Last week Ronnik tried to eliminate any evidence that might tie him to the Cult of Tiamat or Gordi’s kidnapping. Time was of the essence, so the PCs headed to the Well Hideout specified on the map they found in Ronnik’s wall safe.
This week we had a full party of six made up of Merric, Quinn, Hagen, Sola and two Berrians. After running two characters last week I opted to go back to just one character this week – Sola. We had a new player join our table this week. The last time he played D&D was AD&D 2e. So after a quick 10 minute primer on d20 mechanics, and a 5 minute recap of what happened during weeks 1-3 we moved on to D&D Encounters week 4.
The journey to the Well Hideout was pretty straightforward and uneventful. I actually expected the trip to be a mini-skill challenge. A pretty straight forward skill challenge, I’ll grant you that, but it seemed like an opportunity overlooked. Remembering that D&D Encounters is designed to entice new players, I’m disappointed when a lot of emphasis is placed on combat and little to none is put on role-playing. But it’s a long adventure and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of great role-playing opportunities in the weeks to come.
When the PCs made it to the Well Hideout they had a brief opportunity to search and discovered the well itself. It was dry, yet there was evidence that something or someone had gone down the well recently. They also noticed that a section of the wall was somehow unusual and different. Before the PCs could scout or investigate any further they were ambushed by Kobolds.
Five of the PCs were bunched together investigating the well and the unusual wall, meanwhile Merric was off scouting in the brush. Bad news for Merric, as two Kobolds stealthfully encircled him and attacked.
Two Kobolds pushed over the unusual wall getting Quinn and Hagen in the debris. Hagen was pushed backwards and knocked prone; Quinn was pushed down the well. The Kobold slingers hiding in the darkness kept throwing flaming balls (firepots) at the PC – Berrian took the brunt of these attacks getting hit multiple times.
As usual we divided our attacks, wounding many and killing few. Our greatest difficulty was the darkness. The two Berrians used their light spells to illuminate the nearest squares, making close melee combat easier. Sola also had her Sun’s Glow power to keep the area around her bathed in light. However, the PCs kept the fight near the well and as the close combatants kept falling the slingers, attacking from the darkness, kept hitting us from afar.
At the beginning of the battle the DM placed all the monsters on the board, even the ones we couldn’t technically see from where we were located. After a couple of rounds , Berrian (the one not on fire) decided to use Sleep. He could place it to get both slingers and one of the remaining minions. The problem was that the player could see the minis but his PC could not.
The DM ruled (correctly in my opinion) that just because the Berrian’s spell could reach the exact squares to get everyone, the PC didn’t really have the knowledge of which squares the slingers actually occupied. Berrian begrudgingly agreed and targeted a minion instead. The next round the DM had the slingers attack and then move. When he moved them, he took the minis off the map. He told us that until we could see the minis he’d leave them off the map. This way we could target bursts and blasts at random squares and if the Kobolds were in the affected area they’d get whatever was thrown at them.
We spent the next three rounds trying to illuminate the battlefield so we could find the Kobolds. Eventually the DM simply called the fight and told us that the slingers took off. Between their darkvision and exceptional Stealth there was little to no hope we were going to catch them. The DM kindly allowed a last round of Perception checks to spot the fleeing Kobolds. Quinn rolled a 20 and narrowed down the area, but it still wasn’t good enough to pinpoint an exact square. The two Berrians were the only ones capable of hitting the Kobold with a lucky Magic Missile shot, but nether of them rolled a high enough on their Perception checks and the Kobolds escaped.
The encounter ended with the PCs hunkering down for the evening and taking an extended rest. So ended chapter 1 of D&D Encounters: Keep on the Borderlands. I liked that the chapter was only four encounters. Merric was completely out of healing surges going into this encounter. The rest of the party was also getting low on surges. If this had run another week (like the chapters in Dark Sun) things would have been ugly for some of the characters.
I was a little bit disappointed with how the first chapter ended. I enjoyed the encounters but the end seemed a little bit anti-climatic. I understand that the adventure runs 20 weeks and that they need to keep the story going; however, I would have liked some closure. We didn’t get anything of the sort.
For four weeks we’ve acted at the behest of Benwick trying to save the innocent and expose those in league with the Cult of Tiamat. The evidence points to Ronnik but so far we have nothing concrete tying him to the kidnapping, the fire of the ambush at the wall. Perhaps I’m just being to suspicious, but I find too many players just assume that everyone in the game is their friend. I wanted hard evidence before judging and so far I’m not satisfied. We’ll see what chapter 2 brings next week.
What were your thoughts on this week’s encounter and chapter 1 as a whole? Are you finding this adventure more enjoyable than the Dark Sun Encounters? Are you intrigued enough to keep playing through chapter 2?
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