Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 2 - Session 6

Compared to computer games, pen & paper roleplaying games have better and more roleplaying. Nevertheless most systems, and especially the fantasy RPG systems, always had strong elements of hack'n'slash, going into dungeons to kill monsters. In my D&D campaign in the previous session the party entered a mini-dungeon with the purpose of killing a skeletal mage named Yisarn, and fought through two battles with goblins. In this session they faced Yisarn, resulting in a rather epic "boss fight". That was a lot of fun and exciting, but didn't give rise to much roleplaying.

The group started out with an extended rest outside the dungeon, which recovered their daily powers but lost them any possible element of surprise. After that they faced the first pre-fight tactical decision: There were two doors leading from where they were, not far from each other and in the same direction. They didn't know whether those led into the same room or different rooms, so they decided to barricade one of them with a table, and standing ready to attack behind the other. Which was pretty much exactly the sort of attack Yisarn had prepared his defenses against.

They opened the door and saw a large room, with in fact both doors leading into it. Besides the skeletal mage Yisarn there were two skeleton guards, and a giant spider in a huge web. The players got in some shots against the mage, but then things started to go downhill: The first person trying to enter the room triggered a spiked pit trap, which he managed to not fall into, but it stopped them from advancing into close combat range. So the players were still bundled up nicely at the door when the spider shot them with an area attack web, which blinded and immobilized several players, while Yisarn was shooting ice darts at them which slowed them down.

This set the theme for the battle, which was one of reverse crowd control: Instead of players using crowd control on monsters, the enemies used crowd control on the players with good success. The fighter ran over to the other door, removed the barricade, and promptly fell into a second spiked pit. He climbed out into the large room and got into a fight with the skeletons, with the ranger helping with arrows from the other side of the pit. The other players took a while to get out of the spider's web, especially the warlord who failed several saving throws in a row. It was lucky that the player of the ranger was still on holiday, and the player of the warlord controlled the ranger, because otherwise that would have been a rather boring session for the warlord player. This is one of the reasons why I don't use crowd control on players frequently, although it was appropriate for this particular battle.

The wizard of the party managed to chase Yisarn around with a summoned flaming sphere to good effect. The other players one after the other managed to overcome webs and pits to join the fight in the room. But the fight was tight: The group used up all their healing potions, two players were bleeding to death (one of them twice), and one of them got saved only at the last moment. I didn't fudge any dice or use and deus ex machina devices; I didn't even keep track of player hitpoints, so the party might well have lost a character or two in the fight. But they managed to kill Yisarn, got all of their healing out, and then the fight turned their way. I think they'll remember this fight for some time, it was really interesting. It could have gone better for them, but while they had a lot of good tactical ideas, those ideas weren't always well coordinated, with different players pursuing different tactical approaches.

With this epic fight the players reached level 3. I find 6 sessions per level to be a good progression speed, seeing how we only play every other week. The group also found some treasures: Yisarn was using an orb implement to cast his spells, which the party wizard now has. And among gold and gems the group also found a sealed lead box marked with a rune for danger. After some hesitation they opened the box and found the powerful magic holy symbol of the missing cleric of Selune, who had apparently perished against Yisarn.

Having fulfilled their task for the woodsinger elves, the players returned to the elves' camp and persuaded them to send 60 archers to help the rebellion against the Iron Circle. While they "trained to level up" (the concept doesn't officially exist in 4E) in the elves' camp, a messenger from the rebels in Albridge reached them with news: Their strategy of drawing the Iron Circle out of their keep in Harken had worked. The Iron Circle was gathering all its troops to march against the rebels in Albridge. Now the players will have to lead the rebels into battle against the Iron Circle, hopefully defeating them soundly enough to be afterwards able to mop up the rest of them in their keep. But that will be for another session.

You really need to assemble all of your D&D posts into a guidebook.
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