Thursday, September 27, 2012, 4:29 PM
Last Saturday, the Order of the Pillow continued fighting the elementals & titans in what appears to be the grand finale battle of this module. With these guys, though, there's no such thing as a "simple fight".
When they killed the earth titan, it turned into dust & grit, then streamed into a column toward the center of the board. Ceri, who was standing in the middle of this dirt-flow, managed to grab hold of some and put it into his pocket. A few ounces of powdered titan should be worth something, right? Yah - but how do you like that miniature titan you've got in your pocket? Hmm... could this be how baby titans are made? Given time, will it grow to full size - and how much time are we talking about? Hmmm.... ideas, ideas, ideas....
Our sorcerer, the dragonborn Fraith, thought that attacking the pillars holding the titanic life forces would be a good thing - so while almost everyone else was duking it out on one part of the board, she was casting spells at the architecture. Now, some folks might think this a waste of time and talent - but those folks haven't been adventuring with the Order of the Pillow - we KNOW that "Landscape & Architecture" is much more deadly than "Dungeons & Dragons". Besides, when she cracked open the icy white marble column, it started leaking a smoke like dry ice. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Yes, it let loose the titan inside, but it appears to have destroyed the column. Still not sure she was doing the right thing, Fraith set to work against the earthy, granite column.
There are, of course, many other moments of coolness, but I'll focus on other characters next time. We are, after all, still embroiled in battle.
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Monday, September 10, 2012, 1:26 PM
Having defeated all enemies at our previous game session, our heroes took the time to loot the bodies of King Snarr & his companions, as well as searching the room in general for useful do-hickies. Khalir found an engraved stone, rather like a keyfob, and began playing with it. He could feel power moving through it, but there was no sign of what it was doing. Evanderous, the Cleric, investigated the various machines throughout the room, and declared them all to be simmilar in design to the Divine Engine, but too new and often incomplete. They also found a 5x5x5 box with an adamantine lock. Khalir, Trixie, and Ceri worked together to pick the box's lock - only barely jiggling it open. This was the first time a lock wasn't "merely stuck" in over a year! Splug was then stripped (Yuck! Attack vs. Will! Nude goblin!) and dressed in a potato sack with "Dobby" written accross the front. (Now where'd they get that?) Splug was then stuffed into the box with a (trademarked) pillow, locked up tight, and chucked into the Plot Hole Tavern. Thanks to an impressive intimidation check, Kazu installed the box in the tavern, dressed it with a table cloth and place settings for four, without any of the patrons complaining.
Splug delt with, our heroes turned to the next problem - the drow priestess who got away. She'd disapeared into the Elemental Chaos, and she had a Divine Engine, and (most importantly) she'd insulted Khalir. Kazu ripped a hole into the outer wall, giving the heroes a way to ride a Tensir's Floating Disk up to the roof, and the transportation circle, without dealing with the pesky elevators & the inhabitants they might still stumble accross. Just before leaving, Kazu further widened the hole to let the lava river into the room, destroying everything inside.
Up on the roof, Khalir's keyfob opened a doorway into the Elemental Chaos. Traveling through, they discovered two things: 1) Lolestra the Drow was there, & 2) they needed an extended rest. Khalir wanted to go after Lolestra right away, but everyone else overrode him. While he and Ceri played "keep away" with the keyfob, Trixie plucked it out of Khalir's hand. Not paying enough attension to which pocket she slipped it into, Kazu soon had it from the magical pouch that allowed him and Trixie to share a pocket. With all that passing around, someone pushed the rune and everyone was transported back to the fire giants' roof.
Having had an extended rest, the Order of the Pillow returned to the Elemental Chaos where Lolestra was just finishing a spell. Stone beasties began climbing up out of the land, but the Order didn't care - Lolestra must die. KO'd quickly, Lolestra woke up tied & barely had a chance to finish summoning a titan to help her before her critically low hit points encouraged her to play dead. Kazu wasn't fooled by her act, and once he continued stabbing a "dead" drow, Khalir fixed the knots on the bindings. The stone beasties continued to attack, but whenever they were pushed into the Elemental Sea, they had a hard time getting out before they melted.
...And that's where we left off - to be continued in two weeks.
I found that my bad guys weren't strong enough to give the heroes a proper challenge, so I'm going to level up the badguys. This is the final epic battle of this module, and I want it to be a challenge. I may bring several levels' worth of the badguys, leveling them up periodically (maybe on a critical hit?) until we find the right balance. I've discovered that my players seem to enjoy combats where I'm a bit afraid I'm going to TPK the party unfairly - and it can be hard to dance on that razor's edge between enough & too much.
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Friday, August 24, 2012, 11:54 AM
My Saturday D&D group is fantastic. We've been playing in this one campaign since 2008, have had very little player (or character) turnover, and everyone seems to be having a great time. Since my latest pregnancy though, my games have dropped to twice/month and I've felt that we're starting to get a bit hum-drum. "Why are we here again?" Especially since we're at the top of Paragon tier, I felt that it was high time we started tieing up some of the loose ends we left dangling in previous modules. These loose ends are, for the most part, the badguys who got away.
The first to "escape" was Splug, who we encountered in Keep on the Shadowfell. This little goblin was sprung from jail by the heroes, got drafted into being the local guide, and quickly found himself "knowledgably" leading them into parts of the Keep that he himself had never ventured into. Attempting to rejoin his people, Splug tried to slip away when most of the heroes were fighting undead. Most of the heroes. Kazu hung back, feeling that the rest of the party had things well in hand, and so was in a position to see Splug inching toward the doorway. Kazu had never trusted Splug, "He's a GOBLIN! They're EVIL!" and no qualms over kidnapping Splug with a pillow, stuffing him into a footlocker in the neighboring room, and shoving that footlocker under a bed. Rejoining the rest of the party, he claimed that Splug had run off with the party funds, and what can you expect anyway - he's a goblin.
That was 1st level. Fast forward a couple of years to our current Paragon selves. While the heroes were dealing with places like the Thunderspire Labyrinth, Trollhaunt Warren, and the Revenge of the Giants, Splug got out and started plotting his revenge upon Kazu. Have you ever seen a level 22 goblin? Goblins just aren't supposed to live that long! This was so wrong on so many levels - but Splug's need for revenge (and my need for him to challenge Kazu - whose player knows the rules better than I do & can min-max in his sleep) has taken him to places he would never have reached on his own.
Splug burst in on the boss-fight in the fire giant section of Revenge of the Giants, spouting anti-Kazu retoric, and doing his level best to kill his nemesis. "Get back in the box!" "What box? I thought you said he ran off with our money?" "I'll get you - you son of a yellow bellied newt!" (Kazu is a dragonborn.) The secret out, and the battle winding down, Splug (barely alive) realizes that it's time to run away and go up a few more levels before fighting the good fight again. Kazu was to have none of that - with a move and a charge, he delt enough damage to kill the goblin, converting it into non-lethal damage at the last moment. Once again, Kazu is in search of a box. This time with an adamantine lock. He'll store Splug inside that box, in the Plothole Tavern (where all PCs go when their players are absent), with a troll sitting on the lid. How can I spring him from captivity with precautions like that? (Hmmm.... he's gotta eat sometime... maybe the troll takes a bathroom break at the wrong moment? I sence a game INSIDE the Plothole Tavern coming up!)
Feedback from the players was fantastic - they realy enjoyed themselves, and felt it was a fantastic looping in of story elements. Yes, a level 22 Goblin was wrong - but in a good way - it was priceless. Where to go next? Besides thwarting the rize of the Primordials in the last section of our current module? I seem to remember a tiefling whose brother we killed in the Labyrinth. What was his name? We left lots of stick-figure "Wanted" posters in our wake, so maybe it's time for him to turn back up - maybe at 24th level this time. Oooh - this'll be fun.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011, 2:21 PM
This post contains spoilers for Revenge of the Giants.
In preparation for last weeks resumption of our battle & campaign, I reread the encounter we were embroiled in & the encounters in areas I thought the group would be going next, and that's when I saw my first mistake. The week before, as you can see in my last blog, we spent a considerable amount of time being paranoid & waiting for the trap to spring. Well, in rereading things I discovered that they should've attact when they first saw the heroes. On the one hand, whoops, but on the other hand, most fights follow the "attack on sight" formula. A nice way to shake things up.
My next mistake was in the next encounter. As the heroes squared off against some big undead guys with threatening reach, I was fielding questions and thus missed when one of the heroes moved through my threat range. Since we hadn't even finished that player's turn, I could've rewound things and gotten my hit in... but I chose to just get 'em next time. Big mistake - the heroes had my two big badies served up on a platter before I could get many hits in. We'll finish the encounter quickly when we resume on Saturday.
Speaking of Saturday, this weekend will be our last one in the space we've been using since 2008. The Family Game Store is moving down the hall - to a larger space with our own game room. It is an exciting & stressful time, with my players earning extra XP for helping schlep things to the new space. Thing is... most of my players had already registered to do so before I offered the XP boon. That's just the sort of community we have here. I love it.
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Monday, April 18, 2011, 2:52 PM
We've a running joke in our D&D group: Dungeons and Dragons aren't scary - it's the Landscape and Architecture you have to worry about! Yes, it's true - I can't roll worth spit when fielding a dragon, but my first near-TPK was with a random encounter plant found on the way home from Keep on the Shadowfell.
We're working our way through Revenge of the Giants ... (SPOILER ALERT) ... and this week we went back in time 600 years so we can loot ourselves some star metal. The set of rooms where players first appear, however, are empty - except for some statues that aren't supposed to react until a player triggered a trap. Our heroes wandered around the area, getting more and more nervous as I placed more and more statues onto the board. They were convinced that the rug (purely decorative) covered a pit trap, and that the statues would all animate and attack. To be fair, at this point there were 13 statues on the board - 4 on large bases. The dwarven barbarian started attacking statues, just in case.
It was the bodyguard, not the thief, that spotted the secret doors that lead to treasure, and the trap inside the room was easily spotted and avoided. Facing the possibility of the group never triggering the trap, I had a 15th level Exploding Scythejaw burst from the wall next to the guy who jumped accross the trapped area, and combat began. My scythejaw (thank you Monster Builder) was dragged accross the trap, taking all sorts of damage but still zapping a few heroes due to the trap's AOE. Our junior thief (who has trouble rolling well on thievery checks) took a good chunk of damage as various statues, traps & warforged chose him as a target. He had been the one to take the star metal, after all. It was a fun combat, which we will be resuming next week.
I had been worried about the lengthy delay before combat broke out, but the group's general paranoia over all things inanimate kept them engaged. I didn't even have to throw in columns, mirrors or masks - all other things the group smashes on sight whenever possible due to the threat they offer.
I'm looking forward to next week and our continued battles against (animate) inanimate objects.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 2:50 PM
Well, summer's here, school's out, and many GMs and Players are traveling. Never before have I had trouble filling tables at our store... and yet D&D Encounters is the exception - I've had to ask for more kits and beg for more GMs to fill the need! Now that's exciting.
This last session of Encounters, I had to run 2 tables. The last one finishes tonight, and I'm glad. Don't get me wrong - I've loved all three of my groups and had a great time doing it, but 3 tables each week is too much for anyone - especially the mother of a 3 year old child who's afraid of the giants & dragons who will eat her if she sleeps in her room alone. ("Sweetling, they're too big - they'll never fit in our house!")
I've had a great time with groups "respectfully looting the body" and complaining because, "You're the Cleric - You're supposed to heal me BEFORE you run away!", but I'm tired and glad to be down to my one Saturday group with the generally invisible wizard and the eager meat-shield/Dragonborn Kazu.
I hope to make more session reports, but first I'm going to take a nap.
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Saturday, May 1, 2010, 2:44 PM
Today only 3 heroes turned up to defend Moonstair from the Troll army's airborn attack. This was rather rough because the players who couldn't make it were the Paladin and Barbarian... and our intrepid Dragonborn Fighter, Kazu, dropped the game because real life became too busy.
So what do you do when you have an Eladrin Wizard, Elf Cleric, and Halfling Thief against a whole slew of winged beasts? Well, first of all, I used my monsters to eat all the civilians who couldn't reach cover in time. This bought the heroes a couple of turns to set themselves up and launch attacks. Trixie, the thief, climbed up on a building and rode one of the wyverns, attacking it while clinging to its back. At one point, Trixie's blinded wyvern flew straight up, above its usual cruising altitude, and another flew up to help attack Trixie off Black's back... Well, that's when Nerylissa, the wizard, blasted the Manticore, making him drop 10 squares (10d10 falling damage, and he did have a rider). Trixie saw this and struck her wyvern unconcious. He fell 12 squares, but since he hit a building on the way down, I reduced the damage by 1d10 and gave Trixie saving throws at roof level and the ground floor. Maybe I should've made the riders take falling damage too, but with a successful saving throw, I let them off scott free. Didn't want to take the time to look up the official rules in the middle of the game. Trixie got 100 extra xp for (what was that Harry Potter book 1 quote?) "pure dumb luck," and Nerylissa got 50xp because she wasn't riding the beast when she made it fall.
For the record, Evanderous, the Cleric, wasn't idle during all this ... he was busy healing the party and fighting for his own life.
I did mention how two humans survived the initial killing spree, right? Well one had taken shelter in the building where Trixie and the wyvern fell through the roof, into the stairwell and the manticore and troglodite destroyed a wall trying to hit Evanderous, but the other took shelter under a bed in another house nearby. A Natural 1 rolled on a fly-by attack had one wyvern clip the earth with its claw and crash into the building - the other side of the wall, in fact - where the other human was hiding. Only a turn or two later, a wyvern fell from the sky, crashed into the roof (shallower fall, so the roof held) and fell to the ground outside, prone.
Well, we had a great time even though the battle has not yet been won. I hope that we'll have more players next week so we can finish off the battle. I just had a 12 year old sign up in Kazu's abandoned spot, so maybe we'll have fresh meat... (ahem) ... a new hero ... joining us next week.
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Saturday, January 30, 2010, 2:09 PM
Today's snow is bad enough that Savage Mill is closing at 5pm... but that left plenty of time for our 1-4pm game! I gave out 100XP for everyone who even tried to come today (our paladin and barbarian turned back as the roads were too bad). With just our thief, fighter, wizard, and cleric, we assaulted the room with the dire bear, troll mad man, and flaming skulls. It was a fun day as the wizard and elven cleric shot down the skulls (at great length and much blindness) while the fighter and thief flanked the dire bear. That bear didn't let his repeated failures to hit stop him from further attacks against the fighter!
And what of the troll? Just call our heroes "Trollslayers" as they took him down with great finesse. It's just as well that he died though... our halfling thief, Trixianna "Queen of the Gypsies" (well, can you prove that she's not?) took that feat that lets her stand under a large enemy and attack. Rolling a critical hit with a sly flourish while standing under the troll (especially with our two young players at home) really impinged upon the troll's manhood... sending it rolling away into the frey.
Wishing us all luck getting home safely in this snow... and does anyone know how to install ice skates on a car?
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Thursday, December 3, 2009, 6:18 PM
In my games, I frequently give out free XP. Player stayed home sick? "10 XP for not infecting the rest of us." He had what?! "Make that 20 XP for not getting my baby sick too." That 10XP award has frequently been given for players spending time with their families, staying home when sick, or just about anything else that I consider praiseworthy behavior. I once gave an extra 100XP to each of the heroes for making the whole group laugh for just about the entire game session! (Pyramid of Shadows, level 2... My cultists were mentally unhinged idiots and the heroes made the most of it.) Ever since I took my 10 player group and limited it to 6 players, with quarterly player rotation so everyone can play sometimes, I've been giving an extra 100 XP to the player with the lowest XP. When we move to Paragon level with Trollhaunt Warren, I'll also give 100 XP to anyone not-yet Paragon level.
My newest arbitrary XP award was started today... when a parent told me that her daughter might not be at the game Saturday due to too much homework. Since I value good scholarship, I will give "free" XP to students who show me their report card. A = +100, B = +10, C = +1, D = -10, E/F = -100. Graduate students, for whom a C is NOT a passing grade, will get: A = +100, B = +10, C = -10, D/E/F = -100. Since this XP award is voluntary, anyone who shows me a failing report card will find their total XP reduced by the formula.
Students who have passing grades will find their XP raised up to 4 times each year. If I find that this award causes problems, like making them too powerful too quickly, I will edit or terminate this award... but until then, I hope they enjoy it.
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Monday, November 16, 2009, 5:40 PM
Goodness! It has been over a month since my last post! I'll try not to do that again.
Last Saturday, we were nearing the end of the Pyramid of Shadows module. We're averaging 1 encounter per game session, and I don't know if that's because of me, the large age range among my players, the module, or something else, but this time we got most of the way through the room that's a shrine to the undead.
As a bit of background, our group is always joking about the "inanimate" objects in any given room being more dangerous than the monsters themselves. Hey, after fighting the Big Bad at the end of Keep on the Shadowfell, a bush almost killed the whole party! More recently, the Pyramid's White Dragon encounter was on a bad dice day for me and the ice-water pool was more dangerous than the dragon itself! But I digress. My heroes saw all the statues and columns in this room and (jokingly) freaked. They started looking for masks, mirrors and all the other things that have attacked them in the past.
Walking around the room, with the light playing funny tricks due to the magic of the room, some of the players were attacked by some of the monsters hiding in the quadrents of darkness. The hero who was hit theorized that these were "undead fish tanks" - like a zoo exhibit. She described it that way to the folks returning from a bathroom/drinks run too.
At the moment, they've killed most of the undead, the skull lord is down to one head, and combat is nearly over... or so we think. Our Dragonborn Fighter, Kazu, is going on vacation for two weeks, so he won't be around to mark the bad guys anymore. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, we'll be down to two players... just in time to fight the final battle of the module. I've asked them if they really want to fight the Big Bad with just the two of them, a wizard and a cleric. I'm leaving it up to them whether we play that day or not. If they do play, and I do kill them, I may make the whole combat a bad dream, a warning from the cleric's god, and rerun it the following week. Or... if they win... they get A LOT of XP. We'll see.
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