A Good Friend

The definition of a good friend is someone who will come over while you're recuperating from surgery and surprise you with a one-shot D&D adventure. Thank you, thank you! I played Zane von Ronzel, disgraced scion of wealth (a cross between Raef and Jezal dan Luthar) turned thief, in debt to the Red Fingers gang for some 5000 marks. A gestalt fighter 2/rogue 2.

I'm not the worst D&D player on earth, but I seriously am not the best. (Oh be quiet!) I'm not a tactical thinker either. (I said, be quiet!) Zane had his chance for a Big Score, so he scoped out the house. And opted to try to break in from the front gate.

OK, not too bright. Especially since I was rolling for crap that day. Since that approach didn't work, I opted for climbing the wall and entering through a front window. The family was supposed to be out at the opera, but I knew it wouldn't be as easy as that. Naturally I failed a crucial Reflex save and would've fallen had it not been for the lovely young daughter of the house who pulled me in. Actually, if not for her, Zane would've died really early on.

Romantic adventures ensued as I convinced her I was a dashing ne'er-do-well down on my luck, forced into thievery to regain my fortunes. She didn't completely believe that, but she was having fun. Then her nasty drunken cousin showed up. Glad I didn't enter his bedroom instead. I essentially killed him with my deadly rapier and main gauche attacks and left her to staunch the bleeding while I found the painting I'd come for.

Zane, you're not a good thief. At all. I failed Open Lock and Strength checks to get two doors open, fortunately avoiding the needle trap on one door. But at length I forced one of the doors open and found the creepy painting–a landscape of Hell. Complete with a booby-trapped frame. I began cutting it out after at last getting the idea to disarm the trap (see? not a great thief akshully), when I was rudely interrupted by an imp.

I HATE IMPS. Amazingly annoying, especially when you keep fumbling your Fort saves and getting poisoned by their #$%^ tails. And when you can't get past their damage resistance. At least Zane was clothed. (As I'm sure my faithful readers recall, Raef was naked when he faced an imp. Ouch. Adventurers should NOT sleep naked. Just sayin'.) If it hadn't been for Annalee's quick thinking (she'd make a great bandit queen, possibly), Zane would be another corpse to explain away. She threw a sheet over it, succeeding after several tries. I got away with the painting, one last kiss, and an open invitation to call again.

Although I only received 2000 marks for my trouble. Zane still has to come up with some more geld to prevent being mutilated by mobsters. Maybe he should form a quick liasion with Annalee. Or get the heck outta Dodge.

Despite my ineptitude, I had so much fun. Thanks again!

Yeah, I’m a gamer

Somehow, when I'm not playing, I can convince myself that D&D is not that big a deal, I can live without it, it's not as much fun since Mordecai became a gnome. Rationalizations, all. We played again after a month-long hiatus. I really do love the game. The interaction, the combat…the only thing that would've made it better would've been roleplay, but that's not really the place we're in right now. We whomped a total of 8 giants in two combats, although Quin was knocked unconscious at one point. Just because he's got a level of Fighter doesn't mean he's as tough as one!

I've been contemplating Star Wars Saga Edition the past week. That will probably be our next campaign when Mosaic wraps up, although I'm not sure when that will be, and how long the break for youngling Gray Lynn Carter will last. (Yes, I have named the baby in advance. This is what insane "aunt" people do. Hey, a girl could be named that too. How many girls these days are named Madison? Okay, I know, Madison is passe. You know what I mean.) ANYway–SW. The campaign will be set in 1500 BBY or thereabouts, and will feature a party of a noble, a Jedi, and two others (scoundrel & smuggler?). I think it will be a fun change of pace.

D&D 4e report

I've delayed writing because of a week of sad and busy circumstances, but here it is, my assessment of D&D 4th edition, based on the game I ran last Saturday.

A caveat: the party consisted of two PCs played by Scott and one played by me, when calculations for XP and opponent size are based on a party of five. That made it a little more challenging up front for planning encounters than it should've been. I did make use of the online encounter builder at the Wizards site (I'd link to it, but I don't think it's free anymore).

I heavily modded Keep on the Shadowfell. In fact, not so much of the "keep" nor the "shadowfell." I made much use of a series of articles by Justin Alexander from the Wizards forums. Just a note about KotS–the proofing is awful. On one page I found differences in stat blocks that obviously reflected a change in how they intended to regard ability modifiers.

Combat took longer than I expected. The DMG indicated 1 1/2 hours for combat, which I thought must be grossly overestimated, but it wasn't. Granted, we had a learning curve to overcome, but we easily took an hour and then some to defeat 6 kobolds (4 of which were minions). I do like the minions rule–one hit and they're dead–but you do still have to hit them, as Scott said. The powers were interesting and did give you the ability to do something every turn, but that did often end up being the same thing over and over, not that much different than in 3.5.

After rescuing the dwarf father and son beset by kobolds, the party moved on to town to try to meet their objective of locating the heir they'd been sent to find. Scott's characterizations were great, as usual, especially the lawful good Cleric of Eratis with a foul mouth and a hatred for anything not a city. She was a lot of fun. I probably should have used some skill challenges here, but in planning I focused more on combat and the story, in typical Donna fashion.

Naturally investigation was interrupted by danger. Undead were roaming in the graveyard, so the heroes ran off to fight some skeletons and a couple of 3rd level gravehounds that gave them fits. Killing the gravehounds took forever.

They went down into the mausoleum of the follower of Bahamut and found the sacrificed woman. Next stop–room full o' skeletons. They were all minions, contrary to what I had originally intended, and again took forever to kill. They didn't get to the cool encounter with the ghostly paladin, nor save the day in their final battle with the UBG (well, low level UBG anyhow). So close, but that would've required probably another couple of hours to complete.

All in all, I have to say, <shrug> Eh. I wasn't overwhelmed by the Great Fun of It. Combat does go smoothly for DMs, I have to say, but I've been running games for a long while. Prep work was more time consuming than I'd been led to believe. I should have included some traps or other cool displays of 4e, but the sections in the DMG seemed complicated and I didn't read them. Truth to tell, I ran out of time.

I'm glad we played, and I wouldn't be opposed to playing again, but if we don't, now I don't feel I've missed out on anything. I guess the bottom line is, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Spell filter

 One of the commenters posted this link in response to

 request for a spell filter: http://www.imarvintpa.com/dndLive/FindSpell.php Really excellent resource for 3.5.

Skill challenges in action

We had an excellent session Saturday playing in the Mosaic campaign. Our goal: to gain information from Hakima Bahor, a boss rakshasa, who apparently has Derral Feodar in custody. Feodar is the guy whose journals were of interest to our now-missing masters, and about whom the other rakshasa, Hakima Avishandu, told us. The whole reason we came to gods-forsaken Oubliette. (Well, forsaken by any gods our PCs care about.)

Quin, my iron witch giant, cast what I always considered a useless spell: discern preference (from Arcana Evolved).  Hey, not so useless after all! Using it we determined that Bahor is fond of his hookah, and enjoys exotic things to smoke in it. After sending off a diplomatically worded request for an audience with him, we went to the Artisans District and obtained a small brick worth 500 gp of something called Black Heart. We got our first taste of how skill challenges work in negotiating for more of the substance than the dealer was at first inclined to give us.

We were granted an audience the next day. Having already reconnoitered the area where his obstentatiously-unguarded mansion was, we arrived precisely on time as requested. The rakshasa Bahor was slimy-creepiness personified. He led two gorgeous nearly-naked women on ribbons and they knelt before him. One was a drow priestess, the other a sun elf priestess. Wearing each other's raiment. Yikes.

Rashmali took point, with Mordecai assisting. Quin was too busy mentally pummeling his lawful good intelligent longspear Cry of Heaven into submission, and Bellos was too awed. Scott later told us that to win the challenge, we needed to have 10 successes before 5 failures. We ended up with only 1 failure (when Mordecai rolled a 1). He ran it just like a combat, with rolling initiative and each of us taking turns saying what we would do. Mostly Mordecai echoed what Rashmali said. The rakshasa liked the gift, which gave us a +4 to all rolls. We got out of there with our lives and virtues intact, with a promise to be allowed to speak with Feodar–IF we come back with news that we have “taken care of” Avishandu, Bahor's rival. Bahor said it more subtly, of course.

Now we get to visit Avishandu's brothel headquarters, the Succulent Pear. Mordecai's quite looking forward to that.