I learned an interesting bit of news about the Encounters adventure I’m currently participating in with a bunch of fellow players — until this “episode” is completed (Another six weeks!) it will be very difficult to take a Long Rest. For those of you familiar with the new 5e rules, a Long Rest is needed to restore Hit Dice (used to heal up during a Short Rest) but more importantly… our party needs one to restore spells! Spellcasters only have a fixed number of spell slots they can use, and these slots aren’t restored without a Long Rest. This doesn’t affect cantrips, so it’s not like my Sorcerer is completely powerless, but it made a few of my fellow players and I squirm last night when we realized how many more sessions we have ahead of us before we can have our spells restored.
This isn’t to say that our party cannot decide to take an 8-hour rest. We can, and the DM was quite clear that he wouldn’t stop us. The problem is with the way this adventure (Hoard of the Dragon Queen) is designed — if you’ve been following along with the previous three session reports (Session 1 here, Session 2 here, Session 3 here) than you know that once our party arrived on the outskirts of the town, we found it under attack by a dragon and a mini-army of cultists, kobolds, ambush drakes, and a few other surprises. They’re looting the town, and once Session 1 started, all we’ve managed to grab is a 1-hour rest (Short Rest). The action has been fast and continuous, and as you’ll read shortly, just when we wanted to consider taking a Long Rest, a few interesting events dropped on us.
So, the DM explained that while we could take a Long Rest, we would most definitely miss out on some key activities. The adventure doesn’t stop, and the clock doesn’t stop. While we would be down resting, certain key events would happen that could go in our favor… or against. Other tables (there are four tables with 6-7 players each at our Wed gatherings) would be experiencing these events, but not us. So… we chose to keep going. (And at some point I’m sure the lack of sleep is going to come back and bite us with negative modifiers to our rolls and such… need to review the Player’s Handbook again for the rules regarding loss of sleep as I’m sure the DM will be doing so…)
In related new… I leveled! Earlier in the week I got to play four short 1-hour D&D sessions in the five-part Defiance in Phlan (had to leave early and missed the last adventure) and got enough experience to push me well into level 2 and very close to level 3. Thankfully, the ruling was made that at the end of DinP that all characters could actually level up and continue with any new abilities and spells in Encounters on Wed night. My sorcerer gained a whopping ONE new spell. I chose Sleep (which turned out to be a VERY good choice as you’ll read shortly). But in addition to the spell, I also got 2 Sorcery Points, a special feature only available to the Sorcerer class. These SPs will increase as I continue to level, and the points can be used to buy a new spell slot OR a spell slot can be converted to Sorcery Points (the value being equal to the spell slot level converted). Interestingly, spell slots can also be converted back to Sorcery Points, allowing sorcerers to “sell” a spell slot of SPs, and then use those SPs to buy a spell slot possibly at a higher level. (Of course, you must have achieved that higher level spell slot ability to use it.)
But enough about that… when we finished Session 3, my party had just been ambushed in the sawmill and taken a solid beating. We’d survived, but it was a close fight. The Governor of the keep had sent a few soldiers to guard the mill and a healer to get our party fixed up… and that’s where Session 4 begins…
*** NOTE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW ***
*** Do not read further if you wish to play in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen Adventure ***
*** NOTE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW ***
As the healer circulated and healed up our injured party members, we asked the guards for news about the keep. Apparently nothing had changed — a mass of enemies were still outside the keep’s gates, preventing anyone from entering or leaving, and the dragon still circled high above. The secret tunnel continued to be our only access to the safety the keep offered. One of the guards shared that the Governor’s frustration with the situation had only increased due to the lack of information from the two prisoners we had delivered earlier. We need information, and that meant making our way to the captured cultist we had left tied and gagged in a nearby shed. Maybe he would have information more useful to the Governor…
This week, our party consisted of the following:
Essie — Human Fighter (returning)
Chi Tan — Human Fighter (returning)
Griffon — Hill Dwarf Cleric (returning, played by same player running Essie)
Niloshis Quietwalker — Half-Elf Sorcerer (me)
Anton — Human Rogue (new)
Pelaious — Tiefling Sorcerer (returning from Session 2)
We lost two fighters — Lem and Karaam — from Session 3, and our Ranger was also out tonight (missed you, Sean!). Returning, however, was Pelaious, a fellow sorcerer, and a new player running a rogue. The rogue would be a great addition later in the night’s actions.
Just six adventure-hours earlier (in Session 1) our party had captured a single cultist who had been giving orders. We made the decision to go grab him, and the DM asked us to roll Stealth checks. Successful rolls all around… except for our Dwarf Cleric. Seriously? This guy has gotten us in more trouble… just outside the shed where we’d left the captured man, in walks five kobolds investigating the noise.
The kobolds were almost as surprised as we were as we rounded the corner to the shed. Anton injured one with a well-placed bolt, and I dropped one with an accurate Firebolt. I was hoping the spell didn’t attract any additional wandering creatures. One of the small creatures got lucky and took a bite out of Anton, but Chi, Pelaious, and Griffon killed three more and put the odds in our favor. Anton let loose another bolt that missed and came so close to Chi’s head that I’m certain he felt the air vibrate. Chi Tan stepped in to attack the final kobold, but slipped and fell to the ground… we all held our breath, waiting for the kobold to take advantage of the situation, but Essie ran in and finished off the attacker. We were very lucky…
So many Natural 1s tonight! Our DM was allowing the luck of the dice to control our fate, and thankfully a roll by Anton allowed his bolt to miss Chi. And then Chi rolled another Natural 1 and rather than swinging wildly and hitting a nearby character, he rolled a value that allowed him to fall instead. It was funny and nerve-wracking to know that a different roll would have caused friendly fire damage.
Last week (Session 3), our party was ambushed when we chose to run blindly into the sawmill. Not this week! Our DM had us so gun-shy that we approached the shed with stealth checks and from different entrances. Of course the shed was empty except for the unconscious prisoner. We gagged and blindfolded him and proceeded back to the tunnel to deliver our prisoner to the Governor, hoping for good info that might give us a lead on what to do next.
The Governor and the Marshall took the prisoner to a small room for questioning. It was quite obvious from the noises coming from that room that the Marshall wasn’t leaving without some good information on why the town was under attack. Thankfully our party had earned the trust of the Governor — we could easily have been undergoing that interrogation had the Marshall believed we were involved with the attackers. High overhead, the dragon circled. It didn’t seem to have a care in the world as it dipped and soared. The defenders around the walls of the keep kept an eye on it, and we waited in the courtyard for news from the prisoner. A loud yell from the wall started us, and we looked up in time to see the blue dragon dive towards the keep. It opened its mouth and three of the men on the tower were struck by a single bolt that jumped from man to man…
You have got to be kidding! A dragon attacking us! Was our DM kidding? Nope.
Yeah, a blue dragon swooped down and was apparently ready to engage. A few seconds of discussion between the players, and we all hesitantly agreed to form up and take him on. FYI — this blue dragon had 225 HP. Yeah. 225. The combined HP of our six party members was around 70. Maximum damage I’d seen done by any weapons was from a d10. This might have been a bad idea. I won Initiative and fired off a Firebolt… rolled an 18. And… a miss. Wow. Chi followed with an attack. Miss. Pelaious… miss. But wait! Anton rolled a 19. Hit. 8DMG. The dragon didn’t even flinch.
Men on the towers were firing blindly, and my companions and I were throwing a combination of javelins, arrows, and spells… but nothing was scaring this beast off. The dragon attacked again, killing more men on the walls. How were we going to defeat this creature? Pelaious hit the dragon with a Firebolt, but there wasn’t any visible damage! The dragon seemed almost bored as it circled over the wall. But then Anton let loose with a bolt that hit accurately and hit deep. The dragon reared back — it definitely felt that! We expected rage and a more intense attack, but instead the dragon launched up away from the keep and disappeared. What just happened?
Apparently dragons DO get bored. This one wasn’t all that interested in the tiny nuisances inside the keep, so when a Natural 20 by Anton did some damage, that was all that was needed for the dragon to move on. Not enough damage to really tick it off, but enough for it to decide to pull back out of range. We’ll take it!
The keep was holding. The outside mob was slowly disbanding as the night progressed, and the information from the prisoner told us that they valuables stolen from the town was being moved to a specific location in the forest outside of town so that it could be gathered with loot from other towns to build a hoard to attract the Dragon Queen. We decided it was best to leave that location alone for now, so we wandered around the keep, trying to gather any information or rumors we could find. One group of frantic mothers grabbed our attention, and we were told that a small group of children had last been seen at the church before the attack started. Would we go and try to find them? Of course!
The secret tunnel once again allowed us to leave the keep without being discovered. We followed the river to the east where the church was located. The description of the church was that it was completely surrounded by a stone wall; Anton’s “profession,” while questionable, did allow him to approach the church and bring back details to our party. One small group of attackers was attempting to set fires to the church at the rear of the building. Anton told us he could hear the sounds of another group of attackers attempting to break down the front door, but he was unable to visually verify this as a third larger group of attackers was circling the church at a regular interval. A fast attack on the group at the back of the building might allow to find a way in, but we’d have to be quick. The small fires were producing a lot of smoke, making it hard to see our enemies. Before the smoke got too bad, we saw two human figures and six kobolds attacking the rear door. I took a chance, released a Sleep spell in their direction, and the fighters jumped the wall and rushed forward…
My Sleep spell was awesome… four kobolds dropped like that. Our fighters, cleric, and rogue rushed into the smoke. The DM enforced Disdadvantage on all attack rolls at a distance (visibility from the smoke wasn’t good), and we had some interesting things happen. Pelaious fired off a Firebolt but rolled a Nat1… burned Essie for 5DMG. I failed my climbing roll (-1 Strength) and couldn’t even get over the wall to join the attack! Anton was attacked and reduced to 0HP. Fortunately Griffon (cleric) rushed over and applied a Spare the Dying spell, bringing Anton to Stable… but unconscious. Chi rolled a Nat1 on an attack, but fortunately the end result didn’t hurt any of our party. Pelaious redeemed himself with an accurate Firebolt, taking out one of the human attackers. I finally got over the all and did some minor damage to the remaining kobold while Essie finished off the last human attacker and Pelaious took out the final kobold. But the door was still locked! And the large group of enemies would be coming around the corner soon.
Thankfully Griffon’s knowledge of dwarves masonry was immense. He examined the stone around the doorway and was able to find a weak point that two of our fighters attacked with brute strength. The door broke open and we rushed in, hoping the smoke would hide the bodies of the fallen enemies outside. Pelaious was able to calmly provide the priest guarding the ten children proof of our friendship. The pounding on the front door was getting louder, so it didn’t take much convincing for the priest to instruct the children to quickly and quietly follow us out the back door and to the wall. Chi stayed behind to make sure everyone was out. Just as Chi exited the rear of the church, we all heard the sounds of the wood from the front door cracking and shattering…
Our small group started tossing kids over the wall. Just kidding. Our DM allowed us to boost the kids and fellow players over the wall, giving us Advantage on rolls and looking for a 10 or higher to get over. Because I’d failed my climb twice, Chi gave me a boost and got me over along with the dwarf cleric. We started organizing the kids as they came over the wall. Chi was the last one, and we all somehow made our stealth checks and made our way into the brush and along the river to head back to the keep…
And Session 4 ended with a LOT of smiles and congratulations!
Some closing thoughts:
* Level Up Thoughts — My sorcerer moved from level 1 to 2, allowing me to gain another level 1 spell (Sleep) as well as 2 Sorcery Points. But I also increased in HP. Rather than roll a single d6 and then adding my Constitution mod (+3), I chose to take the default value – 4. For a spell caster, HP tends to always be in short supply. If I roll a single D6, I have a 1-in-6 chance of getting a 1… same as the odds of rolling a 6. Looking at it a different way, I have a 50% chance of rolling a value between 1 and 3, and a 50% chance of rolling a 4-6. I don’t like even odds, and I have a 100% chance of taking a 4 if I like. If I were to roll a 1, 2, or 3, I’d gain 4-6 HP (roll + Const +3). If I choose the 4, I get an immediate boost of 7HP. Done deal. If you’re a gambler, take the roll… but I do like that the rules automatically allow you to take the better-than-average value that any Hit Die provides. Math, baby! (Also, because my Sorcerer has the Draconic Bloodline origin, I get +1 HP per level — Woo!)
* Defiance in Phlan — If you have a chance to play through these five mini-adventures (each lasting about 1 hour), do it. The adventures are a good mix — dungeon crawl, rescue mission, Who-Dunnit, and a few others — and the XP should get you to a level 2 character if you manage to survive AND perform the challenges/missions successfully. You’ll also get your first taste of the Factions element of 5e and how that system works. Also, saw my first instance of a Disadvantage roll by a player who rolled two Natural 1s. How we survived that I’ll never know.
* Things Slowing Down? — Last night was the first night I noticed a decrease in players. Not many, but noticeable. Each table can have a max of seven players, but last night I noticed that all four tables were averaging five players. I’m hoping that’s a fluke and next week we’ll once again have a full crowd. Our resident 13-year-old player was in the house, though… and making quite a few folks laugh with his “Okay, you can rest easy — I’m here” comments. He plays a Paladin and is apparently doing very well.
* Rewards — Now we’re talking! 225XP each! We didn’t have time to do any looting of the enemies, so no gold awarded tonight. That didn’t matter. With this 225XP, I’m very close to reaching Level 3 as I now have 872XP. Session 5 should deliver the 28XP I need… if I survive.
* Recordkeeping – You can download a 3-page PDF of my handwritten adventure log for Session 4 here. Again, I tried to be a bit better with my handwriting, but it’s difficult to take notes and keep up with all the combat details in real-time.
* Big Thank You — I want to give another big shout out to the team at Titan Games & Comics. Mike and crew continue to offer a great space to game, and as you can see in the photos above, they’ve decked out the space with banners and posters and other eye-catching stuff. They also offer a discount on comics and stuff at the register if you’re gaming that night — thank you! (And $5 spent still gets you a yellow re-roll ticket for the night.) If you’re in the Atlanta area and want to join us, please RSVP at Titan’s Meetup.com site here.
* Pod-Cast & Live Stream — Our Encounters is managed by Topher Kohan — be sure to listen in on his latest podcast over at TheTomeShow.com! Also, Topher has an upcoming live stream event that you won’t want to miss — The Tome Show Presents The Round Table Tarrasque Takedown — “Come watch as DM creates a bevy of obstacles and murderous monsters for the level 20 PCs of , , , and James Introcaso to take on culminating in a battle with that paragon of destruction and wanton rampage – the Tarrasque! This event will be broadcast on Google+ Hangouts and on Youtube. Here’s a link to the event that will show how the 5e high-level combat and role-playing is done against one of the new monsters, the Tarrasque — Strength 30, AC 25, 676HP, Savings Throws all +5 this and +9 that. Look at this thing below! Yeah, good luck with that, Topher… hope you aren’t too attached to that lvl20 Bard!
And that’s it… next week, Session 5! (And I’ll try to take more photos — I absolutely HATE that I didn’t take one of the dragon attack. I was just too caught up in the combat to remember to shoot a few photos of the event. ARGH!)