Setting the Stage for a Grand Combat
Building from the previous session:
- The warlock, as an eagle, carried a silenced rope kept close to the King of Feathers.
- An aging (now hasted) Tabaxi, bent on a glorious death, lead the King of Feathers on.
- A Tabaxi rogue/ranger nimble and fast, provided flanking support.
- The sorcerer, barbarian, and cleric, followed several steps behind.
|1||1 round of inaction|
|2||2 rounds of inaction|
|3||3 rounds of inaction|
I wanted to reflect that moment of confusion, when a large and silenced T-Rex charges into an encampment.
I told the players that each round there was a 50/50 chance that the rumblings of a nearby huge monster would wake any sleeping inhabitants.
|1||A wizard was out relieving themselves (and alert)|
|2||The wizards were in a meeting (in the same building)|
|3||A wizard is overseeing a dream spell|
|4||The guards on watch are instead gambling|
|5||The wizards are deep in a summoning ritual (and it won’t be long until it’s done)|
|6||The wizards just dealt with an incursion, roll 2d6 each, they each spent those spell slots; 1d6 veterans are bloodied.|
|7-20||The wizards were sleeping amongst their bone harem of their skeletons (they each get +2 cover bonus)|
A camp of 20 or so humans has nighttime activity. I wanted to convey that reality, and not lay the conditions out ahead of time.
Since there were two groups of characters (those fast enough to lead the King of Feathers on, and those not) I had them roll to see how far the trailing group was behind the King of Feathers.
They rolled 1 round of inaction, that the guards were gambling, the faster barbarian would arrive at round 2, and the sorcerer and cleric would arrive at round 4. (They didn’t know but the veterans would awake at round 3).
I set up the location, and called for a group initiative. For initiative order for the combat was: the players, King of Feathers, and the camp. (I had briefly thought of rolling group initiative each turn)
- Five 7th level PCs – a tabaxi ranger 5 /rogue 2; a half-elf cleric 1 / sorcerer 6; a human cleric 7 / a half-elf warlock 7; a dwarf barbarian 7
- One Tabaxi Hunter, an ally of the PCs bent on a glorious death
- Two 9th level Mages (CR 6)
- One 11th level Mage (CR 7)
- One flesh golem (CR 5)
- Twelve veterans (CR 3)
- Twelve skeletons (CR 1/2)
- One King of Feathers (an augmented CR 9 T-Rex)
Everyone knew this was a dangerous gambit. Going into the session we all knew this would be an encounter that would require constant evaluation.
As I was preparing the situation, I kept thinking what are the likely responses of the players?
- They’ll lead the King of Feathers into the camp and stand back to assess (and perhaps strike after any spells had worn out)
- They’ll join with the King of Feathers and battle the camp
- They’ll swoop in to help the camp, and ingratiate themselves with the wizards
When You Lead a T-Rex Into Battle…
The grand melee that ensued was among the most satisfying I’ve ever ran; Definitely the most satisfying I’ve run for 5e. But this post draws long, so I’ll save the report until next time.