Last Sunday was the the first session of Storm Point since the gang moved into the Paragon tier.
I moved their base from the small fishing town of Storm Point to the large city-state of Belys, upping the fantastical elements and basically turning the dials on things up to level 11 ((Yes, that’s a D&D/Spinal Tap joke. We’re deep in geek country, here, folks.)). So, the is run by a collection of wealthy genasi families, and the various towers and palaces are topped by minarets flying banners of various elements, and tiny golem-like constructs, powered by sparks of pure element, run errands for the wealthy.
I had also allowed the group to swap out their magic items. I did this for a few reasons:
- During the distribution of magic items over the various levels, I messed up, and there were a couple of characters who were blatantly under-equipped compared to their companions.
- Lots of interesting new items have been released over the three years we’ve been playing.
- The gang likes to tweak their characters, and I figured this was a good opportunity to correct the equipment imbalance, while letting them do that.
What I did was total up the levels of magic item each character had, take the highest value among the group ((I thought about taking the average, but that felt like I was punishing the players with more stuff.)), and said, “You each have this many levels of magic item potential, and no items right now. You can spend these levels on any items you like, but no item can be higher than level 14.”
So, over the three weeks since the previous game, they leveled up their characters and changed their magic item load-outs.
Now, I had some initial worries about whether they might wind up too well-equipped ((Heh.)) for their level, but I soon got over those. Balance between characters and GM is a fiction, anyway – the worries were just the knee-jerk reaction of someone who played the old-school games back when they were the new-school games. The main balance concern I have in any game is whether or not the characters each have sufficient chance to be awesome and contribute to the cool of the game. If they have too much magic item power? Well, guess I’ll just have to throw bigger challenges at them…
I waxed semi-poetic for a while, describing the city and its environs, and talking about how they used the letters of introduction from the merchant they had helped to secure the magic item exchange, and then we talked about getting lodgings. The group’s first impulse was to find a cheap inn outside the walls ((With <ahem> certain services…)), but I ran down some of the options for them, including better inns inside the walls, renting rooms, and buying a house.
They liked the idea of renting rooms in a manor house, with servants and a garden and such, and really got into negotiating the rents ((I was, frankly, amazed. This is the group whose mission statement is “Get ’em!” But I was also pleased.)), settling on a total of 1500 gp for the year, with the landlords providing food, drink, and servants to host four feasts during the year. They then decided that they should have their first feast only a couple of weeks after they arrived in the city, to make their entrance into Belys society, inviting their merchant acquaintances, and allowing them each to bring someone that the gang should meet.
The party went well, and the group met a couple of NPCs that I wanted to get on the stage. The first was a group of Githzerai ascetics, who were suppliers of the Gith plate and Githweave armour that a couple of the party had acquired. The second was a scarred seer and favourmonger, Bitaryut the Blind. He’s there mainly to give the group someone to go to if they need an in somewhere in the city, or a hint about the future.
There was a third NPC who factored into things, though he didn’t come on stage. Channah is a crime boss who is extorting the group’s landlords. He had a couple of his men beat up a couple of waiters, and when our heroes found out, they started asking questions about him, that led to their first fight as Paragon tier heroes.
Now, I set this fight at 9th level, both because it was the first encounter with Channah’s goons ((When he figures out what kind of hard men he’s up against, he’ll send tougher goons.)), and because it was the first chance the group had to try out their new Paragon abilities and magic items. So, just a couple of orc bloodragers and four ogre savages ((2600 xp, a level 9 encounter for 6 characters.)) accosting the gang down by the docks.
It was an interesting fight to run. I was somewhat surprised to see the group focus on the ogres, when they had so much trouble dropping one of the orcs. I was also pleased that they took pains to render their foes unconscious instead of killing them. And, in the end, they intimidated the last orc standing into taking their threat back to Channah.
And because they seemed interested in this plot thread, I decided to up the stakes and send the orc’s head to them next morning, with a note in his mouth saying that Channah had doubled the money he expected.
But that’s where we left it.