Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1/17 Actual Play: Lots of answers, lots of questions. Kinda like Lost.

Full house for this session:

Jay: the zombified (due to his DMPC status) Therryk, a Dragonborn Paladin/Warlord
Chelsea: Ana, the Half Elf Cleric of the Platinum God, and bastard daughter of Lord Markelhay
Jesse: Halma the Human Rogue and aged streetrat of Fallcrest
Colin: Lucan the Elven Fighter and self exiled former warrior for the proud elven tribes
Dan: Arlarond, Human Wizard with a back story ripe for exploitation by the DM

We picked things up right where we left off, after a short recap of recent events. The party, thinking to explore the now abandoned mine, approached the only structure there. When they get near it, an Eladrin steps through the Feywild and appears directly in front of them.

He introduces himself declares his intent to kill the party for what they have seen and done. Some back and forth diffuses the immediate tension, but whether or not killing will happen is far from certain. His associates open the door and saunter out of the cabin, and the party now faces 8 well armed and competent Eladrin warriors.

The leader of the Eladrin, who gives his name later as Kerlos, is very calm about informing the party that this quarry was theirs, and that they had no problem allowing the people of Fallcrest to use it for now. Eventually they would come and take what they wanted or needed from them. He agrees to go with the party to Fallcrest to discuss a possible non-violent end to this confrontation.

During the journey several conversations are had:
- Kerlos is not afraid to let the party know some small details about him and his people, as he does not fear them. His people have recently returned from the Feywild after a long absence, and were quarrying material to build fortifications for their city.
- He indicates that in the past his people had been in a conflict with the people of Fallcrest. Though many races make up the population of the city, he and his people refer to them as the Humans.
- In a conversation with an Eladrin wizard, Arlarond is mistaken for his master, indicating that the Eladrin know of him from the previous conflict.
- Kerlos' people aren't too keen on him doing this. They would like to just kill the party and get on with it.

The party makes it to the plains outside Fallcrest after a couple of day's travel and decided to enter the city in the morning. They think that Lord Markelhay might be inclined to harm or discredit the Eladrin, and that bringing them in with a fanfare, escorted by the Heroes of Fallcrest, might bring them some measure of protection.

Three things happen before they get back to Fallcrest:
- Halma sneaks into the city to spread the word that the heroes are returning. He goes straight to the docks and finds the crew of their ship. They are more than willing to help, and split up to cover more ground. He then goes to the Half-moon trading house, the clients that the Guild was recovering the goods for, and is able to determine that their belongings were returned.
- Arlarond is visited by his master and a mysterious outsider. A traveling circle appeared outside the camp shortly after dawn, and Nimozaran the Green and another robed figure step through. They pull Arlarond aside and speak with him. The party doesn't overhear anything, but they do witness the other man pulling his hood back. It is a warforged, with the holy symbol of Ioun emblazoned on his chest. Arlarond shares some of his new knowledge with the party
- While Arlarond is talking with his master, Ana sneaks away. She is conflicted and wants to give her father a heads up. She makes it into town, and is able to speak with her father.

Lord Markelhay is still hosting the Elven Lords that arrived during the Festival. He tells Ana that they have been telling her about the Eladrin returning, too, and that her report is enough to convince him of it's truth. He was certain that the Eladrin had 'sunk below the swamp', but where magic is concerned anything is possible. Ana tells him that the party believes that all the nasties that they have been fighting recently could all be part of a rift that is somewhere in the Wichlight Fens. She thinks that he should at least consider talking with these Eladrin, as Fallcrest can use all the help it can muster if there is another threat on the horizon. The Drow, the Undead cult, these marauding demihumans, and now Eladrin might be too much for Fallcrest to deal with on it's own. He agrees to speak with their leader.

She catches up with the party as they are traveling to the gates of Fallcrest and learns what the rest of the party learned from Arlarond. There is no rift.

At some point more than 30 years ago, but not much, the city of Fallcrest and an Eladrin settlement began fighting. The Eladrin claim that this conflict was because they are entitled to the Nentir Vale. The fighting escalated until the point where some cataclysm happened. The Eladrin completed some ritual designed to win them the war. In response, the wizards of the tower prepared a ritual to rob the Eladrin of their power. As Fey creatures they naturally chose a place to live that was beautiful and close to the Feywild. Nimozaran the Green earned his title be performing a ritual that destroyed the land around the Eladrin city, and shortly after that they disappeared.

Arlarond thinks, as do many who know of this war, that the Eladrin created the plague. His master stressed that there is no evidence of this. The plague is entirely natural, as far as he can tell. Despite their new suspicion they party decides to 'give peace a chance'. The Heroes of Fallcrest are greeted with a roaring crowd. The Lord has managed to get ceremonial guards onto the palisade, and constables keep the road clear enough for the party to make their way to the makeshift stage. The Elven lords are there, as is Lord Markelhay. Nimozaran is absent. Ana speaks first, and welcomes the Eladrin emissaries to their city. Lord Markelhay follows her, and genuinely seems to support the idea of working with the Eladrin. He declares the Fall Festival should continue, and the crowd roars as the whole group of them, Heroes, Eladrin, Elves, and dignitaries, make their way to the Moonstone Keep.

Several party members detect what they feel are unsettling looks and conspiratorial glances between members of Kerlos' retinue. When the whole group gets to the keep, Lord Markelhay and Kerlos begin their talks informally, in his study, and the other groups are led to separate sitting rooms.

Lucan takes the opportunity to speak with the Elf Lords. He had been avoiding them. It is clear that they hold him no ill will, and they begin to speak about recent goblin activities. He tells them of the goblins they have run into, and he finds out that just last night a group of Goblins came over the outer wall and into the courtyard of the Moonstone Keep. These goblins, like the ones Lucan had fought with the party, all had obliterated their ritual scars with ugly brands on the palms of their hands.

His conversation is interrupted by the sound of shattering wood. The Eladrin have made their move. Halma is just getting back from the kitchen, having gone to grab some snacks for the party:
- The upper floor of the Moonstone Keep is not a place for big, epic, open battles. It became a dirty, scary slaughter.
- The dissatisfied Eladrin troops began their assault by kicking in the guard room door outside of Lord Markelhay's study. This attracted the attention of the Elves, who joined in the fight.
- Kerlos was the first one there, and he shouted at them to stop. They did not listen.
- Lucan and Arlarond made up the choke points at the ends of the two halls where the fighting occurred. Arlarond was next to Kerlos, but the sneak on the other side was still able to get some cuts in on him.
- Lucan did a great job of keeping the Eladrin bottled in on his end, despite the teleportation of the Eladrin. By the end of the fight all of them had used their power, yet none got away past Lucan.
- Halma arrived with the food, and did the only natural thing. He flung the pitcher of cheap wine 30 feet down the hall and struck the other rogue with it, drenching her.
- The first round of actual combat was clearly in the party's favor. The Eladrin Warlord died. None of the good guys were seriously hurt.
- The second round all hell broke loose. The two wizards on the other side got off their dailies, and spent action points to shoot off their encounter powers.
- The two rangers did the same, and dropped Lucan and Halma into negatives.
- Ana and Therryk finally made it to the fight after that, Ana just in time to heal her fallen comrades, and Therryk to hurl his axe at the rogue, and then charge her, lighting the cheap liquor on fire with his enchanted axe.
- The focus fire on the rogue killed her before she was able to go again.
- After being on full defense for two rounds, Kerlos finally acted, and his action was to attack the other Eladrin. Two rounds of shouting at them to stop did nothing, so he felt compelled to act.
- Arlarond conjured his fiery orb, and because of the size of the room it shut most of the attempts at escape by the Eladrin down. Unfortunately, it also dropped the just-healed Halma back into negatives.
- The Eladrin were now on the defensive, but the fight was still about even, with 5 of them to the 5 party members and Kerlos. Ana's healing was amped up considerably because of her daily, and both defenders were now in play.
- The only melee fighter left on the other side dropped, and even though the two wizards and two rangers put up a fight, it only took another round or two to finish them off.

We stopped after searching the bodies and recovering more phat lewt. Jesse wanted to pick up right away, and I'm a little nervous...


My last DMing for awhile. I was reasonably proud of how it turned out. I don't know why it is so hard for me to say, but I have been fibbing about something for awhile now, and it's bugging me, so here it is:

I don't prep for games.

Of course, I sat down at the beginning and wrote out a one page outline, and after I had decided on the 3 story encounters I put together 4 more *random* encounters. I knew what would happen if the party chose to follow the hooks. I knew what I would do if they didn't.

The rest of it was me, standing in the shower, driving to work, falling asleep in church, whenever, just thinking about what I had laid out, and why.

So, when the party decided to talk rather than kill, they were not destroying any sort of carefully planned anything. I had not planned anything. I knew what I knew (Eladrin had a war with Fallcrest!) . I had 5 NPC character sheets and that was all. I ad-libbed everything. I made some things up.

Some of the stuff I had thought about came in handy. I had thought that if the party needed some exposition regarding the whole mission to the quarry, Nimozoran should be the one to do it, in a mysterious, comes at night and goes with a teleportation ritual sort of way. All this stuff was sort of floating in my head, and when it all came out . . . it came out better than I thought it would. I am not trying to convince anyone that this is Shakespeare, just that I was entertained, and hopefully so were my friends, and . . . that’s all?

On to the other stuff. Running NPC's is kind of a pain. Their stat blocks are huge. This is an inverse relationship to their HP, which are small. I never marked with either NPC Fighter. The Rangers only quarried towards the end of the fight. The wizards never used their wands.
In a big field, 1 on 1, the party wins hands down. With superior numbers, the party can still win . . . so far. At higher levels this might change. The thing is, NPC's have no real distinction between Daily and Encounter abilities. They only get to fight once. They might as well (and I hate this phrase) 'go nova' and use daily, action point, and encounter. After that they are just bags of HP. Not very big bags.

My one regret with this storyline is the strain that puts on Eladrin player characters. Were anyone to die and want to try one out, I have just created a good roleplaying reason for everyone to hate them. I don't really want to do that to anyone's character. It might be a non-issue.
I'm out, return next week for more pictures and better combat notes! Hopefully Therryk is cured of his Zombie state! Hurrah!


1 comment:

Arlarond said...

That's exactly how I like to DM, Jay. I personally think it's the best way ;)