Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 2 - Session 4

In the previous session we saw our heroes get further involved in the rebellion to free the Barony of Harkenwold from the evil mercenaries of the Iron Circle. Having successfully ambushed a supply wagon in that session, this session began with them bringing the wagon to Albridge, the center of the rebellion. Although the rebel leader Dar Gremath had said that his plan was to provoke the Iron Circle into an open attack on Albridge, the group had doubts about the soundness of that plan. While the population of Albridge, already preparing for war and grateful for the supplies, hailed the party as heroes and threw them a banquet, several of the group members were more interested to discuss defense plans. Thus at the banquet where a bard was singing the praise of the "Favorites of Selune", they pushed Dar Gremath into discussing the next step of the plan.

Dar Gremath still insisted on an open battle being much better than trying to storm the Iron Circle's keep in Harken. But he agreed that this would be a risky battle, and would prefer to have more troops available. Thus he sent the group to the Harken Forest in the south to negotiate an alliance with the Woodsinger Elves. The party was so motivated that even the dwarves only drank modestly at the banquet. The elven rogue even wanted to go alone, claiming that the dwarves wouldn't be welcome. (Which then led to a long discussion on whether dwarves and elves are inherently hostile to each other in every fantasy world, or whether that is just a Lord of the Rings relic.)

So the next morning the group after all went all together southwards, avoiding the direct road through Harken on which they had ambushed the Iron Circle supply wagon. But they had underestimated the opposition, and shortly after passing the destroyed village of Marl they ran into an Iron Circle patrol. The patrol's outcry of "There they are, the Favorites of Selune, get them!" told the players that there must have been a spy or informant in Albridge. Then the battle commenced.

At first the group saw 4 Iron Circle brigands, one of which was riding on a Rage Drake, and one Iron Circle Adept. Having rolled a natural 20 on his initiative, plus a high modifier, the elven rogue went first and charged right into the first brigand. In 4E rogues have an ability that gives them combat advantage (and thus the Sneak Attack extra damage) in the first round of combat against any enemy that hasn't acted yet. Thus with one strike the rogue blodied the brigand. But then it was the brigands' turn, and the rogue learned about the disadvantage of being a front-line fighter: While the one brigand he was in contact with hit him with a mace, the other three brigands fired crossbows at him. The drake also attacked, followed by a charge attack of the group's dwarven fighter, who had readied that charge instead of acting on his initiative.

At the end of the first turn I had a first surprise for the players: There were another 4 Iron Circle hidden behind the house, who now attacked from behind and the side. These were only minions, and I had deliberately delayed their initiative to the end of the turn. That was both tactically a good move, and a good idea from a story point-of-view, as being thus surrounded at the end of the first turn created a nice atmosphere of menace and ambush.

Seeing how this would not be an easy fight, the players reacted tactically sound in round 2 and brought out the big guns. The cleric went all out with a daily power - action point - daily power, although it has to be said that his Shield of Faith (+2 to AC to all players) ended up being a lot more useful than the Guardian of Faith. As the Guardian only deals damage to enemies *ending* their turn next to him, he wasn't much use as an offensive weapon in an open environment where the enemies all could just simply step away from him. The fighter also used his daily power on round 2, on the drake, and ended up "tanking" that drake for the rest of the combat.

A twin strike from the ranger and a scorching burst from the wizard made quick work of the minions, which also was a good tactical decision. After that the tactics of the players became less good: While the wizard was shouting at them to concentrate their fire, the group very much dispersed their attacks. The rogue and warlord went after the Iron Circle Adept, the ranger shot at the brigands, and the fighter was still in melee with the drake and its rider, using up a lot of healing. Some more action points had to be used, but ultimately the group vanquished their attackers. With only one brigand still standing, the warlord used an intimidate check to persuade the brigand to surrender, succeeding on a rather high roll, which somewhat made up for his usual streak of low rolls.

At this point we entered roleplaying mode with one of the great classics of D&D: The prisoner dilemma. I think that situation must have come up  in many different roleplaying groups a million times. The challenge is pretty much always the same: Getting information from the prisoner, and then deciding what to do with him. With some more bloodthirsty group members insisting on torture and killing, while the "good" players are trying softer interrogation techniques and are usually lacking a good plan of how to handle the prisoner afterwards. In this case I decided their prisoner was a simple mercenary, and not very loyal. So while he had only limited information, he revealed it freely. I invented a name for him, Henrik, and a personality, which makes it harder for the players to decide to kill him, especially since both the previous information they had and inspiration skill checks suggested that he was telling the truth. So when the prisoner promised not to go back to the Iron Circle, but leave the barony in the opposite direction instead, the group finally agreed to let him go. Maybe I can reuse him later, it is always good if they players "know" some NPCs already.

After Henrik had told him that there were several patrols out hunting them, the group first considered killing those one by one, but then realized that they had blown a lot of daily powers and action points already, making the next fights of the day more difficult. So they decided to leave the road and head directly south towards the forest. There they promptly encountered a patrol of woodsinger elves, who escorted them to their camp and their leader, Eriyel.

Eriyel wasn't all that enthusiastic about sending elven archers to help the rebels in Albridge, since they would obviously be risking their lives. But she suggested that if the group were to risk their lives for the elves, the elves would respond in kind. Thus the party was sent towards their next task, at the abandoned elven city of Dal Nystiere, where the skeletal mage Yisarn had installed himself in an underground sanctuary, plotting against the nearby elves. Eriyel asked the group's cleric whether he was searching for his brother in faith, a cleric of Selune who had gone after Yisarn just two weeks ago, and never returned. That was the first time the group heard of that cleric, but it added some interest to the upcoming expedition to Dal Nystiere.

Unfortunately the next session won't be for a while, as me and my players are on summer holidays during different times in July, and we won't be able to continue before mid-August or even later.

Wow I've always wanted to play DnD but I've never had the chance. Sounds like a good time. :)

Just came across your blog. :) As a fellow gamer, greetings! Will check in again soon. :)
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