Episode 1 – Greenest in Flames The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.
The party arrived at Greenest just after dark to find, not the safe haven they had hoped for, but a village besieged. Dark shapes flew above the town and several buildings were already aflame. They could hear screams and guttural voices on the wind, and dark shapes could be moving through the streets, some running, others… hunting.
As they entered Greenest the party stumbled into a group of 6 cultists coming out of some homes with bloody blades and bags of loot. The paladin Gorstag and Mar the priest moved to engage them while Elin, Snowfox, and Snake provided covering fire. After a brief battle the cultists lay dead in the streets, but the party did not come away unscathed. Mar healed Gorstag’s severe wounds and they moved further into town, more carefully this time.
(Hmm, this is not quite a deadly encounter for the party, but still quite hard, pretty nasty for a random encounter.)
As they moved from the shadows of one building towards another, they were surprised as a badly injured man carrying two toddlers ran across the street in front of them, followed by a third child. A woman with a shield and a broken spear came behind them and turned the way she had come, blocking the street. From the alley she had just vacated poured 8 kobolds who took up positions surrounding the woman. The party attempted to intervene, but not before the kobolds had cut the woman down were they able to act. Another pitched battle ensued and after several rounds the kobolds were vanquished. Conversing with the man, Cath, the party agreed to help bring him and his family to the safety of the keep. Mar used his last healing spell on Snake and Gorstag laid hands upon his own wounds. The party was already low on resources so the safety of the keep was sounding pretty inviting at this point.
(Ok, the party is only at the first encounter and they are already nearly out of resources. Not too surprising given the way 5E is balanced. 8 kobolds is just barely a deadly encounter for the party and it showed.)
The party was able to work their way around 2 of the 3 remaining mandatory encounters before reaching the keep, however that left most of them wounded and needing a short rest. (Mission 1 completed.)
After resting the party decides to undertake the first mission, finding a way to secretly leave the keep and smuggle in more villagers. They run into a couple of rat swarms in the tunnel on the way out and Snowfox goes down under the vicious assault of one of them.
(Ok, 2 rat swarms is supposedly an easy encounter, but at this level one lucky hit and a party member can be down and out.)
After another short rest to allow Snowfox to recover, the party exits the tunnel where they run into a cultist patrol looking for villages taking refuge in the bushes along the stream bed. Elin takes shelter in the stream (it’s up to his neck being a gnome) and blasts away. The other mix in the fray and the cultists and their kobold allies are defeated. Sadly, Snowfox goes down again hit by a lucky sling stone from a kobold, and Gorstag is heavily wounded. The party is too beat up to look for more villagers so they retreat back into the keep. When they get back they learn the castellan was mortally wounded in an attack on the Sally Port (the mission they missed by resting in the middle of the other mission). Most of the party takes to the battlements while Elin takes a rest and Snowfox continues to nap.
(WOW, why did they even bother to have so many missions, no way a party can take this kind of punishment at first level. I took pity on the poor Snowfox and added a healer at the keep with a healing kit so he could get back into the adventure. So far the party has faced 2 Deadly encounters (one of which they avoided), 4 Hard encounters (1 of which they avoided), and 1 Easy encounter. The design here is not very good… and it’s not about to get better.)
The dragon attacks the keep at this point… (An ADULT BLUE DRAGON!!! vs. 1ST LEVEL CHARACTERS!!! Granted the module warns me to have the dragon attacks NPCs for a few rounds before it attacks the party…and they only have to deal out a fraction of its HP in order to make it leave, BUT STILL!) As expected the dragon wreaks havoc on NPCs for a few rounds while the party takes shots at it at long range. (trying to hit AC 19 with Disadvantage!) Elin does nail it with a Magic Missile which causes the dragon to use its Frightful Presence (now almost everyone has disadvantage regardless of range). The dragon’s breath blasts apart a merlon near Elin and the resulting rockfall knocks him out. (Last warning shot before someone gets a breath weapon to the face, at this point the party has done 15 points to the dragon on 1 magic missile spell and 2 lucky hits) Snake is hit by the breath weapon after wounding the dragon again and despite making his saving throw is vaporized. (sorcerer with 8 hp takes 68 pt breath weapon and saves for half) More attacks on NPCs follow for many rounds before another lucky hit finally drives off the dragon.
(Ok, now this was ludicrous. Unless the party was all ranged specialists, how are they supposed to accomplish this? It was silly. At this point we ended the night with at least 1 player threatening to rage-quit (not that I blame him) and others just drained. This module needs more work before it can really be played than B1 – In Search of the Unknown