Friday, 4th November, 2011, 09:07 PM #1
Redbadge's Campaign (there will be spoilers)
Hello everyone. I'm DMing the Zeitgeist campaign that Redbadge is in. He has posted here before so some of you probably know him. Redbadge decided not to post about the adventure on Axis Island, because he's embarrassed by an unexpected action from one of the other players. This of course meant I had to create an account here (I previously just read the forums here) so I could tell the story
I believe the last time Redbadge posted about the campaign was the first session (the Coaltongue), so I'll start with the meeting with Lya. The details will be a little vague since these sessions actually happened several weeks ago.
First up the characters:
Irony: Eladrin Bard, Vekeshi Mystic
Rai: Half Elemental (Genasi) Swordmage, Martial Scientist
Kirk: Human Thief, Yerasol Veteran (Redbadge)
Doran: Elf Barbarian, Docker
Bellicose: Tiefling Hunter, Gunsmith
The meeting with Lya went well; the players quickly solved Lya's puzzle by thinking in 3D. Prompted by me mentioning the strange sword on Lya's belt, Rai asked to see it, so the players got a glimpse of Lya's arcanotech vorpal rapier. The players set off for the island right after submitting a few requisition requests for later. The players got to meet the other RHC team; though Redbadge quickly pointed out something bad would happen to them siting storytelling traditions (he reads too much TVtropes.com).
Once at the island, Redbadge's knowledge of storytelling tropes proved accurate with the downfall of the other RHC team. They got Burton back to the boat and spent a little time pondering the cave in that left the cave ceiling perfectly smooth. Upon reaching the sea cave, the party quickly encountered Dupiers. After a brief scuffle (only a single round), Irony's incredible diplomacy score diffused the situation. The mildly incoherent Danoran gave them some information on the island's situation, while Rai and Kirk investigated the Icon of Avilona and claimed it for Risur. When Dupiers insisted he needed the icons, the players learned about someone else in the mines.
I inserted a new NPC here. Mechanically it stems from the awkward role of the raise dead ritual. It's my experience that permanent player death is not much fun, but resurrection presents storytelling problems (the king is dead? pffft so what? someone grab a priest). I decided to handle this with only very powerful or unusual entities could actually bring the dead back to life (fey titans, angels, gods, etc), so I introduced an NPC to do the parties rezzing when needed; however, I didn't want the players to just yank this NPC out whenever a rock falls on someone they like, so it needed to be something they would think twice about before asking. Enter Calaphax the devil.
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This will cover multiple sessions, so I'm going to spread it out over a few posts.
The party discovered that Dupiers had been seeking the icons out at the behest of a tiny winged devil named Calaphax in exchange for help hiding from the Duchess' forces. Cal immediately wanted to make a deal with the party (adventurers offer a lot more profit potential over a mine foreman). The deal was impressive: the players would get eternal youth and a wish each in exchange for helping Cal get off the island and a magical link that would help him stay in touch. All but Doran jumped at the deal, so the party has 4 wishes that they can call on in the future. The wishes are meant to be used for raise dead rituals, but I'm hoping that the party will try something off the wall with them in the future. Cal let the party keep the three icons and as a bonus gave them a magical dagger (kirk held on to it). Cal also bound the elementals to stay and keep Dupiers protected (as per his deal) after knocking him out and "editing" his memories of what happened (Cal wants to keep a low profile for now).
The party marched forth to reach the fortress. They chose to cross the forest and avoid the roads. They were all suitably impressed with the strange phenomena on the island. When the party encountered the headless golem, Doran managed to snag a vial of its oil using the jumping power of the icon of avilona and a really low opportunity attack roll. When the party reached the fortress, Irony used the passwall ritual to get them inside at the weak point.
The party managed to sneak through the outer fortress without detection. They took out a patrol near the jail and talked to the prisoners a little through the barred window. They passed the guards' weapons through the window so the prisoners could defend themselves if things got grim and continued exploring. The party found the guarded warehouse, but decided they couldn't get inside without being detected. They managed to peek through a small window around back and saw the trapped teleportation circle. The players then continued on to the docks.
The players decided to make use of the water breathing scrolls to approach the lighthouse from under water. They managed to climb up the backside of the boat undetected. The clandestine approach was spoiled when Kirk slipped on the deck while attempting to jump to the dock. He was forced to pull himself up off the side of the pier. With the element of surprise lost, Kirk used an action point to charge the investigator with the magic dagger and felled him in one blow (I'm beginning to wonder about the damage output of the thief). Kirk also discovered that the magic dagger given by Calaphax devours the souls of people killed with it (oops). The wizard in the lighthouse wasted no time in sounding the alarm as the patrolmen opened fire on Kirk. The rest of the party scrambled into action.
Doran used the power of the Icon of Avilona to fly to the top of the lighthouse and confront the wizard in melee combat. Unfortunately, he was unaware of the wizard's pet drake. The wounded wizard used feather fall to quickly get away from the elven berserker and rejoin his companions on the ground while the fey drake leveled a vicious bite at Doran. Doran jumped from the lighthouse to pursue the wizard while the rest of the party struggled to catch up to him through the melee on the pier. The fey drake quickly crawled down the side of the lighthouse to defend its master. Doran fought bravely but was overwhelmed without the support of his allies. Kirk attempted to reach him by climbing up the side of the sea wall but was foiled by the wizard's gale dagger that sent him tumbling unconscious to the pier below. Irony stopped to revive the fallen Kirk but was too late to reach Doran before the drake's poison killed him (a lot of extremes in the dice this combat either really good or really bad). The party cleaned up the remaining combatants but had lost a party member. To make matters worse, the patrol they had taken out was discovered so the fortress was on high alert and would respond to the lighthouse alarm soon.
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
The party will be starting the Dying Skyseer tomorrow. I've already read through the adventure, and I think they'll enjoy it a lot.
I'm getting a bit long winded with the recap, so I'll cut this down to the highlights.
The players used their first wish to resurrect Doran in time to help defend the lighthouse.
Following his appearance at the jail, the party chased Asrabay into the inner fortress and confronted Gillie Dhu.
Once inside the party eavesdropped on the Duchess and Asrabay. Once Asrabay discovered them, they tried to negotiate. Unwilling to give up Nathan, the party wasn't making much headway. Bellicose decided the only way to get Asrabay to leave was to get rid of what he was after and shot Nathan in the head. Asrabay, enraged by the loss of this informant, attacked the party.
I used the level 2 version of Asrabay, because at this point I was concerned that Kirk would be able to do 34 damage in one round with the use of an action point and defeat the level 20 version with a lucky enough roll.
The fight was fast but dramatic. Asrabey escaped by dropping the telescope on the party and fleeing through the roof. The party used their second wish to revive Nathan and then healed the duchess (she had been knocked out during the fight). The party took the Duchess into custody and questioned the now extremely jumpy Nathan Jierre.
The party decided against exploring the island with the extra time they had, and handed over the island to Lya without a hitch.
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
- Join Date
- Jan 2008
- Coffs Harbour, Australia
ø Ignore Colmarr
That's all pretty awesome actually. Nothing to be embarrassed about there, Redbadge.
Interesting to we that you're as stunned by thief damage as I am.
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I think I'll get the players to play off the scene as "faking" Nathan's death so they could grant him political asylum; after all, the duchess will swear up and down she saw his brains splatter across the room, very convincing.
I believe that Redbadge is planning on using some sort of charge based build which will allow for even MORE stacking damage with at will attacks. I'm a little concerned his thief's damage will grow too quickly.
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
I'd say don't allow charge stuff to stack. It's over-supported. The game shouldn't have that many different ways to buff charging.
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
I'd respond to a player who exploits mechanics like this by revealing just how much of a one-trick pony they have created, rather than disallowing it. (I'm not saying you shouldn't follow RangerWickett's advice, or saying it's bad advice - just throwing out another method of dealing with the situation.)
Charge-based builds are easy for a DM to lock down. Particularly builds that want to charge several times in a combat. Terrain is an obvious choice, as are readied actions (particularly ones that inflict forced movement). Use attacks that slow, immobilize and daze (in the latter case leaving the target one square away from or adjacent to enemies).
In Dying Skyseer alot of the bad guys the players encounter are connected. So it makes sense for later encounters to adapt to the party - justifying your alteration of encounters (if you feel you needs such justification).
Alot of sound DMing advice recommends responding to players' individual skills and talents by making changes to published material that allow them to shine. It makes the game more fun, right? Conversely, the same advice should extend to players who potentially make the game less fun (for everyone but themselves) by building exploitative but legal characters. The same would apply - for example - to a player who found a way to engage in ranged combat while flying. While it might be tempting scream 'broken', just respond by adjusting the challenges that lie ahead.
One player of mine built an astounding psion/bard who - in late paragon/epic tier - could seriously lock down the bad guys with -9 attack penalties and the like, round after round after round. But he was a glass cannon. So I smashed him. Almost every encounter he ended up dying or dead, until he learned to mix up his attacks and not present the enemy with such an obvious and tempting target (while spoiling combats into the bargain).
Incidentally, reading these reports has inspired me to finally collate my own: I love reading how other DMs games have panned out.
Which bit was your player embarrassed about, incidentally?
Defender (Lvl 8)
- Join Date
- Mar 2008
- Destin, FL
ø Ignore Redbadge
Let's just say that we were a bit stunned when Belicose's player rolls a D20 and says, "Well, we have a source to revive Nathan, right? I shoot him in the head."
Rest of party, "Wait, no..."
DM, "Well, that'd do it. Now Asabrey's really mad."
Bellicose, "What, you mean he isn't leaving now?"
We've gotten over it now, and I think its safe to say that Nathan is safe now that all the witnesses (Duchess and Asabrey) saw him die.
As far as the charging, I've got surprising charge and vanguard blade, but I have no intent to get other charge stuff like Horned Helm (which certainlly would not fit my character's concept thematically with the defaut fluff). My feat this level is Battle Awareness and my next item will probably be a Battle Harness. My next feats will probably be Scoundrel Training (Low Slash) and Backstabber. I'm looking to go Kensei as a my paragon path (I see my character as a D'Artagnan soldier/blade finesse type, though not really a dashing/charasmatic as you might imagine. Personality is more loyal/focused leader and I imagine Kirk as a mixture of Optimus Prime/Eddard Stark/Aragorn when talking).
So he's certainly effective damage wise, but I don't think it's quite exploitive right now. Especially when you consider that I certainly don't play the character optimally in the heat of things (I've been known to say things like... "Can I take a standard action to remove and fold my cloak and roll up my sleeves while eyeing the villian?"
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