D&D Encounters, Week 4
This week, we began with our meeting with Lord Neverember, who is basically the current regent of the city of Neverwinter. He is a noble from Waterdeep who has spent most of his fortune rebuilding the ruined city in the aftermath of the Spellplague-induced volacanic eruption. He wishes to hire us to determine the truth behind the "Lost Heir" who has been battling spellplague monsters all over town, rallying support from the public, while wearing the Lost Crown of Neverwinter. He offers us the princely sum of 500 gold each if we can learn the truth, and gives us each a medallion that will enable us to pass beyond the guarded walls of the rebuilt city, and into the rest of still-devestated Neverwinter, where the Lost Heir is believed to be operating from.
Of course, when we arrive at the gate, we find the soldiers stationed there killed, and we are set upon by the bandits. Only a couple of us were surprised in the first round. We managed to dispatch them all in three rounds. The cleric and the bladesinger wound up bloodied, and a couple magic items were handed out. No one really wanted the headband of perception, and I let the nethermancer and bladesinger roll off for the +1 armor (of their choice!).
After combat, we discovered among the survivors of the earlier bandit attack the half-elf who had hired the group in the D&D Gameday event "Gates of Neverdeath". Turns out she was the one who delivered the "Lost" Crown of Neverwinter to the Lost Heir. She's in the employ of Lord Neverember, but is a true believer in the Lost Heir, but she doesn't know where he is at the moment and must return to the castle. So we're kind of on our own to find the Lost Heir. My blackguard's plan is to kill the Heir, take the Crown, and claim the throne, but I'm pretty sure that isn't exactly accomodated for in the adventure path.
I really, really want to like Encounters. I really do. This is my first season participating in it, and I feel like it's missing the mark somehow. It's not the DM, or the other players. The combat encounters themselves, really, are not as engaging as they could be, I think. 4E has so much to offer in terms of tactical options, especially when it comes to how combat encounters are built and presented. So far, it seems to me that the writers have spent a lot more time crafting a railroad to lead us down than creating engaging encounters. They're counting on the political intrigue aspect of the story to carry it all and keep the players interested. That's the problem. Political intrigue is supposed to be pretty roleplay heavy, but with an adventure path like this, player decisions are pretty minimal (ie, nonexistent) in regards to how things play out, plotwise.
Honestly, I think I'd rather be in a linear dungeon crawl with some crazy combat encounters. Maybe the new Lair Assault is more what I'm looking for as far as organized play is concerned.