This was my second run-through of Arts, both times as a GM. Last time I ran it on high; this time was on low, as expected. I was kind of looking forward to finding out how deadly the final fight was on low, but this wasn’t the right group for that, which is perhaps for the best.
I ran down at the Games and Stuff game day for long complex reasons – can’t make it down there usually, but for special occasions I can. It’s nice to meet new folks. The table was Susan, Tom, Trevor, Nina, Frank, and Zach – two newcomers, four fairly experienced players. I’d only run for Susan and Tom before. We had a nicely balanced group with two leaders, a controller, two strikers, and a defender.
I still like Arts a ton. It caters to my tendency to stretch the roleplay. I think we ran about an hour and a half before the first combat, which given that Games and Stuff has limited time available was a touch long. But man, hamming up Torleaf and the teachers is totally worth it. I played him differently than I did the first time – a bit more fey, a bit more snotty – and it was equally fun.
The transition out of the first skill challenge was, once again, tricky. If I ever run this again I need to make sure I really get why the NPCs are going where they’re going, because it’s really easy for one of the PCs to short-circuit the skill challenge. This is allowed for in the text but I keep tripping over the order of certain events.
I DME’d the first fight down a notch to allow for two completely new players. If I’d had more time I might have stretched it out more but I knew I was short, so easier to avoid bloodying the entire party. I then ran the second skill challenge – which is consistently awesome; the effect on players when they realize what just happened to them is priceless. Skipped the second encounter (really sorry!) and hit the third encounter hard. It turns out a non-optimized group will still beat the low level encounter handily if they win on initiative.
So that was still fun for everyone. Lots of rampaging around the room. I kept dazing Frank (newcomer) which I felt guilty about, but then again it’s not my fault if he misses three saving throws in a row!
Someday I will run Arts for a kitted out group of level 4s and I will rock out the final encounter challenge with all my might. But no matter how I run it, it’s great on so many levels: lots of roleplay, excellent combat.