Saturday, January 15, 2011

Random Saturday Notes - Session 2 of 4E as a Player


Well last night was the second session of our one-shot 4E side campaign and it was one long fight. The party:
  • Dragonborn Paladin of Torm "Divine Sanction!"
  • Human Avenger of Oghma "I'm Bookman"
  • Half-Orc brawny rogue "Hit with my dagger...24 points"
  • Dragonborn Dragon Sorcerer "I'm bloodied - Heal Me!"
  • Human Battle Cleric of Tempus (Me)
  • Tiefling Enchantment Mage - new this session played by Uthal's player
Since there were six of us this time we assumed things would get easier. We were so very, very wrong.

Last time we were deep in a swamp on a mission to retrieve a local merchant's daughter. Having fought through a bunch of crocodiles and a bunch of giant frogs we were now in the middle of a ruined keep watching a ceremony where a girl was chained to an altar in the middle of a bunch of frenzied dancing cultists.

As we observed the scene, there was a loud crumbling noise to our left and as the mist dissipated we saw a tiefling sprawled in the muck near a still-crumbling section of wall. Great. Dance stops, cultists look around, evil high priestess shouts "kill them", battle ensues.

It didn't look so bad at first. We were in a nice tight battle formation - Avenger-Paladin-Cleric-Rogue forming a front line with the sorcerer right behind. the tiefling was probably screwed but hey, we didn't know him. Two of the cultists peeled of to deal with him while the majority of the horde charged us.Predictably, most of them were untrained and posed no challenge to us but they dd manage to surround the Paladin and hurt him a bit. They also managed to injure the Rogue, though when we struck back half of them fell to various weapons and dragon breath attacks. The Cleric healed up the Rogue and the fight went on.

Round 2 saw the injured Tiefling running for his life although his impressive ability to make the cultists hit each other was good for some comic relief. Fortunately he was smart enough to run towards us where there was some chance of aid. The rest of the cultists went down although again they managed to injure the rogue and again Brutalus healed her up

Round 3 opened up and saw only the evil priestess, the half-ogre drummer, and some other human cult member still standing. Thinking that victory might be near the party spread out to finish off these threat and was rewarded with a generous helping of pain as the priestess fired off some kind of magical area effect attack and half the party went bloodied. Brutalus fired off his Channel Divinity heal, weakening himself but helping most of the party.  About this time though a crazy dwarf rushes out of a nearby pile of masonry firing a crossbow and leading a pack of crocodiles, including a big momma croc that led the charge.

Compared to the high of last round, things looked pretty iffy on Round 4 and got worse from there on. The Avenger dropped from a crossbow bolt, I dropped from a croc bite before I could heal myself or the Avenger, The Rogue dropped (she was bloodied every round!), the Wizard ran off briefly but returned so that he and the wandering Sorcerer were able to eventually finish off the half-ogre drummer who had been pursuing them all around the battlefield, although both were bloodied by this as well. We did manage to drop the other human cultists during this time but the evil priestess was still up and throwing out damage and the dwarf and the crocs were chewing us up even though the Paladin was trying to keep Momma Croc busy. It wasn't looking good.

The Paladin managed to maneuver over and perform a Lay On Hands on me, getting the Cleric back in the fight. I fired off Beacon of Hope,  healing everyone up and letting them get back up. The Paladin and the Rogue managed to finally take out Momma Croc, but the EHP dropped the Avenger again. Seeing that we needed to finish her off fast I asked the Rogue to delay her action so I could set her up with combat advantage on the EHP. I whipped out the sword and charged and having saved my last big encounter power for a worthy target I unleashed shining fullblade death upon  her with a mighty cry  of TEEEEEEEEEMMMMMMMMMMMMMMPUUUUUUUUUUUUSSSSSSSSSS and promptly rolled a 1.

Clearly abandoned by his god the Cleric rolled up in a ball and just laid there in the mud.

The incredible half-orc rogue ignored this massive failure and used a power of her own to make a deft strike and slashed the priestess open for 24 points of damage with her (clearly Vorpal) dagger, slaying her in one hit - and she wasn't even bloodied!

Out of healing now I realized that the Avenger was down and dying and had already failed his first death save. Resolving to do what I could the Cleric ran to the Avenger's side and tried to stop the bleeding. I failed.

The rest of the party finished off the crocs and closed in on the dwarf.

The Avenger failed his second death save (on his second roll) and I made another Heal check. I failed. Again.

The Paladin, Sorcerer, Wizard, and Rogue brought the dwarf to bay and battled him.

The Avenger failed his 3rd death save (on his 3rd roll) prompting an instant house rule of "You don't actually die until your  next turn - but that's it I'm not giving out freebies here". The Paladin pulled back and healed him just in time. Brutalus hung his head in shame.

We then released the sacrificial girl, told her to stay put as she told us about a madman working some kind of evil magic deeper in the ruins. We found a scaffolding leading up to a tunnel in the upper level of the ruins and moved in.

Mechanical Notes: Dice do weird things sometimes. A normal save has a 55% chance of succeeding. My Cleric's Heal skill had a 60% chance of stopping the death spiral. Yet we failed 3 saves and 2 Heal checks in a row which has a ridiculously small chance of happening. This of course was right after rolling a 1 on a big attack and after having rolled a couple of single digits on attack rolls earlier in the battle. Fate was just not with me.

This was my first session as a real healer and even with 4 healing powers (2 healing words, the channel divinity, and the Beacon) I still ran out! Guess my level 2 power will be Cure Light Wounds. I think part of it is running in a party that has 3 melee strikers which means low defenses and not enough hit points, especially at level 1. That seems to mean that they rush in and kill half the enemy in one round but they end that round bloodied. Thank goodness the Paladin has some backup healing capability.

The other issue was tactics. This matters a lot more in 4E than in older editions as the classes are made in such a way as to feed off of one another. It can be a s simple as "concentrate fire on one target at a time" which we did NOT do very well, but neither does my usual group, and "don't run off by yourself in the middle of the battle" which was also a problem in this fight. We had 2 characters fighting the half-ogre by themselves and out of range of my healing powers while the Paladin tied up one target and 3 of us attacked another target - great, 3 enemies bloodied, none of them dropping - it's a recipe for disaster and it nearly was.

Ah well, we will learn. Even with bad rolls and flawed strategies it's still fun to see it from the other side of the screen. Next week should see the finale of this little expedition and then we'll be back to the ongoing campaign.

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