We had our second session of Return to Ravenloft last week. It went a bit longer than the session previous -- we got closer to the expected four hours, I believe -- and we finally got into our first combat! Unfortunately, one of our players had to leave before the fight got started and the combat itself lasted a really, too-long amount of time. And not everyone did their homework and read the interlude flavour! But it was good times nonetheless.
Marcus Kotar, Hospitaler Acolyte (Human Paladin of Bahamut 1) - Played by Kurtis
Elarial of Dorthonion, Monster Hunter (Elf Ranger 1) - Played by Kait
Murwen, The Nightingale (Elf Rogue 1) - Played by Kristi
Paelias, The Seer (Eladrin Wizard 1) - Played by Dallas
Redemption, Retired Officer (Tiefling Warlord 1) - Played by Nick
Having lunch inside the Broken Highwayman, the local tavern/inn in Holmont Cove, the party shares the information they discovered the session previous. Within the tavern, they notice the captain of the Montula, the passenger vessel that brought the party here the night previous, sitting in a corner with a number of his crew members. Rafiq Al'amit, the captain in question, seems a jovial fellow and actually comes over to the party and wishes them well.
Through conversation, Redemption discovers that Rafiq had been approached by Burgomaster Ludensky to discuss contracting the Montula to help evacuate the population of Holmont Cove. Rafiq intended to skip the meeting and depart as quickly as possible but Redemption made it very clear that the captain would perhaps regret not attending the meeting. Intimidated a bit by the older tiefling, Rafiq agrees to attend the meeting and then buys the party a round of drinks to assuage any hurt feelings.
It's at this point that the party notices another group of sailors, all of which appear to be in fine matching uniforms of blue. The man obviously in charge wears a large blue overcoat with gold inlays and a large hat with a plume sticking out of it. Rafiq identifies the man as captain Aillard Garland, the captain of the Fiery Dawn, the other large vessel in the harbour at present.
Captain Garland was once a member of the Aelarian navy, operating out of the duchy of Trent to the east, but at the end of the war with the Horn -- an island nation to the west -- the captain bought his ship from Aelar and now works for contract, whether as a mercenary or as a transport vessel. Captain Garland has a reputation of being a man of little moral standing who will take any job as long as the money is good, and Rafiq does his best not to mingle with the man.
Elarial had already discovered that the Fiery Dawn was bringing shipments to Holmont Cove from Forrington to the east and, thus, believed that Captain Garland should be investigated. Murwen agrees and goes over to speak to Captain Garland to see what he knows. Around this time, Paelias and Marcus leave the tavern to head to the church -- Paelias had asked to speak to the priestess Lady Thera earlier in the day and wanted to follow up with her.
|I imagine Melora to be depicted very similar to above; riding the shell|
of her icon out of the ocean.
While that conversation occurred, Murwen injected herself into a conversation with Captain Garland who began to regale her with tales of his voyages. His spiel is interrupted by Elarial spilling a drink over the captain; under the guise of helping clean, Murwen wipes at his coat with a cloth and manages to swipe a leather letter case from inside his jacket. The captain storms out in a huff, nearly colliding with Marcus as the paladin returns. The two of them have an altercation just outside the tavern that culminates with the captain slapping Marcus across the face with a glove before storming off towards the harbour.
The group reconvenes, this time with the captain of the guard at the table, who begins asking the party questions. "What's this about a severed goblin arm, and why are you asking about Wilhelm Ridskaya?" The captain relays that Wilhelm was a guard who worked under him -- a good lad, short on ability but eager to impress -- who went missing during a raid gone wrong several weeks ago. The militia was ambushed by giant rats and Wilhelm went missing, presumed dead. The captain relays the location of the ruin where the rats were encountered.
Murwen steals outside for privacy to read the letters within the case stolen from Captain Garland. Inside are manifests of cargo as well as a number of letters from the burgomaster of Holmont Cove; the letters speak of personal shipments and the most recent letter asks the captain to "place the cargo in the same warehouse as usual and speak to no one about it". Murwen puts the letter back, reenters the tavern and throws the letter case under the chair where the captain was seated.
The party discusses their next move. Elarial and Murwen seem to want to go off on their own to investigate the harbour but the rest of the party want to head into the woods to investigate these ruins and the disappearance of Wilhelm Ridskaya. The females concede and the party heads into the woods with the afternoon sun already starting to fall.
A small amount of travel later, the party discovers the clearing with the ruins and explores the surrounding area. A small lockbox is discovered in the ruin; within is a necklace of arcane power. The party debates whether they should wear it, not knowing it's power, but Redemption puts it on and immediately feels rejuvenated. Elarial tries it on next and opts to keep it, enjoying the feeling of power. Murwen remains skeptical and keeps an eye on Elarial, fearing a transformation of some kind.
The combat raged for quite some time, the rats overwhelming many of the party members as everyone jockeys for position. Redemption takes the brunt of the attacks, unfortunately, though Marcus and Paelias also take some severe licks of their own. Hordes of rats swarm over the tiefling and the wizard, while Marcus faces off against the larger of the rats; meanwhile, Elarial and Murwen stay on the outskirts, plugging the enemies with their damage abilities as ferociously as possible.
Eventually, all of the rats are defeated, but not before Paelias is nearly knocked out, and both Redemption and Murwen are poisoned from the filth of the rats. Redemption manages to stabilize the poison but Murwen fails to resist and is brought ill from the bite she withstood. Opting to return to town to heal up before continuing further, the party consolidates and retreats from the cave system back to the safety of town. They arrive just before nightfall and take up spots in the barracks for the night.
As I mentioned above, this session held the first combat of the campaign thus far! There were a number of failings with the session, of course, but a number of successes as well:
- Unfortunately, Kurtis (the player of Marcus, the paladin) needed to leave early -- just before the combat began, in fact! For the rest of the evening, I controlled his character, wanting to ensure the party size wasn't diminished. Luckily, I didn't need to roleplay his character as we finished that first combat and then called it a night, but that brings us to the second failing...
- The combat went on for far too long. This will speed up as we progress, I'm sure -- most of the players at the table have never played D&D before, never mind 4E, so there was some explanation of rules and some debate as to when to use powers and so forth. But the combat went on for a long time -- so much so that we decided to end the session on that note in order to ensure not going later than we already were. This was disappointing because there was more of the cave to explore and more enemies to fight within. (I suppose I will have to scale things back moving forward and gradually increase the intensity of the combat -- even more than I would normally!)
- I skipped over a lot of basic info that I should have shared with the newer players (like what a minion is, and so forth). I'll touch on that next session.
- We finally had a combat! Everyone seemed to catch on fairly quickly, with a lot of the new players really appreciating the power cards I printed for them. I tried to make everything as streamlined and simple as possible and it really did work out well for how the combat turned out.
- More intrigue! The party discovered some good portions of the mystery, has found more hooks for discovering evidence, and is well on their way to breaking it wide open!
- More roleplaying! Marcus had a good scene where he was accosted by Captain Garland and had a moment where he was debating the merits of a Holy Strike but decided against it. He did determine that Garland was not a "good" aligned person, however, so who knows what might happen next time?
In addition to all of this, the group sans Kurtis discussed the frequency of our games and we all agreed that it would be great to do a weekly game (as opposed to our current biweekly). Our next game session is still set for the 24th of October but, at that session, we will revisit the topic and will most likely have weekly games from that point on. Which is exciting! If we are stuck with slightly shorter sessions, getting together more frequently will keep the pace going, and will also help people remember what happened previously. I'm not sure if Kurtis will be able to make weekly sessions but we will revist this next time!
All in all, a good session! Here's looking forward to the next!