While on the way to Red Larch the characters were beset upon by an Earth Elemental that was chasing Orcs and a Paladin of Torm. The PCs did a remarkable job of taking down the Elemental without suffering any loses. From there it was a relatively uneventful trip the rest of the way to Red Larch.
Our first session at Face to Face Games in Toronto didn’t really get beyond the initial random encounter, but this week the PCs had an opportunity to explore Red Larch and get to know some of the local NPCs. We were again busting at the seems with 14 players split between two tables. My group consisted of the following PCs: Goliath Bard, Elf Bard, Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Human Wizard, Human Warlock/Bard, Human Monk, and Half-Elf Sorcerer (Dragon Magic).
Exploring Red Larch
The party spent the first part of the session in town. Having just arrived after a long journey they immediately went to The Helm at Highsun (#3), a local tavern. The three Bards and the Monk (an Entertainer) took turns performing. Some won the crowd over, others less so. The locals were abuzz about the farmers’ market that was happening the next day. Apparently it happens one a tenday and it’s not to be missed. So after a night of partying the PC turned in and decided to meet up in the morning and go shopping.
Five of the Seven PCs managed to wake up at sunrise, while the Bard/Warlock opted to sleep in and the Monk decided to find a secluded place to meditate and practice his combat techniques. Those heading to The Market (#21) had plenty of time to interact with the locals. Many of the farmers selling goods travelled as much as a full day to reach Red Larch and sell their produce and other wares.
While making friends and acquiring goods, the PCs learned of bandits ambushing travellers on the Cairn Road (something the Constable had told them the night before). They also learned that farmers who travelled to Red Larch on the Long Road from the north saw signs of Goblin tracks and a possible Goblin camp near the road.
A little girl, the granddaughter of one of the merchants, recounted tales of her Ghost sighting while playing hide & seek a few weeks earlier. The Ghost looked like an old knight, and he was very polite. He told the girl that she shouldn’t be hiding in his house because it was dangerous. She thanked him and found a new hiding place. No one else saw the Ghost and she refused to tell them where she’d been hiding since it was such a good spot. She did point in the direction of where they were playing.
Meanwhile the Monk was doing his meditation in the quarry pit behind Mellikho Stoneworks (#18). After about half an hour the Constable and his men showed up to do drills of their own. They respected the Monk’s desire for silence and practiced drills without making more than a few grunts.
The Monk eventually approached them and introduced himself. The Constable asked if he’d be able to teach his men some unarmed combat techniques. From what the Monk saw these men were clearly military trained and eager to learn. For the next hour he taught them some basic moves which they could refine on their own. The Constable asked the Monk if he and his friends would look into their problem with the bandits as soon as possible. The Monk agreed to make it the group’s top priority.
When the part regrouped they decided that the bandit issue was more important than chasing figments of a little girl’s imagination. They asked the Constable to provide details and he was happy to do so. He provided a map and flagged a few spots where he suspected the bandits might be hiding.
The PCs felt that they could draw the bandits out of hiding by giving them a desirable target. So they returned to the farmers’ market and found a family planning to head home via the Cairn Road. With a few easy Persuasion checks the party convinced the farmers to let them ride along. The PCs didn’t explain that they were bait, and instead told the farmers they’d act as caravan guards which the farmers were happy to have along for the ride home.
Finding the Bandits
When the PCs were approaching the first location the Constable marked on their map, they prepared for an ambush. Unfortunately after considerable prep, nothing happened so they moved on. When they neared the second location the Constable marked on their map they again prepared. And again nothing happened. However, some of the PCs with keen hearing detected sounds coming from the nearby forested area. The party advanced, ready to surprise the bandits.
The Goliath Bard charged ahead of the party and when he reached a clearing he saw seven humans sitting around a campfire enjoying their supper. One of the Human was startled by the rushing Goliath so he reached for his crossbow and fired. The Bard wasted no time attacking. As the rest of the party caught up they soon realized that these weren’t bandits, rather it was just a bunch of teenagers having a bit of a bush party. The Goliath took a few rounds to simmer down, but in the end no one was killed. The party apologized and continued onward.
When they neared the third and final location the Constable marked on their map they got ready for an ambush. The Wizard sent his owl ahead to scout and it spotted armed men in mismatched armor not far off the road, drinking and celebrating. The PCs decided to take the fight to the bandits (assuming they had the right group in their sights this time).
The PCs easily got close to the bandit camp and saw 12 men around the fire. Without warning the PCs attacked. The bandits reacted quickly and engaged the PCs without hesitation. Half the bandits engaged in melee combat while the rest used crossbows. Those using ranged attacks tried to take cover where they could, including behind a wagon with a caged bear atop it.
The fight raged on and the bear got more and more agitated. However, it was unable to free itself from the cage and none of the PCs thought to hep it at first. The PCs took a few blows, but everyone managed to stay on their feet. The same could not be said for the bandits as they started droping quickly.
By the time half of the bandits were down the bear finally managed to break loose of the cage. It charged the nearest bandit and mauled him to death. The Goliath Bard realized the bear was badly wounded so he healed it. This immediately won over the bear and it continued to fight on the side of the heroes until the bandits were defeated. Ten bandits were dead and two escaped during the combat. A quick search of the camp revealed a bit of treasure the bandits had acquired, but nothing noteworthy. The corpses were loaded onto the wagon and the PCs returned to Red Larch.
To be continued.
With a party of seven players it’s tough to keep things moving, but we managed. The story didn’t really advance as far or as fast as I would have liked, but I tried to make sure as many of the PCs as possible had a chance to do something special that suited their character.
I had to really beef up the encounter with the bandits considering the party’s size and the fact that five of seven PCs were above level 1. The larger bandit brigade did little to stop the party, but gave them another opportunity to see how all the characters work in combat. This party has a lot of ranged characters. Great for the encounters they’ve has so far, but potentially problematic when the have to fight in close quarters like a dungeon, cavern, or inside a building.
I’ve decided to tweak the XP cap. I’m not going to include XP from random encounters in the cap. I’m also going to combine the 300 XP and 600 XP cap from episodes 1 and 2. This should allow each character to earn suitable rewards for their deeds and not have any PCs playing in a session where they can’t earn usable XP. That’s just wrong.
How are things progressing for your party? Which encounters have you completed? What kind of random encounters have you experienced so far? Any really memorable moments so far? What kind of crazy character builds are you seeing at your table?
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