8/6/11 - Next Level Games
Belgos (Matt) - Drow Hunter
Brandis (Cliff) - Human Cavalier
E.J. (Andrew) - Warpriest
Fargrim (Rick) - Dwarf Slayer
Gorak (Bryan) - Half-Orc Slayer
Nameless One (Michael) - Elf Hunter
Shecky Greenbaum (Greg) - Elf Thief
Zandara (Chere) - Human Mage
Today's Gameday was based on the new Neverwinter Campaign Setting for D&D 4e. As you can see, we had a rather large party, but that doesn't mean it was easy. Several times we came close to losing party members. This was my first time playing the Hunter class.
Our characters were hired to be bodyguards, on a sea voyage from Waterdeep to NeverWinter. The voyage itself went without incident, but when we arrived at the dock, we were attacked before we could even get off the ship. A large number of aquatic zombies crawled out of the water and climbed aboard the ship, and we found ourselves surrounded. This was especially difficult for ranged characters like mine, because there wasn't a whole lot of maneuvering room.
The second and final combat had us fighting a Necromancer in a graveyard. At first the boss was only accompanied by a pair of gravehounds, but he soon summoned a bunch of zombies to surround our party. Once again, my character started the battle in a difficult position. However, once I was able to get away from the enemies, the Hunter turned out to be a really interesting class.
Early in the battle, the boss teleported into the middle of our party, in order to effectively use his aura power. It was an Aura 2 which did 5 damage each turn, so we all did our best to keep our distance. Additionally, the boss had the ability to steal energy from fallen PCs, and could even recover from death itself. But again, we had eight party members, so we managed to overwhelm him with sheer numbers. A couple of our party came close to death, but we were all on our feet at the end.
This wasn't a particularly long session. We only fought two combats, though I'm told we avoided at least one more potential battle. It was a fun module, if a bit forgettable.
I have, however, reached my personal limit on Essentials-only events. It's not actually so, but it just feels like this is the 14th time in a row I've been in an event/campaign/whatever where someone said, "Hey, you know what would be a neat change of pace? Let's all play Essentials characters!" Don't get me wrong, I actually like Essentials. In some ways, I prefer it. However, as of 8/6/2011, the concept of the Essentials-only event has officially been done to death. It is no longer creative or different, it's just restrictive. By my count, Fourth Edition has 26 classes, over 100 builds for those classes, only 11 of which are Essentials builds. Asking us to only consider 10 percent of 4e's wonderful content is like giving us wings and then throwing a net over us. In recent months I've found that one of my favorite things about Essentials characters is how well they integrate with "classic" 4e builds. At this point, Thief is just another build, and can be played right along next to the original PHB's Fighter and Wizard. So come on, DMs and event organizers, it's time to showcase that ease of integration, and let players have their freedom back.