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Keep on the Shadowfell 3

We continue…

So the party has now taken a new shape, here’s the roll call:

Clara, half elf cleric
Kallista, human wizard
Alaric, dwarf fighter
Moonchild, tiefling warlock

And two newcomers,

Rhogar, dragonborn paladin
Flynn, human rogue

Since the party fulfilled their quest to rescue their mentor, both Kallista and Moonchild have levelled up. So, first order of business is to pick kewl nu powerz. This is traditionally a time sink for everyone else, and the same was true this time round. Mrs King is using the pregen so all the decisions are laid out for her. She loves the idea of Expeditious Retreat so plumps for that straight away. Unfortunately the pregens don’t include any rituals at all so there’s still some book work to be done. Dan selects some new stuff for his warlock and also takes the opportunity for some retraining, swapping out a power for another more to his liking. This kind of option goes down well with the players, sometimes you have to see how your character is running at the table before you are truly happy with your abilities. The chance to make changes as you go is voted A Good Thing.

The party gain an audience with the Lord of Winterhaven so we are straight into a bit of roleplaying. Negotiations go well and I enjoy the chance to flex my characterisation muscles without recourse to dice. Happily the party take the story forward and head off for the Kobold lair.

The map goes down, along with more than a dozen Kobolds of different stripes. Julio’s rogue takes battle command and immediately the party start to plan and scheme. Using Ghost Sound and extreme stealth the party draw out the Kobold skirmishers. Stealth goes out the window as Rhogar strides in, longsword and Divine Challenge to the fore. The alarm goes up and kobolds start swarming through the trees to launch the encounter proper.

Notable events include Kallista flinging Magic Missiles from the safety of halfway up a pine tree. The slinger drives her to ground with stinkpots and deadly stones. The Dragonshield gets bored waiting in his magic circle so trots out to play with his minions before him. Players boo me when I flank them!

The party don’t have too much trouble with this lot. Teamwork is running like clockwork and they are definitely getting used to each others roles by now.

The slinger and a minion escape to the lair behind the waterfall and raise the alarm. Wardrums and chants of ‘Irontooth! Irontooth!’ go up and now the party decide to press the assault.

I was eager to get this part of the adventure resolved. Thing is, this is a pretty big encounter and could have take up the whole session on its own. In hindsight, we bit off more than we could chew as a group and we were all getting tired and frustrated towards the end.

Anyway the fight within the caves was very cool and got very close to the wire on occasion. Kallista got to shout ‘Burning Hands!’ and immolate kobolds left right and centre. Rhogar and Alaric stormed through and got busy marking and defending for all they were worth. Moonchild was always on the move, making him very hard to take out, though God knows the Wyrmpriest tried! Clara got tied down by two Dragonshields at just the wrong moment and every one chipped in with advice and encouragement as she was in dire straits. Meanwhile Irontooth and Alaric were going old school on each other with battleaxes and cursing aplenty. I’m still getting my head around the idea of a goblin with 106 hit points and Steve was shaking his head in bewilderment as his hits kept going down and Irontooth’s didn’t. When Irontooth eventually got Bloodied I swear a cheer went up. Shame the players didn’t know it just makes him even more dangerous. Flynn was darting from melee to melee looking for flanks and keeping everyone on target.

Alaric couldn’t stand for long and sure enough, he went down, along with the morale of everyone else. Rhogar followed in short order and things were looking like a TPK.

Let the dice fall where they may…

So Flynn hefts his short sword and shrugs. ‘In for a penny’ he thinks and steps up to the plate wincing. Irontooth roars with delight and brings his axe to bear, when, from absolutely nowhere…

…Clara appears around the corner, covered in kobold blood, advancing on pure guts and bloody ignorance. She mutters her prayers and a Lance of Faith drills into Irontooth’s face. He goes down! Huge relief as the remaining kobolds break and the party surge forward to stabilise the twin defenders, pulling them back from the brink of death at the very last moment.

Looting and high fives follow and then we wrap it up for the night. It’s been a long one.

Final thoughts: the party are getting more and more confident now and are really working as a team. Every session someone discovers a new way of using an existing power. Whenever there’s a daily power announced everyone watches the dice with interest. Misses on these are absolutely crushing. I don’t think Dan’s character got anything but his At Wills to work all night. It seems we all need to get the set up right to make the most out of these big powers.
The monsters are incredibly fun to play. They have simple rules that really help immersion. The shifty power of the Kobolds is coming to define these guys as really nimble and bloody annoying, and that’s exactly right. When Steve realised that as a dwarf Alaric could take his second wind as a minor action there were nods all around the table ‘cool, that’s dwarfy’

The next night I’m watching tv with Mrs King and she says, ‘Can I borrow your players handbook?’ It doesn’t get much better than that.

The love affair with 4E continues. 


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D&D 4e play report

  Everyone else is doing it after all…

So, get my set of core books from the lovely people at Leisure Games just in time for my two weeks holiday. Sweet. Gives me time to settle down and give them the attention they deserve. I’d already been following the forums and picked up the preview scenario Keep on the Shadowfell, so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into.

Since then I’ve been getting more and more anxious to get some actual play done, becuase the theorising was doing my head in. Go play! I’ve ‘rolled up’ a few characters and I’ve played thorugh a couple of encounters . Now all I needed was some players.

So I chucked Trail of Cthulhu in the bin as it was not going anywhere, and doing that quite slowly. Spoke to the group and we decided to pitch in with the new game.

We have: Dan, the lapsed gamer, back and loving it. After chargen with me and Julio has got straight online and ordered up a Players Handbook and a set of rather fetching dice. Hes running a Tiefling Warlock and is loving the zappy curses he can sling at will.
Julio: My old gaming buddy who, again, bought his own PHB, and more important brings the tactical nous the team will need. He’s playing Quinn, the dirty human rogue.
Steps, AKA Mrs King, who is new to gaming and enjoying herself with this strange hobby. she’s Kallista the wizard. Lesbian stripper ninja style. Say no more.
Stivi: Another old friend who got into gaming with 3rd ed and has jumped on board with the new edition too. He grabbed the Dwarf Fighter pregen, called hin Alaric, and got to fighting.
Tracy: another newbie, who I think is slightly overwhelmed by all the options, so was happy to let the group decide for her. she plays Clara the half elf cleric.

And off we go. Took a little time to explain the basics, and soon found that actually, you just need to get stuck in and see how it goes. The character sheets look complicated but that’s only because they are so thorough. Next time I’ll take a highlighter to the most used parts to make it easier. It will come with practice.

The first encounter is an attack by Kobold bandits on the Kings road (not the one in Chelsea). An archetypal set up for any level 1 game,  with the potential to have all the experienced gamers nodding off. But no. We took it slow so the encounter took about an hour, but it was a really good story, full of flavour and cool stuff kicking off as the players got a handle on their spells, prayers and exploits. Notable images include; Kallista using burning hands to flush a horde of Kobold minions out of the woods, one jumps out of the undergrowth and grapples her round the neck. Now they are both on fire. Clara prays to Pelor and her Lance of Faith burns the Kobold off her mate with the power of the sun.
Quinn finds that Kobold Dragonshields are shiftier than they look as they lead him a merry dance arond some rockpiles. i loved hearing Julio say “bugger, they’ve flanked me again!” Payback’s a bitch mate!
Kallista sneaks around a rock just in time for a Kobold Slinger to paste her with a gluepot. She’s stuck fast as the Kobold draws a rusty blade and advances. She grabs her wand and sends a bolt of silvery force right between his eyes burning out his tiny brain.

The fight over, all agreed there was lots of coolness and imagery. A success. Then onwards to Winterhaven to pick up a beer and a room for the night. Gossip with the locals provides a couple  of hooks for next week, and we call it a night.

Executive summary: a great system that really rewards the players working together and knowing their stuff. A lot easier to DM, I had 8 monsters of three different types and kept it all running smoothly. Also, I only had to look up one rule all night. That’s a big win. The players enjoyed it bigtime (probably the fellers more if i’m honest?) and all are looking forward to the next installment.


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