Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 2 - Session 5

We restarted our Dungeons & Dragons campaign, having made a summer break after the previous session. The group started with a quest to kill the skeletal mage Yisarn, which was the favor required by the woodsinger elves to help the rebellion in Harkenwold. Yisarn was holed up in an underground sanctuary in the ruins of an elven city called Dal Nystiere. The woodsinger elves had provided the group with instructions on how to get there, as well as with a vial of dragon's blood needed to teleport into the sanctuary.

When arriving at the stone circle marking the entrance to the sanctuary, the party found they weren't the only visitors. A wagon with some goblins was parked on the road next to the stone circle. The group spotted the goblins in the wagon with a perception check and attacked. Albeit their perception checks weren't high enough for them to notice another group of enemies: Tree spiders nesting in the trees around them. So while the goblins posed no problems, the tree spiders turned out to be a lot nastier, repeatedly poisoning the players. Fortunately the two dwarves in the group get a +5 bonus to poison saving throws. The combat was somewhat harder than planned, due to pure bad luck and low rolls on the player's side, but they managed to kill off the spiders in the end, without having used any daily powers.

An examination of the wagon revealed a sort of throne for transporting some more important goblin, with a heraldic symbol of the goblins of Daggerburg on it. But it was clear that the group hadn't met all the goblins yet, and the draught animals were missing as well. The ranger found tracks of lizard-like claws leading from the cart to the altar in the middle of the stone circle. The group decided that they didn't want to wait for the goblins to come out, but rather went after them. They activated the teleport with a drop of dragon's blood on the altar and were teleported into an antechamber, in the middle of the goblins and their bloodseeker drakes.

Now the bloodseeker drakes were in cages, but as I rolled a 20 for the initiative of the goblin minions, they opened the cages before the players could intervene. I didn't want to fudge the dice, but that was clearly less dramatic than it could have been. That appeared to set the scene for the fight: As they didn't have to intervene to stop the minions from opening the cage, the group instead concentrated on the goblin shaman, who only got one spell off before dying. The other goblins died quickly, but the two drakes were a lot tougher. So this time the group used some daily powers, and managed to overcome the opposition.

While there was no loot on the goblins or drakes, there were interesting looking documents on a table surrounded by protective runes. The players didn't fall for that trap, and used the wizard's mage hand spell to get the documents. They found some maps, two ritual scrolls, and a treatise on an artifact: A battle axe called Aecris, created by the god Bahamut, last seen in the possession of a "Sir Keegan of Winterhaven". Winterhaven was the village in which they had their first level adventure, but they didn't meet any Sir Keegan there. Apart from that the only clue was a cryptic phrase: "Follow the silver light". With that intriguing hint of things to come, the session ended.

I could read this stuff all day.

Almost as good as PLAYING D&D.

Keep this up!!!
Yes, I'm enjoying this quite a lot, too, and I'm glad that you've restarted after the summer break.

Let me ask, though, and this ties in with the longer comment I left on the 5 minute workday post. Why did the party automatically attack the goblins? They seemed to be caravaneers who may or may not have even been a threat. Why didn't they talk to them first to find out what they were doing? Maybe they were just travelling merchants, or exiles from a nearby goblin town who found their new-wave christianity and goodness to be unacceptable, but due to one of the goblins being the chief's son couldn't just kill them all.

I guess what I'm really asking is this: How can your party so quickly tell a fight from a non-combat encounter? Doesn't that steal something from the role playing part of the game?

Either way, it sounded like a good session with a nice hook for future development. Keep them coming!
Why did the party automatically attack the goblins?

Because they live in a campaign world in which goblinoid races are considered evil, and at war with the humanoid races.

Imagine a squad of U.S. Marines in 1942 meeting some Japanese soldiers in some corner of Guadalcanal. Would they automatically attack or would they try to negotiate?
Ah, that of course makes a lot more sense. I'd still push the issue, or at least consider such a use for an inconsistency later. Even your own language, "are considered evil," gets at the possibility of change or middle ground.

Instead of marines on Guadalcanal, what about American contractors finding Japanese immigrants travelling across the American midwest? Or what about the party finding out about concentration camps of goblin defectors who were imprisoned after the war rekindled?

I don't think I've ever had a party who explicitly viewed themselves as marines, or even warriors. That certainly would inform the kind of decisions they made. This difference probably just reveals a playstyle difference, which is of course perfectly fine, but it never hurts to shake things up. Unless you've specifically said otherwise, in fact, you might make them consider things by revealing that these goblins were in fact defectors, or something like The Hunt for the Red October, where just the leader wanted to defect w/o his crew knowing.

Anyway, as long as everyone's having fun, that's all that matters.

One last thought, though. You answered the more specific question, but not the more general one. How do your players know the difference between a combat and non-combat encounter?
How do your players know the difference between a combat and non-combat encounter?

There are no separate kind of encounter. Every non-combat encounter can turn into a combat encounter the moment one of the players or NPCs starts to attack.
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