D&D Encounters: Princes of the Apocalypse (Episode 1.3)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on April 15, 2015

princes-of-the-apocalypse-coverWe ended our last session with the heroes defeating the bandits. There were 12 bandits in total, but the party of seven still made short work of them. Now it’s back to Red Larch to see what other trouble they can get into.

We ran two tables at Face to Face Games in Toronto, both full with seven players in each group. We’re still struggling to find a DM or convince any of the current players to take a chance as the DM.

My group had many familiar faces, but a few people were running different characters this week. Two wanted to try something different and one just forgot his real character so he used a pre-gen. We ended up with the following composition in our party: Human Sorcerer (Wild Magic), Elf Bard, Goliath Bard, Half-Orc Barbarian/Druid, Dwarf Fighter, Human Monk, and Halfling Rogue.

The Path Back to Red Larch

With the bandits dispatched or killed, the treasure looted, and the caged bear freed, the party wasn’t sure what to do next. They came all this way under the pretense of helping a family of farmers make it home safely. Realizing that they needed a long rest anyway, they returned to the road where they regrouped with the farmers and accompanied them the rest of the way home.

After a good night’s rest and a hearty meal, the PCs returned to Red Larch on foot. The journey took two days and they met the new PCs along the way. By the time they’d reached Red Larch they were fast friends.

The two bards and the new Fighter went to visit the constable and report their actions and their success. The Constable and his wife (the butcher) were cooking up some fine cuts of meat and invited the PCs to join them for supper whole they told tales of what had happened.

The rest of the party returned to the Swinging Sword tavern. There weren’t many patrons there since it was early afternoon, but the tired, road-weary PCs stayed and had a few drinks and some questionable stew.

After an hour the party regrouped in the tavern and discussed their next adventure. Some wanted to go to the fabled Lance Rock where apparently strange things were occurring. Unfortunately they didn’t really have much more to go on. A few other PCs wanted to find the little girl’s Ghost. But again they didn’t have a lot of information.

While the PCs tried to figure out where they might learn more information the tavern filled up fast. It was league dart night. The adventurers asked if they could play and were told teams had to have four people. Four PCs quickly formed a team. A few other teams were short players so they invited the other three PCs to join them.

During dart night the PCs managed to get some information about Lance Rock from traveller who’d passed by it only the day before. He said there were signs up saying that there was a plague nearby and to stay away. This aroused the PCs’ curiosity. By the time dart night ended the team of PCs finished fourth earning a complimentary meal. Everyone had fun so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

The next morning, some of the PCs went to the tailor’s shop to try and find her granddaughter and ask about the Ghost. The granddaughter wasn’t present, but the tailor was glad to see the PCs. She offered to make them new clothes, but they weren’t in a buying mood. When asked about the Ghost, the shopkeeper referred to it as the girl’s imaginary friend. She doesn’t believe it was an actual Ghost.

The PCs did manage to get a more specific location of where the imaginary friend first appeared. They also learned that it’s a spot where the baker harvests a special berry for his muffins. So they headed to the bakery next.

Although the bakery was filled with customers, the Half-Orc forced his way to the counter to ask his questions. The baker realized this was bad for business so was very forthcoming with the PCs. He gave them specific directions and asked them to pick some more berries for him while they were there. They agreed.

The PCs regrouped and spent considerable time discussing which task to take on first: the plague at Lance Rock or the little girl’s imaginary friend. They eventually decided on the imaginary friend.

The Ghostly Imaginary Friend

Finding the location where the baker, the tailor and their kids had picnicked and played was easy enough. The PCs split up and fanned out. One eventually found an old cemetery over the crest of a nearby hill. The few remaining tombstones had some writing on them but it was too warn from years of exposure to be read.

The Elf Bard refused to believe the names were illegible so she sat and began a ritual to Comprehend Languages. The rest of the party looked around since a Ghost might be hiding behind any of the tombstones. Eventually they found two tombs. The structures weren’t that large, but they’d sunken into the ground and been covered by dirt and grass over the years.

The Rogue, the Half-Orc and the Fighter looked over both tombs and then chose one randomly and tried to open the door. The tomb was sealed shut and they had no luck. Eventually the Rogue had the bright idea to try using a crowbar. That helped a lot, but it was still quite difficult. When they finally managed to open the door they realized that the floor was lower than the ground they were standing on. Over time earth had packed up against the door which was part of the reason they were having so much trouble.

When no Ghost appeared they didn’t go inside, but instead went to the other tomb. This one opened a lot easier. Again no Ghost appeared. However, this time the Half-Orc decided to enter and make a statement. He stepped inside and transformed into a bear. He then lashed out at the only object inside – a sarcophagus. The lid flew off, hit the far wall, and smashed. This was when the Druid-bear heard the piece falling down a staircase on the other side of the sarcophagus.

The two Bards stayed outside, the Elf casting her ritual and the Goliath watching over her. The rest of the PCs entered the small tomb. As the first PCs began descending the stairs a Ghost appeared in the doorway behind them and spoke. “You are forbidden from entering the master’s tomb. Please be gone from here.” The Ghost then stepped aside allowing the PCs to leave. None did.

The PCs continued to head downward. The Ghost disappeared and then reappeared in front of them on the staircase. “This is your final warning. You are forbidden from this place. Be gone.” The PCs decided to attack the Ghost. Their initial attacks didn’t do any noticeable damage, but the Ghost’s first attack, a swing of its spectral sword dropped the Sorcerer in one hit. The Druid-bear kept attacking while the other PCs decided it was best to leave.

The Monk carried the unconscious Sorcerer to the Bard while the Rogue ran around to the other tomb believing that there may be a second entrance into the tomb. Regrettably there was not.

At this point an arrow shot out at the Monk while a Javelin soared at the preoccupied, ritual casing Bard. The missiles came from opposite sides of the graveyard. The arrow hit the Monk; the Javelin did not hit the Bard. A look around revealed the javelin was thrown by a Half-Ogre. The culprit who shot the arrow ducked behind cover before his identity could be discovered.

The Goliath healed the unconscious Sorcerer and then ran at the Half-Ogre. The Monk followed his big friend. The Rogue exited the tomb just in time to see the arrow, but not the shooter. He ran towards the place the shooter was likely hiding.

Inside the tomb the Druid-bear continued to fight the Ghost but was unable to hit it. After a couple of rounds he gave up and joined his friend outside. By then the Half-Ogre had switched to a great axe and was chopping through the PCs. The Rogue had found the Goblin archer, but was having a difficult time scoring a hit on him. The Druid returned to his Half-Orc form and tried hitting the Goblin with spells.

Eventually the combined attacks of the Monk, Goliath Bard, and Sorcerer dropped the Half-Ogre. When the Goblin saw his companion fall he fled. The party was badly injured and decided not to pursue. When the combat ended the ritual was done. Now the Elf Bard could understand all written language.

To be continued.

Thoughts

We didn’t advance the plot much this week, but we did have fun and that’s what’s most important. The players really had different ideas on how to proceed and the large group made it difficult for them to reach a consensus. A few of the more experienced players realized we were wasting a lot of time arguing and analyzing inconsequential details so they relented.

When the party was in the tavern they weren’t really accomplishing much and seemed to need a push. I decided to add dart night to give them a large social experience and a chance to roll dice inn a non-combat scenario. The diversion from the main plot worked really well and the players said they really enjoyed the skill challenge.

Upon reaching the cemetery the group decided that if they found the Ghost they had to kill it. I’m not sure why they felt this way since the little girl’s account of the spirit was that it was friendly. Nevertheless, when the finally found the Ghost the party tried to kill it. Greed got the better of some PCs and they felt if the Ghost was guarding something it must be valuable. They didn’t expect the Ghost to be so tough so next week they’ll have to reassess their situation.

We’ve got one more locale in episode 1, Lance Rock. After that we’ll level up and move on to episode 2. I didn’t expect episode 1 to take four sessions, but we’ve certainly got time for it so I’m in no hurry.

How far is your group in the new adventure? When you encountered the Ghost was the attitude at your table the same as my group’s? Did the Ghost scare off any parties? How about the Goblin and Half-Ogre, did anyone have too much trouble fending them off?

Recounting Encounters Podcast

Listen to Derek Myers, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (from 20ft Radius) recount our weekly experience at D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective tables and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.

  • Recounting Encounters – Season 20, Episode 3 (posting April 16)

Actual Play Podcasts

Each week we record our D&D Encounters session and make it available to you for download every week. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone. Some language may be inappropriate for all ages, although we try to keep it as family-friendly as possible.

Actual Play Podcast – Episode 1, Session 3 (Face to Face Games) (coming soon)

Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.


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1 Joe April 16, 2015 at 3:22 pm

We’ve planned it out at our store so that Ep 1 will take 6 sessions total, and all 3 tables will force-level to 2 after that (folks who get to 300 XP prior can level early, though they are still stuck to the 300 XP cap for Ep 1). I plotted out through the end of August, so that we’ll be finishing things at lvl 4 right around when the last scheduled Elemental Evil thing will be released, which will hopefully be around the time the next season comes out.

Instead of using the random encounters table in the PDF, which is largely over-powered for a low-level party, I’ve been incorporating bits of the additional plots in the hardcover PotA, like the burned farm/ice orcs and the ranch under seige.

For Ep 1, we went as follows:
3/18 – Character Gen
3/25 – road to Red Larch, fight w/ howling hatred cultists
4/1 – Bears & Bows (50 XP)
4/8 – Burning Farm/Ice Orcs (75 XP)
4/15 – Haunted Tomb (75 XP)
4/22 – Dellmon Ranch Under Seige (75 XP)
4/29 – Lance Rock/Necro Cave (100 XP)

I love the idea of Dart Night, though, and may need to incorporate something like that into a future session.

2 Joe April 16, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Oops… road to Red Larch was 50 XP, B&B was 75. You get the idea, though. That way folks who show up to every session can do the last couple adventures at a higher level, but we don’t get wildly different power levels at the table.

3 Tormyr April 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Congratulations, Derek!

4 Alakai May 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

Question, I’m a new DM taking some friends through Princes of the Apoc. I am wondering what it he best way to try and get the details and maps from the book onto a mat for the miniatures. I don’t have a projector or mirror anything, any helpful suggestions on how to maybe scan and print them out then connect them via tape or something? Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you

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