Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Behind My Screen - 3rd Group D&D 9/24/15 Session

So here is another Director’s commentary on some D&D notes from last week’s 3rd Group session.  Before I get too deep into it let me just say that might have been one of the single most fun sessions I’ve been involved in either as a PC or a DM.  The PC’s were very into the game, in a great mood, and were up for a session where I just kept things moving along at a brisk pace.  I think, THINK, that everyone liked it.  So I figured I’d share it with those of you who like this stuff, and hopefully it might even inspire someone to do something similar or use it as a framework.  ENJOY!


Dogs Of War – A 3rd Group D&D Prep For 9/17/15

After using the coin to escape, have a HORDE of Swordwings & Crownwing show up and demand the baton if the PC’s dawdle.  Have Zana explain that she can promise nothing as the coin was most certainly made for her and her only.  They use the device, wake up outside in the early evening, and realize that an unknown amount of time has passed.  It is sleeting out, and there is a Fog in the low valley.  There is a village on fire cutting through the haze. The PC’s have to make a DC 13 CON (Endurance) check.    Get across that they are going to slowly freeze to death or starve as they are lost.

Well I didn’t need this, because the PC’s already just said they had teleported out.  LoL.  Sometimes their perception of events is WAY better than mine.  By that I mean they will take things in a direction I had not intended that is just far superior to my thoughts.  This also shaved off some time for the session by avoiding a potential confrontation with the Swordwings.  I didn't play up the elements enough because I didn't have to.  I used Zana to push the PC's forward even after Elyssa had a FANTASTIC role playing moment with the NPC and intimidated the hell out of her.  Having Elyssa as the Role Playing crux in that group helps push my more moderate role players into the 'deep end of the pool'.  Every table should have a player like that, one who brings out the best in the rest of the table.


They can’t orient themselves to their surrounding during the night.  They have the option to try and make a shelter and ride out the night or head towards the fire in the valley.  It is a village on fire.  A troop of Bugbears, led by a Priest, and backed by a Hill Giant.  The Priest has been raising the dead using a series of Scrolls for about 4 hours, so has a quite a few Zombies at his disposal.  He is currently using a desecrated Temple Of The Traveler to use a Ritual to transform the Priestess of Alora into a Banshee.  He will then flee this scene when the PC’s come in, letting the Banshee do his dirty work.

The rolling by Spence & Mike was off the charts so they orientated themselves VERY easily, which left me in a quandary, so I had to push the role playing element again with Zana getting the Baton back from Mike through some reasoning.  This forced me to change the relationship between Zana and her employers.  Originally I pictured her as maybe a zealot to the cause, now because of these interactions she's a mercenary spy working for the highest bidder.  At the same time she has a healthy fear for Calla and her little cabal.  I hoped to get that across in the interaction and in turn get the PC's to think whether they wanted to keep working for someone who sent them into a death trap to retrieve someone and an object with no real care for their well being.  Also a few Zombies became a shit load of zombies, some of which were on fire and hurtling fireballs. 

The night will be all about the PC’s stumbling into the village for warmth and finding it a staging ground for these Bugbears.  The further in they go the more they find info, warmth, and supplies, but the more there is serious danger.  I want at least 3 Encounters; the first being Zombies, the second being Bugbears and then the Hill Giant, and the last being the Priest and then Banshee. 

I didn't have the Bugbears show up until the 2nd area of the city, instead I let the PC's wander in, check things out, work their way across about half the board and then have the burning dead get up and start towards them.  Then the shambling dead got up.  At that point there were about 40 Zombies on the board moving towards the PC's who were actually unnerved.  That is something that is an emotion that is hard to get a group to manifest.  I was rather proud of that.  They had to use the insane strength of Kedrin's dwarven barbarian, Ewps, to smash buildings to cut off the horde.  I didn't account for this wonderful idea, but it really added an amazing cinematic feel to the encounter and quite frankly upped the ante.  The thing was they almost cut off Spence's escape route, which was only saved due to THE Karl's quick and inventive thinking!  He used his Barlock's (Warlock/Barbarian duel class), who is WAY into Cthulhu and tentacles (she has a adolescent Darkmantle as a companion animal), magical tentacles to keep a whole open in the falling wreckage for Namfrag, Spence's Halfling Eldritch Knight of Calleaus, enough room to wiggle through and not be Zombie food.  Just before that occurred I used some Bugbears, of Zack's re-design, to ambush the party.  Originally, I wanted to use Leucrotta's to mimic the sound of children to entice Doug's Cleric, Chester Molester who does murder children in an act for his good to preserve his youth (YES, this is an EVIL group).  Instead I had Bugbears using Leucrotta skulls like horns eliciting the same sound to lure Casual Doug.  This worked.  In fact it worked REALLY well.  The Bugbears were excellent in practice, I tried to run them in pairs.  The Double-Team action really made them a threat.  They don't have a lot of armor, but they have enough hit points that in tandems they gave a party of 7th level PC's a bit of a fit.  Of course they were running from a slow moving, never ending, mega-horde of Zombies.  Once the PC's got their footing though they ran over the Bugbears and moved to the 2nd staging area leaving the zombies to try and move through the wreckage.  This impending doom hanging over their head gave the session a great sense of frantic pace.

There are a series of cages containing women and children to be taken as slaves.  A DC 13 Perception notes that there are Elven bodies without their heads around, they appear to be scouts or troops.  A DC 13 INT tells that PC that must mean they are still either in or on the border of the Elven Homelands.  The Bugbears only speak in Goblin, the Giant in broken Goblin, so in order to be understood by the PC’s they need to understand the language.  The burning village appears to now be a staging area for this Priest to launch another assault.  The Bugbears are well trained as is the Giant.  Roll every round for Zombies, there is a 50% of 1d8 Zombies discovering the PC’s every round unless they take special care to stay hidden. 

I didn't use the cages thing at all.  Nor did I bring up the Elven bodies thing.  Instead I just made sure the PC's understood that they are still on the boarder of the Elven Homelands.  The Bugbears didn't have to speak much as they came running once Kedrin obliterated some building husks to slow down the horde.  These Bugbears were led by a Hill Giant, and had a Catapult.  Hilarity ensued.  At this point I just sort of stopped adding more Zombies and instead opted to have them be the ticking clock that the PC's were working against.  I talked at great length both in the last MinBlogIsode regarding the details of what took place, but I just want to mention again that THE Karl's plan to use the catapult to fire Spence was inspired, the comedy of rolling errors that took place were fantastic, and in the end the critical hit Spence pulled out of his ass was truly outstanding.  Things really took off once Magic Mike detonated himself via a Zack inspired 'Devil Deal' that changed the dynamic of what could have been a long encounter and instead made it efficient and cinematic.  The Zombie Horde just came shambling on and was the countdown clock on the PC's and the remained HYPER aware of it.  I didn't have to push that portion of the narrative at all, the tension was brought to the table by the PC's and it was brilliant.  Finally, we hit the third section of the village after the PC's put the Hill Giant & the scattered Bugbears down.  The PC's had their showdown with the Priest, his Bugbear retinue, and his newly created Banshee.  At this point Magic Mike had reincarnated and was back to full spells.  This was a BIG mistake on my part if I wanted this fight to be truly difficult.  Instead it was just bloody fun as he unleashed all his heavy artillery on his enemies and nuked them off the map, while the rest of the group decimated the survivors.  Sometimes I really want the last combat of the night to be the exclamation point on a great session and other times it gets to be a moment where the PC's just get to curb stomp the beejuzus out of some Monsters, this was one of those times and it was really just fun.  The PC's then ran into a column of armed warriors, an army if you will.


If two or more PC’s drop in the combat then Zana procures the baton and flees into the night.  Whether or not the battle(s) go well for the PC’s or not at the end of the adventure they are discovered by the forces of General Pallenk.  They are taken before The General who has them left alone with him in his tent; he transforms into Maldris Felshint, and asks them for the Baton.  If the PC’s lost Zana then he tells them, “Then it looks like we have a problem….” And yells, “GUARDS!”  The Guards rush in en masse.  If Zana is with them he hugs her fiercely, thanking the PC’s adamantly, laughs good naturedly, drops a bag of gold onto the makeshift table, and they teleport out snickering “See you in Roc Lake…”.  There is a large amount of banging from a chest beside the table.  Inside is a smaller man who looks enraged.  He is General Pallenk and he’s pissed!  Those are the two cliffhangers.

No one dropped, the group was in decent shape when they entered into this cliffhanger moment.  Zana had the baton, Maldris paid them which Ewps promptly took to hilarious effect, and then Maldris dropped his tiny little speech on the PC's and teleported.  The PC's were not super shocked like I had hoped, BUT they were a bit surprised by the turn of events.  Now they have a few options on the table.  They are owed boons by the new Paralictor of the Knights Of Asmodeus.  They could keep working for Calla and her Cabal in Dustkeep.  OR they have been given an opportunity to go to work for General Pallenk who means to sack Roc Lake and take it as the seat of his new kingdom.  The last option was the PC's are in an abandoned partially walled village that is now being cleansed of the Undead.  They could set up shop here and establish their own kingdom.  The option they choose will dictate what I build next, and that is very exciting!

Well I hope you enjoyed seeing another glimpse into what I throw together in a mad attempt to entertain my Friends.  I think everyone has different styles of playing, prepping, and storytelling and that is what makes our wondrous table top hobby so glorious.  Remember there is NO wrong way to D&D!  So go forth, find your voice, get your Friends, and tell your own tales!

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