The PCs were injected into the story, and Achkala, under the orders of their mysterious employer, acted as the leader for the group, and goaded the party into hunting down a neighboring kobold infested location. This location, named Agatónica Hall, was found after a short trip on a meandering, forested path. Achkala, proudly in the lead; Rei, nonchalantly reading his novel; and LOT, ready to get paid for her assistance, approached the entrance to the cave, the game’s first roll was asked for. The PCs attempted moving silently through the natural path, and rolled a Crit. With the utmost care, the PC’s tip-toed towards the kobold location. As they passed a bend in the road, they saw a cave entrance, surrounded by two identical statues of a decorated kobold posing on a 3 foot plinth. Guarding the entrance were 6 very stoned (as in high on narcotics) kobolds; 4 were hanging around the mouth of the cave, and two others with spears were lazily leaning against the statues. All the kobolds were fully focused on their drugs, and didn’t notice the approaching PCs. This was when LOT, Rei, and Achkala started formulating an attack plan. Their discussions were overheard, and the PCs were noticed.
With the element of surprise lost, everyone rolled initiative, and for the 2nd roll of the game,Achkala rolled Crit. Using his free turn, he double moved towards a spear toting kobold, positioning himself to charge it. The real initiative started, and LOT stepped forwards to cast a Magic Missile. A cone of force erupted from her fingertip and embedded itself into the spear toting kobold. Next in line, Achkala charged the kobold, now with a gaping wound in the chest, and further damaged the reptilian vermin. Rei went next, and choosing to hang back within the woods, he whipped out a novel and started reading, uncaring about the ongoing conflict.
“¡Aaargh! Necesito ayuda, el me mata. ¡Lucha conmigo!” exclaimed the kobold. The two spear toting kobolds moved into position, flanking Achkala. They lunged towards him: one making contact. The other sadly rolled an EPIC FAIL. What proceeded was the following: “Ja ja ja ja ja. ¿Te gusta mi lanza? Nadie va a matarme, porque ¡SOY EL ZORRO!” exclaimed the boastful kobold. He leaned into his stab with all his might, but tripped. Luckily, the kobold broke his fall… on the business end of his spear. He died from the mortal wound in the chest. Two other kobolds scampered around, and also damaged Achkala, bloodying him. Seeing that they were close proximity to an enemy that could seriously hamper them, the kobolds all shifted one square away from their adversary.
LOT stepped forwards, used Ray of Frost, and then interestingly cast light on Achkala’s warhammer. With a glowing weapon in his grasp, Achkala stepped towards a new foe, swung with determination, and smote the fragile beast, shouting a war chant in defiance. Rei emerged from his nonchalant stupor, dropped his novel, and walked “casually” up to the bunched kobolds. With his fiery Dragon Breath unleashed, the hides of two kobolds were charred, while the remaining two were burned to a crisp. Pulling out his falchion, Rei slashed at the only remaining spear toting kobold, bloodying it. With 2 reptiles remaining, the kobolds changed their plans from the offensive to the defensive, and the unengaged kobold made a beeline towards the inside of the cave, shouting “¡Ay Carámba! Diós mio, me da más koboldos para matarlos a ellos enemigos.” The other kobold exclaimed, “¡Corra, Corra! Voy a suicidarme, para darte más tiempo. ¡KAMIKAZEEEE!” The kobold charged at Achkala, but to no avail. He was blown apart with LOT’s Ray of Frost, and finally eliminated when his head was knocked asunder by Achkala’s warhammer swing, to the head.
At the end of the encounter, LOT’s injuries were practically nonexistent, Rei had minor scratches, and Achkala was battered and bloodied. Wanting to recharge his health, Achkala waited around for a short rest. LOT noticed that the kobold that fled back into its cave was probably going to return with reinforcements, and so LOT started chopping down branches from the neighboring forest to create an obstruction. Rei returned to read his novels. The party crafted two similar bushes in front of the statues. This provided concealment to both Achkala and LOT hiding behind the statue and bushes: LOT anticipated another kobold attack and wanted to ambush them, while the bloodied Achkala wanted a safe hiding spot, to ensure that a full 5 minutes elapsed, in order to burn healing surges. Rei hid into the forest thicket, ever watchful of the cave entrance.
Soon the party started hearing footsteps and hissing sounds. 11 kobolds emerged from the cave, but got ambushed by LOT’s Icy Terrain. With the floor around the cave mouth covered in icicles, the area became difficult to traverse, and movement to engage the PC’s was hampered. Most of the kobolds died in droves, with only four surviving long enough to surround Achkala and LOT. LOT fled, teleporting away and then chilled her foes with Ray of Frost. Rei managed to get right into the middle of the action, and hacked away at kobolds in the Icy Terrain patch. Achkala emerged from hiding, burned his Second Wind and stood ready, once more for battle. A few kobolds remained, and most went for Rei. Some tried to be sneaky and tried to stab Achkala from the other side of the make-shift bush, but their efforts were stymied by the intervening scrub. Two Firepots were flung at Rei, but only one managed to collide and break upon impact. Rei was covered with a viscous, burning substance that clung to his frame, which melted the Icy Terrain beneath his feet. The kobolds were then eliminated one by one by the ticked PC’s, and the encounter ended.
The PC’s spent a well deserved short rest, to use some healing surges and eat. They went off the beaten path to a nearby stream to catch some nourishing seafood. In the steam they saw a few, brown scaled fish swimming downstream. Achkala waded into the middle of the stream, while from the banks LOT zapped at the fish with her Ray of Frost. LOT’s ray made contact with a fish in the gut, and the frozen fish-sickle rose up to the surface, floating with the current. Achkala successfully swam after the fish, caught it, and tossed it to LOT. The eladrin wizard selfishly started to prepare her obtained fish; she proceeded to scale, gut, and clean it. The others didn’t want to wait, so Rei started a cooking fire by breathing flames from his gut, while Achkala tried some kung-fu-style grabs to catch some fish. Sadly, Achkala’s Asianness wasn’t enough, and he completely failed at catching fish in that manner. Next, he tried swinging at the submerged fish with his warhammer, but failed to do jack shit. LOT finally finished preparing her fish, and then helped out the group. She zapped two other fish with her Ray of Frost, and Achkala once again dived after their bobbing, fishy carcasses. He caught one, but fumbled with the other. It went underwater, to reemerge behind him. Achkala attempted swim upstream, and he succeeded. He walked back ashore, handing the fish to his cook, Rei. The chef diced the fish, and transferred the minced meat onto the makeshift frying pan, made from Achkala’s inverted shield. He cooked the fish with some wine, but in the sautéing process, dropped half of the meat. Altruistically, Rei decided to give his culinary piece to Achkala. Achkala and LOT ate their fish, while Rei munched on some trail rations.
The sweet aroma of the cooked food did not go unnoticed. A kobold arrived, holding back two collared beasts, curious to see what was cooking (HA! Pun intended). The winged beasts were white in complexion, very excited, and were foaming at the mouth. Combat had started with the two beasts launching into the sky by being let go of their tethers. They flew towards Rei, and swooped down to Flyby Attack him. The kobold slowly made up the ground covered by his fast allies, while the Rei got into position, and started attacking the winged monstrosities. LOT aimed to Ray of Frost one of her adversaries, but it somersaulted in midair, and avoided the chilling beam. Achkala realized his lack of ranged weaponry, and eagerly ran at a foe. He jumped up an impressive six feet off the ground, enough to have the beast in the swinging range of his warhammer. He heaved his mighty warhammer, but sadly rolled an EPIC FAIL. His hammer just missed its target, but it continued to swing downwards. The inertia of the mighty hammer abruptly changed the course of Achkala’s descent back downwards. With a “thunk” his hammer embedded itself into the loosely packed dirt, and with a mighty “THUNK,” Achkala landed, face-flat onto his hammer.
One of the airborne beasts made another Flyby Attack against Achkala, while the other descended and raked at Rei. Both were successful in causing damage. Another round of fighting ensued, with the kobold still estranged, and running towards the combat. During the next round, the kobold finally arrived, and felled Achkala. The beasts seeing their master, snatched Achkala’s Alchemist’s Frost, and then grabbed Achkala himself and started flying upwards. They took Achkala airborne, and were barraged with arrows from Rei’s longbow. The kobold sparred with Rei, while the creatures, with Achkala struggling in their paws, flew in the direction of the campfire and river. LOT was intent on stopping their flight at that moment. She cast Freezing Cloud, knowing that even though Achkala was in the affected area, he would benefit in the long run. She made her attack rolls against the creatures and Achkala, respectively; 19, 16, and … an EPIC FAIL. Her Freezing Cloud took its effects on the beasts, and didn’t do any damage to Achkala, but during her spell, LOT miscast, and also created a small, yet equally potent area of Freezing Cloud in her own space. Her adversaries were unhappy, and LOT moved out of the frigid space. Achkala went next, and decided to muscle his way out of the clawed grasp. He was valiant and successful in his effort: he was freed… 15 feet above the ground. Achkala thought fast, and tried rolling upon impact to soften the blow. Victory, this time, was not with him. He failed, and crumpled like a lifeless doll, dying from the damage.
One of the beasts died from the frigidity within LOT’s Freezing Cloud, while the other cruel, winged beast dropped its held Alchemist’s Frost from its maw, aiming to maim Achkala. The vial didn’t break, instead dropped like a rock, onto the unconscious dragonborn’s head. Achkala was very close to dying, when Rei was also felled by the stabby kobold. LOT, alone at this point, was desperate. She used Thunderwave to scatter the kobold away, an Action Point, and Ray of Frost at the last remaining pet, killing it. The kobold ran forward and stabbed the wizard, when miraculously Rei rolled a Critand got up from his comatose state. He hacked away the last reptilian foe, and ran towards Achkala, in a desperate attempt to save him. He got lucky, and Achkala awoke from his deep, deathly trance. The session wrapped up nicely with the end of this encounter.
I reminded the players that they were actually going to roleplay, and anything that they said, their characters also said. But still, the players continued talking, sometimes raising their voices to get their point across, to formulate an optimal plan. Again I reminded that their discussions continued in the game itself, and even made a ridiculous house rule that to differentiate OOC discussion from IC discussion, people had to wear a large Macy’s shopping bag on their head. Still players inadvertently were chatting merrily OOC. After the 3rd reminder went unheeded, their discussions, during the stoned kobold scene, were overheard by the not so inebriated kobolds.
I was surprised to see that players absorbed the rule holistically for their most part. They knew that they had to heal, so they waited for a short rest. On a positive note, I saw the party working together to maximize benefits during the reinforcement encounter. Their teamwork really paid off when everyone was hidden behind cover and they ambushed the kobolds. The kobolds were supposed to keep the party engaged for multiple turns, but with the casting of Icy Terrain, their movement was hindered and the PCs were able to easily pick off each kobold.
About dropping subtle hints regarding the future encounters, only LOT picked up the fact that the runner would bring reinforcements, while the rest of the party had no clue what was in store for them. I was hoping they would eliminate the messenger allowing them time to rest, but it was not so. Once again, I realize that I must make the goals more direct, to get stuff done.
I noticed how Rei wasn’t playing her paladin as a defender, and was hanging back reading, but later realized that she was role playing her character, instead of directly going into hack-n-slash. Also I noticed that Achkala was playing a defender instead of a leader, but that might have been because Rei was hanging back and/or the lack of players; there were only three people who showed up. LOT was playing his wizard well, staying afar and utilizing his spells to their full effect. Maybe there was a lack of Thunderbolting kobolds away to negate their flanking, but that might have been because LOT could have been afraid of failing to hit, and during subsequent turns getting owned by spear toting kobolds. It wasn’t too bad either, since LOT’s Ray of Frost slowed enemies down anyway.
Using Spanish was entertaining and added to the session. (Did I mention that Spanish = Draconic in my games? ). Even though people had difficulties coming up with gisted Spanish on the spot, overall it was a good addition, and it also happened to work out that those that understood Spanish also spoke Draconic.
The fish catching part was unexpected, but it worked out to be a fun mini skill challenge. It helped build teamwork, synchronizing zapping the fish, catching them, and then preparing them for consumption. It also allowed the players to better understand the capabilities of their characters. This also allowed character development, and I better understood what each character stood for. While the skill challenge eventually degenerated into petty arguments because of rigid role playing, the setting allowed me to progress the story into the next encounter; the kobold and his flying pets were introduced because they could smell the scents of Rei’s cooking.
Good Lord this is almost 2,500 words.