30 August, 2010

Well, this Friday we had 5 players and a DM, so good to go. Bevis is leaving us and this was his last week playing, so it was nice to finish on a high note – we have completed module 1.

I have finally made some progress remembering the character names. Morgan’s witch is Morgana, Brett’s ranger is Rainor, my Rogue/Wizard is “Switch”. Andrew’s cavalier is some german-sounding thing, and Bevis’ paladin … a complete blank. I’ll get there.


Exciting news! We have found this “Stag Lord” villain and defeated him!

Last I wrote, we had dispatched that enormous boar that was being a problem for the locals. We were killing time, really, waiting for our purchases to arrive at Oleg’s. Since there was a bounty on the board head and we had been exploring for a week or so, we decided to head back, collect the bounty and our purchases.

Our gear had arrived – mine was a second-hand wand of Mage Armour (I use it all the time, and I can only memorise a few spells at a time) and a couple of scrolls which I transcribed into my book. The reward for the boar head was some magical arrows enchanted to kill animals [bane animal]. These would turn out to be pivotal, so thank Desna we decided to deal with that boar.

We idled a couple of days – I wrote a few more scrolls – and then we decided that there was really nothing for it but to deal with this “Stag Lord” head on. Our ex-bandit sergeant gave us excellent directions to his fort. We decided to pose as commoners with a wagon on the way in hopes of being attacked so we could get today’s password. It worked nicely. We were attacked and killed all but one of them, who Morgana blinded (permanently I think). A nasty spell – frankly, I think there is a little moral ambiguity there [Morgan’s characters always turn out to be a little, well, CE]. Anyway, we promised him that the blindness was temporary and we’d cure it in exchange for information, which think we are not able to do. Anyway, he told us a password (which we never used, in the end) and that was that.

We saw the fort from a way off. It is, well, a fort. Log palisade, stone walls, on a hill overlooking a lake whose name escapes me. The sort of thing you’d expect. We noticed that the guards at the back were quite lax, so we thought we’d head in the back way. Rainor and I would sneak in, “gakk” the guards, then hoist the rest of the party over the wall.

It went – well really about as badly as it could possibly go. Heading over the ground to the back wall, the only warning we got was an uncanny feeling, and then these zombies came up out of the ground and attacked us – nicely explaining the laxity of the guards. I stabbed one of them but got mobbed and was knocked unconscious for a moment [-3. Had to use a hero point to stabilize.]. The rest of the party were watching from a ways off and they abandoned stealth and ran in to help. There was a fight – the zombies actually started pulling us underground. I was barely able to do anything – fumbling around for one of my potions of healing, while the guards at the fort jeered us and shot some arrows. Eventually I managed to quaff a potion and get up. I used my trusty Colour Spray spell, but these things were mindless and it had no effect whatsoever. We got out, eventually, away from the dead things, but we had been discovered and so we decided to just go the frontal assault in the morning.

We prepped. We decided that the simplest way to deal with things was to enlarge our two fighters and have them lift us over the palisade. I opted to use a potion of invisibility – those zombies gave me a scare and I think I’ve learned my lesson about not fighting hand-to-hand. Anyway. There was some arrow fire and the fighters decided simply to shoulder-charge the gate. It worked: after a couple of moments the thing burst open and we were in.

I slipped inside. Really, I felt pretty useless – I’m dividing my attention between magic and other things, and it’s not working out very well. If I attacked anyone then my invisibility would cease, but there was nothing for it: I cast a shield spell on top of the mage armour and then used my wand of grease on a couple of archers up on the wall. And it did nothing. There was this fighter inside who it seems was a paladin of Erastil who had not kept his tithes up, or something. He and our paladin had a little exchange, and he joined our side – his medallion thingy changed from being a dull lead colour to all shiny. Divine magic is like that.

Anyway. The Stag Lord himself was watching the combat from the upper floor of the fort and firing some sort of arrows that made this enormous screaming noise – rather unsettling (a magical fear effect, I believe). Then he dashed off out of sight. I moved around to see what he was up to and he was headed to some lever in the wall. I decided this was probably a bad thing, so I greased the lever. But it was no use: he got it open after a few moments.

The lever opened a wall in the lower floor, and a huge (and hungry and angry) bear came out. Our new paladin friend ran at it sort of to protect me, which was sweet of him I suppose, and this bear opened him up a treat. However, Rainor and I both had these arrows of animal slaying, and we both scored hits. The bear went down and it’s just as well.

Meanwhile, all sorts of things had been going on. Our regular paladin had fallen (just around the corner), and I told the new paladin so – kind of as a test. He rushed in to help, and I decided to head upstairs. My spells weren’t doing anything, but I have my bow. The fort is a semi-ruin, most of the upstairs floor is missing, which was good – it meant I could keep my distance and shoot. I’d get shot at, of course, but I was swaddled in protective spells. Well: I shot terribly [rolled a 5, a 3, and a 5] and accomplished nothing. The rest of the party had dealt with everyone on the ground (I think at least one of them was permanently blinded) and began to come upstairs. As they did, this other person broke cover and attacked – I think he might have been one of the other bounties on those wanted posters. I forget what happened, he got away for the moment and disappeared or something.

Anyway, most of the minions got killed and finally we were dealing with just the Stag Lord and his offsider. They retreated down into a ruined room and we all piled on. The two of them had one of our party flanked at one point, which would have been bad news, but I stunned one of them with a colour spray and he dropped his rapier and I got it (a nice weapon – I might use it). After a moment or two, these final two were dead, and suddenly everything was quiet, save for a lone “Gakk!” sound from the archery tower as Morgana dealt with the final bandit.

Anyway. What to do now? We can’t just leave this fort vacant – some other bandits will grab it. It’s ruined, but fixable, so perhaps we should base ourselves here for a while. More immediately, the ground outside is infested with undead and needs to be cleansed. Our paladin and his new friend might be able to help there, and there’s that temple that we fixed up – maybe some priests might care to take up residence now that we have dealt with the worst of the banditry, and they can deal with the dead things.

Arguably I’ve fulfilled my obligations here, but I don’t know that they’d be happy to see me back home just yet, so I will continue on with these for a while. I’d like to be more useful, though. Speaking of which, could you possibly be a dear and have Arithel do me one of those hunter’s cloaks? You know his are the best, and I can afford one now. I can arrange to send trader’s credits, I think. I’ll have to check.

Your sister in exile

Well, not finished yet – we have the undead, and possibly a basement in this fort. Dave has asked us to keep our character sheets as they are for the moment so there’s a hint. I’m not happy with Selrynn, but it’s possible she’ll come good once I start prestiging her as an Arcane Trickster at 7th level. I just don’t know how to play a Rogue, I suspect, so I should stick with it. What shall I level up for 4th level? Rogue or Wizard? Probably Wizard – keep things in sync.

And farewell Bevis, may your eyrie receive you at journey’s end and all that. Safe travels.

Proving Grounds – “Requiem” (Matt)

25 August, 2010

This week’s game did not proceed, owing to most of the players being too soft to turn up. Still, it meant I finally got around to building my striker – a “Brutal Scoundrel” half-orc rogue named Scrag.

Scrag is not a nice man, and has for many years now made a living killing things. Monsters? Yeah, sure. And also people. But he is unaligned and so does have a few standards: no use of indiscriminate methods – arson, poisoning the wells – that sort of thing. No kids. No civilians.

Of course, “civilian”is interpreted narrowly. Man carrying a club to protect himself and family: civilian. Man carrying club because someone is paying him to do it: Not a civilian. Honest businessman: civilian. Honest businessman who borrows money from the mob and thinks he doesn’t have to pay it back: not a civilian. Member of the aristocracy, anyone with voting rights in the chamber of commerce, anyone rich enough to have bodyguards: not a civilian either.

Mechanically, Scrag is simply a striker who does melee damage. Since we know we are going to hell (or something like it), he has equipped himself with a +6 radiant dagger – a 30th level item. He is wearing Counterstrike leather armour +6 (30th level), and Boots of Telepotation (28th level). The rest of his items (up to the value of a single 29th level item) are get-out-of-trouble-free buffs, movement stuff, and general buffs: armbands of power, trickster’s mask, couple of potions.

I bought a blesing from Sehanie – the Mark of the Dark Moon: “If a creature cannot see you, you take half damage (etc)”. Combine this with the Hide in Plain Sight encounter power: “you must be hidden to use this power – you go invisible and stay invisible untl you leave your current space. No other action that you perform makes you visible.”

Ok. Stealth has been completely errataed due to the PHB being ambiguous. The rules seem to be:

At the end of a move action, you do stealth vs passive perception (reduces the amount of die rolling). You need to have superior cover or total concelament or be outside the enemy’s line of sight. An enemy can also make an active perception check to try to see you as a minor action (errata).

Once you are hidden, you can stay hidden with partial cover or concealment. You cannot use another creature as cover.

If you take an action that causes you not to remain hidden, you retain the benefits of being hidden until you resolve the action. You cannot become hidden as part of that same action.

Ok, so if you break cover, then at the end of the move action you are no longer hidden. You can’t make a stealth check as part of that move, although you can always take another move and do so.

Now: Scrag’s use of stealth is changed by various at-will powers.

First: Fleeting Ghost. “Effect: You can move your speed and make a Stealth check. You do not take the normal penalty from movement on this check.”. This seems to indicated that you can make a stealth check without having to end your move in a square that provides cover/concealment, and also seems to indicate that you can do so even if you break cover as part of that move. It’s a power, not a regular move. This … reading of the power seems altogether broken, I think I’ll ask Wizards.

Next: Shadow Stride. “Effect: You must be hidden to use this power. You can move your speed and must end your movement in a space where you can remain hidden. Then make a Stealth check with no penalty for moving. If the check succeeds, you remain hidden during the movement, even if you have no cover or concealment during it.”

Now … that seems to contradict “you retain the benefits of being hidden until you resolve the action”. Doesn’t that mean that you ordinarily remain hidden?

Anyway. This next one’s a doozy: Chameleon “Trigger: You are hidden and lose cover or concealment against an enemy. Effect: Make a Stealth check. You remain hidden from the triggering enemy if your check beats its passive Perception check. Until the end of your next turn, you can remain hidden without needing any cover or concealment.”

So it seems that you can hide, sneak right up next to an enemy, and stay hidden for so long as you can beet its passive perception. Gravy!

But I do need to ask Wizards about Fleeting Ghost.


18 August, 2010

My turn to DM this week. We opted to skip a couple of levels and to the level 6 delve with level 5 characters. I sent the players this to prep them:


Delve on Monday. A serpent cult has been harassing a nearby town. The PCs have gone into the swamp to root out the evil.

Players, please prepare 5th level characters with the character generator. Equip your characters with one 4th, one 5th, and one 6th-level item. You may, of course, choose a lower level item. Take whatever mundane equipment you think makes sense. Finally, give yourself 840gp and purchase anything else you wish.

The players prepared an all-dwarf party, for teh lulz.

As with all the delves, the mini-adventure was three encounters.

  1. Melee with 3 fighters and minions. Difficult terrain.
  2. Two constrictor snakes and two flame snakes
  3. It doesn’t matter, owing to the TPK in #2.

Yes, TPK. The party was underpowered, but crucially lacked any will or reflex attacks. The Constrictor snakes had AC and Fort of 25, and the party had trouble hitting them. They also did a punishing amount of damage, and my dice were hot: I hadn’t used these particular dice for a while and they had a whole backlog of 16s and 18s they needed to clear. When it became plain that the party was not going to make it, I did not scale back the encounter – primarily because one of our players (not that I would mention Jamie’s name or anything) was visibly wilting by 9:30.

As a DM, my main faults on the night were first: I dozed off in a chair waiting for people to arrive, and didn’t let them know where I was, so there was a bit of sitting at the table waiting for the DM to show up.

More importantly, I assigned individual initiative for each opponent in the first combat. This was a mistake and slowed down the start of play: there’s no point assigning individual initiative to 7 opponents when there are 4 PCs. Furthermore, as always I get flustered when there’s too much happenning. I should have divided them up into two groups of two minions and a fighter, and the final fighter by himself operating the door lever.

At the end of the night, I suggested that I should do a “Proving Ground” and swap out my next delve with someone who wants to DM but is not ready to write an adventure.

Looking forward to Matt’s “Requiem” game. Havent played a striker before, so a 30th-level monk should be … interesting.