This season has been quite unsettled for player attendance at our store, with a number of new players trying out the game and then deciding it isn’t for them. Understandable, but when coupled with quite a degree of irregularity of attendance from the “regulars”, it’s made running tables rather tricky, especially given the wide variety of approaches to the game.
My table had two new players, who were playing D&D for the first time. They were joined by Tim and Tait, with Harry, Kalum and Glen unable to make it. Ben’s table had three players, whilst Paul’s table, the most stable, had four. I took a bit of time at the beginning of the session to create characters for the two new players – a gnome rogue and a half-orc wizard. Some people would have pre-generated characters with them, but as it happened I’m glad I didn’t. It invested the players better in their new characters, and allowed some nice bits of role-playing.
This session saw the group dealing with the remaining goblinoids in Julkoun. The most dangerous goblins had been slain last session, so this session saw more exploration and mopping-up. As usual, I assumed the new players had been with the group all along (it’s like a set of alternate realities, each session), and after filling them in on what had happened so far, it was time to go back across the bridge and see what else lurked in the cellars of Julkoun.
The exploration led them to the last of the really significant fights: the leader of the goblin raid, a rather large and brutal hobgoblin and his guards. Tait was the one to discover the leader, as he was scouting ahead. He loosed an arrow at the leader, missing, and raced back to warn the party. The leader’s guards followed in pursuit, one catching Tait and striking him from behind. Tim struck one of the guards, and Josh’s wizard cast sleep – he rolled very well for its effects, and two of the guards went down. Tait and Danielle dealt with them as Tim raced forward to engage the last of the guards. He didn’t stand long, and the group were left facing Shorg, the hobgoblin leader. Unfortunately for Shorg, he had two rogues and an annoyed paladin attacking him, and so soon he was down as well.
The group was very happy to find he had a copy of healing potions on him, which Tim took; his paladin would often come out of combats quite hurt!
Although there were stairs leading upwards, the heroes continued to explore the tunnels. A couple of abandoned rooms were well searched by them and found to be what they appeared to be. However, an underground tavern proved to be where a few bugbears were lairing. Tim and Danielle fought side-by-side in this encounter, despite Danielle’s rogue’s low hit points, but Tim’s paladin was able to protect her, and Danielle proved quite able at dealing a lot of damage to the bugbears. Tait sniped from back in the corridor, and Josh’s wizard used mage hand to throw chairs at the bugbears.
Yes, I know that it’s not a standard use of the spell, but it sounded good, so we just used the attack and damage bonuses for his ray of frost cantrip and went with the visual. Every so often, when he missed, the bugbear would catch the chair and then attempted to hit Tim with it. The fight was hard, but the group were victorious.
Searching the ruins of the tavern, Tait opened a door that reveal an old, grizzled worg, which sprang at him! Before anyone else could react, Danielle’s rogue jumped on its back and commanded it into submission! She’d chosen when creating her gnome to make a moderately charismatic one who was especially skilled at intimidation, and she rolled really, really well (total of 26) against the worg. It seemed amusing, and so I ran with it. She called the worg, “Fluffy”, and proceeded to ride it and care for it for the rest of the session. In fact, it was Shorg’s own worg, and he would have been quite apoplectic with rage seeing how it was treated if the group hadn’t killed him!
The group emerged into the light on top of the hill that held “Upper Julkoun”. Goblins still manned the towers around town, unaware that most of their fellows had been slain. Soon, they were joining their companions in death, as Tait sneaked about, killing each with a single arrow shot. Tait is exceptionally good at sneaking, and the goblins did not have the perception checks to stop him!
Upper Julkoun thus cleared – and no villagers in sight, at least not living ones – the group made their way down the earthen ramp that connected the upper town to the lower. Tait killed the remaining few goblins, and the group discovered the desecrated shrine of Chauntea. They’d discovered the unhappy fate the priest last session, but now they found another set of tracks leading from the priest to the water mill. Making their way carefully over to the mill, they could just see the shapes of hobgoblins inside, who launched javelins at the party. Tim raced in, Josh and Tait stayed back, and Danielle urged her worg to take her into the fray. At this point, I was allowing both her and Fluffy to attack, with disadvantage on her attacks. This maintained some sort of balance in the game, whilst keeping Fluffy as an actual asset to the group. The hobgoblins fought well, but not well enough and Fluffy was the one to slay the last of them.
With no goblins still living inside the walls, the lack of villagers was of real concern to the group. They went to the local dryad and asked her for more details on where she’d seen the villagers being taken (to the north), and resolved to follow them on the next day.
That was it for this week’s session. Paul’s table will be spending a third week in Julkoun, whilst Ben’s has gone in a different direction. Join us next time when we see if any of the players return for part four of Scourge of the Sword Coast!