The cast of characters:
Bryan is our fearless GM
Marc plays our warrior Stannis, skilled with a bow
Hudson plays Sonja, who fights with savage fury, hewing foes with a great-sword
Paul plays Egg-Shen, a monk of unusual disposition from distant eastern lands
Brian plays Ambario, whose mastery of armor cements his bold advances
I play Arndor, a fey-blooded sorcerer (history here)
We resumed immediately after the wolf attack that closed Session 2. Our characters spent a restless night recovering from our wounds and debating whether we should drink the healing potions to eliminate our recovery time. The chill night passed.
The next morning we awoke and decided to spend a day of chores and recovery at the camp. Early in the morning, a trapper approached. After an exchange establishing that he was not aggressive, he came forward and traded us healing poultices for the wolf skins that Ambario had prepared while we waited. They worked incredibly well, so we resumed our quest.
We decided to indulge Egg-Shen, who was fascinated by the tale of Davek's ferry over the snake having been burned out and Davek killed. When we got there, only a rope remnant crossed the river. Near the old crossing a brass bell waited. Impulsively, Ambario decided to ring the bell. As the clear note sounded, everyone was struck dumb by a sudden plunge in temperature and fog that boiled out of the river. Stannis stumbled away from the bank, hefted his bow, and prepared for battle, while Sonja gripped her huge blade and likewise prepared to fight.
From the river emerged an emaciated, haunting form: the dead Davek. Ambario spoke boldly, telling the apparition that we fought the bandits who had killed Davek, and that we had already slain many. Davek's apparition extracted a promise from us, to throw the Staglord's body in the river so that he could watch him die. We promised him the deed, though once he departed we worried about the difficulty of transporting the Staglord alive to the river for a grizzly execution.
After we recovered our courage, we continued on to visit the kobolds. We followed the river, and knew we were close when we spotted a bright blue mite staked to a post on the hill. Once we neared the staked mite, a keen eyed companion spotted a sign marking an abandoned silver mine. When we investigated, a kobold guardian called a challenge out from within the cave. Fortunately, he then recognized us from the moon radish harvest; unfortunately, he lacked wit enough to greet us in a tongue that any but Ambario could understand.
He led us into the depths of the mine; Ambario noticed the glimmer of silver in passing as we negotiated the mine. At one point we passed a caged mite prisoner and asked the kobolds how their questioning progressed; later we turned sideways and shuffled to avoid a pit trap. Soon we reached at the main hall. Both the Chief and the Shaman were present; only Stannis was keen eyed enough to notice the subtle control that the shaman was exerting over the chief. They told us of their war with the mites; the raids
We negotiated; the kobolds would not agree to harvest their silver for us, and we were unimpressed with their offer to let us keep what we gained from the slaughter of the mites--since we had no intent to share what we'd won by force of arms with them--other than their statue. Eventually Arndor suggested that we extract a promise that the kobolds stop their raids on "biguns" instead. Reluctantly, Ambario offered that as the requirement, and they agreed. We would attempt to recover their missing idol. On the way out of their warrens, the shaman asked us to deliver the idol to him personally. Stannis was insulted by the attempt to break our proclaimed word.
We advanced halfway between the kobold camp and the great tree the mites were said to haunt. We decided to set up camp and sleep; to hit the mites in the morning. (The mites are nocturnal, reported the kobolds.)
The next morning we woke shortly after dawn, and it only took a few hours to reach the tree. We expected less activity by day, but were surprised to find the tree totally deserted. We hunted about, almost at random, before Stannis finally stumbled on a concealed entrance to their lair among the roots. The tunnel was small; we all dislodged tons of dirt on the way down.
Ambario was first down; his armor turned aside the tabletop catapults two mites fired as he descended, their caltrop ammunition harmlessly deflected. The mites decided discretion was wisest and fled by two exits. Or tried; Stannis cut one down with a well-placed arrow. The other got around a corner, calling alarm. The mite tunnels were a tight squeeze for us all; they stood 3' high with few spaces more than 4'. So, stooped, we rushed after the fleeing mite. In the next room, guards attempted to delay our advance, while centipede herders roused their beasts (more than a foot across) to fight. Luck was on our side; while minor wounds were inflicted by the mites and centipedes, their poison did not bite.
A few got away, calling alarm, though Stannis's arrows pinned several more before they could flee. When we reached the next room, a few guards tried to hold us away from their piles of junk, but Sonja's great-sword and Ambario's slashing blade felled the first; again they fled. Egg-Shen and Sonja raced across the room, heedless of traps, and slew them as they bottlenecked exiting the chamber. Our confidence was high; the mites we'd seen were no challenge to our skill. Which is how we came to overreach...
Rounding the corner, Sonja raced into the midst of the next chamber, where the mightiest mite warriors rose from their table and fanned out before their chief, who straddled a great tick. Sonja raced forward to cut down the fleeing mites, outpacing her allies. The warriors rushed to confront our barbarian, heartening their allies, who ceased fleeing and surrounded Sonja, cutting her off completely.
Before we could break through the mites and link back up with Sonja, the chief's riding tick leapt forward and plunged its melon sized head into our barbarian, drinking deep. We redoubled our efforts to reach her; Arndor ensorcelled several mites clearing a path for allies to reinforce Sonja. Ambario's heavy armor proved an impenetrable wall to the beleaguered mites. A hard fought engagement left many of our heroes wounded, but slew the mite king, his pet the tick, and the king's guards. The mite remnants fled to the dark rear of the chamber, hurtling themselves into a chasm, swinging from great root to root. We didn't pursue.
Among the chief's loot was the kobold's idol. Meanwhile, a crazed mite was our prisoner; while he understood the common tongue, his thoughts were too disordered to be of use. This chasm was the end of our path (we had no desire to descend), so we retraced our steps and soon approached the tunnel where we'd entered. Given the generally easy slaughter of the mites (their chief and his warriors exempted), we decided to proceed down the other path and clear the nest. In the next chamber we encountered a brave remnant of the mite hordes--but rather than prepare for us, their death, they instead enjoyed themselves with the torture of a kobold they'd captured earlier. We clashed and the mites fell, but before they died one of their number roused a truly tremendous centipede that emerged from the chasm at the back of this chamber. It lunged forward, startling the warriors with its speed, but luck favored our heroes; it landed sharp slashes of its scythe like mandibles, but never caught and drug our warriors away from their companions. Eventually it lunged forward one time too many, and the coordinated blows of our warriors felled it.
Meanwhile, Arndor had freed the kobold. The prisoner proved to be a member of the same kobold tribe; on our journey back, he told us of his capture and the plight of his tribe. (He, at least, spoke common.)
We retraced our route and reached the kobold warrens before sunset. We asked him to fetch the chief and shaman. He was reluctant; he blamed the troubles of his tribe on the mean-spirited shaman. We suggested that since he would be out of our sight, he could fetch whomever he chose. Several minutes later, he returned with the chief and his warriors in tow. We offered the chief the idol; he took it and smashed it to the stones. We prepared for an attack following his bold gesture, but instead he swore to break the shaman's hold over the tribe. His warriors fell in enthusiastically, and together they raced to confront the shaman. We followed, hurrying to catch this confrontation.
The shaman appeared ready for a fight with the chief and his warriors... but confidence turned to terror as Sonja charged forward, Stannis contributed arrows, and the rest of the humans charged. The fight was brief. After the shaman's death, the chief thanked up publicly, repeated his pledge to end his people's raids on biguns, and invited us to take the shaman's horded treasure with us in thanks for freeing him and his people.
We returned to Oleg's--or, at least, set a path to do so. Each evening, Sonja was wracked by terrible, worsening chills. It appeared that the foul tick had passed some disease to our mighty barbarian. In the still frigid nights, we made warm camps and tended to our sick companion; when day arrived, we hurried our horses and finally reached the humble trading post.
The priest (who had come with the soldiers) tended to Sonja, curing her disease. We told tales of our exploits; Lieutenant Kreston told us that he would send to the Swordlords for our reward for taming the kobold problem.
[Ding, level 2!]
Several paths were open to us at this point; after discussion, we decided to try to find the abandoned temple to Erastil, in part to repay the priest of Erastil who had cured Sonja. We set off for the short journey on foot; the temple was in rumored to be in the woods, with passage too tangled for horses to be of much use.
We searched about and quickly found the ruins of the temple. Or... not quite ruins. Statues of the god in many forms were still present, just deeply tarnished; the font of holy water was stagnant and green with slime. Stannis, one of Erastil's faithful, searched his pack and took out a cleaning cloth. He began applying it to the tarnished statue, while the other heroes kept a wary eye out for the rumored guardian.
Our efforts to clean were interrupted by a great snort, and the charge of an immense bear! We scattered, then reformed to wolf pack the great beast. Arndor lashed out with bright colors, dazzling it and allowing us to reposition. Much like wolves against a bear, keeping its attention off of any one target was critical--one heavy paw was enough to drive any hero to their knees... had it successfully landed both paws on any one hero, death would have followed. But fate, or Erastil, was on our side and we finally defeated the mighty defender.
On the bear's collapse, we saw the great beast's form replaced with a humble man's--an old priest, whose corpse aged to oblivion before our eyes, tattered vestments threadbare around the bones. A wave of holy energy swept the temple, scrubbing the statues bright and restoring the holy water's purity. We gave thanks, then returned to Oleg's to describe the temple's restoration to Erastil's priest. He was so taken with our description that he immediately discussed heading out to see the sanctified temple.
A peek behind the curtain at some campaign prep ideas from my campaign, a while ago.
Asamor does it again. Random 4e treasure parcels: Quartermaster
Item Previews from Adventurer's Vault: Armor, Holy Symbols & Wands, Battle Standards, Reagents, Figurines of Wonderous Power
A level two adventure: Treasure of Talon Pass
The Barbarian will be ready for playtest this month.
More character sheets
Rob Donoghue exults after playing recently. So does John Harper, on killing a red dragon. Back to Rob, writing about NPC spells and getting to play hard.
E-Z TILES Wilderness Set 1; a pdf with layers you can turn on and off to make varied tiles.
Rebuilding Skill DCs; well written and persuasive.
Advice: Prepare a game/setting character sheet.
Similarly, The Troops is a very cool setup for an organization. Filling it out provides recurring hooks and other useful bits.
Characters inspire the adventure.
Sequel to playing ball: Creative Vectors
A crude but powerful tool to end unfun roleplaying: The Rule of Lame
Burning Wheel actual play: The Bastard and the Knight, Part 2.
Inspectres in Space actual play.
Mage: The Awakening review.
Make a 4e Druid from a Fey Pact Warlock.
Earthdawn is being released as a 4e world setting
Chatty reports on the new catalog spilling that Players Handbook 2 will include Druid, Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Bard classes (eight in all). New races will include the gnome, the half-orc, and the Goliath.
Starblazer Adventures is preordering.
Triple Ace Games is a Pulp RPG publisher.
Actual Play of SotC:
The Revenge of Zombie Kong and the Lightning Zombies
Hadrian Helm and Johnny Stripes vs. the Evil Earth
Spirit of the Century presents: Revenge of the Tyrian Deathlord!
Centurion Science Heroes vs. the Murder Nation
Tailoring the plot obstacles to the PCs is an Eigen plot
The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen is returning to print. (It's supposed to be a lot like a freeform version of Once upon a Time.)
Advice on pacing: one of the hardest things to get right in a game.
Random Acts of Senseless Violence is supposed to be an excellent and disturbing book by Jack Womack. (It's hard to find-- the library doesn't have it.)
This is a great example of humility over on Rhubarb Pie.
The Tyranny of Fun is baloney post over at Chatty DM was good at dealing with his frustrations. (The main post was about his frustration with people labeling the other D&D editions of "fun" as wrong. Deep in the comments, though, there was some well presented discussion. It was a little sharp at first, but looking closer it highlighted a fundamental difference between the editions and gives a good guide to predicting which players will like which editions.
Donny's comment kicked off the good discussion:
What is the biggest change in 4E? It’s not really the rules per se, its that there is no longer any place for a lone wolf character anymore. You see a little of that in the default party becoming one larger (it was 4 from 2nd - 3.5) now it is 5. The tactical aspect HEAVILY encourages teamwork and balance above all other considerations. Unfortunately, this means no parties of say, three strikers, one defender, and another defender…it probably wont workout too well, it is too over specialized. In 3E, as long as one of the defenders was a cleric No problem!
This was 3.x’s strength. It not only allowed, but encouraged any character to really have a shot at filling any role. Barbarian trapspringer, Rogue diplomat, Battle bard, War priest, all tropes that defy the “box” the class begins in. Multiclassing just adds more flavor. I’m digressing again dammit! [...]
John Lewis continues the discussion:
I think Donny makes a great point that has just shed some light on what is polarizing my group. My “lone wolf” players don’t like 4E, my team players do. One of my players who thinks everything 4E is totally screwed up and evil is a player that is only truly happy (having fun I guess) when the spotlight is on him. That’s why in previous editions he always played the wizard, once he was higher level he did most the damage and executed the big flashy effects. I’m not saying he has ever been a spotlight hog, just that when it’s on him that’s when he’s happy.
As I write this it dawns on me that this is what I think is part of the underlying “divide” in this edition and why it seems a little more heated then previous change-overs (besides the fact that there are a lot more forums and message boards to rant on).
I think about the hundreds of people I’ve gamed with over the years and I analyze what seemed to make them happy (have fun) and I realize that I could probably easily divide them into 3E or 4E people based on said happiness. On the same note I could pick out the 1E and 2E people.
Mike Mearls chimes in:
Donny - no offense taken. I think you’ve done a good job of outlining why people might prefer 3e to 4e. The lone wolf issue in particular is a big one. In 3e, I tend to play casters in a lone wolf mode, loading up on spells like fly and expeditious retreat that let me get out of trouble.
There are a ton of changes between 4e and 3e, and that leads to reasons to prefer one over the other. I’d never be so arrogant as to claim that 4e is perfect, or that everyone who dislikes it is wrong.
Ninetail's comment at the (current) end of the thread is a great conclusion.
Donny: Your point about lone-wolf vs. team-player types of characters is well-made. Even though one of my favorite parts of 4e is that the fighter is no longer useless after level 7 or 9 or so, and another is that the power framework and the tactical nature of combat encourage teamwork, I hadn’t managed to formulate it in quite that way.
You’re on to something here: 4e puts the emphasis on the characters as a party of adventurers, rather than as adventurers who happen to have formed a party.
My groups have always played with an eye to the former, so perhaps that’s why I managed to miss the comparison. Thanks for pointing it out.
I thought the discussion was interesting... and unlikely to be seen by many since it started at the end of a comment thread. Though ChattyDM proved me wrong with Moderates have fun too, where he mentions the splinter posts (including this one) that came from his rant.
Meanwhile, over on A Butterfly Dreaming, Ninetails(Scott) writes a good review of the 4e books, starting by reviewing the PHB chapter by chapter.
PHB: Overview, Making Characters, Races, Classes, Skills and Feats, Equipment and Adventuring, Combat and Rituals, DMG and Monster Manual.
I found his blog due to his trackback to the ChattyDM about The Absurdity of “The Tyranny of Fun”. Rodrick the White looks like an interesting character to play.
Chris Chinn is creating a beautiful 4e setting with his players that he's tagged 5 blades of Bahamut. The setting they're building has a dash of myths from India and a lot of twisting stock 4e concepts to match a more stylized setting. It features airships, cults of Tiamat and Bahamut, a reason for the monsters (with a twist that makes killing them with impunity work out very well), interesting interpretations of the gods in the PHB (with a history that makes them tightly interwoven, with more Greek god like rivalries and relations), and more.
It's a compelling read so far; I can't wait to hear what happens when the PCs start wandering this wide world.
Rob Donohuge has a cool idea: Have a character worksheet (like the current character sheet) and a minimalist in play character sheet.
Asamor built a cool 4e item finder that includes Dungeon and Dragon items.
Dragonborn details, a new Ecology of X styled article for the new race. Go to town!
How to make a 4e Catfolk Ninja
Ten Things You Can Do In Fourth Edition ….. that you couldn’t (easily) do in Third Edition. (Part Two)
Excerpt from the DMG about skills.
dndcharactersheets.com has only a few sheets so far. I'm curious to see if the landscape sheet works well as an in play sheet.
Critical hits got a press pass to the D&D 4e seminar at the D&D Experience con. His quick notes hit a lot of high points and nail down a lot of specifics. It sounds like there's still a lot of... "we'll think about it" for something launching so soon, but we'll see what comes of it.
[This post, links off to the various 4e coverage at DnD Experience]
Everything that follows is from the first link.
- John Williams on Recent Media 4/17
- John Williams on Kingmaker Session 5
- Scott on Kingmaker Session 5
- Kingmaker Session 5 « Scott’s Corner on Kingmaker Arndor Background
- Kingmaker Session 4 « Scott’s Corner on Kingmaker Arndor Background
- Ancient Links
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- My Game Ideas
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