Greetings all, this week we had to split the players up as new payers wanted to experience and play D&D. So all in all the total number of players had increased to 12 from the initial 8, from last week. So one of the player’s decided to be the DM of another group. Having 5 in one team and 6 in another.
I had gotten the larger group as I was more experienced at handling more players. The session went very badsly for the players though as they all decided not to work as a team (typical). The main problem was that two of the players were a No-show due to work and school. Since they group was down 2 (technically 5 since the others were in the other group) characters I had to reduce to difficulty of the encounters and fights. The remaining characters were all level 3 and they consisted of a Cleric – Life Domain, a Barbarian – Path of the Berserker, and a Warlock – (I don’t know the otherworldly patron as I forgot to check when the character was made = My Bad =P).
The team was split up to begin with because of last session with the Warlock captured by Tiamat cultists and the others dealing with a small band of raiders. The situation to begin with was one level lower then the team level so that the chalenge rating was only level 2. I thought as a DM that this would be a piece of cake for them and at least be an exciting battle but I guess I over-estimated the player’s gaming experience.
Part 2 has the players continue the battle with the raiders but failing to do so as the cleric did not understand his role in the fight. The Barbarian continued to take far too many risks to end the fight quicker (by ramping up his damage output but becoming less accurate) and failing to just hit his mark. The Bard was absence so unless they party suceeded he too will have been killed or captured.
Note: In many D&D groups DMs use the rule of if you are not attending the session someone else can play your character. But I say if you don’t attend you are not there, and therefore can not help. I don’t use that rule specifically because if I as a DM control their character I will not be able to focus on the role of the DM. If another player uses another player’s character then, he/she can give the character bad rep with the party or have it killed or something within those lines. Other players never play that character in a good way and can ruin it for the orginal player.
The fight continued for several rounds. The cleric was attacking the bandits instead of supporting the barbarian and the barbarian continued to take big gambles that never even paid off. The technique the barbarian was using was called “Great weapon master”, this feat is passive and can be actived so long as the player announces he/she would like to use it. Its effect is that you can gain +10 damage on a successful weapon attack so long as the weapon is in two hands as well as successfully hitting the creature. The cost of this power is that on the attack roll the player must also gain a penalty of -5 to said attack roll. Making it a gamble but on a success it had the potential to one-shot a creature. The creature in question was a bandit captain. It’s AC was 16, so it was pretty average to hit. But it has an average hit point of 65. I decided to roll for its hit points so that any meta gamers out there could not cheat and keeping the enemies’ life total a mystery. The roll was 10d8 + 10. I managed to only get 68 in total.
In the previous session the barbarian had managed to hit it dealing 21 points of damage from a critical hit, but in this session he only hit it twice. One hit dealt 11 damage and the other was 24 damage (with the gamble of Great weapon master Feat). My players always have the chance to check a creatures hit points but they disregard the check because they won’t be able to “Attack” and deal some damage. The bandit captain was close to being defeated when the cultists that had captured the Warlock had arrived to the scene (it was a subtle way for me as a DM to have the players chose their priority – either save an ally or continue the battle Outnumbered). It was now the Warlock’s turn. She had been captured and bound by the hands and feet. She was also bagged (just over her head to prevent her from seeing). The enemy had seen her as a magic user so all these precautions were valid.
So I asked her what she wanted to do after she woke up.
Warlock: What can I see?
DM: It’s dark!
Warlork: I have darkvision!!!
DM: Roll an insight check. A ten and higher will be successful.
Warlock: Rolls 12. What can I see???
DM: You realise that some kind of cloth or material is blocking your field of vision. You are Blinded.
Warlock: But I have darkvision.
I explain what Darkvision really means and the Warlock continues to argue that she should be able to see somehting and I said Darkness/Blackness.
She didn’t understand her situation (I’m not sure why? but I reminded her) so I made her roll for a history check. A 5 or higher was a success. She rolled above a 5.
I explain the situation to her in a prisoner’s prespective and that is when she finally understood.
DM: What would you like to do?
Warlock: can I cast a spell? Elditch Blast? On the ropes.
DM: Yes but you will also take damage.
Warlock: Not on me but the ropes.
DM: Your blindfolded with a bag and your hands are tied and you are being dragged. Or you can pot-shot the one dragging you?
Warlock: If I do that they will know I’m awake and attack me?
Warlock: No, I will instead take a rest!!
DM: How long?
Warlock: A long rest!!!!
DM: ARE. YOU. SURE? (I was full of anxiety at this point since most characters would have tried to escape with their lives even at the risk of death)
Warlock: Yes (I waited maybe 2 minutes for her to reconsider but she went with it, this is by far the stupidess play in all of the plays I have ever dealt with and I’ve had players try and climb sheer rock cliffs without climbing gear/magic or fight “FLYING” demons by throwing them down a hole/chasm)
DM: ok then…. (I think she will have another chance at escape)
At this point, the Barbarian had just taken a deathblow from the bandit captain’s three prong attack (Multi-attack). He was now rolling for death saves. It was the cleric’s turn and he had a choice.
1 Heal the barbarian with his last available spell (this would help a little)
2 Rescue the Warlock for she captives as well as aid the captured villagers (this would add another player in the game, increasing their chance at survival)
3 Fight the Bandits one his own (this was suicide)
4 Run away (this would have been understandable and it could have continued the campaign)
5 Intimidate the cultists to scare them off (this was never going to work as there were 6 of them)
6 Pursuade the cultists to aid him in the fight with the bandits (as he thought they were priests since he failed his insight check of 5)
7 Deceive the cultists that he was one of them (He thought they were “GOOD” clerics that just so happen to be dragging one of the adventurers he had first encountered and joined to make a small party and some villagers consisting of 2 children and a slightly charred woman)
So what choice do you think he chose? He first chose to FIGHT THE RAIDERS? I asked if he was sure. Then he changed his mind and asked what were his options. I told him truthfully that he should run away and fight another day or save the warlock or heal the barbarian. His friend that was playing the barbarian agreed at the notion of continuing to gamble at using the power to kill the “boss” (the bandit captain was not even a boss… I had just changed one of the normal bandits so they could have a fun fight instead of one-shoting normal challenge enemies that level 1s can defeat).
Somewhere at this point one of the other players from the other group had wandered in to check how we were going as they too were having difficulty (It was understandable since two of those players were still new to the game – ie less than 1 month of playing D&D). She asked them what they were doing and after explaining the situation she gave a good suggestion of running away. The cleric did not do that and instead chose option 7. Try to convince the enemy (by lying to them) to aid him in the fight. This failed.
This is the conversation I had with the cleric with the cultist of Tiamat.
DM: ARE. YOU. SURE?
Cleric: Yes. I would like to ask them to help me in this fight.
DM: ok. What is your question to them?
Cleric: Hey, Hey Priests I need your help with these guys?
Cultist: Who do you worship?
Cleric: I worship?
Cultist points down [at the villager] and then points up [at the sky towards a dragon]
Cleric thinks. Then I have him roll an Insight check. 10 and higher was enough.
Cleric: rolls 14.
DM: the hooded figure is pointing at the dragon not at the sky or the gods.
Cleric: I worship the god of light!!!!!
Cultist: Then you shall die.
Two cultists join the fray. The cleric wanted a redo and I said NO. I had given him at least 3 chances to save himself but it was too late to take it. At this point the party was utterly defeated.
This was only part 1 of the session. I decided that besides the barbarian the rest of the party had stayed alive out of sheer will (or luck one of them rolled a 20 and came back to life).
I decided to tweek Episode 2 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen so that we could continue the session. I was being optimistic that maybe the team would at least work together trying to escape from the bandit camp. So I had them become prisoners and had the barbarian player use his spare character sheet which was a Rogue – Trickster path.
I had him become one of the bandits of the enemy camp that was really a spy for Governer Nighthill one of the important figures of Greenest. His mission was to find a monk named Leosin and rescue him. He was also told to rescue as many as he could but Leosin was priority. The cleric and the warlock were at the same time being escorted by one guard to work as slaves, with 4 other villagers.
The Rogue decides to attack one of the men in the camp because it would reduce his enemies. I couldn’t stop him as I had already told him the situation. He told me that his plan was to inflitrate the prison as a prisoner? He succeeded and was sent to the chopping block to be made an example.
How did he kill the bandit you might ask? Well he kill him in broad daylight and in front of a crowd. For that I had to just end that character. He could have drugged the guy or made an excuse that he had attacked first or even say some kind of lie to cover his tracks. Or the sane thing to do would have been to investigate the camp by… ASKING QUESTIONS!!!!!!! (I cringed with frustration)
The other two were a little more successful at escaping but once they were free they tried to get the other prisoners to aid them in escaping that place. The other prisoners were villagers from Greenest that had been captured two days ago and they had not been fed. The cleric continued to argue the point that he could not help them since he needed to rest first?
Again, I was perplexed at the logic of my players. I was wondering if they just didn’t understand or misunderstood the situation. Or they were just roleplaying horrible, horrible people. The villagers took off relying on themselves and the two adverturers went the opposite way.
The tunnel they were in went up (out of the cave) and went down (deeper into danger). I constantly asked my players why they wanted to go into the cave instead of out into safety and all they said was and i quote “…because there could be treasure down there!!!”. As they went down deeper into the cave the met with 2 young blue dragons. They had just entered the Dragon Hatchery of Episode 3. The dragons were asleep. I changed the dragonclaw guards with young dragons to try and scare them off but alas they thought since they were asleep they could kill them.
After 3 attacks from the Warlock and Cleric, the dragon they were attack finally woke up. Two dragon breaths later they were dead.
That is how I got 2 unfortunate TPKs in one session. TPK = Total Party Kill.
Next week I will have them create Level 1 characters with an added feat. That should make the characters survive this chapter. I also decided to create some NPCs to aid them or at least guide them in the campaign.
See you readers next time.
By the way, I have actually finished Episode 1 and 2 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen with my friends. I was a PC = Player Character, and I found the whole ordeal very easy. I’d like to hear your opinion of this campaign of D&D 5th edition.