Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter, Episode 1

So tonight was the premiere of D&D Encounters Season 6, "The Lost Crown of Neverwinter".

If you'll recall from my post of 8.7.11, the prologue adventure to this season that was run on D&D gameday, "The Gates of Neverdeath", didn't go too well for me. Would tonight be another wipe for my PC and party, or would I and they have a chance at redemption?

Well, it turns out that tonight's adventure was an entirely different story (figuratively speaking). People showed up early to prep their PCs, and there were enough players for two tables, necessitating the drafting of another DM.

I decided to roll up another Eladrin Bladesinger, and joined a group that consisted of a Human Cavalier, a Human Thief, a Warforged Barbarian (for some reason this PC race/class combo seems an omnipresent feature, no matter what table I end up at), a Dwarf Warpriest, and a Tiefling Hexblade. I had played with the Cavalier's player in the previous Encounters season (and he really knows what he's doing on top of being a generally friendly and helpful sort), but everyone else at the table was new to me. The DM for tonight's episode was the same one that ran the gameday "Gates of Neverdeath" prologue, and he did as good a job tonight as he did running the gameday adventure. He gave each of his NPCs distinct voices and lively personalities, which made it easy for the players to sink their teeth into the roleplay aspect of the game as a result.

The episode began with our adventuring party browsing for wares and snooping for information in the coastal market square. After a few social checks to accompany some probing/orienting chit-chat with the various NPCs, the party was then suddenly thrust into the game's first combat encounter: three Spellplagued drakes and two or three groups of Spellplagued creatures of some sort or another - maniacs, I think, four per group. Ah, the perils of Spellplagued Faerun! The maniacs came at us from the sewers beneath the market square and the drakes from a drainpipe leading into the sea. There were also unlucky bystanders that were caught on the field of battle between and around us and the monsters, making indiscriminate area attacks tricky (at least for those of us with a Good alignment). The Cavalier and I took on two groups of the maniacs - 4 each, while the rest of the party dealt with the drakes.

Although the maniacs were minions and both the Cavalier and my Bladesinger had a high AC rating, they steadily chipped away at our HP with a couple of lucky shots while the rest of the party tried to manage the high HP and high damage roll drakes. I'm still learning the ebb and flow of  4e short and extended rests for power recharges, but I went ahead and expended my fey step and one of my dailies (Burning Hands) and took out 2/3 of the maniacs in one fell swoop. They were just minions, but I had been brought down to Bloodied by their gauntlet of attacks and needed to get some breathing room. The Cavalier dealt with the rest, with an assist from the Pack Outcast Thief. Our Hexblade and Barbarian acquitted themselves admirably against the drakes, along with some healing support from our Warpriest. Just as we thought we had cleared the map of the maniacs so that we could all focus on the remaining drakes, another two sets of maniacs spawned and took it to the Cavalier and my Bladesinger again, taking us both down to well past Bloodied once more.

After a few poor attack rolls by the monsters (thank the gods for high AC ratings!), and the Cavalier and I finished off the second wave of the minions with the unexpected help of a mysterious NPC in full plate and wearing the lost crown of Neverwinter. Two of the drakes had also been dispatched by this point as well, thanks to the Thief, Hexblade, and Barbarian, leaving just the one for the party to deal with. It read the writing on the wall and turned tail to run, but the Cavalier and Barbarian finished it off with opportunity attacks.

Just as the party came together to catch our breath and get ready to thank and engage in a conversation with the mysterious crowned NPC who gave us the assist, what should appear in the market square but a full blown dragon, flying down from above! And it was definitely not here to do any shopping.

This brought our episode to a cliffhanger close, and not a moment too soon, as we were a mere five minutes away from store closing.

All in all, it was a fun time - people showed up ready to play, and even though we all got a little bit of a late start while sorting out into two different tables and recruiting a last minute DM, both tables finished the episode on time, and no one got PKed.

Tune in next week for episode 2, and more on that pesky dragon! Will our heroes make it out of the market square alive? Will we find out the identity of the mysterious crowned man in plate armor? I'm looking forward to finding out!

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