There are some who suggest that every universe is completely unlike any other; that each universe is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a unique and beautiful snowflake. These people, well intentioned as they may be, could best be described as idiots. Aside from recklessly bandying about with bad metaphors, these idiots ignore any number of truisms that the fabric of reality firmly weaves into our ideas of what exactly snow is. Truly learned scholars understand that the same could be said of universes, that the snowflakes are tactless namby-pambery and that there are certain ineffable truths which hold sway wherever reality decides to exert itself. One of them is as follows:
When you want to find an adventurer, first find the alcohol.
Were one, for instance, to look for an adventurer in the village of Weaver’s Lodge, it might be prudent to check its famous brewery, in hopes of finding one on his back beneath a leaky key. A smarter bet, however, would be to visit the Creaky Loom tavern, where not only are the kegs tapped, but they have mugs; lying on the back is a result of the drinking process here, not how it happens in the first place. Were you to take this smarter bet, you’d have won.
Another universal truism known to sages throughout time and space is this:
Should enough adventurers spend enough time congregating around the same source of alcohol, a wizard will inevitably come in and offer them fabulous treasures in return for some service that’s more likely than not to get at least one of them killed.
We’re not going to give these adventurers enough time for that to happen.
Taking a moment’s respite from polishing a ceramic mug, Jamis Wompley, the tavern’s proprietor, shifts his gaze to the front door, wide open against the warm summer night’s air. A puzzled expression creeps across his ruddy face, but it quickly turns to horror and then fades to frustration. As he sighs, “Not again,” he drops behind his long oak bar. After a moment, when he notices that his normal clientele of farmhands, herders, weavers and such has continued their drinks and conversation unabated, he rises from behind the bar and throws a dishrag out into the middle of the common room. “Well?” he cries. “What’chu all waitin’ fer? It’s them damn goblins again!”
No sooner has he admonished his patrons than two short humanoids the size of small children tumble through the open door. One holds a spear as menacingly as he can manage, while the other brandishes a beat-up crossbow. Both are wiry specimens, with coppery-brown skin and wearing little more than poorly-fashioned leathers. The one holding the spear barks what you guess must be a command and six more goblins come filing in after the first two. The spear-wielding goblin steps forward and mangles the common tongue: “No moves, no hurts! We takes tasty-beers. You gives or we kills!”
The group sprang to action and blocked off the goblins’ assault on the tavern. Nyarlathotep, the group’s tiefling warlock, was the first to attack (which was a little tricky, since the player playing him was brand new to D&D), and managed to take a goblin cutter (a minion) down with his first Eldritch Blast, so things got off to a good start. This fight introduced the players to many of the movement-inducing effects of D&D (pushes, shifts, etc.) but didn’t give them a lot of room to move around in. By round three, there was only one goblin left (a sharpshooter, artillery) and he was successfully locked down by Kwill, the group’s wilden paladin.
The game got started later than I would have liked, largely due to some technical glitches. For some reason, WOTC’s Character Builder (the online version) doesn’t like to print starting at the powers cards pages, so I had to print each character sheet in full color. Out of the six of us, four have flexible schedules, but two of our folks have to be up bright and early at 7am, so we knew that we couldn’t keep the game running as late as we’d like to, so I settled on just running one encounter. In order to avoid this in the future, we’ll be moving our gaming night from Wednesday to Sunday so we can start earlier.
As I said, the encounter only lasted three rounds, which was a lot shorter than I thought it would last, though those three rounds did take awhile. As a learning experience, it went pretty well, with most of the players coming to a solid understanding of how their at-will and encounter powers work. Movement was pretty solidly understood, including some of the stranger bits of tactical and forced movement: several push effects were used to keep goblins off the wizard, threatened areas and opportunity attacks started to come into play and shifting (as different from normal movement) was used a few times.
The players received a little bit of homework: they took their character sheets and power cards with them home so they could review what they can do on any given combat round. The folders that my lovely wife Katie put together for the players included a brief rules summary (taken from the D&D 4e Quick Start rules that came out way back in 2008 before the release of 4e), so they’ll have that to reference as well.
Next session: More goblins and the players meet some of the important figures in Weaver’s Lodge!