Let me start by saying that I was very pleased with how my Shardmind Psion character handled in combat last night. Having never played a controller before, I really enjoyed the ability to... well, how do I say this without spoiling it for others, ah yes, I enjoyed pushing and pulling creatures when there is architectual features involved. Great fun! My table was well balanced, and we were all very experienced with 4E... so our DM threw a harder encounter at us. Fate would have it that his dice were cold and ours hot, so the situation was well handled.
At the onset of our game, we had two bits of business to resolve. First, I needed a character name, since I decided that mine was unpronouncable. The party picked "Skippy" as his nickname. I frowned and explained that I was looking for something more in the flavor of the Forgotten Realms. "Oh, well, throw some extra Zs and Ys into it" was the response. Thus was born the nickname "Zzkyppy". The other bit of business was to form an adventuring company. The other running in our timeslot was 90% drow. This was upsetting to our rag-tag, non-drow party, so "No Drow Allowed" was our decided name and policy, all rolled into one.
Without going into too many spoilers, I'll just say that the architecture benefitted the party far more than the bad guys. The controllers effectivly moved the range attackers around, the defender stood his ground, and the strikers cleaned up. Overall, a fairly enjoyable encounter. My big gripe is it would have been better to have more time for the DMs to prep for the adventure. I dislike the pogs. I understand there is a cost to them, but honestly, I think minis drive sales to minis, and they help a bit to draw people into the encounters. Thankfully I have a huge collection at home and can fill in when I am DMing.
Now, when it was my turn to DM, later that night, I had a smaller table. My game was thrown together at the last minute, so I only had 4 players, and the party was slightly unbalanced in terms of roles, so I decided to keep one of the combatants out of it until I saw how things went. Well, they handled the adventure in almost the same way as the table I played at, with a couple twists. First, since they didn't have a defender, a monk was sent out onto the bridge to lock it down. After much peppering and trying to get him off, I finally dropped him to -4 hitpoints. By this time however, I only had two bad guys left, one unharmed, and the other with a single hitpoint. This is where the moment of terror hit the players, I announced that the bloodied guy was going to move to the fallen monk and attempt to crush his skull in (or push him off the bridge, I hadn't really decided which yet), because the monk had done so much injury to him. Well, the look on the players faces was one of shock "You're going to coup de grace me!?" he exclaimed. It was delightful. However, I had to move him across that bridge... which required an athletics check... which he failed miserably. The cheers from the table made that really fun to see. It was fully what I expected to happen, the odds of the badguy pulling it off were slim and it added a lot of excitement to the conclusion of the encounter.
Afterwards, the player of the monk told me that he really liked the drama at the end, and that he was glad I didn't hold back any punches... even if he did refer to me as a "evil GM"
Overall, great success for the kickoff of D&D Encounters Season 1. We had 6 tables run, with something like 30 players and 6 DMs. I hope I can DM more adventures, but I may have scheduling problems for the ability to continue to run... we shall see... many negotiations in personal life need to happen first. Certainly I will continue to play, it's only 90 minutes of time, something I can easily squeeze in.
Next up, PHB3 gameday on Saturday... all day! I am going to be exhausted as I am DMing 3 tables that day. Perhaps I can get someone to DM the third timeslot for me, we shall see, but so far we have 8 tables ready to go. The adventure looks pretty good, same guy who wrote the D&D Encounter adventure too. Signup information can be found on our Pasadena D&D Meetup Messageboard. Special thanks to Game Empire Pasadena, and the Boardgame group for allowing us to borrow some tables for these events.