Last week I was getting beaten by a cold – halfway through the session I was down to Rasping (Basic Vocal Attack), and was too fatigued to post here.
The Hedge Maze portion of week 10 I looked forward to, even doing some online research on real mazes. (There’s a very cool one with bridges that connect separate sections of the maze.) However, at the table I settled for winging it based on the players’ actions. My group checked out the roses, chose the path with the least scent, and used the “always follow the left side” trick to walk the maze. This got them promptly to the next obstacle, the ‘dead wall’ and the hole. Boys will be boys, I guess, because crawling through the hole in the hedge immediately appealed to them! After a brief “the walls are shifting” segment, it into the center of the labyrinth.
There was no Luto, or even Hoggle, to meet them.
Instead they began setting out the leaves they had carefully collected, only to be robbed by boggles. However, the players were cautious, and so at least one PC was hanging far enough back that the boggles were within a Move action upon detection. I made the chase pretty perfunctory, and so the PCs were not drawn into an ambush (and no dew frond, either). Although the boggles look tough on paper, and the players spent two rounds missing (all except the deadly halfling rogue), the combat went quickly in the PCs’ favor. They cornered the boggle thieves and recovered their leaves.
We wrapped up the loot-collection and sundial-leaf recovery, then the maze started spinning. When it stopped, the players faced a garden at the end of a tunnel, in which they saw two human warriors. Approaching, the men were recognized as adventurers from Crystalbrook and were seen to be wearing odd circlets. The PCs also rolled Perception well and spotted all the xivorts and boggle. The dwarf rogue ran at the boggle body snatcher – who had only him as a domination target, and then only for a round at a time. The other PCs attacked the berserkers, and got charged in return. Meanwhile the shadowcaller xivort had trouble figuring out which end of his wand the magic came out of; he ended up crisping in a musical bower, within a Fountain of Flame.
Combat at my table went better than at Pete or Matt’s: I dropped only 3 PCs, and that only late in the battle, after Argus had been talked out of fighting. Both berserkers survived, as well. This proved very useful soon!
After the fight ended, the PCs explored the garden. a couple went up to the polished palace portals, while a couple stayed at the reflecting pool. The seeker asked Argus about the odd pool, and he demonstrated how the magic worked. This gave the player the idea to send her reflection to open the palace doors, and there we ended.
Our Encounters players are pretty well invested in the story of this season, and play consistently at the same table/DM. This allows for the continuity BtCC requires to make the most of the adventure. The DMs are having great fun developing the story from week to week as well – unlike some. I intend to make the payoff at the end of the adventure worth the investment.