Sunday was the most recent installment of the Storm Point game. We had a full house, less one, and I’d warned everyone that this sessions was going to be the defense of a fortified mine against a band of hobgoblins, part of the army marching on the town of Storm Point.
I decided that I was going to use the rough skeleton of the skill challenge created by Mike Mearls in his Ruling Skill Challenges column. I liked that it allowed a wide range of characters to contribute meaningfully to the defense of the mine, doing different things in different ways, so I filed off the serial numbers, put in my own required plot elements and big bad guys, and ran it.
It worked quite well.
Part of the challenge involves preparing for the battle, and it provides a nice set-up where the group just can’t get everything done that it needs to – there are too many options, and not enough time or resources. The players definitely felt that pressure, knowing that for everything they did to prepare the defenses, there was something not being done. And the things they chose to do had a real impact on the actual defense of the keep.
Now, the Warlord in the party came up with his own option, not using one of the ones provided in the skill challenge, deciding that he would, instead, train one of the defending units to be a command cadre, allowing him to pass orders and implement tactics more readily. I liked the idea, so I let him do that, giving him a +2 bonus to his rolls in the Tactical Command skill challenge during the defense.
The Cleric managed to get another unit on its feet with his Heal skill, so the boys were able to fully man both the battlements and the gates, while still keeping the trained command cadre intact. And the Fighter managed to fortify the gates a little better, the Swordmage sorted out some good healing potions, and the Ranger and Rogue made a scouting flight on their hippogriffs to assess the enemy forces.
Yeah. Those hippogriffs.
So, after that, I ran the challenge mostly by-the-book from the article, except that the archers weren’t mounted on hippogriffs, and I changed the leader to a shadar-kai rather than an oni. The undead attack was detected early on by the Cleric, and he and the Ranger and the Rogue on the parapets managed to drive them off fairly easily, and they used their healing potions to keep from losing the squad of defenders up there. The defense of both the walls and the gate were much easier without having to worry about air cavalry, and I wrapped things up with a big battle against the hobgoblin command (beefed up a bit to make it a good fight for the party) and the shadar-kai leader*.
The battle was tough, with a couple of the guys coming dangerously close to dropping, but the group has got very good at trading off healing and being targets, so they managed it without actually losing anyone, though I decided that they were going to lose one squad of defenders for every three rounds that the battle went on. It lasted five rounds, so they lost one squad.
The basic structure of the skill challenge was good, and it gave me a nice starting point to describe the battle and improvise when the characters wanted to try something not covered by it. Everyone felt that they were contributing to the success of the battle, and they had fun.
I’m planning on doing something similar for the next couple of sessions, which is the siege of Storm Point, and the end of this portion of the campaign arc.
I’m looking forward to it.
*Found him in the Monster Builder, which I am starting to love. Back