Saturday, January 8, 2011

Random Saturday Notes - I've played a game of 4E D&D!

Well it's a big deal for me as I run almost all the time and I haven't been a player since a 3-session run in the fall of 2009 which was a 3.5 game.  One of my players wanted to run a one-shot game to warm up his DMing skills after a few years so I jumped at the chance. As usual I over thought the whole thing.

With a week's notice I knew I wanted to play a leader type so I made up 3 different warlords and then tried out about 3 different clerics. Then I made an avenger and a sorcerer just in case someone else wanted to play a leader. In the end, I settled on a battle cleric that is the next generation of one of my old sets of characters. We started at 1st level and the party was:

  • Dragonborn Paladin of Torm (played by the Warlock player in my usual game)
  • Human Avenger of Oghma (it's very funny - DON'T YOU KNOW THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM? was utttered more than once during the game - played by the Bard from my usual game)
  • Half-Orc brawny rogue with dual daggers played by Lady Blacksteel (very brawny - 18 Str, 18 Dex, another major change from the Wizard she plays in my usual game)
  • Dragonborn Dragon Sorcerer played by Apprentice Red (I normally keep the kid game and the grown-up game separate but we needed a 5th player and he was available)
  • Human Battle Cleric of Tempus played by yours truly (more below)
I thought I would ramble on a bit about my character since I don't get to play them very often. Butalus Maximus the IVth is the most recent scion of the Maximus family that began back during a 2nd edition Forgotten Realms game. I liked clerics just fine in D&D back then but once Faiths and Avatars came out they were my class of choice for the rest of that edition for one reason: Specialty Priests. Basically each deity in the realms got a custom class that still had some connection with divine magic but got a lot of other nifty powers as well. Tempus specialty priests got to use a nasty spiked gauntlet and got to pick one non-blunt weapon as their signature weapon and they got a +1 to hit and damage with it. So in short order our party had a half-elf cleric in blackened full plate wielding a longspear and refusing to heal anyone who had more than half their hit points left (this wasn't totally dickish behavior - there was a specialty priest of Mystra in the party as well and she was pretty easy with her healing). He eventually died fighting a Red Dragon.

His human nephew joined the priesthood soon after and took up the two-handed sword as his chosen weapon and had a decently successful career (replacing his sword at least 3 times) before retiring with the advent of 3rd edition.

During  early 3E days Brutallus III made a brief appearance but the campaign ran in spurts and never really got a lot of momentum. The new flexibility of 3E meant that he didn't have to be a specialty priest - couple levels of fighter and a whole lot of cleric worked just fine. "Three" followed his predecessor and used the great-sword to great effect in his limited career.

(Yes I still have some of these character sheets. maybe I will post them up one day and look at characters through different editions)

So now a few years into 4E and Maximus IV finally appears. His first outing was not especially impressive - first roll to hit "1". Second roll to hit - "2". Later during the same session he managed a "4" and a "6" and even in 4E those are bad rolls. He did manage to help the rest of his party though, particularly in tagging a beastie with Righteous Brand (at will attack that does standard damage but gives one ally a +3 to hit it on their next roll) and setting the Rogue up to absolutely annihilate things with dagger +Dex bonus + Str bonus + Sneak Attack Damage boosted by a feat. Every time she hit on her turn it was for 20+ points of damage. Whew.

He also talks a little like Hulk Hogan, a lot of "Let's go get 'em brother", "Brother, have you heard the good news about Tempus? -Headbutt - Now you have!" and that kind of thing. Because that's what his ancestors did and it doesn't feel worn out after taking 8 or 9 years off.  He also doesn't heal you if you aren't bloodied. "That'll make a nice scar" was also said more than once during the session.

We fought some crocodiles at a swampy river crossing and some giant frogs near a sunken keep and it was a blast, even with multiple crappy rolls. It was especially refreshing playing with Lady Blacksteel and an apprentice and some friends of 10+ years and finally being on the same side! I really need to get back on that side of the screen more often.


Wickedmurph said...

That's hilarious. My favorite 2e character was a Specialty Priest of Tempus called Alembar Foehammer, late of Damara in the Forgotten Realms. I use him as an NPC and I'm bringing him forward as a party member for our online Domains campaign.

I always played him as an NFL Linebacker - Ray Lewis with a spiked gauntlet and a 2-H sword. I haven't remade him for 4e yet, but seeing this, I guess I'll have to.

Blacksteel said...

It was a lot of fun I'm looking forward to next week.

I've noticed that the specialty priests did strike a chord with a lot of people. The Mystra specialty priest I mentioned was the wife of my regular DM back then and for the rest of 2E that's all she would play. When we we switched to 3E and started a new campaign she pretty much recreated the same type of character with a 3E Cleric, a multiclass level or two and the right prestige class. It was effective - the cleric that can throw fireballs is a pretty good cleric to have - but the main attachment was that it just fit the kind of character she wanted to play so she stuck with it.

For me I play so rarely that when I do I usually work in some kind of schtick like behavior (no healing until bloodied) or a voice (Hulkster) or an accent or some special move (the 3.5 barbarian I played was a shield-basher)- I rarely do the "I'm just a fighter" thing anymore. Inspiration strikes too easily to try and ignore it.

I'm going to put up a note about my backup character - see what you think about it.

Jeremy said...

How'd the dragon sorcerer apprentice do? I've been really hankering to play one but don't want to sideline Uthal.

Blacksteel said...

Well he ran across a fallen tree bridge a little sooner than he should have and triggered a crocodile assault that was pretty nasty. Once we got him loose he was the one whining for heals the most but in between that he did pretty good with the roasting and blasting parts. Lots of close blast X effects (Plus his normal dragonborn breath weapon) make him pretty nasty as a close-in support type.

Jeremy said...

Nice. Yeah, that was my worry, lots of being up close for close burst 3 but lots of having to dodge allies (so no engaging marked or flanked things and focusing fire) and more chance of pulling aggro because of it. I was thinking of hybridizing with paladin for full plate and a shield to survive said aggro.

Blacksteel said...

They do get Str mod as their AC bonus instead of Int or Dex, that helps. Other than that they do seem to have low defenses and not needing Con makes it harder to pick up better armor types. Leather has no prereqs so you could at least do that.

On the attack side he took Bolstering Breath which means he only targets enemies and allies in the blast get a +1 to attack. I'm thinking he whould add Coordinated Explosion too and and just assume that's going to be a standard tactic.