Calming the Savage Socks
Captain Wassisname and his minions were giving the rest of the part a hard time, refusing to accept any attacks until the rogue took advantage of the Captain’s engagement with the fighter to flick off two dagger throws that wounded him greatly. One of the two guards was ordered around the outside of the barn to collect the stolen wyvern, but was smacked in the face with a Sleep spell from the stubby but deft fingers of the bard.
The monk, realizing that he was not a pet-person, handed the reins of his wyvern to the ranger and raced back inside to get a piece of that sweet, sweet combat action going on by the front doors. Never one to let a good situation go unpunished, the bard decided that with the last successful Sleep spell, she was finally on a roll. She carefully aimed another into the fracas across the barn, and scored a hit on the guard, Captain Naptime, and the unfortunate monk who toppled like a very, very short stack of bricks. LEGO bricks, not the heavy cement kind.
The ranger’s continued handling of the wyverns allowed the party to beat cheeks with the unconscious monk slung over the fighter’s shoulder. The party mounted up and the wyverns took to the air in pursuit of the flying castle.
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There’s a little poetic license in this recap, since I’m really tired this morning and can’t remember the specific order of activities. I don’t think I added in anything, but timing of certain actions might be off.
There was two ways I could go about this: let the party into the barn and give them the time they needed to tame the wyverns and escape while the guards were battling the blaze outside, or let the party into the barn but interrupt them once the chaos of the activities outside brought the remaining guards down from the barn’s loft. The former would have brought them to the castle quickly; the later would have probably been a bit more realistic as the guards began to come to their senses and get moving.
The idea was that since the players didn’t fully account for all of the guards in town that they knew existed (they only saw two, and the Captain, outside, but were greeted in town by five and the Captain)…where were the other three? One was tending the wyverns as the de facto animal handler of the group. Two more were upstairs playing Canasta, I guess. But once the crisis outside became “all hands on deck” the two from upstairs had to rush down to help out — only to find the party there jacking their rides. The second guard, realizing the party was attempting to steal the wyverns, alerted the Captain and the other guards outside, who burst into the barn in response. So the feeling I was hoping for was to be a scene of action and hopefully chaos as the party attempted to hold off the guards while also trying to do what was necessary to get the wyverns calm, harnessed, and out of the barn. It’s just lucky for the players that I only thought about spreading the fire to the barn this morning.
The module wanted a whole lot of Animal Handling skill checks, which we did, but not with the frequency that the module asked for since the module’s response to a failed roll was a poisonous wyvern tail to the gut. At the rate the monk was failing his checks, he would have been dead before long. We also inadvertently subverted some of the rules last night in regards to attacking an otherwise engaged target/switching targets to another while also engaged. It was an error in the party’s favor: the rogue had switched targets twice, throwing her daggers at the Captain who was engaged with the dwarf. The Sneak Attacks did massive damage to the Captain, which helped save the party from a two hour fight with that elite NPC. Later, the Captain attempted to return the favor with a from-the-hip throw of his spear at the rogue, who was engaged with a guard on the stairs. According to the rules, both secondary engagement attacks should have been made with disadvantage. That probably would have hurt the rogue, though, but not the Captain since he missed the first time anyway.
I like the rules just fine, personally, and a most of them are there to make sure players aren’t some kind of medieval Superman with always-on mind control powers, but there’s a kind of hierarchy involved, in my view. Some rules must be followed, some should be followed, and some exist for the purpose of completing the immersion. I prefer to be all about the story; the players are more than capable of winning or even losing fairly arbitrated fights or situations. If they play smart, they can come out on top. If not, they can put themselves behind the 8-ball, or even lose a party member or two. It’s really the “play smart” part that I’m most interested in: when the players come up with creative solutions, or are otherwise making wise moves that fit within the realm of the game, then those little esoteric micro-situational rules will get in the way of an otherwise exciting round of play. Better to enjoy the stresses of the narrative than to worry about looking up laws and guidelines for every non-standard action.