.

The fight began with everyone getting into position, melee to the front. Both barbarians and the ranger wound up at the foot of the stairs, while the druid, seeker, and cleric, found patches of shamrocks to stand in. Then the shadow-motes moved in. It was great to see these black tiles I used (monster tiles from the DnD Encounters) swarm around the characters, and for that first and second round at least, the PC’s were taking up to -5 to hit in some cases. It didnt stop them from ruling the battlefield, though, and the druid was able to both take a few big back-stabbing hits from the Changeling while at the same time mopping up most of the motes.

The poor cleric Eselda was stuck in back, and with 2 shadow-motes to contend with, she was pretty much tied up for the battle. Nobody really needed much healing, so it wasn’t a big deal. Being only 1s level, and with meager bonuses to hit, she had a hard time doing anything. The player, who had zero experience with role-playing games, didn’t seem to mind, so I didn’t either. For her, the novelty was the game itself, which was entertaining enough on its own. Whether she hit or miss from round to round was immaterial.

The snake staff, grabbed by he barbarian in the first encounter, now was used to cause the umbral horde to disperse, and then by about round 3, most everyone was dead and the changeling was the only one left. It was the half-orc’s turn, who was standing on the stairs 2 squares away from where the changeling, still disguised as a gnome, was back-stabbing the druid. The half orc barbarian used Avalanche Strike and rolled a natural 20. he did 42 hp of damage with that attack and slew the doppelganger, driving his body into the soil with the sheer power of the blow.

It was an incredible finale for the battle, and worked out on so many levels, especially considering that we had gone past 10 pm and really needed to wrap things up. That avalanche off the stairs did so nicely. It was Thokk’s first session, as the player, Jackson, had been playing a Bar up to that point. in addition, Thokk, actually Thokk the 4th, was a triumphant return of one of his favorite characters, Thok I, from our previous 3e campaign. Welcome back, Thokk.

With the defeat of the changeling, the pot of gold appeared, and they were whisked back to the clearing in which they sat down to catch their breath’s two magical extended rests ago. Yet only a few moments had passed, as the moon crossed its zenith, and the clearing was once again shrouded in shadow. Victorious, and ready for next week.

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Meet Stella Luna Gabriella, Elf-Priestess of Melora, and companion character for a party of adventurers on a quest to save the elves of DÉrte. Stella was rescued from a company of hobgoblin Slavers from the party, and has agreed to accompany them on their mission. In addition, Stella hails from the same wood elf village as one of the party members, the Seeker Poppy.

Stella is lawful good, and is of the nobility of her tribal village. She s unused to the necessities of traveling in the dangerous wilds, and finds battle to be distasteful, and often unnecessary. Other times, she leaps into battle against a foe she deems unworthy with almost maniacal abandon. Stella has many needs, but can be a helpful ally. Her exuberance alone will often turn the tide of battle.

She wears a flowing gown made from the natural fibers of her homeland, and a billowing dove-gray cloak with the symbol of her deity emblazoned on the back. She wields her staff with more enthusiasm than skill and has a small crossbow locked, loaded, and hanging from her jeweled belt.

Stella is meant to fill on he role of healer for a party of blood-thirsty strikers. We have 2 barbarians, a druid, a ranger, and a seeker. The blood flies and foes drop, but the barbs are damage magnets and in need of vast amounts of healing. Stella is designed o give a good party-size amount of healing with her encounter powers, giving 3 full rounds worth of healing surges.

Her two basic attacks also give a little bit of aid in the form of healing with a succesful staff attack and granting a save with a ranged hit. The ranged could prove to be especially useful, and it means the elf should have something to do most of the time. Her actions can save a party in need, but she should never out-shine the others. She is a side-kick after all.

Finally, proud Stella has a daily power of her own. When she is in dire straits, she can turn and with furious anger and divine wrath, she can cause enemies to cower away, dazed that such a waif could hold such danger.

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Wednesday, March 15th was St. Patrick’s Day.  It was also the opening day of D&D Encounters, which I had signed up for the weekend before.  This was my first time DMing in a public place, or before a complete table of strangers.  I wish I had remembered to wear green.  That’s where my luck failed me.  You see, I am Irish by marriage.

First an aside to express gratitude to the awesome game store Game Cafe, Independence, MO. The place was incredibly awesome, with amazing products. But that is nothing compared to the people who run the place, and who set up the Encounters. Thanks Shaun. He is such the better Dm.

But back to the story, it began with forgetting to choose a green shirt, which is too bad ‘cos one of my favorite’s is green. I dropped my eyeglasses into the recycling bin while taking out the trash. You can imagine, it was NOT the first place I looked for them. I forgot my new passkey into the building my company recently moved into, and had to wait until a fellow worker showed up to let me in, making me even later than I already was, due to the missing glasses.

By this point, I was halfway through my espresso, so things turn around quickly. I had my D&D Go bag packed* and thankfully didn’t forget it, so I knew that no matter how bad it started, the day would end better. The day passed quickly, and I showed up at the store an hour early. It gave me plenty of time to hang out and get mentally prepared. The tables would not be ready until we had a final count, so I couldn’t really unpack the bag. I did find the time to pick up Hammerfast, which I have been looking forward to for quite some time.

Another pause must be made to thank Wizards of the Coast for the incredible detail of this program. The adventure is wonderful, with multiplle large maps, enough for every one of the twelve encounter to be play3ed out on a poster map. They included bonus condition cards for the Dm, cool “Encounters” coasters, and a few other things, not the least of which are the Rewards that players can earn for showing up and participating.

*Traveling DM’s Bag of Essentials:
DMG 1,2;PHB 1,2,3;MM 1,2
Dungeon Delve
Plastic box with
12 PC race minis
12 or so monster minis
2 sets dice, including giant d20 if possible
Enough dungeon tiles 2×4 to make any large floor plan
Small set of odd tiles: statues, clouds of smoke, etc
3 pencils, notebook
Initiative tracking whiteboard (play-test since I just put it together)

I didn’t need Dungeon Delve or the tiles, and I also included the adventure we were scheduled to play. These were listed for a more general-purpose go bag. Enough about bags, back to the game.

I got my table downstairs, in a nice open room with plenty of tables and chairs. We could push them around as needed. I had 4 players at my table, 2 newcomers to the game, and 2 experienced players. It was a great blend, and they played together practically seamlessly. In fact, it was amazing how once the game began, from the first moments in, it was like we were long-time friends, sharing the same experiences and speaking the same language.

The adventure is “Halaster’s Lost Apprentice” and it is 12 encounters long, written specifically for the event. It is set in the Forgotten Realms universe (including the Living RPGA in the city of Waterdeep, and Undermountain, the mega-dungeon that lies below. Halaster is a mad arch-mage, now vanished, that used these dungeons to house his mad creations. ow they are a land for adventurer’s to seek their fortune, and a great place is the Howling Well, a tavern built over a shaft leading down to the first level of the infamous place. The party learned this back-story while walking through the city ad rolling a few dice in the manner of skill checks.

Their walk led them into this tavern where they looked for adventure. I had a handout floor-plan of the tavern, and described the large opening, and its depth of 140 ft. I also described the contraption for descending, and when told of the 10 gold fee for descent, some of the players worried that they hadn’t saved enough coin. At this time I asked them to subtract a silver for drinks, heh. One asked to change his order to water, which the tavern charges 2 silver, heh heh. We were off to a good start.

I had each character introduce himself, with his name and class. There was Hax the Earth Genasi Swordmage, a great combination, made by one of the newbies. The other newbie had a dragonborn ranger, who quickly learned the joys of twin strike. The third was the Kalashtar (?) Ardent, and rounding up with a defender we had a half-elf battlemind, wielding a pole-arm. It was a great party mix.

I liked the way this encounter begins. The quest-giver gives the quest to a obvious group of thugs, and the party is given the chance to rescue her. They accepted this task valiantly and rushed quickly right onto the battlemat at the first scream. And so began a fun and challenging encounter that lasted about 2 hours, a little less. We ended just before 9pm and were also delayed at least 15 minutes before getting started.

The battle was fun and intense, we laughed a lot at some of the things that happened. Nobody died or got knocked out, but one PC was down to 1 hp and another fell off the bridge and into the drink. The battle ended with the halfling slinger surrounded and intimidated into surrendering. He had nothing of importance to say other than to moan one name over and over “Zeeeee-reeeees…”

It was enjoyable and I can’t wait for next Wednesday night. Great group, great place, great times.

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