Sometimes Rick, Bryan, and I manage to get together without our regular DM present, so I've started DMing an alternate campaign just for practice. These games are roleplay-light, and combat heavy. I try to throw in a few puzzles here and there, but for the most part they're just smashing their way through everything. While these games don't really help us in our other (Tantris) campaign, learning the battle strategies will hopefully help us in future LFR games. Plus, learning to DM is a valuable skill.
I have decided to call this campaign "Praktas" (pronounced "prock-tahs") since it's mostly just for practice. But "Praktas" will probably also be the name of a city or character within the campaign. I know it's corny, but so is my storytelling.
Game Date: 2/21/09
Daalan Raan (Bryan) - Elf Ranger (2-weapon style)
Ghargoff Bloodmaster (Rick) - Dragonborn Barbarian
Our regular DM couldn't make the game, so I DMed a practice game. Bryan played Daalan Raan, an Elf Ranger (2-weapon style). Rick played a Dragonborn Barbarian named Ghargoff Bloodmaster. I played them through "Kobold Hall", the adventure given in the 4e DM Guide, and also covered in "Dungeon Master 4e for Dummies". The adventure is designed for at least four players, and while I intended to tone it down for two players, I didn't. Well, I was going to use the first couple of rooms to determine if I needed to nerf the rest of them, and I didn't need to. Ghargoff in particular was a real powerhouse, and I'm not very good at combat strategy yet, so they plowed through the first few rooms like they were fighting kittens.
I had a bit of trouble with the "Skull-Skull" room; it was difficult to figure out how the skull-skull ball figured into everything. It's too bad; when the game was over, I thought of some interesting things I could have done with that encounter.
Anyway, they managed to get to the Kobold boss and slaughter him quite easily. Then they found a secret passage, which led to the den of a young white dragon. Again, the "For Dummies" book had tips on altering the quest for fewer than four players, including changing the dragon into a lesser monster. But apparently I missed that. So I knew the dragon was a bit beyond them, but I wasn't sure what to do about it.
They started to go through the passage without even resting first, so I tried to scare them off. As they walked down the stairs, the air got colder and they heard a scary voice growl, "Who dares to enter the lair of Szartharrax?" Then, as an out-of-character aside, I mentioned that running away was an option. They opted to head back to town, heal up, and come back the next day. Since all the kobolds were dead, I ruled that the upper levels were still empty when they returned, and the dragon was still in its den.
When they finally saw it was a dragon, I still gave them the option of running. But it was just a practice game, so they figured it was worth dying if it meant the chance to fight a dragon. And, they beat it. I'd like to say it was entirely their own strategy and luck, but I did go easy on them here and there. For example, I used some basic attacks on some turns, when I could have used more powerful moves. Also, I misunderstood a rule or two, which worked in their favor.
On the other hand, I also forgot to mention a few rules that would have helped them out, so it almost evens out. I estimate that if all of us had known all the rules, and we were all playing at the top of our game, they still would have gotten that dragon down to 25% before getting devoured. But oh yes, they would have been dragon food.
As it was, they managed to kill the dragon by the skin of their teeth. When the dragon died, one of the players was unconscious and bleeding to death, and the other was down to just a couple of hit points.
I did the math (badly) and they ended up just making a total of 1055 xp each, just making it to level 2. I know that seems like a lot for one quest, but the difficulty was set for at least 4 players, so the XP divided up higher between two. Besides, the campaign isn't that serious anyway.
Daalan (Kobold Hall) - 680 XP, 150 gp, Potion of Healing
Daalan (Szartharrax) - 375 XP, 100 gp, +1 Lifedrinker Longsword, Potion of Healing
Ghargoff (Kobold Hall) - 680 XP, 150 gp, Magic Armor +1, Potion of Healing
Ghargoff (Szartharrax) - 375 XP, 120 gp, Potion of Healing