Dateline – Storm Point

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.

Dateline – Storm Point


I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.


Sunday before last ((Yep, I’m falling behind. Work stuff.)), we got together and finished off the first stage of The Tomb of Horrors ((The way the adventure is constructed, there are a few different stages, and they don’t run one right after the other. You space them out with some other adventures between them.)).

Considering the track record for this group getting through encounters, and the fact that this was the first game I was running in about five weeks, I wasn’t too confident of getting through the two encounters that were necessary to wrap up the adventure, but the gang really pulled together, and we were able get to the ending.

I was leery about running the encounter with the game tables, which is essentially an extended skill challenge, in large part because the write-up for the encounter had only one combination of skills that could be used to win, and each of those three skills would need to be used to win. This is, I believe, a real flaw in a skill challenge, so I disregarded it, and went with my default style of running skill challenges, which is to let the player pitch a skill and why it should be usable, and then set the DC based on how convincing the pitch is.

They got through the challenge, but sucked up some nasty psychic damage in the process. This, coupled with the way I was playing up the energy-sapping nature of the Garden of Graves ((Basically, every time the group took an extended rest, they recovered one fewer healing surge. So, after two extended rests in the Garden, they were starting their adventuring day two healing surges down.)), they were somewhat wary of running into the last encounter.

And that last encounter was a doozy. I had them all bloodied at one point or another, and dropped the Warlord at one point. Everyone else found themselves down in single-digit hit points during the fight, I believe, but they pulled it together, and killed the various zombies and the plant monster. Then, it was on to dismantling the arcane engine at the heart of the graveyard, and heading back to the mortal world, which we just glossed over.

I awarded the group a few more experience points than the adventure called for, simply to get them all up to 11th level, so we could start Paragon Tier play with their arrival at the city-state of Belys. This means all my players are trying to decide on which Paragon Path they want to pursue.

I’m making some meta-game changes to the way I do things at this point, too. I’ve found that the planned treasure/magic item distribution that is the default of D&D is a real drain on my time, so I’m ditching it in favour of the random distribution set out in the Essentials books. That means I’m ditching the magic item wish list system I’ve been using for the players, and adjusting the magic item economy to make selling unwanted items more profitable. Thus, by giving the group slightly more magic items, and letting them sell them for 80% list price, the group will still get the magic items their characters want ((Some say, “Need,” but I think it’s just pure avarice.)), but the work is offloaded from the GM to the players. Which I like.

I’m also letting the group swap out their current magic items, but I haven’t figured out exactly how that’s going to work, yet. I’ve got a little while yet to think about it.

Dateline – Storm Point


I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.


This past Storm Point game was pretty short. One of the players – the one who owns the space we pay at – developed a migraine, and we called it a night early.

We did get through the rest of the encounter, however. It was a tough slog, indeed, with the closely-matched antagonists. Of course, as with all battles, once one of the monsters dropped, the rest sort of cascaded as the characters were better able to concentrate their attacks. Some crappy rolls to distinguish friend from foe caused a few problems, but in the end, they made it through, and proceeded to take an extended rest.

So, that’s really all there is to say about that.

Dateline – Storm Point


I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.


The last Storm Point session was pretty much a wash. We hadn’t played in almost two months, summer scheduling being what it is, and spent most of the evening socializing rather than playing. We even had to stop the combat partway through when we wrapped for the evening.

The group made it through the secret door and into another oddly-shaped room. They entered carefully, mindful of traps, and everything went dark for a second. When the lights came back up, there was a duplicate of each of the characters standing near them. And, of course, the duplicates attacked.

The fight is tough. The monsters that are being used as the duplicates ((I’m not going to say what they are, yet, because the fight is ongoing, and at least three of my players read my blog.)) are well-chosen, and quite effective, even when I forget one of the powers. The mechanics for seeing if players attack their intended target or an ally have caused a couple of bad moments for the group ((And if they didn’t know that this adventure was The Tomb of Horrors, they would have been calling me out for such a dick move. Because they know what the adventure is, they take the boning almost in good humour.)), but I’ve been a little less stringent with that than I might, because it is a nasty thing to do to the players.

But at the end of the evening, we’d only got through three rounds of combat, and none of the enemy had been dropped, yet. I took a picture of the battlemap, and we called it a night.

I’m hoping for one more session before my Ireland trip, which should finish this encounter. After that, I expect one or two more sessions to wrap up the adventure. Then it’s on to the city-state of Belys.

Dateline – Storm Point


I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.


Yeah, I broke down and told the group what adventure we were playing. The combat this past session was extremely frustrating, with dazing auras and devastating attacks from the monsters, and one of the players commented that the punishment for failing to solve the puzzle on the first try – the monsters appearing – was really kind of out of proportion.

So I told them that they were playing the new Tomb of Horrors, and suddenly they understood. Punishment in this adventure is always going to be out of proportion to the infraction.

We picked up the game after an extended rest, and the party investigated the sundial and brazier. They had no idea what it was for, and eventually decided to move on. The way led outside, and across a bridge, into another large, strangely shaped building. This one, in addition to the runes, had a number of tapestries hanging on the walls.

Now, one of these tapestries was important, and described in detail, and had an illustration. The others were sort of glossed over. I didn’t like the idea of zeroing the players in on this one tapestry right off the hop, so I didn’t show them the illustration right away, and I made up a descriptions of each of the other tapestries that they looked at. This had mixed results; it made them have to work a little more to find the tapestry that was actually important, but it also made them pay a lot of extra attention to the other tapestries.

They discovered the important tapestry by going around the walls, ripping down tapestries, and the enchanted one wouldn’t come down. That’s when they got the illustration, and they pretty quickly figured out that puzzle, using the platinum key they had discovered earlier. They also discovered the two secret doors in the room, but were unable to open them.

Then it was into the other half of the room, with a tall torch and numbers arranged on the walls. They figured out that they needed to cast a shadow on a number, but got distracted by the tapestries, and picked a number that seemed to indicate a time represented in the tapestries. This got them a heaping helping of mad wraiths and a rather brutal combat.

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with puzzles like this in games. When they’re fun, they can be a lot of fun, but eventually, they stop being fun and just become frustrating. As a GM, I find myself having to watch the players carefully, and judge when the puzzle is starting to shift from interesting to annoying. At that point, it’s best to give little clues and nudge the characters in the right direction. I mis-timed this one, and wound up having to be much more explicit than I would have liked in order to head off the frustration and annoyance.

Still, the fact that they party had to go back and play with the sundial to find the right number to cast the shadow on should – I hope – illustrate the fact that the solution to a given puzzle is not always immediately present in the room where the puzzle is. We’ll see.

That’s where we left it that evening, after the revelation about the adventure’s identity. There was more exploration and problem-solving this game than combat, which is certainly something I want to encourage, but the combat was pretty long and brutal. The fact that we were down two players also slowed things somewhat.

But it was fun, and we’re looking forward to the next one.

Dateline – Storm Point


Two things.

First, I’m using a published adventure for this leg of the campaign, but the group doesn’t know what that adventure is. Please don’t tell them if you recognize it.

Second, because this is a published adventure, my accounts are going to have spoilers in them. If you start to recognize this as the adventure you’re playing – or going to play – you may want to avoid reading on.


Last night was the latest installment of the Storm Point campaign. Once again, I had a full house of players ((I’m starting to get spoiled, having everyone show up to every game! This makes all three of the restarted campaign.)), and once again, I’m pretty happy with the progress we made through the adventure. We did, however, wind up going later than we normally do.

We rejoined our valiant heroes as they were standing on a rickety rope bridge. The crossing was somewhat challenging, and a couple of them failed their checks and began to fall. I was rolling falling damage when Milo, the swordmage, decided to use Lightning Lure to snag his plummeting team mate and pull him back to the bridge, figuring a little lightning scorch is better than falling sixty feet. They all looked at me as if they expected me to say no to this idea, but I said, “Hell, yeah! That’s cool!”

Because it was, y’see.

And that kind of thinking is what I want to encourage in the game – using powers outside of combat, going for the cinematic approach. I always want to say yes to those kinds of ideas, as long as they’re not stupid ((Sometimes even if they are. Enough cool will outweigh stupid on the scales of GM Judgment.)). If it would look cool in a movie action scene, odds are I’ll say yes.

He managed to catch everyone that fell ((Though he almost missed Thrun; that dwarf has an extremely high Fortitude.)), doing around 10 points of damage to each of them, rather than the 33 points that an average 60-foot fall will do. Everyone was singed but grateful.

Once across the bridge, they entered an oddly-shaped building that contained a diorama of the site. They were able to identify the building they were currently in, and the little garden area below the cliffs where they first entered, but the rest of the structures were completely changed. Galvanys recognized the layout of the diorama as a graveyard for the high eladrin ((“So, we’re in a desecrated graveyard in the Feywild. Great. Is there anywhere worse we could be?” “Dude, shut up! The DM can hear you!”)), being eladrin himself.

Finding nothing else of interest here, they went out the other doorway of the building, across another rope bridge ((Couple more falls, couple more Lightning Lures)), and into the oddly-shaped structure on the other side. This building was more obviously constructed of several smaller buildings that had been cannibalized for building materials, and the inside was covered in deeply-carved runes. Investigation showed them similar to the ones that the group had found on the bodies of the harpies and dryads who had attacked them. Again, they seemed to be catching the energy of death, and channeling it somewhere nearby. Milo and Faran realized that this was definitely something bad, as the death energy should be flowing to the Raven Queen, the goddess of death, but was instead being siphoned off for other purposes.

The next room they entered had an overflowing pool with a key in the bottom ((“Does 4E have water weirds?” “I don’t think so.”)). Reaching into the pool for the key caused the water to rear up in the form of a serpent and strike at Galvanys, who had tried to take the key ((“See? Water weird!” “Actually, no. It’s just a magical effect.”)), teleporting him out into the nearby river right near the top of the falls. He managed to swim to shore, and made it back into the room inside a couple of minutes.

After some trial and error (and a few more dips in the river), the group teamed up to distract the trap while Ssudai, the dragonborn monk, snatched the key and ran for the door. Once he was past the doorway, the serpent collapsed back into the pool, and everyone cheered.

In the next chamber, they found a brazier hanging above a sundial, more of the strange runes, and a captive eladrin woman, who turned out to be a lamia.

This was a tough fight, made tougher by two things: first of all, the group didn’t have a controller, so very few close and area attacks. Second, I didn’t read the encounter closely enough, and dropped in both scarab swarms at the start of combat, instead of waiting until the lamia was bloodied to bring the second one in. The first point meant that, by and large, the group was doing half-damage to the lamia and the swarms, and the second point meant that they had more fronts to fight on, splitting attacks and damage more.

Still, though the fight was long and grueling ((And the first part pretty boring for Thrun, who spent the first three or four rounds alternately dazed and stunned.)), they managed to survive and triumph. Ssudai dumped burning coals from the brazier on some of the scarabs, and Faran dropped his blade barrier in a narrow point so that everyone could just keep hitting the lamia and pushing her back into the zone for more damage.

At that point, it was ten o’clock, which is about an hour later than we usually game on a Sunday evening, so I wrapped it up before letting them explore the room. That’s where we’ll pick it up next time. No one minded, because I told them they’d each get enough experience points to go up to tenth level.

But we got through two combat-ish encounters, and a total of five encounter areas, so I think we did pretty good for one evening. I like this quicker pace.

We’ll see if we can keep it up.

Dateline – Storm Point


Two things.

First, I’m using a published adventure for this leg of the campaign, but the group doesn’t know what that adventure is. Please don’t tell them if you recognize it.

Second, because this is a published adventure, my accounts are going to have spoilers in them. If you start to recognize this as the adventure you’re playing – or going to play – you may want to avoid reading on.


Last Sunday ((Yes, a full week ago – I’m almost caught up now.)) was the latest session of the Storm Point campaign. Two sessions in a row with a full roster of players – I’m going to get spoiled if this keeps up ((Not a bad problem to have.)).

I’m continuing to run the published adventure for the group, and I have to say, I’m kinda liking the freedom it gives me and the players. That may seem like a kind of counter-intuitive sentiment, but it’s true. Normally, I only have time to prep a couple of encounters per session, and I then funnel the party towards them. I try to keep a pool of three or four generic encounters on hand for when the party goes completely off my map, but those often don’t fit the story as well as I might like, and prove distractions. With the published adventure, if the party goes somewhere I wasn’t ready for ((As they did this session.)), it’s still right there in the book, and I just ask for a couple of minutes to read it over and refresh my memory.

That means that, not only am I ready to game with minimal prep time, but also that I don’t have to funnel the party towards the adventure in the same way. They get to go where they want, and find the adventure waiting there for them. This may not be news to anyone else, but it’s been a long time since I’ve run a published D&D adventure that works this well ((Most of the published ones I’ve run in the past three or four years that have required almost as much prep and herding as a home-built adventure.)), so it’s a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, when we left our heroes, they had just crossed over into the Feywild. That’s where we picked up this time, and they followed the trail they found through the strange, dark woods to a ridge of dark rock. On top of the ridge was a jumble of buildings, and a cave cut into the base of the ridge. Beside the cave was a strange, taunting poem carved into the stone.

After deciphering the poem, and talking things over – all the while keeping watch for the monsters they were sure were going to pop up at any moment – they went into the cave, where they found three statues – Maiden, Mother, and Crone – blocking the route through. Each statue had a hand extended.

This prompted some more discussion – statues in dungeons almost inevitably come to life and hit you, after all – and Milo finally decided to put a silver piece in the hand of the Crone statue. Sure enough, the statues came to life, but only to step aside and allow the party to pass. The cave opened out into an overgrown garden in at the bottom of the cliffs that supported the buildings high above them.

Instead of pushing on through the garden and discovering the main way into the building complex, they scouted around and found a tunnel into the cliff face that I had overlooked when prepping for the session. It led them up to a building that I hadn’t read over since the first time I had read the whole adventure, but I asked for a bit of a pause while I quickly looked over the description of the area, and then on we went ((This is what I mean by the freedom. No extra prep for me, no false restrictions on player action.)).

The room they found themselves in was an irregular cave-like structure with walls made of the jumbled bones of thousands of creatures. There was a statue in the middle of the room ((This one didn’t come to life. Just sayin’.)), and a grey angel ((I couldn’t remember what these are supposed to look like, so I described it as looking like the death creature from Hellboy II.)). Well, the angel got the drop on the party, and then his buddy showed up. The necrotic attacks, coupled with the life-draining magic of the room, made the fight somewhat tougher than I think either side was anticipating, but they managed to defeat the evil creatures and make it out of the room to a rope bridge where they could rest a little.

And that’s where we left it.

I’ve been trying to boost the pace of these games a little, so that we get more, and more varied, things done in a single session. In that respect, I’m pretty happy with this session. There was exploration, puzzle-solving, and a combat, and we got it all in in about three and a half hours. Ideally, I’d like to speed up the pace of combat, but that would require everyone actually paying attention to the game when it’s not their turn, so I don’t think that’s terribly realistic in this group.

Still, a GM can dream…

Dateline – Storm Point


Two things.

First, I’m using a published adventure for this leg of the campaign, but he group doesn’t know what that adventure is. Please don’t tell them if you recognize it.

Second, because this is a published adventure, my accounts are going to have spoilers in them. If you start to recognize this as the adventure you’re playing – or going to play – you may want to avoid reading on.


This past Sunday saw our return to the Storm Point campaign, after a hiatus of five months, when I ran the Gammatoba mini-campaign. I was gratified to have a full house for this first session back, and was very pleased to get back to the game.

Anyway, the gang is almost tenth level, so I want to move them out and away from Storm Point, into the wider world and beyond. To that end, I decreed that a year and a half had gone by in the downtime, and started the session with a description of how things had changed in the area: the town of Storm Point prospering, the dwarven city of Silverfalls being resettled now that the heroes had cleansed it, and a little village growing up around the hospital the players had constructed. I emphasized the way things were pretty tame in the neighbourhood, now, and that, prosperous as the town was becoming, it still couldn’t match a larger city for the purposes of selling loot or buying stuff.

With that done, the party was primed and ready when a dwarven merchant asked them to look into missing caravans between Silverfalls and the city-state of Belys, on the far side of the Bitter Mountains. They haggled with the merchant, getting him to make them shareholders in his company and providing them with letters of introduction to merchants in Belys in return for their assistance. Then they tried to get him to give them the carts, horses, and provisions they would need to create a fake caravan to try and trap whoever was responsible, but he wasn’t having that – he was paying them to do a job, they were responsible for getting the job done.

Our heroes took that in stride, however, and outfitted their own one-wagon caravan, and set off through the mountains. The trip took them about a week to get through the pass, and then they reached the Gloaming Wood, a crescent-shaped wood that circled about half the plains that surrounded Belys. A couple of days traveling through that wood, and they could tell that the Feywild was very close. Galvanys had heard tales of the Gloaming Court, one of the minor factions of the eladrin, that he thought held sway here, but didn’t remember too much else.

About a day away from leaving the wood, they spotted some suspicious piles of leaves in a clearing by the side of the road – suspicious in that one had a bloodied arm sticking out of it. They stopped the wagon, got out, and Ssudai crept up on the piles stealthily, while the rest of the group advanced more openly. That’s when they spotted the harpies in the trees, and Thrun decided to try and scare them off.

At this point, the corpses in the piles of leaves revealed themselves as dryads, we rolled initiative. The fight had some interesting movement in it, with things being swept back and forth across the battlefield, and some tree climbing by Ssudai. It took a pretty long time to get through, though, mainly because everyone was trying to remember how to play their characters during the Gammatoba hiatus. Things got a little tense, but really there wasn’t that much danger overall.

The point at which they decided they might really be in trouble was when they killed the first dryad. Her eyes rolled back, she convulsed, her bark and wood turned grey, and mist started to rise from her eyes, mouth, and fingertips. She only stuck around for another round, getting in one more attack before crumbling to rotted wood, but the rest of the monsters followed the same pattern, which weirded the party out a bit – as it was supposed to.

After the fight, the group examined the bones and wood of their opponents and found runes carved on them, still leaking the grey mist. Milo analyzed the markings, and determined that they were necromantic sigils meant to drain off and channel the life energy of whatever the creatures killed, and Faran determined that they called on the power of old, dead gods.

At this point, it was getting a little late in the evening, and  wanted to move things on to a specific stopping point, so instead of making it a big puzzle to figure out where these fey creatures had come from, I let the party follow the grey mist rising off the remains of their foes. It led them into a glade where the trees were dark and twisted, and in the midst of it all, two ancient, half-dead oak trees had grown into a portal to the Feywild, and the next stage of the adventure.

There was a brief moment of panic on my part, as the party started talking about how they could just close the portal, and how stupid they’d have to be to pass through it. My initial response was to force them through somehow, but then I just calmed down and decided that, if they didn’t go through this one, I could get them to the party some other way, and let them decide what they were going to do. In the end, they decided to go through the portal after all, so I needn’t have worried.

And that was the point I stopped things.

It was good to get back to Storm Point after the hiatus, but the hiatus was nice. It let me recharge my enthusiasm for the game, and to think about what’s working and what’s not. In general, I’m happy with the game, but I want to bring in more variety of play – make it less of a fight-of-the-week game. To do that, I’m looking at ways to encourage other types of adventure, more exploration, and more interaction. I’m also trying to make the fights move more quickly, but that’s an uphill battle with this group’s attention span. I’ve got some ideas in that area, though.

Still, it’s good to be back.

Dateline – Gammatoba

This past Sunday was the final session of the Gammatoba mini-campaign I’ve been running as a break from the Storm Point D&D campaign that’s been going for about two and a half years.

When we last left our heroic mutants, they had just entered the Karney Key Library, after overcoming the ark defenses. The dying ark leader laughed at them and said that they Librarian would take care of them. We opened this session with the heroes opening the doors of the library and seeing what waited for them.

Now, I haven’t been very strict with making encounters in Gammatoba. I just throw a number of cool monsters together, and run things off the cuff. For this game, I came up with the Librarian – basically, I reskinned the Eater of Knowledge Mindstrike from Pyramid of Shadows as a cyborg-centaur kinda thing, with a couple of new tweaks. For the rest, I threw in a double-handful of ark minions and some interesting terrain.

The first room had some sandbag fortifications and over a dozen of the ark minions. The looks from my players – all seven of them were present – were worth the price of admission all by themselves. They were hoping the arks were minions, but they didn’t know for certain, and I’d told them that I planned to leave a few of them dead on the floor this session. They took those out in very short order, with the last three fleeing into the main reading room of the library, where I planned the final combat.

I had expected the group to take a short rest before pressing on, but they didn’t – they just charged after the fleeing arks. So, I started placing every figure I had brought with me ((Well, almost every figure. I didn’t place the chuul figure that I had been using for the warrior-accountant giant crayfish.)) on the balconies and behind the shelves, ready to open fire. I used a sword spider figure for the Librarian, and rubbed my palms together in anticipation of the mutant blood about to be spilled.

The players were scared, which was the right reaction. They knew they were going to die.

And then they proceeded to completely dismantle the encounter.

A lucky draw from the Alpha Mutation deck got one of them machine control, which he threw at the Librarian because I had described it as a cyborg. It only gave him one round of control, but it also kept him dazed for a few rounds. Then the stun whips came out, and the Librarian was repeatedly stunned. Meanwhile, the bulk of the characters concentrated on taking out the ark minions, keeping them off the backs of the mutants taking turns putting the boots to the Librarian.

I got one round out of the whole combat (about eight or nine rounds in total) where the Librarian could attack. He blasted the brains of the group, and then used a special power I had given him to summon in some defensive data constructs ((Basically, some more minions to mess things up.)), but went down before his next turn came up.

Still, it was a tough fight. The group fought smart and used their resources well, but the sheer number of the minions and the damaging aura that the Librarian had almost did for a couple of them.

At the end of the fight, they were all still standing.

I had thought about a skill challenge kind of thing to hold the building until the Ishtarian forces arrived to take possession, but it was getting a little late, and I judged it to be kind of anticlimactic after taking down the Librarian and his minions, so I had the fish-warriors of Ishtar drop in on columns of light and erect a force dome over the library. The group got the crystal charging device they had been promised, wrenched the flying saucer out of the ground again, and flew home to Fort LoGray as heroes – the Fort LoGray Legion’s First Airborne Wing.

That’s where we closed the game.

I want to thank all my regular players for indulging my desire to take a break from D&D to try Gamma World, and to thank Cody for sitting in and playing with us. I had fun.

Now, it’s time to get back to the Storm Point game. I’ve got plans for that one.

Dateline – Gammatoba

Last Sunday was the penultimate session of the Gammatoba mini-campaign. We’ve almost made it to the end of our little excursion into the weird post-apocalyptic world of the future.

This session was set to be a big, knock-down, drag-out assault on the Carney Key Library, currently held by the Mad Tooth gang, trying to secure it for the fish-priests of Ishtar ((Just the fact that Gamma World means I get to write sentences like that makes me smile.)). I expected it to last the entire session, and it did. I also told the players that, because we were coming to the end of the mini-campaign, I was taking the gloves off.

We started with a sketch of the crashed flying saucer and the defensive wall in front of the library. I put a bunch of figures on the board, both on top of the wall and in behind piles of rubble in front of the wall, and told the group they could see more of the Mad Tooths converging on the location. The top of the wall had laser ballistae on top of them, and I brought out one of the mutant crayfish warrior-accountants early in the first round ((Which prompted a quote so good, I had to tweet it: “Which is the bigger threat – the laser crossbows or the mutant crayfish?”)) to put the pressure on.

I didn’t really balance this encounter too much. The Mad Tooth gang is made up of arks, so the bulk of the opponents were ark whelps – minions – with some ark scouts manning the ballistae on the walls. The mutant crayfish was a giant crayfish I found in the Monster Builder: it was a solo, which I decided was too tough as I was putting it on the table, so I reduced its hit points by half. I also had stats for an ark hand-taker that was going to be leading from behind the wall.

I just kept pouring the whelps onto the board, adding a couple more each round. Some lucky teleportation got many of them, as well as the mutant crayfish, flung a mile away, and the heroes made it to the top of the wall. At that point, I put a bunch more arks on the table, hunkered down behind sandbags at the front of the library, and gave them guns. I also put the hand-taker on the table, and a second crayfish ((The group was pretty battered by that point, so I reduced the hit points down to a quarter of the solo total.)).

There were some memorable moments:

  • L’Unite Cinq, the AI Reanimate, going down under a horde of arks, all on his own on the ground before the wall.
  • Ikto Umoo, the Gelatinous Mindbreaker, blasting the hand-taker down in one amazing shot with his leaky fusion rifle.
  • Vant, the AI Shapeshifter ((That’s right, AI Reanimate for the T-800 and AI Shapeshifter for the T-1000)), invisibly wrestling for control of the laser ballista.
  • Skitter, the Ectoplasmic Arachnid, switching the ballista to automatic and opening up on the defenders in front of the library.
  • Barto Melu, the Temporal Gravity Manipulator, sacrificing himself to use unsafe Omega Tech, and spending several rounds unconscious because of it.

In the end, though, they got into the library, barred the gates, and heard the dying words of the ark leader:

“The Librarian will take care of you.”

Everything wraps up next session.