Thursday, February 17, 2011

March of the Phantom Brigade: Session 2

This week everyone at my table was psyched to play this week.  I see the people I play with throughout the week and earlier this week I brought out all the figurines involved in all the random encounters and all week, got queries about what these were for. With the excitement brewing for the week we finally sat down at the table to play. With all six pregens present for the event, it was sure to be an exciting week.  We had two new players at the table.  With the addition of the rogue, the encounter finished rather quickly.

The Company managed to ford the river safely.  Brother Splintershield mourned the loss of the two caravaneers who perished during the attack of the stirge.  A few hours later the caravan moved on and soon stopped for a break. 

After a few words of faith, and the burial of the two deceased, the caravan moved on at a greater pace if they want to reach castle Inverness by nightfall. 
On one of the caravans' halts for the day, the characters see the following:

... You spy the half-orc Malgram striding purposefully along the wagons towards you.  Struggling to keep up with his long strides is a female elf in long robes that are a bit too elegant for road travel. When they draw near, Malgram holds up a hand to get your attention, then speaks in a voice far more civil than his custom:

"Faldyra has it in her head to go digging in the dirt, and she's far too valuable to the settlement to let her wander off on her own.  I need you to watch after her for awhile."

The party is hardly able to speak before Faldyra interrupts them and introduces herself. Faldyra informs the party that she is going to be the resident scholar of Inverness.  She learned from the rangers in the area, that some rare herbs and other quality specimens are found around this area; especially her Ambrosia tea. She knows she is one to be oblivious and defenseless to dangers and needs an escort away from the caravan.

Brandis pipes up and asks why she is so interested to go to Inverness.  She responds that it is to search for information on ancestors supposed lost in the tower.  Upon further conversation, she reveals to the party that Brother Splintershield will perform a consecration ritual to cleanse the area around the castle.  Rumours have it that Inverness is haunted.  Upon mentioning haunted, Faldyra shudders and loses herself in her thoughts.  She starts mumbling to herself in Elvish.  Three of the party members who speak elvish,  pickup that she is scared of the undead with excellent insight checks.

Brandis gets confused with this language and asks Faldyra what she is talking about.  She apologizes and starts to explain her sudden change of thought.  She suddenly cries in surprise and runs off from the party stating: "Oh my!  Look at all the rare herbs here!  This is going to take a few minutes” The party catches up to Faldyra and asks her not to run off like this again.

Jerren and Brandis look up suddenly, and he tells the party that something is coming.  The Brushes shake and five lizard like animal leap out of the bushes and attack the party.  These creatures look famished and emaciated and the party knows if they do not take them down quickly, they would be the next meal.  Brandis rushes in and pummels the first guard drake and almost bloodies him.  Jerren does a nature check and knows that two of them are guard drakes, and before unleashing his power, he perceives a branding tattoo on the drake's neck and assumes they belong to someone. 

Jerren centers his freezing burst on 3 of the drakes hitting one only.  The guard drakes concentrate on Brandis and manage to take a chunk out of him.  The spitting drakes smell blood and concentrate as a pack would on the paladin.  In one round he is taken down leaving everyone else open to the animals. 

Enter the rogue.  She flutters upon the battlefield and wreaks havoc among the guard drakes.  Fargrim and the other fighter come in to engage one drake each and give breathing room for Valanae to heal Brandis.  Belgos manages to pick off one of the guard drakes.  Brandis gets up and attempts to attack the guard drake with no success, but the aura surrounding the paladin have an effect: the guard drakes keep attacking him and only one manages to hit.  The fighters both score solid hits on the drakes afterwards, bloodying both in the same round. 

The spitting drakes spit again hitting the fighter and the paladin, once again dropping Brandis and move in for the kill afterwards. The guard drake closest to Brandis, grabs his leg attempting to pull him away from the battlefield.   The rogue once again moves deftly about the battlefield and scores a whopping hit on one of the spitting drakes currently engaged with Fargrim, bloodying it.  Valanae send another healing word to Brandis, who kicks off the drake, activates his aura again and spends his second wind.  Jerren fires another freezing burst catching one of the guard drakes square in the face and falls, dead.  Two others are injured and pushed away from the party, given the party room to breathe.

Belgos fires rapidly and manages to score two quick hits with his bow, dropping one of the spitting drakes.  The rest is elementary after this.  Keira manages to dispose of another drake soon after.  The rest of the party makes quick work of the remaining drakes. 

After the battle, the party finds Faldyra cowering behind some bushes.  She is extremely thankful for the party's bravery and then goes over to examine the drakes.  She states that the tattoo on the drake is from the house Lawren.  This house fell many years ago to a rival faction.  These drakes must have escaped in the confusion of the raid and started their own pack in the wild.  She then remembers that she is holding an amulet found while she was collecting her samples.  It is a Safewing Amulet + 1. 

The party returns to the caravan where Malgram thanks them for protecting Faldyra.  The caravan resumes their trek to make the castle before nightfall.

I enjoyed this session.  I noticed that 4th edition does not concentrate on random encounters like 3.5 did.  I liked the encounters.  I wish I could have done all three. I chose the encounter for my players.  I knew they had fought many goblins in the past and they are bored with them, so that left the Defenders of the Forest and the Hungry Drakes Encounters to choose from.  I had all the minis for the Hungry Drakes encounter and decided that my players would appreciate this one over the tokens I would have to use for the Defenders of the Forest encounter.

Roleplaying was ok for some of my players.  They managed to get most of the information from Faldyra and thus accorded them some extra XP.  I encouraged my players to try and get some information on the drakes during play and only Jerren decided to do this.  Unfortunately, I wanted them to try to intimidate the drakes and dominate them; I thought that would have been excellent for the party to see, so others would try to emulate anything they could think of for roleplaying. After many hints of: 'You think the drakes were owned by someone' and 'They are used to taking orders' and anything short of 'Roll a bloody intimidate check to control them!!!!!', the players seemed not to get it.  I told them at the end what they could have done with this encounter for future reference.

All in all, my players are extremely stoked for next weeks session and so am I.

How did your players fare?  What encounter did you manage to play?  I would love to hear your comments.