Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Public Dungeon Master: Return to Red Castle

Once again into the breach, a Dungeon Master braves the wilderlands of the public gaming table, welcoming all who come to play at 6:30pm on Wednesdays at Red Castle Games of PDX, OR.

This Wednesday we played our second belated session of D&D 4e Encounters: Dark Legacy of Evard.
In the first session I had had a full table of six, and ran through the first two encounters in three hours, using all the pregenerated character cards.
We established the scene, couriers stuck in a backwater down waiting for the river to ease its furious flood. The players roleplayed a bit in the tavern, and then were woken up at the stroke of midnight by the town of Duponde's sudden transport to the dark dimension known as the Shadowfell. Dark beasts were bested, and the party ventured into the street to find the town in chaos. The captain of the guard asked for help and the heroes obliged, making the Armory safe, and battling spiders and shadows to do so.
A wonderful time was had by all. Three of the players were new to this iteration of D&D, but they seemed to enjoy the show. The maps were great and I provided some hand painted miniatures.

This week I had only four players, all returns from the week before. This is fine. I consider four players to be the ideal number for rp games. Once again, we played two encounters in three hours. I finished my beer halfway through and found myself losing my voice. The players were concerned about their survival at first, but the managed their final encounter of the chapter quite well.
They began with a quick skill challenge aimed at interacting with the town, quelling panic in the streets and guiding townsfolk to safe houses at the Armory and Chapel. I went around the table and had them describe their actions, then went round again and had them roll the dice for whatever skill I considered relevant. They achieved four successes in a row and rolled into an encounter with two headed shadow beasts, with a plan, and great coincidence. Even so the monsters managed to put the hurt on the party a bit, though they prevailed in the end. I brought the monsters out in waves, which helped a bit.
I made two mistakes. In both fights I rolled well for initiative and attacked immediately. This had the effect of bunching the battle into a small area and did not encourage much tactical movement. I need to wait a bit and use artillery first.
The second encounter was in the graveyard, a classic encounter full of undead. The heroes were able to destroy the undead and then retreated to the Old Owl at daybreak to recuperate as the sun rose and the town of Duponde faded back into the mortal world. The players are now at level 2 and I will need to provide characters next session, for my players do not seem to own any Essentials book.

If we keep to this playing pace, we will catch up to the season's regular schedule by playing two encounters next week as well. After that we can go back to single encounter sessions. So far the players have been very enthusiastic. I am pleased.