Wednesday, 2 March 2011

D&D Points of Light Session 1

2 of the players arrived half an hour late and one had to keep popping out to take important phone calls in the first 15mins. The 4th and final player was running another 30minutes late. Starting a new campaign, especially with first time players is a tough job at the best of times... Read on to see how I managed to get things back on track and see if the game was a success in the end.
Pregen characters on simplified sheets made teaching on the fly a breeze. 

I had planned to dedicate about 10minutes introducing the basic assumptions of the D&D world and accounting their character backgrounds any how they had come to Fallcrest. With so few players there at the time it didn’t seem to have that much value. I asked if we should fill things in and learn the rules on the fly, they agreed and I think was the best decision I could have made. There was an opportunity for a little impromptu role-playing but the players weren’t sure what do at this time, I told them like the rules they can pick that up with time, in the mean time if they want to describe what their character says in the 3rd person that’s not a problem. 

It was decided the PC had arrived in town via a caravan trail that had been ambushed, the Kobold perpetrators escaping before they had time to react. The Lord Warden of Fallcrest Faren Markelhay told them that their arrival in town coinciding with the Kobold attack had raised his suspicions. The players agreed to rid the town of The Kobold problem as a way of proving they had no ill intentions during their stay, and they were also offered a bounty for doing so. Again not being familiar with the game they didn’t choose to ask any questions, they just followed his request to the tee. I offered them some information regarding a local Wizard Nimozaran the Green and Teldorthan an armourer in town who both had a certain stake in the Kobold ambush but they only remembered to go see one of the two. I didn’t want to dictate their choices to them any further in fear that they would begin to rely on this at later dates so I will address that next session. The Wizard offered them use of his teleportation circle if they bring back information regarding the nature of the Kobold threat. He told them of the generally timid Kobold nature offering that they only act so boldly when pushed or encouraged to do so by a more powerful creature. The players were also able to recall Kobolds are particularly know for their worship of dragons and this got the group excited.

I fleshed out the appearance of Kobold Hall a little, letting the player actively find the entrance to the “dungeon” in the basement of the watchtower. To add a semblance of realism to what is, while I think a fun little series of encounters, is pretty illogical in its structure, I added some details about the Lord who once owned this manor. He was from a line of heroes and the Kobold had taken refuge in and expanded a mausoleum where his ancestors had been buried.  Just as the first encounter started the final player arrived, I placed him bound and gagged in the corner of the room but told him the Kobolds had made a poor job of this. Hearing the arrival of the other players he took his opportunity to escape. I was really impressed with how quickly the players grasped the combat rules and how naturally the tactics came to them. They focused their attacks for maximum effect except when the condition of a power left them not a threat. They easily made their way through 3 of the 4 encounters, actually until that final encounter the Drow ranger had not even been injured choosing to hang back picking off Kobolds with his longbow. Ironically he was the first and only required to make a death saving throw in that same skirmish.

The 4th encounter was in a dead end room and the players had took that as a sign to turn back, when they asked to search for treasure I had them make a perception check. Not to trivialise the secret door I had them instead find footprints and animal bones that look much to large to belong to; or be a meal for the Kobolds. They actively looked and found the secret door. It is also worth mentioning at this point as the game came to a close I emphasized the strange activity of the Kobolds throughout, they found an altar to Tiamat with only a meagre offering of 60gp, where as they had found large hidden stashes of treasure far exceeding this. They knew that Kobolds revered Tiamat and Dragons as a whole, Dragons are famously know to covet treasure and they came to a conclusion that something else was in charge of the Kobolds, a master they probably didn’t appreciate.
Going through the secret door they found a chamber with a frozen pool of water in the centre, frozen deep within a small dragon skinned of its hide. Across the room sat a fat ogre covered in jewellery swigging from a jar of whisky and bellowing insults at a goblin mage. “I’ll ask once more, where’s my sticking dragon hide?! An’ why is this all the treasure they could get me? I don’t want to have to eat another one of those stupid lizards!”
When the players return to the Lord Warden for their reward I’m going to have him ask them for a better introduction. At that point we will probably put the game on hold and go through their backgrounds as a group. I’m going to suggest that Fargrim the Dwarf Slayer was actually an adventurer hired by Teldorthan to kill an Ogre who was said to poses a dragons hide. Teldorthan had the intention of using the material to make armour. It was unknown at the time that after Fagrim had sneaked up on and robbed the Ogre and had headed back to town, the Ogre had managed to take control of the Kobold gang and organise the ambush for his petty revenge

Overall I’m pretty happy with the game; most of the players seemed to be having a blast ,they really liked the quite brutal yet comical descriptions I gave in combat and the tactical nature of it as a whole. One player who I had expected to be the most involved dropped off towards the end, I think this was in part due to his bad dice rolls, and him getting knocked unconscious, he didn’t like to see his character fail. Another thing I will do next session is too remind the characters how bad ass they truly are, no matter how flashy or otherwise their abilities, they all have a part to play. I don’t think the wizard made a successful attack that didn’t result in more than one Kobold being flash fried, the Dwarf and Paladin got stuck in the deep end no matter the odds. The aforementioned player who was a Drow Ranger, I’ll remind him for 3 encounters he didn’t get a single scratch on him, with his surprise aimed shots he was pretty much determining the outcome of the fight before anyone else even rolled for initiative! It wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but  I think everyone, myself included had fun, next time I’m going to try my best to address my weakness as a DM, it’s hard for me to encourage role-playing when I’m not the best at it myself!

The Pregen characters used were from D&D Encounters: Beware the Phantom Bridge, the complete files can be found here D&D Encounters