D&D Exp DDEX1-1 Defiance in Phlan

DDEX1-1This afternoon saw Tabletop Tyrants hosting the first of our D&D Expeditions – Defiance in Phlan. The expeditions adventures debuted at GenCon earlier this year but are now being made available for in store play, a fact that I’m really happy about as the city of Phlan was a regular feature in my early 2e campaigns using the brilliant Ruins of Adventure module (which I happily still have).

We had a few last-minute cancellations so instead of the 2 tables of 7 players we had planned we ended up with 2 tables of 4 players.

My fellow DM for the day was Vipin, with Oliver, Heather, Liam and (first time player) Emily on his table. I had three of my Encounters players, Jon, Lee and Jack, accompanied by David.  Here’s how we got on – note that this will include spoilers if you havent yet played the adventure for yourself.

  • Jon – Wood Elf Monk, Lords Alliance
  • Lee – Dwarf Ranger, Emerald Enclave
  • Jack – Dragonborn Barbarian, Zhentarim
  • David – Dragonborn Warlock, Zhentarim

We started with the first mission, the heroes get hired by a harper to attend a night-time meet to buy a dragon egg and plant a magical tracking device on the seller because Lee has a passing resemblance to the person that was supposed to be making th buy. They even managed to persuade the harper to up the reward to 300 gp (before anyone starts screaming about changing the rewards in AL play, wait till the end of the write up – trust me). David manages to pocket one of the diamonds meant for the sale and they head off to their destination.

Arriving they find a scruffy female elf and a pair of guards as they begin the trade the elf looks closer at Lee and exclaims “wait a minute….where’s your scar?” Lee’s response of “What scar?” causes it all to kick off. It doesn’t help when more rough-looking guys appear (apparently members of the Phlan thieves guild) and they want the egg too and offer David a deal to help take out the elf and her guys in return for the egg. The fight pushes further towards the back of the barn and Lee is finally able to snatch the backpack with the egg off the elf before she flees out of the back door (her guards having been disposed off). Luckily Jon had managed to plant the tracker before being dropped unconscious.

The remaining thieves guilders still wanted the egg and after David foolishly mentioned the diamonds, those too. With Jack quickly joining Jon on the floor Lee and David grabbed their companions and made a dash for the door the elf had left by (David getting stabbed by one of the thieves for his troubles as he ran past). Thankfully the guilders fear that the noise of combat may attract the Black Fist (mercenary force that were the city’s nominal police) and so didn’t give chase.

Rather than head straight back to the harper they sought healing for their comrades first, but finally made it back to the Teapot and the harper. There they handed over the egg after receiving their 300 gp but the harper examined the egg and revealed it as a fake. “Just as well, so were the diamonds” he said, to heroes surprise. Jon was now more than a little wary and checked the cash he’d paid them with, discovering it to be gold painted silver pieces. Even though they were still hurting from earlier the heroes prepared to face off with the harper but he diffused the situation by paying them the originally offered 200 gp and bid them farewell (see I told you to wait, only the official reward gained).

So, first mission under their belts we took a brief break for those that wanted it. Following the advice from the various forums we had decided to run each mission as a separate adventure, so although the events were all happening during the course of a single day, the players would be refreshed at the start of each as though they had taken a long rest in between.

Mission two saw breakfast being disturbed by a screaming woman in the street. Turns out goblins had raided her peat farm and kidnapped the rest of her family, dragging them off into the swampland. A pair of Black Fists arrived to see what the fuss was and declared as it wasnt in the city it wasnt their problem but if the heroes wanted to check it out the city would pay them 50 gp for their trouble. The woman drove them back to her farm in her horse and cart and Lee’s ranger easily picked up the goblin trail, leading to a cave mouth in a hillock.

As they approached they saw a goblin talking to a cloaked human, the human said the goblins were to bring him any draconic artifacts and then magically disappeared, the goblin strode back into the tunnel. The heroes followed after a few minutes but were hit by some hidden goblin archers. Moving further in Lee and Jack trigger a trip wire dropping half the ceiling on the party (knocking jack unconscious) and blocking the exit. Using the rubble they make a temporary barricade while waiting for Jack to recover. A nervous pair of goblins were pushed through the curtain leading further into the cave and took shots at the heroes but were easily dealt with by return fire.

Eventually the heroes advanced into the next chamber to find a caged wolf, but more worryingly, a large worg and a trio of goblins. Jon managed to calm the caged wolf but the worg needed a more direct approach. Lee, Jack and David focused on the worg, even when the goblins began attacking them and once it fell the goblins were easily dealt with.

Battered and bruised they moved on to find the next chamber to find it well-appointed and a bugbear sitting on a “throne” waiting for them. Another trio of goblins stood ready and the heroes felt they were in no condition to tackle these foes directly. Luckily David makes a deal to buy the slaves for the (fake) diamonds and the farmer and the others are set free. There is also another prisoner that David realises is also a zhentarim agent and asks for his freedom too. The bugbear says if one of them can defeat him in single combat the prisoner will be freed, should the other heroes interfere he orders his goblins to first kill the prisoner then the heroes. Jacks barbarian steps forward to accept the challenge, but falls to the bugbears first blow! The bugbear allows the heroes to leave but will still not release the other prisoner. The heroes reluctantly take Jack and the slaves back to Phlan.

Following another short break we have an hour and a half left so we start what will be our last adventure or the day, appropriately the final, fifth mission. The heroes are engaged by a gnome to find if his daughter has been taken to a secret prison used by some unscrupulous members of the Black Fists for torturing prisoners. Having paid some shady fellows he had discovered the suspected entrance to this prison. The heroes entered, finding a number of cells and their occupants began clamouring to be freed. One female prisoner caught David’s attention as she appeared to be hiding something in her hands. Opening her cell caused her to fly into a rage and attack the dragonborn, screaming “you’re not the true gods” over and over until Lee knocked her out with the flat of his axe.

Moving on there were 2 doors leading further, one barred from this side, one unbarred. The heroes went through the unbarred and David spied a body sleeping in one of three bunk beds at the far side. He tried to make his way stealthily across the  room  – however the three guards and their big angry dog hiding in the room could see him quite clearly and the sleeping guard proved to be quite awake. In the ensuing fight Jack was dropped by a vicious dog bite but the heroes eventually prevailed. Once jack is revived they move on to the remaining door, finding the gnome girl sitting in a cage in the middle of the room beyond. As they approach her a large grick attacks, despite having only Davids magic available they eventually kill the beast and even overcome the frightening effect of the obelisks and pillars in the room before dragging the girl to freedom.

As they come back into the next room an elven woman with drawn bow awaits them, demanding they turn the girl over to her. It looks like it’s all going to end in blood until they are able to snap the girl out of her “nightmare” and she confirms the elf is her friend. The elf gives the heroes some coin and another healing potion before she and the gnome leave.

The heroes return to the Teapot and tell the gnome whats happened, and though his daughter is brought to him he is relived to know she is free and healthy. He pays the reward and bids them farewell.

And so that’s where we ended things. The heroes had earned enough xp to become 2nd level and so they will (hopefully) be bringing these characters to the next expeditions game (which we shall be running next month).

I’m hoping we’ll also get another volunteer to DM at the next session else I shall only be able to run a single table, but we’ll see how it goes between now and then.

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