Fallcrest Follies, Session One

I’ve been meaning to write up my group’s first two sessions for a while now, but I’m only now getting around to it.  To anyone who has been waiting, I apologize.  I’ll be writing about the players and things that happen at the table in italics and using normal font for in-game stuff, to make it easy to see what’s going on.  If you have trouble keeping who is who straight, refer to this post.  This is going to be a serious wall of text and my players may notice the historical record changing slightly.  They are hereby asked to ignore this in the interest of poetic license.

We got a very late start to our first session.  Korwen’s younger brother had been in town visiting that weekend, so Korwen and Cavatica arrived quite late (Korwen’s brother apparently left later than expected).  So Hilary, Darci, Kureigu, and I sat around and got to know one another and vaguely discussed the game.  Mostly, we just chatted and played with my dog, Tito.  We also took the time to create a character for Darci, since she’d never played before and needed some assistance.  Hilary and Kureigu had already made characters, so we expected to only have to make Korwen’s and Cavatica’s when they arrived.  As luck would have it, though, Korwen’s brother is an avid player of 4E D&D himself, so he helped them make characters ahead of time.  When they showed up, we were late getting started, but were able to get started right away.  Good fortune on our first session.

“I’m sure you are all aware of the troubles the region has been having with bandits of late,” said Lord Warden Faren Markelhay, looking around at the small assemblage.  “Just this past week, an important caravan from Winterhaven was ransacked by a band of kobolds just West of town.  Unfortunately, there was some very expensive cargo on that caravan.”

“That’s right!” bellowed Fallcrest’s famed armorer, Teldorthan Ironhews.  Teldorthan was getting on in years, but currently looked as though he were much younger, anger bringing several shades of color to his normally pale skin.  “The goliath tribes of the Cairngorn Hills had got me a Green Dragon hide and I was t’make a masterpiece of armor out of it!  Them weaselly little reptile hooligans done took my hide and I want it back!  Why, if I were a younger dwarf-”

The Lord Warden raised a hand to cut him off.  He then gestured to the wizened and green-robed sage, who sat on a divan, intently studying a small, black feather.  “Upon consulting with Nimozaran, here, we have decided to send a small band of specialists to deal with the problem, rather than mustering a full militia force.  He tells me it’s ‘written’ or something.  Anyway, it will cost a great deal less and we still have the option of mustering a larger force, should the initial team fail.”  He paused to let the sage elaborate, but Nimozaran seemed not to be paying attention at all.  Lord Markelhay continued: “Anyway, Nimozaran specifically requested the five of you to undertake this task.  He has every confidence in you.”

“Why have you selected us?”, piped in the dwarf, Aeogar.  “I’m not even from this town.  And the rest don’t look much like fighters to me.”

Nimozaran looked vaguely up from his feather.  “So it is written.  In the signs.”

“Yes, well,” the Lord Warden continued, “each of you is skilled in their own way.  Aeogar, you are obviously well-versed in fighting, but there may be other difficulties.  Valgarma, the bard, is very learned for her young age, and has powerful influence over others; Ivy has been training in the divine healing arts under Brother Grundelmar; Adam has great knowledge over things natural; and even the Phelan has certain… skills… that might prove useful.”  The halfling smirked at his obvious discomfort.  “The idea here is to send in a group that can compliment each other, to increase the chances of success.”

A quiet voice shyly peeped from the rear: “Can we go back a bit?  What do you mean by ‘should the initial team fail’?”, asked the young cleric, Ivy.

“Well, um…  not return.”  Lord Markelhay looked slightly uncomfortable.  “But don’t you worry about that, young miss.  Nimozaran seems to think that you’ll all be fine.  And he’s older and wiser than any other you’ll likely meet.  So, you’ll all agree?”

It’s probably strange to start new gamers out with an extended role-playing session.  I was concerned about frightening off my new players with a lot of funny voices and improvisation.  So I didn’t.  Most of what happened during that exchange was me giving them enough background info to get started and then railroading them into “the plot”.

The band came upon the ruins of an ancient manor house, the detritus of the Nerath Empire, fallen these hundred years or more.  They had tracked the kobolds here, though they really needn’t have bothered.  Everyone who knew the area was aware of these ruins and the presence of kobolds within.  Though little of the manor remained, it was known locally as “Kobold Hall”.  The tracks were fresh, but there were no signs of activity.  Obviously, the kobolds were keeping out of sight.

“Look here!”, Phelan called out.  “What’s our sullen beekeeper found?”

Adam looked up from the rotting cellar door that he’d been poking with a stick.  “Cellar,” he said.

“Talkative, ain’t he?”, the pretty bard Val joked.  “I’d guess that the kobolds are probably holed up down there.  I’ve read that they like tunnels and dark, dank places.  That’s likely to be as dank a place as we’ll find around here.”

“Well, then!  What are we waiting for?”  And with that, the stony-faced dwarf Aeogar heaved open the cellar door and plodded down into the darkness.

Again, I didn’t trouble the gang too much with using skills and such to find the entrance to the kobolds’ lair.  I described the scene in general terms and let them ask questions.  They found the cellar door easily enough, but then seemed uncertain how to proceed.  Cavatica seemed bent on using diplomacy to overcome any and all situations, Darci and Hilary seemed at a loss, and Kureigu looked like he was waiting for the new players to act.  So I asked them flat out: “Do you want to go down there?”  Korwen was the first to speak up, so I sent his character in first.  Luckily, it fits with “the character” to be so brash, so it was a happy accident.

To be honest, I was kind of hoping they’d be more “strategic” about the whole thing, scouting and working out “marching order” and such.  But Kureigu has reminded me that these are new players who won’t have the kind of experience to do things like that just yet, and it actually fits the story to have them disorganized at first.  Technically, the characters have never worked together, so it’s right that things should be a bit unruly at the beginning.

Aeogar tromped into a room that was mostly adequately lit by torches set into wall sconces.  The dominating feature of the room was a large pit filled with decaying garbage and wet sludge.  At the far side of the room, a lone kobold stood in front of an alcove, idly spinning a loaded sling.

“Intruders!”  the kobold screeched.  As if they had been waiting, two more reptilian humanoids armed with makeshift spears charged out of the alcove and headed straight for the dwarf, still too stunned to move.  A third spear-wielder rushed in from a side hallway while the first two surrounded the hapless dwarf.  In their seal, however, they lacked aim, and their spears missed the mark.  The first kobold spun his sling and launched a projectile at the dwarf.  It missed, but splatted on the wall behind him, leaving a sticky trail of glue to drip down the wall beside him.  Yet another kobold hurled yet another glue pot from the side hallway, but also missed.  The little kobold pulled a lever and a portcullis came crashing down, cutting off the hallway.

The players were all new to combat.  Everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, but we had to pause occasionally to explain certain concepts (combat advantage, opportunity attacks, etc.).  Since we were running so far behind schedule, I gave them the brief version of these explanations.  We would have to go over them again in greater detail on our second session (but that’s a different post).  All told, the players figured out initiative, attacks using their powers, and the basics of combat pretty quickly.  I’m lucky that 4E is so simple, and that most of my players are versed in at least computer RPGs.  I admit, I fudged a little to give them some time to feel mighty before I start throwing more complicated rules and concepts at them, but I got the feeling they didn’t really need it.  Sadly, I did not keep a record of who did what when, so I cannot give a play-by-play review.  Maybe in the future…

Once they defeated all the kobolds but the one down the corridor behind the portcullis, they searched the room and bodies like veteran players would (they found almost nothing of value but the remaining glue pots).  Then they easily defeated the challenge of the portcullis.  There are numerous solutions I can think of: the dwarf could have used his great strength to lift the gate and had the halfling slip under, they could have prodded at the lever with the kobolds’ spears, or something even more complex.  In the end, though, the druid simply transformed into a swarm of bees and squeezed through (that’s his “beast form”).  So thus ended our first session.  Everybody had fun, we did some very introductory role-playing, and we kicked some ass.

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