Dinner for Dragons

Retro-Post: First Encounter

First Encounter

Well, last night my group started their campaign.

From our last session, the player who had created the Half-Orc Scout had lost his character sheet. Fortunately, he and his girlfriend (the Tiefling Warlock) had found their sheets from a previous campaign and were able to use those. Our Half-Orc scout became a Dragonborn Fighter, which was kinda nice because we needed someone filling the defender role.

We started with the first encounter in the 4e Red Box dungeon master guide, which consisted of the characters coming to an ambush at a crossroads on the way to the abandoned Twisted Halls temple.

Well, I should probably step back a touch further. I started the campaign in an Inn at Fallcrest (which I probably could have named for the players, but didn’t). I then tried to initiate some backstory roll-playing to try and get some insight into the characters being played I learned, to which I only had some limited success in coaxing people to share any details they have come up with.

Two characters which had been rolled for a previous campaign had decided they were kindred spirits due to there minority status in the world, and were in search of employment due to a maligned adventure that had left them penniless. The tiefling warlock is named Sir Gwendolen Von Cherries and the Dragonborn Fighter is named Xavier Conqueso. Sir Gwndolen is being played as a male by a woman, and the character is naturally homosexual.

My wife’s character, Benicia the Druid Sentinel, decided to play the part of a woods guide that was between employers and seeking a new party to guide. Benicia’s player hasn’t played D&D since 1ed was new, so the game is basically new to her again.

Our Slayer, Ari, is by far the newest to the game. This is her first exposure to any sort of table-top RPG, and isn’t even a big fantasy genre fan. She isn’t really ingrained in nerd culture like the rest of the group. However, she’s giving it a fair shake so far, and I’m hoping she starts to get into it. I don’t know if that will happen or not. May just be a square peg in a round hole kind of situation.

Our Eladrin Mage is named Sharn Arravel. He didn’t offer up much backstory other than his character is Pan-sexual, which he was having fun with. Yes, we have an odd group. This is this players first playing of 4ed, but he’s played other editions of D&D, as well as a number of other table-top RPGs.

Well, back to the Inn…

Since nobody did the solo encounter from the Red Box players book, I improvised a story opening about Traevus and his hijacked caravan, and pointing them to the temple. Sharn was pretty insistant about trying to find out what we were trying to recover. I skated around the issue more than I should have, and didn’t handle it too well, stating that Traevus is refusing to say. He tried to roll an insight check, which I resulted in seeing that there was more to what was being told than what Taevus was giving the players. Fortunately, he didn’t try and roll a diplomacy or intimidate check. However, I want to try and use the conclusion to the story to hook into the next adventure, so I was going to be stubborn about it.

Still, I wish I would have thought of something better to draw attention away.

Anyway. Attack at the crossroads on the way to the temple. It’s a very simple encounter, consisting of two Goblin Cutthroats and two Wolves. I was glad we did this simpler encounter before making our way to the temple, as it was a better way of cutting our teeth on things. The first possilbe encounters inside the temple would have been much more dire. This gave my new players an introduction to the basic mechanics, which was much needed. Plus, for some reason, the dice was not on the players side, which could have been disastorous against harder monsters. First three attack rolls from players were 1’s .

Sharrn and Gwendolen were the most entertaining, as they started taunting each other as they missed during their attack rolls. I found it very entertaining, as it was the most role-playing we saw all night, and is the beginning of a naturally developing dynamic between the two characters that can influence things to come.

Sharnn was also insisting on using his minor action to use Mage Hand to “throw dirt at the Goblin”. I insisted that he couldn’t blind or damage him with the sand because Mage hand wasn’t dexterous enough, but that it would upset the Goblin and him more likely to target Sharnn. In hindsight, I should have had him roll unmodified against the moster’s DEX (a failed roll would have been the monster shielding his eyes) for a chance to blind. I don’t feel too bad about not doing that however, as we weren’t using Mage Hand correctly anyway since the monster wasn’t adjacent, and he would have had to perform the action by the end of a second turn (minor to summon and pick up sand the first turn, move up to 5 squares and free action throw sand during the second turn).

My other big screw-up of the night (in my opinion) was not handling Benicia’s familiar properly at all. I knew she had one, but I didn’t know how it worked. We didn’t place a token for it, and didn’t do anything with it. She contributed well with her healing powers, but next time we’ll bring the wolf into it. It didn’t really come up until we were trying to figure out how the mechanics of Combined Attack worked.

The Combined Attack dispute was if two attack rolls were needed to be made (one for player and one for familiar) and if the character’s attack missed, would he still take damage from the familiar. It doesn’t work that way, as the familiar’s attack is triggered from a successful hit by the player (granting a free action move plus familar’s basic attack).

Overall, the encounter was a success. We were very slow, which in addition to an unavoidable late start, resulted in only the one encounter being played that night. We only had one player fall unconsious, which was good. I was rolling much better for the monsters than the players were, so I was pleased that it was just the once that someone fell.

I’m looking forwared to our next session. I learned alot from this first encounter as a DM, and could feel myself getting more comfortable throughout the session and know the next session will be even better.

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darkaon

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