And the party make up changes again!
No Mark or Tracy this time out so we lose our Paladin and Cleric. Gulp. Gan’t have that so Steve decides to run the Cleric for tonight. Good job he did as it turns out…
The party have now dealt with the Kobold threat and happily stroll back to Winterhaven for xp and biscuits. Huzzah! Trouble is, Winterhaven is having a bad day. The villagers are surly, the Inn is half empty and even the Lord isn’t thanking visitors. The party manage to get a drink out of the landlady before she goes back to being all Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen. What’s the matter with everyone?
Valthrun the Prescient seems to have missed the memo on being sulky today so at least he can share a glass of wine beside the fire. He regales the party with the sinister tale of Sir K(r)eegan, which I won’t repeat right now. Suffice to say that in the published adventure, this character goes by the name of Sir Keegan, but the image of a bubble permed 70s footballer in chainmail doesnt bear thinking about.
Armed with this knowledge the party set off for the titular Keep. Obviously they arrive at dusk. My nostaglia glands start popping at this point because essentially I’m back to being an 11 year old describing how a staircase leads to a 30′ x 30′ room with 3 exits. And a goblin. I’m sure this is an homage to the classics, it made me smile anyway. The feeling of deja-vu just inceased as Steve, playing Alaric, Dwarf Fighter, decided to charge the Gobbo. Whooomph! straight into a pit full of rats! I must have played out this exact same scenario back in 1981, listening to Haircut 100 on a tape deck in my bedroom. Sigh.
Now, skipping to the end. This was a fight at encounter level 2. The party of five includes 2 at 2nd level. Its against 4 goblins and a rat swarm. For the life of me i have no idea how it took the best part of 2 hours and ended up with the dwarf dead! Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable scrap, and no-one noticed the time going past but even so. In the post game analysis we worked out that pretty much every encounter lasts 6 or 7 rounds. The disconnect was for the old time D&D players still having a Gobbo standing up after 4 or 5 direct hits! This is definitely not the D&D we used to play. And to be fair, we’re all pleased about that.
So a second death already in the campaign. Alaric had some outrageously bad luck. Falling in the pit was a mistake, but me rolling max daage for the fall and critting with the swarm wasn’t normal. He got out of the pit, couldn’t shake off the ongoing damage and got clear. It took 2 rounds for the rats to climb after him, and they stayed on his trail (live by the mark, die by the mark…) another huge damage roll put the Dwarf down. Then the bad luck got a little surreal. the cleric (same player remember) engaged the rats and got taken down. That’s two prone characters with ongoing damage. At the start of their turns they take basic attacks because they are still in the rats aura. I’m not deliberatly targetting downed players, but that’s the way the swarm works. Alaric goes to minus Bloodied and he’s investing in cheap agricultural implements. At least Kallista didn’t feel too bad about letting rip with Burning Hands and cooking both swarm and dwarf corpse.
Even the Gobs were being ferociously tough. there were furious exchnges between Flynn the Rogue’s shuriken and their crossbows. Scorching bursts and clouds of daggers weren’t putting them down either, and the poor old Starlock rolled 1s time and time again. Dan hasn’t managed a decent hit in about 3 hours of real time now. I’m staying away from him next week as the law of averages has got to snap back soon.
Eventually the party managed to clear the decks and get a breather. some exploration followed and next week will be all about the walking dead. Cue Thriller intro…
Now then, Goblins. The two sharpshooters in this encounter were bringing serious pain to the party. Kallista got nailed by two shots, one of which critted, and was straight to Bloodied before her initiative even came up. So I checked the stats in the adventure against the same creature in the monster manual. In the MM they have hand crossbows doing 1d6+4, in Keep they have normal crossbows doing 1d8+4. Also, the Keep versions have +2 on Fortitude, Reflex and Will. All for the same xp. Hmmm, that ain’t hardly fair is it? On the flip side, the Warrior in the MM does more melee damage than the version in the adventure! Now, I say version, but these are not presented as completely new variants, they are supposed to be the same. What do I trust now?
Anyhow, a great session, full of drama, and looking forward to more.