D&D Next & An Angry Lesson

Last week as I was prepping for my weekly D&D Next adventure I paused to read a few blogs (I’ve been reading lots of blogs lately) when I happened upon this amazing article by The Angry DM.  If you have not read it you should stop right now and go read it.  It’s that good.  After reading it, I thought I’d try my hand at his method.  So here it is.

D&D Next, Week 3

If you’ve been following along you know that this is our third week with D&D Next.  In week one we got our party together and decided we liked the game.  In week two we tried out the concept of bounded accuracy and had a great time fighting a black dragon with level 1 characters.  For week three it was time to try out the new skill system.

The Map

If you follow us on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter you’ve already seen this map when I posted the week’s sneak peek.  If you don’t, here it is.

The barbarian lands of Clan Vasi.

The barbarian lands of Clan Vasi.

The Angry Bits

I promise these will make more sense if you’ve ready The Angry DMs amazing article.

  • Dramatic Question
    Can the PCs avoid being captured or killed by Clan Vasi?
  • Sources of Conflict:
    (1) Clan Vasi wants to stop them from escaping
    (2) Wandering monsters are hungry and want to eat
    (3) Fires like to burn things
  • Scoreboard
    Required.  Capture score.  0-10
  • Ending(s)
    (1) If the Capture score reaches 10 the PCs are overwhelmed by Clan Vasi.
    (2) If the Capture score reaches 0 Clan Vasi becomes fatigued of the chase and quits.  The PCs escape.
    (3) If all the active Clan Vasi units are destroyed the Capture score becomes 0.
    (4) If the PCs manage to reach Clan Brasael or Clan Eyja territory Vasi will not pursue them further.
    (5) If the PCs successfully hide from Clan Vasi for 3 consecutive rounds the Capture score becomes 0.
    (6) The PCs enter a town.
  • The Hook
    Being wrongfully accused of a crime the PCs must break free of their captors and escape or be executed.  This hook might seem a little heavy handed (this hook might BE a little heavy handed) but it was a foreseeable consequence of prior adventures.

The Scenario

The encounter begins after the PCs escape Highhouse Yroden and move into the wilderness.  They may begin in any hex adjacent to Highhouse Yroden.  They need to escape pursuit and every round they have one Move point and one Action to use to that end.

For this scenario a ’round’ flows according to these 10 steps:

The Order of Events

  1. first round only
    Allow the PCs to use a Move point (this is an extra)
    Allow the PCs to use an Action (this is an extra)
    Add starting units
    rounds 2+
    Add reinforcements
  2. Move wolves
  3. Resolve combat w/wolves (if any)
  4. Allow the PCs to use their Move point
  5. Allow the PCs to use their Action
  6. Move barbarians (flyers, dinosaurs and walkers)
  7. If the PCs occupy a hex w/an enemy unit combat occurs
  8. If the PCs are within 1 hex of an enemy unit and not hidden increase the capture score by 1
  9. Check for random encounters w/a Vasi patrol (30%)
  10. Repeat until the encounter ends

Cost of Movement

Hexes require different amounts of movement depending on whether they are open grassland, trees, hills, etc.

  • Grassland = 1 move
  • Lightly wooded = 1 move
        (1 or 2 trees)
  • Densely wooded = 2 move
        (3+ trees)
  • Hills (1 or 2) = 2 move
  • Hills (3+) = 3 move
  • River = 2 move
  • Lake = impassable
  • Town = 1 move

Capture Score

The Capture Score represents how close the PCs are to being overwhelmed by the forces hunting for them.  As it rises, Clan Vasi hunters begin to tighten the net around them, as it lowers they slip out of the net.  The score begins at 5.  When it reaches either 0 or 10 the encounter is concluded.  If the score is 0 the PCs have escaped, if it is 10 they have been captured.  

PCs are immune to being captured when they are in any of the hexes bordering Clan Brasael or Clan Eyja territory.   If they reach these hexes Clan Vasi must move units into the hex and engage them in combat (or abandon the chase).  Every time the PCs destroy a Clan Vasi unit (either through combat or other actions) the Capture score goes down by 1.

Clan Vasi Actions

Clan Vasi floods the board with units searching for the PCs.  Some of these are represented on the playing field but most are not.  If the capture score ever reaches 10 Clan Vasi has fielded so many soldiers the PCs are surrounded.  They can surrender and accept capture or die bravely fighting overwhelming odds.

Starting Units

Start by placing a wolf, pterodactyl and walker unit on the board at Hiemdel. The ground units move first to Yroden and then towards the PCs.  The flying unit moves directly west unless the wolves engaged the PCs in which case it moves towards the PCs.

Reinforcements

Clan Vasi adds reinforcements each round.  The starting location for these reinforcements depends on the unit (see units below).

Roll 1d10 and add as shown below:

1-2 Wolf unit Starts in Hiemdel Move 3, ignore hills + scent
3-4 Dinosaur unit Starts in Hiemdel, Tufi, or Bui (closest) Move 3 + Pounce
5-6 Pterodactyl unit Start in Hiemdel or Valkris (closest) Move 3, ignore terrain + smoke bomb
7-8 Walker unit Start in closest location Move 2 + split
9-10 2 units (roll d4 twice) n/a n/a
  • Pounce: If the dinosaur unit ends its turn in an adjacent hex to the PCs it can immediately move into their hex and engage them.
  • Scent: The wolves track by scent and always move directly towards the PCs once they enter a hex the PCs have been in.  The PCs cannot hide from the wolves.
  • Smoke Bombs: These mark a hex as occupied.  Any round the PCs end their turn in such a hex increase the Capture score by 2 and the chance of a random encounter w/a Vasi patrol to 70%.  If the PCs end their turn in an adjacent hex the Capture score goes up by 1.
  • Split: When the unit is adjacent to the PCs it may split into two units.  It cannot engage the PCs on the round it splits and should move to surround them.

Player Actions

In addition to moving the players may take one action.   Some actions depend on the terrain.

  • Hustle (any terrain): +1 move
  • Sprint (any terrain): +2 move, +1 Capture & each PC makes a Con save DC 10 + 1 for each sprint or gains 1 level of exhaustion
  • Hide (hills or densely wooded): Every PC makes a DC10 Stealth check, if anyone fails, one PC makes a DC10 Stealth check with disadvantage.
    Success: -1 Capture
    Special: adjacent wolves cause this check to fail automatically
  • Set Fire (grassland or lightly wooded): Any PC makes a Survival check (DC15) to successfully start the prairie fire.  There is a 20% chance the fire will go out the first round and a 50% chance on subsequent rounds.  If the fire is not extinguished the flames spread 1d4 hexes in a random direction.  Starting the fire alerts the barbarians to their location and increases the Capture score (+1 capture).  Any Clan Vasi units in a hex that catches fire is destroyed.  Only pterodactyls can cross burning hexes.  Wolves cannot track by scent across a burnt hex unless the PCs crossed it after the fire. 
  • Set Snares (hills and wooded): Any two PCs succeed on a Survival check opposed by the barbarians Dexterity save (+3).
    Success: Destroy the nearest unit on the board
  • Throw Off Scent (river): Any PC succeeds on Stealth or Animal Handle check opposed by the wolves Wisdom save (+1).
    Success: Remove the closest wolf unit from the board
  • Capture Pterodactyl: During combat w/a pterodactyl unit, after the barbarian rider has been killed, a DC20 Animal Handle check takes control of the pterodactyl as a mount.  That PC can then fly around and lead Clan Vasi astray.  -1 Capture each round.
  • Town: If the PCs enter one of the towns in Clan Vasi territory the encounter ends.  The tribes are not looking in their cities.  A new encounter begins as the PCs navigate the town.

These were just the things that I thought of and the PCs were free to try anything else they could think up.

I didn’t actually spell out the above for them but I did have a short piece of descriptive text with a clue as to the action I had settled on.

The Result

I was a little worried when, by round 2, the Capture score peaked at 8.  My players initially tried running for the border and not interacting with the landscape at all.  As they watched Clan Vasi units begin to pile up and realized that they were going to be overwhelmed they switched tactics.  Ultimately they did a bit of hustling, started a fire, hid out in caves, threw off the scent of a wolfpack and sprinted away when they got near the northern  border.

They ended the encounter after about 6 or 7 rounds by reaching the Clan Brasael border.  The Capture score was down to 1 at that time – mostly due to them nearly clearing the board of Vasi units (through combat, the fire and the river).

In Closing

Our sessions last 4-5 hours and in that time we have, consistently, been able to work through a nice variety of combat and non-combat encounters.  I think we played six or maybe even seven combats Tuesday while keeping at least half our available time for non-combat play.  Hopefully this continues into mid-and-high level play.

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