For the second week in a row we had very few players at start time, but plenty showed up a few minutes later. And so we delved deeper into the Dark Legacy of Evard in D&D Encounters.
This week we had two of our long-time players, playing a half-orc knight and a dwarf weaponmaster. We had a player who’s very new to D&D bring his half-elf sentinel. And we had a father and son who were brand-new to the game and who decided to play the pre-generated eladrin warpriest and drow hunter. Huzzah for new players!
I took a little time to explain the basic workings of the game to the new players, as well as a few minutes to bring everyone up to speed on the plot so far, so we got started a bit late. I wasn’t worried, since we only had five players and my use of MapTool for running the game tends to make things go quickly in general.
Well, we got into some trouble and ran late! The evening began with a skill challenge. The party was patrolling Duponde at night and realized that the despair effect of the Shadowfell was getting to them and to the rest of the townsfolk, especially the guards. Everyone tried their best to cheer people up, but without much luck. The warpriest’s rousing speech fell flat (though the sentinel followed up with a stronger rendition). The weaponmaster’s acrobatic tricks ended up with the man on his face (though the drow showed him how it was done). Insight wasn’t helpful in figuring out how to reach the people, either.
This meant that the party failed the skill challenge, which meant that despair overcame the guards and they fled rather than fought when combat broke out. Each player also drew a card from the despair deck, some of which were quite problematic (the knight ended up vulnerable 2 to all damage for the battle).
Combat began with the party spotting some decrepit skeletons and one blazing skeleton on the far bridge (I scaled the battle down to include only one blazing skeleton, since we had mostly first-level characters and several new players). The PCs rolled initiative and started taking care of the minions. The vulnerable knight went after the blazing skeleton on his own and paid dearly, burning himself badly and ending up unconscious and without healing surges, far from his allies. The sentinel made his way over (after losing his bear companion once) and gave the knight a Healing Word, but it only restored 2 hit points (the value of the d6 roll) since the poor knight was surgeless. This meant that his ongoing fire damage knocked him unconscious at the beginning of his next turn, and he failed death save number 2.
The drow and warpriest stayed on the west side of the armory to fight a couple of skeletons and a shadow that appeared (thankfully for them, the shadow kept missing). The warpriest had the bright idea (pun intended) of using Sun’s Glow on the shadow, lighting him up. I liked the creative use of the spell and ruled that it turned off the shadow’s normal insubstantiality.
The weaponmaster, for some reason, decided to start the battle by chucking his grappling hook up to the roof of the library and spent the first two rounds climbing the side of the building, walking across the roof, and then jumping off near the canal – hurting himself in the process since he wasn’t trained in acrobatics. This didn’t help the party’s chances. He eventually made his way over to the fallen weaponmaster, with the sentinel also closing in to help.
All three of those PCs were unconscious by the time the warpriest and hunter had finished off the shadow and their minions. The warpriest was out of Healing Words, but he could made heal checks – one to stabilize the dying knight and one to let the sentinel use his second wind (whereupon the sentinel used his last Healing World to bring the weaponmaster back into the fight).
The weaponmaster pushed the blazing skeleton into the canal, which I ruled was quite bad for the skeleton (fire in water, you know) and treated it as falling damage. The skeleton survived and came after the hunter, but the weaponmaster circled around and shoved him back into the canal, finishing him off at last.
This was a brutal battle, though I know this was in part because we had some new players and in part because the weaponmaster basically sat out two rounds. I ended up being pretty generous as the battle wore on. The weaponmaster claimed he had a power that would push the target on a hit or a miss; I was dubious, but the PCs needed all the help they could get.
Still, we had a lot of fun and a lot of tension. The father/son pair definitely had a blast, and I stayed afterward to talk to them about the game. The son bought a mini for his drow hunter, and the father picked up a copy of the Rules Compendium. The store was sold out of Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms, but I wrote down the titles for him and suggested he also check out D&D Insider if he decides they’re going to keep playing. The father said they would probably be back next week – the son said they DEFINITELY would.
I love bringing new players into the game!