Posted by : David Guyll November 14, 2010

I've been wanting to run the adventures from Starter Set, Dungeon Master's Kit, and Monster Vault, and I finally had a chance to start down that road last night. I let the players do whatever, not wanting to limit them to Essentials-only classes, and ended up with a triumvirate consisting of a longtooth shifter paladin of Kord, wise-cracking gnome bard, and dragonborn revenant dark pact warlock. At least it's not as bad as the all drow party that I dragged through Keep on the Shadowfell.

It was going to be a bumpy ride...

I skipped the intro battle entirely, not wanting to waste time, and got them directly to the dungeon's entrance after a bit of exposition about what was going on: they're looking for a merchants "black box", because it's worth more cash and XP. I laid out the map, allowing them to pick from a door, and got a very strange reaction. Two of the players are new, and I guess had some...bad experiences, let's say, going through a lengthy routine consisting of Perception (with two Aid Anothers), Arcana, tying a rope around a ring in the door, and trying to force it from as far away as possible. Apparently having every single door trapped was a popular trend?

They got one door open, a goblin peeked out, yelped in surprise, and then beat their collective Strength rolls to close it again. So they went to the other door, and after a few more Perceptions and Arcanas got that one open, and started fighting when I promised them that the goblins inside wouldn't polymorph into wraith dragons and drain their levels, and were in fact incapably weak. Again, two were new, and there were only three, so I parsed the encounters down for them (or delayed the arrival of additional enemies). They got through every room without much hassle, since it was mostly goblins with the occasional dire rat thrown in, until they got to the dragon.

More checks were rolled, and they learned that it was--drumroll--white and cold-based. One player tried to goad it, while another tried to bribe it. Eventually I just said fuck it and started combat, feeling that I'd been more than fair with the dragon's patience. Now, new solos are a bitch, so I did pull punches at the start. I used dragon breath, then stuck to bite since I was rolling poorly and didn't want to kill of the paladin immediately. It didn't help that the other players missed with all their dailies and encounters. The bard quickly ran out of majestic words and the paladin had to Action Point her second wind.

Then, for some reason, they started rolling crits. Like, a lot. As the dragon's hit points rapidly dwindled, I started using his Action Points and double-clawing. As fortune had it, I'd basically end up hitting the paladin when her hit points regenerated to where I wouldn't instantly kill her (fuck you vicious mockery). Anyway, in a surprising turn of events--in that I didn't have to fudge dice rolls for the rest of combat--they slew the dragon, looted his tiny lair, made Arcana checks to determine that the teleportation circle lead to a temple full of more loot, and pressed on. The session was called at 2am when they plucked a lifedrinking greataxe from a goblin.

To their credit, they no longer have an irrational fear of doors, so I don't think I'll be using mimics anytime soon...I'll wait til level 6.

{ 3 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. That sounds like the exact opposite of my group. We just charge through every single door we find with reckless abandon. Have we had party members die from this? Of course. Do we care? Absolutely not! When we see that door, something in us just comes to life and we have to smash it to bits.

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  2. Nah, the paladin wasn't MAD, have a linear progression, and could do more than smite once per day. :-3

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