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Month: April 2010

49. Drawing a Blank (CORE 1-11)

I am not sure why Drawing a Blank is a Core adventure, rather than a Dragon Coast adventure – it’s set in Westgate, after all, and it ties into a bunch of Dragon Coast story awards. Susan and I wanted to play it because we like Westgate, in fact. Matt J. was kind enough to DM on request, and we were joined by Newpaintbrush and choroidplx.

This was another one of those bard/sorcerer/paladin/warlock ridiculously attractive groups. As a result, the module provided absolutely no opportunities to use social skills. I snickered. I also got more satisfactory use out of Reed’s bard multiclass, both with nick of time heals and skillful acrobatics. Fear the half-pint.

The intro to this module is really atmospheric. The module itself is short and challenging. I know the second fight has gotten a lot of flak for being overly dependent on status conditions, and I think that’s a valid criticism, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it a lot. Then again, I used a lot of Snap Out of Its.

And Westgate owes us yet another favor.

48. Crystal Clear (CORE 1-4)

Crystal Clear is the sequel to Sense of Wonder, and Collin and Ensa played that, so we wanted to do the followup. Happy day: Matt J. was willing to run it online! Our illustrious fellow players were Eltherian, Xalcairn, Kazordan, and Ryven. Good crowd, well-balanced party.

Matt brings the tactical challenge in a way I find really enjoyable. Tough but fair! And he doesn’t slack off roleplay-wise either. The first fight was a tad dull only because Collin can’t pull out all his tricks against single opponents. The second fight was brutal – we lost initiative and people didn’t spread out very well. But thanks to Collin’s Heal training and Ensa’s quick heals, we survived. The last fight was less challenging and still fun.

Also, it was cool to play a module set in Amn. Nice flavor. I’m looking forward to the last module in the series.

47. Quench the Fire of the Raging God (MINI 1-6)

And at last, we reached the grand finale of the Embers of Dawn mini-campaign with Quench the Fire of the Raging God. That is pretty damned epic for a campaign that takes the PCs from level 1 to level 4. I, for one, am pooped. Although man, such a great group – I’d run for those guys forever. (Jon, Peter, Mark, Noah, and of course Susan.)

The module… you know, it’s not as good as MINI 1-2 or MINI 1-5. Those two were the pinnacles for me. But it wasn’t bad at all. The combat with the slew of insubstantial monsters was tough and a bit grindy; the skill challenge that called for six successive Thievery checks would have been bad if I hadn’t modified it liberally. On the other hand, I like the opening sequence of investigations, I love the party, and the final fight is nicely epic. 

So no real complaints. I wish the upcoming Raven’s Bluff campaign was going to be exactly like this, instead of being a quarter the length. I hope LFR sees another sequence like this one. 

46. The Thin Grey Line (DRAG 1-2)

On Saturday, Xalcairn ran The Thin Grey Line for me, darksydex, Elden, Genolen, Neofax, and Blackmantle. It was nice and smooth and fun. We kind of floundered in the early portion of the module, thanks to a completely non-social party, but with liberal use of assists and lucky die rolls we worked through our tongue-tied problems. The combats, conversely, were not too bad at all.

There’s an annoying sort of cliffhanger at the end. I guess DRAG 1-3 is the sequel? I’ll have to keep an eye out for that.

45. The Sea Drake (MOON 1-2)

Did I run The Sea Drake last night online? Yes I did! Chalk up another new module for me; I’d never played or run it before. My players were Xalcairn, Domingo, Dareus, Genolen, Tracker, and Zeitgeist. Good crowd, balanced party, fun times.

I really dug the combats. Which is a good thing, since this is one of those modules with no skill challenges. I think the second roleplaying encounter in the beginning was a bit much; the author wanted to get some Moonshae Isles feel in there, but it’s kind of NPCs talking to NPCs blah blah. I maybe could have GMed it better face to face, not sure.

But yeah, the combats are quite good. Challenging without being grinds. I do not count the optional fourth combat there, which is just a thing to pad time, I guess. It’s a challenging fight in theory, but since the PCs can take an extended rest before that combat, the challenge pretty much vanishes in a cloud of dailies.

The rest of the fights were good enough so that I came within a nose of a TPK. Genolen’s warforged warlock (so cool) delayed one monster’s arrival by a round, and given that one extra hit from that monster would have killed the warlord, I think it’s fair to say that was a vital contribution. Said warlord also made the death save that would have killed him if he’d missed. Then he got back up, healed up everyone else who’d fallen over, and they won the fight… but man, it was close. I love those.

Storyline, eh, it’s a trading voyage. I think, again, in the face to face context you could make something really cool out of it. It needs some GM effort to do so, but I never mind that.

About Collin

Collin is my fighter. As with all my LFR characters, he is built with an eye towards effectiveness and an eye towards roleplay, which makes two eyes. That’s how you know I’m not a beholder. In practice, this means he’s a sword and shield fighter; I haven’t gone for the maximal damage cheese but I do like him to be pretty good at what he does. Which is minimize incoming damage and control the location of enemies on the battlefield. He can push and pull like nobody’s business.

If you care about his character sheet, make sure to check out the notes; he’s got a couple of powers and an item from a recent Dragon article which hasn’t gotten into the character builder yet.

He also has a backstory. Most of his life, he’s been a simple farmer in Chessenta. No family: he’s a bit too cranky and irascible to maintain a relationship, and he wasn’t really a very successful farmer. You grow some crops, you shout at kobolds to go away, and you do what you can. Chessenta is not exactly a farming nation.

About a year ago, a knight came riding onto Collin’s farm and dropped dead. Collin says “knight” when he tells this story, because it’s easier for the fluffheads of Cormyr to understand, and he’s been spending time there lately, but really he means a commander of the Akanax legions. Either way, the guy was wearing scale armor and carrying a nasty longsword, and he dropped dead on Collin’s doorstep. This represented two things.

The first thing was a huge problem. Legionnaires do not ride alone. It’s contrary to Chessenta military doctrine. Thus, Collin was soon going to have more legionnaires on his farm, and they would have questions which he could not answer in a satisfactory manner. These would eventually lead to questions which he could answer, but did not wish to answer, such as “How soon will Collin die once he’s stuck with a spear?”

The second thing was a great opportunity. Or at least a semi-interesting opportunity rendered deeply tempting by the previous thing. Collin could take the knight’s armor and the knight’s sword and the knight’s horse and ride off to find adventure somewhere other than Chessenta. That was a pretty good deal, considering the alternative. Using a sword couldn’t be too hard, right? 35 isn’t too old to learn a new trade. Sure.

The horse portion of the opportunity turned out to be not so good, since the knight’s horse was a warhorse and did not want some random farmer riding him. Collin still managed to make pretty good time on foot, and dodged his impending problem successfully. By dint of serious practice – he always was pretty athletic – he managed to pick up enough swordplay to get hired on as a merchant ship guard, and that went well enough for him to get paid, and so on.

Now he’s wandering around the eastern half of Faerun seeing the sights, hanging out with interesting people, and hitting things with an amazing new magic sword. Could be worse.

44. The Gibbous Moon (LURU 1-2)

Saturday Tracker ran The Gibbous Moon, with cenakor, Xalcairn, Maelwys, logopolis, and I playing. It wound up being somewhat of a grindfest. We started an hour and a half late, and Tracker didn’t quite read some of the monster stat blocks carefully enough which extended the first combat by a bit. (The Deathlock Wight Resurrect power revives undead at half bloodied hit point value, not at bloodied hit point value. Ooops.) I dunno, one of those things, I guess.

I liked the plot of the module fairly well. I was bummed that we didn’t manage to save the father. Such are the vagaries of random number generators, I suppose.

43. Brothers In Arms (BALD 1-6)

Whoa, I forgot to record the weekend’s games! It’s cause I flew to Austin on Sunday night and I’m still catching up with myself.

On 4/9, Friday night, I ran Brothers In Arms as an exchange with Tracker. My other players were logopolis, codman, Xalcairn, and Nimrand. It’s not a combat heavy module, and I am not totally surprised that I didn’t wreak terrible havoc on anyone, although I did have some great moments when a dark creeper died and blinded half the party for four rounds. It’s a fun adventure and I still want to play it with Alesk sometime.