Justin Achilli

Month: May, 2009

Changes In Practice

diceletsSome changes gotta take place. After the Jungles of Thresh scenario, I figure imposing a player limit at the table will help keep things apace. Few people means fewer people to make decisions, which means fewer people, which means less time spent poring over books and more time rattling dice before getting back to work. One session running a little late was okay, but it can’t become a habit. Also, I’m imposing a you-keep-your-character policy at the table. Even if they don’t play every session, when players are familiar with their characters, they’re not overwhelmed by options. Especially as we start getting up into the higher levels, the sheer breadth of choice available to the players is enough to trip up the dumber ones, and even swamp the ones who have already solved the game. Yes, solved. It happens. Of course, keeping characters suggests level progression, so I’m adopting that, too. Each session is one level higher than the previous. People can still drop in and drop out, but using the same character in his linear progression keeps that familiarity I mentioned above. So we’ll see where it heads. I feel the spectre of plot looming, and I’m going to fight that. Episodic, not serial, has to remain the functioning model. Maybe another campaign-style game will arise, but this isn’t the place for it. Well, yet.

Actual Play: The Jungles of Thresh


A bold band of heroes journeyed into the dreaded jungles of Thresh to discover what perils lurked therein and to fight them back past the borders of civilization. A clearing in the jungle where a waterfall emptied into a pool with a natural arch above it marked the location of the encounter. Something foul and atavistic made its home in the rocky walls of the waterfall — the debased descendents of men who once ruled an empire that spanned all of Thresh.

The six heroes closed ranks as the menace advanced upon them. One of the creatures, emerging from the jungle behind them, charged and struck true, injuring the cleric and bard who had been holding the back of the line. Another dashed out of a copse of dense jungle undergrowth while another pair stormed across the natural arch. A third pair descended from the top of the waterfall, and these seemed to be some sort of sorcerers of their ilk, as they moved by teleportation.

As the party engaged each pair of the reptilian subhumans, the sorcerers teleported down the side of the waterfall, dazzling the heroes with some sort of invasive mental manipulations. The sorcerers proved too slow, however, and by the time they made it down the waterfall, the heroes had already put most of the savage, four-armed shock troops to the sword…

…When some sort of bizarre, tentacle, crocodilian horror dragged itself out of the murk of the pool at the waterfall’s base. It focused its attention on the paladin, who kept it enthralled via divine challenge, while the party focused their attacks on it. They managed to defeat it before it pulled the paladin into the mire, but only just, and a single turn spelled the difference between victory and a watery death for the paladin.

With the crocodile-beast dispatched and the reptile-men screaming in cold-blooded hell, the sorcerers were no match for the battle-hardened warriors. In tandem, they would have been dangerous, but the efficient combatants in the group dismantled the jungle threat piece by piece and emerged victorious.

Notable Positive Experiences: Group dynamics continue to be the single greatest facet of 4e. When a party puts its abilities together to take on foes, they’re a powerhouse. When someone breaks ranks and charges in recklessly, he fares less well. I really like this, as it keeps the group working toward a common goal instead of ambling off on their own doomed solo jaunts during which I feel bad about killing them for their own mistakes.

Notable Negative Experiences: 4e usually runs quickly. Not so this time. Part of the problem was group size, as we had six players, and part of the problem was that not all of the players had their actions cards preformatted, meaning that some of them had to rifle through the books to figure out what they wanted to do. Normally, you’d say “figure out what you’re going to do in the downtime between your turns,” but 4e is so tactical that the best thing to do might literally change with the action of the person before you. While it was still exceedingly easy to run and adjudicate, it just took longer than we had set aside as our time box.

Scenario: Rundig’s Keep

Rundig’s Keep (Tuesday, 5/19)

Once a bastion of order in the lawless frontier, Rundig’s Keep was sacked over a hundred years ago by a menace that crawled up from the floors and brought down the guardsmen.

Since those long-ago times, Rundig’s keep has been abandoned, written off to the perils of the frontier. As bold adventurers beat back the savage frontier, it’s time to reclaim the keep. A half-day’s journey past the frontier town of Secundum, Rundig’s Keep waits to be delivered.

Of course, the wretched creatures that usurped the keep in the first place are reluctant to give it back.

(Character creation: 1st level, anything goes. PHB, PHB2, and FRPG are permitted. Backgrounds are allowed.)

 

Actual Play: The Jungles of Thresh

A bold band of heroes journeyed into the dreaded jungles of Thresh to discover what perils lurked therein and to fight them back past the borders of civilization. A clearing in the jungle where a waterfall emptied into a pool with a natural arch above it marked the location of the encounter. Something foul and atavistic made its home in the rocky walls of the waterfall — the debased descendents of men who once ruled an empire that spanned all of Thresh.

The six heroes closed ranks as the menace advanced upon them. One of the creatures, emerging from the jungle behind them, charged and struck true, injuring the cleric and bard who had been holding the back of the line. Another dashed out of a copse of dense jungle undergrowth while another pair stormed across the natural arch. A third pair descended from the top of the waterfall, and these seemed to be some sort of sorcerers of their ilk, as they moved by teleportation.

As the party engaged each pair of the reptilian subhumans, the sorcerers teleported down the side of the waterfall, dazzling the heroes with some sort of invasive mental manipulations. The sorcerers proved too slow, however, and by the time they made it down the waterfall, the heroes had already put most of the savage, four-armed shock troops to the sword…

…When some sort of bizarre, tentacle, crocodilian horror dragged itself out of the murk of the pool at the waterfall’s base. It focused its attention on the paladin, who kept it enthralled via divine challenge, while the party focused their attacks on it. They managed to defeat it before it pulled the paladin into the mire, but only just, and a single turn spelled the difference between victory and a watery death for the paladin.

With the crocodile-beast dispatched and the reptile-men screaming in cold-blooded hell, the sorcerers were no match for the battle-hardened warriors. In tandem, they would have been dangerous, but the efficient combatants in the group dismantled the jungle threat piece by piece and emerged victorious.

Notable Positive Experiences: Group dynamics continue to be the single greatest facet of 4e. When a party puts its abilities together to take on foes, they’re a powerhouse. When someone breaks ranks and charges in recklessly, he fares less well. I really like this, as it keeps the group working toward a common goal instead of ambling off on their own doomed solo jaunts during which I feel bad about killing them for their own mistakes.

Notable Negative Experiences: 4e usually runs quickly. Not so this time. Part of the problem was group size, as we had six players, and part of the problem was that not all of the players had their actions cards preformatted, meaning that some of them had to rifle through the books to figure out what they wanted to do. Normally, you’d say “figure out what you’re going to do in the downtime between your turns,” but 4e is so tactical that the best thing to do might literally change with the action of the person before you. While it was still exceedingly easy to run and adjudicate, it just took longer than we had set aside as our time box.

Scenario: Rundig’s Keep

Rundig’s Keep (Tuesday, 5/19)

Once a bastion of order in the lawless frontier, Rundig’s Keep was sacked over a hundred years ago by a menace that crawled up from the floors and brought down the guardsmen.

Since those long-ago times, Rundig’s keep has been abandoned, written off to the perils of the frontier. As bold adventurers beat back the savage frontier, it’s time to reclaim the keep. A half-day’s journey past the frontier town of Secundum, Rundig’s Keep waits to be delivered.

Of course, the wretched creatures that usurped the keep in the first place are reluctant to give it back.

(Character creation: 1st level, anything goes. PHB, PHB2, and FRPG are permitted. Backgrounds are allowed.)

 

Moar Music

So, since I’m working on an unannounced potentially vampire-related project at White Wolf/ CCP, it got me in the mood to bust out some of the ol’ Succubus Club-style tunes. Here’s a thirty-minute DJ set of EBM and futurepop for you to drink blood to.

Assemblage 23, “Decades”
Imperative, “Judas”
Cesium 137, “Agonist”
Dave Gahan, “Kingdom” (Digitalism Remix)
System Syn, “Burning Out”
VNV Nation, “Carry You”
Covenant, “Men”

Moar Music



So, since I’m working on an unannounced potentially vampire-related project at White Wolf/ CCP, it got me in the mood to bust out some of the ol’ Succubus Club-style tunes. Here’s a thirty-minute DJ set of EBM and futurepop for you to drink blood to.

Assemblage 23, "Decades"
Imperative, "Judas"
Cesium 137, "Agonist"
Dave Gahan, "Kingdom" (Digitalism Remix)
System Syn, "Burning Out"
VNV Nation, "Carry You"
Covenant, "Men"
 

Terrible IM Funnies That Are Not Funny

Scenario: The Jungles of Thresh

Sorry for the delays. We’ve been completing a staged delivery and planning a new one, so time was at a premium. Here’s the precis of last week’s scenario (we had only one, as the office was closed Thursday). I’ve got the actual play in progress right now and it should be up soon.

Tuesday, 5/5: The Jungles of Thresh

Once the seat of a lost empire, Thresh has since become a dense jungle, and some whisper that the gods smote this forgotten empire for claiming divinity for itself.

The jungles of Thresh are vast and deadly, teeming with savage beasts and vicious, degenerate tribes of uncivilized creatures. Sage lore suggests that these latter are the broken men who survived the wrath of the gods and survive in the ruins of their legacy in debased forms. Survivors of the jungles swear that they’ve seen malevolent intelligence in the eyes of those who have harried them.

The truth may never emerge, and the evil out of time may forever after dwell in the jungles of Thresh.

(Character creation: 7th level, anything goes. PHB, PHB2, and FRPG are permitted. Backgrounds are allowed.)

Scenario: The Jungles of Thresh

Sorry for the delays. We’ve been completing a staged delivery and planning a new one, so time was at a premium. Here’s the precis of last week’s scenario (we had only one, as the office was closed Thursday). I’ve got the actual play in progress right now and it should be up soon.

Tuesday, 5/5: The Jungles of Thresh

Once the seat of a lost empire, Thresh has since become a dense jungle, and some whisper that the gods smote this forgotten empire for claiming divinity for itself.

The jungles of Thresh are vast and deadly, teeming with savage beasts and vicious, degenerate tribes of uncivilized creatures. Sage lore suggests that these latter are the broken men who survived the wrath of the gods and survive in the ruins of their legacy in debased forms. Survivors of the jungles swear that they’ve seen malevolent intelligence in the eyes of those who have harried them.

The truth may never emerge, and the evil out of time may forever after dwell in the jungles of Thresh.

(Character creation: 7th level, anything goes. PHB, PHB2, and FRPG are permitted. Backgrounds are allowed.)

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