Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Chronicles of a DM: Part V

After seeing off Moyshanna last time, the crew then turned around and begged her back when only Valdour and Alrick were available to head into the teeth. Ha! Their first challenge... a door! Recently I had just heard a D&D podcast about skill challenges, about how they are supposed to be balanced for all party members and there was the question of whether or not you tell players they are in a skill challenge. Me, I am in favour of telling mainly because they can then help me run the stupid unbalanced thing (indeed, it was pretty much down to one player to make the required rolls... see below for more).

Once past the door, they are into a fight! With nearly a dozen foes! Woo! With most of them being minions. Well... they didn't last long, but the non-minions... [This fight highlighted a very odd (stupid!) rule set with D&D. One of the players is a Drwo rogue, with the ability to drop a cloud of darkness, and the Hide In Plain Sight, which means he is basically invisible (given his high stealth), in the middle of the fight, and can snipe with combat advantage. Moreover, he still occupies a square which enemies can't walk through, and can't detect him when they try. Wha? And then the Warlord gets his blur on so that he is invisible when more then four squares away. This left only one person visible... Moyshanna. And when wights hit, they take healing surges. NPCs are not designed to be in the party with PCs, a point made very clear when Moyshanna lost her two healing surges, and the way D&D healing works meant she couldn't heal herself that day. Of course, that didn't bother the two evil party members, and when she dropped, they didn't try to heal her (didn't help that the Skull relic Alrick had was urging him to let her pass to the realm of the Raven Queen). But short version is, they stood there while MOYSHANNA DIED! Boo! I decided that she got a fair share of that fight's XP though...which would have been enough for her to gain another level.]

So they passed on without mourning her passing on (and, moreover, looting her body). They then skipped the next encoutner because a) it was boring, and b) we still have far too many encounters to get through. I don't want to still be playing this next year!

Walking through the outer fortress, they hear a draconic whisper up ahead, and move forward to see a draconic whisperer. A Dracolich whisperer to be precise. But rather than leap into the fray, the dragon engages them in discussion. [This encounter could either be a skill challenge or a fight. I found the skill challenge to be the more interesting tack, and it also meant the two party members might survive. I was slightly more lenient towards not recording failures than strictly I should have been, but this was another occasion where only one party member could really make the rolls, and I wasn't interested in devolving into a fight.] After getting the Dracolich onside, they gained valuable intel about upcoming battles, including the next fight with Porapherah [give me pronouncable names, dammit!].

And lo, they did walk on, and see a pair of doors that would give them great difficulty to open... and also a secret door they had no problems with. [This fight was a lot like the first one above, but with two wights and a Nightwalker instead of three wights. Well, one other difference was that previous minions (who have 1HP) are suddenly sporting 150HP! With just two PCs that would have just been a stupidly long fight, so I downgraded them to minions and reduced the XP accordingly. Still was a decent fight and the Warlord was very nearly put out of my misery. It took a beating, but eventually the PCs won.]

They also found another secret room, with an altar dedicated to goodness. Ha! None to be found here. (One thing I didn't mention, they asked the Dracolich if he was hiring! Unaligned? I don't believe it.) [They got quite an XP haul out of this, and another level for Alrick at least!]


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