Game Date: 3/28/2009
Daalan Raan (Bryan) - Elf Ranger (2-weapon style)
Ghargoff Bloodmaster (Rick) - Dragonborn Barbarian
Drew Baker (Bryan) - Human Fighter (Tempest style)
Damakos Redhorn (Rick) - Tiefling Rogue (Brutal style)
We were hoping to get into an LFR game that week, but it fell through. So instead, we managed to get together at Bryan's place that morning, and I DMed them through "The Necromancer's Apprentice", a quest detailed in "Dungeon Master 4e for Dummies". They didn't do quite as well as last time.
Daalan and Ghargoff were given a quest to investigate Roburn's house, the source of some orc activity. While talking to the questgiver, they didn't ask enough questions, IMO. They were so interested in getting to the action, didn't even ask about the reward. I could have really screwed them later if I'd wanted to. (Well, if they'd returned alive.)
Lesson 1: Iron out the details when the NPC is still in front of you.
They fought a bear on the way to the house, which was boss-level, so they camped for the night afterwards. When they approached the house the next morning, they didn't waste much time investigating. While they could have walked around, looked through some windows, checked out the river that runs by the house, etc, instead they opted to just knock down the door. At which they failed, alerting the orcs inside. To their credit, they killed the orcs without too much problem. Still, they could have had a much easier battle if they'd gone in through the side window, or skipped the encounter entirely by checking the river grate, or one of several other alternate solutions.
Lesson 2: Fools rush in.
They explored the house, and went down the stairs into the hideout below. The next room was full of skeletons. I nerfed this one a bit, and the new encounter consisted of one flaming skeleton, and three skeletal minions. I also gave the flaming skeleton the ability to resurrect the minions, so they had to kill the flamer to win. They did well in this encounter.
I completely changed the next room. The book had it as a lair of kruthiks, but I changed it into more orcs. Four orcs, one of which was tending the fire under a large cooking pot. The other three were standing around a cage, which contained a captured wolf. The three orcs were taunting the wolf and poking it with sticks. The hope was that the players would burst into the room, and during the course of the battle, release the wolf. The wolf would then help them kill the remaining orcs, and if things went well, the wolf would stick around for a while. Possibly even become their pet.
Instead we got one of the most constricted battles I've seen. While still in one-square-wide hallway just outside the room, Daalan fired a couple of arrows which started the battle. The orcs crowded in, and the players were stuck in the doorway for the rest of the battle. They switched places a couple of times, keeping the healthiest in front. But since neither had any ranged powers, they couldn't both use their best moves in the same round. Daalan did manage to free the wolf with a very well-placed arrow, and the wolf did attack the orcs. Unfortunately, the wolf kept rolling low numbers, and the orcs kept rolling high ones, so the wolf was dead shortly thereafter. And soon, both players were also at 0 hit points.
Lesson 3: Position yourselves before battle begins.
I didn't want to kill them, so I had them wake up in a cell, with just a few hit points. Nathar, the evil wizard who was supposed to be the final boss, interrogated them. When Nathar finally left, a single orc guard paced the room. Getting out of the cell was a bit complicated, but a couple of lucky die rolls later, the two were out the door and slipping through a sewer grate. They went back to town and healed up.
They went back to the house, fought their way through some more undead, and found Nathar's lab. Daalan peeked in and saw Nathar talking to the Orc Captain. He tried to sneak into the room unnoticed, but rolled a low number on his stealth check. But to be honest, he probably wouldn't have succeeded anyway, because his plan was a bit absurd. He was trying to open the door, sneak into the room, and hide behind one of the other pieces of furniture. The problem was that Nathar and the Orc, though facing each other, could both see the door from their point of view. And Nathar was expecting them to show up again, so he was on alert. I would've had to set the DC at 50 to make it remotely believable. In any event, he rolled a 4, and the door creaked loudly at his touch, alerting the villains to their presence.
Lesson 4: Make sure your plan makes sense.
I changed this encounter as well; instead of fighting Nathar, I had the wizard introduce his Frankenstein-esque creation, a large flesh golem. Nathar escaped through a teleportation circle, while the players were left to fight the golem and the orc captain.
...And they both died again. They managed to off the golem, and get the captain bloodied, but they just couldn't finish him off. I wasn't looking forward to writing them out of another death, but I didn't have to. Bryan and Rick decided to use new characters. Luckily we already had some rolled up, so that's where Drew and Damakos enter the picture. They had seen Daalan and Ghargoff enter the house, and they followed. Everything was dead except for the Orc Captain, who was close. They finished off the orc and looted everything they could find, including Daalan and Ghargoff. Then they headed off to town to sell what they'd found.
A few hours later, they were drinking at a tavern. Two drunks approached them and started a fight. It turned out that the drunks were faking their drunkenness, and two assassins joined them to attack the players. The players won, but the bar burned down in the process. The assassins' bodies carried the emblem of the "Temple of the Yellow Skull", a plot point also alluded to in a note found in Nathar's lab.
This is where we ended the session, as it had been a pretty full day, and I had nothing further prepared.
Drew - 250 xp, 320 gp, +1 Lifedrinker Longsword, 2 Potions of Healing
Damakos - 250 xp, 320 gp, - Belt of Vigor, 2 Potions of Healing, 1 Alchemist's Acid, 1 Alchemist's Fire