The Red Box Game Day adventure Sunderpeak Temple included lots of important and interesting background material, which I completely missed by being late (as usual). For todays game I would be a player rather than DM, for only the second time this century. (The first time didnt end so well.) Our Dm today was Ron, who is known in some circles as Yuka the bald brawler. This was his first time DMing, and I only had to bite my tongue about 40,000 times, which is really more about me than him. He did a great job, followed the rules, kept the game flowing, and we got through an amazing 4 encounters in our 4 hrs playing.
Meandering Tangent:One of the most amazing experiences I have had as a DM for the Encounters program is to have helped three people decide to try their hands at DMing. This was a new experience for me, as most of my players over the years had a high aversion to the idea of DMing. Not that it looked too hard, mind you, but.. and then they would give their reasons. (too hard.) So on a selfishly evil level, it is deliciously satisfying to watch as a new DM becomes quickly overloaded with how many balls he must keep juggling – all the players, is how many by the way. And right as this happens, it is time to start keeping track of hit points – oy! I am here to tell you that even today, I often switch the evil necromancers hit points with his undead ogre thugs. In some ways, tracking hit points are like an ongoing algebraic equation following multiple strands (more than ever in 4e!) back and forwards trough time. Or maybe thats just me, hmm…
Our DM did a great job of tracking hit points, and all the other elements of combat as well. I found myself in the unusual position of asking him if my character would be able to do things that I, as a DM, would never allow (like shifting diagonal through a blocked doorway – wtf me?!?) but he did not fall for the bait. He also from time to time would freely dispense advice to any player having doubts, which I approve of and use the same technique, however I was surprised that his advice was usually sound, rather than the twisted and evil advice I usually dispense. (Convincing a spell caster that a melee basic is the way to go in a given situation is one of my favorites.)
If anything, I would say that he was too easy on us, which is how I spent my first few years as a dm too (believe it or not!) It is hard to really lay a good beat-down on your friends as much as you might secretly want to! And maintaining balance and fairness, always foremost in a DMs mind, is often at odds with the sick powers some of these momnsters have at their disposal. To combat my normal tendency to go easy on players I try to develop an evil side (I know right?) who takes delight and glee in dishing out punishment, but Im wracked with grief and anguish when my monsters die. Another technique I use is to call some one out and tell them straight up, they are gonna try and get you this battle, so gird your loins! For example, in a recent game, the PC playing the princess,had to face the undead ex-princess who had a special desire to scalp her living successor. Or if I am feeling particularly evil I might tell a player something along the lines of Um, Jack, everyone is out to get you in tonights game, just thought Id let you know. I have told my son who plays the barbarian Thokk this before every game since Thokk was about 3rd level. Being tough on the PCs is tough to do, and there is a fine balance. The best way during combat is to look at the tactical situation and announce the intentions behind the monsters behavior. Usually it will come down to who is who is bloodied, or closest to going down, who is most vulnerable, and who is the biggest threat, in that order.This Red Box Game Day is the story of how one lil ol elf, Thia, endeavored to shoot whole bunches of monsters with her short bow for epic amounts of damage. (heroic amounts really, but it felt epic.) In another recent game day, Bennybe the ELADRIN rogue made his debut and grand finale both by causing a total party kill. There was one major difference between the builds, and that is ELVEN ACCURACY which got me out of three natural ones during the game. I didnt miss teleport one bit, especially with Thias agile, sneaky tumbling tricks. I love Thia!
So, the party consisted of Thia, and… the rest. Lets see, from backest to frontest, after my thief, was Ander the half pint hobbit with happy feet and a pointy dagger and also my associate rogue. Beside him stood Luca the elfish wizardess with the craziest spells ever. Out in front we had the cleric Corzon Stormbrow Thunderhammer and finally our defender, an Essentials Heroes of the Forgotten Lands dwarf knight and master baconeer. Wearing a suit and cape of thick cut bacon strips, the dwarf carried around a giant slab of dwarvish bacon so rugged and tough it had the same or similar stats as a maul. His main attack was a melee bacon-slap, and his bacon became deadly rancid by the various creatures it came into contact with over the course of this adventure.We were sent out to find or retrieve something, from somewhere, that might include bad guys. I heard: there is much treasure to steal. And in fact, no sooner had I sat down at the table than a potion of healing appeared on the board, so I naturally slapped my hand over it like a high stakes card game. Thia will hold it for whoever needs it, after all her movement would allow her to get to anyone an administer it as a minor. Woot, treasure number 1.
It turns out we were storming a ruined stronghold, or temple possibly. The walls were stone, but there was no roof over this section. The enemy was shown to be two orc archers and their reptilian guard drakes. 2 of each. I was first to react and I let fly with a ranged backstabbing first strike sneak attack against the nearest drake. I hoped my 20+ points of damage would fell the scurvy dog, but it didnt even bloody him. I used my sneaks trick to hide in a corner. The halfling Ander charged an orc, which was hilarious because his other character, Kindrock, would use the same opening move. Whether it be lumbering half-giant with mighty axe, or flapping footed hobbit with a pointy dagger, it works.
It was awhile until it was my turn again. I was hoping the rest of the party would sweep up after my incredible dog-shooting opening move, but there was more work to be done, so I used my movement trick to climb to the top of the wall and stealth, then I fired at one of the orcs. Soon enough, a bandit appeared, and I shimmied down the wall to attack him with my short sword from stealth. My deadly attack bloodied him. The battle ended soon after, and we discovered no treasure but for a magic well that would increase our healing if we drank from it. I filled my Big Gulp.
Soon enough we were moving out towards the back end of the temple. Ander and I had taken over the lead, being fleet of foot, and we spied a kobold on guard duty at the en of the hall. I motioned Ander down the hall whilst I placed a well aimed quarrel into the dirty rats temple. I had hoped to murder him in secret and drag off the body but sadly, the whelp squealed like a struck pig as it went down, alerting the garrison. It was time to rumble, and this time we paired off against a big brute and more orcs and koblods and stuff like that. To sum up, we slew easily. There was no better treasure to be gleaned, even though I picked the pockets of every statue we passed. Whats up with evil temples nowadays, must be the recession. None of them had gems for eyes either, though I did manage to pull one gold filling out of one of my kills.
The third battle, in the dungeon beneath, was versus undead, and the wizardess really displayed her awesome powers here. Every turn she rocked the room with some kind of wave of energy that knocked all the enemy 25 feet back! And did a tiny amount of damage. Other times she would fire off her pair of magic missiles. There was also a tough skeleton ion here to fight, but he went down under my barrage of arrows. All the undead spent the whole battle bunched up and pushed against the far door by the wizardess, while the bacon master strode in and used his bacon slap cleave, an I fired at them from cover. They were soon toasted.
Moving on we came to the final encounter, and it was a grand affair. It included our games namesake nemesis in black. Alongside this black beast were some minions and a couple tough goblinoids. I stayed out of range of the breath-weapon and fired my bow from hiding, until I found the right opening. Then I charged and slashed the fell thing with my short sword, and bloodied it! Woot! Of course, that meant it immediately blasted me with its acid, but I dodged, woot! Finally, the cleric was down, and maybe one other person. I had 3 hps left and a healing potion, but I decided to attack the solo first, maybe I could kill him, and save the healing potion, and if he didnt go down, well, then I could still use the potion as a minor. Well I hit him, and slew him, the dragon went down! Yay, however, I went down, because I took 5 damage when I killed him, so I wasnt there to loot the final chamber! Those untrustworthy partners of mine, I like to think they revived me as I lay unconcious and dying next to the dragon I KILLIED, but we will never know…