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Session 1 – Only the beginning

December 31, 2010

On this past Wednesday night our new crew got together for the first time to play Dungeons & Dragons 4E. I had a great time. My feeling is that everybody did, and I’m really excited at how well it went.

We had four players last night, and we expect to have one or two more starting in January. Because we are all new to the system (and some of us new to role-playing) I chose to start slow, focusing on the basic mechanics of the game and do my best to make sure that everybody got a couple of good hits in before the end of the night.

The Characters

Each player selected from a pool of 10 pre-generated characters I provided. By short-circuiting the rigors of PC-generation, I hoped to offer a decent representation of the primary races and each of the character roles. A couple of players even swapped characters half-way through the night to get the feel for different builds. It’s amazing how quickly one can gravitate towards your preferred race/class/role.

Between now and our next meeting in January, we’ll work on personal builds for each player based on the character they want to play. So far it looks like we’ll have a nice balance of roles… phew. Smile

The Encounter

Not knowing how long it would take us to get through the first few encounters, I wrapped a simple plot around three encounters, the first being fairly easy and the final being a bit more challenging. I ended up scrapping the middle encounter due to time and skipping right to the final confrontation… like I said, the focus was on introducing everybody to the game, not the extent of the plot. That will come.

The Story

Our adventurers met for the first time on the job… hired swords for protection of the Lady Elawande Markelhay, wife of Lord Warden Faren Markelhay, Lord of Fallcrest. She is escorting her daughter, the maiden Elhour Markelhay to her First Dream (a ceremony of initiation for those with the Sight). The ceremony takes place on a secluded island on Lake Nen, requiring the caravan to pass through the wood to the West of The Old Hills and on to the shores of Lake Nen.

What should have been a straight-forward protection gig went horribly wrong when an ambush set by a pair of Gnoll Huntmasters and a pack of hyenas broke the caravan and left the Lady’s complement of guards slaughtered. Working together, the party took out one of the gnolls and many of the hyenas, but not before the second gnoll had broken into the Lady’s caravan and crashed back into the forest with the maiden Elhour. This had not been a random attack.

The Captain of the Lady’s guard, Kyrill set off with the party in pursuit of the gnoll, but insisted on breaking off to flank their quarry. The characters tried to convince Kyrill that they should stay together, but he ignored their warning and set off into the forest alone.

The party tracked their prey into the natural maze of glacier-carved passageways that separate the wood from The Old Hills. Easily tracked over the sandy paths <and skipping the second encounter I had planned>, the trail ended at a hidden cave entrance. The interior of the natural cave had been expanded and reinforced with masonry, a secret altar for the worship of Yeenoghu, the Demon Prince of Gnolls.

Elhour is suspended over a glowing red portal, boiling with fire and magma. A mysterious dark figure chants at the altar. Gnolls howl in anticipation for the coming of their Demon Lord.

The characters opt for a stealthy entrance, but the second to enter the cave shuffles her feet and attracts the attention of the nearest gnoll. It isn’t long before all of the gnolls leap to prevent the characters from interfering with the ritual in progress. Swords are swung, blood is shed, and arrows fly. A Carnage demon rises through the portal, reaching for Elhour and turning a streak of her red hair jet black. The dwarf rescues Elhour just before the demon breaks free of the portal. Two of our players fall to the ground, near death and keeping the cleric busy. Our archer is revived just in time to loose her arrows in a killing blow on the demon.

The mysterious dark figure steps back into the darkness and disappears.

The party returned Elhour to a grateful mother and see Kyrill stumble back out of the forest, having been attacked by the remaining hyenas. The party will be well paid for their services on this trip. But the journey is not over…

Final Thoughts

As I said, I had a great time and I was pleased that the encounters I had planned provided a significant enough challenge without over complicating combat. The condition tokens worked great (but I didn’t have a SLOWED token, duh) and we had plenty of homebrew. What else could you want?

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