Characters: Sk'ar Dragonborn Paladin, KramDwarf fighter and Obi a Human Wizard.
As this was a play test we moved very quickly into the action.
The adventure started when a rat ran up to Obi the wizard, sat down on it's haunches and started to speak to him. Obi immediately recognised the voice as that of Elisa DarkBane a girl he had studied magic alongside. (This was a ritual speak to animals spell.) She had been kidnapped by goblins and was going to be sacrificed. Luckily she was able to give directions to a ruined keep where she was being held. The party quickly set off in rescue.
It was a weak premise but it was a play test
The party found themselves descending down a flight of stone stairs in the dungeons beneath a ruined keep. The Dwarf was happy with the low level of light coming from behind them but the Obi the Wizard wasn't and used a minor spell to cast light on the tip of his staff.
As they entered the chamber at the foot of the stairs the party glanced around but failed to spot the two goblins armed with crossbows crouching in the shadows. The goblins sprang their ambush targeting the Dwarf who was in the front rank of the party. Immediately after firing the goblins began to maneuvre around the chamber looking to get good firing angles (and attempting to lure the party into charging into a pit trap in the centre of the room).
Unfortunately for the Goblins Obi the Wizard started to project beams of cold at them slowing down their ability to move. While at the same time the Dwarf fighter charged one of the goblins and pinned him in place with his ability to mark an opponent. Sk'ar the Paladin advanced across the chamber avoiding the pit trap presumably by divine favour. As he closed in on the goblin Sk'ar challenged the goblin to face him in melee combat.
Fighters have become an interesting class in 4e with their special techniques and ability to pin opponents in place by calling a mark. The ability of fighters and paladin to mark and challenge really prevented the goblins in this encounter from concentrating their fire on the lightly armoured wizard.
The out come of the fight was never in doubt once the Dragonborn Paladin and the Dwarf Fighter closed with the two goblin skirmishes but the Wizard's seeming inability to miss didn't hurt their chance of victory.
After finishing the goblins and skirting around another trap the party descended further into the Dungeon. On reaching the foot of another flight of stairs the party had a choice of turning left or right. Sk'ar the Paladin suddenly stiffened and stated he could feel creatures of the shadowfell down the left passageway. Advancing down the wide passageway to the left, the party first heard moaning and dragging and a small group of weak and emaciated zombies came lurching into site. With an eldritch gesture Obi called down fire onto the group and all of them collapsed to the floor burning.
This was the party's introduction to minions. I'm still making up my mind about this class of monster. The ability to face the party with hordes of foes is appealing however I'm not sure if they may confuse the party. A group of zombie minions may just ask for a heroic charge but a similar number of full monsters may end in a total party kill.
Advancing past the smouldering corpses the party advanced into a burial chamber containing a mix of zombie minions and zombie brutes. The party were initially taken aback when the brutes didn't drop like the minions they encountered before but Sk'ar was pleased to see how the glowing white light that surrounded his sword reacted with the unlife of the Zombies, inflicting addition damage. Once again Obi the Wizard couldn't seem to miss with his spells.
After a harder fight that they had faced against the goblins the party triumphed and explored the chamber. One of the sarcophagi was partially open and inside the party could see a skeleton dressed in rusty old style armour. All the contents of the sarcophagus had rotted and rusted except for an all metal dwarven throwing hammer which was in immaculate condition. The party quickly realised it was probably magical and the Dwarf fighter took the weapon knowing the previous owner would have wished it to be carried against the goblins infesting the keep.
Returning to the stairs the party took the right-hand path and followed it deeper into the dungeon. As they advanced down the corridor they discovered large eldritch symbols covering the whole width of the floor. After a little study Obi stated that the symbols were some sort of alarm. The party briefly discussed various ways of jumping over the symbols before Sk'ar strode over the symbol stating,
"Let them know we are coming and fear us!".
The party crossed another two symbols while the Dwarf muttered about how the girl they were there to rescue was probably being gutted as he spoke. Eventually the path lead the party into a small stone walled chamber. As they looked at the surrounding walls the around them party were surprise by crossbow bolts that flew through the seeming solid walls! The illusion was shattered by the bolts and a much larger chamber appeared. At the back of the chamber stood a powerful looking goblin hero flanked by two body guards. A further two goblins lurked in the shadows holding crossbows.
A hard and vicious battle ensued with the fighter and the paladin making good use of their mark and challenge abilities to control the battle. Unfortunately for Obi as they were out numbered the two warriors were unable to keep all the goblins occupied and he went down in a flurry of goblin missile fire, his blood pumping out, accross the flagstones of the dungeon floor. (He failed his saving throw and gained his first strike).
Leaving the Kram to keep the goblins busy Sk'ar (taking an action point) ran back to the Wizard and calling on his god "laid on hands" bringing Obi back to positive health. (Healing back up from 0 is a nice game mechanic. It has a heroic feel.) Turning around Sk'ar called out a challenge to the goblin leader. The goblin overcome with battle madness ignored the challenge and fired an attack at the weakened wizard. This proved to be a fatal error as the paladin's challenge kicked in and struck the goblin down dead on the spot. (It was a pure mistake by me this but it did result in a dramatic death.)
The party found the girl bound, still alive, at the back of the chamber. They untied her and escorted her back to Fallcrest.
See also Sk'ar's diary