Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
(For a change, here's something not written by me. This is the character background for Nissa in the Necessary Evil campaign, totally written by her player.)
Meredith Gibson grew up in the small town of Astoria under the watchful eye of her father, a small-town Southern Baptist preacher, and her mother, the ideal preacher’s wife with her ultra conservative looks, thoughts, and values. For most of her years, Meredith lived happily in her surroundings of a typical, simple, small-town life. As the only child, Meredith was doted on endlessly by both of her parents. But, when Meredith was just 15, her mother became very ill and died suddenly from a mysterious illness that even the most highly trained specialists couldn’t explain. Meredith would never fully recover from the loss of her sweet mother. The loss sent Meredith on a dark, steep path in the wrong direction on the roadmap of life that her parents had created for her.
Meredith soon tired of what she now considered her dull, claustrophobic, small town life and wished to travel the world. She was able to convince her father that by traveling the world and exploring places she had only read about or seen in movies, she would be able to stop grieving the loss of her mother and start living the life that her parents always wanted her to have. While he was hesitant to let his only child, his precious daughter, stray so far from the safe confines of their small town, Meredith’s dad knew that she would eventually go with or without his blessing.
Using her own savings and the money her father gave to her upon her departure, Meredith was able to travel from town to town frugally as her mother had taught her how to handle her money. Meredith met some fascinating people on her travels and most of them were kind and generous just like the small town folks she had grown up with. One night after dinner and a few drinks with friends, Meredith was walking alone back to her cheap loft apartment on the East coast. It wasn’t the best of neighborhoods but she had taken this same route many times in the past few months she lived there and had never felt any reason to fear for her safety. Before she even realized she wasn’t alone there was suddenly a stranger’s hand over her mouth and another strong hand around her waist. She briefly felt the cold touch of the stranger’s cheek before he sank his teeth into the soft skin of her neck. Meredith couldn’t move, couldn’t scream, she couldn’t break free from the clutches of the stranger that would forever change her life. Her world went completely dark.
She awoke alone in the alley near her loft. She was groggy and unsure of how much time had passed and what happened in the lapse of time. Meredith went to her loft, showered, and crawled into her warm bed for a solid night’s sleep. The changes weren’t immediate but it was only a matter of days before Meredith realized what she had become. She craved the taste of blood although she knew it was wrong, she had to have it to survive. She tried drinking the synthetic blood that was readily available in the vampire underworld and it sometimes helped to get her through the day but it was a far cry from the real thing. Meredith realized she could never return to her small town life and started the process of creating her new identity. There were some positive attributes that came along with the undeniable blood thirst. Meredith became unexplainably strong for her 5’5” slender frame. Her light brown hair had turned a beautiful dark black color that complimented the much lighter complexion of her skin. Her eyes turned darker as well although if she didn’t feed regularly they would turn a chilling color of deep red. Even though she didn’t struggle with the typical aversion to the sunlight, Meredith had a difficult time finding a typical job for a beautiful woman in her early 20’s.
Most recently, Meredith met a fellow vampire, Josie Sibohan, who was looking for a young vampire to serve as her personal assistant, manage her travel schedule and keep track of her expenses. Josie was much older than Meredith but looked almost identical to the striking young woman. Soon, Josie and Meredith, who had changed her name to Nisaven at Josie’s request, had forged a bond much stronger than a simple working relationship as Josie taught Nisaven how to control her urges and use her new found strengths to her advantage. Nisaven was a quick study and Josie relied on her for just about everything. They were together the day of the alien invasion……
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
- The prisoner ended up playing a larger role in this little expedition than I had expected and I was playing him on the fly pretty much the whole night. I may have to work up some standby "prisoner personality templates" for the future in case it happens again. "Self-centered goblin prisoner" isn't tough to do at this point for me but to make them different it might help to have some notes on hand - honor-bound prisoner, whiny disgruntled priosner, cold murderous prisoner, happy klepto prisoner - just some notes on goals, revenge/thanks attitudes, and actions when left unwatched for a brief time, probably scribbled on an index card should be enough.
- The mechanics are going pretty smoothly now for everyone as everything works in a similar way. At this level, the characters actually have more options than a similarly leveled PC in older editions with 2 or 3 at-will powers, a basic melee attack, a basic ranged attack, an encounter power, and a daily power, plus a possible alchemical item or two.
- Thunderwave is a horrific minion-sweeper. I can pretty much guarantee that if any bad guys are near each other when the fight starts then the minions among them will be dead by the end of round 1. Some say the wizard is underpowered compared to other controllers - I don't know but she is doing just fine so far.
- Some tactics are becoming quite regular: The fighter likes to throw a javelin to mark a target to open the fight then charge that target on round 2 and he has developed a nasty shield bash as a secondary maneuver. The Warlock like to curse as a minor action then hit that cursed target with his eldritch blast, later collecting the energy as temp hit points when that creature dies. The swordmage prefers to charge up on his targetsfor a basic melee attack and lightning lash/lure them if they are any distance away.
- The bard is interesting in that his regular attack is "Vicious Mockery" which is a damaging ranged attack that hits pretty hard but which we visualize as a string of profane insults (especially against goblins) that crushes their morale - it's an endless source of humor during fights as the content of said insults is speculated upon. He also has a lot of bonuses just for being nearby, especially when using action points, which after 4 straight encounters made regular appearances in this session.
- I was thinking we would get through 3 encounters this session and some of the party would level up, but we only managed 2 so 4 members of the party are at 800-something XP's and the Swordmage is at 700-something. The ambush lasted 5 rounds and the boss fight lasted for 9, so there was a lot more time taken on these than the earlier encounters. I still have 3 encounters planned for the Slums, but if they finish off any two of them then everyone should make it to 2nd level.
- Running through this I am still not sure about the money and magic items. The guidelines in the DMG seem very stingy especially with low-level items. I know my players are not going to be interested in making magic items so I may place more low-level items in future areas and encounters just to make sure everyone has some interesting things that aren't weapons or armor. One of the problems right now is that at level 1 there isn't any way to go below the party level - we're as low as you can get! Alchemical items might work here and taking our the alchemist in the ruins who is supplying stuff to the monsters could be a cool encounter.
- 4 or 5 Players is a really good number for D&D (probably of any edition) - enough variety to cover all the traditional jobs in a party, but not so many that we have annoying levels of niche overlap. Not so large that someone can sit back and do nothing, but not so small that if someone gets up to get a drink we have to pause and wait. It's going very well.