Thursday, June 28, 2012

D&D Uber Playtest - pts. 2 & 3

My original plan to have four-hour sessions was dashed by our busy lives, so session 1 actually took place over three different days. Day 1 I’ve already reported on.

Part 2 began the following day of game time (day 8 in what a random die roll determined was “June”) with the PCs heading back into the goblin caves. This time there were no goblin sentries at the entrance, allowing the PCs to move at their leisure back to the west room. There, the PCs found a single goblin manning the room they had previously cleared. The goblin prostrated itself, saying that it had heard the PCs were merciful to those who surrendered. The PCs allowed it to flee further west.

But rather than follow, the PCs decided to see what lied to the southeast first instead. What they found was a fully garrisoned guardroom with six goblins inside. The PCs bottlenecked the goblins at the entrance to the room and chopped down four of them one at a time, with two goblins fleeing out the far end of the room.

In hot pursuit, the PCs went up some stairs and reached the first of the hobgoblin caves. In the cavern were five hobgoblins and the two goblins they had chased up here. The hobgoblins wanted sport and pushed the goblins into battling the intruders. One goblin was hacked down while the other hid in the corner of the room. The hobgoblins moved up to attack, but luck was not with them and they were hacked apart fairly quickly. It had been a delaying tactic regardless, with them buying time for shadowy figures at the rear of the cavern to escape out a door.

Chasing after again, the PCs found a really long stretch of empty tunnels, even coming across another hidden entrance from the ravine they could use in the future. But eventually they headed up more stairs and came to a second cavern defended by two male hobgoblins – and nine female hobgoblins.

It was the longest battle yet, lasting a whopping 12 rounds. I looked through the books for fatigue rules but could not find them quickly enough and abandoned thoughts of using any. Though the hobgoblins had not made a very good showing of themselves, they managed to whittle down the front line fighter and clerics enough that the PCs might have lost had they not used all four of their Cure Light Wounds spells during the battle.

When the battle was over, the PCs discovered what the hobgoblins had fought to the death to defend – hobgoblin children. I knew this would be a tricky bit, since I didn’t want Megan to feel bad about killing their mothers. I impressed on her, though, as we role-played her trying to talk to the children, that they were more like semi-intelligent feral cats than human children. She left them alone at the back of the cavern, but didn’t feel bad about it.

Also worth mentioning is that Megan again never asked her goblin followers to do anything. They watched the PCs’ backs and stayed out of combat the whole time. They did suggest that the PCs could strip gear off their fallen foes and keep it to sell, but Megan didn’t choose to do it.

That was all the time we had for playing last night. Tonight when I got home from work we tried another mini-session to wrap up “Session 1”. Unfortunately, it did not go well.

We determined that it was now two days later, as the PCs needed more time to heal up after that big last battle. Megan returned the PCs to the same goblin cave entrance and met a single goblin sentry near the entrance. The goblin begged for its life, knowing of their reputation, and they let it flee to the west.

But, again, Megan decided to ignore the west and see what was going on east. She found the guardroom re-garrisoned with six goblins this time. Worse, they surprised her PCs. Apparently they had heard them coming and rushed down the hallway to meet them before the PCs could react. At least, I thought that sounded reasonable, but Megan balked that she wouldn’t have seen them coming and been able to react faster.

It turned out to be another long battle, with it taking nine rounds to fight their way down the tunnel and into the guardroom. The morale rolls stayed low and the goblins fought it out to the death, even though they could have fled. Probably they were afraid to flee to the hobgoblin caves. This time Megan looted the dead, but was dismayed to find they only had copper and silver on them.

Moving on to the hobgoblin rooms, the PCs found the first cavern was re-garrisoned as well, though this time by four male hobgoblins and two females. The PCs moved into the room slowly, but met stiff resistance. After some lucky dice rolls in the first few rounds, Mary the dwarf fighter was unconscious again. I explained that these must have been more elite hobgoblins, but Megan was very upset to have Mary go down again.

Just like at the ogre battle, Beau the halfling thief came through with some amazing dice rolls, slinging from the back of the cavern. The front ranks of the hobgoblins fell, the back ranks started to miss morale checks and didn’t rush up to fill the gap, and the clerics were able to move deeper into the room. But Mary, lying on the floor, was still the closest to a female hobgoblin that had fanatically not missed a morale check since round 1. Even as Jack the dwarf cleric was healing Mary, the female hobgoblin kept stabbing Mary with a dagger and started to kill her. It took a sling from Beau to take that crazy hob down, but by now Megan was very, very upset. The other female had fled and the last male, impressed by their fighting, offered its sword to them in service.

But, after the battle, when she learned that XP is only divided between those who come out of a battle still conscious, and that Mary was cheated out of her share despite having done her fair share of fighting, Megan announced that the XP rules were broken and was very, very, very upset. 107 sp retrieved from the dead failed to placate her, as an unconscious Mary was hauled back out of the caves for another week of rest and recuperation. Relieved that we were done with 1st ed. AD&D, Megan announced that the next session would not be the 1981 basic rules, as I had rolled, but that we were moving ahead to the 5E playtest and get it over with.

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