Monday, November 29, 2010

D&D Log: Session 16

Huh? Is that a D&D Log I see? It is! It is! It’s a D&D recap!

So this was our first session using MapTools as opposed to OpenRPG for the main reason that MapTools can do a lot more than OpenRPG. Its white board is a lot more flexible, it allows you to place tokens on a creature, and it is insanely difficult to log into for some people. We spent a better portion of the night trying to get Liz and Nik into the game and I mention this because this will be a rather short recap--mostly because of the aforementioned connecting difficulty, but also because combat still moves like a gimped hippo walking through molasses in a blindfold. It is good for multitasking though. I did get some more gametime in Rune Factory 3 while I waited, and I did catch a few scenes in Boardwalk Empire. Now that’s a damn good show right there.

Alright, so last time we played we had just been transported to some other time/place and fought off a group of aberrant monsters. Left with nowhere else to go but up we climbed the nearest staircase and came across a beautiful woman playing the flute. She greeted us and told us that the tower’s master was expecting us, and apparently we were all smitten with her beauty. Juliet apparently tapped into that latent lesbianism that I didn’t know about, but hey I’ve yet to complain about lesbians before. Oh wait, Jimmy’s shitty lesbian wife subplot in Boardwalk Empire. Scratch that.

So it turns out the master of this tower is indeed Galendread, but Galendread is off slaying the Dragonborn Empire. Skipping the history lesson, this was pretty clear indication that we had traveled back in time and that was bad news. I hate time travel; brings up too many questions. Are we changing the future, or is this already decided? LOST worked with the latter, so if that’s the case Juliet just needs to fall down an enormous well and pound a nuclear device with a rock until everything resets. Then she can get coffee with Viktor and remember. Sorry, LOST fanboy-ism took over for a bit.

Back on track we met the current master of this tower, Amen-dread, Galendread’s apprentice. He was expecting us and was quite willing to hand over the Well of Souls assuming we could kill the demon that inhabited the vault where the Well was kept. There was a catch though… you know beyond the demon killing one. Amen-dread has no qualms about parting with this arcane army slayer on the condition that he could access everything else that is inside the chamber. Surprisingly I was suspicious of this, and I kick myself for not being more inquisitive, but it’s too late to do anything now.

Oh, and I want to address something. When we first met Amen-dread I asked him what was up with the chessboard. He said it and the other obstacles were tests designed to allow only skilled, swift, and smart adventurers through, etc. I asked again what the purpose of the chessboard was and was promptly met with “isn’t that what I just fucking told you?” I already gathered that the monsters and traps we faced were tests. I don’t think wizards sit around all day waiting for opportunities to build elaborate contraptions just because they have free time and never heard of Minecraft. I wanted to know why there was an obstacle that specifically required us to peacefully negotiate with an opposing force. It was very different from our normal encounters and I wondered if there was a reason behind it. Sorry, but I just wanted to clear the air.

Okay, so to sum up the next few hours of gameplay thusly: Lilea wants Garret to kill Amen-dread because he’s made pacts with a devil, Garret had another spooky evil vision when he looked at Alice (the flutist), Lilea found a bunch of rituals that are somewhat useful, and Juliet apparently once again tapped into her latent lesbianism when she had a late night talk with Alice. Truthfully my intention was to find out more about Alice, but looking back it did seem like Juliet was hitting on her. Maybe that’ll be her new character trait. Lord Vane and she can go out looking for chicks. That’s a ménage à trios anyone would want to be a part of. Though we did find out she was a slave girl who has dreams of the future that include Garret so I’m going to put money down that this isn’t a disposable NPC that we’ll never see again.

That’s actually a big problem with this current part of the campaign. We’re in the future and I fucking know that something we do here is supposed to have a monumental outcome in the future. Like if we give the artifacts to Galendread then it will turn out he creates the Infernal Plains and a legendary destroyer of our time, or that Alice is truthfully the Witch Queen at an early age. I’m fucking calling this now so that I can ram my head through the wall later that we didn’t kill both of these assholes when we got the chance. This is when I wish I could play Leo Castillo again because that fucker would have had Alice against the wall with a rapier against her neck. And he wouldn’t need a reason for it either. He was kind of a douche like that.

After spending the night (except Garret and Lilea who missed their required six hours of sleep) we were freshened up and ready to kick demon ass. We entered the vault, and thus began a very lengthy encounter. I could talk about it in depth, but honestly I can’t recall a single moment of real comedy or interest to be had. This was just a really long encounter that took up the majority of the session. It was fun, but I still dread the moment combat starts because it essentially drops the game to a standstill. Seven players are just too much, and we didn’t have Joe to add to that already drawn out initiative order. It’s a shame because I used to really enjoy 4E combat, but sadly the additional players make it a time-consuming annoyance rather than a climactic battle.

The night ended with us killing the last of the demons we found inside of the vault only to have an archfiend rise up out of a summoning circle. So our next session will begin with a big solo encounter, though it won’t be next week--too many people will be absent so we won’t be able to play. The weekend after is my birthday, but unless something big comes up I’ll be good to play. Of course the night before will be the Spike VGAs, so I might have entered into a drunken stupor so I could forget. It’s entirely possible.

So what did you guys think about this session? Any theories for how we will inevitably cause our own fucked up future? Am I right to place absolutely no trust in Amen-dread? Is Juliet a lesbian? How often can Garret have his crazy visions before the party just says “fuck it” and ignore him? More importantly, how do you guys feel about the length of combat? It’s entirely possible I’m just cynically negative regarding the group’s size but I did notice a lot of comments in the chat with people being surprised we were still in battle. You know I would like to try an RPG sometime that doesn’t place as large of a focus on combat as 4E does, but maybe return to a more simple type of battle system like 3.5. I miss the simplicity in being a scout who runs around flinging arrows into people. I killed a cloud once with an arrow. Maybe I’ll tell you guys about it sometime…

Until next time, Namaste.


  1. That battle did go on for a while. I don't think it was just the player size this time alone. You guys were trying out a new program that was giving everyone lots of fits. That, and because there's 7 PCs, Spoony needs to balance the encounter with more creatures, which then make his own turns longer, and forces you all the think longer about what to do so you don't run out and take 23 damage points from a trap...wait...

    But it's still fun to watch, honestly. :) Again, thank you all so much for streaming this.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Combat can take a while with such a large group, that's what happens with my games too. we have 8 players, most of them fairly new to 4E, so things tend to be a bit slow.

    Also, having the constant stun and daze effects really slows everything down when the damage dealers get hit and can't do anything.

    Don't worry about Maptools, it just takes a bit to get the odd points figured out with everyone connecting, but it is way better than OpenRPG, once it is.

    Sorry for double posting, hit the wrong button at the bottom.

  4. well, spoony gave green light to switch to essential classes, maybe the combat will be faster that way (at least during sean and nick turns it would)

  5. Maybe you could have Spoony set a Turn Clock, that way every player has a certain window in which to do action. Maybe each player gets 1 minute to preform all his actions then move on regardless. Keep the chatter for non-encounters.

    `Raziel Star

  6. It was great to see the Deathklok campaign in full swing again - even if the combat has become rather slow and ponderous due to the large number of players.

    Not too sure how you could resolve that.

    Maybe Spoony could speed things up by having less but more powerful monsters in the encounters - that way there would be less fussing over who or what to target.

    Of course that would be a delicate balancing act to pull off - Controllers may find their function within the party greatly reduced if there's a sudden lack of mobs to move around.

    Another way would be to simply make the monsters in each individual encounter a little more varied.

    Apart from the banter, what I enjoy most about watching you guys handle an encounter is those first fifteen or so minutes when no one really knows for sure what powers the creatures have and what the best strategy for taking them down is.

    Once that part has been figured out it can, and often does, degenerate into a bit of a slug-fest. That wasn't too much of a problem in previous encounters when there were less players - but now the 'slug-fest' part is beginning to chew up quite a lot more time than the 'clever thinky bit'.

    My thinking is that a greater variety of monsters in each encounter would extend the former while reducing the latter because there would be more time spent 'feeling out' each monsters abilities and less time spent grinding them down.

    However, that path too is a bit of tight rope walk. Too much variety and the encounters may strain credibility and look a bit fakey.

    Sadly there doesn't seem to be an easy fix for the problem. I'm sure you guys will all figure out something - and its not a great detriment to the proceedings. I'll still tune in each week - even if just to hear you all mercilessly mock Joe in his absence. :p

  7. Just a thought on Alice, I don't think she's the Witch Queen, I think it's more likely that she's the Scorpion Queen. Being that she's human (or at least I think Spoony said she was), that when she said she recognized Garrett his scar flared up, and that in Garrett's "vision" of her she was (again, I recall) said to be scaley, which doesn't sound very "Witch Queen-esque." That would also explain why she dreamed of Garrett, the wound ties them together over time and space. Also, what ever destroyed the tower and scorched the surrounding area, may have also been what turned her into the Scorpion Queen.

    And if that's the case then killing her would probably be a bad idea because without her, your first quest wouldn't have happened, the group wouldn't have got together, and the king would still be in amber.

    This is all conjecture of course, however I'd say Amon-Dread is fair game.