D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave (Week 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on December 1, 2011

I don’t know what it is about the week 2 encounter but for the second season in a row it’s been exceptionally difficult and nearly resulted in TPKs across the board. Last season the PCs faced a White Dragon in week 2, this time around it was two elite monsters that hit hard. This was easily one of the toughest encounters I’ve ever run for D&D Encounters. It didn’t result in a TPK at my tables but it easily could have. Instead we have more than half the PCs down to two or fewer healing surges.

As I’ve mentioned before I run two different D&D Encounters sessions most weeks at two different FLGS in my community. In some cases the adventures play out pretty much the same way. In cases where they don’t I’m going to try and summarize the highlights of each to show how different the same encounter can be with different groups. I’ll also explain any change I might have made after running it once before.

Take One – Harry T North

The first FLGS where I play has been running one table of late, usually with a huge party of adventurers. This week we began with six players but added a seventh just as we were abut to begin combat. The party consisted of a Human Seeker [Unseelie Agent], Pixie Rogue (Thief) [Fey Beast Tamer], Wilden Monk [Sidhe Lord], Hamadryad Paladin (Cavalier), Elf Monk/Ranger Hybrid, Pixie Bard (Master Skald) [Unseelie Agent] and Eladrin Bard.

The encounter began with the party departing the Sildaine Forest and heading towards the Crystal Cave. They followed the map Lord Carric provided and had little difficulty finding the cave mouth. When they got to the entrance they noticed an abundance of lush, thriving plants. Those with training in Nature easily identified plants not indigenous to this environment and others not normally is season as thriving the closer they got to the cave. Clearly some Fey magic must be at work here.

The party entered the cave cautiously and soon found themselves in a large cavern. Their every move and whisper was amplified and echoed around the cavern. The party realized that the sounds didn’t behave like they’d expect for a room this size and shape. Magic was at play here as well.

The party was beset upon by an Echo Spirit, an undead creature that used the very echoes of the chamber to amplify its attacks. During the combat all creatures gained vulnerability Thunder 2. This provided to be insult to injury.

Before attacking the PCs, the Echo Spirit summoned Spirit Echo minions and had them appear in squares with more than one PC adjacent so the damaging auras could have maximum effect. The PCs were bunched together at the cave mouth and the Echo Spirit then used its Echo Barrage (close blast 3) to target multiple PCs hitting all of them and dealing 2d6+2 (oh, and an extra 2 because it was a Thunder attack). It then slid the few PCs that weren’t already next to the Spirit Echoes into squares adjacent to the minions. Before the combat even began, half the party was bloodied and the beast companions were destroyed.

Not realizing that the Spirit Echoes were just minions the PCs focused on them first. I told them that the Echoes could be banished using Arcana, Nature or Religion. A standard check required a pretty reasonable check, but a minor action required something a lot higher. They all tried using minor actions first and when that failed they used their standard. All the minions were banished by the beginning of round two.

When the PCs finally engaged the Echo Spirit directly they were discouraged to learn its insubstantial feature meant it only took half damage. Since none of the PCs had radiant attacks they had no way to counter that defense making the combat take a long time.

Mid-way through the second round the Ochre Jelly emerged from the Southern passage and engaged the PCs. As usual the PCs, already in really bad shape, did the worst things possible – they stayed bunched up and split their attacks between the two monsters.

The Echo Spirit kept targeting and hitting multiple PCs every round with his Echo Barrage. I didn’t once use its Touch of Fear melee power because it was always a better tactical option to use the blast. When the Echo Spirit was bloodied its Psychic Reverberation reaction (close burst 10) knocked two PCs unconscious and seriously wounded everyone else. By this point all seven PCs were bloodied or worse.

Three of the PCs finally broke off from the group and attacked the Ochre Jelly from opposite sides of the cavern with ranged attacks. The Ochre Jelly randomly attacked the closest PCs and then kept on attacking until someone else dealt a lot more damage than the adjacent PC.

As the PCs defeated the Echo Spirit the Ochre Jelly reached its bloodied value the same round and split into two. The party realized their dire straights and focused fire (finally). They took down the two smaller Ochre Jellies without sustaining any more significant damage.

With the combat over the party searched the rest of the cave and found the skeletal remains of a long-dead barbarian from the Black Eagle tribe. From around his neck they discovered an Amulet of Life +1, some gp and a gem.

The only change I made to the encounter to compensate for seven PCs was to have the Echo Spirit summon four minions rather than three. Despite this almost negligible change, a party this size should not have experienced so much difficulty. I can only image how badly parties with only five PCs fared.

They continued down the passage and eventually discover the Oracle. Having spent almost 2 hours playing through the combat, this part of the role-playing was a real let down. The players were tired and just wanted to go home. They finally asked a few reasonable questions and got the information they needed before proceeding. In frustration one of the PCs asked “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” to which the Oracle simply replied “42.”

Take Two – Dueling Grounds

When I ran the encounter the second time I made a few changes. Rather than do role-playing/combat/role-playing like we did last week I decided to handle all the role-playing up front.

When the PCs entered the chamber the Echo Spirit did not immediately engage them, although I did stress the oddities of the sounds. I placed the Oracle in the first cavern rather than further down and off the map. This let the PCs investigate the cave opening, the cavern and the Oracle at the beginning. They were curious about the Oracle and asked a lot of good questions that will help them later on. When they were finally finished with the Oracle, the Echo Spirit attack. Although the battle was still tough, rearranging the order of events made the encounter a lot better.

This party consisted of a Half-Orc Barbarian (Berserker) [Unseelie Agent], Hamadryad Druid [Fey Beast Tamer], Eladrin Sun Elf Warlock (Hexblade) and Belgos the Drow Ranger. Our FLGS ran three tables: two with five players each and one with only four players. I got the smaller table and agreed to absorb any newcomers; none showed up so we proceeded with four. Learning from the previous session and realizing that a party of four without a leader was doomed, I reduced the Echo Spirit’s hit points from 72 to 50 and the Ochre Jelly’s hit points from 102 to 70.

This party was lucky enough not to all be bunched up when the Echo Spirit first attacked and only three were caught in the blast, wounding one PC and destroying the Druid’s animal companion. Unfortunately the Druid and Barbarian remained in close proximity and the Echo Spirit blasted them a second time. I pointed out to the party that their characters would realize the blast’s area of effect and that the PCs might want to spread out. They took this advice and all moved to different areas of the map.

I didn’t bring the Ochre Jelly into the battle until round three and the PCs were smart enough to ignore it completely and focus on the Echo Spirit. They got a huge break when the Druid dazed the Echo Spirit. The next PC to hit it bloodied it but because it was dazed it couldn’t use its Psychic Reverberation reaction power. This was the turning point that eventually led the party to victory.

The Barbarian was the only PC to engage the Ochre Jelly while the other three focused fire using ranged attacks on the Echo Spirit. The poor Barbarian was a punching bag and spent half the battle unconscious. His allies kept force feeding him healing potions to revive him but he kept getting hit by the Ochre Jelly.

Eventually the PCs were victorious and since we’d done the part with the Oracle at the beginning all that was left was to search the dead-end passageway where they found the treasure on the skeleton.

The other two tables at this location ran the adventure as written. One table was ok with the role-playing/combat/role-playing, but the other was not. The table with a lot of our younger players broke down as soon as the fighting was over. By the time the combat ended two hours of real time had passed and the kids were not willing to sit around and role-play for another 15-30 minutes. The DM was forced to forego the Oracle all together.


Despite the difficulties that all the tables seemed to have with such powerful foes, everyone seemed to have a good time. I think that the Echo Spirit’s at-will blast 3 attack was WAY too powerful for a level 1 party. I suspect it was supposed to be a recharge power. Add the close burst 10 when bloodied reaction and this elite was capable of killing most parties on its own. Throwing in another elite that hit just as hard seemed excessive. The serious resource drain (healing surges and daily powers) should make the next two encounters interesting.

The players continue to be very excited and enthusiastic about this adventure and the Heroes of the Feywild options. I really dislike the Pixie race (because of the flying) and the Fey Beast Tamer theme (because of the additional combatant on the board) as the DM, but I can see why players like them.

How did your session go this week? Hands up if your group suffered a TPK. Did anyone else rearrange the order of events as I did in my second go around? How is your group handling the role-playing/combat/role-playing setup?

We continue to record our D&D Encoutners sessions and make them available to you for download every week. This season I’m going to try to record the games at both FLGS where I play so that you can hear how two very different groups handled the same encounter. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone.

D&D Encounters: Beyond the Crystal Cave (Week 2) – Podcasts

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1 watchthis December 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

“I run two different D&D Encounters sessions most weeks at two different FLGS in my community”

Question: How is this possible, given that you’ve previously stated stores should only run D&D Encounters on Wednesdays? Do both stores run them on different times during each Wednesday?

2 Ameron (Derek Myers) December 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

One FLGS is near my office and I play right after work, the other is closer to my home and starts much later. My Wednesday nights are booked pretty solid, but as I don’t have kids and my wife has her own Wednesday night routine it works for me.

3 Sentack December 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

“A woodchuck, would chuck, all the wood he could chuck, if a woodchuck, could chuck, wood.”

I started this encounter this week but had to bail mid round 2 due to a family emergency so someone else at the group ran it for me.

When I reviewed the encounter, I had noticed that burst 3 at-will power as well and figured it HAD to be a typo. At-will? Recharge 4+ would have been nasty enough, but at-will? The fact it had a main melee 1 attack plus a reaction attack, meant it had the 2 attacks a round it normally should have had as an elite. The Burst 3 had to be a miss-print. That should have been an encounter power. Very lethal encounter.

I also found that this encounter shows one pitfall of encounter design. An all Elite encounter (Which this is in theory) has a scaling issue. In theory, you should have added 4 more minions or so, had it been a regular encounter but, that would have been far too deadly, I think.

4 Lahrs December 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I have run into a big problem that I could some help with. Between the fey-beast tamer, a druid with a pet, and a table of 6, I am staring down at 10 – 11 creatures on the PC side. While it is true only the PC or his pet can attack in a round, I all of a sudden have a ton more creatures and HP’s to attend to. I do not want to penalize the group for choosing the fey beast option by bringing out more monsters, nor bring the damage up enough to make them even more lethal (I nearly dropped two players in the first round without any adjustments) or give the enemies extra HP, which does nothing but prolong the fights.

Besides nearly dropping the two in the first round, after the skald started healing and a few second winds, they absolutely ripped through the encounter. The knights aura and high defense (even against will, the +5 was pretty low) funneled the attacks to him, while receiving bonuses from the fey beasts and allowed all the other PC’s to surround them for combat advantage and complete control of the battlefield.

One has to give, and I realize one of my “don’t wants” is going to have to happen to make the battles worthwhile, so any advice is appreciated.

With that said, the overall session was a lot of fun. With so many more RP opportunities, and a group willing to take them on, we have been enjoying the story moreso than every before. When the group came upon the Oracle, they actually asked some great, thought provoking questions that furthered the story rather than just some half hearted attempt to get the night over with. I did however place the whistle on the skeleton for the group to find since the proper question did not come up.

As I mentioned last week, I have the group sitting on opposite sides, somewhat pitted against each other. They at the least distrust each other (fey vs. non-fey). One of the questions from a human, and the one most distrusting borderline hate asked if the fey were responsible for the attacks, for which the Oracle said yes. Hilarity ensued (at least for me) as the group got into an immediate argument of “aha, I knew it was you guys” and “the xivorts are fey so that was an unfair question.”

The group is actually working well together in most aspects, and one of the fey extended an olive branch during battle to try to bridge the gap of mistrust. I am interested to see how the group continues to work, especially now that the human is even more convinced the other side is the real cause of the problem.

5 Sentack December 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I forgot to chip in about the Fey-Beast tamer as well. If one player at the table had it the other night, it wouldn’t be so bad. My table had 3 people with it… that’s kind of idiotic. It’s basically a free aura, flanking, damage soak, AoO and more, ally creature companion on the board. It’s a little silly. It’s a nice theme but it’s a broken theme. If it wasn’t for the fact that it’s part of the feywild book, I might not have allowed it.

I can’t say I have a good idea of how to deal with it but, this theme is absolutely free, and those companions are awesome, plain and simple. I suspect more area damage might have to come into play to help take out the companions and make them feel like the liability they should be, for the awesome benefit they all provide.

6 William December 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

This encounter was rough. I looked it over and saw that going in. Without mentioning anything I eased them into it a little.I dropped Insubstantial from the Echo Spirit, and Vulnerable from the cave. I said there was ample light in there from “Strange moss” that glowed so the part wouldn’t have to worry about lighting. I tell people this to make it clear that I wasn’t out for blood or trying for a TPK. I usually don’t go for blood unless it’s a chapter end or the end of the season.

The party was a Sayter Skald, Human Hunter, Sayter Berzerker, Human Knight, Half Orc berzerker, and a Human Protector.

This encounter killed 4/6 of of my players. Only the Protector and Knight were left alive. They bunched up and got hit by the blast, but only 3 of them got hit. They then spread out really good I was hopeful they would play as a team as they have been together for 2-3 seasons now. They ignored the minions though and just kept soaking the 3 damage every turn. It was small and they felt it was worth ignoring to hit the spirit. One Berzerker ran around the corner into the cube and led it back to the party on the second round however. The cube came in, knocked down one Berzerker, Action pointed and attacked the ranger taking him down as well. This is where it fell apart. They didn’t ration their healing or potions, and left one of the Berzerkers down the entire fight (with his 3[W] daily left. They split attacks, focused on healing the Hunter Ranger (he spent half the game outside smoking) they spent one of the Skald’s aura heals, a haling potion AND got him to spend his second wind. He stayed in melee range and provoked OAs and kept getting hit. He said it wasn’t worth an action to move. Two of those deaths were from failed death saves. They just left the players on the ground to bleed out. Both of the berzerkers. They focused on the spirit and then when it was at 9HP decided it had taken too long to kill and switched to the cube. I don’ even know what they were thinking. These guys have been playing at encounters for the past 3 seasons. They ended the night pissed off and then they called me a killer DM. I think having people down to 2 or 3 surges would be the night going smoothly by comparison.

7 Frank December 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I think this Encounter was way overpowered. We had a party of five, including a Bard, a Cleric, a Witch, a Scout, and my Pixie Hexblade. My Hexblade took the full effect of the Echo Blast attack twice and was dead by round 3. Dead dead–negative bloodied. By the time it was over, all of our party except the Bard were dead, and she was down to 3 hp. With the entire party wiped out, we had no interest in preceding down to the Oracle, and so we didn’t get any info or story progression.

8 Ameron (Derek Myers) December 1, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I realized upon reading the comments above that I didn’t use either monster’s action point. I should also mentioned that my dice were unusually cold for both encounters, but it didn’t really matter since the Echo Spirit’s blast targeted Will. I think most of the PCs only had a 10 or 11 Will defense (which meant that I was hitting some of them with a roll of 5 or better). That’s what happens when you make Charisma the dump stat.

9 Eamon December 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm

We only had three players at our table. After a couple of big hits on the Echo Spirit for no damage, we punted and made a break for the exit– an adventure in of itself. Two of us made it out (bloodied), but the satyr died. Poor Jughead the dog died too. Again.

10 JSollars December 1, 2011 at 6:58 pm

At our FLGS my table ran the Oracle RP portion before the combat and it went really well for us.

As for the combat, it was pretty brutal. We had 5 players, 1 went down to unconscious and another was in single digits, 2 others were bloodied. Surprisingly, my PC only got hit once but the DM had cold dice for the Ochre Jelly whenever it tried to attack me.

The party next to us had a TPK, but they had 2 regulars unable to make it and tried to run it with 3. I don’t know if their DM tried to scale the enemies to adjust for a party of 3 but it’s kind of hard to do that when you only have 2 elites and a couple of minions.

11 Dragonbane88 December 1, 2011 at 11:03 pm

I ran a table of five pcs-dwarven barbarian,pixie hexblade,eladrin dual weapon ranger,half elven pacifist healer,and a half elven skald bard.Three of them are beast tamers, one a sidhe, and the last tuathan.
Two of the pcs were suprised in the first round and onlty the fact that I rolled a 2 and a 1 for initiatives of the elites saved thier bacon.The spirit echo summoned its minions as its suprise round action and the pcs who had actions charged it, except for the pacifist.The ranger and the barbarian hit it prettty well, and I could feel the confidence rising in my players’ attitude, despite taking lots of small damage from the minion echoes.

Then the echo used that echo barrage power and all hell broke loose.As soon as the players saw the creature sliding the pcs(and thier animals into the stalagmites for damage they immediately wanted to know if they could do the same to the spirit, and I allowed it because of the spirit’s insubstantial quality.

When that large ochre jelly oozed around the corner and charged twoards the nearest victim(someone’s pet displacer beast)and melted it into a pile of acidic goo…. well, I wished I would have taken a picture of the players’ faces. They were flummoxed.Action points that were left got spent, the pixie blew a daily to finish off the spirit echo, and I crited the ranger, missing dropping him by one point; i.e. I “minioned” him. Only the fact that the party had a double healer configuration prevented at least one kill and two pcs using 3/4 of thier surges. Somehow the two healing potions werenot used, which Ifound very surprising.

What did it all add up to? One of the most memorable encounters sessions in recent memory, and I have been running them since the keep on the borderlands.A fantastic time was had by all, and the oracle cavern seemed like something the players earned so they tried to make thier questions count.I do agree with Ameron though in that the Echo Barrage power was just too powerful to be an at will power-it possibly was a typo on Wizards’ part. I decided not to use it as the spirit’s action point when I could have blasted three pcs (and the ooze) twice in a row, instead using a touch of fear on the pc that had hurt it the most.I think it worked out well.

As far as what to do about a menagerie of tamed beasts roaming around the crystal cave I’m open to suggestions myself-perhaps adding some minion artillery on top of cavern walls or mounds?

12 Astrolounge December 2, 2011 at 4:47 am

“but it didn’t really matter since the Echo Spirit’s blast targeted Will”
I was playing a Human Cavalier with a 15 Will, and I still got hit by that damn thing every time. I nearly got dropped in one round by that Echo.
I made a Diplomacy check to try to get the Echo to attack the Jelly on the basis that it was telling everyone to “go away”, and that that should include the ooze monster. I got a 25, so it went and attacked the ooze. …Once. Then I hit it with Holy Smite and dazed it, then the Warlord blew his daily to let the Hexblade and the Thief both attack it with combat advantage and drop it from above bloodied to dead (I think the Thief crit). Culminating with “And you’re dazed, so no inevitable bulls*** special attack for you”.
Even with that impressive success it was still one of the roughest fights in any of the Encounter’s games I’ve played so far.

13 B.J. December 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm

My group is playing a week ahead and I missed this one during the Thanksgiving break. It’s sounds like they either could have used my knight or maybe it was lucky i wasn’t there. Regardless, they reported the same difficulty most of you fine folks have reported. Everyone died.

14 David Argall December 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

VICTORIES OF VORDAL – 2. Into the Cave

The news[?} that the elven princess had run off to this Crystal Cave, a dangerous area , caused several fey to join us. [I am still suspicious this is all some fey plot and I must be alert, but I have to admit they are at least doing a good job of acting concerned for the missing kids.] So an enlarged party rushed off to the cave.
Reaching the cave, we found a number of tracks, including both the hostile fey and the missing couple. So we entered the cave, lighting some torches as we did.
We encountered a strange cave formation, with the word, ASK, in the wall. This proved to be the rumored Oracle, which answered one question from each of us. Not all the questions were wise, [Qualion Feycrow, an eladarin wizard, tried attacking the Oracle with a spell and got hurt worse than the rocks did. Fool fey.] But we learned we were on the right trail and were given a magic whistle to may help guide us.
Continuing, we found a large cave, and this undead ghost found us and attacked. He also had a pet ooze that also attacked us, and was able to summons some dangerous minions.
Most of the fey contigent, Dwedrip the pixie bezerker, Orla the elf rogue, and Cyrus the elf scout, tried to take on the ooze [an ochre jelly, somebody said], but it was too slippery to be stopped from attacking the rest of us too. However, it did take some nasty damage.
The rest of us were trying to deal with the ghost, which was powerful, And those allies it called forth, gave us enough damage to distract us from the main target. Hana, a dragonborn scald, and I managed to attack the ghost with radiant powers, which hurt it, but Merill a halfling rogue, and Abraxus, a dragonbord paladin, did what they could. Even so, it was a long hard fight and Hana and I exhausted out healing before it was over. However, the jelly and the allies were finally eliminated and we slowly cut the ghost down. We had to rest for some time to recover.
Continuing, we found the ancient body of a local barbarian, Since he had been dead for centuries, we have no idea what caused him to be there, nor what caused him to become an undead. Hopefully some prayers for the dead will send him to his rest.
For us, there may be much to do before we reach our rest.

Seasoning of Greenbow – 2.To the Crystal Cave

Our discovery of where the princess had gone led to a host of volunteers to help us rescue her, including a flight of pixies, which meant we were both augmented and diminished when we rushed to the cave.
The cave itself was a pleasant place, and distinctly magical. Our neglecting it these past few centuries was clearly a mistake. One reason it was a mistake, we soon discovered. The cave now had tenants.
We had suspected such and had entered the cave quietly, or as quietly as we could, considering it’s magical ability to augment echos. So we were not really surprised when a distinctly hostile ghost appeared and attacked. It charged Tam Lin Pairsnips, the pixie barbarian, and Taragdin the Satyr thief. Violet, the female pixie bard, and Petunia Petals, the femel pixie wizard rushed to their rescue and for a moment, the fight seemed to be going well. But that was when the ghost showed it could summons allies and had considerable powers of its own. Some of this help were merely small pests, but other were massive oozes. Petunia was quite useful in getting rid of the small ones, but the larger foes seriously hurt us. Violet quickly exhausted her healing and several of use were still bloodied. However Bin the male changling psion was not bothered by the insubstantial nature of the ghost and my arrows were doing serious damage to the oozes. So while we were all hurt by battle’s end, we were all still on our feet [or wings in the pixies’ case.]
We found what was possibly the body the ghost had come from. But we only have a vague idea who he was and no idea of what made him bitter enough to become the ghost. All we could do was pick up the valuables. and continue.
This was to a cavern that was some sort of oracle. It answered some of our questions anyway and even gave us some magical help. which may help us track down the girl. But we are going to have to go deeper into the cave to find her.

15 Peg leg Pete December 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

i ran a pixie bard (skald) [fey beast tamer, displacer beast] for this encounter. my wife was a satyr ranger [also fey beast tamer, also displacer beast], and my stepdaughter was an elf wizard (mage) [sidhe lord]. also at the table we had an orc ranger and a human barbarian (berserker).

play-wise, i was using my pet as a mount, because i have the feat that grants concealment while in the same space as a larger ally. this fight would have killed us except for a kindly DM move: he allowed us to find a grave-box belonging to the ghost’s long-dead lover, and the two departed, but only after all healing had been spent and everyone, except for the wizard, was down to single-digit hit points.

the oracle was fun, and i got to have a good “pixie moment:” one of the character asked about the dangers of the cave, and the voice answered vaugly back about monsters. without thinking, Bramble the pixie asked “what sort of monsters?” and, after getting the response that it was the ones we’d just killed, asked for more information…and kept asking, even when the echo stopped answering.

i really like playing a pixie, and i don’t care if they take the flying away completely.

16 BCarpenter December 4, 2011 at 5:46 am

Since this is my first time DMing a season and only starting it halfway thru last season i’m still getting used to triggers/at-will/recharges etc… so sometimes i miss things i could do to or for the PC’s. i moved the roleplaying to the beginning of the encounter because it made more sense to do it than after the combat. The oracle parts were horrible as only one person was asking questions even remotely close to what was on the page. after 3 rounds of questions i kinda gave up and started the combat. it was split up with the pc’s attacking both the spirit and the jelly. when the jelly split the table groaned and my co-DM (13yr old girl) was giggling evilly. eventually the it was 10 minutes to closing and i killed off the surviving split jelly so we could clear up and not run over. all in all not a bad encounter but still very hard. as JSollars said, the table next to ours had TPK.

17 discerningdm December 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I haven’t run this session yet, my store was closed for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I’m looking forward to it. Players are resourceful, but level 1 characters don’t have too many resources to draw from.

That said, I’ve never seen a PC die that didn’t have it coming.

18 darkl26139 December 16, 2011 at 5:29 pm

This session was my first time playing encounters. I had played Lair Assault a few times so I knew the latest game mechanics. As a player I was surprised to be pounded so heavily so early in the game. Having played the old D&D for years I was surprised to see such high powered enemies. The Echo was devastating our party because it had boxed us in the cave mouth and spikes. It kept knocking everyone on spikes for serious damage forcing us to waste turns just getting up and back over the thing. As a player it was annoying and frustrating. Adding to my annoyance was the fact the table next to us had a DM celebrating every player he wiped out. We had a good sized party of 6 with a cleric, several fighter types, and a couple of ranged. We just barely survived this encounter. By the time we got to the Oracle most of us were just plain annoyed. We did have more fun with the Oracle. While some of the new aspects of the game are interesting, I don’t like spending most of the night on a single combat each session with only a little roleplaying on each side.

I do like the story so far. Also, I was glad to see so many people giving the game a try. I just hope this format doesn’t turn off people looking for roleplaying as it is clearly more of a tactical combat game.

19 @Sean_Mc December 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

We are a few weeks behind at our FLGS, so we just played this one last night.

Our group had 7 players, and of those 7, only my somewhat cowardly skald did not fall unconscious at some point. Two had two strikes on death saves, and one other was 2 HP away from negative bloodied. He is the only leader class as well, which didn’t help matters.

From reading the writeup, it seems that our DM adjusted the encounter a bit – there were two ochre jellies to go along with the echo spirit. And as usual, the group panicked and attacked whatever was right in front of us, spreading the damage around way too much. It made for a harrowing, but high-volume fun.

As for the issue with fey beast companions, I’m not seeing the problem. Maybe it’s just my play style, but my fey beast is good for maybe two rounds, tops, before it has to retreat. Remember, if the beast dies, its master must spend a surge at the next rest. Again, I can’t speak for other players, but it keeps me pretty timid about launching it into flanking positions.

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