Tuesday, November 13, 2012

D&D Next - Gearing up for an Urban-based Session

Continued from Session 5 here

Cast

Aha - high elf sorcerer
Charlie - human cleric of Zagyg
Erevan - high elf rogue
Rajabu - dwarf fighter

Session 6 of our D&D Next playtest was my favorite one so far, and it was 100% role-playing.  Not a single attack roll was made, although there were a few spells cast in non-combat contexts.  The most-rolled Ability was Charisma, by far.  In this campaign at least, Charisma is definitely not a dump stat!

The end of the last session found the PCs back in the town of Anvilar, which I had sketched out only in the broadest of strokes so far.  My strategy with this campaign is to develop a collaborative sandbox environment with the players, fleshing out areas between sessions as they move around the world.  So far, activity had been concentrated in a dungeon, but now the tone would shift to an urban adventure.  I took the two weeks between sessions to map out possible scenes and briefly flesh out the factions, NPCs, and locations in Anvilar that might come into play.  The combination of these loosely sketched out notes, results from random online generators, and pointed questions to the players during the game, would cause the city of Anvilar to come to life for us as we played out the session.

Lady Alba bid the heroes good night, instructing then to see themselves out of the manor when they were finished dividing the gold.  The task complete, the four adventurers left the sitting room and entered the lobby of the house.  They heard some muffled conversation coming from the doorway at the other end of the hall.  Erevan decided to creep up to the door to try and overhear, but was so single minded in concentrating on his footwork that he neglected to notice an expensive vase.  Knocking it over with his outstretched arm, it crashed to the floor and shattered.

Rogues in D&D Next can now apply their Expertise Dice to any Ability Check for which one of their trained Skills applies.  This is called the "Skill Mastery" Maneuver.  The fact that the rogue can use only the highest number rolled on their Expertise Dice is a nice way to avoid this Maneuver from becoming overpowered.  In application here, Erevan rolled a Dexterity Check, applied his Stealth Skill (+4), and rolled a 6 on his Expertise Dice.  However, he rolled a 1 on the d20.  Although the total of the roll was thus a 1+4+6 = 11, a 1 is a 1 is a 1, and a 1 is always a failure, and a "Hazard" at that.

The door at the end of the hallway popped open, and three figures curiously stared out into the hall.  There was an older, very well dressed woman, and two dwarfs, one of them completely hairless.  Hearing the crash, Lady Alba descended the stairs to investigate.  The noblewoman was understandably irritated, and told the heroes that they would have to pay the 100 silver to replace that collectible vase.  With a stroke of quick thinking, Charlie cast a minor illusion onto one of the broken shards, making it appear to be an obviously poor quality fake.

He rolled a successful Charisma Contest (bolstered by his Bluff Skill) against Lady Alba's Wisdom.

Lady Alba did a double take, and her face then reddened.  She cursed the merchant who had sold her the bogus collectible.  Rajabu, the thug, graciously offered to pay this merchant a visit on the Lady's behalf.

I had Lady Alba explain that this merchant is from Salshanisar, the home city of Erevan.  At the beginning of the campaign I had asked each player to describe where their character came from, and Erevan's player had described a majority high elf city, Salshanisar, on the southern coast.  It was a city of high intrigue, with many rival factions, and he, with his "Arcane Magic" Speciality, was a drop out from a mages' guild there.

Lady Alba smiled at Rajabu and told him that there'd be a sizable reward for him if he broke the legs of that cheating merchant.

So, the PC's have a weak hook to take them to Salshanisar.  Rajabu himself would probably be bad enough to follow through on an attack on an innocent merchant, for payment, but I don't think the other players will :)

Session 6 continued here

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