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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen - Dragon Hatchery

We had a good session of Dungeons & Dragons today. First I am going to talk a bit about the players in this group. Then I am going to run down what happened in the adventure.

Have you ever lost your wallet or identification? I did the other day. The idea of having to replace my license, my debit card and all that other stuff was overwhelming. I am so careful about this kind of thing. I couldn't fathom how I had lost it.

After three days of suspense... I found it. It fell out of my laundry. I can't tell you how relieved I was.

I found the wallet about two hours before game time. This meant that I was going into the session in a good mood, which obviously always helps.

Sadly, my playtest group (who went through Dead in Thay and White Plume Mountain, among others) has splintered to the far ends of the realm, like the heroes in the Dragonlance Chronicles. Hack and Slash Guy is too busy with football. The brony has been banished to another table. And the kid who was the core of my games for six months has pretty much dropped RPGs in favor of this online video game called Destiny.

I have ended up with an entirely new group comprised mostly of kids. They are awesome. I have, of course, talked about the 4th grade girl who plays the legendary character known as Dark The Dragon Sorceress. Her dad plays a rogue. There's a few 13 year olds who are brand new to the game and very into it (also very nice and considerate). There's also a handy 25 year old who knows all the rules very well, which is great because he can field rules questions and help the players along while I am handling something in the game.

Today a new kid jumped in. His mom told me he was very nervous (Why do Moms yell this in front of everyone? That just makes the kid more nervous. Pull me aside and tell me that kind of thing... sheesh), but I think we put him at ease very quickly. His mom seemed pleased and came back later with cookies that she made, and I must tell you they were loaded with chocolate chips. She gave me a bunch to take home. They were a Meal of the Year Candidate, I kid you not.

On top of that, the store decided to hand out free dice. They had a pile of those awesome Dead in Thay dice left, so they gave them out. I think that is a great way to help keep people coming back.

Dark first commented that the Dead in Thay die did not "match" the color of her dice set (which is light purple). But she ended up rolling the new die all night. These promo dice are just a little bigger than regular d20's. They are awesome.

So yeah, I found my wallet, got free dice, got free cookies and played D&D with nice kids. It was an awesome session.

Last time, we blew through episode 2 in a single session. They did not get close to enough XP to hit level 3. When running this adventure in a home game, you can just have your players level when each new episode hits. But in the Adventurer's League, we have to hand out XP fairly strictly.

So I was worried that the adventurers would get slaughtered in this episode, which has a lot of deadly monsters with multiple attacks.

I decided to go soft on them in a major way. They are new, after all.

Our heroes returned to Greenest and rested. There was this weird part in episode 2 where there's a monk the heroes are supposed to rescue, but the monk says he doesn't want to be rescued. But at the start of episode 3, the adventure assumes the monk was rescued!

Welp, my group didn't. So I had Governor Nighthill deliver the monk's flavor text. The adventurers are asked to return to the enemy camp to find out more.

I gave the heroes the chance to load up on potions of healing. They're 50 gp and heal for 2d4+2. I warned them that this would be difficult.

I had them encounter some 'hunters' from the camp, who are tracking an elk. My idea here was basically to give them an easy encounter where they got the jump on the bad guys so they could remember how the game worked, and so I could get them some XP to help get them to level 3 as fast as possible.

The players were great with the new guy, helping him along on his turn without me having to say anything. It is a very nice group.

After they took down the hunters, the group came upon the camp to find that most of the enemy army had left - scattered in different directions. Basically, the only enemies that remained were in the caves (which held dragon eggs). I decided that the bad guys had dragged the monk in there, too.

The first encounter involves two guards who spot the heroes coming, hide in the shadows, and ambush them. But what happened is that Dark absolutely insisted on going first in the marching order (a sorcerer going first in a dungeon is a recipe for disaster, I warned her. She ignored my warning).

She then stopped, peered around, spotted the ambush and cast color spray on the two guards, blinding them. It was unbelievable! There was no prompting, no anything. Just high rolls and clever play.

With the guards blind, our group mauled them with no problem. Easy XP!

Next up, there was a fungus garden. To get to it, you either had to head down some (trapped) steps or drop down a 10 foot ledge. Our wary heroes mostly used the ledge. Two used the steps.

The trap is so old school. I am instructed to roll "any die". If the result is odd, the trap goes off. The PC is slid to the base of these evil fungi. I was quite taken aback when I read this. It's cool, I just did not expect it at all.

But nobody triggered the trap. There's two paths through the fungi. One path, unbeknownst to our heroes, held 4 evil violet fungi that look just like normal fungi.

Dark stopped. She peered around. She rolled high and sensed something was not right. Then she made a nature check. She rolled a 19. She spotted the violet fungi! At this point, everyone agreed that Dark the Dragon Sorceress needed to always be in front of the party.

They avoided the fungi and made their way to the next chamber. It was a large cavern with dead bats on the floor. Thanks to Dark's clever play, the whole group was trying to figure stuff out. The rules guy suddenly said, "Wait, I almost forgot. Always look up."

He looked up, and saw the ceiling was full of bats, with stirges off in a corner.

The idea here is that the heroes can sneak through the room without disturbing the creatures, but instead they threw a dagger. This triggered the encounter, which is yet another classic but never-used trope.

It goes like this. The bats fly around in the cave screeching. The stirges are among them, attacking the heroes. The stirges have +2 to their AC due to the bats. Very cool.

The stirges hurt our heroes, but they worked well as a team. The paladins did a great job protecting their allies with their little shield maneuver that makes the monster roll with disadvantage.

After an intense battle, the adventurers paused for a short rest. I had them decide where to go next: A trash room, a cold room, or a dark room. They picked the dark one. We'll do that one next time.

It was a great session. I'd give it a 9 out of 10.


Justin Isaac said...

I love reading your play reports.

Sean said...

Justin: Thanks! I like talking about what it is actually like running a game in a store, it feels like almost nobody does it.