pogre's Trailblazer Campaign Notes & Questions

pogre

Adventurer
Question 1: Is Summon Nature's Ally unchanged or does it operate much the way the Arcane spell Summon Monster does?
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Question 1: Is Summon Nature's Ally unchanged or does it operate much the way the Arcane spell Summon Monster does?
The philosophical underpinnings behind the change ("Don't let players rifle through the Monster Manual...") are the same.

That being said--

There is a lot less room for abuse with Animals. Most of them should be good to go right out of the monster manual.

Go with what is easiest and least frustrating for both you and the players.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Thanks - kind of what I thought. The druid is played my son and he gets real joy out of rifling through the monster manual. I think I will let it stand unchanged because it is more fun for him.

We played our first session this past Sunday. I will post more later, but my initial thought is - Wow! I way underestimated the abilities of first level TB PCs.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
Wow! I way underestimated the abilities of first level TB PCs.
Yeah, they should be able to handle (with APs, Combat Reactions, teamwork, etc.) about 1200-1500 XP worth of enemies. More enemies is better-- ie, many CR1 critters is better than a CR5 critter.

It's for this reason that you'll want to use the tweaked XP advancement table as shown. You can (and should) hit TB characters harder, but to compensate for that you'll need to push the level-up XP totals out further.

My current campaign has my PCs on track for 2nd level at 3000, 3rd level at 6000, and 4th level at 9000 XP.

Because I want them to level up every 2-3 sessions, and because each session only has time for 1-2 fights, I am hitting them very hard indeed each and every encounter. I wouldn't call that the "default" TB playstyle by any means but it works for our office campaign (meeting every other week for only about 3 hours).

EDIT: I've attached the Excel sheet I use.
 

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pogre

Adventurer
OK I wanted to post that I finally have the first part of the story hour up.
pogre's Trailblazer story hour

We're playing our 3rd session tomorrow and this is actually only the first half of the first session.

Observations:
1st - As I said earlier, I way underestimated TB PCs.

2nd - Half-Orcs kick even more major a$$ in TB. My son's half-orc barbarian is dishing out ungodly amounts of damage.

3rd - As is common in my campaigns, I have no arcane casters and three divine PCs. The lack of arcane PCs may make this less of a true test run than it should be. We never really had a lot of the problems with 3rd ed. that a lot of folks did because of my players reluctance to play arcane PCs.

4th - Because I undermined some of the assumptions in TB, I have skewed things even further in the PCs favor. They're having a blast though - so I'm not overly concerned. I will definitely have to ramp up the challenges though.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
OK I wanted to post that I finally have the first part of the story hour up.
pogre's Trailblazer story hour

Sweet! Nice job.

2nd - Half-Orcs kick even more major a$$ in TB. My son's half-orc barbarian is dishing out ungodly amounts of damage.
I played a half-orc druid with 1 level of barbarian in our last TB campaign. Definitely an effective combo. I'm a huge fan of the TB half-orc as well.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Personally I'd chalk that up more to the Barbarian side of that equation...
True, but in today's adventure the boy fully embraced all power attack, all the time! He said, "Dad, I'm all out power attack unless I say different, which will be NEVER!"

Yes, my son really talks like that. Brian L. would be so proud!

Another quote from Stevie at today's game -

"Bring it meat! I've got some slicin' to do!"
 

pogre

Adventurer
OK another legitimate question:

Does anybody have a sort of combat cheat sheet? I try to remind my players of their options, but it's tough and sometimes I forget about some of the cool stuff you can do in TB?

Does anybody have an "all-in-one" level advancement sheet that includes the spiffy Action Point stuff like mythic smite, etc.?

If not, I can put one of my players to work on it. He is cranking out a custom DM screen for our game too.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
True, but in today's adventure the boy fully embraced all power attack, all the time! He said, "Dad, I'm all out power attack unless I say different, which will be NEVER!"
*stunned silence*

Man... I'm gettin' all teary-eyed myself.

Does anybody have a sort of combat cheat sheet? I try to remind my players of their options, but it's tough and sometimes I forget about some of the cool stuff you can do in TB?
I would at least print out page 95 (Combat Reactions).

And maybe page 17 (Action Points).

Combat Reactions are really more important than Action Points, in my experience. Aid Another (both attack and defense), combined with flanking-- and remember, you can move around inside a creature's threatened area without provoking attacks of opportunity. Suddenly you're talking about +4 to hit in the clutch, which is pretty key when you're power attacking with everything you've got!
 

pogre

Adventurer
Good suggestions - and so true about the combat reactions! The rogue (Deadsmell) played by Hank is really good at getting those bonuses flowing.

Just a sidenote to Glassjaw - I tried to use some of the treacherous/difficult terrain rules. During the excitement of the combat I forgot about some of it and the PCs made every test I did ask them to take. I'm a little rusty - I'll try to incorporate more terrain features in upcoming adventures.

Another symptom of my underestimating the PCs. I had a monster I thought they would avoid - making it effectively dangerous terrain for the last encounter. The only problem was the barbarian killed it with one swing - oops.

I posted the rest of our first adventure in the story hour. I wished I had taken a picture of our set-up for the last combat - it was pretty darn cool. I'll try to remember my camera this week.
 

Crippler

Villager
True, but in today's adventure the boy fully embraced all power attack, all the time! He said, "Dad, I'm all out power attack unless I say different, which will be NEVER!"

Yes, my son really talks like that. Brian L. would be so proud!

Ahh, that does a heart good :D
 

pogre

Adventurer
I posted the second episode of the story hour tonight/this morning.

Action points were huge in the final encounter. I think 4 out of 5 missed their initial save against the Vargouilles' shriek. They all made it after using an action point. One trick ponies like Vargouilles suck against a party with an abundance of action points.

Again, I had written this adventure a while before we started playing and it was quickly obvious I needed to add more foes to the final encounter.

I'm taking a camera to this week's game - so I should add some pictures to the SH after a couple more episodes.

So far, so good.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
Action points were huge in the final encounter. I think 4 out of 5 missed their initial save against the Vargouilles' shriek. They all made it after using an action point. One trick ponies like Vargouilles suck against a party with an abundance of action points.
Maybe so, but remember, action points are another resource for you, the DM, to "drain" besides just hit points. If the players have to spend APs against the minions, then they will have fewer to use in the final battle.

I know you mentioned this was the final encounter so sure, a few more baddies with a mix of abilities might have balanced things out a bit. Probably good to have some tanks/strikers alongside the vargouilles.
 

pogre

Adventurer
Maybe so, but remember, action points are another resource for you, the DM, to "drain" besides just hit points. If the players have to spend APs against the minions, then they will have fewer to use in the final battle.
Action Points make monsters who remove PCs from combat much less scary. I don't view that is a bad thing. I'm not a big fan of Bodaks and their ilk - so its not a big deal.
 

BSF

Villager
I don't have Trailblazer, but I have been using action points for a few years now. They do tweak combat a bit more in the player's favor, but that is OK in my book. So long as everybody is having fun and feeling challenged the important parts of the game are covered.
 

pogre

Adventurer
I don't have Trailblazer, but I have been using action points for a few years now. They do tweak combat a bit more in the player's favor, but that is OK in my book. So long as everybody is having fun and feeling challenged the important parts of the game are covered.
I'm biased, but you should get it BSF - particularly if you are running or will run a 3.5 style game, Ben has some awesome ideas knocking around in this book. The monster book is going to be a great resource too. My players are having a blast.
 

pogre

Adventurer
We have finally gotten past the first five adventures I had prepared before the campaign:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/story-hour/297205-pogres-trailblazer-campaign-update-12-21-2010-a.html#post5382506

We just played the first adventure, which was created with a better understanding of what the PCs were capable of. I also forced them into consecutive encounters without a rest at one point, making the whole thing a bit more desperate.

We're still enjoying things very much. My main problem is I keep forgetting about Combat Reactions and maneuvers for some of the monsters. I gave the main boss of this adventure a bucketload of AP, making it very frustrating for the PCs. Once they killed it though there was much rejoicing.
 

GlassJaw

Explorer
My main problem is I keep forgetting about Combat Reactions and maneuvers for some of the monsters.
I do remember a conversation Wulf and I had during development about this very thing. For mooks and normal encounters, don't worry too much about them. You can also just use them for important NPCs, elites, and solos only.

I do have a more detailed design note for the monster book as well.
 

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