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Month: February 2010

21. Pyrophobia (MINI 1-5)

What I am now is pooped. I ran Pyrophobia for the usual crowd – Peter, Jon, Susan, Mark, and Noah. It takes, let me tell you, a lot of prep. I had about 20 effect cards on hand to give out to the players to reflect various temporary effects on the PCs, and a good number of those temporary effects had specific effects on individual combats. Here, have Vulnerable 3 for the rest of this section. Also, here’s an extra power you can use once in the next combat. Whoo.

I have a long review of this adventure brewing, which I’ll post over on the Wizards boards at some point. I think it’s a really interesting adventure that suffers from clunky writing and a bunch of iffy transitions. It’s got a bit of the railroad to it; at several points, the PCs are just expected to do or intuit the right course of action. Sometimes those courses of action will violate a PC’s ethos. Sometimes it’ll possibly seem like bad strategy. Fortunately I think I’m pretty good at framing choices with a magician’s force. Also I’m willing to exercise DM discretion as needed. My players might disagree, I dunno, but we got through it without the train whistle going off.

And the thing is, the idea at the core of the module is completely awesome. The transition from the previous module is awesome, even if it leaves some important questions unanswered. (MINI 1-6 may answer them. I hope so.) The end fight is the coolest climax I’ve ever run in LFR. So it’s worth the effort it takes.

I am stoked to read and run MINI 1-6. The Embers mini-campaign is a success in my book. Unless MINI 1-6 sucks, but I think it’ll be good.

20. The Cleansing Flame (MYRE 1-1)

I ran my second Sambral MYRE for Jonathan, Mark, Tom, Hudson, and Susan. I really need to tune down my MYREs – it is not the case that any random combination of experience point appropriate monsters will be as easy as one might expect from the average LFR module. The opening fight was a mere 938 experience points – even level for a high tier group – and I dropped three PCs. The second fight was also pretty iffy, although not as bloody.

I admit, I toned the last fight down a bit on the fly and I suspect everyone would have appreciated it if I’d let them know. You really don’t need to toss a swarm artillery at a party when the defender is down to zero surges; it’s just unkind.

I was also fooling around with forcing a combat to take place in motion. I did not have the tuning quite right. I’ll try again if I can come up with a good setting for it – it may require a heavier hand with the terrain. The problem is, you don’t want to kill people who don’t move quickly enough… I’ll figure it out one of these days.

Anyhow, I had fun and everyone claimed they had fun as well, so I count it as a success.

19. Patronage and Pestilence (CORM 1-7)

More MapTool games! Collin is now only three sessions away from level 4. This experiment in leveling quickly has proven to be a success.

Draden Tristen GMed; he did a great job of moving things along and running the combats well. My fellow players were Crow of Pyke, Logopolis, Neldar, Maelwys, and Dareus. Crow played his warlord again and I found it deeply satisfying to play a fighter with a warlord. We spent a good part of one fight keeping two monsters locked down as he granted me basic attacks.

In general, actually, it was a great adventure for Collin. I’m really getting the hang of his movement powers. I did a couple of shift, Footwork Lure, shift tricks to keep monsters off fragile party members and set up bursts for our psion.

I also liked the adventure itself a lot. Lots of choices, all interesting. Now that I’ve read it, I think I’d reskin the high tier monsters to be the same as the low tier monsters, since the low tier monsters are more relevant to the storyline – but it’s fun either way.

18. Arts (DALE 1-7)

More Arts? Don’t mind if I do…

I played with Emperor799, Maelwys, Monouk, Matt, and Zeitgeist – yep, another MapTool game. Collin’s still working his way towards level 4. It looks like he might get there before our next MiniMoreCon, which would be keen. Dareus DMed. We boldly went for it on high despite a preponderance of level 1 or 2 characters. Since certain gnomes rolled dead last on initiative, and since our DM did not take advantage of certain knock prone powers, we managed to clear out of a certain doorway before certain bad things happened.

So that was satisfying, and it was nice to play Arts, although it’s not as much fun as a replay when you know what’s going on. I chewed the scenery in my teaching scene and stayed out of the way of the investigation otherwise. Hopefully I can find a Crafts run at some point; if I happen to play that next, Collin will hit level 3.

17. Faint Hope (AKAN 1-7)

I decided to run this as a MapTool game because it’s one of the 1-4s I’ve never run or played. It was in fact pretty fun, although I have some quibbles. My players were Matt, Ryven, Draden Tristen, Neldar, Crow of Pyke, and Xalcair.

I really liked the group; this is one of the best MapTool LFR experiences I’ve had. We had zero technical issues. There was maybe a bit of conflict between roleplay oriented players and tactically oriented players but people gave each other space to do what they wanted, which was nice, and much appreciated by the DM.

The module is really straight-forward but had some good roleplay bits. I thought the NPCs were well drawn, even if the PCs didn’t get to make many (if any) real choices about them. It’s weird that there’s no skill challenge, but I guess you’re allowed to do that. The combat encounters were really good.

There’s a bit of roleplay at the beginning which is marked optional that I skipped because I couldn’t imagine it working out well. Basically, the only “right” move for the PCs is to ignore someone who’s being antagonistic. Given that this is dull, I pared it down a bit and used the remnants to establish the tone desired.

All in all a fun module. I’d run it again.

16. The Radiant Vessel of Thesk (CORE 1-2)

Ah, Radiant Vessel, how like a pair of comfortable old shoes thou art. I have played this sucker… a few times. This time Matt was the DM; we played via MapTool. The players were me, Monouk, Goldfishmind, Pelyt, Lunarstar, and Darrell. I’m mostly using forum handles for names here, to maintain privacy and to keep my life simple.

Matt’s an awesome online DM. He knows how to keep the pace moving. Despite a couple of new players, we cranked through the thing in 3.5 hours, which is nice given that we started at 9 PM. He also remembered Reed failing his Athletics roll miserably back when he and I played this together, so when we were hanging out with the orcs he described a halfling getting his ass handed to him while wrestling. I was most amused.

January Wrapup

8 people DMed for me: Amanda, Dean, Jeff, John, Mark B, Mark D., Melody, and Peter.

26 people played with me: Amanda, Andy, Brad, Charles, Dallas (female), Dallas (male), Dan, Emily, Garry, Hudson, Jack, James, Jennifer, John, Mark B., Peter, Randy, Robert, Ryan, Susan, Terry, Theren, Tim from AmberMUSH, Tim from Pennsylvania, Tom, and evil Tony. Unsurprisingly, Susan played with me the most. I think Hudson’s number two.

I DMed for 15 people: Emily, Frank, Hudson, Jeff, Jon, Kirby, Mark, Nina, Noah, Peter, Susan, evil Tony, good Tony, Trevor, and Zach. Two of those were first time D&D players. That’s pretty cool.

That’s 38 people in all, some of whose names I misspelled. Sorry! It’s also 15 games total, nine of which I played and six of which I ran. Two of the adventures I ran were double-length, as was one of the ones I played in. At an average of four hours apiece, that’s 72 hours of Living Forgotten Realms. I expect to be cutting back next month. It could be worse, I could still be raiding in WoW.

I had a lot of fun.

15. The Morninglord’s Laughter (SPEC 2-1 H3)

Blah, this is a hard one to write about. I hate saying a game sucked, but this one pretty much sucked. The players were very solid; I think this was maybe the most competent group I’d played with as a whole (me, Susan, Hudson, Tim from Gaspcon, Brad, and Theron). Edit: several months later, we had Theron as a DM at Gencon, and thus I have fixed my misspelling of his name.

Mark, the DM, was not really what I was looking for when I signed up for a super-tough storyline-focused special adventure at DDXP. He got tagged to run it for us at the last minute when the muster was short of DMs, so I cut him some slack for that, but if you’re stuck in 3.5 land you shouldn’t be running specials. No, undead aren’t immune to unconscious. Yes, teleporting away from a pursuing avenger triggers his class ability. Yes, when a troll regenerates and attacks a PC, the PC should be told explicitly what’s going on. Yes, when you screw up and forget which one of your miniatures represents a minion, you should cut the warlock some slack given that his strategy involved cursing and killing a minion first.

Grumpy. I had a modicum of fun because the other players were really excellent players, and because I think I could see the skeleton of a good adventure underneath Mark’s snide remarks about the elements he didn’t understand, but man. That could have been way better.