Wednesday, August 31, 2011

D&D Encounters Week 4

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. 


  1. Our warlock (me) and rogue have been secretly notified of the half-elf's (Saldra, her name is) allegiance to the lost heir. On Wednesday, we are supposed to tell our DM ... A) if we want to ask her any private questions before she returns to the castle, and B) whether we want to reveal her secret allegiance to the rest of the group or if we're going to keep this knowledge to ourselves.

    The rogue (my son) and I have never played D&D before, so this is our first encounter game (about eight weeks we've been coming to games). Thus, we are total newbies. Any ideas what we should do? We're worried our inexperience will hurt us here and an opportunity will go wasted.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Rick! It's always cool to see parents gaming with their kids, especially at public events like Encounters. It's also interesting to hear how the Encounters play out a little differently from group to group, especially some of the role-playing aspects of it.

    In your particular situation, I would probably do both. First, ask Seldra any questions you might have for her. Depending on her answers, you can always reveal her allegiance to the rest of the group later. You might lose the opportunity to ask her questions in the first place if you openly violate any trust she might have placed in you.
    Either way, your group will still make it to the next encounter. All 13 weeks are already scripted out, as far as the tactical encounters are concerned. The role-playing aspects of Encounters, especially this season, are more for setting immersion, and I don't think they tend to have much of an effect on the combats. Although, depending on what kind of information she gives you, it could possibly help give you a leg up somewhere. I'm not sure, really. Good luck and keep gaming!

  3. I appreciate what you're saying and I've been explaining to my son that the adventure we're doing is linear and pre-written, so only so much creativity will be possible. I'm assuming that anything we get out of this "secret" opportunity will be in the form of treasure or magic items or something like that. I just don't know what kinds of questions to pose to this "Saldra" that will produce the results that are available. I know the DM wouldn't have pulled us aside and given us this secret message if there weren't some kind of pre-scripted opportunity here. I just don't have the experience yet to know what do in this kind of situation (where a more experienced player would have knowledge or instinct to draw upon). We've got the encounter combat parts down. In fact, I've kicked some butt against the white dragon and the bandits. But the parts that require us to interact with other characters are still like a big crapshoot from my perspective.