Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking on a High Note

[due to continuing internet woes, who knows when this will be posted? I’m typing it up while it’s fresh in my mind...***EDIT: found a coffee shop that serves beer...righteous***]

Welp, we gamed again at Café Mox (where the food, beer, and service were all exemplary…as usual) for what will be our last B/X game for the foreseeable future (we will be trying the Beta of DCC beginning next week). Fortunately, it was a pretty good session.

Pretty damn good, actually…I have few complaints this week, and the session featured some of my favorite things: player character death, energy drain, inter-party conflict (and combat!), adventurers running scared from encounters, negotiations with demons. I mean, really, what more can you ask for?

There was also a lot of laughter and smiles from the players, which is probably the thing I most enjoy hearing and seeing.

In fact there were so many highlights it’s tough to single out a person for the XP bonus. Andrew’s play of Normal Man-turned-Fighter would be pretty deserving for his fearless confrontation of the cambion-minotaur…if he hadn’t died (thus rendering his character ineligible). Stanley the thief would be a shoe-in for his attempted waylaying/sacrifice of Randy’s retainer, but unfortunately his grand scheme failed. Randy/Orestes’ misfiring sleep spell and the protectiveness he showed for his Halfling, um, “friend” was pretty good, but he got the bonus last week so he’s ineligible this week. Greg’s smuggled whisky flask puts him in the running, but for now I’m going to confine bonus considerations only to IN-game actions. Zeebd didn’t shoot any of his fellow party members in the back this week, though only because he didn’t take a single shot (the most near-sighted Halfling archer that ever was). And while Spunk showed his usual gumption, he continually gets himself in trouble due to that Charisma of 3…and I have to admit I found his whining about a “restoration” spell to be a bit unseemly.

SO…after careful thought and reflection, I’ve decided the bonus for last night’s session will go to the surly Elf, Ellephaino, for his constant swooping in and taking the glory from the other meat-and-potato characters (specifically his use of holy water to take down the demon…though too late to save poor Garrett). Good work, Josh!

Some highlights/thoughts from the evening:

  • After tallying the evening’s take, I found several PCs leveled up: Orestes, Ellephaino (even without the bonus), Zeebd, and Spunk (yep, back up to “Escort” status). Even Randy’s retainer, Laurel the Halfling, leveled up. Kung did NOT level up, but he’s less than 900 away from “hero” status.
  • Garrett the Normal Human adventurer was nearly the pawn that became a queen (or at least a knight). After surviving last week (and earning a couple hundred XP) he was allowed to choose a class and became a level 1 fighter; appropriate since he was already wearing plate and shield and armed with a +1 spear. If he had not been gored to death by the demon minotaur he would have earned enough XP to level up to 2 after last night. Quite an accomplishment!
  • Garrett’s death speech (something about “you sons of bitches”) was entertaining, though fruitless, as was the party’s discussion/debate over whether or not to try giving him a healing potion. Since he had been reduced to 0 hit points exactly, I ruled he was mortally wounded but “had a little life left in him” (enough to make a farewell speech). If the party HAD given him the potion, would I have allowed him to live? Probably…but even Andre wanted a burlier character (I, on the other hand, kind of liked the “Garrett – Underdog” story).
  • I did not use D20 for the session, and that’s probably a good thing.
  • Wraiths are a tasty little undead, but I think I might actually prefer the D20 version of the monster: an incorporeal touch attack that bypasses armor and drains CON instead of levels makes it the equivalent of a souped-up shadow, which is pretty neat. On the other hand, a fast-flying level drainer is nothing to sniff at.
  • Charisma 3 is turning out to suck for the PCs. Both the demon and the wraith were encounters that could have been negotiated withOUT combat, but the surly scout certainly jinxed up the latter encounter. Using reaction rolls for making contacts/searching out items in the city (like a restoration spell) is also a lot tougher when your charisma score is poor.
  • You know what’s a useful spell? Knock. You know what else is a useful spell? Read magic. If either of these spells had been possessed by the party, the wraith would have been a NON-ISSUE…the wraith was a “bonus encounter,” unnecessary to the accomplishment of the adventure (though it had some extra treasure that was nice…as I said, a bonus). Unfortunately, despite having two magic-users and a 2nd level elf, none of these spells are in the PCs spellbooks. On the other hand, every single one of ‘em carries sleep.
  • It was interesting to see the characters sweat and debate over whether or not to take the demon up on his offer (basically, the life of a party member for his promise of non-conflict). In the end, the majority of the party (with the exception of the Chaotic thief) decided NOT to give up any of their party, not even a henchman/retainer. It’s interesting because there’s no GAME reason not to give up a retainer for safe passage…what’s the retainer going to do anyway but eat into one’s share of the treasure/XP? It’s not like you can’t find a new retainer back in town. However, the idea was fairly repulsive to most of the party and Orestes was willing to use magic against a fellow PC to protect his henchperson (it didn’t work, but it was a valiant attempt).

As a DM, I have no problem with players fighting each other or stabbing one another in the back…this is the kind of thing that happened all the time back in the glory days of my youth. As players grow with their characters, there is a tendency for players to invest more interest in their characters and their characters’ motivations/desires. And sometimes those character desires come in conflict with each other.

Considering that these are scurrilous rogues and tomb raiders, it makes perfect sense for PCs to have falling outs with each other. Most often, these conflicts occur over particularly valuable treasure items (specifically magic gear…recall Blackrazor?). My current batch of players are so darn nice and consensus driven that there haven’t been any such “incidents” at the table…though I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

Well, whatever…the players made it safely back to Markesh (their current base of operations) dragging five huge chests (200 pounds each!) all brimming with treasure. Even with the HEFTY cut the galley captain took for providing them safe passage, they’re still filthy rich, most having enough to buy a good-sized house (if not an actual leopard farm…sorry, Greg!). We still have to see whether or not Laurel will stay on as Randy’s retainer/bodyguard, and the spell-casters need to learn their new spells, but other than that there’s nothing for the PCs to do but take in some much deserved R&R while scheming their next adventure.

The DM is looking forward to the break as well.
; )


  1. Read Magic and Knock are perfect spells to carry around as scrolls, but boring as fuck to be one of your few spells as a low level mage. Sleep is almost always handy.

  2. @ Luke: Having "read magic" on a scroll is a bit silly, ain't it?
    ; )

    By the way, hope you're having a blast at GenCon...maybe next year I'll be able to swing getting out there!
    : )