Posted by : David Guyll March 19, 2012

My local hobby store generally gives me the Lair Assault and D&D Encounters packets, so that on the off chance that I am needed I can run them. This "off-chance" occurred three weeks in, with two players, both strikers (an elementalist and a monk). Thankfully I'd had some experience running with a group like this. After a quick recap on how they had arrived in the plagued village, found out about the Elemental Eye, and were attacked on their way to find their lair, I told them that they had stumbled into an expansive badlands, and asked how they would go about trying to find the Elemental Eye.

The skill challenge here is really well written, and strays pretty far from the original model of "garner x successes before y failures". Namely there are a lot of group skill checks, and not all checks incur failures, instead either costing healing surges or modify the DCs of other skill checks. Mostly I like that it kept both players trying, instead of just relying on one player with a massive bonus making all the skill checks. I also really liked the win-lose results; you either learn about an upcoming drow camp, or wander into the middle of it and get ambushed.

There is also an alright social role-play instance with a galeb dhur (earth elemental type thing). Given that I only had two players, I had him sink into the ground after talking to him, only to pop up later during the fight against the row to interrupt a charging spider. Speaking of the drow, I drastically altered their stats; reduced damage,  having each take a few good hits before going down, stuff that I'd been doing in my home games for the past few months. The other player (the one I do not normally game with) didn't even notice, and both seemed to have a great time.

I really pleased with how the module runs. I have noticed the quality of Encounters gradually improving each time, moving away from an hour-long (or longer) to something that you would more reasonably expect at a home game. I am actually hoping that I get to run again this week, as I left them at the entrance of the dungeon with the galeb dhur in tow and wanna see how it all pans out.

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