Monday, February 21, 2011

Weekend Update

Well the long weekend game is over and we survived. It was much like the old days - Much junk food was consumed. arguments were had, actions were debated, babies were entertained (that one is not like the old days) and in the end a dragon was slain and the threat to the people of Urnst was ended.

This 20 hour plus run also confirmed for me that running for 8 players in 4E is just a bad idea for  an ongoing campaign. For a one-off it can be managed but trying to do that every week or every other week while balancing things and keeping everyone involved is going to turn into work pretty quickly, and that's not why I do this. In a mechanically simpler game like Basic D&D or Labyrinth Lord I can see it happening, but not 4E.

At points it did run slow but everyone was having fun and that's the main objective. With D&D being the Common Tongue of RPG's it's probably the only game that could have pulled in that kind of turnout (although I think a supers game would have been a blast too).. Even so, some players were not especially familiar with the rules and everyone was playing new characters so it took some time to work out how the group should work together. I won't claim it was smooth by the end of the run but it was better than when we started.

Lady Blacksteel's character and mine did work pretty well together. Our knock-em-down-then-stab-them-on-the-ground team inflicted serious damage and meant that at least we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do when a fight broke out. The Goliath Warden and I worked well too and spent a fair share of the time taking our beatings from the enemy to help make our team look good.  Playing my first defender type in 4E was enlightening and it is very different than fighters in earlier versions. Many powers key off of the actions that others take so that I had to constantly pay attention to what was happening to see if I had a chance to inflict punishment on an unwise enemy - many thanks to my spotters at the far end of the table who caught things I might have missed. I also discovered that Orc archers can be extremely nasty when left unmolested and with the party bunched up - next time we're going after them first.

The only arguments that really sprang up happened because of  the only real recurring issue I've seen with 4E: Powers and effects are given names and flavor text to describe their mechanical effect. Sometime people get too focused on the description or the name and expect things to work mechanically different because of that. Stealth, Superior Cover provided by arrow slits, the Prone condition, and a few others generated some spirited discussion and I wasn't concerned until the magic words "but in the real world..." were uttered but we shut things down pretty quickly after that. That particular phrase is a peeve of mine when gaming and I'm glad it didn't drag out.

We fought a black dragon at the end and he had a hard time of it facing off against 8 characters. At one point he was Marked, Quarried, Knocked Prone, Slowed, Immobilized, and Bloodied, was inside at least 2 magical zone effects and was also flanked by at least two characters and that with him fighting from water against characters on a bridge and ledge! His rider didn't fare much better  caught in the storm of area blasting magic that came down on the dragon he proved to be far less durable and went down almost as an afterthought

It's probably been 20 years since I've done anything like that and I had a really good time. Now I'm thinking it should at least be an annual occurrence.  I'd be tempted to make it the same characters but use different versions of D&D every year, but I'm not running it and that's probably better for everyone. Thanks to my friends for running it and for hosting it and to everyone else for showing up and sticking with it. I'm looking forward to next time.


Barking Alien said...

Sounds awesome Blacksteel!

Familiar with 4E in only the most general sense (own it, read it, play it twice - two one-shots - only weeks after it came out) I am not sure I get all the particulars but I'm glad the overall experience was positive.

Yeah, I'm not a big fan of "in the real world" either depending upon the genre I'm playing. My usual response is, "And in the real world we don't have dragons and no one shoots magic out of their hands."

Blacksteel said...

The funny part is that we use markers to track the various conditions inflicted on things so there was a pretty good stack of markers next to the dragon at the end - it was about as tall as the figure on the table was, and that's usually not a good sign. Sometimes we use pipe cleaner rings to mark them and when you can't see the mini anymore that's usually a bad sign too.

I think in this case my comment was that in the real world there wouldn't be any orcs behind the arrow slits and you wouldn't have any powers so we wouldn't be down in this hole anyway.

Using physics as the basis for your argument in D&D is usually a bad idea, and with 4E particularly so. The argument needs to start with "the rules say this" and then proceed from there. We only crossed into the "African or European Swallow?" zone once so I'm calling it a success.

David said...

I can only imagine how awesome that was. With 8 players I probably would have had 2 dragons for them to deal with.

Blacksteel said...

Heh, well it was a dragon and a rider who was some sort of cleric or wizard or something. He died on round 2 in the blaze of daily powers so I didn't get a good chance to figure out what he was exactly. There was an orc archer too who had survived an earlier encounter and he got off his one big shot before falling to our ranger who was apparently a better archer.

Lesson: 8 characters who are coming off of an extended rest and looking for a climactic encounter can unload a LOT of pain on a target, big bad solo or not.