We Are Going Too Fast....?
So get a load of this. There are three tables going in this store. My group is in Episode 4. The other two are in Episode 1. The store owner had someone inform me that he wants to meet with me and the other DM next week to discuss "getting on the same page".
Basically, he wants us all to keep the same pace. This way, players can jump between groups.
I don't really understand that. This isn't like the 4e Encounters sessions where it was just one encounter. In those, it was easy to start and stop in the same place as the other groups. In 5e, it is wild and loose.
So what I am guessing is going to happen is that I am going to have to stop running Hoard of the Dragon Queen until the other two groups catch up. This seems insane to me, but that looks like where we're headed. This is in spite of the fact that none of the players jump between groups.
Here is another amusing point. These other tables might take so long to catch up to episode 4 that our table will run through all of the Expeditions adventures. Then what do we do?!
One cool thing here is that the 4th grader who plays Dark the Dragon Sorceress made Dark's sister and now she has a chance to play her. That should be fun. I am kind of wondering how my players will take this. I guess we'll see what happens next week.
All of this smacks of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but I'll wait and see how this meeting goes.
Rumors of 5th Edition's Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Last week we had low attendance - a total of 11 players. I took this to mean that our store's boom had subsided and was on the decline. I was wrong! We had 16 people this week, some of which were brand new. It is nice to see.
So I decided that a manticore would harry our heroes during their 6 day journey to Elturel. It wants to eat their horses! Each day, it would fly overhead, fire spikes at the horses, then fly off when one died. Once the PCs left the horse behind, it would fly down and eat it.
This went pretty well. Our heroes were on their toes. In one instance where the Manticore was flying above them, Rules Guy used a Command spell on the Manticore, ordering it "Down". I had it come down, but at an angle away from the party. This ruffled his feathers a bit, but the spell description clearly states it is open to DM interpretation.
The griffon landed and looked at our heroes, wounded. I wanted them to see that it appreciated what they had done. One of the party thieves approached it. He was wearing a griffon talon on a necklace - he'd taken it off a griffon that the manticore had killed the day prior.
The griffon was furious, screeched and flew off. The players didn't understand why the griffon was angry. Then they decided that it was because the thief didn't bow. Apparently this is something from Harry Potter (I've only seen the first two movies). I didn't tip my hand. Maybe this will come up in the future.
We Have a Dragon Baby
This dragon will be useless for a long time as I don't want to unbalance the adventure. But I am thinking at some pivotal moment when the heroes need it, the dragon will breathe it's first acid breath.
Dark named it... Sparky.
Factions and Stuff
There's only one thing to do here. Dark has to arm wrestle her dad. And of course she rolls a NATURAL 20! Dark breaks the table with the back of her dad's hand as her allies laugh and cheer.
Leosin the monk is a Harper and Ontharr is a member of the Order of the Gauntlet. Wizards of the Coast made a big deal about factions when this season started. Each player got a "faction folder". But factions seem to mean almost nothing at all in this adventure. I played it up as best I could. I had Leosin tell a PC Harper to keep their eyes peeled for another agent named Carlon to foreshadow an encounter later on in this episode.
Most of the PCs are hired by a wagon master as guards. I ran a couple of the encounters. One is with a nosy halfling. Rules Guy shooed him away. I had Dark describe how she was hiding her baby dragon in the cart owned by the moon elf shipping wood from the Jungle of Chult.
Dark calmly explained to the moon elf that the thing wrapped in the blanket was a "shiny dazzling diamond". This amused me to no end. The moon elf loves animals, so I figure she'll assume it's some special pet and leave it be.
I wrapped up the session with a battle with hobgoblins near the Fields of the Dead. Make sure to use that one within the first 9 days of the journey, though I guess it doesn't matter all that much. The fight was a piece of cake.
A player's mom brought brownies, which was awesome. She watched us play and seemed quite amused by the game. She tried to give her kid some good advice (which he ignored). I may try to lure her into playing.
All in all, it was a very good session. I guess we will see next week as to whether we will "pause" the campaign for a while.