|Elf Team A|
The NPCs know the way to the dungeon, having been shown by other elves previously. This gives one chance of an encounter each way. The party arrived without incident and descended into Appendix A.
|Going with a randomly selected standard entrance|
I drew this out on my graph paper, but initially forgot to put the doors on. Doors are not friends to this party, since they drop their chance of surprise from 4 to 2.
Relying solely on infravision, they moved down the stair and into the first room (1). Finding it empty, they unhooded their lantern and made some hasty measurements they then scribbled down, before again returned to darkness. They went right and found a stair going up in that next turn to the right. Too early to be leaving, they passed it by. Next they found that the corridor continued east, but soon there was a turn off south into a small 20 by 20 chamber (2) with no exits, and, an encounter. Will it be Orcs, Goblins, what monster is going to fall first? It was character party.
There were 5 Level 1 Characters & 4 Men-at-Arms: A Human Magic User, A Human Fighter, 2 Human Clerics, and, an Elf Cleric?
|Yes, in fact, a multi-classed elf Cleric is possible.|
Neither side were surprised, and the reaction of the other party was neutral. Now I went and rolled up the alignments and details, quite a mixed bag. There was no way the party was going to ignore the fact that there was an elf with them, they needed to know if he was of like mind to them (he was, in fact LE). Was he working on a similar plan to theirs? They dropped a little CE into the conversation, prompting no reaction, then they dropped a little LE, and, bingo. At this point, the leader of the other party, the Neutral MU, had enough of this weird talk and asked the party to leave; which they did.
From here the route east lead to a dead end, so they returned to the entrance room and now I remembered there were supposed to be doors there (you were supposed to draw the bloody doors on! in Michael Caine's voice). They went through the one on the left, having no trouble pushing it open, and explored some corridors without finding anything other than another dead end. They returned again to the entrance room and opened the right door and... characters again in room (3). Yes, the first two encounters were with characters. Naturally, this was the same party as before; they had simply continued their exploring as well and were now here.
|Running into characters in 2, and 3|
This time, even with the penalty of going through the door, the party had achieved one segment of surprise. This situation is what the party's class selection is all about; surprise the enemy, then use the elf assassins' bows to make assassination attempts as per the assassination table on DMG p. 75. This combination of rules has come up in Trollopulous, and a natural reading of the rules suggests six bow attacks per surprise segment equates to six assassination attempts. We've chosen to lean into the rule that the DM can choose to modify the chance of success; and so we are playing with a -5% penalty per shot, cumulative each segment, with this penalty resetting each segment, and with missile weapons limited to three possible attempts per surprise segment.
Even with only one segment, the temptation was too strong; they attacked! Morthil called out in LE for the enemy elf to drop and that he would be spared, then he and Ilphar unloaded assassinations left and right. I rolled up stats and, crucially, two of the enemy, the MU and the LG Cleric, had a high enough dexterity to counter the surprise. On top of this, none of the assassination attempts worked, but, at least, the automatic hits from the attempts did work, and, two of the characters along with one of the men-at-arms went down. Fingar let loose six arrows into the enemy, with targets randomly assigned among the surprised, he hit the elf and reduced him to -1 hit points (which, with his 15 Con, turned out to be not quite enough to kill him; but he was unconscious).
With no offensive spells to offer, Beldroth threw nine darts to spread the pain. So at the end of the segment four of the nine enemies were down. The enemy party then went on to win initiative, and, it would have been bad, except I then remembered morale. Having lost four guys, they rolled, high, and surrendered!
This was unexpected, the party was not equipped to take prisoners, and they soon decided dead men tell no tales. Yet, they were not monsters, although murdering in cold blood might be required, they didn't have to make them suffer. They bound the humans, and staunched the wounds of the elf; then pulled the MU aside and interrogated him to find out what spells he knew. Greedily, they learned that he had Sleep and then hatched their idea of a merciful plan. They had the MU cast Sleep on the prisoners and then killed them, looted them, and pulled out, taking the unconscious elf with them.
On the way back to town they had a close encounter with a group of Sprites, 70 strong. These guys are no joke and the party wouldn't want them to get close enough to detect their alignments. Fortunately they got surprise and used it to evade.
For a first solo outing it seems like an unlikely story is already unfolding. Although I obviously expected this party to be evil; the were real bastards, and I needed a bit of a break afterwards. Will the captured elf be the solution to the party's healing problem when he has recovered? Only time will tell.