I ran a very enjoyable session of Eaves of Mirkwood. I highly recommend this as an introductory adventure for those new to AiME and/or to roleplaying games.
The session took a little longer than expected, about four hours, with a couple of small breaks, but mainly because of some great roleplaying during the scene with the dwarves and some choices PCs needed to make for their characters.
I used the pre-gen PCs from the main rulebook, except the elf PC. I needed to make some adjustments/additions to the adventure based on the features of these PCs:
- Trotter chose his four Known Lands at the beginning and this included the lands being travelled through, so I adjusted the peril rating to 0 (DC 12 for checks).
- I ran a dream sequence of the suckling pig being stalked for Beli in his ale-fuelled sleep after the party in line with his dream ability.
- The Bride chose Perception as the trained skill for her Hound, so gained advantage on Perception checks, which came in handy later in the adventure.
- Beran chose Orcs for his Enemy-lore, which unfortunately did not come into play. I did have a 'moment' where I couldn't find the options for creature choices for this ability and wished I'd checked this rule beforehand.
The scene with the dwarves proved to be one of the best roleplaying scenes I have been involved in over thirty years of RPGing. This was mainly down to the players' involvement and skill but I did do a couple of things to help it along in addition to some interesting accents for each of the dwarves and keeping in character for each of them:
- Printed out the points awards for the smoke ring game, handed it out, and got them to choose each round which one they were going to attempt. Trotter rolled two nat 20s on his first round but then failed on the final round by 1 on his chosen smoke ring. Har (who I gave pipes proficiency to) beat him by 2 points with some steady choices and won the rune-designed pipe reward.
- I printed out the riddles, gave 2 to each player and we went in rounds, with people just trying to guess them but I only allowed three guesses. On the third guess, they could make a DC 10 Riddle check for a clue. All were guessed within the three, and only one Riddle check was required.
- I chatted with the characters about their hopes and goals over ale and roasted pig.
- I played the lovely Song of Durin by Clamavi de Profundis via youtube instead of trying out my relatively poor singing skills.
The journeying went pretty well - I remembered to do the Embarkation, Event and Arrival checks, and interspersed the travelling with opportunities for hunting deer, collecting berries, and admiring landscapes using the descriptions provided. If anything, I'd have liked more of these descriptions, and if running again, would design some more interesting location descriptions to drop in. Whilst originally not a fan of the journey rules, Jon Hodgson's lengthy post in the old C77 forums was very helpful and I enjoyed the process better second time running it. The only issue I had was other PCs wanting to make checks after the allocated role PC had already made their check - I had to control this pretty quickly. I printed out some of the pictures and showed them to the players as they saw them in play, which I hoped help to bring the feeling of ME to the game.
There are no prices for the goods on sale in the market in Woodmen-town. I had to make up the cost of the talisman and an axe-head, and add a different trader selling axe hafts so a full weapon could be created. Having done this on the fly was a bit concerning but it all worked out OK in the end. Still, I'd like to have seen a little table with some prices on what was being sold included. Eager to get on with the adventure, I feel I rushed Woodmen-town a bit, and should have enjoyed other roleplaying possibilities there if I'd been a bit more relaxed.
I went a bit too easy on the first combat, following my concerns on tactical possibilities. I ran two rounds of attacks and the creatures gained surprise in the first round. In the second round they attacked hand-to-hand and were pretty decimated by the PCs, so the creatures then fled - realistic, but a little anti-climactic.
The Audience went pretty well, except when the skill check at the end needed to be made I couldn't find if there was a particular skill that was required and the text didn't seem to obviously mention it. I plumped for Persuasion in the end, which was fine. The PCs laid out their defence well, and were very convincing.
The second combat also went a bit too easily, despite using the prone/advantage and pack tactics abilities. I brought Lifstan to needing to make death saving throws (stabilised by The Bride), and two PCs were frightened for 1 round, but The Bride (great axe), Lifstan and Beli (sneak attack) did huge damage within a couple of rounds and it was all over by round 4. I definitely feel that I should have increased the number of minions by at least another four (from the one I included from the get-go), which I did afterwards but again a bit anti-climactic at that point.
I hope the above is useful feedback for another LM running Eaves in the future.
All in all, an excellent adventure, which I will run again for other groups, and learn from my mistakes and my successes.