This is the second half of the write up, continuing from the character generation thread. Of course, now it's been nearly 4 months since this session occurred, so bear with me.
We last left our group as they finished their characters. They have a pretty good set up for a 4 man party, 2 fighters types, a cleric/MU, and a thief. It would be a safe bet with a good front line of fighters with a decent amount of healing and magic support, plus the all around goodness of a thief. They even are all demi-humans, granting infravision and an effective stealthy strike force, matching this first adventure perfectly. However, this didn't work out as well as it could have...
As I mentioned before, I was planning on running Stuart Marshall's 4 adventures that are loosely linked together around the town of Melford. It offers a nice, contained setting, a good number of low level dungeons to explore, NPCs to interact with, plus plenty of room to expand the setting.
I'll stick to a game narrative for this post, then add a post mortem to take a look at the tactical details.
I start the adventure with the standard party set-up: a bunch of young adventurers looking to start their journey to fame and fortune have all met and joined together to improve their chances. Yea, cliche, but it's a suitable start for the time being while we all work to establish a rhythm.
They approach the pastoral river town of Melford and I let them get the lay of the land, interact with NPCs, and offer everyone a chance to acclimate to myself as DM. Of course, I slip right back into my "apparently" habit, so I will have to break that fairly fast, they picked up on it in only one session...
It is tough going at first. I get the feeling that the PCs are not accustomed to being handed the reins to run the adventure, they seem to be waiting for me to start a story rolling or whatnot. Josh seems to be the de facto leader of the group, mostly based on the fact he's one of the few ones who is speaking up. Chris is the terminally shy one, Justin is RPing a "dumb" character, and Terry is very passive. He has the habit of narrating himself; instead of taking an action, he talks about why he might want to do the action. I'm not sure if it is some dramatic look-at-me-and-my-thoughts RP kind of thing, or a gentle acquiescence to the approval and will of the group...
Well, after dropping some rumors with adventure hooks for the immediate session and setting up future hooks, I get the ball rolling on a quickie setting based encounter to round out the 2nd half of the session. A farmer from the area runs into town, exhausted, and informs the town that the spider farm is under attack. He doesn't have much intel since he ran at the first sign of the attack, but this also suggests that the baddies don't know someone escaped.
The PCs graciously take the hook and set off to the spider farm immediately, even though it is night. They approach the spider farm by way of the road, taking no precautions for most of the trip. After repeatedly prompting them for more (You're a 1\4 mile away... nothing... 1000 feet away... nothing.... etc), they decide on their plan.
The Thief plans to skirt around the farm to the opposite side that backs up to a forest. The Ranger and MU/Cleric form an advance party that goes directly to the farm, utilizing their improved surprise chance for race/class. The Fighter follows behind with his clunky armor. It's a damn good start, only, they all march out at the same time to arrive at different times rather than coordinating an arrival... They don't change their plans even though I point this out.
They are able to win surprise and spy the farm from just outside. It's a roughly circular arrangement of buildings and houses centered around a gash in the ground that is the spider lair. A few goblins are seen looting in the NE corner, so the Ranger and MU/Cleric engage. The Fighter and Thief then start to hoof it to catch up, the Fighter 1 round behind and the Thief 3 rounds behind.
A few volleys of missile fire are exchanged then melee is joined. As the party descends on the smaller group of goblins, the alarm is raised and the rest of the invading goblin force assembles themselves in the SW corner of the farm. The first group of goblins is dispatched with only a little trouble, but at this point, the goblins from the SW have formed a small line of archers and is pelting the shit out of the PCs, while the melee Goblins form up for a fight.
The PCs fail to close to range and break under the missile fire. First the MU/Cleric drops, then the Thief. The Ranger runs out of arrows and the party flees, the surviving members dragging the unconscious ones. I play it easy on the PCs and declare that the goblins do not pursue them beyond arrow range since they were there to loot the farm.
The party pushes on into the forest and rests for the remainder of the night; thankfully, nothing comes upon them in their weakened state. They strike out the next morning heading NE, away from the farm and the town. Thankfully, the two comatose party members are a halfling and a half-elf, so they are able to be dragged and carried to at least make a slow crawl along the way.
At this point, I'll diverge from strict narrative and mention that the PCs have no rations or portable food whatsoever, except for a bottle of brandy and a jar of honey.
The PCs limp along to an abandoned farmhouse with a black mark painted on the door. Desperate, they barge into the dilapidated, ruined home. The house is found to be empty and some furniture is salvaged to get bed rest for the downed adventurers. Realizing their plight and listening to hungry stomachs, the Half-Orc Fighter stays behind to guard the wounded while the Ranger goes to find some game to hunt (borrowing the Halfling's short sword... I would have chuckled if he went out in his current unarmed state).
The Ranger comes upon a pair of wild boars and throws caution to the wind, attacking with his short sword! The boars take particular exception to this attack and gore the piss out of the Ranger, sending him running. Now I know why hunters use bows or guns, rather than trying to bag game with their bare hands...
In the meantime, a rider comes up the road on horseback, and the Half-Orc waves to the figure. Pausing for a moment, the rider instead turns on his spurs and heads back down the road from where he came.
The Ranger returns from his hunter-gatherer trip, only bringing home what he could gather. It is enough to quiet their stomachs for now, and they set back out on the road. They travel farther north, away from Melford, fearing the goblins may still be lurking behind them. Coming to a fork in the road, the PCs choose a path that leads them to a small gathering of buildings and a set of standing stones. They've come across an Oracle.
The party barters their adventuring prowess for magical healing and a meal, bringing the party back from the brink along with another plot hook. There is a lair deeper in the woods that the Oracle has divined, but the previous scouting party has not returned. Since the Oracle fears that they are already dead, the PCs are charged with more of a recovery mission rather than a rescue mission.
So concludes the first adventure. A post mortem with more detailed analysis and game mechanics discussion is to follow.