Skip to main content

Stealing a Ship (Actual Gaming Recap)

Well, as part of my hope of being a better gaming blogger, I thought I'd share my own real-life experiences running a game, which for those of you who read this blog know is Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition.  You'll also know that it isn't my favorite game, but it is a good game and my group loves it and we have fun, and as I say in the tag line, that's what it is about.

So, who's the cast?

  • Revan, a Tiefling bard
  • Rogar, a Dragonborn sorcerer/elementalist
  • Yvanna, an Eladrin wizard
  • Aukan, a Goliath warden
  • Komos, a Githerazi avenger
  • Skyhawk, a pixie ranger
So, what's the story?

Previously, Yvanna was kidnapped by a lich necromancer called the Icicle King who was running a club for vampires in the PC's home town of Grimfest.  The PC's traveled to the Demi-plane of Ice to rescue her, but the Icicle King told them that he had information about a demon named Astaroth who killed off most of Yvanna's family.

Checking in with their quasi-patron the bizarre and ethically dubious Benalkazar, the PC's learn of a ship that can travel the dimensions, even the layers of Hell called the Marauding Dreamer.  The Dreamer belongs to a band of Githyanki slavers, and at the end of the previous adventure the PC's have just busted in and are about to kill as many slavers as possible before stealing a ship.

In last night's adventure, the PC's basically take out a large band of Githyanki running about the halls of the hideout.  They then went and freed four captives of the slavers: a ice gnome named Nim (whom they had met before); a diva named Riya; a hippopotamus-like humanoid named Paava; and a human named Slow Bob.

Then, the PC's defeated the red dragon guarding the Marauding Dreamer and, with the help of the prisoners, took off with the ship.

Illustration by Max Hierro

So what worked?

Since we hadn't played since before Christmas, it was just good to get the group back together.  For whatever it is worth, the group played together as a team well, although there is still a bad tendency of certain players to tell others what to do on the grounds that it is the, shall we say, optimal response.  That sometimes hacks off the other players, who after all this time feel ready to run their own characters.

I myself really wanted to do two things, mostly as a way to get me to enjoy this game again.  First, to get more NPC's in the game with which the PC's can interact.  Riya and the others all have distinct personalities and backstories, and will also on a utility level form the crew of the ship to watch over the Dreamer when the PC's are not aboard.  I also wanted to change the feel of the campaign a little bit, to make it a bit more sci-fi and less dungeon-crawling.  I wanted to re-inject a feeling a wonder into the fantasy so that the players don't always just start breaking down my story into tactical encounters.

What didn't work?

The encounters tend to continue to be way too easy.  An encounter using the formula and monsters from the Monsters Vault versus PC's carefully tweaked from material from the entire rest of the 4E canon don't come out apples to apples.  I think that "n+2" is going to have to become the norm for a "typical" encounter, or I'm going to have to start tweaking the environments to add an edge to the monster's side.

There's also still an issue about the strikers.  One PC, the githerazi avenger, doled out 160 points of damage in a single regular-action-plus-action-point barrage that he referred to joking as it "Nova Blast."  The sorcerer regularly does half that amount without trying, and the ranger is right behind.  When that happens, I hear the wizard start making snarky comments about just casting Magic Missile and moving onto the next person, and the warden makes self-depreciating statements about what they add to the team.

I think the answer is to find ways to highlight the other players' roles, either in or out of combat.

Anyways, as always, comments are welcome.


Popular posts from this blog

A First Look at Prowlers and Paragons

For a long time I've been in the market for a new supers RPG.  Since running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying a few years ago, I've been looking at other games, including some that had been passed by the general public, e.g. DC Heroes Third Edition or Silver Age Sentinels.  This was based on the notion that supers RPG's are so niche and so under-performing as a general part of the RPG world that just because the game wasn't making a splash didn't mean it wasn't good.

Plus, I have my own tastes about what I like in a supers RPG, which I've touched on from time to time here, but to summarize I like a game that feels like a comic book, doesn't get bogged down in too much detail, but allows for PC growth and development in a tangible game-system way.  I also don't want to spend hours on character creation using a spreadsheet.  For that matter, it would be an added bonus if it could also accommodate a large number of players and didn't have glaring options…

Large modular dungeon tiles

I made five 4" by 4" dungeon tiles, which is 80 square inches, almost twice my usual batch of tiles.  When added to what I've done already, this is how big a single room I can make:

14 by 14 squares, with four squares to spare.  That's a pretty big room (70 feet to a side).  If I wanted to mix it up, I could build something like this:

I'm probably going to take a little break from this project.  It has turned out well, but until I'm closer to doing a fantasy game I'm going to focus on the games I'm actually doing.
Speaking of which, it's game night tonight...

Review: the Valiant Universe Roleplaying Game

Capsule: A near-clone of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying that throws out the good while keeping the bad.  Useful if you're a fan of the Valiant Universe.

I've been looking forwards to this game ever since Free RPG Day this year, although with some trepidation.  The rules were sketchy, and the free booklet promised more detail when the main rulebook came out.  I also snagged most of the additional free material Catalyst Games had put out as PDFs on DriveThurRPG, which gave me most of the major characters from the Valiant Universe.

Quick side note about Valiant comics, for those who don't know.  Originated in the 90's during the whole big indie comics movement that spawned Malibu, Image, and a host of others small publishing companies.  The early Valiant characters included a pseudo X-Men mutant youth team (Harbingers), a archtypal "Iron Age" gun guy (Bloodshot), the high-tech alien armor guy (the bizarrely named X-0 Manowar), and a quirky no-capes duo (Archer and Ar…