Friday, November 18, 2011, 7:35 PM
Gondolin has changed much in the time since he last explained his Great Game stats. Here is what he now looks like:
L5 half-elf StarLock
AW1 Dire Radiance
AW1 Eldritch Blast
E1 Wave of Fatigue (racial dilettante)
D1 Crown of Stars
U2 Caiphon’s Leap
E3 Eldritch Rain
D5 Raging Storm of Cania
Superior Implement Training (dragontooth wand)
Implement Focus (wand)
Master’s Wand of Dire Radiance +1
Skald’s Leather Armor +1
Bracers of the Perfect Shot
Eagle Eye Goggles
Cloak of Distortion +1
Mundane spiked gauntlets
- At L4, he got his stat boosts to CHR and INT. After several years of agonizing thought, I have decided not to go Dual-Stat StarLock after all. I can’t make myself play an Epic character that has to be afraid of farmers bearing pitchforks (and targeting AC).
- Gondolin’s not going to be on CharOp’s “DPR King” thread. But he is getting more effective and fun to play as I go along. This is an improvement over my early experience, where I had to laugh at my own dumb mistakes rather than at Gondolin’s effective response of the situation.
- Most of my powers have been re-named and re-fluffed for an astronomy/astrology theme. I will post this at a later date. Some of them have been re-fluffed based on experience at the table and later re-training.
- The 2011 PH1 Warlock Update material should be used to determine Gondolin’s capabilities. Thanks to WotC for asking our opinions; we couldn’t do this before the Internet. Alas that WotC took but little of our advice.
- I picked Raging Storm of Cania as a way to put flying foes in a place where my (ground-pounding melee artist) allies can help defeat them. Gondolin’s a flak gun!
- Wave of Fatigue was chosen as a way to get melee artist foes off me. If they are slowed and I run away, they can’t catch me! This will work even better at L6 when I pick up Racing Fire of Ulban and can flee twice as far. I promise myself I won’t shriek like a girl while doing so.
- His equipment is based on LFR rules (I think; I’m trying to apply the rules after playing three levels in blissful ignorance of them). He is not going to win any CharOp contests for “the best gear”. It would be interesting to run him in a home campaign where I can pick my loot and see how he ends up equipped.
- My next equipment pickups will be to spread his Curse around more. Right now, I curse a target, my friends kill it, I get one boon, repeat until all enemies are dead. I want to be able to get lots of boons at a time. Rod of Corruption and Quickcurse Rod both sound good.
- Later on I’ll have to pick up the feat Improved Fate of the Void so I can get twice as much mileage out of each defeated foe.
- My L6 feat will probably be Wand Expertise (the Essentials version). At L7 I will need to retrain Arcane Reserves to something else because I’ll have too many Encounter powers to use up in each fight. Maybe Empowering Shadows – I want to maintain a damage booster - but probably something based on events at the table.
- For the fun of it, I am working on a future set of Gondolin's Regalia. Besides being a Cloak of Distortion, I also want a Troglodyte's stench aura on his Polecat Cloak (it's made of skunk hides after all). The Wand has pixie dust (AGLA 1-1 story award; it sparkles) plus the features above. When Gondolin gets rich, he's going to buy all his friends a pair of Spiked Gauntlets of Shared Wrath (because Eldritch Blast is an RBA).
I tried out the PH1 Warlock Update version of Dire Radiance at PentaCon 2011. This has turned a formerly "dead weight" at-will - because I couldn't hit anything with it - into a cool power with lots of Striker potential. In the best case (shooting at a Cursed target who chases me across the room) I can get 4d6 + 2 x mods. Every round ! I haven't done this type of damage EVER before (even when rolling 2d12 with E3 Hands of Ihbar). I can also see why characters with many off-turn attacks are considered to be more fun to play.
Friday, November 18, 2011, 7:01 PM
DDXP 2011 – The Fall of Gondolin
(Battle Interactive: Defense of Myth Drannor)
Soft, I did but dream. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me! The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight. Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh. What do I fear? Myself? There’s none else by. Gondolin loves Gondolin; that is, I am I. Is there a murderer here? No. Yes; I am. Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why: lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself? Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good that I myself have done unto myself? Oh no! Alas, I rather hate myself for hateful deeds committed by myself! I am a villain. Yet I lie; I am not. Fool, of thyself speak well. Fool, do not flatter. My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain. Perjury, perjury in the highest degree; murder, stern murder, in the direst degree; all several sins, all used in each degree, throng to the bar, crying all, “Guilty! Guilty!” I shall despair. There is no creature loves me, and if I die no soul shall pity me. And wherefore should they, since that I myself find in myself no pity for myself? Me thought the souls of all that I had murdered came to my tent, and every one did threat tomorrow’s vengeance on the head of Gondolin.
- From Richard III by Shakespeare (emphasis added)
One battle in Myth Drannor involves closing a portal to the Abyss before an army of demons can charge through it. The portal sucks nearby things into it, so getting close enough to affect the thing is dangerous.
Gondolin came up last and Intimidated the portal closed. With two of his friends inside.
Our army saved the city of Myth Drannor, but our victory was as ashes in my mouth.
Thursday, January 13, 2011, 12:37 PM
My player says he is going to something called DDXP on Saturday 29 January. He is looking forward to this and seems to anticipate having a good time; he says it'll be a day off from work. He wants to get into something called a Battle Interactive; why somebody gets into a fight on purpose - and no comment about my 'side jobs' needed - is a bit beyond me.
I, on the other hand, am going to travel to Myth Drannor. Why I would want to go someplace where they have to be afraid of what's in their own basement is still a mystery to me, but it's for business so I go anyway. I'll have to make the best of it and see what trade contacts (or contracts) are available for Horizon Imports. Elven cities are usually good markets for luxuries and other high-end items; it might be worth the costs to set up caravans through the Dalelands. We'll have to see.
To use the terminology of the Great Game, I expect to make Level 4 soon. I do not look very much like my description of myself from my first post; I've had experiences and adventures since then, that changed my thoughts on what I would best need and best do. I will have to put in an updated description when I get back.
On the road again (my player says this is an obscure cultural reference).
Saturday, January 1, 2011, 9:37 AM
One of the players in my summer group asked me why I was so solicitous of the town militia’s welfare (see Week 3 below). First and foremost, because I did not want them to get hurt early on, fail their morale check, and run away in the middle of the fight! Also because my player read up on a legendary figure called “Lawrence of Arabia” and came up with these points. He was going to provide his DM with a longer list of fun stuff, so I could get to try/do some of it, too. Note that all these points assume a desert environment.
- A part of the army (actually enthusiastic volunteers or irregulars) suddenly leaves the battle lines. This is not a retreat; their leader decided he had enough time for his men to go get coffee before the enemy would come into contact with his positions. They can fall in concentrated force upon the foe who thinks to hastily pursue and "exploit this advantage" by moving into the flank of / the empty space in your now-shortened battle line.
- Accept volunteers who show up and flock to your cause after a success. Use them as temps, then permit them to go home. They will spread word of your victories.
- With help from enthusiastic volunteers, capture a supply base. Plunder what you can. Keep a few high-value things, but give away everything else. Disperse the volunteers carrying the plunder. They will spread word that helping you against the enemy is the road to wealth.
- Draw a cavalry unit to pursue you into difficult terrain. You want them to dismount and prepare for a melee engagement. Use your own cavalry (irregulars or enthusiastic volunteers with a leader) to circle wide - out of sight, if possible - and get behind the enemy. Steal the enemy's camels / horses and baggage / supplies. Then the irregulars run away – taking their ill-gotten gains with them! Next, pull your main battle line back out of combat range. This will leave the enemy stranded in the middle of nowhere. They may send a surrender offer rather than try to fight their way back to their base.
- A large body of enthusiastic volunteers has gathered about you. Send them home to await the true call at the right moment. Allow their dispersal to be seen - but your speech not heard - by enemy observers (perhaps on an aerial mount). This will look like your army is fanning out to attack in every direction at once!
- Irregular units may be tasked to cling to a retreating enemy force long enough for pursuing friendly regulars to catch up and kill it.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 6:08 PM
WARNING: Spoilers for MINI 2-3 may follow
After a break, we re-formed our group. The Bard left us, and the Warlord came back.
We have to deal with the fallout from a kidnapping (see above). It just so happens that the kidnapped person is the Lady of the House that has sponsored us so far in town. Somehow it got out that we have the Cup of Truth. The kidnappers want it. We received a note (courtesy a young street urchin) giving us instructions. Personally, I found the tone of the note offensive: how DO you make an “agreement” without any participation by the other party? My player decided he will have to watch more detective movies and learn how to sabotage kidnapper’s instructions. I guess a “movie” is some sort of obscure cultural reference.
The fighter is to go to a rendezvous point alone, carrying the Cup. Well, maybe not completely alone; the druid told his wolf companion to go along and protect the fighter from foes. The fighter read the map he was given, then conveniently dropped it for us to pick up a few minutes later. So we tried to get ahead of him and prepare an ambush.
Instead we met an undead ambush in a graveyard (of course; how cliché. This fight featured the first time I saw the battlerager dwarf fighter actually go down – he had to be ganged up at 3-to-1 against for the enemies to do it, though.
My player says he had an unusual experience at this point – the other players at the table all turned and looked at him like “now what do we do?” He doesn’t usually think of himself as a small-L leader. Quite frankly, I suspect that the players were interested in his opinion only because I was able to pull my share of the weight (finally) in the group. He told me to send the rogue in to grab the Cup before the enemy could, in case the Fighter could not get up.
A flock of ravens was watching this fight with keen interest. When the fighter went down, some of them swooped in. Too bad for them, the wolf was still protecting the fighter. So it snapped at them. And it got all three. When the fighter woke up, he had feathers and, um, bird guts, all over him.
After the fight was over – we successfully destroyed the ambush – we get another note, and a small bag with a cut-off finger in it. This is a warning to follow instructions better. The fighter (who is still carrying the Cup) is sent on a coach ride with a very nervous local lord. Our clever little feller offered him a drink “to calm his nerves”. And asked him what he was worried about. If you drink from the Cup of Truth, you cannot tell a lie. So the lord said he was being blackmailed into taking the cup-bearer for a ride (pun and Mafia accent intended). The fighter asked what he was being blackmailed about. Of course he had to tell. Not long afterward the fighter found an undercover police officer and told HIM, “You need to take -the lord-downtown. He’ll explain why.” Everybody else at the table was ROTFLMHO.
After this moment of (much-needed) comic relief, another note was delivered to us. Now he – allegedly alone but we were not going to abandon him after all we have been through together – is to go to a particular cave. The fighter went in first, with the rest of us about two turns behind and our rogue (who got lost in town) another turn behind that. Inside the cave, the fighter is told to throw the bag over there. Unbeknownst to the local goons but knownst to the rest of our group, he still has two bags. One holds the Cup of Truth, the other holds that cut-off finger and a bunch of raven feathers and some other nasty stuff from our earlier fights.
Dwarf: I throw A bag over there.
DM (confused): Ummm … which one?
Dwarf: It’s pretty dark in this cave, right?
DM (skeptical): Yes…
Dwarf: Then I guess they’ll have to go over and open it to find out!
While this exchange is going on, I entered the cave, trying to Stealth my way around. I found a gnome rogue preparing to stab our fighter in the back – I launched Starfire at him. He disappears in the midst of it. He’s giggling but I’m ticked – it’s not like I can do this over and over. Next thing he does is use me as the target of his Alpha Strike - he CRITS me with his Daily – and pushes me off a cliff, leaving me 3 HP from death. The rest of the group hears the gnome giggling, me scream “Medic !” from the top of the cliff followed by a THUD from the bottom, then silence. *
Our rogue (who was running late) and warlord came to my aid, going single-mindedly after the gnome. After healing me, the warlord decided that it is Gnome Season; he pushes the gnome into a corner - same attack that pushed the pirate overboard - and lets the rogue in, then uses his greatspear’s long reach to KEEP the gnome there, and attack over her shoulder. It couldn’t turn invisible on them any more. Somehow the gnome did not think this turn of events was funny at all.
When I got up, I couldn’t see what was going on topside, but down below was the fighter plus the druid and his pack facing a number of bowmen. I provided fire support as they ground up the enemies until the enemies broke and ran. We captured one – not the gnome - and interrogated him using the Cup of Truth. He claimed they didn’t want to harm us, at which point the Cup got red-hot and burned him up. I guess that means he was lying.
When we came out of the cave, we found another street urchin with a note and a member of the local constabulatory with a message. Finally, a break – we found out where the kidnap victim was being held. We went there instead of following the next set of instructions. We set up to crash the party as hard and fast as possible.
During our Surprise round, I got a Crit (on another gnome – I thought) with Frigid Darkness as part of an Alpha Strike. The druid – on a mount now – crashed through the window, and left a big hole in the wall, too. This provided me with a nice platform to shoot through for a Beta Strike. My player says he got a DM comment – “he keeps doing just enough to kill each guy”. I have to credit that to Arcane Reserves. Meanwhile the warlord and rogue went in through the front door, charging two warlocks. The druid and his pack went after a Swordmage. He summoned a Giant Toad, which licked the swordmage and got a crit on her. (Yuck – frog germs; get some hot water, get some iodine! Maybe you have to be Lucy Van Pelt. My player says this is a mispronounced obscure cultural reference.) It turned out the Swordmage was the note-writer; there was another, more cross-sounding, note on the table in front of her. It seems we were ruining her personal control fantasy or something. Of 4 warlocks, I took down 1 myself, helped with another, plus put the final touch on the swordmage (Crown of Stars comes through again), plus some damage on a Huge bruiser that was pounding on the Warlord. After defeating all the enemies we found our kidnapped lady nearby.
I’m not going to tell you what happened to the Cup of Truth because our dwarf started a drinking contest to decide who would keep it – and he has an Ever-full Cask of Dwarven Ale. As far as I know, they are still at it.
* On the positive side, I set a new personal record for “Most Damage Taken And Lived To Tell About It”: 52 HP in one pop. But still, I think I’m gonna put a metal plate into my Polecat Cloak...
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 5:55 PM
Warning: Spoilers for MINI 2-2 may follow
Over our players’ lunchtime, the group membership shuffled around a little bit. We gained a Bard to the group, but lost one rogue and the Warlord. They decided to play this module on high (my first time) after I made a point of asking the low-level characters if they wanted to do this.
We entered a ruined Temple to Mystra looking for any useful stuff. And we got into a fight in the doorway – a bunch of undead. We had an NPC paladin along with us, even though he was half-dead from exhaustion, who managed to take down one of the nasties before they took him down. Our Bard healed him and after that he stayed in the back. The rest of us dealt with the foes in just about two rounds; I don’t remember having enough time to unload all my Encounter powers.
We continued on through a number of tricks and traps until we entered a long room. The paladin came back up front, displaying a medallion that seemed to impress the guardians in the room. Then the druid’s wolf decided to attack anyways. So we got into a fight we (maybe) didn’t HAVE to. We faced two fire golems or something and two more fire-throwers. We took down the golems first and then charged into melee (except me; I provided covering fire) with the throwers. Unusually (for me), I was not even so much as singed during the two previous fights. Note to self: Talk to NPCs who insist on coming along; they may know something useful.
We continued deeper into the temple, and found a door with a puzzle on it. (Note to DMs: if the players solve it, let the characters in without too much further ado.) Our dumb dwarf (INT 8) figured out the IQ test ! I thought I was doing rather well, but at INT 13 I might not be as think as I smart I am…
Behind the puzzle door was a room that just had Big Boss Finale Fight written all over it. Sure enough, part of the floor exploded and a Big Boss showed up. On my next turns, I tried to Alpha Strike him - both encounters and my daily – and missed. (Hey, Player, I thought you GOT RID of those dice !) Once I was down to at-wills, I got a normal hit and did crit-1 damage (grin) – I like these new dice. And then I got dropped because the floor can explode if you are not careful. While we were dodging exploding floor plates and shooting (not totally effectively) at the Big Boss, our fighter was standing next to It and pounding away like nothing else was happening in the room at all. We did defeat the Big Boss in the end, but the rogue and I were both barely hanging on and the druid’s pack had all taken too much to continue. We broke into a classic Treasure Chest and made off with our booty.
The module must have been written by somebody who wants to work in TV scriptwriting, says my player, because when we got back to town we were faced with an obvious season-ending-cliffhanger kidnapping. This is a hook to make us want to continue on to module 3.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 5:48 PM
Warning: Spoilers from MINI 2-1 may follow.
Side note: my player’s son has a new character, an eladrin chessmaster Warlord1
We are six – a rogue1 (who fell ill early on and did not participate much), a Warlord1, a Beastmaster Druid/Shaman riding a mount (and who is his own pack), a Halfling Rogue1, a Dwarven Battlerager Fighter, and a StarLock2 (me).
We begin on boat for a 3-hour trip across one bay of the Sea of Falling Stars, heading for Raven’s Bluff. My player noted an obscure cultural reference – which he says may display his true age – the song that begins the saga of Gilligan’s Island has “a three-hour tour”. Near the city, we encounter a battle between a merchant vessel and a pirate. Being the heroic sort, we come to the aid of the merchants.
The warlord went out in front and took a pounding – he dropped, looking like a pincushion. I detected a wizard-looking fellow on the pirate ship and hit him with Starfire. The dwarf fighter CRIT the enemy boss … who called his friends to pincushion the dwarf, just like they had the warlord. No real effect this time – battlerage vigor really works! The druid healed the warlord, who then pushed one pirate into the sea (leather armor, alas, he can swim). This pirate tried to climb up the stern of boat – where I stood waiting. I achieved a solo takedown on him. The rest of our group beat up the boss and the wizard; the surviving pirates surrendered to us. Unbeknownst to us, these pirates were the last minions we would see all day. Every other foe we beat, we would have to work for it.
On shore, we must untangle a knot of tangled stories – the master of the ship we saved from the pirates is accused of murder while the ship was at sea. We have verbal evidence of an imposter, but no solid proof. My player thinks a doppelganger might be involved, but I have never heard of such a thing. So we will put that thought aside for later.
Netherese agents want the Cup of Truth, whatever that is, and think it was on the ship we saved, or perhaps held by the merchant house who owned the ship – all rumors at this stage are cloudy and unclear. At this point we figured that we were going to be pawns in a political game. Ick. A bunch of adventurers vs a government is always a tough order.
Somehow or other we wound up breaking into the Netherese Embassy at night. Wouldn’t it make sense that creatures of Shade would LIKE the darkness? But no, we waited until sunset. We got in the building, thanks to some aid from the Thieves Guild, and directly encountered a fight in the ballroom – thanks again to the Thieves Guild, this time for selling us out. We faced 3 footmen plus 2 fliers. Our warlord went down (again) due to the flying foes strafing the group from above. I took aim at one of the fliers and CRIT with Crown of Stars – this killed my target. And I wish I could do that more than just once a day.
Now that the embassy was alerted to our presence, we got into another fight, this time in a nice garden outside. Got near-copy of the group we just beat. All the bruisers piled up on a sidewalk, with the dwarven fighter in the middle of it all having the time of his life. I solo killed one flying foe (pat self on back): I got a crit with Eldritch Blast, used an action point to go again, fired and hit with another Eldritch Blast. And so the other fliers plus one swordsman all ganged up on me (to -1 HP), the only effective ranged opponent. I’ll tell you, I really dislike people who can smack you with a sword and turn invisible to you. That fellow had me backpedaling and looking for a viable target; unable to defend myself from him, I kept firing away at whichever flier was hurting the group the most. If he'd've stayed visible, I could've tried out my new Dilettante power, Demoralizing Strike (a nifty-sounding Psionic melee attack). The druid revived the warlord who in turn revived me; I then killed the last flier (who was already bloodied) with an Eldritch Blast.
Note to self: If you are the only ranged warrior in the group, detail somebody to be a bodyguard vs counter-attacks. Maybe a warlord (I need healing) with a reach weapon… Thinking about the experience later, my player was humming a song whose lyrics go, “If you’ll be my bodyguard, I can be your long-lost pal”.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 5:39 PM
At about this time, the DM for my L4 campaign had to stop play for a while so he could concentrate on his college studies. I have not been able to contact him since; I wish him well in his life, even though I am now in a state of suspended animation. But my L1 self continues to adventure - see below – and will soon catch up and awaken me.
During the summer, my player went out and bought some new dice. I then re-trained my +to-hit feat to a +damage feat. This worked out VERY well, as you will see; I heartily recommend Arcane Reserves to any Arcane striker. I entered PentaCon as a StarLock2, and would become a StarLock3 about lunchtime.
Advice to any player: type up all of your character’s powers so you have a copy at-hand of what they can do. Be sure to add a line at the end showing your Critical Hit Damage so you don’t have to re-calculate everything on the fly. Also note any Situational Bonuses. (such as “+2 damage if target is bloodied&rdquo When time is of the essence, this does help.
Sunday, July 4, 2010, 6:40 PM
WARNING: Spoliers for DRAG 2-2 This Gathering Storm may follow
The second half of the day’s adventures took place in Westgate. I suppose that I should mention that at the time I was an independent contractor for Horizon Imports (I went through CORE 1-15 The Fate of Camp 15 last year), so I could claim that my work brought me to town. My doings may well help to open new markets for the company, eventually.
Westgate is known for a certain easygoing approach to the Laws of the Sea, and any merchant crew that neglects to carry weapons is probably going to regret it. Common practice is to release the crewmen unharmed but rather poorer, and allow the ship – perhaps a bit lighter in the cargo hold – to continue on its way. The problem is that somebody was sinking ships and leaving no survivors. My player, who has been reading some very large tome called Winston Churchill’s The Second World War, observed that it sounded like an act of war more than piracy. Different commercial factions are beginning to blame each other for this, and riots are breaking out as a result. A city judge called our group together because we were all outsiders, so could plausibly conduct a neutral investigation. We were a swarm druid, a deva artificer (married couple), a wizard (I think), a shifter warden, and myself. The judge called together the most important city factions for a fact-finding meeting. At this meeting, it came out that there was finally some evidence – a local ship’s master (whom I shall call “the Dread Pirate Roberts” because it is an appropriate obscure cultural reference) had sold off a few crates of cargo from one of the missing ships. At this the meeting mostly fell apart into confusion and two individuals snuck out of the audience seats and hastily left.
We had to do some detective work. We wanted to know where “Roberts” normally hangs out. Luckily I have a strong ability to Streetwise, so we presently found a local contact: a teenage girl with a crush on the guy. Sigh. Note to self: do not allow a deva to handle questioning a contact; they tell all and have no sense of how to feed information so as to create for yourself a willing aide. Still, we found out that we needed to go to the gambling barge to meet somebody who knows more. Off we went.
Note to DMs: married couples do not need a lot of explanation of what unspoken services the dancing girls at a gambling establishment will also provide. One of the ship’s staff could direct us to Robert’s current supply and reprovisioning master. We also got a password. We left town for a well-known bar to meet with him.
Nearing the bar, we climbed over a grassy knoll. Which inspired the innocent-sounding question, "Do we see JFK's open-top limosine passing by?" I guess this, too, is an obscure cultural reference.
The druid (who was an old man and played up every advantage he could get from it) asked the barkeep for a drink; the ale is thin and watered down and not a full glass. Then he tried the password on the barkeep but mangled it. As a direct result I got a full mug of strong ale. (Grin.} We successfully pumped this guy for information, then decided to call it a day and report back to town.
On the way back we were supposed to get jumped by the hotheaded and going-off-half-cocked local vigilante group who hide behind symbols of divine approval. Led by the two guys who snuck out of court earlier. Our deva proceeded to shine – she asked them where in their holy books they found divine approval for interfering with Truth, Justice, and the Righteous Way. It turns out she knew more about religion than both of them put together. I now chimed in, “We are going back to the judge to report what we have found out. You may come with us or not. And if you feel the need, you may bring all your friends with you.” Then I began pulling on the two leaders' elbows. Rather than face being further humiliated, and since we were clearly not afraid of them or of getting into a fight while surrounded and outnumbered, they let us go on our way. (Intimidate in reverse, no?) Somewhere along the way, they let slip that they knew where Roberts was and were going to punish him for all he had done.
Next morning, and we finally are ready to find Roberts. Off we went. Robert’s base is guarded well from the sea, but not so well from the land – his guardians had gotten bored and tired of doing work. (What else do you expect from fey? They like to relax and have fun, after all – just ask the lord of the oasis in Calimshan Desert, or my father who abandoned my pregnant mother.) We got past them without having to fight our way in. This was good, since we had decided that our cover story was going to be, “We are here to warn you that an angry mob is coming after you from town.” We found the camp, and contacted Roberts without having to fight his crew. While in the camp, we discovered certain facts that suggested to my player that this was supposed to be the beginning of a longer quest, and suggested to me that I will eventually need to call on the resources of both Horizon Imports and the Black Fire and Steel Adventuring Co. * We got his story about that lost cargo. We also were able to make an educated guess as to his guilt/innocence.
* See the Origins Pt 1 post to understand the references to Calimshan and Black Fire.
We stayed near Roberts' camp that night and the angry mob finally arrived. We were camped on an island a little way offshore. Our Warden finally woke up and participated. I don’t know what she did, but when one guy tried to jump from shore to the island, she let off an immediate reaction and knocked him 2 squares away into deep water. Too bad for him, he was wearing plate armor. Our group was able to focus-fire on each enemy who tried to charge us along the bridge, so we took little damage and inflicted much. My companions probably think that Curses automatically take their damage with the next attack you use, because I would Curse/fire (and take curse damage if I hit)/move each turn. I finally got off a semi-effective nova (translate: I only missed once out of two) and actually got a hit with Crown of Stars. Alas, I forgot all about the follow-up attacks, but it felt good to be able to bloody an uninjured enemy in one blow. Our druid summoned a giant frog which dragged one foe screaming into deep water – the frog can swim but he couldn’t - and the remaining foes ran away after that.
My player would like to offer the advice that no other player try to play a given module over and over using a different character each time. You will get burnt out and, if you try to avoid giving spoilers to the new table, you will hardly participate. Instead, keep some variety in your day and play different modules in alternation.
One of the treasures available in this module is a pair of water-walking boots. This is thematically appropriate. Cruel DMs might want to give it to one of the angry mobsters (not one wearing plate, I think) and have him do the seemingly impossible, if your party seems to be having a really easy time of the final fight.
Sunday, July 4, 2010, 6:23 PM
Warning: Spoilers for ADCP 2-2H Heart of the Desert may follow
My player and my L1-self attended the Origins convention. He says he played two modules, but I remember both adventures as part of a continuum.
We began in Calimshan, as part of a race. I was generously accepted into the Black Fire and Steel adventuring company; I hope they found me a boon to them. Since they were already a coordinated group of five, they could have gone it without me. The race begins by teams getting a sponsor. Each sponsor offers some sort of benefit to use during the race, plus a prize for the victor. It took a while to pick our sponsor because they all had something useful to offer. We finally picked the Memnon sponsorship and got a supply of something my player described as “suntan lotion”. We also were loaned a riding horse each and a pack horse; this is to make the race start more even. Soon after the beginning of the race, my player picked up two obscure cultural refernces; he recalled the chariot race from Ben-Hur or the pod race from Phantom Menace. He would be proven true later on, as there are actually no rules against using weapons on the other teams.
The first proof that fighting dirty is not prohibited came when a cloud of biting flies attacked our horses. This turned out to be magically driven; we had to turn aside and fend off the magician guiding the flies … and his bodyguards, of course. I led the charge to get within range of Eldritch Blast and begin the process of driving this fellow off. Doing this was a tactical mistake, and I should have known better. Leather armor + melee = ouchies ! I should have waited for my new companions to set up, and advanced behind the Fighter. But no, I had to be in a hurry. I would get what I deserved, as you will soon see.
I took a shot at the magician and missed (of course). Several bodyguards popped out of hiding behind large rocks &c, and one of them soon unhorsed me. Then I got bloodied from more attacks, then KO’ed. Black Fire’s warlord came over and healed me, so I was able to get back up. Not knowing how the fight had been going in my absence, I picked a guy on the opposite hilltop and took a shot at him. I got a hit (hooray) but not enough to do anything noticeable. Then I got hit by another bodyguard directly above me. (I was at the bottom of a cliff.) Down I went. I woke up again - I think on my own - stepped out into the clear, and saw who had shot me. I took a shot with Eldritch Blast and CRIT him. (It was about time I did something useful.) While I had been down, the rest of the group had taken out the magician and most of his other bodyguards. We all concentrated on the remaining one up on the clifftop. He shortly went down. I had to burn a few – too many as it would turn out – healing surges to get myself reasonably able to carry on. I was the most beat-up member of our group. I had to apologize to the group that, when I tell everybody about this, nobody but me will be in the description.
I have got to find out more about the ritual to control those biting flies. My player says he knows a “Buggy Wizard” who would be most interested in how to do that for himself.
During the rest of that long hot day, we found out that “suntan lotion” helps with enduring the elements. In Great Game terms, my player strongly recommends that you train Endurance if you will be staying in extreme climates. Or find a DM who will house-rule that you grew up in it and it doesn’t bother you anymore.
The next memorable event came when we found a magical oasis. It turned out to be one of the checkpoints on our course, so we had to go in, even though we would rather not have. Rules are rules, after all. Still, I had to Insight myself (and then Intimidate the Fighter) into a state of paranoia in order to avoid the urge to relax, refresh, take it easy, sleep for a night, ogle the dancing girls, try some dates and figs … CUT THAT OUT AND STICK TO BUSINESS, MEN ! My player told me that the race officials manning the checkpoint reminded him of Cheech and Chong, complete with hookah full of drugs, whoever those two are supposed to be. All visitors are expected to stay and enjoy the entertainment provided by the oasis’ governor. We had to meet with the lord of the oasis and get his permission to leave posthaste; to do this we must agree to return when our urgent business was completed. I agreed without mental reservation, and sometime soon I must keep my word. Alas that his wife thought one of us looked like a pleasant way to spend the night; we had to RUN out of the oasis before her guards could catch us. (Need I mention the double insult to our host, had we accepted her invitation?)
The rest of the race went uneventfully until we saw the finish line appear above the horizon. At this point we were jumped by a group of elementals, sent out by the race organizers to 'increase the entertainment value of the race'. Some day I really must teach the organizers the error of their ways. We were facing about 8 foes, two of which were sand elementals that churned up blinding clouds of dust, and two of which were horribly over-weaponed fliers. I noted in passing that the fliers did cold damage and decided that a fire attack might be rewarding. Once we had disposed of both the sand clouds and a few other ground-pounders, I reverted to my normal combat form: I unloaded a nova on one flier (Crown of Stars, Starfire) and missed both times. Oddly (for me), my accuracy with Eldritch Blast went from zero to about half-and-half. Anyway, we saved the fliers for last, since several of the group had trouble reaching them. One of the fliers was hovering near a cliff face, which left the Fighter – who had no ranged weapon with him – no way to help defeat it. His comment (complete with accent): “If they wasn’t insubstantial, I’d climb up an’ jump down on ‘em.” (Too bad nobody - myself included - thought of improvised weapons; there were fist-sized rocks all around, after all.) Along the way, I got bloodied by a hit and startled the warlord by telling him, “I haven’t got any more healing surges, so if this thing starts chasing after me I’m gonna run.” Maybe not smart, but I was thinking to lead it past everybody else for a rash of opportunity attacks.
We finally killed one of the fliers, and the other fled. We then slogged through a sand dune (get off horse, move at slow speed) and crossed the finish line. I probably was among the most beat-up finishers. The celebrations had already begun before we got there. As a reward, we were each offered any magic item we wanted. My player says there was actually a limitation on that: any weapon, implement, or armor of L3 or lower. It took me a while to carefully go through the bazaar and pick an appropriate one.
I want to thank the members of the Black Fire and Steel adventuring company for allowing me to accompany them; they could have done it without me, but I could never have done it without them.