The third session for D&D Encounters had drastically different outcomes for the two groups I am running. In fact, Tuesday’s game was my first total party kill. It was an exciting as it was devastating. Group two had a difficult time as well, but I noticed that they were luckier and learned very quickly. I did make a change between the sessions, since the brambleweed is what essentially took out group one.
I felt kinda odd about changing so much, but I am going to take any misgivings I have about killing the party and turn it around into an opportunity to break the format and play D&D the way I want to. It is a pattern with me, I find something I just can’t wrap my head around with this game, it bums me out, I recoil at said state of being, and decide to follow my way of the ninja.
Anyhow, the game details…
Group one came in strong and easily dispatched the smaller guys, and put the hurt on the cursespewers. They were even able to take out both the archers, not an insubstantial feat, considering they were difficult to pin down. Slowly everyone began to succumb to the drawn out battle, eventually leaving just a cursespewer and Jarvix, standing five feet apart mind-thrusting and confounding cursing each other. I rolled a bit better, and he finally fell. Note that had it not been for the overwhelming advantage of position the goblinoids had, the party would have likely rocked their world. The issue of climbing up a large rock covered in barbed weeds really took the wind out of their sails. Desert sails, which incidentally need a lot of wind.
Also, they got further in negotiating, with Judy’s Barcan realizing that his diplomacy probably works better on nobles back home than on desperate nomads. Regardless, everyone came together and canceled out the surprise round the enemy had on them.
Group two was less successful in their negotiations, merely setting people up as targets for the first wave of curses and nomadic rage. Of note was Gautham’s Phye opening round, where she ran to a portion of the battleground that I hadn’t anticipated. I love that. The drake hadn’t presented itself yet, so the lasso it had around its neck provided a convenient way for Phye to scale the cliff to quickly engage the enemy.
One change I made was the location of the brambleweed. I really should have modified it for the first group, but I made sure not to make it too easy for this group either. Rather, I just cleared a couple of spaces to climb up, then they were on their own (and taking 5 damage at the beginning of their turn). Of all the people to take out, it was Phye, the healer that fell to the lacerations, causing the party to spend one of their invaluable healing fruits to resuscitate her.
The combat was brutal, as that group’s Yuka is fond of grabbing people and throwing them off cliffs. There was a lot of back and forth in how the battle was apparently going, and Phye was forced to spend all of her healing abilities.
My favorite part of the combat was the exploding minion. Being overwhelmed, a cursespewer decided to activate the doom ability on a minion while within range of the ability. As it left Yuka, Phye and Cursespewer A to hacking and coughing (and taking damage), and despite the fact that I said it activated from the cursespewer screaming a curse, the players became convinced that the minions exploded on death. The best part was when everyone passed up on attacking the last minion because he was too close to risk an explosion! They let it run all the way to the edge of battle before Cristina’s Barcan popped it from afar. A great moment in threat analysis.
Besides that, the groups did some similar things. They were both surprisingly close to each other’s starting positions. Barcan and Jarvix were both adept at remaining mostly uninjured until later in the battle. Both groups attempted to negotiate with the nomads, and both groups discussed how great it was going to be to have a drake in the party.
Major differences, besides the TPK, is that group one almost killed all the enemies, while group two killed both the cursespewers and a minion first, causing the others to retreat (I don’t think they killed any archers). Also, the drake was rather passive in the first game, where in the second one it was included in the explosion, so made a flyby attack against a cursespewer before leaving.
Now we are trudging into the fourth encounter, and the two groups are going to be experiencing very different stories. One of the other DMs, Andy, changed the characters’ stories around a bit, from what I gather, and I was feeling awfully lazy. However, I just get frustrated at how incomplete the module is, and I am not DMing a public game so that people can come around and be bored because they are overwhelmed and out of healing surges. I am here to take names and describe action scenes, and then double-check the list of names to make sure I got everyone. Boosh!
Note: I only mentioned the players’ names who have been to this site and commented. I won’t talk about someone’s activities here unless they out themselves first.