Tonight we had our third session of the Islands in the Sky campaign. We were short two players, Kevin and Curtis, who had to cancel last minute. This screwed up my plans a bit, as I wanted a full table for what I had prepared for this session. However, I had a backup plan and we implemented it.
Quick recap: last session, our intrepid heroes went back into the mines to investigate the pit of dead bodies, discovered the gnoll lair, killed the gnolls and rescued the prisoners. The local priest discerned that the spirits of those killed by the beholder would haunt the mines unless their bodies were returned to their families and laid to rest. The captain of the currently docked airship, Captain Misha, offered to take the heroes, the gnolls' captives, and the bodies to their home island of Barovia.
Yes, that Barovia.
Also, there is the impending threat of Dragonborn Imperial invasion.
So the plan had been to get on the airship and take the bodies to Barovia. I had an awesome adventure put together, but there was plenty of role-playing involved which means we need Kevin, as he is our big role-player.
So, tonight, instead, our heroes foiled a Dragonborn plot to get some dragons to attack Verys Hiladian. While the bodies were being loaded on the airship, a squirrel came and informed the druid, Khaledra, of some Dragonborn activity at an old abandoned wizard's tower. They arrived and found the area crawling with them, and a pair of Dragonborn wizards attempting to cast a ritual focused on a large crystal ball.
Long story short: the heroes managed to disrupt the ritual before it could be completed. They learned that some of the Dragonborn invaders are undead. One of the Dragonborn Snipers escaped, but the rest were killed. Khaledra, our druid, took out a level 8 brute on her own. And now they have the big crystal ball that the Dragonborn were attempting to cast the spell through.
Next time, this coming Saturday evening, our heroes will figure out what the deal is with the crystal ball and head for Barovia.
Yes, that Barovia.
What worked: propped-up, folded-in-half index cards displaying enemy defenses for everyone to see helped speed things up in combat. Having monster stat-blocks printed out on 4x6 index cards completely eliminated page-flipping through the Monster Vault.
What didn't: me trying to run a missing PC. Even though I probably have a better grasp on the tactical side of things than my players. I handled Avenger for the combat, and while he did alright, I was probably missing some things. I have enough dice to roll without running a PC.
Also, I'm thinking we need to have a combat and tactics seminar of some sort, just so every player has a better idea what their powers really do and how they can work together.