D&D 5E Played another session with my kids (Actual play report)

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
This post is a follow-up to the one in which I posted about our first session, here.

To recap, the dramatis personae are:
my daughter's characters:​
  • Ham, human fighter,
  • Ozmir, tiefling paladin, and
  • Soliana, high elven war cleric,
and my son's characters:​
  • a human druid,
  • a human rogue, and
  • a human wizard.
My son, so far, has declined to give his characters names other than referring to them as "The Druid", "The Rogue", and "The Wizard" respectively, so I imagine they're a bit mysterious as a group. The party's goal in adventuring, as stated by my kids, is to acquire treasure.

Last session, the party entered the dungeon and encountered a group of halflings and some large spiders. The halfling encounter was a bit anticlimactic because, as I later determined, of the way I had handled their indifferent attitude, so this session I decided to try to present even friendly encounters as obstacles to be overcome.

Between sessions, we talked through some of the party's movement through the dungeon. After a brief pause after their fight with the spiders, the party proceeded through the door in the chamber which opened into a passageway running straight ahead and, traveling along the passage, the party came to a place where there was a door on the right side of the hallway which continued straight ahead.

The session began with the party opening the door revealing a bare room with no other exits. Inside the room were nine humans wearing arms and armor: two fighters and their seven hirelings. I rolled hostile reactions for the two fighters, so I had them declare themselves to the party as the Baronet Dreue and the Princess Matillis and that they were claiming for themselves the right to explore the dungeon and keep its treasure. My daughter, speaking for the party, said they would begin backing away from the door in order to continue moving down the hall, to which the Baronet responded by ordering the party to halt and go no further.

My daughter, sensing the situation was about to escalate and checking her character sheets for the character with the highest Charisma, stated Ozmir, the paladin, stepped forward and lied saying the party were just travelers passing through the dungeon and posed no threat to the NPCs' claims. I asked her for a DC 20 Charisma check to convince the NPCs and said if Ozmir is proficient in Deception, he'd be able to add his proficiency bonus. We'd previously left skill choices open except for the elf's Perception, so my daughter decided to assign one of Ozmir's proficiencies to Deception and rolled and succeeded on the check at which point the Baronet and Princess, who apparently have a soft spot for travelers, allowed them to continue on their way.

Continuing down the passage, the party came to a collapsing roof trap. As the DC to notice the tripwire is only 10 and the cleric, Soliana, was holding a stone with light cast on it, I said the two party members walking in front, Ham and Ozmir, noticed light glinting off the wire. Suspecting a trap, the party backed away and used mage hand to trigger it, causing a pile of rubble to fall in the middle of the passageway.

Further along, the passage ended at the top of a flight of stairs down to the second level of the dungeon which I described as leading down into darkness. My daughter asked if there were any small stones around apparently thinking back to the pile of rubble, to which I said there were, so she said Soliana picked up one of the stones and tossed it down the stairs to see if it elicited any kind of response.

I randomly generated that a chamber lied below containing a treasure of 1,200 sp contained in small coffers and hidden by invisibility, so I described when the stone bounced out of view down the stairs it made a sound like it hit something made of metal, thinking of coffers made of thin iron. The party descended to investigate, so I described that the chamber was empty except for the stone lying out near the middle of the floor.

They had Soliana go back up stairs to repeat the experiment while the rest of them remained in the chamber as observers. I described when the stone bounced across the floor of the chamber, it seemed to hit something in mid air and fall to the ground, making the same metallic sound as before. My son had The Druid use druidcraft to create falling leaves in an area just behind where the stone had come to rest, so I described the falling leaves seeming to land on, and on the floor in between, several rectangular objects. They then used mage hand to try to manipulate the objects and see if they could get them to open, so I described a lid seeming to open on one of the invisible objects, revealing a shallow rectangular space inside seemingly filled with silver coins.

We ended the session there and hopefully will pick it up again soon. Thanks for reading!

(Edited to reduce sp to account for 5E economy.)
 
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Starfox

Adventurer
Nice story, great way to spend time with your kids.
Love the clever repeat experiment. :)
DC 20 is a very high DC in 5E
 

As an old, single and childless gamer, I always enjoy reading about parents teaching their kids to play. The stuff the youngsters come up with never ceases to surprise me. Don't remember my age peers being that clever in the Seventies - but we also played at tables with a lot of adults and that may have stifled things for us kids a bit. Wasn't quite "seen but not heard" but we didn't get consulted much about party planning or puzzles.
 


Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
DC 20 is a very high DC in 5E
I'm not sure if this was meant as a criticism. I'm using the Conversation Reaction tables from DMG, p 245 which gives a DC of 20 for a Charisma check to convince a hostile creature to do as asked as long as no risk or sacrifice is involved. I'd determined randomly that each of the two important NPCs in the encounter were hostile to the party's goal of acquiring treasure, so I decided their default reaction would be to thwart any such efforts, even at some risk to themselves and their hirelings. To do "as asked", on the other hand, would mean to allow the party to go on its way which I decided didn't pose any risk to the NPCs because it hadn't been established that they were actually in possession of any of the dungeon's treasure themselves and so didn't stand to lose anything by letting the party go. So DC 20 seemed right, and with a +5 to the roll due to a 17 Charisma and proficiency in Deception, I think the paladin had a reasonable chance of success given the hostility of the interaction.

As it happened, my daughter rolled well, an 18 on the die I think, so a success was warranted, but I don't think it should have been easy, again given the hostile attitude of the NPCs.

Afterwards, I asked my daughter if she thought lying to the NPCs was an evil, or non-good, action for her character to take. She said no because she was avoiding the chance of a violent fight breaking out, which would have been worse, and that her character is chaotic good which until then hadn't been determined.
 

Starfox

Adventurer
I'm not sure if this was meant as a criticism.
It was criticism, but not harshly intended - I just reacted to the unusually high number. It seems you set this up as a combat encounter, and getting around a combat encounter with social skills should be hard, or you won't have any combat encounters once the bard get's Eagle's Splendor. :)
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
It was criticism, but not harshly intended - I just reacted to the unusually high number. It seems you set this up as a combat encounter, and getting around a combat encounter with social skills should be hard, or you won't have any combat encounters once the bard get's Eagle's Splendor. :)
I’m not sure what “set this up as a combat encounter” means. Between sessions, I prepped simple stat blocks for the NPCs — the two fighters and their seven hirelings. When the session began with the party opening the door to the room as had been previously decided by the players, I made a reaction roll for each of the two fighters, the result being they both had a starting attitude of Hostile, but not violently so. I telegraphed their hostility by describing the fighters making a claim to the dungeon’s treasure as rivals to the party and implying their willingness to back up the claim with force if necessary.

So the purpose of the encounter in this case is to provide opposition to the party, which I see as one of my primary jobs as DM and which I touched on somewhat in my OP, rather than merely being a venue for combat that the player is "getting around" by interacting with the NPCs socially. The party overcame this opposition by employing a deception, but if the check had failed, I would have followed through with having the NPCs initiate combat as a consequence for failure.

ETA: Maybe that’s what you mean by “combat encounter”, but I’d contrast this with the encounter with large spiders earlier in the adventure in which each spider had a very high probability of attacking the party on sight.
 
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@Hriston my initial reaction to the DC 20 was to wonder "Why didn't he use an opposed roll in this situation?" Then, when you explained that you were using the Social Interaction rules from the DMG (p245), I was grateful b/c I'm guessing a lot of us DMs don't think to go there. So... thanks for the reminder!

For those following along w/out access to the DMG, here is that table:

Conversation Reaction
DCFriendly Creature's Reaction
0The creature does as asked without taking risks or making sacrifices.
10The creature accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
20The creature accepts a significant risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
DCIndifferent Creature's Reaction
0The creature offers no help but does no harm.
10The creature does as asked as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.
20The creature accepts a minor risk or sacrifice to do as asked.
DCHostile Creature's Reaction
0The creature opposes the adventurers' actions and might take risks to do so.
10The creature offers no help but does no harm.
20The creature does as asked as long as no risks or sacrifices are involved.
 

Meech17

Adventurer
I’m not sure what “set this up as a combat encounter” means. Between sessions, I prepped simple stat blocks for the NPCs — the two fighters and their seven hirelings. When the session began with the party opening the door to the room as had been previously decided by the players, I made a reaction roll for each of the two fighters, the result being they both had a starting attitude of Hostile, but not violently so. I telegraphed their hostility by describing the fighters making a claim to the dungeon’s treasure as rivals to the party and implying their willingness to back up the claim with force if necessary.

So the purpose of the encounter in this case is to provide opposition to the party, which I see as one of my primary jobs as DM and which I touched on somewhat in my OP, rather than merely being a venue for combat that the player is "getting around" by interacting with the NPCs socially. The party overcame this opposition by employing a deception, but if the check had failed, I would have followed through with having the NPCs initiate combat as a consequence for failure.

ETA: Maybe that’s what you mean by “combat encounter”, but I’d contrast this with the encounter with large spiders earlier in the adventure in which each spider had a very high probability of attacking the party on sight
I think all they mean is that often when we plan encounters we think of them in a few ways.

Your gang of spiders was a combat encounter. The main idea being that initiative will be rolled, and a fight will be had. The default win condition for this encounter is killing or otherwise routing the enemy.

Non-Combat encounters tend to be puzzles, or role-play scenarios. You present the party with a challenge where the expected win condition is to solve a puzzle, or perhaps win favor with npcs.

I really like your general thought though.

"The purpose of the encounter is to provide opposition to the party"

I think you ran it right. Hostile Nobles. They're wanting the glory and the respect for conquering the dungeon. Ultimately if these ratcatchers do some of the hard work for them and move along that won't be the worst thing
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
@Hriston my initial reaction to the DC 20 was to wonder "Why didn't he use an opposed roll in this situation?"
I think this speaks to the difference between task resolution and conflict resolution. Because the character is telling a lie, a task resolution approach would be concerned with resolving how well the lie was told and whether the NPCs end up noticing any signs the character isn’t telling the truth, but it doesn’t tell us what the NPCs do in response Maybe they believe the lie but are sworn to waylay travelers and take their stuff, so although the lie is told artfully, it doesn’t have the desired effect. Whereas a conflict resolution approach is concerned with whether the character’s goal of getting the NPCs to let us continue exploring the dungeon is achieved. That’s what I was trying to resolve -- the success of the player's action declaration.

Also, I set the Wisdom scores of the two important NPCs at 12, so it's unlikely they would have been able to detect a lie if they had been trying, and with the actual result of the check after modifiers being 23, it would have been impossible for them to do so.

Then, when you explained that you were using the Social Interaction rules from the DMG (p245), I was grateful b/c I'm guessing a lot of us DMs don't think to go there. So... thanks for the reminder!
Of course, no problem! Thanks for participating in the discussion! ☺️
 

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