October 20, 2007

End of the Adventure

My new players finally made it through the adventure Relb's Revenge from HackJournal #1. This small group of only four players (temporarily augmented by two additional players) took a couple months of gaming, and four PC deaths, to make it through. Now, to be totally fair, this group only meets for 2 hours at a time (gaming for probably only 90 minutes at a stretch) and this group is relatively inexperienced. They do game, but they were used to D&D and Vampire, so their focus is much more of role-playing than hack-n-slash.

I have no problem with this at all....in fact they do a great job with role-playing and for once I don't have to worry about munchkin players conveniently "forgetting" about their quirks and flaws. Some of the highlights from this group (more later) come straight from the superb role-playing.

Progressing through the dungeon they started out at a big disadvantage: the party had no cleric and no thief. The starting party consisted of a general Magic User Pixie Fairy, an Elven Archer and her Wardawg, a Half-Elven Bard, and a Human Bounty Hunter. They did have some very limited thief skills between the Bard and the Bounty Hunter. After the very first combat encounter they almost lost two PCs and the lack of healing became very abundant. I let them trade some of their pay/bounty towards some non-magical alchemy healing potions. Funny thing was that most of them were given to the Bard who did a header off of a 50' balcony. That was the first PC death.

The next session the player of the now-deceased Bard brings in a Cleric and I introduce two new player's PCs: a Dwarven Fighter (Battle-Axe Specialist) and an Elven Battlemage. After some more exploration, a fire, and some frustration leading to the Battlemage's death, we were back to 4 players. Due to the Bard's death, they had been avoiding one area of the dungeon like the plague and even with a couple of Elves they had difficulty finding the secret door down to the next level.

Last night's session the group actually made good progress. They found their way down to the next level, avoided the almost-painfully-obvious trap, had a very interesting fight against a not-so-inanimate object, helped the damsel in distress, and fought valiantly against the hideous BBGs (Big Bad Guy: often the climatic final battle of the adventure). They lost two PCs in the final battle. It could have been worse. I basically held one BBG back to feast upon the first fallen PC while the other one wailed on the party. It made sense to me with the encounter as it was set up and throwing both in at once would accomplish little more than earn me a TPK (Total Party Kill).

That's right folks.....I'm not really out to get the party of adventurers. It's my job to challenge them and give them enough rope to hang themselves. If they still had the Dwarf with them I totally would have thrown both BBGs at them. They would have had the means at their disposal to triumph over their enemies.

After the game I tried to give them a brief run-down of what they could have done better. Their tactics needed some work....some work. It's not like they were all messed up or anything. If I was to sum things up I'd say that they need to hone their roles within the party and play to their strengths. The Archer should be trying to engage enemies at a distance, the Bounty Hunter (a fighter-type) should be up-front and engaged in battle, while the other two should be taking active supporting roles. The Cleric can fight decently well, so can flex there, but should be keeping the party full up on HP. Unfortunately the PF Magic User didn't have much for initial starting spells, so they could have been best served by the PF using her flight ability to scout out some.

I mentioned earlier that I'd note this group's role-playing. These guys are pretty good. I have to give props to the player of the Pixie Fairy. This player took a good amount of Quirks and Flaws (actually had a generous helping of mandatory extra rolls and did not spend any Build Points on re-rolls). Quirks and Flaws bring a little life to the PC, but can also get the character killed much more easily. The PF is a Pyromaniac, which has been AWESOME! I had to chuckle when the party thought it was a good idea to let her be the torch bearer....the player was quick to volunteer and nobody else wanted the job.

In one encounter the PF was blasted by a Magic Missile for a decent amount of damage, and retaliated by breaking a lantern on the offending Magic User and setting him on fire. Once he's lit up, she starts throwing everything else flammable she can find onto the burn pile. Pretty soon the whole room is ablaze and the rest of the party has to push her out the door and try to contain the blaze to that one room. In a later encounter the PF decides to take a sock she had taken off of a human corpse, set it on fire with the torch (which by now is being carried by the cleric), and try to use it as an improvised weapon. On her first and only attempt to battle the not-so-inanimate object she needs a 15 to hit. With the non-weapon proficiency penalty of -5 for being a Magic User, that means she needs a 20 to hit.....a crit. Of course she crits, dealing triple damage...and this thing takes double damage from fire. Since it's only a burning sock I decide that a 1d4-3 is appropriate and make it a 1d4-2 for the double-damage (less chance of penetration than allowing 2d4-3). In the end that PF did 5 or 6 points of fire damage against the not-so-inanimate object. Once the encounter was over the party decides to rest and the PF sets the now very inanimate object on fire so she has light to study her spellbook. Fortunately the PF made her roll to see if she was tempted to toss her spellbook on the fire......
Good times....good times indeed. I'm looking forward to seeing how this group develops.