Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Actual Play 3/28: The Guild of Thieves, Again.

Colin ran this session, and had a large party to deal with. All of the prospectives and maybes showed up for one grand session, and plan on returning. We could have a 10 people gaming group, 9 PC's and 1 DM. It should be interesting.

Our first session at 6th level. Those in attendance:
Colin, DM.
Jay, Therryk the Dragonborn Paladin/Barbarian of Erathis.
Josh, Wry Wit the Drow Sorcerer and former jester of the Dwarven court in Hammerfast.
Jesse, Halma the Human Rogue, now back from mysterious business.
Jessica, Sanbrielle the Halfling Warlord
Joel, Nightshine the Shadar Kai Avenger of the Raven Queen, who insists he looks just like a regular human.
Chris, Zamir the Genasi Stormsoul Swordmage. Now the best defender we have.
Chelsea, Ana the Half Elven Cleric of Bahamut and daughter of Lord Markelhay
Lucan will fade away for awhile, and Arlarond's player, Dan, was absent this week.

We had brief introductions first, since this is the first session (since the inaugural one) with such a large number of PC's. Colin jumped right in...

Following the defeat of the Red Champion by the Heroes of Fallcrest, they were rebranded the Heroes of the Nentir Vale. This is due in a large part to the sheer impact of their victory. Aside from their earlier accomplishments, the Heroes had just averted war between the Humans (and their allies) and the Eladrin (and their allies?). They had turned the tide of the war with the Legion of the Chimera, and sent them packing. Their efforts on the behalf of the Eladrin in Southember changed them from the defenders of just one city, to the defenders of the entire region. Of course, the Heroes have yet to voyage too far from home, and have not visited any of the other settlements in the Vale. They may dispute this title...

Their triumphant return to Fallcrest was followed by a euphoric fortnight of winding down and enjoying the fruits of their labors. Not all of the party basked in the adoration of their charges, with Arlarond sequestering himself in his Master's tower, and Lucan rejoining his work with the guard. They were currently engaged in building up the defenses of Fallcrest.

In the midst of this, Halma returned and began seeking out his friends. He was fairly certain that he could find Ana in her home at the Moonstone Keep, and started there. Ana was happy to see him, and he was filled in on the events of the past few weeks. She introduced him to Zamir, who had remained with the party and was spending some time at the Keep, and the three of them started making rounds to gather the rest of the party together. Therryk was performing some rites in the Temple to Erathis, and Sanbrielle and her parents were there worshipping (and a little tipsy). The priest of Bahamut was happy to see Ana at the shrine, as she had not been exactly devout, lately. He extracted a promise from her to return the next day and perform some of her priestly duties that she had been neglecting. Therryk volunteered to find Lucan and Nightshine, as they had been spending some time together since their arrival in Fallcrest.

We all met in the Lucky Gnome Taphouse, Halma's favorite dive. The whole group of us began catching up and discussing our next moves, when we were interrupted by a figure in a cloak. When he pulled his hood back, we were surprised to see a drow, walking unmolested through Fallcrest. He asked us if we knew Halma. Uncomfortable silence followed, and Halma finally spoke up and identified himself. The drow reached over his shoulder, throwing back his cloak, and revealed a knife in his back. He pulled it dramatically forth, and tossed it at Halma. "A gift from Sogol". Of course, we as a party were immediately on alert, even after Halma quickly discovered it was a trick dagger, with a collapsing blade. After that icebreaker, the drow introduced himself as Wry Wit, Drow raised by Dwarves and prized feather in Sogol's cap. He was sent to deliver this 'message', and to offer his services. We were immediately suspect of this offer. Several tense minutes later, the mood was darkened even further when Halma collapsed into the table.

He fought off the poison in his system and tossed the dart that had pierced his neck onto the table. Zamir caught sight of a shadowy figure darting from the Tavern, and we launched into action. Zamir pointed and shouted, and we started towards the door. The small crowd that had gathered to watch the fight between us and Wry Wit were now in our way and slowing our way to the real fight. While some pushed through the crowd, being slowed by the close quarters, Therryk shoved his way through, heedless of the people in his way. Ana shouted for their assistance and asked them to stand aside, and Sanbrielle skirted through their legs.
We rushed from the door to try and stop him (or her) from getting away, but our rush was in vain. All of us got out in our own ways, only to have the shadowy figure disappear before our eyes. Our disappointment in our inability to catch him was quickly forgotten when he reappeared and began stabbing us with his poisoned short sword. Usually, our large numbers and two defenders in such small spaces would have made this fight a cakewalk, but this opponent did not follow our rules. He teleported past the real melee threats and attacked our tender flank. Nightshine kept his Avenger's mark up and was able to follow him no matter where he went, but not before he managed to poison a handful of the party.
Even with him surrounded he popped out of the flank and over to stab some other people. Still, we had him bloodied, and victory was relatively assured, since none of us were to terribly hurt. Then he disappeared. . .and did not reappear to stab us.

One good development was a little trust developed with Wry. During the fight he did not hesitate to come to our aid, and had plenty of opportunity to stab (or blast) us in the back. We warily accepted him into our ranks.

The attack had us shaken though, and we began to bend our efforts to uncovering this possible plot against us. Halma was able to arrange a meeting with the Thieves Guild for the following morning, and retired for the evening.

We met with Ervan Lances, much to our chagrin. Ervan has a history with Halma, and more recently had some dealings with us. Although the arrangement ended satisfactorily for all parties concerned, we still had reservations about meeting with him. Reservations founded in reality, we found out.

Ervan Lances was polite and cordial. He did not know anything about our attacker, but had heard of our fracas the night before. When we accused him of being behind it, he let slip that one of his own had been injured, but not in Fallcrest. He proposed a deal. He would bend his considerable resources to finding information about our mystery man, and we would do a favor for him. The injured man was one of his couriers, a man named Devon. He had disappeared on his regular route between the Harkenwood and the Fiveleague House. All he needed us to do was travel his route and see if we could discover what happened to him.

Again, we were loathe to get in bed with organized crime, but could see little other option to get what we needed. So, the Heroes of Fallcrest again went to work for the Thieves Guild. Our plan was to travel East to the town of Harkenwood, and ask after his wife, Sandra. She might have more detailed information about his last known whereabouts and would direct us on the next leg of our journey, most likely to the Fiveleague house.

We left immediately. Therryk insisted on taking their wagon (secretly fearing that no horse could long bear his weight), and the party mounted up and started East.

One uneventful day of travel later, we set up camp with a few miles to go before we reached Harkenwood. We stayed within sight of the road, and divided into watches for the night. Sometime during second watch we were attacked.

Therryk and Wry were on watch. Wry was busy creating a shadowplay on the wall of Halma's tent, and Therryk must have been at least a little distracted by it, since with no warning at all 3 large wolves and a handful of their beastial looking allies padded silently out of the woods and charged before we could raise an alarm:
Wry is not built for hand to hand confrontations, but the wolves and shifters may have been distracted by the shadow play as well, since he did not die in the initial attack. They also singled out Halma, in his tent, and Nightshine who was sleeping under the stars.

We could have died, with the surprise attack going the way it did. The wolves were able to knock us down if they connected with a hit, and the shifters were able to follow us if we tried to shift away. Fortunately, the Gods (or Spirits or what have you) were generous and we were able to avoid a lot of the attacks on us. Our first fight with some of our new allies with a large force allowed us to see what they were capable of. Wry pinballed a bolt of psychic energy that hit every enemy, and careened towards the party before fizzling out.
However, be it due to our greater numbers, or due to our recent training, the fight was over quickly. Had we been awake when it started and able to better focus fire, it would not have presented much of a challenge at all. We finished there.


Colin was in for the opposite surprise this week, than Jesse had last week. Jesse anticipated as many as 9 players, while Colin prepared for less than 7 players. So he was stuck trying to ramp up his encounter on the fly, and we still kind of steamrolled it.

I did mean encounter, not encounters. The first encounter was an on the fly invention by Colin. He saw the need for an encounter there, and found an appropriate challenge using the Compendium, and ran it with his laptop. It worked really well. In fact, with some world building notes and a quick wit, I imagine creating on the fly encounters like this are perfectly doable. If you wanted the sandbox to end all sandboxes, you could kinda do it this way.

I think I will stick with thoroughly planned setpiece encounters mixed in with semi-random encounters that I have thought out ahead of time.

The second encounter was too easy, I think we just overwhelmed them. Partly due to some of us using dailies right off the bat, and partly due to Colin rolling really, really badly. He is pretty streaky, rolling 20's and 1's, and the video of that old dude that sells precision dice came up. I like that old guy, but I would have to do some convincing to get the wife to be cool with paying that much for dice....

After the session we had a conversation about our group size. Seven PC's is a lot, but not a crazy number of people. It was still enough of an increase that combat was noticeably slower. I'm not sure if anything was decided, but we talked about giving the DM at least a day's notice, so he had some concrete numbers to plan for. We talked about paying better attention to what is happening so you don't require a recap on your turn. Once in awhile this is not an issue, but if everyone has to be told what is going on at the beginning of every turn, it seriously subtracts from the fun of everyone else at the table.

Sadly, I won't be able to comment on the short term effect of these discussions, as I will be out for the next two weeks. I do not know if anyone will be up to posting a short synopsis for me to copy and paste here, and I am not sure how the game will progress, but I will endeavour to keep this site updated with any information I have.

In an effort to at least keep up with 1 post/week, I will have to sit down and do some thinking about what to post. I am not sure that I have the most stunning insights into gaming, so the subject of these posts could be about. . .anything, I guess. Gaming related.


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