Fringes of Khorvaire, Session 2
This Friday’s campaign session, continuing off from the start of a new campaign, unintentionally emerged as an experiment in skill challenges. We wrapped up the final leg of challenges in Khyber’s Harvest, battling dolgrims in the darkness and beating the crap out of the leader of a cult of Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes, and then proceeded to plow through loads of social encounters and puzzles.
Filled with tentacular – yes, I just invented that word – aberrations and symbiont loot such as tongueworms and tanglers, the ultimate reward for completing Khyber’s Harvest is The Coat of Eyes, a leather armor +2 that resembles a sheet of pure muscle studded with eyes. Needless to say, not one member of the adventuring party is wearing it. I’m going to have to figure out how to get someone to put it on or get rid of it in a manner that is either expedient to the campaign, or contributes to the emerging plot arcs.
That aside, I didn’t want the cult-worshipping aberrant stuff to wear thin, so I’ve switched gears. The party has rescued a half-orc prospector, who is hunting for dragonshards. Instead of turning her in to their employer, they take up her offer to split an uncollected hoard of dragonshards out in the marshes. So, they acquire some mounts in order to ease their travel in the difficult terrain, and from there they hunted for a deactivated warforged who knows the location of the hoard.
I didn’t realize it, but what I had done was put three non-combat encounters back to back. Granted, a few combat encounters were in the ready in case of boredom. I tried using one of them when one player started to zone out, but Corinna was simply just tired from a long day of work. So she just intimidated the lizardfolk – not known for their courage or high will scores – to run away!
Other highlights of the game include:
- Fighting the cult leader was a big challenge! Minions were crashing through the tunnels posing a threat to the captive Doria, while the dolgaunts and cult leader cornered the ranger and the artificer into a tunnel. Worse still, my players kept rolling low and I kept rolling high. This allayed any fears that I was making the encounters too easy for them.
- For some mystifying reason, my players roll really high during skill challenges. That isn’t a bad thing, however, it upsets them significantly because of all the times they rolled low to use a possibly battle-changing daily power. Everybody wants to critical hit at some point in the game, so I can’t fault that.
- I knew the mounts would cost them more gold than they had, but I didn’t want to hand-wave the cost away. So they bargained with the stablemaster, an eccentric fellow with a Peter Stormare accent. (Later described as “the used car salesman if cars were velociraptors”) It turned out well, and they were able to bring the price down to 25% after noticing that the mounts were not in perfect condition and then using their heal skills to remedy that.
- I pulled out the two-part skill challenge at Dungeon’s Master for locating the warforged scout. This didn’t work out as well since the players ended up trying to re-use the same set of skills (Arcana, Nature and Perception) over and over. I reduced the number of successes and lowered the XP I intended to give since they weren’t really into it.
The session ended with them finding the dragonshard field – I decided to discard the plans of using an additional skill challenge here – only to find that a band of orcs, led by the prospector’s ex-husband, had beaten them to the find. What will happen next is currently up in the air, though I’m fairly sure House Tharashk’s monopoly on the dragonshard trade will come into play here.
I also think a ‘classic’ monster such as a young dragon or a low-level beholder making a ‘celebrity appearance’ could spice things up, and an eventual return to dungeoneering will mean that the dragons and dungeons remain a part of Dungeons and Dragons for us.