Real life (specifically exams and illness) has meant that our semi-regular sessions had to be pushed back a couple of times, but last week we finally managed to get together again. I was a little bit rusty, given that I had prepared for the session several weeks ago, so I flipped through the pages of the Rise of the Runelords book to refresh my memory.
As my biggest challenge so far has been remembering what all the spells and abilities of the NPCs do, I made myself a little document with details of abilities that enemies were likely to use in combat. This helped me make the fights more challenging and more interesting.
The session started off slowly as we recapped events from last time, and then the party decided to avoid the rigged ridge and find an alternative way to Thistletop. They climbed down the Howling Hole into the lair of a rather angry bunyip, a seal-like creature with shark-like teeth. This nearly ended in the death of our monk, but the others arrived in time to assist him.
After grabbing some treasure from the beast’s lair, the group headed out and decided to swim across to Thistletop and scale the cliffs. Our sorcerer preferred to use a potion of levitate that he had, and waited for the other two at the top. This is where I learned how irritating skills like climb and swim can be. I had the players make numerous checks to get across the sea and up the cliffs, when in hindsight they probably could have taken 10 – although they had made quite a ruckus leading up to this point, the goblins weren’t expecting them to climb up the side of their island.
Needless to say, the session also taught me about several other skills. Perception is a tricky one for me, especially when I know there’s a hidden door right in front of the party… but they failed the check to notice it by 2 points… It seems almost unfair to me, to know they’re missing out on extra treasure, and it’s torturous for me to not say anything! But I feel it is important for the players to explore on their own, and not be nudged in the right direction all the time.
Further in the dungeon, we came across other challenges. One was the diplomacy skill. For me, this skill roll needs to be accompanied with roleplaying in order to succeed. As I’m not a fantastic actress, this was challenging both for my players as well as me. I hope to be a little better at it next session!
We also came a bit unstuck with the monk’s new Snake Style feat, which we hadn’t used before and so I was a little unprepared for how powerful it was. Some research after the session helped me find a solution I was happy with, and also showed me that I had been allowing that player to use the ability incorrectly! All in all, I learnt a great deal during this session, but it was a lot of fun as well.
Highlight of the session was Warchief Ripnugget’s pet gecko Stickfoot landing a critical hit on one of our heroes. It was a glorious moment, followed by poor Stickfoot, his master, and the surrounding goblins being incinerated by a well-timed fireball from our sorcerer!