Today my normal campaign group plus one additional player, opted to run a 5e playtest. We chose the first level characters, using a Theater of the Mind approach instead of grid and minis. All 5 characters were in play. The players are experience, with one having begun play with 2e, and the others having experience with all versions from Moldvay Basic forward.
We began with the characters at the end of the canyon that encompasses the caves with the characters aware of two entrances and knowing more were not currently in view. The old geezer at the keep's tavern said there was lots of treasure to be found in the caves for anyone brave and wise enough to go and get it.
While the players were deciding what to do I had them make perception checks for their characters. The rogue and the cleric of Pelor failed. The cleric of Moradin, fighter, and high elf wizard noticed that about 200 feet away, further up the canyon some sort of critter had scampered into a bush, but they weren't sure about what it was.
Not wanting to waste time, and looking for something, anything to beat on, the fighter charged off at full speed to the area where he was sure the critter would be. Meanwhile, the rogue, paranoid that something might be attacking them, chose to hide in some bushes. The remaining three characters followed behind the fighter about 50 feet behind.
The party was now strung out, the dwarf near the kobold cave entrance he just became aware of followed by three members 50 feet back, and the rogue who remained hidden 200 feet away. "Psst, guys, is it safe yet?"
Realizing he had been left behind, the rogue broke cover and hustled hard to catch up.
Meanwhile the dwarf made a perception check, beating the kobolds by a lot and realizing he was surrounded by at least 8 of the little bastards. Then he remembered nothing.
The kobolds struck enmass, daggers flying at the vastly outnumbered dwarf fighter, 6 out of 8 daggers finding their mark (2 crits) and putting the dwarf into unconsciousness. (negative 12 hit points, advantage for enemies can lead to nasty outcomes)
At range three other party members went into action. The wizard struck the kobold closest to the downed dwarf with a Ray of Frost spell, trapping it against the ground and to the bush it was half hidden within. The cleric of Pelor sent a Radiant Lance of divine energy forth, felling another kobold which tumbled, dead from the tree branch on which it perched. The cleric of Moradin used Healing Word to stabilize the fighter.
Of the 6 remaining kobolds, 2 ran for the safety of the cave and 4 began dragging the downed dwarf toward the entrance. Fearing they would outright slay the fighter or hold him hostage, the wizard moved into range and used her Burning Hands spell instantly cooking the 4 kobolds' heads and missing the dwarf by mere inches.
The two kobolds made their way into the darkness of the cave and out of reach for now. The clerics and wizard converged on the fighter and a Cure Light Wounds was cast. Now, sitting up, his wounds sore, but otherwise closed and his life no longer in immediate danger, he wondered what he missed. Not for long though, as back on his feet he was ready for revenge, and treasure.
Having caught up to the rest of the party, the rogue slipped into the shadowy cave mouth and hid, quietly observing the passage inward.
Lighting a torch, the party moved into the cave, briefly exposing to the brighter light the previously stealthy rogue. Fortunately nothing was in a position to see the halfling's annoyed look and the party, continued onward.
Leading the way, the two dwarves reached the T intersection in the passage. Both noticed the hastily covered pit and relayed the location and size to everyone following behind. The rogue then slipped forward and with incredible precision managed to rig the doors of the trap to securely handle someone walking the edges, but advised his companions against passing over the middle. Stepping gingerly past the pit, the dwarves again took up the lead.
A perception check later and the cleric of Moradin was able to warn his companions of the ambush that was about to be sprung. The wizard stepped forward and dropped a sleep spell around the corner where 6 kobolds were preparing to attack the party. Three of the would be ambushers dropped immediately to the ground, two more swayed drowsily, and the last (having rolled a natural 20 which I declared total success for amusement sake) remained double-espresso-wired awake.
Note: the wizard has spent her two Vancian spells and only at-will cantrips remain.
Rushing around the corner and laying about, the two dwarves manage to completely miss their targets. The rogue steps up and fires a sling stone into the room shattering the upper jaw and lodging deep into the skull of the previously saucer-eyed-awake kobold guard. Another round later and the remaining kobolds were killed followed soon by their sleeping companions, but not before getting off warning cries.
Coming from behind the party, a swarm of cave rats led by a single dire rat began mixing it up with the adventurers. A number of rounds and several bites later and the rats too had sloughed off the mortal coil.
At this point the dwarves were in need of some healing so the rogue and wizard stood guard while the healing kit was brought into play.
Ten minutes passed and as the party was about to move deeper into the cave, a kobold scampered off after tossing a bone wrapped in rough parchment toward the party's position. Suspicious, the rogue dragged and tossed a corpse over top the object and the party moved back past the entrance hall (using planks to cover the pit) to a room filled with trash and rat droppings. They searched and located nothing of value and no other exits so they headed back toward the spot where the bone had been tossed.
Removing the corpse, they picked up the object and read the note that was scrawled in rough common. "Leave our home." Using blood they wrote an extortion note below those words and tossed it further down the hallway from which it had been thrown, and they waited.
Some time later the note was brought back and next to it was placed a bag that jingled as it was placed on the tunnel floor. Again the messenger ran off. The new message bore a hastily scribed map leading to a room with the word treasure by it. In the bag was a ring of keys.
After some argument, the group decided to risk a trap and followed the map to a locked door. Checking for traps, the rogue announced it was safe to try the keys. A few seconds later they had access to a storage room. Within was a collection of all sorts of objects along with the stench of rotting meat, and a large cask that had some kind of liquid within based on the sound when it was tilted and settled flat again.
The rogue, fighter, and wizard stood guard at the door while the clerics performed the search. As they waited and watched, a party of well armed and armored kobolds, 9 total, approached cautiously down the hallway. Stopping 40 feet away, and 20 feet from the hallway the party would need to use to escape, the Chieftain of the kobolds spoke. "Leave now, go."
An exchange took place with the fighter demanding "shinies". After a successful intimidate check by the dwarf, the kobold chief sent two of his guards back deeper into the caves. He had decided that his tribe had sacrificed enough this day and no more kobold blood needed to be spilled even though he was confident they would defeat the intruders. A few minutes passed with the groups staring each other down before the runners returned carrying a rolled up blanket which they placed at the intersection. One of them cut open a corner and revealed two coins, then scampered back to the group.
The party carefully advanced, picked up the blanket, and determined it held more coin shaped items sewn within it. Placing the keys on the floor they cautiously withdrew back down the side hall to another intersection. Peering down the way they had not gone previously, they could see at least a dozen sets of eyes, maybe more, reflecting at the edge of their torchlight.
A further retreat allowed them to escape the caves. A large number of kobolds followed, growling all the way to the exit, but did not attack, and the party continued out of the canyon and back to their room at the keep.
Here endeth the play session. Part two will cover things we discussed after the game play stopped.