DnD Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye, Firefly Games Lexington SC

Next Encounters Season

So the next D&D Encounters season will involve the drow and looks to take the heroes into the depths of the Underdark. I had heard the drow encountered this season play a part in next season. We will see…

I’ve also noticed the next season starts May 16th, which is one week after the end of the current season, so I guess no week 0 for character creation.

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Week 5
Large groups

So for encounters this week, I had a larger than average group (Which is kinda funny because last week there was a smaller than average group). 4e suggests the optimal number of PC’s 5, which is one more than previous editions/spinoffs. Last night, I had 7. Large groups are more difficult to keep everyone engaged during combat as a player may not get a turn but once every 10 minutes. The DM has to be more aware of the signs of player boredom and try to pull the player back into the action. A surprise attack or a quick change in monster tactics usually work for me. In extreme cases, change the battlefield. Maybe there is a volcano eruption and the battlefield is now filled with deadly lava and poisonous gas. Maybe an innocent villager wanders into the fray and is now in mortal danger. Maybe one of the monsters surrenders or offers to change sides for a reward. The possibilities are endless.

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New Pre-Gen Characters

Essentials has used the same pre-generated characters for several seasons. Thanks to good people at HitonCrit.com we now have elemental themed pre-gens flavored toward this season of encounters. Check them out here.

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Priorities

So I won’t be running encounters the Wednesday, unless it rains. I have other priorities. DM Andy will take over for this week. Go Terriers!

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Week 3

So, we had the first character death last night. It was a tough encounter, the bad guys got a jump on the heroes and the dice got hot. I believe I’ve killed more PC’s in 4e than any other rpg I’ve ran. I wonder if the system is more deadly or if it’s me. I’ve gotten older and maybe more surly >:). I also prefer to DM 4e and have had much longer campaigns so maybe longer campaigns may equal more deaths.
For the DnD Encounters program, character death has special rules. When a character dies, the play may play the character the next session but the character is down 4 healing surges. If the player chooses to create a new character, that character starts at the same experience and the deceased character. The advantage seems to be to create a new character. The rules do seem to take the sting out of death but Encounters is targeted at newer players so I can see why the decision to handle character was done this way.
DM’s out there, how do you handle character death?

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Week 2

Before I ran the second week of encounters, we helped the two new players create their own characters. Welcome to Alaric and Zaralara !

This week I tried using paper miniatures to represent enemies during combat. I’ve used many different types of bits and piece to represent the bad guys in combat. Here’s a list of what I’ve tried with the advantages and disadvantages each type of token.

Plastic/metal miniatures:
Advantages: look really cool, great to hang status conditions on (I mainly use rings from soda bottles, but I’ll post about my system later), really get players attention
Disadvantages: price, may be hard to find a miniature that matches the monster you are using, miniature painting is time consuming and a hobby in itself, can be a pain to transport

Other game pieces (chessmen, wood blocks, dice)
Advantages: readily available, great to hang status conditions on, cheap
Disadvantages: not very immersive, plays say “I attack the d6” instead of “I attack the goblin”

Tokens/pogs/chits
Advantages: cheap, easy to transport, very customizable
Disadvantages: hard to move around, hard to apply status effects

Paper minis
Advantages: cheap, customizable, easy to apply status effects, can be purchased
Disadvantages: Requires knowledge of photoshop/Gimp to really customize, a pain to transport, easily tipped over unless a coin is taped to the bottom.

I’m going to try using paper minis again tonight in another campaign I’m running. Maybe I’ll do a more detailed post with pictures later… stay tuned.

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Week 1

Last night was the first night of actual gaming! We had 2 first time players show up so they played 2 of the pre-generated characters. Both players has experience with WoW so I was able to easily relate that these characters could do to their experiences with the MMORPG. 4e takes a lot of heat for having some themes simular to World of Warcraft but is that a bad thing? Electronic gaming has a much larger fan base than pen and paper gaming. Is it so wrong to try to attract those players?

Anyway, for this season of encounters, I’m trying a couple of strategies to to speed up combat. The first is I have a laptop at the gaming table. Usually I go play music during a gaming session to set a mood but before last night I just used my phone with external speakers. Now it just run iTunes, access my campaign notes via dropbox and pull relevant information from this site. :) Secondly, I am trying out the program 4e Turn Tracker. The learning curve is kinda steep but it is a fairly customizable encounter creator and initiative tracker. You can even import any monster in the standard 4e stat block format as a simple copy and paste. Most importantly for me, it will track hit points and damage taken. I suck at math. Finally, another trick I’m trying is when I announce who’s turn it is in initiative, I let the next person in the order know they are on deck. This way, they have some time to figure out what their character is going to do.

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Week 0
Character Creation

We had three players come for character creation. One has never played 4e before but character creation was a snap. We have an elf seeker, a half-elf warlock, and a razorclaw shifter ranger. Two strikes and a controller. I hope someone wants to play a defender or leader. :)

If you missed the character creation session but still want to play, create a character using these rules or I’ll have pre-generated characters available.

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