At long last we had our second session of Eberron. Fuck Orcs and Dragons, real life is the greatest threat to a party of D&D adventurers. Last year we got the bulk of our Curse of Strahd game done during the hot summer so maybe we’ll get more than one game a month then. Fortunately in a group where the players are actually friends, it’s easy to get things back on track. When everyone is happy to see each other, no one gets too upset that they can’t remember if they’re working for Sir Whats-His-Name or Lord Anybody. The conversation I’m preparing for is someone asking to try a new campaign or game system. I wouldn’t call it a worry, but it’s something I’m girding myself to hear. The campaign I wrote is meant to go from level 11 where we ended after Curse of Strahd all the way up to 20. It’s entirely reasonable that it could just get tired. Realistically, I could give the story a proper conclusion in maybe 5 sessions if it came to that.
One big problem I’ve found for me is that when you play once a month the nuts and bolts aspect of game prep goes right out the window. I can remember my story well enough to bore anyone for hours but what stats are the monsters going to use, what maps will there be, what magic items and money will there be? These I didn’t have entirely fleshed out which was great because this 2nd session we were able to play up until the point when my preparation was about to be revealed as a farce.
I decided to cut the fight we ended the session on last time and pushed the players straight into the final boss fight, a showdown in the courtyard of Arcanix with the Order of the Emerald Claw and their warforged servants. On the one hand that fight was too difficult. On the other, it felt difficult enough without killing anyone. Encounter building in 5E always feels like my Achilles Heel. Which is why I often steal encounters from other books then bolt my own story on to their sturdy frame. I think the issue was too many enemies with too much HP. I had a bunch of Warforged Juggernauts adopted from the Clockwork Myrmidons from Tome of Beats and a bunch of Emerald Claw archers. I should have picked one group, doubled their damage, and cut the rest. Good thoughts for next time but today the players had fun and that’s what matters.
After that fight it was all story and roleplay for the rest of the session. The players are new to Eberron so I got to throw NPCs and lore at them for hours. Really that was quite enjoyable. Enough that now I’m writing a post of all lore and exposition from the perspective of the PCs’ NPC companion. Something to sustain me until the next session. I was thinking this “campaign prologue” would take about 4 sessions and after that I’ll hopefully have dropped enough hooks that the PCs will want to bite at one of them after a railroady portion.
I decided give them a stinger before their long rest. As the PCs retired to their chambers in the depths of Arcanix they descended a black marble staircase. Their suite of rooms was to the right. To their left was a wall of Amber just like in Curse of Strahd. After that emotional reunion and some pondering on the intentions of their host, the PCs demanded a Heroes’ Feast for breakfast which the wizards of Arcanix provided courtesy of a House Ghallanda halfling brought at great expense from the nearby city of Passage. The Heroes Feast arrived along with a note pinned with a dagger to their door. The note read:
The Misty Chains of Prison Realms Are Shattered By the Sun
Inside Four Stones Horizons Change, The Epilogos Has Begun
Beneath Three Pillars the Jade Knights Dance Whilst The Mummer’s Dragon Sings,
Outcast Shadows Watch Them Fall to Five in the Thrall of the Blood King.
This was their first encounter with the Draconic Prophecy. But as they’re still trying to comprehend the Draconic Prophecy and they read this blog, I will leave it at that. The rest of the session was RPing the walk to Varna where they are hoping to pickup the trail of the Emerald Claw. The Druid visited the great temple of Balinor, the two martial characters went to see a man about a magebred horse, again courtesy of Aundair. I wonder where I should draw the line on the financial support Aundair is willing to extend these PCs. I mean they were summoned to help them. A Heroes’ Feast and some mounts seem well within the bounds of national interest. But I think we might be rapidly approaching the point where Queen Aurala is asking pointed questions. You will recall that the Avengers provided their own power armor and magic hammers.
The two magically inclined characters went to look for rumors and met a shifter hiring adventurers to fend off Emerald Claw raids in the north. It was with the entire party going to meet with him that we ended the session.