Wrapping up our 4th edition game last week we were all looking forward to seeing what was in the starter set. I managed to get my box set about a half day early and reading through it I felt a familiar yet ancient rumble of excitement deep within my bowels which brought me back to memories of buying my first ad&d box from a garage sale in the mid 80's
After about 30 minutes of "deciding" who would play which character it was suggested that they randomly determine who would pick first and I decided RANDOM! yes
Grabbing up the stack of characters and my trusty dice I began rolling and handing out the characters at random to the shock of the players they got characters with personalities quite different from their norm and the travel to Phandalin began.
* spoilers follow but I am sure if someone wants spoilers that bad they will read the module lol *
With a lucky perception check a player who was quite distracted with reading his characters back story noticed a goblin ambush and called a warning. The wizard having highest initiative started off with a sleep spell on one of the two sets of goblins on either side of the trail at which point the question of saving throws came up * search search * whow no save on that one?
4 rounds later the goblins lay dead, even after the dwarf failed to hit a sleeping goblin 2 times, save one they saved to question. This black hearted runt begged for his life then pointed out the snare trap on the road to curry favor and then suggested to the halfling that more snares were on the road further down. One failed perception check later and the halfling was clinging to the side of a pit on the road as the evil little goblin grinned at him. The goblin did not survive much beyond that point and the folk hero hung him from a tree that night. A few failed checks later and the party had passed all trace of goblins on the road and night was falling. They decided to hide the wagon and backtrack the next morning to find the goblins lair which had been hinted at by their prisoner earlier.
Picking up the trail and worried about further ambushes the party was careful in their aproach toward the headwaters of the stream where the rogue and folk hero decided to sneak forward. To the dismay of the party and the cry of "F^CKING FOURES!" the folk hero made such a racket rolling his traditional crap numbers that the goblins were alerted to their aproach. However two lucky bowshots ended the encounter quickly. A quick roll on the trinkets table and the rogue had a strange cube of an unknown material in his possession which he proceeded to investigate with ever spare moment for the rest of the play session.
Sneaking up into the cave the folk hero saw the starving wolves and decided they should be tamed. Another botched roll later and the wolves were fighting each other over a bit of ration tossed down and one wolf died. Deciding he had not the food to spare a goblin corpse was tossed in and the wolves feasted. Proceeding up the steep passage they failed to notice the goblin lookout on the bridge who whipped a rock back to his companions signaling them to release the waters. all but 2 of the party was washed outside and the remaining two proceeded to engage the goblin. The wizard climbed the wall and stood toe to toe with the foe as the halfling shot his bow up between the wizards feet and into the face of the surprised goblin. Silence and then rumbling came as the dwarf failed to climb 3 times and decided to trudge up the path. This brought the party into a lucky flanking position to quickly take care of the remaining goblins by the pools but not before the dwarf was flushed once more.
Heading back across the bridge the party came to the goblins living cave and when the threat was made to push the human prisoner over the cliff the folk heroes response was to shoot, poorly, at the goblin spokesmen. A tumble later the prisoner lay dying as the party engaged. Quick ministrations by the noble fighter stabilized the prisoner while the rest of the party mowed through the goblins like a wood-chipper at a midget convention and save for a few nicks and bruises the party stood victorious. and with another goblin prisoner.
Tending to the wounded man they managed to secure a his friendship and he offered to pay the party for saving him and to get him to town safely. The party left him to rest as they went to find the leader of the goblin cave which their prisoner pointed out to them after having his finger snapped and a Strength(intimidate) check succeed by the dwarf. Once again the party rogue proved himself a war criminal as he executed their prisoner after extracting what information he could including the existence of cragmar castle.
Carefully picking their way up the staircase they spotted the enemies ambush in the final chamber and the fight came to them as 2 of the party took aim with their bowes. In the brutal struggle the party cleric was felled and the final goblin tried to escape by jumping down the chimney over the wolves lair. A few poor roles later he lay dead and broken near the wolves who sniffed at his corpse already stuffed full with goblin meat.
A bit of rest and travel later the party arrived at Phandalin and were determined to set out imediatly to find cragmar castle. However everyone they talked to had no idea of its existence nor location. They did secure lodging for the night and found out about many goings on in the town. The party decided to rest however the Folk hero would have none of that! he went to the dive bar to get a drink and listen for local gossip. One brutal beating later after being jumped by 4 red cloaks he was left bleeding in the dirt but because he pulled his punches and only knocked out and did not kill one of their own they left him alive , and naked, as a warning to others.
Regrouping the next morning, a re-equipped Folk hero lead the party to the old manor house which they had been directed too. a few turns later and they found themselves face to face with the same 4 who had beaten their friend the previous night. One bloody battle later the folk hero was putting on a newly looted set of studded leather armor as the rogue searched the bodies.
End of first session
I was HUGELY impressed with the speed of play and ease to pickup the rules. My players have all played D&D since 1st edition and were all very happy with 5th edition. In 4th edition to do the same amount and fight the same number of battles would have taken 2 to 3 sessions in my estimation.
Great job Wizards