Beyond the Crystal Cave: Encounter 1

Given that the day I am scheduled to run Encounters at Knightfall Games fell on a holiday I did not have the chance to run it, so instead of a play report I am just going to give my thoughts on how the first encounter is written.

The session opens up with the characters waiting for Count Varis, who has summoned them for various reasons. He feeds them the plot--two people have gone missing, and if they are not found there could be problems between Crystalbrook and Sildaine--gives them some cash, and sends them on their way. While going to Crystalbrook they are attacked by xivorts, which after defeating them gives them the street cred required to talk to Lady Tamora, who gives them more information before they go to Sildaine to talk to the quest herald there. Eventually the session wraps up under the assumption that the characters are going to the Crystal Cave.

At a glance the hook is pretty weak, and a lot of the interactions and dialogue seem rushed, which is understandable because the Encounters format is intended to be wrapped up in an hour or two. This also leads me to the other problem, which is that I could see players who did not attend week 0 (which in my store no one did), and having the issue where they end up having to shoehorn their character into the plot. I ran into this in the past while running Songs of Erui; a player showed up with a warforged fighter and basically had to tag along with the rest of the group because they are on a time-sensitive mission. It can work, but it can also easily detract from social roleplaying.

The actual encounter part looked alright. The characters face off against a band of seven xivorts, some bloodied and one missing an encounter power, as they harass some locals of Crystalbrook. There is some difficult terrain, but the real heavyweight is the mist, which creates a really big lightly obscuring zone that moves at the start of each turn. The townsfolk kind of hang around the edges. I guess you could have them try and jump in if things go badly (which they should not), or just give the characters someone to actually rescue besides an empty town square.

Things I Would Change
I would have added more buildings (and actually furnished them if they were going to be open) and just yanked the food carts. It does not looks like a half-ass mashing of a street and market square. Also some things that the characters could drag and drop to give themselves cover against the ranged attackers (like a barrel or something). Finally, even if I did not want to actually have guards in the combat, I would at least add in some flavor text indicating that the guards were actually there doing stuff. Failing that, I would at least have been dead guards on the map to show that they were around to do their job.

Oh yeah, I would also have someone aside from the town drunk be the one to vouch for them after everything was said and done.

1 comment:

  1. i agree with you 100%. When i ran it, i forgot this was for Encounters... i dont know how the rest of the sessions will go, but i believe that compared to previous Encounter seasons, this one is the weakest. Perhaps it can be adapted (enhanced) as a regular adventure for groups that can play 3+ hours.


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