So the second session dawns upon us. As a prelude, Justin's DMing style seems to focus on a PC's back story throughout an individual adventure. This manifests itself as the DM constructing the adventure to spotlight a PC. Obviously, this makes for a rip roaring good time for the other PCs, but they seem to thrive on taking turns having a story about themselves told to them. I wonder what would happen if that week's PC happened to die during a fight... Thankfully through our inflated stats, easy encounters, and monster DOINK tactics, we are able to carry the day.
The adventure starts off in the previously mentioned border keep. Armed with our perfect exposition from our Plot Point Hobgoblin, the captain of the keep is approached with our information. We make plans to travel down a river to a town that is supposed to be near the meeting point between the Necromancer who is creating this plague and the Hobo lackey. What good the Hobgoblin lackey is at this point remains a mystery, or at least plot convenience.
The keep's captain also mentions that there is something along the river that he wants us to check out for him. I think I missed the reason why though. My character was chartering a ride down stream. I apparently made my diplomacy check or whatever, since he agreed to the fee. We meet back up, plus a 0-level human who is supposed to be a runner to relay any information we gather back to the Keep. Or a way to not have to make a return trip so the adventure can move on.
The spotlight is on Josh's character.... who has amnesia as his back story. We proceede down the river to a large statue at the location in which we are to investigate. Josh's character has some odd vision as we approach the statue, which leads to at least 40 minutes of him-hawing at the entranceway that has opened up in the base of the statue. Eventually fed up with it, I cast light on a stone, drop it in, then climb down a ladder that was already in place.
We make it down with zero incident into a room with a small pile of bodies in one corner, a large stone door on a wall, and not much else. We poke around but the stone door has no apparent mechanism to open. Thankfully, we begin to hear a pounding on the door, and it falls right over! We avoid being squashed, and out DOINKs a single troll. 4-1, we make mincemeat out of him. I stand toe to toe with the foul critter, while the Bard sings, the Ranger shoots arrows, and the Sorcerer casts some minor spells. One flaming troll corpse later, we move on.
The room in which the troll came from contains his loot and a locked door. So this troll was basically imprisoned here between a massive stone door only he could push open and a locked door in which he did not have the key. The key, by the way, was in that pile of bodies the room before. This dungeon is quickly turning out to be as linear as the plot line.
Thankfully, we can identify every single magic item we come across if anyone can pass an Arcane Knowledge skill check, which is apparently an easy feat to accomplish. Moving past the door, we come to another non-descript room with a leaky ceiling and another door. We are able to detect that this door is trapped, but we are unable to disarm it with our lack of a party thief. So Josh has the idea to use the runner as cannon fodder to eat the trap. He makes his save and survives, and I wonder if the DM Justin will enforce alignment changes for evil acts. We slowly move on, stopped every 10 minutes by Josh's visions that play little role in the task at hand. Wait, why were we exploring this hole in the ground again?
The next room has a gaping hole in one wall that allows water to pool in the low end of the room. The entrance and only exit (we're using the straight-line Dungeon layout apparently) are both on raised platforms. As we all make our way in, the ceiling above gives way to a torrent of rushing water. The party is torn! What should we do! Maybe... RUN away from the rushing water? Through the next door we come into a room full of coffins with only 1 exit and the sounds of goings-ons coming from it. The party wants a stealth approach, I say, the torrent of water didn't attract any attention?
I guess not, because we get the surprise on the encounter in the next room. It's a sea hag with a small cadre of ghouls and we walked in just as she was interrogating a Druid. I drop a turn undead that catches all the ghouls. The DM doesn't know how turning works, since this is a dead end (end of the line, linear dungeon!) and they can't run away, I suggest that they just cower.
With the rest of the surprise round, we pounce on the sea hag. Her only offense is to cast a gaze upon the Ranger, causing him to be dazed for 3 days. Nifty trick. But at this point it is a DOINK, 3-1 we drop her pretty fast. The Bard sang, the Ranger tried to fire his bow, the Sorcerer casted some spells, and the Fighter/Cleric actually went in there for the hacking.
We rescue the Druid who is able to work some levers in this room to stop the water flow (?). Unfortunately, this unleashes the torrent of PLOT EXPOSITION. Long story short, Josh's character helped this Necromancer create the plague along with this Druid, his visions were his memory slowly coming back. Yawn. We get the full tactical layout of the bad guy's abilities and current whereabouts, setting the stage for the next adventure.
Heading out, all the water is conveniently gone. Just like in good FF7 fashion, after running in a straight line through the dungeon, we beat the big bad guy and advance the plot, then stroll right back out without any to-do. The DM gives out experience, then just tells us to round up so that we all level up. Wow, 1 troll, a half dozen ghouls, and a sea hag gets us all to level 4.
So the second adventure comes to a close and the formula is now readily apparent to me. It's a railroad of epic proportions. That took about 5 hours to run: 2 quick fights (they each lasted only 2 rounds each), a lot of him-hawing over those goofy visions, and infallible plot exposition.
At least the next time we meet, I get a chance to DM.