The book isn't actually out yet. A .pdf of the Encounters version of this adventure was released just a day or two ago. I promptly prepared about 25 pages of it with hand-written notes. Honestly, I wasn't overly-impressed with this adventure, but I still have a lot more reading to do.
I wanted to complete part one tonight, which contained three scenarios:
- A single bandit encounter
- A very short tomb scenario
- A small dungeon of a necromancer
What I didn't expect was that my group of 7 players ended up at a total of 9, which is way too many and not even legal for Adventurer's League play. One new player was a friend from school of another player. How could I turn the poor kid away? The other player is in a group that took a break this week. He is around 50 years old and.. well.. you'll see.
- Elf Rogue: Played by a 4th grader, her character's name is Lucky and she has a black cat named "Bad Luck".
- Dwarf Cleric: In real life, played by Lucky's dad.
- Tiefling Sorcerer: Middle Schooler.Likes to make puns.
- Drow Rogue: Middle Schooler.Seems to be interested in playing evil characters.
- Goliath Barbarian: Middle Schooler. He rolled poorly tonight.
- Human Bard: The player is about 25 years old, knows the rules pretty well.
- Human Paladin: Played by the bard's dad, who played old D&D and is new to 5e.
- Human Rogue: A new kid. He was a very nice guy.
- Human Wizard: A middle-aged man who usually plays in another group in the store.
So, since these early stories end up with a link to the earth cult, I created a number of flavor-encounters involving weird earth happenings. For example, there was a tremor that knocked the heroes prone if they failed an easy DEX save. They also ran into a dwarf who was looking for ancient mines, allowing me to drop some lore about these Ironstar dwarves that are relevant to a later scenario.
I named this dwarf Bursa Steel. A few weeks ago, I had the NPC name "Bursa Sac" pop into my head. I could slowly introduce his relatives - Aunt Nap (Sac), and build up to the debut of his crazy cousin "Crap" Sac. Stupid? Yes. But it makes me laugh. I realized that this was not appropriate for young kids, so I just kept the name Bursa.
The bandits have a bear in a cage. The heroes jumped the bandits. The bear burst out of its cage and attacked the nearest creature - Lucky and her cat!
The nine-year old who played Dark the Dragon Sorceress last season now has a rogue named Lucky. She owns a black cat named "Bad Luck". Poor Bad Luck got murdered by the bear. Lucky got revenge by "putting a dagger in its' eye", killing it.
Raise Dead on a Cat
The heroes returned to Red Larch, victorious. Lucky really wanted the harpers (she's a harper) to raise her dead cat. I immediately got a vision of a D&D version of the Pet Avengers but I haven't figured it all out yet. She also suggested that the cat has nine lives, which is a really fun idea.
I did have the harpers raise Bad Luck, I'll have to mull it over and figure out how I want to handle this. The factions are supposed to only raise PCs, not their useless pets.
The Lost Tomb
The heroes made their way into the tomb, triggering the noisy trap the duo had set to alert them. As the PCs battled a specter, the duo burst in from behind and did some serious damage. Lucky was dropped by the specter and the bard was dropped by the half-ogre.
New Guy Doesn't Play Well With Others
It was during this battle that the new guy pulled a classic jerk move. He decided to cast thunderwave, a spell that hits everyone within 15 feet of him. The players were taken aback as this guy set it up and they realized it would hit two PCs. He was semi-apologetic but I detected no small amount of glee in his explanation as well.
I let it happen for a few reasons. I'm not sure what the league rules are about this kind of thing, so I didn't want to tell him no if there isn't a specific rule in place (I think there is, but I didn't have the guide handy). Second, I wanted my young players to experience this kind of player, both as a deterrent and as a springboard for me to talk about it with them next week.
The worst part here is that this guy could have risked an attack of opportunity and moved to a position on the map where he'd only hit the half-ogre and not his own allies. That would have been daring and heroic. But instead he acted like his only recourse was to, "regrettably", hit everybody. Risking an attack of opportunity would mean he might take damage! Better to damage other people's characters, I guess.
He was quite dejected when everyone made their saves and he rolled minimum damage: 2 points. This is a grown man.
The heroes survived and healed their fallen allies. They then proceeded to leave the coffin alone and failed to find the treasure hidden in the tomb (I hate missed treasure but we had to keep things moving).
Inside the nearby cave tunnel/complex, the heroes battled a zombie. It's funny, one 22 hit point zombie is not too shabby.
Then in the next room, there's two zombies poised to drop stones on the PCs from above, but the heroes were cautious and avoided the trap. They killed the zombies, and then we were completely out of time.
We just had too many players this week. Next time, we'll finish the necromancer's dungeon and start a pretty cool excursion into caves beneath Red Larch.