4E Running player commentary on PCat's 4E Campaign - Heroic tier (finished)

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Yesterday was the first session of a new 4th Edition campaign, DM-ed by the esteemed Piratecat. While we had run a small handful of 4E “learn the system” sessions previously, this is our first experience with an ongoing campaign in the new edition. PCat has said that he expects the campaign to last about 5-6 years, so I expect we’ll learn a great deal about the ins and outs of 4E’s mechanics.

Edit: this is the heroic tier thread. If you want the paragon tier thread, click here. Thanks!

I’ve decided, therefore, to keep a “how the game is working” diary as we go along. This is NOT a Story Hour, though some references to the story will be unavoidable, and I reserve the right to editorialize shamelessly. I want this to be more about how the characters play and how the game mechanics hold up to the rigors of an ongoing campaign.

Session 1:

There are five PC’s in the party, all starting at 1st level, and one NPC who might be part of the group, though that’s not yet clear. The five PC’s are:

- Toiva, Doppelganger Protecting Paladin (defender)

- Dr. Elijah Caldwell, Human Two-Blade Ranger (striker)

- Logan, Human Brawny Rogue (striker)

- Cobalt Cartwright, Human Brawny Rogue (striker – that’s me!)

- Strontium, Warforged War Wizard (controller)

The NPC is a Tiefling named Caducity Skirr, and we don’t know her class.

I think most players were able to make the characters they wanted to play, though Logan’s player would prefer if there were an INT-based Rogue subclass. “Brawny” is the best fit for him, though not a great fit.

The first session was mostly role-playing, as we were introduced both to the game world and to one another. We have a decent mix of skills, though we’re light on INT-based knowledge skills like Nature and History, and I don’t think most of us have good Perception skills. I was personally involved in the first combat – a small one-on-one skirmish with a Halfling rogue, in which I was thoroughly thrashed. (Side note: in the first session, I rolled exactly 5 attack rolls and 2 initiative rolls. My highest roll among these seven rolls was a “5”. Odds of that happening: about 1 in 16,000.) Even while I was getting my knees punched and my groin kicked, it was an extremely fun and cinematic little battle. I play a tall human, and the little rogue was ducking, twisting, and striking me under the table to make it look like I was the buffoonish aggressor. (Which I was, technically – I threw the first punch after he insulted my mother). Piratecat has adopted the paradigm that the powers do what they say, but the flavor text can be altered to suit cinema, realism or both.

While most of the other PC’s stayed out of the fight (basically between two rival soldiers while the sergeant looked on), our paladin did heal me once (subtly, under the guise of helping me to my feet), and that probably kept me from going unconscious.

There was also a skill-challenge of sorts, though Piratecat didn’t say “Okay, here’s the skill challenge!” It was implicit – our party, as a teamwork exercise, was boated out into the swamp, dropped off, and left to get ourselves back to HQ on our own. There were plenty of skill checks made – athletics and acrobatics (to swim or avoid sinking), nature, perception, and diplomacy (when we happened across a fisherman’s hut and wanted to rent his boat). We opted out of one potential combat (by deciding not to investigate something suspicious that would have delayed our return to home base) but ended up with another one when a Level 4 crocodile attacked the boat. We beat up pretty well on the croc, since it was already evening and highly likely to be our only combat of the day. The big blow was the paladin’s daily (Radiant Delirium), that dazed it and gave it an AC penalty. It wasn’t a solo or an elite, so even though our attacks rated to miss (and its attacks rated to hit), our sheer numbers carried the fight. The paladin failed a balance check in the boat, but PCat granted a saving throw for her to fall back into the boat, instead of into the river. The battle was short and exciting, and saw the use of dailies, encounter powers, and at least one action point.

In all, the system held up just fine. It greased the wheels of our role-playing and made for fast-paced and cinematic combats, though there was only one enemy per fight, so it was hardly a rigourous test. Picking which at-will to use wasn't a no-brainer -- different tactical set-ups changed which one seemed better to me. There were no confusing rules-moments – the only thing we had to check was whether you can attack with a ranged weapon through a space occupied by an ally. (Which you can, as allies don’t grant cover to enemies.)

Can't wait until next game!
 
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I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Can't wait until next game!
Part of me has the feeling that, with P-kitty as the DM, this would be my opinion no matter what game I was playing. 4e, 3e, Shadowrun, heck, FATAL...I bet if anyone could run a good game of FATAL, it would be Piratecat.

Sounds like fun. Though part of me was rooting for the crocodile to knock one of you in the river, just 'cuz of EXTRA DRAMA! ;)
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Part of me has the feeling that, with P-kitty as the DM, this would be my opinion no matter what game I was playing.
Can't disagree with that!
Sounds like fun. Though part of me was rooting for the crocodile to knock one of you in the river, just 'cuz of EXTRA DRAMA! ;)
Actually, my rogue was already in the water; the boat wasn't big enough for the whole group, and since he's a decent swimmer, he volunteered to swim along behind while tethered to the boat by a rope. The croc went for him first (though it missed with its bite).
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
Actually, my rogue was already in the water; the boat wasn't big enough for the whole group, and since he's a decent swimmer, he volunteered to swim along behind while tethered to the boat by a rope. The croc went for him first (though it missed with its bite).
DRAMA!

I hope that doesn't become a recurring theme for poor Mr. Cartwright.

"Wow, this dark pit in the earth sure smells like death, and I think I can hear bones cracking deep inside!"

"Okay, put the bait in."

"What?"

"Cobalt. Tie him to a rope and throw him in the hole."

"....WHAT?!"

"Worked with the crocodile, right?"

Nickname for the next 3 months: "Bait."

;)
 
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Sounds like quite a lot of fun.

Also, wow... 5-6 years, damn! That must be one massive campaign, most of my storylines have about a year or two worth of stuff.
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Sounds like quite a lot of fun.

Also, wow... 5-6 years, damn! That must be one massive campaign, most of my storylines have about a year or two worth of stuff.
That actually seems short to me! Piratecat's previous campaign, which just ended, lasted 16 years. And my own campaign, which still has a ways to go, will be 13 years old in November. Five to six years is just getting started! :D
 

Intrope

Visitor
Neat idea! BTW, is Pkitty going to turn the new game into a Story Hour? I looked, but didn't see a thread...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
That actually seems short to me! Piratecat's previous campaign, which just ended, lasted 16 years. And my own campaign, which still has a ways to go, will be 13 years old in November. Five to six years is just getting started! :D
You guys are lucky to have a group stick together so well over that much time.
 

catsclaw227

Visitor
That actually seems short to me! Piratecat's previous campaign, which just ended, lasted 16 years. And my own campaign, which still has a ways to go, will be 13 years old in November. Five to six years is just getting started! :D
Wow, that's amazing. I hope our current campaign goes for a couple more years. We are at about 14 months now.
 

Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
So you were trolling for crocodiles with your PC as bait then! :D

I'm sure that a lot of people here on EN World haven't even been playing D&D for as long as yours or P'Kitty's campaigns have lasted! That you can both keep groups together for that long is awesome. Congrats! :cool:

Olaf the Stout
 
He obviously will be busy when it comes to making the game and such, but do you know if PCat is considering something similar from a DM-perspective be neat to get both angles of the same game.
 
Dr? Elijah? Caldwell? Logan? Cobalt? Cartwright? Strontium?

I've read Piratecat's story hours before and he puts a hell of a lot of effort into his games... so why did the players choose what appear to be real world/non-fantasy names? For me at least they break the verisimilitude unless, of course, this is consistent with the game world.

(Edit) My sincere apologies. That was an inappropriate way to express an opinion. I've edited the post but, again, I do apologise. I do look forward to reading about the campaign.
 
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Jack99

Community Supporter
That actually seems short to me! Piratecat's previous campaign, which just ended, lasted 16 years. And my own campaign, which still has a ways to go, will be 13 years old in November. Five to six years is just getting started! :D
How often do (did) you guys play in those campaigns?

(bookmarked for future awesomeness)
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Dr? Elijah? Caldwell? Logan? Cobalt? Cartwright? Strontium?

I've read Piratecat's story hours before and he puts a hell of a lot of effort into his games... so why did the players choose non-fantasy names that truly suck? They really break the verisimilitude unless, of course, this is consistent with the game world.
"Truly suck?" That's kind of a hostile way to present an opinion, and I also think your opinion is weird. You have a problem with "Caldwell" and "Cartwright?" Caldwell is a surname of Old English origin, meaning literally "cold well," commonly used in the middle ages. "Cartwright" was also common then, being a trade name like "Smith," "Chandler," "Baker" and "Potter." I can't imagine two more fantasy-game-appropriate last names than those. For the record, Cobalt is, literally, the son of a guy who makes carts and carriage wheels. Their distinctive paint color for their carts is cobalt blue, hence the name.

And if you think "Elijah," "Cobalt" and "Logan" aren't fantasy appropriate, well, I guess I'll just say we have very different ideas about names. For the record, Piratecat's NPC names so far include things like Runcible, Caleb, Brangle, Annabel and Nikos, so I don't see how "Cobalt" (colors aren't an unusual source of inspiration for names), "Logan" (Gaelic for "little hollow") and "Elijah" don't fit in with his game world.

Elijah is a doctor from a well-to-do family. He goes on at length about humors and vapours and such, and it's not jarring in the slightest that he's known as a doctor.

Finally, "Strontium" is an alkaline earth metal -- a perfect name that a brilliant cadre of wizards might give to their metallic Warforged creation.

Anyway, if Piratecat was unhappy with our names, I'm sure he'd tell us. He hasn't.
 
No no no! Good fantasy names must have excessive apostrophes and syllables. Logan? Just jazz it up with some high fantasy flavor into Lyho'agha'Haan. Caldwell? Khalld'whell.

If you can easily pronounce it...it isn't high fantasy enough!
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Nope, I think the names are great. This campaign is set in a campaign world dominated by a continent-spanning empire. Universities exist, and people who attend them for higher education receive doctorates. In this case, Dr. Caldwell is an intellectual from a well-to-do family who got caught doing something more than a little bit... controversial. Given a choice of being hanged or joining the Grey Guard, he chose the latter. In addition, the advantage of a large empire is that you can have folks from different countries and cultures. You can be sure that naming customs vary based on where you're from.

And yeah, Hyp., I liked the name so much I repurposed it. Very different personalities, though. :D

The campaign premise is that the PCs are members of the Grey Guard, an empire-spanning and politically neutral organization that is dedicated to keeping monsters away from the citizens of the empire. It has a bit in common with GRRM's Night's Watch. It also has a horrible turnover, with most members dying young. It's a good thing that according to legend, monsters are repelled so long as the empire remains strong. And that certainly can't come back to bite anyone, can it?

I haven't started a new campaign in a very long time, and I had forgotten how intimidating it is. Incredible fun, though; new gods, new cartography, new plot. I have a campaign wiki I can share if anyone is curious. The players are the same as the players in my Defenders of Daybreak campaign, although Mara's player hasn't joined the group yet due to some timing issues. We have great chemistry as a gaming group.

I expect that my skill challenges will tend to be implicit instead of explicit. I haven't gotten the hang of explicit skill challenges yet. I make them meaningful, though; in thsi one, the PCs were racing back to their guardtower against a rival team. The total amount by which they made or failed their challenges (modified by a bonus or penalty for good or bad tactics) determined a final score, which I compared to their rivals. In this case, the rivals lost and had to stand watch all night while the PCs slept comfortable. Poor bastards. :)

That being said, the first game went differently than I had expected. the group chose not to pursue my big plot hook for the evening. I expected that might happen and had a backup plan prepared, but I hadn't really expected it. It creates interestingly plotty stuff for the future, at least.

Not next session, though. The PCs are being sent off to a small halfling fishing village where a legendary dog-eating monster has apparently reappeared. The PCs are headed off to help.

Jack, we play my game every other week, and Sagiro's game every other every other week. So about 25 times a year per.
 
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