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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scourge of the Sword Coast Session 2

I often read online about other people's D&D Encounters experiences. I never read anything that resembles what happens in my store. I don't know why this is. Are people too polite to talk about it? Or is it just me?

My friends, I wish I could take a video of the things that happened tonight. It's hard for me to explain without being cruel to other people. Who knows, maybe I'm the problem.

Here's what I'm going to do. First, I am going to tell you what happened in the game. Then I will tell you what happened out of the game.

They're standing out there! How convenient.
Our heroes had come to the village of Julkoun. They would learn that its' people had been enslaved and taken away. Goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears had turned the place into a makeshift fortress with barricades and spikes and guard towers and stuff.

Night had fallen. The adventurers were skulking in a barn. In real life, I had gone to office depot and printed out some color maps of the village on cardstock for the players, to make this easier. The maps are nice. I paid for them out of my own pocket.

The adventurers walked around outside the village walls. They noticed the goblin in the guard tower. They continued walking around outside in plain view of said goblin in the guard tower. The goblin spotted them and blew a horn. The module says that this alerts the monsters in the village and that they come out in waves: Hobgoblins, then bugbears. And the goblins in the towers have range attacks.

I got to roll a 15 just to hit the guy?!

The horn is blown. The two age 30 players ditch the party and hide in an abandoned house. The rest of the party stands out in the open waiting for the monsters to run around and attack them. The goblins begin pelting the cleric with range attacks. The adventurers do not take cover. They have a hard time firing back at the goblin, due to the cover on the guard tower.

The hobgoblins attack. Bloody battle... heroes kill them. The bugbears come out. I was kind of excited, I don't use bugbears hardly ever. It was fun to describe them as roided-up goblins with fur. These guys had 22 hit points each. But they had a hard time hitting our well-armored heroes.

This battle took quite a while. For most of it, the age 30 guys just hid in the house and waited. They let the rest of the party fend for themselves.

Our heroes were victorious. The cleric had used all of his healing already. The paladin used his lay on hands. But our band of heroes soldiered on. They busted in to the village, and explored everything, looking for loot.

They got to another village section by crossing a bridge. Again, they make no effort to hide or be stealthy. And thus they were spotted by another goblin on another sentry tower. I found this amusing.

It used to be my thinking that in these situations, we play it out and the players learn from their mistake. In this instance, the lesson is: "You can't barge in on everything. Sometimes you need to sneak. Otherwise you might trigger every monster in the adventure at once."

Now, that used to be my thinking. But my findings are this: The players usually never learn. They just don't. I don't know why. I'll even tell them point blank and they still do the same thing next time.

I don't mean to make it sound like I am mad. I'm not. It's fun. But if I was a player, I sure as heck would have tried to sneak around metal gear solid-style, which seems like great fun to me.

So... here we go again. The goblins in the towers start shooting. 3 bugbears emerge from a building. 5 goblins and an old one-eyed worg all come out soon after.

Now, characters start dropping. Potions are drank, cantrips are used. The villains are defeated. The entire party are down to a handful of hit points each. And they're standing outside what is more or less the entrance to a dungeon, which has a goblin shaman, some elite goblins, the leader of this "army", and others inside.

And you know what happened next? You know, right? They went in.

We had to stop there for the night.

Now for the more difficult part to discuss. First, one of the age 30 guys left the table for 30 minutes. He told me afterwords that he finds D&D dull now that we started playing Dungeon Crawl Classics on Mondays.

I love D&D, but I have to agree. This D&D session is about some dirt villages and goblins.

The last DCC session had a reindeer-headed forest spirit with magic antlers that had an aurora borealis which contained the souls of children in it. Then the heroes met a 30 foot-long ox who they freed from a spell, which caused him to FLOAT UP ON A SUNBEAM LIKE A MOTE OF DUST AND VANISH.

Hello, I'm some guy from Daggerford
Compared to that, this forgotten realms stuff feels so pedestrian and uninspired.

But I think he also partly left the table because we had a player who was just a lot to handle. One of the players (he's about 16 or 17) is very hyper, does voices, references, talks incessantly about my little pony (and has his pony dolls at the table), has no idea when he is being rude and is just very awkward. He's nice. He's cool when he's calm, but today he required a lot of management from me.

This is a very difficult side of DMing in a store - people management. It's almost like you're the boss and you have employees that you have to manage. I do not enjoy it, I am not comfortable with it, but I do the best I can.

I got him calmed down without being too cruel. But he'd already rubbed people the wrong way. I honestly got the vibe that this kid's behavior could hurt attendance. I would not be surprised if the age 30 guys stop coming.

Heck, there were customers who came to look at d&d stuff who took notice of this behavior. I think we drove them right out of the store. This is the exact opposite of what this program is supposed to do.

So, yeah. D&D Encounters. 

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