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Month: March 2010

March Wrapup

In like a lamb, out like a lion. I managed twelve games once again, despite a very slow start to the month. My February ratio of 8 played to 4 run held true for this month too. Over half of the games (7) were at a con, and three of them were online. I can’t imagine I’ll play as many games in April, but we’ll see.

I had 7 different DMs again, with Tom A. the only repeat offender. I count 36 people on my tracking sheet; I DMed for 15 of them, and played with 24. Give or take a counting error. One of these days I’ll spruce up my spreadsheet. Yeah, that’s a touch obsessive of me.

Reed is my highest level character at 13. I also played Sirath this month, but he stayed at level 2. Collin stayed at level 4. Alesk and Veil got no play, and remained levels 5 and 2 respectively. Timothy gets a special mention for being my D&D Encounters character, which I am not otherwise counting. He’ll arrive in LFR at level 2, I think.

I am one game short of 40 for the year. Still not upping my goal, though.

39. Black Heart (MOON 1-6)

Speaking of quick runs! Susan, Mark B., Dave Guerrieri and I cranked through Black Heart in two hours flat. Luke GMed. I’m kind of thinking maybe I want to schedule H1 games for con Sundays? It’s hard to give a paragon module the proper attention after two full days of gaming. 

The adventure would have been much better if we’d done the previous two in the series. I did like that our seriously clueless low-Insight characters got more or less conned by someone with way more temporal power than any of us. There was one bit where I felt distinctly railroaded, but without looking at the adventure I’m not sure if there was just something I missed or what.

I’ll definitely have to check out the whole series to see if it’s worth making a point of running it.

And that completed Regulator Con, after which Susan nobly drove back in the rain. Now I am very tired and I want to finish updating my character tracker, then sleep.

38. The Ancient Temple (IMPI 1-6)

“Hey,” you say, “IMPI 1-6 isn’t out yet!” I nod wisely, and observe that Dave Guerrieri is one of the Cormyr regional admins and gets copies of modules early. Not BALD 2-1, which is what we were gonna play, but he had IMPI 1-6. Thus, me and Susan and Jason B. and David and Dan E. (who was at our BI table at DDXP) played that. Brian J. GMed. All good.

It was really quick, partially because we played on low tier despite a reasonably high level party and partially because Brian’s a pretty speedy GM. We’re not talking anything like the infamous one hour Black Knight of Arabel runs, here, but I think we were done in two and a half hours. I like a little more meat on my modules; on the other hand, Sunday morning after a full two days is Sunday morning after a full two days. So hey!

This was the only paragon module we played that didn’t have a paragony-feeling plot. Not a problem for me, since there are only so many political intrigues one can sort out. Sometimes it’s going to be a nice dungeon crawl. There’s also a big hint of Impiltur political problems to come. Good stuff.

37. The Paladins’ Plague

I do not remember anything about The Paladins’ Plague except that I ran it for eight hours on Saturday.

OK, that is a lie. I have a stack of cards here that reminds me that Matt C., Barry, Susan, Mary Alyce, Meaghan, and Matt M. played. I just now realized how generous Matt C. was in his choice of character, since he gave up playing his striker in favor of playing a defender who’s unlikely to be seen in LFR ever again. Dude, awesome.

It was a pretty fun group; I’d have to admit that some of the mustering left me a tad annoyed for reasons that IMHO were validated during the game, but as the GM I’m there to make sure people have a good time and that’s where I’d best be getting my satisfaction. So I did, and I really had a good time GMing for them. 

They had a nicely balanced party. Every encounter was a total success, but most of the combat encounters ran right up to the time limit and I came very close to a TPK in both the final two encounters. The coordinator for the BI told us to skip the first fight of the second round, probably because Regulator Con uses four hour slots. On the one hand, I regret not having the chance to run it. On the other hand, I suspect it would have eaten enough resources to tip one of those two near-TPKs into the real thing, which would have been a shame. 

Running the BI was a last-minute thing for me – Susan and I had hoped to get two more paragon adventures in. Turns out there weren’t enough people interested in anything other than the BI on Saturday. I think it was the only thing running, with something like twelve tables. But you know, I can pick up those paragon mods any time, probably with the local crowd, and I’m not gonna get a lot of opportunity to GM the BI. I’m really glad I got the chance.

And that was Saturday.

36. Dogs of War (SPEC 2-1 H2)

Back behind the DM screen for me on Saturday! My personal belief about Dogs of War is that the Hoffmans were tired of people making jokes about talky Waterdeep adventures full of skill challenges and they wanted to prove they could write a combat-heavy adventure. Meaghan, evil Tony, Phin, Jason B., and John B. were kind enough to join me as players to test this hypothesis. Survey says: correct!

The thing about this sucker is that there’s a non-obvious time limit on one of the fights, and you wind up with waves of gnolls if you hit the time limit, and they hit the time limit. Phin’s sorcerer had Armor of Sudden Recovery, which turned ongoing 10 damage into regen 10 for the rest of the encounter. That was pretty much the margin of victory. In retrospect perhaps I should have had the gnolls pile on him, since regen turns off when you’re under 0 hit points, but I wasn’t sure of the rule and I figured the gnolls got frustrated eventually. As it was, I killed evil Tony’s assassin. Third PC kill for me in LFR. I will refrain from painting silhouettes on the side of my DM kit, since that’s the wrong attitude, but I admit I keep track.

35. Discomfort (DRAG 2-1)

Discomfort is the plot sequel to the Arts and Crafts quest line, which is kind of funny since it’s an entire tier away from those level 1-4 modules. No matter; it’s still about the deadly drug Confidence in the mean streets of Westgate. We kept Tom as DM plus most of the previous game’s players, except we traded Justin for Duncan and Ron. This gave us a defender, which we hadn’t had before, and a second daggermaster rogue. So the combats were brief in game time and somewhat lengthy in real time, but it’s worth it to watch pros in action. Also, daggermaster rogues love it when the bard keeps feeding them combat advantage. Word to the wise.

This was one of the most witty and/or boisterous tables I’ve ever been at. Witty if you were sitting at it; hopefully not too boisterous if you were sitting next to us. Sorry! I’m assuming most of those guys play together a lot, cause they talked like they did and they worked together like they knew each other. They also did a great job of including us in both the combat tactics and the funny. I had an insane amount of fun. I even earned a “solid” from the daggermasters on one round, which I take as a compliment to my damage-dealing.

Plotwise, we got to sit at a table with the big boys and help determine the fate of Westgate. How cool is that? This is another module where choices matter, too. Paragon play is pretty awesome that way.

34. Killing the Messenger (CORE 2-1)

Our paragon play for the weekend began with Killing the Messenger. Susan and I were joined by John M., who I’d just DMed for; Justin V.; and Paul. I spent the entire module assuming Paul’s name was Team, because that’s what it said on his name tag, but it turned out he was splitting his badge with his wife who was going to be playing on Saturday. Tom A. was our DM, and a very fine job of it he did. Lots of personality to this one.

I could pretty much describe our entire adventure to you without spoiling anything, because there is an option at every point excepting the intro, one central turning point, and the conclusion. Like combats? That can be arranged. Like skill challenges? Sure! Our group liked skill challenges, what with having two bards, a husky sorcerer, a rogue, and a ranger. We didn’t fail a skill roll all night. We rolled 1s and succeeded. It was a bit of a thing. Tom rolled with it all marvelously. I had a great time.

33. Black Cloaks and Bitter Rivalries (QUES 1-1)

The Regulator Con recap begins here, and will go on for quite some time. Me, Susan, and the Bradleys trucked on up to Gettysburg bright and early Friday morning so as to get there in time for the 9 AM morning slot, in which I ran Black Cloaks and Bitter Rivalries. My players were the Bradleys, Hudson, Matt M., and John M. Little did I suspect how much I’d see of John that Friday… but I risk getting ahead of myself.

It’s both a completely awesome adventure and a somewhat frustrating adventure. Awesome: tons of room for roleplay, and lots of stuff you’d never find in a normal LFR adventure. It’s also highly flexible; the players can do almost anything they want. If you play this, you should expect to figure out how to infiltrate and destabilize a Zhentarim fortress all on your own.

Frustrating: I really wanted more than one slot for this. I kind of boned the second combat because I was rushed. There are a lot of NPCs, and it takes a while to really give them all voices. Also, for a keystone adventure for a plotline that’s been extending throughout the heroic tier, one might like something more conclusive. Another hint to players: schedule CORE 2-1 for play after you’ve done this. You’ll be glad.

The awesome outweighed the frustrating by a ton, especially since I had great players. Final verdict: great start to the con.

Cutest Thing Ever

After the Battle Interactive last night, Dave Guerrieri called up… I believe her name was Allison. There was apparently some special award for roleplaying, or so he claimed. The ruse held until Paul came up front to present the award, dropped to one knee, and asked her to marry him. (She said yes.) Awwwww!

Very cute. More on the actual games of the con later; running a three slot schedule makes it hard to keep current. Also my throat hurts. A lot.