• Dawn breaks over Phandalin
  • Questions for captives
  • Unconsciousness and death
  • Death in action

Episode 15: Full Moon Nights, Part Two


Dear adventurers,

Here’s your weekly email where I’ll (1) remind us where we left off, (2) ask any questions I need to know to prepare the next session, and (3) highlight an important rule. I hope to have a website set up next week where I can share a shorter version of this weekly letter as well as other resources. The rule for this week is a downer, about unconsciousness and death, but I’m sharing it precisely because we’ve all done such a good job of avoiding this so far that we need to look elsewhere in order to learn how it works.

(1) Where we left off

We left off as dawn broke over the ransacked camp at Phandalin, where a pair of naked halflings (a dwarf and a hobbit) sit bound with rope beside the blanketed corpse of a third. The gardens were torn up and multiple shelters were damaged when a dark blue cloaked elf with glowing yellow eyes commanded wave after wave of wolf attacks before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. The party also fended off giant spiders who descended down the cliff face and attacked you and your friends.

(2) Questions to answer before Friday

In the calendar of our game world, you have the next three days and nights to ask questions of your captives and help rebuild camp. You can strategize among yourselves about what you’d like to do, and I’ll say each character can ask up to three questions of them. You can let me know these questions any time before Thursday and I’ll give you answers before we play on Saturday. Also, you will complete a long rest, so spell casters please let me know what spells you will have prepared (that includes our guest star, Tib, who we’ll meet in our travels on Saturday — hi Tib!).

Over those next few days, others in camp reach out to thank you for defending the camp against the fierce attack on the full moon night. Helja, the scarred, middle-aged dwarven woman who is the rightful owner of Coffee Hole Farm, reaches out to the party and asks if you can all help provide some basic combat training to the other camp residents so they can better participate in their own self-defense. Carp has volunteered himself to teach people how to keep watch, and Enya he thought if you wanted the two of you could teach archery together. Hag and Little Pocket, is there any aspect of combat that you’d be willing to teach to others at Phandalin? This is a committed but very inexperienced group, and they would love to learn anything you can teach. Each of you can choose one thing in addition to combat skills that you can teach to others in camp during these two days. People want to learn about everything from how to gather food and mend shelters to healing minor injuries and concealing tracks. Look at the skills you are proficient in and think of something you could teach to people in camp using one of those skills. The things you teach them will have a lasting impact and make them able to do more for themselves at Phandalin, even when you’re gone.

(3) Mastering the game: Unconsciousness and death

While almost everyone had to claw their ways out of restraining webs, you managed to avoid having a member of the group knocked unconscious last night. We’ve seen it happen before, though, and we have a sense of how important it is to heal unconscious characters ASAP to help prevent them from dying. Since you’ve done a great job so far of preparing for combats in advance and making good, collaborative decisions to prevent the worse case scenario, we should have a look at how death happens in another game. First, have a glance at the unconscious condition on PHB:290-292, as well as the combat rules for unconsciousness and death that come from dropping to zero hit points which you’ll find on PHB:197-198. There’s also a great short video from the team at Critical Role explaining death in the game: Handbooker Helper: Death Saving Throws. To really understand death, though, you have to see it in action.

Like any situation that results on a character death, many things went wrong in the video I’m sharing this week. These are level 5 characters, stronger than us but not too much (sneak preview: we’ll be reaching level 4 ourselves in a week!). They do a number of things well that we do well, like planning and using the landscape to their advantage, but then in spite of the plan they then fail at some things we are very good at, like prioritizing and eliminating targets effectively. I want to be sure not to discourage you all from taking heroic risks, that’s the whole fun of the game! So, something to think about: under what conditions is your character willing to risk death? Whether we take that risk knowingly or not, when a situation turns deadly, how can we play together as a team to have the best chance of succeeding and surviving in those moments? Here’s a link to the video of this deadly combat, which begins at the 3h25m mark with the party planning an ambush: Found & Lost | Critical Role | Campaign 2, Episode 26. It runs until the end of the episode, which is almost an hour and a half. If you prefer to jump right into the fight itself and don’t care about hearing them plan the ambush, you can start with them rolling initiative about 20 minutes later using this link.

That’s all for this week! A reminder that I’m hoping to assemble some memorabilia from our campaign, and that each of you has something small you’re doing to contribute to that. I’ll start putting those together once I receive them and I’ll try to assemble a simple website where I can preserve those and other materials for us to enjoy in between sessions.

Be heroic,
Be creative,
Have fun,


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