Here's the two word summary of play of Chapter 1. It rocked!
We were all keen on 4th edition. It was everybody's first real game. I was comfortable with the rules, conversed with the players by e-mail leading up to our first game. Everybody was finished with character creation and basic background before we started. I'll go into more detail in my next post about the party members.
I think I outdid myself on Krodar's speech in the tavern. Everyone was cheering at my stirring words. Half the players had been played in a Prolia campaign before and were very happy to be involved with the rising new Prolia.
Some politics happened in town, with a fairly spirited discussion of which Jarl they'd like to support. Voden in particular, wouldn't support any Jarl but Yutsen, Jarl of Shinar. Eventually the whole party followed his lead and decided to back him. Yutsen is a pretty logical choice. From an objective point of view he's the most trade-oriented of the Jarls and is on very good terms with everyone.
The party was more than happy to sign up for Krodar's raid on Tidemarch. Which made things easy. I don't like railroading the story too much. I present the party with interesting hooks and try to prepare for where I believe they will go. If they weren't interested in the raid, they might have decided to head straight for Jarlsberg and I would have had to wing it a bit, but it would have worked out okay anyway.
The boat trip to Tidemarch, was a good closed environment for party and NPC interaction. Krodar asked everybody to organize themselves into groups. The four PC's (Radgar, Aeldric, Vodan and Ghesh) decided to bring the Eladrin, Lindrin along with them after they discovered he was an accomplished Wizard. I also described some of the other heroes along on the raid.
My idea was that since this is the first game there may be some dissatisfaction with the characters they've built. I've basically given everybody carte-blanche to change their characters as they see it. The beginning of the story is the best time to make these big changes either by leaving someone behind and swapping to a whole new character (one of the other raiders), or by ret-conning (I'm actually a cleric, you just mis-remember me sneak attacking everything in sight.) Small changes, of course, like swapping powers or adjusting ability score are easy. They have almost zero affect on anything and I want to make sure that the players are comfortable and happy with their character's in the game.
The initial fight on the docks with the large numbers of minions went really fast. Lindrin (being played by Radgar's/Minos's player) made short work of the minions.
Minos joined the party afterward and we skipped the second fight. I thought it was little too much like the first, so instead of another fight, a small crowd of Human Rabble ran away after seeing the party mow down their friends on the dock. Radgar said goodbye and went back to support Krodar on the docks to make sure no trouble arose there.
The fight in front of the armory went rather poorly for the party. The Human Guards' Powerful Strike power took both Minos and Ghesh off their feet the first round. It's a pretty nasty attack, which recharged at least twice during the fight. The PC's a had a fair amount of bad luck, missing a lot and taking a pounding in what should have been an easy fight. but they all lived and broke into the Armory/Church. They stole the loot and took a short rest.
I switched up the Sir Rodney fight after seeing what two Human Guards could do to the party. I was afraid they'd be completely hosed in a fight with three guards plus an elite, so a swapped the three guards for some Human Rabble, a Human Bandit and a Human Mage.
Lindrin started the combat out with an Icy Terrain which landed Sir Rodney, his Warhorse and the Bandit on the ground. The fight went quickly in the PC's favor, and Rodney's plan of leaving his men to fight the PC's was thwarted. By the time he was on his feet, he was marked by Minos and didn't have much of a retreat path. Potential recurring villain... dead. Oh well, there may be others.
Cut off from Docks Event
The party almost decided to try to fight their way through the dozen guardsman that had appeared between them and the docks. A quick discussion of the situation amongst themselves and they changed their mind. I didn't even have to point out how much trouble they had with two Human Guards.
I used 2 minions instead of Guards at the gates, they were taken out in passing as they exited the city. This was mostly due to real time constraints.
The PC's escaped from Tidemarch into the wilderness around the outpost. They found a secluded glen to rest in and took an extended rest, thus ending Chapter 1.
The total elapsed time for the session was about 3.5 hours.
We had a little discussion about what they liked and didn't like and what they planned on doing next, so that I could focus my preparation. The consensus was that they liked fighting the minions, thought that Human Guards were too powerful (statistical anomaly that), and wanted to go back to Prolia through Yuri's Doom, since they wanted to investigate Jarlsburg anyway and it was on they way home.
Isn't it funny how these things seem to work out? (There might be a bit of a railroad here, but it's invisible!)