Dungeons & Dragons Encounters. The same four players from session one returned for this one so I must be doing something right.
We started a bit early and made sure everyone had leveled up. No one is using a character builder this time around and I've got to say it now feel odd leveling a D&D 4e character without it. It's also odd to level up after every session. This whole highlight reel thing is taking a bit to get used to but it's playing out very well.
This week we join the heroes just weeks after they witnessed the release of the everlasting darkness. You can check out my first session report for details if you wish. During that session the group heard about a pending Orc attack on Winter Edge and this session the group rushed to get there before the orcs.
The group found Winter edge a city in chaos. The inhabitants were all very well and good scared and creeped out by the blackened sky. The sound of orc trumpets in the distance didn't help at all. The group met with Goodwife Winnestorm (Goody Winn) who calmed the people down and came up with a plan. She would evacuate the village. Leading them to Quaervarr at the player suggestion they would hold up there and potentially fall back to Silverymoon if necessary. Meantime the party would head north to the Orc lands, to Dark Arrow keep and negotiate with the Orc King determining why they have broken a long standing and documented truce. To aid in the negotiation the group would work with Half Orc, Rhupp who shared the royal blood.
There was a rather amusing scene where a half-elf girl tried to gift the groups Paladin with a woodden doll. The vampire in the group recognized it as a magic item that could cast a Sunlight spell and convinced the group that the item was cursed.
Then the first of the Orc raiders arrived as the villagers started their evacuation. The fight was quick and bloody and gridless, and got the adventure moving at a good pace. The long journey to Dark Arrow Keep was mostly glossed over except for some building tension of orc patrols and roleplaying with Rhupp. Arriving at the keep I got to play dramatic and have Rhupp get laced with arrows and the group captured and brought before the king. The thief rocked this part having already faded from the group and hanging back in the shadows.
So now there was tons of roleplay as the Orc King boasted in front of the assembled tribes and the group tried to convince him that allying with the Drow was not the answer. There were lots of bad rolls, lots of bad rolls things weren't going well. So the thief decided it was time for action. Picking out one of the Orcs that seemed to be sowing sedition in the group, an enemy of the King, an assassination attempt was made. Unfortunately for the group she underestimated the toughness of an orc tribe leader. The attempt failed and sparked a grand orc brawl. One of the largest of all time. The group woke up two days later battered and bruised.
Allies of the Orc King, wishing for peace, or at least no alliance with the Drow worked to find a loophole in order to sway more tribes but still keep the King in good standing. Their plan was to appeal to the Shaman of Gruumsh and try to arrange a test of might in the Pit. The group agreed and the stage was set, for a pit battle. Between the groups champion, the Elven Thief (I'm still surprised it wasn't the Paladin). A rather fun climax ensued with the Elf batting a well trained Guard Drake while the rest of the group helped from the crowd, trying to hide their efforts. Hilarity happened when the Dragonborn Paladin rolled consecutive 1s while trying to mimic drake commands. The Cleric after doing some healing got caught interfering was tossed in the pit along with two orc challengers. The Vampire also found himself tossed it but not before probably saving the Elf with a distracting gaze on the drake. Overall really fun fight that was a bit of a nail biter for a couple of turns. This was also our first time fully using the 4e grid rules, which took a bit to get used to for the players unfamiliar with the system.
The players were victorious in The Pit, which allowed the shaman to declare them as Gruumsh watched and worth listening too. Multiple Orc tribes now backed the King and his aversion to the Drow Alliance. The group had completed their quest. But we weren't quite done yet. After a feast they were warned of a potential assassination attempt as well as the location of the Orc armies next target: Mithral Hall. Disguised as Orcs the group fled Arrow Keep, violently at first (taking out the first patrol of Orcs they found) and then stealthily at the very exit.
Overall this was another great session. Again I'm surprised by how much we are able to get done. This session ran about an hour and a half and we had plenty of roleplaying along side multiple combats, including one rather long climatic Pit battle. This, so far, is the best season of Encounters to date.