Part 1: (Cause I really do need to work on Death Dealer today.
So ... it was a while ago, now, but here's how it went down. I've emailed some of the play testers, hoping that they will chime in once they get through their current work load.
Also, please bear in mind that my DM style is pretty loose and free-form. (Ask anyone who has played in a game at a convention.) I don't always abide by my own rules, which is why it is always good to have groups other than my own playtest material. But anyhow...
... the PCs made the slow climb down to the lost city. The eladrin decides to make elaborate maps of the city for later navigation so I pretty much provided the map, minus encounter key and labels. At one point, they actually camp out for 16 hours, watching the action down below, trying to determine what they were getting into. I ruled this gave them a sense of the key headquarters. The PCs also noted when the zain-kin were most active and when they were resting. With this info (and a fair number of really lucky stealth checks), they descended under cover of shadow and slipped down to the city floor.
The PCs sent out their rogue to scout out the nearby ruins. A ranger followed, at a distance, to provide artillery support if it came to that. Meanwhile the remainder of the party hunkered down, trying to make plans for what to do if the entire city came crashing down on them. <--- Equates to a lot of talking, planning, but none of it came to fruition.
The rogue and ranger happen upon a unit from House Vedrius. The rogue, risking life and limb sneaks up to the fire and listens in on the "troop gossip" (hello, definition of grognard!). Of course he doesn't understand Zain-kin, but with some successful checks, he is able to begin to discern some details. (Basically, I acted out my best ape impression with a lot of hand gestures and made wookie sounds.) The rogue was able to determine that the apes were excited about something, and as he lurked, the remainder of the troop hauled in another zain-kin and began to torment the heck out of him.
This was just flavor on my part, but of course, give your PCs a foot and they'll convert it into metric and stretch it out to a kilometer. The rogue (gotta give him credit) sees an opportunity and slips back to the ranger. Ranger withdraws to the party, interrupting an elaborate discussion on how build a fort in the corner of the cavern (as if they are really going to hold off hundreds of zain-kin??!!). Thief, meanwhile, is back at the ZK camp watching them torture this other ape-man. The Vedrius troop, having had their fun, begins to lead off the captive, taking him back to their HQ.
The thief comes up w/ a plan, scribbles it onto a sheet of parchment, ties it to a crossbow bolt, then fires it at the paladin. Tags the paladin's shield, exacerbating a little inter-party strife.
But the rest of the party decides the plan is a good idea and hustles down a side street to get ahead of the ZK troop and sets up on either side of the ruined street.
The ZK march down the street, the rogue springs the ambush, the ranger lays down flanking fire, and everyone else leaps from cover to flank and attack, and before you know it the ZK are down. The PCs grab the captive, toss him over the paladin's back and then vanish into the ruins with the rogue scouting the way as the ranger covers their back. By the time the Vedrius reinforcements arrive, it looks like they
got hit by another faction. (The PCs don't know this yet, but the wounds (magic + blades) on the dead soldiers make the Vedrius leaders suspect that the other two factions are teaming up. So the ambush managed to serve two purposes: get the captive and stir up dissent amongst the factions.)
Whew. More later.