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General How Was Your Last Session?

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Our last session was kinda dead.

Meaning, zombies and wraiths. It wasn't the biggest challenge, honestly, but it warns us that the bad guys we are after sling undead around, which is gonna be a pain, because we don't actually have a PC cleric in the party...
 

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ccs

40th lv DM
Cancelled due to 3/5 having to work. :(
Happens every now & then.

The remaining two & I discussed it & felt that at the point we're at that it'd be unfair to progress the story/action without them.
So next week....
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
101st session on my main campaign. Player characters are 16th level, on the cusp of 17th level. Aasimar vengeance paladin, elf arcane trickster rogue, halfling lore bard, tiefling shadow sorcerer, human beast master ranger.

This session started with a huge reveal. IRL six months ago, the bard's soul was mistakenly lost to an archdevil and now his body is secretly possessed by the soul of an amoral, vainglorious rival bard in thrall to the archdevil. Some of the bard's more questionable actions (such as executing the Open Lord of Waterdeep and taking his place) have recently made some of the other players suspicious. The rogue's player loves this kind of shennanigans, so he gleefully recruited a network of spies to clandestinely watch the bard. As such, he was well positioned when the bard communed with the archdevil and the conspiracy was revealed. We played this scene in the open with all the players present. So now they all know that the bard is no longer who he appears to be. But as for the characters, only the rogue knows the truth. He's still mulling over what to do with this knowledge...and how to determine where the bard's real soul is.

Soon after this reveal, the party teleported to an island a few miles from Waterdeep. There, they needed to recover two magical staves and free a paladin held by the Cult of Tiamat. The cult intends to use one of the staves--the Dragonstaff of Aghairon--to lower the magical wards that protect Waterdeep from dragon attack. Once those wards are down, Tiamat's dragons will destroy the city. The cult used the other staff--a rod of resurrection--to bring back five dragons that the party had previously slain. And those dragons are in the cult lair beneath the island.

For the cult lair, I used the map of Bhal-Hamatugn, which is from the Zenith Trajectory adventure in the Shackled City adventure path. It's a fun three-level map built around a central chamber with a lot of verticality. I've been eager to use it for a long time. However, I didn't have a chance to properly key the map before the session, so I had to make up most of the encounters on the fly. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I did a damn fine job.

The PCs busted out a bunch of new tricks to bypass most of the cult's guards. They utilized the passwall spell to basically turn the lair into swiss cheese. One definite highlight was a dragon-themed trap with poison gas and lightning pillars in the room holding the rod of resurrection, all of which I made up on the spot. As the dragonborn guards swarmed the room, the PCs used passwall to escape through the ceiling, leaving the traps to kill the guards. On the floor above, they shoved more guards through the hole into the trapped room below. Good times.

By session's end, they had both of the staves but were still searching for the paladin.

Next session: Five dragons!
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
The player characters reached 4th level at the end of the most recent session of my Dragon Heist/Deck of Many Things mashup. The session took place in a scriptorium. The PCs were there to recover a magical stone that had a recording of every book that had passed through the place. That information would help them uncover the secret plots of one of their enemies -- a rogue mind flayer in the employ of the Xanathar's Guild.

The session started with the PCs discovering the vault where the stone was secured. They detected and disabled the magical glyph of warding on the vault. Inside was the stone, hovering in mid-air. The wizard used mage hand to manipulate the stone. Suddenly, shadows emerged from it, and coalesced into the form of an allip. I've always liked this creature and have been itching for a chance to actually use it. They fought the allip and eventually it fled from them, escaping through the walls.

Meanwhile, a strike team from the Xanathar arrived at the scriptorium -- four grimlocks led by a nothic. The PCs took up hiding positions and prepared an ambush. Some rolled well on their stealth checks...others did not. Battle ensued. In the middle of the fight, the allip reappeared. It used it's maddening whispers to turn the grimlocks against each other. The wizard used magic missile to defeat the allip. And the rogue put down the nothic.

Collecting the stone, the PCs headed for the exit. But they found their way blocked by another agent of the Xanathar -- a mighty troll. In the first turn of combat the wizard pulled out a bead of force and tossed it at the troll. The troll failed its saving throw. It was encased in an impenetrable ball of force with no way out for the next full minute. The rogue delivered a kiss off line to the troll and kicked the ball across the scriptorium. Then the PCs fled.

It was definitely the wizard's night.

Next session: A deal with the Arcane Brotherhood!
 
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werecorpse

Adventurer
For me, as GM, a bit disappointing.

The party is 16th level consisting of a cleric, sorcerer, bard14/warlock2, barbarian/rogue, eldritch knight and a champion 15/cleric1. The session before last they had gone hunting a beholder so they knew what was coming. They had met this guy before and he had disintegrated the ek when he was unconscious so they know he is a bastard who plays hardball.
All but the sorcerer and the ek got bathed in an anti magic cone and dropped into a 70’ deep 80’ wide pit while engaged with some grunts. Hidden in a room 80’ above the top of the pit was the beholder. He obviously had some archers with him who were taking pot shots at those in the pit as well.
The sorcerer and ek d doored next to the beholder to attack him but he had some guards and they got beaten unconscious and dropped into the pit. So that session ended with all in the pit, only the champion and the Barbarian/rogue conscious and the beholder had just floated down turned off his anti magic ray readied his eyestalks and started his super villain monologue with “Surrender fools...”. The bad guys had acted and it was now the players turns..

We stopped the session with the champion (who has a cape of the mountebank) saying I could just grab 1 pc and escape then they all said well we have two weeks to undertake some planning. I said I had no problem and encouraged such planning between sessions and between turns even when unconscious (as part of the tactical game rather than the roleplay element) my only rule is that you make suggestions to people on their turn as it slows down combat. I emailed them the initiative order, the possible prepared actions of the bad guys etc and let them at it.

So they return last night. They met up (on zoom) 45minutes before I turned up. Though to be fair we usually spend a good half hour pre game catching up. When I did show up on zoom I had been sick for a few days and said I might not run it but was happy for them to take as long as they wanted to plan, I could answer questions etc. But basically they did no planning at all. The player of the champion just said I will grab the bard and dimension door out, what happens ....

it’s not so much that they went with this plan but that it seemed pretty clear they hadn’t done any planning at all. They hadn’t come up with alternatives and discarded them or whatever. I thought the predicament they were in was an interesting one with interesting possible solutions but Im not sure they even looked for any different options. Bit of a let down to me. It was a fine short escape session, they had fun, everyone except the sorcerer escaped (he was disintegrated).
 

THEMNGMNT

Adventurer
The characters reached 17th level in this session. It's was a continuation of the fight in a hidden temple of the Cult of Tiamat. The PCs were dimension dooring all over the place in an attempt to get what they came for -- two magical staffs and an imprisoned paladin. Along the way they crossed paths with two dragons, fighting both simultaneously while the party was split. It was really crazy and a lot of fun. Once the PCs had the goods, they plane shifted back to Waterdeep Palace. One of the staves had the power of resurrection. They brought that staff to an ally, the high priest of Ilmater, and asked for his help in bring back to life several slain allies.

Next session: Resurrections!
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
In our quest to stop Zelligar the Unknown, our party faced two near TPK battles.

In the first, against an Ancient Green Shadow Dragon, our mighty Paladin/Cleric ended up sacrificing his own existence to the party could escape. During this battle, our NPC was also abducted, and is now missing and presumed dead. The Dragon toyed with use relentlessly, using his fear, powerful breath, and spells.

In the second, our unstoppable Barbarian/Fighter needed to rely on her Relentless Rage feature 3 times (along with two uses of Indomitable and a point of Inspiration) to finally destroy the last vampire spawn, after three other PCs were killed and another was down and dying. (The battle was against a Lich and 9 Vampire Spawn Spellcasters (level 10) and lasted about 15 rounds). If the player hadn't made her last save after rerolling it, it would have been a TPK.

Alas, and there are more dangers ahead...
 

Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
Great dungeon delving session. I’m running Shackled City, and my party just finished the first dungeon level (Jzadirune) snd are moving forward to the next level (Malachite Fortress).
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Just played a great session, a one shot. The world is that we are in this city with dimensional doors (the dragon doors) - the city is heavily taxed by dragons, and the Ministry of Applied Finance is sending people through to retrieve treasure.

We came out (Glog system, a petty swordsman, a gun-priest, a monkey-dad and a holy drug user) expecting a dungeon... but we are near a small farm. We learn that there is a big outsdoor party at a manor nearby. We go there, learn that jewels are to be revealed. We rob the places of silverwear, paintings, the jewels (a crown) and 9 jars of spice - my antling petty swordsman convinced the kitchen they had gone bad!

The GM had three paragraphs of notes and he improvised the whole thing. So much fun.

Our party earned a name - the Party Crashers !
 



ccs

40th lv DM
That’s terrible:( what’s curtailing such a long running campaign?

It's not a campaign that's ending. It's the group.
Individual campaigns come & go. The "Sunday Game" has hosted at least 9-10 campaigns, some consecutively, some alternating weeks/months, dozens of short one-offs, about 7 systems, & the occasional board game sessions. Sunday evenings were when everyone in this group could get together game-wise.

It was a fatal combo of:
1) Republicans.
2) One of the other players burning out of gaming (we've all been there at some point).
3) The current DM being really bad at running anything but combat. Wich has accelerated #2.
4) Not enough of us left after 1 & 2. There were four of us. Now there's only two.

Explanations in reverse order;

For many years (since before "The Sunday Game") the core of this group was A, B, & Ccs. Plus a variable # of others rotating in/out over the years. The three of us were friends prior to & aside from gaming.
A has always been a bit of an asshole. But it was at an acceptable degree & balanced out by others (especially B).
Summer of '18 the game was running nicely with 5 of us - then B passed away leaving the group at 4. We played throughout the fall & '19 with us four + the occasional 5th sitting in for an adventure/few weeks at a time. We were just discussing adding an additional player or two - & then 2020....
Well, 2020 has not been an ideal environment to recruit new gamers for a live game. So as we know the four of us are reasonably + staying safe (three of us work from home & one has a super low contact job) we figure we're OK to get together for a few hours each Sunday.
4 people total though doesn't offer much padding though if something goes wrong.
Current group was;
R = DM
A
Ccs
L

The current DM (R) is really bad at running anything but combat. And has chosen to run a PF AP where downtime & non-combat NPC interaction is a very prominent feature. I'll give him credit for trying something beyond generic combat Dungeon Crawl. But he's completely failing, resulting in a phenomenally boring campaign. The result is that we'll play half a book, some one else will run an adventure, then we'll pick up the AP again, wash rinse repeat.....

One of the players (L), the "new guy" at 5 years with the group, is suffering gaming burnout. Like I said, we've all experienced that.... It's been building for the past year. He's also rather stressed out about the pandemic & it's been tough for him to even come out of his hole. But damn it, your only social interaction cannot be waiving to the Door Dash driver!
A main campaign where 1/2 of any session is extreme tediousness + making a new character every 6-8 weeks isn't helping.
On top of that he'd just relocated last fall for his job - and now has a 40-45 minute drive. For very little payoff.

The Republicans.....
At his best, player A has never been too concerned with being on time. 15m/20m has been pretty normal over the years. Then it's been 30-45 minutes. Recently it's been 45-65 minutes....
This is easier to deal with within a larger group. Not so easy when he's 1/3 of the party.
He also often makes the most 2d mono-trick characters. Always has. As with his callous approach to timeliness this is best absorbed by a larger group.

But then there's his politics. Like I said, player A has always been a bit of an ass. But since 2016 he's become ever more the example of all the bad things about the current Republicans. He's willfully ignorant and completely indifferent to reality/the needs of others. And he's forgotten that the place for trolling Dems/others is on-line, not at the gaming table with your friends whom you know don't share your views.
So 3/4 through the session he derails things & begins gloating about the death of RBG, spewing Republican nonsense about the epidemic, etc. (seriously, he's become about a step away from being a Bleach drinker. At this point I consider him mentally ill)
This leads to direct conflict with the DM/host & effectively ends the session.

After he's gone the DM tells L & I that he'll keep gaming with us, but not with A.... That he just can't associate with A anymore. I'm forced to concur on that.
L decides that this was the final straw & that he's out & not gaming anymore {my opinion: for now anyways}

That leaves just me & the DM. Not enough to run a decent RPG & he doesn't play miniature or board games.
So the end of the Sunday Game.
All isn't lost though. We three are still friends & will see each other. Well the DM & I will. We might have to take a road trip & dig L out of his apartment now & then. Like I said, your only interaction cannot be limited to DoorDash. I'll still see A every few weeks for Warhammer.

And I'll see if the Thur 5e group is open to another player (we've got 4.5 players atm & room at the table). If they are I'll extend the invite to the DM. None of them could make the Sunday Game, but maybe R can make it on Thur....
 
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pemerton

Legend
That leaves just me & the DM. Not enough to run a decent RPG
Sorry to read about the collapse of your group.

For what it's worth, I've done some good 1:1 RPGing over the years. I don't know if D&D is the right system for it, but it's certainly possible. (I've mostly done it with Burning Wheel.)

But I wouldn't recommend 4 hour sessions. More like 2 hours is enough.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Lame. I forgot some props which would have stretched out the game. It was the third in Pipyap Hell guide. Another fetch quest. WITH a logic puzzle. After 8 minutes on the puzzle we moved on. Change from cult busting to union busting help get the players into it. We were done in 90 minutes.
 

ART!

Adventurer
I'm starting to suspect our DM either doesn't have much DMing experience, or is running something very high-concept and very locked-down.

Basically:
  • the PCs are 1st level, so we have as little ability to affect or control things as one can have
  • the game started with us suddenly appearing in a mysterious land none of us could identify, and with none of our equipment, weapons, armor, etc.
  • there was a puzzle that we didn't have enough information to figure out, to the point that the DM eventually told us the answer after a session and the ensuing week between session of trying to figure it out
  • all the NPCs are very cagey and controlling
  • in the most recent session, one of the major NPCs informed us that we're dead, and that's where that ended.

I'm surprised I'm not more frustrated, but that might be because I made a somewhat surly character who can express my mild frustrations in-character. And the DM is a great guy who's been with the group as a player for years. So, I'm not mad or anything. I'm very close to messaging him with my concerns, but I don't want to crush his high-concept.

Anyway, we always have fun socially, so it's been okay.
 


Wasteland Knight

Adventurer
Actually A doesnt realize that things are finished.
The session ended on a sour political disagreement & things decided after he'd left.

Well, that's an unfortunate tale of woe. Sorry it worked out that way. I'd like to think people who have been friends for such a long time could leave their politics at the door.

Maybe consider trying a VTT game? It took me a few sessions to get the hang of it, but I have a game running now with players in 3 different states.
 



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