Saturday, June 30, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: The Grubby Squinkies of Death

Game Date: 6/30/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Flora Oakwillow (Matt): Hamadryad Seeker
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Lo-Kang (Ted): Warforged Barbarian
Marrick (Shanky): Dwarf Knight
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin

Most Expensive Miniature Ever
The Session:
Our last session ended mid-battle, so today we got right to the action.  As expected, this Wraith was a big ol' bag of regenerating hit points, and took quite a long time to kill.  Lo-Kang, who last session had spent most of the battle immobilized, finally made a successful saving throw... and almost immediately got dazed.  Twice. 

Derp tried to use Diplomacy, using his Words of Friendship to roll a 32.  "Oh, you're here to serve the Dark Lord?" the Wraith asked.  "Could you slay the Paladin (Starr) for me?  She's really annoying."  Unable to keep up such a charade, Derp gave up on sweet talk and went back to attacking the Wraith like the rest of us.  The Wraith really hated the Paladin, and focused its attacks on her.  Starr was almost dead when we finally killed the Wraith.

At this point we really needed an extended rest.  We went back to a room we'd found last session, where we'd seen a priest encased in a crystal.  The Wraith had burst out of him to chase us, but now that the Wraith was dead the priest was able to help us.  He used some of his power to give us an instantaneous extended rest.  Then he joined our party and we continued our search.

We arrived at an oddly-shaped room, with six rounded alcoves containing sarcophagi.  In the center of the room was a Bone Golem.  He charged at us and bloodied Lo-Kang on his first hit.  He had high AC and a fiery aura that extended two squares.  Whenever he knocked one of us to zero, that triggered an additional attack on the dying character.  Due to this, we almost lost Marrick and Starr in this battle.  As it was, we used up a few Dailies and debated about taking another extended rest after the battle.

There's a dirty joke in there somewhere.

We decided to tough it out and live with a short rest.  We backtracked a little and went down the last unexplored hallway.  We opened a set of doors and saw a Mummy-like creature.  He wasn't hard to kill, but he summoned a Rot Grub Swarm during the fight.  When the Mummy was defeated, he exploded into several more Rot Grub Swarms.  This was the real battle, and it took a bit of time.  We all did our part, but only Keyanna had the necessary area spells to do significant damage.  Once the last Grub had been destroyed, we ended the session. 

Cutest Rot Grubs Ever!
It looks like we might be coming up on the Big Bad soon.  We're (presumably) taking a short rest in front of the next set of double doors, but we should discuss whether or not we're going to try another extended rest.  Note to self:  During the short rest, Flora needs to resummon her Displacer Beast companion, who was killed by Rot Grubs.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Unlikely Heroes: The Blech Cauldron

Game Date: 6/23/2012
DM: Rusty

The Party:
Derp DuDerp (Cliff): Half-Elf Bard
Flora Oakwillow (Matt): Hamadryad Seeker
Keyanna (Chere): Half-Elf Sorcerer
Lo-Kang (Ted): Warforged Barbarian
Marrick (Greg): Dwarf Knight
Starr (Star): Eladrin Paladin

The Session:
After a two-month break from this campaign, we resumed clearing out this dungeon.  Two of us were suffering from Mummy Rot, so we went back to town and got ourselves cured.  Then we returned to the dungeon and went down the stairs to the next level.

Descending the stairs, we quickly noticed that the air down there was barely breathable.  There was a poisonous cloud permeating the entire level.  This gas emanated from a cauldron, which was surrounded by a pool of acid.  We attacked the cauldron until it no longer gave off any gas. 

In the next room we fought a Wax Golem.  He was pretty tough, and had a Rampage power that allowed him to charge through our group, damaging all of us.  He also had a burst attack that activated when he was bloodied, which caused a lot of damage to the party.  He exploded again when he finally died, but due to some poor DM rolls the damage was negligible this time. 

Wax Golem

Down another hallway we found a round room.  In the center was a crystal containing a robed man, known as "The Hanging Seer".  Lo-Kang asked him a few questions, and he gave us a bit more information about the dungeon.  Then he told us to leave because we were being spied on.  We left quickly.

Next we came to a room with two Zombies and two Ghouls.  They didn't give us too much trouble, though Lo-Kang did spend most of the battle immobilized.  A few rounds into the battle, a Wraith joined the fight.  We finished off the original four foes, but we ended the session before doing too much damage to the Wraith.  The Wraith doesn't do a lot of damage, but it looks like he's going to take a while to kill.  He's insubstantial, so he takes less damage, plus he regenerates.  And most of us are out of Daily powers.  But we should win eventually.

Zombies and Ghouls
We're still in battle.  The initiative order is:
Ted, Chere, Star, Wraith, Matt, Cliff, Greg.

It is Ted's turn.  If I remember correctly, Ted is still immobilized (and probably will be for life).  For our reference, here is where we were standing:

Row 1 (Top): Flora, Starr
Row 2: Keyanna, Lo-Kang
Row 3: Fauna (Displacer Beast)
Row 4: Derp, Marrick
Row 5 (Bottom): Wraith

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Free RPG Day 2012

Game Date: 6/16/2012
Game System: Dungeon Crawl Classics
Module: "The Undulating Corruption" (Level 5)
DM: Rusty
Party: Cleric (Greg), Dwarf (Nat), Warrior (Matt), Wizard (Chere)

Today was "Free RPG Day", where several gaming companies contribute free samples to game stores in order to drum up interest in their products.  I played in a short session of Dungeon Crawl Classics, a game designed to be reminiscent of the earliest editions of D&D.  I had already played this once before, around this time last year.  At the time I only got to play 0-level characters, which was neat in itself but didn't really give me a good taste of the full game.  So today was my first time playing a leveled character. 

The Session:
We used pregenerated level 5 characters.  Spellcasters are subject to a corruption system in this game, and by level 5 you would more than likely have failed a few castings, so our wizard was suffering from a couple of minor curses.  Most noticeably, she had the head of a rat (no biggie).  Our party had heard rumors of a magical place where she might be able to cure her corruptions, and therein lay our plot hook.

As we neared our destination we saw a large explosion.  We went to check it out, and saw a man fighting off some black blobs.  We fought the shapeless whatchamacallits and tried to rescue the man.  When we reached him, a lot of his skin had been eaten away and his legs were gone.  Soon some sort of corruption overcame him, and he attacked us.  We granted him a quick death.

Leading away from ground zero was a very wide trail.  Some gigantic thing had recently left the area, and we were just fool enough to pusue it.  As we followed the trail, we saw odd effects where the giant creature's aura of corruption had tainted the plant life.  Some plants had been crystalized, others had grown eyeballs, and so on.  Eventually we reached a river, and had to cross a bridge.  Halfway across the bridge, a couple of gigantic mutated catfish burst from the water, demolishing the bridge in the process.

Our dwarf spent most of this battle underwater, tangled up in his horse's harness.  The cleric got stuck in a catfish's mouth, and when we finally killed it, he was taken underwater with it.  The warrior and the wizard managed to kill the second catfish (which had legs, by the way).  Right as the second catfish expired, our dwarf had his Crowning Moment of Awesome:  After failing several checks to disentangle himself, he finally rolled a very high strength check.  He came trudging out of the water, dragging his horse behind him, and asked, "Okay, what'd I miss?"

We walked a bit further until we came to a small building, which had been magically warded from the monster's corruptions.  It was the residence of a cleric who gave us a bit of information and some potions.  We continued following the trail and finally caught up to the monster.  It was a giant worm/centipede creature, with a reality-warping aura.  We attacked.

When my warrior got close enough, she climbed up the worm's body and (with a little help from some magic boots) stood on its head.  For the rest of the fight she held on and kept hacking away, critting twice for impressive damage. 

The wizard got swallowed during the battle, and inside the creature was like another dimension.  There she encountered a swarm of flying leech monsters.  She used a force barrier spell to keep them away, and discovered that the leeches could suck away her magical corruptions.  She took advantage of this and soon her rat-like head was back to normal. 

We finally killed the worm, and as it died its magical effects began to dissipate.  Unfortunately for our wizard, this included the dimensional weirdness inside its body.  Our mage had one chance to make a life-or-death will save, and she failed.  She was sucked into a dimensional vortex and wound up in limbo.  But wherever she is, at least she no longer has a rat head.

I had a lot of fun.  But don't take that as an endorsement of the game, as I'm pretty easy to please.  Give me some dice and some cool people to hang out with, and I'll probably have a good time.

One of the most significant things about DCC is that it uses odd dice.   In addition to the usual set, it also uses d3, d5, d7, d14, d16, d24, and d30.  There have been complaints about this, but as my DM says, "People who play D&D are complaining about odd dice?"  On the other hand, we were playing in gaming store, which didn't have most of these dice for sale.  You can find them online, but it's not easy or cheap.  Still, there are always other options if you don't have the right dice.  My preferred method is to roll the next highest die and reroll if the result is too high.

These extra dice are used in interesting ways.  At times where other RPGs might give you a plus or minus for certain rolls, DCC sometimes has you use the next higher or lower die.  So if you would normally roll a d20, you might roll a d16 or d24 instead.  If you attack twice in a round, you typically use a lower die for the secondary attack.  The wizard's spells often had her rolling a d24 for attacks and spell effects.

It could get pretty complicated, and it took me a couple of fights to really get the hang of it.  My warrior mades attack rolls by rolling a d20+d7+weapon bonus+melee bonus+whatever buffs I had at the time.  Then for damage I rolled d7+d6+weapon bonus+melee bonus+buffs.  Then if I wanted to make a secondary attack that round, I did all that again but using a d14 for the attack roll instead of the d20.  Then if I rolled a crit (and I critted on 18-20, so it wasn't entirely uncommon), I had to roll a d24 on a crit chart, which often had me making yet another attack or adding even more dice to the damage.  And all the while I'm rolling a d20 for the d14s, and rerolling them each time I roll higher than 14...  which is sickening when you see yourself roll nice high rolls three times in a row, knowing you have to reroll it each time because you rolled too high.

...and that's the warrior, traditionally the simplest class in RPGs.  It was crazy watching my magic-using teammates across the table, looking up spell effects on chart after chart.  Spellcasters seemed to be quite powerful, but playing one is risky.  Too many fumbles and you risk getting corrupted with various curses.  I don't know how far this goes, but it's a neat take on the world.  It makes me think of low magic settings like Dark Sun, where wizardry is feared and discouraged.

I still can't get past the "Races as Classes" thing.  You can play as a Fighter, Wizard, Thief, Cleric, Dwarf, Elf, or Halfling.  You can't be a Halfling wizard or a Dwarf thief; a Dwarf is a Dwarf is a Dwarf (and so on).  Glancing through the rulebook, it appears that the Dwarf "class" is basically another type of warrior, while Halflings are thief-like and Elves are pretty much wizards.  Does this seem racist to anyone else?  I know it's a callback to early RPGs, but there are some things that got updated for a reason.  They knew better than to bring back Thaco, but they kept this?  It's very nearly a deal-breaker for me.

For me, the bottom line is still the same as it was last year:  This is a game designed to appeal to nostalgia, but it's a nostalgia for things I never experienced.  I didn't get into RPGs until after they had fixed their early mistakes.  I understand wanting to go back to "a simpler time", but DCC doesn't strike me as remotely simple either.  The game does have a quirky old-school charm, and I'm sure I'll enjoying playing more of it in the future.  But where old-school/modern remixes are concerned, so far I'm much more interested in the upcoming D&DNext.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

D&DNext Playtest: Level 2

Game Date: 6/9/12
DM: Rusty
Chere - Dwarf Cleric
Greg - Elf Wizard
Matt - Dwarf Fighter
Star - Human Cleric
Ted - Halfling Rogue

Today we played some more of the D&DNext Playtest.  We used level 2 characters this time, so we were a bit sturdier and a had a few more abilities available.

We started by checking out another cave.  On our way in, we were ambushed by several kobolds.  We managed to kill a few, and the rest fled.  We continued into the cave.  Inside, we heard some voices and discovered a pit trap.  The party rogue tiptoed around the trap and discovered some kobolds in another side hallway.  No sooner had we dispatched them when a large swarm of rats approached us from down another hall.

The swarm didn't hit hard, but they were plentiful enough to give us a lot of trouble.  During the battle, a couple of the party fell into the pit trap, leaving fewer of us to face the swarm.  The rogue found himself surrounded, and very nearly died.  But eventually we managed to finish off the rats and heal the rogue.

After a short rest, we sent the rogue exploring.  He discovered the kobold den, where about 40 of the creatures went about their daily activities.  In another hallway he saw four kobold guards.  He returned to the group to report, and we debated what to do next.  Finally the rogue went back out into the hall, and caused a commotion to bring the kobolds to us.  The only ones that came running were the four guards, who we took out fairly quickly. 

The group crept into the guard chamber, and opened another door.  There we fought a few more kobolds, including their leader.  Our wizard charmed one of them, and we picked off the rest one by one.  Once they were dead, we couldn't find any more unexplored hallways.  We decided not to disturb the ones in the den, and we left this cave.

In another cave, higher up the valley, we saw a bunch of heads on posts.  Once again we sent our rogue ahead to scout the area.  Soon we were attacked by orcs, and unfortunately the rogue was blocked in by all our enemies.  We were pretty sure there was a TPK in our future, but the orcs weren't as hard as they looked.  The rogue did get knocked down to zero once again, but we managed to heal him before he died.  Once we finished off the final orc, we beheaded them, and replaced the heads on the posts with orc heads.  We ended the session there.

Kobold Ambush - Kobolds represented by Jawas.

The rogue sidesteps a pit trap and discovers kobolds in a hallway.

A swarm of rats scurries down the hallway towards us.

The rat swarm corners the rogue, while others keep the fighter and cleric busy.

Facing off against the kobold leader.

Kobold leader sure is cute, eh?

Confronting the Orcs.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Miniatures: Maynard the Minotaur

This Minotaur figurine, courtesy of StufferShack, has become something of a mascot of mine.  I call him Maynard, and I take him with me whenever I go anywhere interesting.  Here's some pics:

Maynard at the Parthenon
Downtown Nashville
Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville

Downtown Nashville
Grand Old Opry

Opry Mills Mall

Opryland Hotel

Centennial Park

Nashville City Cemetery
Rock City

Rock City

Rock City

Lunch at Rock City

Crossing State Lines

Dinosaur World
Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World

Dino Trek at Nashville Zoo

Dino Trek at Louisville Zoo

Dino Trek at Louisville Zoo
A Park in Hendersonville

A Park in Hermitage

A Park in Hermitage
Nashville Zoo (Not A Real Gator)

Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo
Nashville Zoo

Juro Stables

Maynard's Family Reunion

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Miniatures: Undead In Their Natural Habitat

So my significant other and I visited the historic Nashville City Cemetery, because that's the kind of place that draws people like us when we're in the mood for history.  Being the reverent, respectful person that I am, naturally my first thought was "D&D mini photo op!"  This is the result:

(Please note:  I did not place them on any actual gravestones, or on anything that wasn't meant to be touched.  As tempting as it might have been, I didn't disturb anything fragile or violate any of the cemetery's rules.)