Monday, April 22, 2019

DnD: The Hobgoblins Next Door!

When last we left our heroes, they were on the first level of the arcane dungeon beneath Roslof Keep, and had just defeated a group of three ghouls.

They began this session by making a thorough check of the rooms - both the small room behind the concealed door where the ghouls has been hiding, and the larger room outside. They didn't discover any secret doors or other points of interest, but they did take a few minutes to examine the glyphs that decorate the walls and ceiling. They have determined by now that the glyphs seem to be scattered at random and don't appear to be any sort of message; their current theory is that the glyphs are part of whatever process allows the Infernal Machine to regenerate and rearrange the dungeon.

Having failed to turn up anything interesting, the monk suggested that they should go back to where they came in and see if they could disarm the trapped door. They managed fairly handily, and were then able to open the door. Behind it they discovered a small space housing a pair of large crossbows or small ballistae, each ready to fire a full-size spear when the door was opened. The group claimed the two spears (the drow assassin is keeping one of them, and they plan to sell the other). Then they checked the room over, found nothing, and moved on.

After a brief group consultation, they decided to go back to the door across the hall from the room that held the ghouls. This was the one they'd started to open last week, except that the cleric thought she heard something moving behind it so they went the other way instead.

This time, they marched up to the door, flung it open, and found themselves face to face with six hobgoblins: three in front with longswords, three in back with longbows. The front-and-center hobgoblin in the first row was tapping the flat of his sword on the palm of his hand. (Like this.) The melee hobgoblins charged up but stopped short of attack range, forcing the party to enter the room if they wanted to fight. The archers loosed, but... badly.

One of the hobgoblins rolled a critical failure, and shot his buddy in the back; I then ruled that not only was that melee hobgoblin injured, he also had disadvantage because he'd turned his head to glare balefully back at the guy behind him. The halfling rogue moved to get an angle on him and took a shot, but missed. The drow rogue, who also had a decent line on the guy, took his hand crossbow and put a bolt in his neck, finishing him. The monk stepped into the room and attacked, doing some damage. The sorcerer tried a firebolt but missed.

(Firstborn's Dragonborn Sorcerer is actually an attempt to copy an entirely different character class from an entirely different game. That particular class does everything with fire. So at this point, all his attack spells are fire-based, except for Magic Missile. This is going to become a problem later, as fire resistance becomes more common -- but I figure, that can be part of the character growth. Firstborn has definitely built for concept rather than optimization.)

The cleric moved in past the monk and around one of the remaining melee hobgoblins, so she and the monk were flanking him. The melee hobgoblins attacked again, missing the cleric but injuring the monk. One of the arrows from the archers hit the cleric, damaging him but not enough to take him down; everything else missed. The halfling rogue decided to make a support run; he slipped in beside the cleric, took a healing potion off her belt, and tipped it into her mouth. The drow rogue took another shot with his crossbow but missed. The sorcerer tried another Firebolt and missed again. (The Hobgoblins didn't have all that much in the way of hit points, but they had pretty good armor.) The cleric, I think, attacked a hobgoblin and damaged it.

This was about the point where the rogues realized that trying to fight with missile weapons at close range just wasn't working for them.

The hobgoblins attacked again, this time taking down the monk. (They had a decent, though not spectacular, chance to hit him; but what really did him in was that they rolled high on damage.) Barrith, the halfling rogue, had dropped his bow and whipped out his short sword. He now attacked, and scored some damage on one of the two remaining melee hobgoblins. Shadow, the drow rogue, dropped his crossbow, drew his rapier, and stepped into the room; flanking the hobgoblins, he attacked and did some damage. The sorcerer tried another firebolt and connected with one of the archers, and Aspen the cleric cast a healing spell on the monk.

That was when the battle turned.

The hobgoblins made fairly ineffective attacks, and the archer who had previously shot his buddy in the back -- remember him? Yeah, well, he snapped the string on his bow, gave up, and pulled out a longsword. Between the monk, the rogues, and the advantage and extra damage (for the rogues) provided by flanking, the two melee hobgoblins went down. The archers dropped their bows and drew swords, but they only lasted another round; Shadow, the drow rogue, one-shotted one of them, and I'm not sure exactly who took down everybody else, but it was short and sweet and we were running out of time anyway.

So, with the group victorious but also running low on spells and healing potions, the cleric declared that it was time for them to leave the dungeon. She planned to search the hobgoblins, take their equipment, and sell it; but mainly, she intended to live to fight another day. Barrith argued; the halfling felt that having cleared this room, they could just stay there while they recovered -- and he didn't want the dungeon to reset when they left. The cleric explained about the possibility of wandering monsters (which, as DM, was definitely a possibility), and nobody else expressed an opinion -- but I need to check with them at the beginning of next session. To my mind, the big argument for leaving now is the loot: if they're planning to sell the stuff they took off the hobgoblins, then we're talking about rather more equipment than you want to lug around the dungeon.

Current party acquisitions:
1. Six gold pieces, found in the concealed room with the ghouls last week.
2. One spear. (Shadow is keeping the other one.) (worth 5 SP)
3. Six longswords. (worth 45 gp)
4. Three longbows. (worth 75 gp)
5. Six chain shirts, which reek of unwashed hobgoblin. (worth 150 GP)
6. Six shields. (worth 25 gp) (Aspen is keeping one.)
7. One hundred and forty-four gold pieces, taken from the hobgoblins.

I have no idea how to calculate the Experience Points so far in Fifth Edition, and I'm not sure I care; that seems too much like work. I'm thinking that I may have them level up on more of a benchmark basis: they survived the practice dungeon and their first foray into the real dungeon, so now they move to level 2. When they find the stairs down to the next level of the dungeon, they advance to level 3. Like that.

Next Week:
This *might* be a good time to introduce them to the shops and other resources inside the keep. (That'll mean reading over the descriptions again, preferably right before the game.) Even inside the Keep walls, things will have changed: people will know that the Ivory Scimitars have reformed, and will start to recognize them. Some may scoff; some may praise; some may scorn; some may not care. But the Banner Companies are kind of like sports teams, and there's a big social element to being part of one.

On a related note: dear god, I have to get skills and proficiencies outlined for the sorcerer. He's the highest charisma, he needs to be able to be the face of the party, and his character sheet is a half-formed mess.

-The two rogues definitely started pulling their weight this game: disarming traps, fighting effectively, and working with the rest of the group.

-The mousefolk cleric is both the best tank and the most strategic thinker in the group, partly because his player knows the system better than anyone else at the table (including me) and partly just because.

-The monk, as expected, can do a lot of damage but can't take that much damage. We haven't had a combat yet where he hasn't been knocked unconscious; we also haven't had a combat yet where he hasn't killed at least two enemies. "I'm a glass cannon," the player told his father at the end of the game. That shouldn't be quite as much the case as it is; the monk isn't that easy to hit, it's just that when he does get hit, he doesn't have a lot of hit points to soak it up with. And the bad guys did just get some lucky rolls in there.

-So, last week we discovered the joys of the Help action and how much oomph it adds to skill rolls. This week, we discovered flanking and Sneak Attack damage, and how coordinating positions with your fellow party members can really work to your advantage. We'll make a team out of these characters yet! ...I hope.


  1. I can totally relate the squishy monk commentary right now.

    Sounds like your players are doing quite well and picking up the concepts you're trying to reinforce fairly quickly.

    1. I'm actually somewhat amazed by how well the group is coming together. ("It takes us a while to get any traction, I'll give you that one.") It helps that they're (OOC) naturally inclined to be helpful, and really invested in the game. But I think the big IC motivation for working together is going to turn out (at least here in the early stages) to be that it just works so much better.


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