Welcome Readers, this week’s session went very well for the adventurers. To make sure they didn’t get lost or need to make a complete reboot of the campaign I created a team of NPC adventurers.
You might be thinking “hey now that’s a bit of cheat for the players!” Well not really because even though they will not have a direct effect to the adventurers the NPC can also be the ones to aid the players when they all decide to split up and then get themselves killed again because of “bad choices”. I did not want to make the NPCs but I was forced to when I TPK them last session twice. Normally players will learn to work together at some point but if it keeps happening consecutively then I will have to suffer repeating the start over and over again.
Now you might be thinking why not just push forward “they should overcome the next challenge” No I already tried that and they still died without working together. Most players at least work together in a fight but my beginners think they are playing a single player adventure where they are the only one that matters. (I cringe at the thought).
The start of the session was the beginning of Episode 1 entering the town just to see the dragon attack the town of Greenest. This time I had all the players in a cart/wagon travelling together with the NPCs.
The characters consist of 5 human characters, 1 elf, 1 dwarf and 1 goliath. Since the previous team had died in the previous session and they were level 3 facing a challenge rating of level 2 utmost and they still could beat it. I had to make the survival of these beginners possible, so I gave them an extra feat regardless of race. So they all choose Human as their race (what a bunch of Power gamers). Had they at least chosen different races I could understand but all Human. I knew they weren’t going to survive. Luckily one of my old regulars returned to play in the group and I consider him an experienced role-player (I thought to myself Hmmmm maybe he can lead them…well, maybe not?).
The NPCs and PCs are:
- Talos = High Elf ranger (Folk Hero) [NPC]
- Zel = Human Paladin (Soldier) [NPC]
- Dorian = Hill Dwarf Cleric (Guild Artisan) [NPC]
- Human Paladin – novice level
- Human Wizard – novice level
- Human Fighter (sharpshooter) uses twin hand-crossbow – beginner level
- Human Ranger – beginner level
- Goliath Fighter – he is an experienced role-player
Anyway the adventure of Episode 1 from the Hoard of the Dragon Queen starts off with all the adventurers (and I mean ALL) travelling together to Greenest for one purpose or another. Talos, Dorian and Zel were travelling to Greenest to gain glory and riches by achieving a variety of Quests. The Player Characters were heading in the same direction for whatever gains they wished to achieve (I still do not know what that is… Money or Power perhaps?).
This is where I gave each Player a chance to mingle with each other to promote teamwork. It was also a way to introduce the Non – Player Characters (Talos, Dorian and Zel) to the party without that awkwardly forced meeting. I had Dorian and Zel drive the wagon and had Talos be one of the passengers. It started out well with the party doing there introductions and finding out information about each other (so that they “could” become a team). The goliath started to get irritated at the slow pace of the wagon, so he jumped out and ran towards the town. The only reason he did so was Dorian warning them about some kind of flying beast (possibly a DRAGON) roaring in the distance. All humans in the wagon started to get panicked even though Dorian said it was still a ways away. The ranger started to ask Talos if he could help him. I didn’t know what he meant since Talos was still in the wagon riding with them and was perfectly fine. Talos simply said NO. The barbarian was also concerned with whether the drivers of the wagon needed help.
And this is where I had to tell them as a DM that Dorian was just warning them about what he had seen. If you all have been wondering why Zel did not speak this as he too saw the beast. Well that is because he is unable to speak (lost his tongue by betraying a sacred Paladin oath). The rest of the team started to relax as they finally understood that there was no eminent danger to their characters.
The wizard started a conversation with the fighter and asked him if he could join his team. The fighter ignored him and started to talk to Talos about why they were going to Greenest and Talos asked him “What is your goal? As mine is to uphold JUSTICE”. From that point one my players thought they could simply get this NPC to help them so long as they shout “JUSTICE”. They were sorely mistaken.
The goliath was now much closer to the town as he had been running at full speed and was now growing with more bloodlust or battle lust. He found a bunch of kobolds harassing some villagers and quickly dispatched them. The rest of the team also arrived after the goliath and slowly approached the town of Greenest that had been raided and attacked by an unknown force (Unknown to the players even though this is there 4th time attempting this campaign adventure).
Once the wagon had stopped the Dwarf and Zel made sure to secure their wagon and check on their belongings. Talos on the other hand just leapt off the wagon cart and rushed to dispatch some enemies he had spotted. The paladin and the wizard decided to “TRY” and steal the horses of Dorian and Zel. Their attempt easily failed as they had absolutely no plans to do so besides killing them. Dorian had argued with them about the priorities of an adventurer and the wizard+paladin moved along. The ranger and the fighter on the other hand decided to chase after the Justice bound Talos.
So even though the team started off together they still all split up. Once the fighter and ranger had finally caught up with Talos. They were in the middle of some heavy combat. They were out-numbered at 4 to 1. Talos being quite boisterous and proud he notched two arrows at the same time and killed two enemies in one shot (I was incredibly lucky, I rolled for both shots with disadvantage and both managed to strike and kill the foes).
Now I know it’s not in the rules, but house-rules or house ruling is fine so long as it is balanced. I had originally name Talos, Talos Wynstric. Which is another power from 4th edition that the ranger had, called Twin Strike. I know that notching a bow, any bow at that can only be shot with one arrow and having multiple arrows notched is just a “Hollywood-thing”. But this was fantasy. So it works out. Don’t worry I didn’t cheat and say that only I, the DM am the only one allowed to use this style of play. No sir/madam. I told all my players beforehand that they too could use flamboyant attacks too, with consequence of course. So you know what. They never use it… How boring right? But oh, well. They’re the ones missing out.
Anyway back to the story. The fighter had called himself the “Hunter” (self-proclaimed) having two hand – crossbows for weapons he jumped into combat trying to outdo Talos. The two of them became rivals. The ranger on the other hand had decided not to help unless he was in danger and coward on the spot. When enemies came at him he used either his twin axes for melee or longbow for range. They dispatched the kobolds easily but the players wanted to rest since they had taken some damage and asked Talos to wait for them. So Talos not injured in the least, ran off. The two of them tried to chase after him but to no avail.
On the other side of the town the paladin and the wizard strolled through town trying to find some riches to take for themselves. They found none as I had explained that the town was being RAIDED. I tried to explain it to them but they continued to look for treasure in the already ransacked homes of Greenest. Dorian and Zel found themselves in a bit of a pickle when they encountered some dragon cultists and kobolds. They yelled for any able-bodied people to aid them but the paladin and wizard decided not to help.
That was when I said “ARE. YOU. SURE?” They said yes and I had them roll for insight checks. If they had failed they would lose valuable NPCs and would never get their help. But since the rate of FAILURE was very low, they both passed and needed to help them. The check in question was 5. So if they got lower than that they can do whatever they want. To my luck, they helped Dorian and Zel and they defeated the cultists.
One team headed for the most chaotic part of town while the other head for the safest part of town the Keep being attacked and harassed by a Blue Dragon.
The team heading to the keep make it there very quickly and found out that they as adventurers need to aid the towns’ folk. Their mission was to RESCUE as many villagers and bring them to the keep. They had approximately 1 hour to do this. Otherwise the main entrance of the keep will be closed to stave the evil forces. Dorian asked the wizard and paladin to accompany Zel to look for villagers and Talos, while he search for Talos on his own in the other direction.
The paladin and Dorian had a bit of an argument about splitting up but in the end Dorian was not swayed. At this point the paladin was sick of the Dwarf and did not want to help him anymore. So once the dwarf out of sight she tried to seduce Zel to PERMANENTLY get him to join her side. But since Zel could not speak and would not break another oath he ignored her. (It was the most cringe worthy attempt of a Paladin to try and seduce another Paladin…) Anyway with a bit of searching here and there they managed to find Talos and some of the other adventurers as well as the villagers they need to RESCUE.
Unfortunately, however they were ambushed by a group of kobolds and bandits. The goliath was the cause of the kobolds as he had been hunting them down the entire time. Not only were there bandits but the wizard had unintentionally attracted some nearby dragon cultists thinking they were clerics. He was struck down by the enemy in an instant.
That is where the session had ended unfortunately. What will happen to the players will they survive, will they accomplish their mission or will they fail? Will the wizard survive or will he be saved?
Tune in next time readers for the rest of this adventure…
By the way, they still haven’t encountered Linan at this point as all of the encounters were triggered by foolish mistakes.