Jaxle’s exploits (This is written as a PC journal. I've left out some of our experience, and of course everything written is from Jaxle's perspective so it may or may not be completely accurate).
December 27, 2012
Exploring an underground complex that seems to be taken over by Chitine, Spiders and Drow, is becoming a dangerous way to spend my time. Over the past day, we’ve searched some of the area finding a number of rooms with green luminous webbing, a corridor of statues, an eerie room with an alter and zombie guardians that materialized from groaning spirits, a number of other rooms, a kin to a phase spider pouncing in ambush, a terrorbird running from some unseen predators, two Drow bounty hunters (the unseen predators), and another larger hairy spider.
I was able to help my comrades (Brevick the one-eyed Dwarven figher, Elaeven the quick witted High Elven wizard, Dunkin the brutish and somewhat psychotic Dwarven fighter, and Lady Kara the Human cleric of Pelor) in combat on a number of occasions, and I worked my dexterous magic to disable a pit trap, making it possible for our group to walk upon it without triggering the floor to fall away. I’d like to think that my ability to scout ahead quietly also proved some benefit to the fellowship, but my scouting didn’t seem to turn up any dangers yet.
When we arrived at the room with the alter, we all felt a bit uneasy since the door to the room was made from a single slab of obsidian, smoothly carved with many faces screaming in agony. The door opened and before I could stop anyone from entering, Brevick trudged right in to look at the alter. I didn’t think that was such a great idea, but when a Dwarf wants to do something it’s hard to stop ‘im. Dunkin followed Brevick and before Elaeven and I could position ourselves, Brevick took out his hammer and smashed the alter. Spirits coalesced within the room materializing into a room full of zombies. We tried to cut one down, well I used my sling from outside the room, but it fell and got back up again. Lady Kara was able to use her divine powers to repulse the zombies, and then we were finally able to lay them to rest permanently.
After exploring a bit, we came to a room where we sensed a creature was waiting in ambush. I was too brave, and volunteered to enter first. I tried to sneak into the room and peered into some shifting darkness to see if I could see the beast. Well…it saw me, and before I could react, it shifted almost magically behind me. The last thing I remember seeing, and feeling, were the spider’s dagger-like fangs digging deeply into my neck. I must have resisted the poison because after the others finished the beast off, Lady Kara was able to revive me enough to get me on my feet again. I don’t like spiders.
After winding around some corridors and finding some empty rooms up ahead, the Dwarves blundered into another beast. This one was what the wizard called a Terrorbird. It was running toward us, as if it was trying to flee predators. Dunkin and Brevick took turns smacking it around while Elaeven, Lady Kara and I kept our distance ranging it with sling and spells. The bird fell quickly to our might, but when Brevick turned the corner and began moving down the corridor, he was hit by a crossbow bolt. We didn’t really notice what was happening, but we did see Brevick put up his shield and walk carefully down that corridor. Dunkin yelled back to us, “Ambush.” Did he want us to set up an ambush or were we being ambushed? We found out soon enough when we all caught up to the Dwarves and saw Brevick slump down in the middle of the hallway. It seems that he was hit with a poisoned bolt, and even though his Dwarven constitution is usually strong enough to shrug off the effects of most poison, he was rendered unconscious. Dunkin rushed ahead to see what had attacked our fallen mate, and he nearly ran into two Drow bounty hunters. I ran up behind him, and tried to hit one of the Drow with a sling bullet, but my effort did not succeed. Lucky for me and the rest of the party that Dunkin delivered a mighty blow. His warhammer smashed a Drow’s skull, hitting it so hard that he decapitated that dark foe. Elaeven and Dunkin were able to dispatch the last Drow, and we were able to carry Brevick back to one of the empty rooms so that we could rest and hope that he would recover from the Drow poison.
While we were waiting, Elaeven and Dunkin watched the hallway through the door of the room. Elaeven spotted a large hairy spider before it could surprise Dunkin, and Dunkin used his mighty hammer to squash the arachnid in one blow. After resting for another hour or so, in which time Elaeven nicknamed Dunkin, “Dunkin the Hammerhead”, Brevick came to, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
Thoughts about playing the 1st level rogue:
I like playing this character because he can do so many things and he gains bonuses to all his trained skills. Sometimes, I feel like I’m dominating the exploration phase of the game because I can search, listen, sneak ahead, etc. On the other hand, at 1st level, the bonuses from skill dice (only 1d4) and skill mastery (rolling skill dice twice keeping the higher roll) is not that powerful. I’m looking forward to gaining the d6 skill die next level. From that point up, skill mastery should be more helpful.
Having only 8 hit points is really challenging, but I like it. Although my rogue has gone down to 0 or below twice in as many game sessions, he has been able to make his death saves (with a little help at times from his halfling luck), and pretty quickly the cleric has been able to get him up and kicking again. I like the drama of near death. Being knocked unconscious is memorable and it makes the game more interesting.
Right now, Jaxle has an AC of 15, which makes him vulnerable to attacks (especially with the boost in accuracy that the new monsters have in the December playtest package). Next level, he’ll be able to pick up the Unassuming Threat trick, and a handful of hit points, which should help him stand side by side with his Dwarven companions.
One thing our group is noticing is that the damage output for PCs is still really high. Even my rogue averages nearly 10 points each hit, and the fighters often do 15-20 (Dunkin was lucky this game, scoring at least 2 or 3 critical hits!).
The other night, I DMd a group of 4th level PCs. It is interesting how much more durable they are than these 1st level PCs. Whereas the 1st level PCs felt threatened by the zombies and single spiders and two Drow, the 4th level PCs could take on a Drow and a Vrock Demon, and two of the PCs had no trouble fighting 3 Orcs and numerous skeletons. I like the way the levels feel so far.