|C is for Castle, amirite?|
I photoshopped the Harpshield map so all of the traps or DM notes were cloned out (except for a little of the dotted line up there by 7 and 15) and printed out a few color copies at office depot (whose print department is a DM's dream).
Again, I like these scenarios, but it boggles the mind that this was what they chose for Encounters. This is a pretty difficult one to run without a visual representation, because there's monsters in many different parts of the open area. The PCs need to have a sense of this so that they understand which actions will draw unwanted attention. Who the hell would want to draw this out on a piece of paper?
It is a ridiculous amount of work. I suppose if you're a DM and this is your only game, then maybe it's OK. But this is a side game for me. I do it for the swag!
I had a new player join in. He's a college kid who said he had played at the store a few years back. I remembered him. He told me about how he and his friends are now playing a D&D campaign, and how he is going through all the trials and tribulations that new DMs face.
Then he told me that my Neverwinter D&D encounters campaign inspired him and that he'd been emulating my style since then.
Now.. I am mostly dead inside, dear reader. But this definitely rattled my brain a bit. I don't even remember any details from that Neverwinter campaign. I know I cooked up some extra content for it because I really liked the first half of that season, but I couldn't give you any details. It was 2 or 3 years ago, I think.
It is really an honor when you hear something like that. To think that some stupid game I ran affected somebody in a positive way is definitely a cool thing.
And so our session commenced. Our heroes returned to town and found out that the Delimbiyr Bloke was at Harpshield Castle.
The new guy wanted to buy a vial of purple water. He did. He cast light on it and put it on a necklace This kid is something else.
Then the thirteen year old girl wanted her female character to pick up a prostitute. Uhhh... well. In my home games we do stuff like this a lot. But in a store with a game of kids and teenagers... not happening!
The other night, her mother sort of pulled me aside and asked me if it was OK to have her daughter play if her brother couldn't make it. I said yes. She is a girl in a room full of guys, but the guys in the store are more focused on their games.
Don't get me wrong, the guys are watching the girls out of the corner of their eyes and making quiet comments to their friends. But if there is any flirting, it's of the awkward, overly loud and cringe-inducing geek joke variety. Plus, I'm right there and I am already in "ward off the weirdos" mode to start with.
It was like herding cats to get these players out of town and back to Harpshield Castle, but eventually they went there.
Harpshield is a ruined castle that is over-run by orcs. They're led by a orc wight called "Wartsnak", which is almost as much fun to say out loud in a deep dramatic voice as "THE CATAPHRACT".
True to form, our heroes sniped an orc sentry and climbed a wall. One PC went off alone and encountered a female ogre chained to a wall (a long chain, though - very long). They tried to talk to her, but she let out a shout, grabbed her club, and attacked!
The whole place was alerted. There were orcs camped in the courtyard abut a hundred feet away. There were two orcs near a collapsed wall. And eventually the orc shaman and his two orogs entered the fray as well.
I got to use long, lonngg distance javelin throwing in this. There seems to be a bit of an issue with ACs in D&D Next. I have a couple PCs with an 18 or even 19 AC. So normally, the orcs with a +3 to hit have to roll a 16! Not easy. And then, with the long distance penalty, they need to roll really high.
Another issue in this session was that everyone was supposed to level for tonight. But... nobody has the rules packet! How odd that we are playing an edition of D&D where the rules are so hard to come by. I have them, but most players don't.
The battle was long and drawn out. When it was over, the heroes wanted to remove some rubble over a trapped door. The paladin went off... alone... (some players just never learn) to explore. He smartly didn't go too far.
We had to stop there. Not too many inter-personal issues tonight. I was worried the group might fall apart thanks to the arm-punching and dice rage of previous weeks. But the young player in question walked into the store tonight and immediately declared "I had sex", beaming with pride as if he'd just beaten a Zelda game or something. His mood tonight was much more moderate.
Let us hope the pre-game intercourse becomes a regular event! Maybe that should be a thing in general.