Last night was the latest instalment of the Storm Point game, and we wrapped up the Floating Island adventure. It was an interesting game, because three of the six characters had undergone greater or lesser changes as a result of the opportunity I had given them last session to rework their characters. These changes ranged from swapping a couple of powers to completely changing class. So, there was a bit of a learning curve as people got used to what is, in effect, a different character.
I had also wanted to make the combat for this session a little bit interesting. One of the things this group does well is manoeuvre the battle to their advantage, taking advantage of being able to move around while restricting the ability of their opponents to do the same. I wanted to see how they handled having their movement rather severely restricted.
To restrict the party movement, I set the combat in a store room, with long, narrow aisles between tall, heavy stone shelves. The opponents were some constructs: three scythejaws and four whirling blade automatons. I hid the scythejaws in boxes on the lower shelves down the centre aisle, with the idea that they would trigger at different points in the combat: two would trigger when a character was adjacent to them, and the third would trigger a few rounds later, at the opening of the aisle, cutting off retreat. The automatons I had drop out of the ceiling on the first round in the corners of the room and start in on the characters.
The scythejaws worked beautifully, and did a ton of damage. The narrow quarters for fighting limited what the party could do, making them rather nervous and desperate, and I managed to isolate them in about three little pockets to pound on them individually. However, the narrow aisle also really limited the effectiveness of the automatons: their burst 1 attack could catch at most two characters at once, and didnâ€™t do a whole lot of damage. I also forgot their blow-up-on-death power, but that wasnâ€™t such a big deal, overall. They acted as a nice distraction and impediment to movement, while the scythejaws chowed down mercilessly on the characters they were next to.
I got a few of them down to single-digit hit points at the same time a couple of times.
Now, the whole point behind setting the combat up the way I did was not to screw over the players, or to invalidate the way theyâ€™ve built their characters and the things the characters are good at. My goal was to pose an interesting tactical challenge, and see how they responded. Sure enough, they had to change their typical tactics, and think about things somewhat differently. It was a fun exercise, but I made sure that the combat wasnâ€™t too overwhelming so that they had a good chance at surviving it, even when they were not in their tactical element.
But I didnâ€™t want it to be too easy. If itâ€™s too easy, thereâ€™s no sense of victory.
After this encounter, which was the last defence before the dragonâ€™s lair, they found the loot, and headed back to Storm Point. One of the characters has requested that the next adventure be an expedition to Silverfalls, the ruined dwarven city in the mountains, to find the bones of his grandfather, who fell in the final defence of the city while the dwarves were evacuating.
Sounds like a good adventure to me.
At this point, the characters are 8th level, so I envision this adventure bringing them up to 10th or so, right on the edge of Paragon Tier. The group has also expressed some desire to find a bigger city to use as a base, and I think Paragon Tier is a good time to do that. On the far side of the mountains is the city of Belys, a thriving metropolis ruled by a dynasty of genasi, that I envision as a sort of Arabian Nights Baghdad, so thatâ€™s where weâ€™re going next.
On a (sort of) related note, we also had a discussion about the future of the campaign in the real world. I asked folks if theyâ€™d be willing to take a hiatus from Storm Point for a few sessions starting in November. Why? Because, in October, Wizards of the Coast is releasing the newest incarnation of Gamma World, and Iâ€™d like to give that a try. And this group is pretty much perfect for the traditional weird and wacky world of Gamma.
They all enthusiastically agreed.
But thatâ€™s a way off in the future yet.