I wasn’t expecting to be running D&D Encounters this week. Our local store has tried to set up a rotation so that no DM is running two weeks in a row (to prevent burnout). Thus, I ran the first 5:00 PM table on week 1, Andy ran it week 2, I ran it week 3, and Andy was scheduled to run it week 4 (this week). Wes has been the second table DM for all three weeks, but we haven’t had a second 5:00 PM table yet (we had only six players for each of the first three weeks).
However, I got an email from the store owner today asking me if I could be available to run a second table in case it was needed; Wes was unavailable. We haven’t had a second table yet, but hey, school’s out now – you never know.
So, I showed up at the store at 4:30 (I’m so glad to have a job with some flexible hours!) and set up my projector rig, just in case. It was a good thing that I did: We had 14 players! That meant two overly-full tables of seven players each. Woo hoo!
My table consisted of one player who had been attending most of this season of Encounters, one player who’s attended past seasons of Encounters, and five first-time Encounters players (two of whom were very new to D&D altogether – awesome!). The party was:
- Hiver the Dwarf Fighter
- Steven the Half-Elf Sentinel (our regular)
- Chilliax the Drow Executioner (thanks again to Wielding a Bohemian Ear Spoon!)
- Keira the Elf Thief
- Balin the Elf Mage (a red box character!)
- Fargrim the OTHER Dwarf Fighter
- Thetari the Dwarf Cleric of Death
The session began with some recapping of the prior three sessions (since only one of the players had been present for any of them). This meant that it was tough to do much role playing; we pretty much just got the mission from the local cleric to head to the graveyard, since he believed all of the shadow troubles began there.
The players all made Perception checks as they entered the graveyard, none of which were especially great. This meant that the party saw some zombies shambling toward them, but they DIDN’T see the ghouls or shadows lying in wait. The ghouls actually acted very early in the initiative order, successfully attacking from hiding and throwing two characters to the ground and grabbing them. The rest of the party rushed to the rescue, with one ghoul getting pushed away by Smite Undead from the cleric and the other being Hypnotized by the Mage and forced to walk away, breaking both grabs (nice teamwork!).
When the shadows oozed out of the trees near the end of the first round, the brief panic around the table was awesome – “There are MORE monsters?!” The shadows did what they do, melding with PCs and draining their life for several turns. Zombies grabbed characters and started smashing them.
In the end, though, this party of largely fresh characters will full healing surges, action points and daily powers made short work of a graveyard full of undead monsters. Since I had more than the five PCs that the encounter was written for, I followed the guidelines and added one more zombie. Normally I would have added two, or perhaps even a zombie and a ghoul, but since so many players were new to the game I didn’t want to overdo it. I needn’t have worried – they rocked the encounter.
After the monsters were dead, we had a little more time for role playing. The adventurers examined the mausoleum of Evard’s tomb and saw that the main sarcophagus had been forced open and that some kind of magical curse had blasted whoever opened it. It was clear that the zombies were recently-killed workers who had helped to break into the tomb, but the wizard Nathaire and his halfling assistant were nowhere to be found. The group did, however, find a journal written in code that belonged to the halfling. The plot thickens!
After the party left the mausoleum, the sun came up and Duponde shifted back out of the Shadowfell. Ah, but for how long?