When last we left our adventurers, they were investigating a disturbance at Dunsemere Ruins. They found and dispatched a pack of gnolls and their pet hyenas. Lo and behold, the gnolls had captured a pair of half-orc siblings - Bree and Ugarth (played by our friends Dori and David, who were just joining the group this session). The convinced these newcomers to join their group, if not the Silver Company (the oath of loyalty seemed to be a sticking point). The final tower of Dunsmere Ruins opened to reveal a Barlgura demon performing a dark ritual.
|Are these guys smart enough to performed a ritual?|
Probably not, but whatevs.
DMCC: Not to pick favorites, but our eladrin wizard Aranelle (played by my friend Rachel) was a total superstar this session! In game, Aranelle used her powers wisely and controlled the board like a BOSS. Out of game, Rachel planned her turns beautifully. I use a timer to try to keep things on track - Rachel's turns typically took 15 seconds OR LESS. This is especially remarkable for the controller role, which tends to be more complicated.
|Spell-casting with the QUICKNESS.|
DMCC: I was also impressed by our new players jumping into the game. David had played D&D in a previous edition, and Dori had observed a game with us a while back - so they knew some basics. I created Essentials characters for them, which are much simpler but just as effective. I also had them come over an hour early so we could cover some game mechanics, do a couple practice rounds, etc.
After defeating the Barlgura and the remaining gnolls, the PCs investigate the site of the dark ritual. They find a level 11 magic item, which they use several skill checks to purify. They also discover that this portal was not meant to bring something here from the Abyss, but rather to send things away. In searching the bodies from the previous battle, they find that they do not bear the primal magic totems that have been cropping up on monsters all over Corbais. Curiouser and curiouser...
DMCC: I find it easier to allow the party to decide who gets the magic item, and then let that PC pick an item of the appropriate level. This allows items to be distributed more evenly - the question becomes, "who needs an item?" rather than, "who can use this particular item?" I think the party decided to give the item to our dryad ranger Iriena (played by Katja).
On the way back to the Eastern Outpost, the party runs into a humble cabbage merchant. His entire shipment of prize-winning produce has been stolen, and he will pay handsomely to have it retrieved. The merchant strikes a deal with the Silver Company commander, Ingrid, and after replenishing some of their stores the party strikes out once again into the forest. There is an obvious trail where the cabbages have been dragged away, which leads to a graveyard. Of course it does.
The merchant's description of the bandits - gray-skinned with strange tattoos - suddenly makes sense when the party comes upon a group of shadar-kai. The PCs take quite a beating at the hands of the shadar-kai, their spectral panther, and some rot scarab swarms disturbed by the battle. In the end, of course, they arise triumphant. They don't have much time to rest - without a doubt, more trouble is lurking deeper within the graveyard.
DMCC: I decided gave the PCs an option - if they forgo the healing portion of the rest (they'd still get their encounter powers back), they can get a surprise round in the next encounter. I know this kind of improvisation can backfire, but I just like trying new things. The party opted for the surprise round, so things are about to get a mite interesting. *eyebrow waggle*