I have done it.
I have achieved geek greatness.
I am... a Dungeon Master!
After wrangling as many of my friends as I could get to sit down for long enough (with promises of pizza and caffeine) I began my second attempt (We don't talk about the first attempt...) to create an adventure that the players will be proud to say they were apart of. well, not so much create, since I am using a premade adventure, but you get what I mean. Unfortunately two of the players called to say they couldn't make it at the last minute, two more seemed like they were never going to show up, and I started getting nervous. Eventually the two late members showed up- I only had three players, yet we still forged onward.
I seated my players at our table, a wizard, a paladin, and a cleric. The one playing the wizard is a D&D veteran, but was new to 4Th edition, the Paladin and cleric both were playing for the first time. Looking at the adventure book, The Keep on the Shadowfell, I started to explain the hook, and since I had the players meet previously to develop some character relationships it became quite simple to pull them into my (mildly) twisted vision of this fantasy world...
Nieen Featherflight (the human cleric of Melora), has been given a quest to investigate the rumors of a cult near the town of Winterhaven by the church of Melora. She enlisted the help of an old family friend, Aiur (the dragonborn paladin of Bahamut) as her guardian. Along the way they met a wizard friend of Aiur's named Rameus Yusef who joined them on the quest.
It did not occur to me until part way through the first encounter that there were only 3 members in the party in an adventure made for a 6 member party, and that I should have nerfed the encounter. By then it was too late and I did my best to keep it fun without letting the monsters overpower them on their first encounter, and I had to get creative. I described the enemies as it says in the adventure book, but unable to control their meta-gaming, they all said, “oh, kobolds,” and thus began the first battle.
When nearing the town of Winterhaven, the trio was ambushed by a large group of kobolds. In her inexperience, Nieen rushed into the attacking kobolds, but was quickly rescued by Aiur who torched several of the attackers with his dragon breath. Despite this their numbers began to overwhelm the paladin. Rameus conjured a pillar of flame on the kobolds, but that was not enough to deter them from their attack. The kobolds were able to knock out Aiur, causing Nieen to go into a panic trying to revive him while Rameus kept the kobolds at bay with his flames. Nieen thanked Melora as she pulled Aiur back to consciousness, but that small victory was short lived as he soon fell again to their attackers. Rameus then had a "Magical dysfunction" and all he could manage was sparks from his fingertips, which luckily set a pair of kobolds into fits of laughter giving him and Nieen a chance to strategically fall back.
I said I had to get creative, I never said I was good at it. The players seemed to find it believable... or at least they seemed to appreciate it.
The kobolds laughter made them prime targets for Rameus's next attempt to conjure fire, which made them a good deal crispier. One of them managed to survive and charged in a fiery rage (excuse the pun). Before the angry kobold made it to our heroes, Nieen was able to call upon her spirit guardian to distract and then attack the kobold. After they finished off the last of the kobolds, Nieen tended to Aiur's wounds and the group looted the kobold's weapons and continued to town.
Phew... I think I was as relieved as them when that battle was over, but I did my best not to show it. They went to the town and what was their first order of business? Selling the unwanted loot. Typical.
After resting and recovering their strength, the group went to the local blacksmith to talk him into giving them gold for the junk they had found, Aiur sweet talked him into a good price for two short swords, but he told them that he had no interest in buying kobold made spears. He directed them to an old man that hangs out at the tavern called Eilian the old, who was a bit eccentric and took an interest in the kobold spears, happily buying them. Since most of the locals tend to avoid Eilian due to his eccentricities, the barmaid gave them a round of drinks for spending some time with him. Rameus gave his to Aiur, due to trust issues, and Aiur gladly quaffed the two drinks. While enjoying their drinks, they asked the barmaid if she had heard anything about the cults in the area, she told them that she seriously doubted it, and eventually directed them to the town lord, named Ernest Padraig, at his manor across the small town. They asked him about the cult rumors, but he simply laughed it off, not thinking it would even be possible. Since they were already in town they asked him if there was anything for them to do. Padraig told them about the recent kobold attacks and asked them to take care of the problem at its roots- the kobold's lair. He gave them a map of the area and points out a general area where the lair is believed to be. The group asked if they could get a guide, and Padraig told them of an elf hunter at the tavern that might be able to help them.
They went back to the tavern and met Ninaran, who, despite her knowledge of the area seemed unwilling to talk to them, much less guide them. After a short conversation, they met and talked to an elderly chap named Valthrun the Prescient. He seemed knowledgeable about the history of the town so they asked him about the cult, he said it seemed to be quite unlikely, but told them of cults of the town's past, one small one and a larger one about two hundred years ago who called themselves "The Death Eaters". Then they asked him about finding a guide and he told them that the local youths knew the area well and if they could find a thrill seeker they could try to hire him as a guide, but would rather they didn't for fear of the youth's safety. After talking to some of the younger members of the town they hear of a boy who claims to have seen the kobold's cave. They rested for the night, and made plans for visiting this boy in the morning.
I was disappointed that they didn't make it to the second encounter. Considering that the first one took two hours due to everyone getting used to their characters, we all decided it was time to call it a night. Later, after thinking about it, I realized that some of the players were not quite using their characters to their full potential. After kicking myself for not helping them while we were playing, I decided I need to try to help them find some way to organize their powers and show them which are minor actions instead of standard. Over all, everyone said they enjoyed it and I managed to pull it off better than I expected to.
I plan to get my other two players (a rouge and a warlock) caught up with a small encounter sometime before the next session, then pull the two adventures together. Hopefully that wont be too hard to manage. I'll post their misadventures as soon as I can.Oh, and just a side note: The best part of DMing was making thing up as I went. I know I mispronounced at least one NPC's name, forgot some things that another NPC was supposed to say, but the things I did do on purpose were the best part of the game. During the fight, there was a kobold with a sling, he tried to make a shot with it over a character's head and one player pointed out that the shot was not physically possible, the roll was really low anyway so I told them that the kobold suddenly remembered about physics and launched the bullet right at the ground. The kobold was also unlucky enough to crit-fail when using a fire pot and dropped it on himself, burning himself for a few rounds. heh heh heh... well, next session the battles will be more balanced so I can do better at being the Monsters.