Now that War of Everlasting Darkness is over it's time to talk about what we liked and disliked about it. Today at Dungeon's Master I've posted my Report Card. I encourage you to share your comments here or at Dungeon's Master.
Pretty much the opposite of your experience. Beyond the obvious gems (like Nesme), I barely used the adventure as printed. I made up stories for my group as we went along, using an entirely different cast of NPCs. I wove in PCs and NPCs from the last two Encounters season and the last Lair Assault, and the players enjoyed that continuity.
I got more DM burn-out from this adventure than any other Encounters program, because 2 hours weren't enough time for MY group (YMMV) to go through what was presented. I had to truncate a lot while still making the narrative fulfilling.
Your experience was on par with mine. I really enjoyed this season.
I included my thoughts on the season overall in my session 8 field report on here.
The report card mostly matched my experience running the season.
Mix of role playing, exploration, combat was generally good.
The extra freedom was good, but the rails were still occasionally hard to cover up. Hoping next season is closer to the free form of the Caves of Chaos and other DND Next adventures are.
Removing rests really screwed up mechanical balance. Interesting idea, badly implemented. 4th ed was designed around time quantized resource management. Pulling that rug out from under everything leaves a big mess.
Removing loot was unpopular. Another necessary evil which my players put up with, but clearly found highly frustrating.
Fast leveling. My players liked it, but the new abilities every week did bog things down a little due to learning curve.
Second to last session was weak, so that was the one I had to extensively rewrite using plot elements brought to the fore from player RP in prior sessions. I threw in the deror puzzle because it was fun, but it really didn't feel entirley organic to the plot no matter how much wallpapering I threw over it. I dropped the dragon turtle entirely because it was silly and I had other ways to get that information delivered.
Epic Finale was great, but would have been a richer experience for the players if they had to face some of their evil drow characters from the prior seasons. Sadly that idea didn't occur to us until after.
Some of us got together last week for some Wrath of Ashardalon and got to discussing the last season. Most of us had played at the same table, but we had one that had played at a different table.
We all like the mix of RP, exploration, and combat. It is more fun to have more of everything, which is something that is often missing in Encounters format play. One guy really like that there exploration.
We were more mixed on the leveling. It was fun to get to higher level, but it felt like the character development lacked. You never really got used to powers before you had new ones. And we a standard DDI character sheet is 5+ pages, there were far too many dead trees after last season.
The resource management issue didn't come up, but when you mention it, that is an essential element of 4e that was exceedingly lacking. 4e isn't the same when you don't have to second guess when to use dailies and when you don't have at least 1 or 2 part member who are going into combat with only a couple of surges left. Or when, you have to decide whether to save a surge or spend it for half value to get to full on a short rest.
The biggest criticism of the season was that the season just had too much stuff in them. Encounters is supposed to be short format averaging around an hour and a half per season (or less). All of these took well over 2 hour. Neither table finished the finale. Which really killed the triumph of an epic ending. It was just too big and there were some many obstacles to get through to engage the baddies...
The concensus by far was that week 6, the one where we defended the town from trolls, was by far the single greatest week of the season. All the characters got to doo something unique and show their out of combat proficiencies. We had 2 nice combats against the trolls. The first was particularly interesting because we had no party members with any powers that did fire type damge. And though we had no trouble taking down the trolls, keeping them down was a different matter. That was rather fun. But building the towns defenses was the most fun of the season.
I'd say it was a successful season, but not the best. Though the best of this three season drow storyline. If I had to pick a best, it was the Lost Crown of Neverwinter without a doubt.
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