Dateline – Storm Point

First off, I’m going to be running some D&D 4E demos at Imagine Games & Hobbies again. These will take place on Saturday, November 29, and Saturday, December 13. If you’re in Winnipeg, and want to try out D&D 4E in a friendly, non-threatening environment, come on down and bounce some dice with us. I’ll post more details here as I hammer them out with the store.

Anyway, on to the main topic.

I ran the second session of my new Storm Point campaign this past Sunday. Again, it went quite well. We were one man short, so one of the other players took over running his character for the session. These are the rules we hashed out at the start of this campaign, mainly to make my life as GM easier:

  1. I keep a copy of all character sheets.
  2. We run as long as four out of six players show up.
  3. The characters of absent players get played by someone who is present.
  4. No one ever plays more than two characters.
  5. No one ever has to double-up on characters twice in a row.
  6. All six characters get equal shares of the XP.

This set of rules prevents a couple of things that we ran into in the 3.5 campaign, when we would leave out the characters of absent players. First, I don’t have to try to adjust the encounters on the fly based on who shows up. Second, we don’t wind up with an XP gap between characters.

So, we had the full party when they got to the main adventure site. I threw a combat at them as they made camp for the night, a group of representatives from the Empire Reborn trying to take their map to the ruins by force. This was more of a challenging fight than they’d had up to that point, because the foes were of a more appropriate level, and were intelligent and unsurprised. They got worried a couple of times during the combat, which was good.

After that, there was a skill challenge to wend their way down through the treacherous chasm to the actual ruins of an Arkhosian outpost. Each failure they rolled produced some sort of setback: a rockslide, an attack by a cavern choker, etc. Also, each round of the challenge, they had to make an Endurance check or lose a healing surge from fatigue, random battering, bad air, etc.

Waiting for them at the bottom of the chasm was the toughest fight so far: a Level 3 encounter with a nest of kruthiks. Four hatchlings, two adults, and a hive lord. This was a close fight, with the cleric actually dropping at one point, and everyone rather battered and torn at the end, but they prevailed.

Again, everyone had fun, it seemed, and the various encounters worked well and were exciting. I’m gonna close this post with a quote from the player of Thrun the Anvil, dwarven fighter, who also ran Milo Tarn, human swordmage, in this session:

Lessons I learned:

– Thrun needs to pay more attention to protecting the healer.

– Thrun needs to stay closer to the pack in combat. I think what I *should* have done was to maneuver to force the critter he was fighting into the group via tide of iron instead of hanging out over by the pillar, just the two of us.

– I’d like to get/ask for/make a power card for Thrun’s challenge.

– Fighter’s challenge + enemies with reach = win. Thrun just hammered the crap clean out of that poor choker.

– Gaining healing triggers should be a priority for Thrun as I advance him through levels. Because of this, it’s also probably going to work better if I don’t burn the feat at second level to get him the craghammer and instead take a feat that extends his survivability either by mitigation (heavy armor or the like), or by endurance.

– Greenflame blade can be an awesome mook eraser.

– Aegis on one target at range + booming blade on a different, adjacent target = nice control.

– Aegis on one target at range + booming blade on a different, adjacent target = a big dent in my HP.

– Being hit by status effects sucks.

– For each additional status effect you are hit with, the suck amplifies as a product of cubes into the ultrasuck range.

Looking forward to the next game.

Back for More – Storm Point

So, after the devastating and anti-climactic TPK two weeks ago, my Sunday group, affectionately known as the Geek Game, decided that they wanted to play 4th Edition D&D for the next campaign. I agreed – hell, I encouraged it. I’ve been itching to run more 4E stuff, and I’ve been wanting to try out building adventures and campaigns in the new system.

I got some opinions from folks about what kind of game they wanted. The consensus was to leave behind the adventure paths and play in a game that, while it may have some throughlines of story, is more episodic, with the adventures being a little more self-contained. They also voted not to use Forgotten Realms, which is the only full setting currently published.

Again, I was okay with that. I came up with the idea of the fishing/mining town of Storm Point, that was on the frontier of the human empire a century ago, and barely noticed when the empire fell. I wanted a frontier, Deadwood kind of feel to the place, with little contact with the larger world and no external authority. I decided that representatives from some powerful neighbouring city-states and kingdoms had recently started paying attention to Storm Point because of the fact that it sits in the middle of the remains of three much older empires, and the ruins and treasure they contain. Most locals don’t care too much about that, but outsiders have started showing up, wanting to do some looting, and wanting the support of the town to do so.

I put together a couple of pages of notes into a campaign handout, told them what books they could use for their characters, and they got to creating them. We wound up with:

  • Ssudai T’kar, a dragonborn rogue (Ahem! Commando!)
  • Thrun the Anvil, a dwarf fighter
  • Soren Greensword, a human warlord
  • Faran Brae, an elf cleric
  • Galvanys i’Araukamegil, an eladrin ranger
  • Milo Tarn, a human swordmage

I also let them vote on what their first adventure would be, based on the writeups in the campaign handout, and they decided to go after some ruins from one of the older empires. I sat down with the DMG and the MM, and had the notes I needed for the adventure done in about an hour. I spent another hour to an hour and a half typing up the notes and statblocks I needed to run the game.

And I was done.

Two and a half hours to put together an adventure designed to take a party of six from first level to second level. I had time to create a map of the campaign area, and a prop map for the adventure.

I’m liking that a lot.

Anyway, last night we ran for the first time. We got started a little late, and there was some general hullabaloo that slowed us down some, but we got through two encounters, and everyone had a good time.

The first encounter was a mix of a skill challenge and combat, with the characters completing a skill challenge to locate a band of goblins with a map to an undiscovered ruin complex, and then taking the map away from them. They did some scouting of the nearby area, and figured out the general area the goblins would have to be, then talked to the farmers in the area to find out if there was any sign of goblins. They found out that one of the ne’er-do-wells in the town’s halfling community had been seen apparently trading with the goblins, so they went to his boat and put the fear of several gods into him until he told them where to find the goblins. After that, it was a simple matter of sneaking up on the goblin camp, pushing several of them into the fire, and putting the rest to the sword.

The second encounter was straight combat, with a pack of hyenas attacking them on the way to the place marked on the map.

Overall, I’d have to say it went very well. Everyone seemed to have fun, and they liked discovering the different ways their characters could work together, uncovering the synergy of the different powers. And they seem pretty anxious for the next game, two weeks from now.

I have to admit that I am, too.