"Another statue in the shape of a harsh angelic guardian watches over this room~ which also contains a well brimming with dark water."
I walked into the store today and got to rapping with the owner. He asked how Encounters has been going. I said, "Oh yeah it's been great. A couple of kids have been at every session. Good regular group." Of course they didn't show up this time. Luckily, one of my regulars did, about five minutes late finding me sitting at an empty table with battle-mat and dice at the ready.
We waited for a bit and finally her friend showed up, another newbie to the D&D. Usually I call three players a quorum, but for Encounters, two was fine. There I was, playing Dungeons and Dragons with two girls, a first in my long gaming career! I tried to drag the cashier into the mix, but he had to catalog Magic cards, so I just added a Knight to the Thief and Cleric party. The Knight's tag line was "Don't you DARE ignore me!" which is fitting for an NPC. After a quick recap, the heroes entered the Crypt below the Monastery.
I didn't mod the encounter for the 3 PCs. This made for a tense fight, with all the heroes bloodied by the end, and some close calls along the way. This was a "connected room dungeon" battle. My goal was to get the players to explore a bit of it as the battle progressed and keep it from getting static. I was able to guide it in that direction and I 'm glad I did. These are the little DM lessons to be learned from Encounters.
There were some memorable moments. The thief, on fire thanks to a Blazing Skeleton, jumped into a Holy Well to find that this holy water gave her a blessing as well! The cleric had to make some decisions about healing herself or the knight, and finally there was a bit of discussion about whether to desecrate a coffin to get some treasure. Pragmatism won.
On reflection, I've been really lucky with the continuity of the player group so far. Today was the first time I sat down and wondered if anyone would show up. I'm sure glad that didn't happen the first week I showed up to DM Encounters.
Tonight I won at D&D because one player on her fourth week of brought in another new recruit, so the Encounters plan is working. Huzzah!