Thursday, September 16, 2010

...So, About My Game...

(Last Direct LJ Re-Post for a while, I swear. This one is, surprise surprise, after the first session of my current game. Context is so awesome.)

All right, finally, I'm gonna talk about the game I am running in specific. I have five players, all girls, only two of which (not counting myself) are currently playing another tabletop game. Two others have played before, but not for years and not 4e, and one has never played a tabletop game ever. The party makeup is as follows:

Juuntzi -- Shadar-Kai Avenger (Never played 4e)
Rory -- Halfling Trickster Rogue (Never played 4e)
Dhalia -- Deva Invoker (Also plays in Chessenta)
Aretha-- Deva Artificer (Never played tabletop before)
Dian-- Human Cleric (Strength) (Also plays in Planescape)

So, if you know anything about 4e roles, the first thing you'll notice about this party is that there is no defender. the Avenger has also spiked Dex, which was an interesting choice, but I believe she's gone with the Pursuing Avenger build, which is all right for that. The only one with a Strength score at all is the Cleric, which is all right since there is a second Leader in the party to heal her. The most interesting thing about that is how much of the party decided to go for daggers (the Rogue, the Artificer, and I think the Avenger are all using daggers)-- we'll see how that goes in the long run.

I suppose that the adjective which applies here is 'naturally'-- naturally, this is a fairly roleplay focused group, but the interesting thing that I've noticed is that there isn't really more rp than the other games I'm in. This may have to do with how, since everyone is pretty new, the level of tutorial and rules/strategy table talk is pretty high, and this group may want to cut it out later, but I'm unsure on that. There's a lot of table talk in my other games, and, at least in those, since pretty much everyone is involved in it and setting up what they're going to do, it doesn't slow things down too much. There are certainly games where it could, and I've been in games (though I've been playing 4e with pretty much the same bunch, so those not so much) where the chatter just got obnoxious. We'll see how it goes. Either way, the introductory bit, where the party got their instructions from the half-elf components merchant who has hired them, went pretty okay, and the party used it to help them get into their characters by and large. The Rogue and the Avenger, as it was pointed out-- probably by Dian or Aretha, I don't remember which-- are set up to be quite the pair of Trouble Twins, both being thieves by profession. The Invoker, Dhalia, and the Artificer, Aretha are fairly quiet by comparison, and Dian the Cleric is the grounded, Rational One.

A moment about Clerics in this campaign. All PCs have the option of worshipping a pantheon of 6 gods called a Giedame; they can choose from any deity in the game, or the ones I've created. They can only purchase god-related feats (or Channel Divinity powers) that are for a god in their pantheon, and, though it's a bit rules-breaky, I am allowing Clerics to use an extra Channel Divinity power that is specific to one of their 6 gods once per day, which does not count towards the 1 Channel DIvinity power per combat. I may also make that for divine classes in general, though I'm still mulling it over. I'm not really worried about the power level in this game just yet, though that may well change.

As they left the tavern and approached the curio shop which is the entrance to the Dungeon, I threw them directly into combat with a bunch of goblins that had come out of there-- the party is not sure why, natch. Being that this was my first time running a 4e combat, I went with a fairly basic spread-- 1 3rd level Goblin Hexer (controller/leader), two Goblin Warriors (1st level skirmishers) and 7 ist level minions.

The important thing to keep in mind about goblins, who are sneaky little bastards, is this right here:

Goblin Tactics (At-Will)
Trigger: The goblin is missed by an attack.
Effect (Immediate Reaction): The goblin shifts 1 square.

All of the goblins have this. This is compounded by the following power of the Goblin Hexer:

Incite Bravery (immediate reaction, when an ally uses goblin tactics, at-will)
Ranged 10; the targeted ally can shift 2 squares and make an attack.

But initially, they had just seen the two warriors, who were behind the rogue and the Avenger in the initiative order. So Rory and Juuntzi decided to try their hand at tanking, ran as close as they could, and started throwing daggers and oaths around, to some effect. The Warriors, being skirmishers, skirted the group and threw javalins, getting +1d6 to their damage if they moved at least 4 squares. Then came the minions-- all seven of 'em, dogpiling on the closest good guy-- in this case, the poor halfling.

Which is why controllers are awesome. When it came Dhalia's turn, her Area Burst 1 attack took out all but two of the minions, bam!

Then came the Hexer, who has a lockdown ability that resets, a blinding ability, and this awfulness:

Vexing Cloud (standard; sustain minor, encounter) Zone
Area burst 3 within 10; automatic hit; all enemies within the zone take a -2 penalty to attack rolls. The zone grants concealment to the goblin hexer and its allies. The goblin hexer can sustain the zone as a minor action, moving it up to 5 squares

After a couple of turns, the Warriors were finally locked down into melee with the Avenger, and the Rogue was locked down by the the Hexer's Stinging Gaze, which does 3d6+1 if you move on your turn once it's hit you (save ends). Un-fun. This is also the part where Goblin Tactics and Inspire Bravery started to really suck, as the goblin warriors kept getting an extra attack on Juuntzi, while trying to be sure that they were both adjacent to her at the same time. She did a pretty good job of this when it came time for her to use her Oath of Emnity, and poor Rory did the best she could with ranged attacks. So the Hexer decided to help out his buddies by dropping the Vexing Cloud on Rory, Juuntzi, and the Warriors, and then high-tailing it out of there.

At this point, the Cleric decides to charge the Hexer. And we start to get into that whole Economy of Action thing that I love so much. All class healing, and quite a lot of general healing is done as a minor action, which means that Dian can heal Rory after her pummeling, then charge down and try to smack that Hexer. Which she does successfully, because her melee basic attack is pretty darn decent.

But yes, you heard right, those of you who don't play 4e and don't know why anyone would. This is why. Because the party healer can heal you in combat, and also hit things ever. Also, most Leader powers, in addition to doing damage, hand out smexxy buffs to the party. This does not mean the other classes are short-shrifted, oh no, they can grant movement, combat advantage, knock things prone, and do all kinds of other stuff to help everyone out. So yeah, you're a team, in mechanic as well as attitude. And no one is useless. Really, you want everyone to be as effective as possible, because if you all as a party are running at max efficency, you are bloody unstoppable. It takes time to get there, of course, but yeah. It's a really cool feeling to me-- that no really, you'll pass up something that might upgrade you, if it means making up an item deficit for another party member. Also, resource management matters to everyone. No one is standing there looking and feeling useless because they're out of stuff-- only if they've gotten stunned or something. But I digress. If there had been no other changes but this, I would swear by this edition for it. But moving on.

Unfortunately, the Hexer's rolls were all really gross, and he wound up blinding poor Dian (save ends) and locking her down with a reset Stinging Gaze. Doubleplus not-awesome. She wound up going down shortly, as one of the warriors and the last were dispatched and the Hexer and the other Warrior tried to take off. Which is why having a second Leader in a Two Striker Party is so very good an idea. The Artificer, having not spent any of her heals yet, was able to get in close burst 5 and get Dian up within the round, and the party chased the Hexer down-- while being careful to stay on the outside of the gawd-awful zone that the Hexer was hiding in. The Avenger pulled him to the edge of it, and-- I forget who killed the last warrior-- but Aretha nailed the Hexer finally for Exactly Enough damage. It was at that point that I realised that the only one who did not have a magic weapon/impliment was the Invoker, who had had some issues with the fight-- fortunately, the Hexer had a +1 Hexer Rod on him, and she-- well well!-- uses a rod impliment. So that worked out well for everyone.

The party now being free to explore the curio shop and the dungeon entrance, they did so, and this is where I'll stop, though they did some more exploring-- one because this is getting very long, and two, because that encounter is not entirely over. I did it as sort of an informal skill challenge, which I think I would have preferred to have more... tight? Alors.

Anyway, I want to maunder on the topic of skill challenges some other time, but for now, sine.