So, for session 4 there were 5 players - due to miscommunication the 6th player wasn't available.
The characters for the night were: Tiny Tracy Ulf Tarkus Gerg Dziadeklupus (new recruit AND new player) Berta (forcibly recruited)
As is traditional; the session begins with the party passing through the gates of Castle Torrog and down through the mountains and foothills until they get close to the 'old damaged tower'.
3 sessions in and what will they do this time, I wonder?
The party decided to avoid the tower and stealthy head for the ruins.
Perhaps the players are learning.... Well I thought that after session 2....
Anyway as usual, there's a goblin on guard at the top of the tower.
Is the goblin dozing or alert and aware? Rolled a natural 20.
Would the goblin spot them? Rolled a natural 20.
The goblin blew his horn, rousing his colleagues.
The party decided to hastily speed into the ruins.
This is a dangerous strategy: The goblins chase the party to the basement, but will not enter the dungeons under the basement ruins, however they are content to wait for the party to return.
The party proceeded to the 2nd level and continued to explore. They encountered some locked and barricaded rooms filled with old undecipherable paperwork, some spell scrolls and a silver ring of high quality. They speculated on why these people barricaded themselves in these rooms. They pressed on. They then came to more locked doors. Gerg unlocked the door and threw it open. Inside the room there were 4 ghouls.
Ghouls can be tricky monsters to deal with.
The party consensus was to retreat back into the prior room, let the ghouls come to them and hit them at the bottle neck at the doorway.
The ghouls were very low on the initiative order in this encounter. Handing the PCs this pretty useful advantage.
Combat ensued and depending on their position, the party members fall back or hold their action. At least they do until Tarkus has his action, whereupon he goes charging into the room!
Yeah! Go for it!
The characters who had held their action earlier in initiative order, now have to charge in to back up Tarkus.
Which is lucky for Tarkus: When the ghouls have their go in this round, he is hurt and paralyzed. In the following round Tarkus is still paralyzed and took double damage and is reduced to 0 hp.
The remainder of the fight is quite unremarkable, the party managed to dispatch the ghouls without any further major mishap. The party then pressed on to the next room.
Now this is going to get interesting.
The next room is quite large and when they enter, they see it is some what more shadowy than they expect. Then 6 shadows materialize from the darkness and attack, most of the party are surprised, which means most of them don't act in the first round.
I said in a previous journal entry, that the party were a little oblivious to the danger of being on this level. This is a dangerous encounter. Will they learn from it?
Right, I'm going talk a little bit more about 'encounter difficulties', hopefully it won't too boring. Encounter difficulties are ratings which are based on comparing the levels of the PCs to the xp value of monsters.
First we create the 'XP thresholds' for the party. There are 4 thresholds, easy, medium, hard and deadly.
The party contains 4 1st level characters and 2 2nd level characters. This gives xp thresholds or 200, 400, 600 and 800 for each difficulty respectively.
Shadows have CR 1/2 - which means they are worth 100 xp each. Combined that value is 600 xp.
Because there are 6 monsters and 6 PCs, that 600 xp is multiplied by 1.5 to give an encounter value of 900 xp (this is not the actual xp that is rewarded to players - that would stay at 600 xp).
This value is then compared to the xp thresholds, the highest threshold that it crosses determines the difficulty of the encounter. Therefore 900 is higher than 800, making this a deadly encounter.
So during the 1st round of combat, Berta the dwarf fighter is dropped to 0 hp, as is Gerg the half-orc rogue.
Luckily half-orcs have relentless endurance which mean that if they are dropped to 0 hp, they stay on 1 hp. This can be done once per day. So Gerg is still on her feet.
The party are beginning to feel very apprehensive, the talk is of retreat. There is a 2nd round of combat, the party discovered that most of their attacks are only dealing half damage to these shadowy creatures. The decision was made to retreat.
This was a tense moment for the party, one player was on his feet and pacing back and forth during this time.
Then Tarkus remembered he can turn undead.
Here's how turn undead works in 5e.
Each of the affected undead make saving throws. A success means that they are unaffected.
A failure means that the undead must move away from whoever used turn undead and stay away. This lasts for 1 minute (10 rounds) or until the undead is damaged.
Tarkus used his turn undead and drove away 5 of the shadows away. Tarkus wrestled* the remaining shadow giving the rest of the party the opportunity to flee.
*It's a long story.
Tarkus continued wrestling the shadow, threw it to the ground and fled. At this point, one of the players had left to catch their train, so the 2 characters that did not have players present were 'auto-retreated' back to Castle Torrog.
The party now decided to flee the dungeon at maximum.
Now I must confess that at this moment I had a moment of weakness and felt a little too much sympathy for the party.
You may remember that earlier I stated:
"The goblins chase the party to the basement, but will not enter the dungeons under the basement ruins, however they are content to wait for the party to return."
As the PCs flee I allowed them to make an INTELLIGENCE check to receive a hint from me that allows them to realise that goblins might be waiting for them outside.Because of the hint, they are prepared for the ambush.
Anyway, the party exit the dungeon and dealt with the goblins waiting in the basement. For some reason Tarkus took a goblin prisoner and decided to bring it back to Castle Torrog.
That wacky PC behaviour eh!
After this, it's the hike to back to Castle Torrog.
On the trip back to the cast a random encounter is triggered, the 2nd of the campaign.
4 hobgoblins wait to ambush the party.
The ambush is a pretty poor one and the Party spot the hobgoblins and battle them.
Hobgoblins have a scary ability called 'Martial Advantage' that allows a hobgoblin once per turn to potentially do an additional 2d6 points damage if they hit.
During this battle, Ulf decided to try out the magic javelin he had acquired back in session one. It turns out that it is a 'Javelin of Lightning'
Pretty useful little item!
Thus far, no one in any of the sessions has made any attempt to identify any items they have picked up. Nor have they made any attempt to interpret any of the journals/notes that they have picked up. either in the session or any time between sessions.
The party defeated the hobgoblins, looted them and moved on. Finally returning to Castle Torrog.
If you're interested; the guards on the castle walls did not allow Tarkus to pass the gates with his goblin prisoner.
Tarkus left the goblin tied up outside the gates. After Tarkus went through into the castle grounds, the guards promptly shot the goblin.
So, that's the end of this session.
What will the players take from this?
The consensus among the players seemed to be, "Let's not come back here until we're higher level.". So maybe they've learned?
Immediately after the adventure one of the players posted a message to the Facebook group. The exact phrase was:
"Next week, don't go into the ruins.....it's not good down there anymore....."
However the 1st reply was skeptical of this.
So...... maybe not?
However more than this, they need to identify the loot they've acquired. There's some useful stuff there.
They also need to think about party composition, if they didn't have the cleric with them, the fight with the shadows could have gone a lot worse. Will they remember to bring the cleric with them it they return?
Overall their xp haul was low, this was unfortunate as there is some treasure to be found after defeating the shadows.
Now I'm wondering what they'll want to do next week.