Friday, September 5, 2008

Off to Castle Rivenroar

But first our heroes threaten to waterboard a prisoner.
Sick guys, our heroes...

In the aftermath of the previous evenings dramatic events, our heroes spend half the night helping the slightly shell shocked city guard watch the main bridge for any mor hobgoblins. In the morning they are approached by Councilman "Generic Patron" Eoffram Troyas, who informed them that seven townsfolk had been kidnapped by Sinruth's band, who also absconded with several priceless historical artifacts from the towns "Hall of Great Valor". Would the PC's help track down their treasures both material and personal? (or Personell?).

Sure they say, having nothing better to do. This was our first encounter with 4th editions
"Skill Challenge" system. Just allow me to say...icky. Did we really need to add a lot of die rolls to roleplaying encounters? I think this may be 4th editions "bridge to far", replacing almost all the player skill with character skill checks. It is my opinion that any halfway decent GM should be able to adjudicate a rp encounter with minimum die rolls. To make a long story short, the pc's were eager to kick some bad guy butt so they gladly volunteered in exchange for a small reward.
Since our group has rarely worried about provisioning, I assumed that the Councilman provided for basic adventuring gear like torches and rope and food.

One Hobgoblin was captured duringthe raid and with some roleplaying involving the threatened use of "extreme measures", he was convinced to craft a crude map to the Red Hands hideout, the ruins of Castle Rivenroar, about 8 hours away. (this involved another skipped skill challenge)

Without further ado, the heroes set forth. This time we did use a rough skill challenge to simulate the treacherous nature of the terrain. In situations like this, I could see the skill challege system to be a bit useful, although its still way to much dice rolling for my taste.

At the location specified on the map, they find the ruins of the once proud Castle Rivenroar. Nothing above ground remains but a series of small walls, however a quick search revealed the stairs downward.

At the bottom of the stairs we meat our first combat encounter of the day. And boy was it a doozy! 2 Hobgoblin soldiers and 2 archers. The Hobgoblins are individually nastier than any one pc, they are planted in the middle of the room, and they have AC22 (!) when they are standing next to each other! The fight completely bogged down as our heroes basically waited for the dice to turn their way. The rather elaborate flame shooting brazier trap in the back of the room never came into play. Jo-Fang was taken down by the Archers in the back. It was just too damn hard to hurt the Hobbo soldiers! When Daisy's Sleep spell failed, i though I might be able to TPK the party in th first fight of the dungeon! Eventually numbers prevailed, and the evening ended with our battered adventurers taking a short rest before heading further in.

That fight took 8 rounds, which is almost unheard of in 3rd edition. On the flip side, only one daily power was used, so mayhaps the next fight will go alittle easier on the PC's, because we were all a bit discouraged by the way this encounter went.

No game until 9/11 so until then, have fun!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

At the Antler and Thistle....

So, we had some computer problems here, as well as some pregnant wife problems... etc. etc.

But enough excuses! Right to the recap of our first two weeks at this thing they call "D&D".

We open our scene at the Antler and Thistle Tavern, a barely described bar in an indefinite section of the Town of Brindol. Brindol is the largest city in the Elsir Vale, and was the site of the defeat of the "Band of the Red Hand", a HUGE goblinoid hoard.

Our PC's are scattered about the bar area. Kain Rynwulf is in the back corner playing cards. Daisy is trying to get a white wine spritzer from the bartender. Loufa Falafel (who we have decided is a local) is sitting at the bar grousing about how low the bars standards have become. Nik is hitting on Daisy. Jo-Fang Tremendous is sleeping in the back room. ( Karl was late that evening, he missed the first two rounds).

Suddenly, the calm of the early evening is shattered as the front door is kicked in and hobgoblins stream into the room and start offing civilians!
In the surprise round 4 hobgoblin minions burst in and slay the nearest civilians. Then more each round, as well as a couple of goblin blackblades who toss bitumen torches around trying to start fires!

Unfortunately for them, this bar came equipped with adventurers! And like all good fantasy bar patrons of sufficiently high level, these adventurers were armed! The ranger immediately took down two with his bow (Twin Strike is hell on minions). Nik the Paladin and Loufa quickly formed up a line to screen the patrons from the onrushing Hobbos. Daisy spent most of the fight containing the fires with her frost ray, and Jo-Fang finally woke up and rushed into the fray, sending Nik, Paladin of Bahamut, into paroxisms of exstacy.

After the last bad guy is slain and the city guard arrive, and so does our next encounter.
Shambling down the street hauling a cart of pitch filled barrels is a full grown OGRE!
With two Hobgoblin Archers covering for him and handing him lit barrels of pitch to fling, the Ogre is a frightening sight! But our heroes have no fear! Especially Kain, who wins initiative, sprints into bow range and plants a solid yard of wood into the Ogres chest! Yay...
Then he takes an exploding barrel of pitch off his noggin. I'm sure his eyebrows will grow back eventually.

I'll admit, this looked like a nasty fight on paper. I figured the Ogre gets off at least three shots with the barrels of pitch. No such luck for our heroes (our heroes are the bad guys). Daisy the Wizard busts out the old standby, Sleep! Even though the Ogre and one of the Hobbos makes their save, the spell slows them down, disrupts the handoff of lit barrels and allows the fighters to close. While Kain and Daisy send ranged attacks down on them, the melee fighters close with the ogre and suck up a lot of dmg. Eventually the Ogre goes down, along with one of his goblinoid escorts, and the remaining Hobbo tries to escape out the back of the cart, but only after lighting a fuse!. The scene ended cinematically, with Nik, Jo-Fang, and Loufa diving from the explosion at the last second Bruce Willis style.

The party was actually able to beat this fight. Which surprised me. I fully expected to script in a squad of city watch archers to help mop up once the Hobgoblins were wasted. A full grown Ogre has a LOT of hps. Looking at what happens next, this may be the high point of the campaign.

More later. Plus some random 4e thoughts.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dramatis Personae

For our little trip through "The Scales of War" we will be accompanied by the following players and their characters, for as long as they can keep them alive. Once we all get a hang of this new fangled system, the kid gloves come off and I'm gunning for them!

1) Chris, or Kester as he is known to his friends , is our primary GM. He's also the owner of the his own house, the Pit, which he has shared with most of us at one point or another. In fact he requires all roommates to participate in at least one game as part of their rent. He's an excellent GM in multiple systems and a great roleplayer with almost 30 years of experience. I'll admit, it can be a little intimidating to run a game with him.

His character is Nicholas "Nik" Landarion, the friendliest paladin of Bahamut you're ever likely to meat. As listed on is character sheet, his personality traits are; Cocky, Confident, Carefree, Clean, and Charming. He's a half elf and for no apparent reason he can toss an eldritch blast as an encounter power. He segues quite well into our next character...

2) Karl was the GM before me on Thursday nights. He is perhaps the person I've known the longest outside my family, as he worked the counter at the only gaming store on my side of town back in the '80s.

His Character is a mysterious blue dragonborn warlord. The only name he gives is "Joe" and the only clue to his story so far is the symbol of Bahamut on his armor. Nik immediately had a dragongasm upon meeting him.

3) Kit is also a veteran, in fact Kit, Kester and Karl have been gaming together for most of the last 25 years. Kit is perhaps the most selfless gamer I've ever played with, willing to take almost any role and from dramatic leader to comic relief.

In this game he's taken on perhaps the blandest class, the fighter. Loufa Falafel is a hard nosed working class human fighter who takes no guff from anyone, is always willing to scrap or drink with anybody, and frequently complains about how the "liberals have ruined the Elsir Vale" He gets grognard points for having a really funny (and punny) name.

4)James is an architect who has come back to gaming after many years in order to escape his loving wife and three adorable children for 3 hours a week.

He tends to make his characters a bit silly and Daisy Hilpupipharm is no exception. She's an Eladrin Wizard who's about as stuck up as one can be. The only girl in the party, she has already attracted the unwanted attention of....

5) A.J., the youngest member of the group by ... let's just say a lot, A.J. is also a very new gamer and comes into 4th edition with some fresh eyes unjaded by years of d&d experience.

His character is the Elven Ranger Kain Rynwulf. A deadly archer, Kain is... how shall we put this delicately.... scruffy. And not in that good Han Solo way.

So there they are, our Heroes. And of course, in good D&D fashion, as handed down to us from the Ancients, our protagonists first meet... in a tavern...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Day Before..... Dum Dum Dummmmmm

Hi everybody out there in D&D land!

(sound of crickets chirping...)

Ok, well ... if any one ever does end up reading this blog, allow me to introduce the premise.

Our group of mostly veteran Gamers, (there's a game going on at the Pit almost every night of the week) just tabled our Thursday night game due to storyline inertia. So last week we sat around tying up loose ends and trying to figure out what to do with the open slot. In a mildly inebriated state I volunteered to be our groups 4th edition guinea pig and run the "Scales of War" Adventure Path.

Now I'm not normally a DM. I haven't run anything that lasted more than 2 sessions since my old "Justifiers/Justice Patrol" Champions game ground to a halt in like '96 or so. So a pre-packaged campaign seems to be just the thing for me to get back in the swing.
As an added bonus, "Scales of War" is a sequel to the rather enjoyable "Red Hand of Doom" mega-module that we played thru last year, so I'll be able to add a little familiar flavor as we go along.

I'll be back on Friday to to tell y'all (more crickets....) about the party, the players, and how things went.