Sunday, July 11, 2010

After Action Report #2

At the end of the last AAR, my players had just arrived at Rivenroar Castle itself. I allowed them to take an extended rest. I'd told them that they'd spent most of the day getting there, so the sun was starting to go down when they found it. I'd thought about a random encounter there, but ultimately decided against it. It might have made sense for them to run into goblin sentries or wildlife, but even at this point I was starting to get the feeling that there might be a few too many combats looming ahead in the castle. So in the interest in avoiding combat for the sake of combat, I passed.

The first encounter inside the castle was, surprisingly, really hard on my players. The hobgoblin soldiers bottled up the players near the stairs while the goblins in the back had target practice. The nifty little braziers which spat fire were fun, but didn't factor too much into the fight. The Paladin got blasted by them once, but that was towards the end of the fight when things were finally turned in the PC's favor. They took a beating getting to that point, however. I dropped the monk for the first time in this adventure, but it wouldn't be the last time.

The second encounter just wasn't fun. From the entrance, the players went left and ended up at the Goblin Warren battle. I wrote about this one here and my opinion hasn't changed. I should have adjusted the terrain or adjusted the monsters because even as I was setting up I knew it wouldn't be an enjoyable fight. The PCs didn't mind it because they got enjoyment from obliterating my monsters, but this was easily the low point of the entire campaign for me. No fun to be had at all. The one interesting thing about what happened in this fight? One of the Goblin Sharpshooters escaped, something which would haunt the players a bit later.

The next encounter was the Portal Room encounter. I've already posted how I've changed that and I'm still glad I did. It was another very hard fight for the PCs. They started the fight virtually surrounded and they were pushed hard to the end. They burned action points and daily powers here. That said, I think they had fun with it because it was an interesting fight and they really had to earn their victory. Later on, I told them what the fight was actually supposed to have and they all agreed that my changes were definitely for the better. Not just the monsters, but ditching the inexplicable portal too.

From the former-Portal Room, the players again went left (citing Tomb of Horrors, natch) and wound up at the Von Urstadt Crypt. This... didn't go as it should. I missed that this room was supposed to be completely dark. This would have changed the dynamic at least somewhat. Credit to my players though. They had a very solid plan of engagement and executed it well. Combined with some really miserable rolling on my part, they didn't have a great deal of trouble with this encounter.

Here's where things veer off the track a bit. The players, at this point, had pretty much been put through the wringer. They had to cast a Comrade's Succor ritual just to get healing surges to the Paladin and Monk. I expected them to have to take an extended rest at some point in the dungeon, but I hadn't expected it nearly this soon. The players told me that they were going to take an extended rest in the Von Urstadt Crypt at which I immediately asked for initiative.

Some of the players protested, saying that they were just talking about taking an extended rest, but I distinctly heard at least two people say "We're taking an extended rest". The reason for initiative? Remember that Goblin Sharpshooter that escaped earlier? Well, he went to alert the hobgoblins living in the Rivenroar Family Crypt area and they all went looking for the PCs. I like having proactive monsters, it's just not always easy to do. There's already a lot for a DM to keep track of without something like that.

So the encounter at Rivenroar Family Crypt has essentially turned into a pincer assault on the PCs in the Von Urstadt Crypt. Half of the goblins came in from the west entrance and half through the est. Things looked bad for the PCs initially. The Monk went down for the third time in Rivenroar and I was starting to think of how I could salvage the situation. Thankfully, my poor dice rolls after the first couple of rounds helped save the party.

At this point I let them take an extended rest. Honestly, I shouldn't have. Their chosen spot still wasn't very secure and it was directly in a spot that would have to be passed through by any creature going from the 2nd Floor to the outside world. I told them I was doing it in the interests of everybody having a good time and they acknowledged that I really shouldn't be letting them doing it. In other circumstances, I might not have allowed it, regardless of how badly they need it and I think they understand it.

After the rest, they went to room 6, where they found the first captured citizen of Brindol. They talked to him and see what he knew. In the cell next to him, they found a bunch of random equipment, like the goblins were just using it as a storage area. Among things in there was the first magic items that the PCs have received. In this case it's a +1 Sun Blade longsword.

The final encounter thus far has been the totally redone Spiderweb Landing. I was very interested to see how this fight went because of how much I'd changed it around. The PCs had a pretty hard time, though it wasn't the most difficult fight they've had so far. I think they enjoyed everything going on. The monsters, the dragonborn spectre apologizing and begging to be put down, the necrotic mist, and the way the wraith was messing with the party. All of it. The players said that it was a cool fight and I had a really good time running it. I explained to the party what was supposed to be there and they agreed that the ettercaps would have been rather silly.

That's it for now. I don't run D&D again until the 23rd, but in the meantime I've still got the rest of my Revised Rivenroar to post.