Friday, January 28, 2011

Red Frogs, Session 1

Several weeks ago I started a campaign with 2 other players. We hadn't played 4e together for a while (these are two of the players from the Talamhlar campaign that sort of fizzled out), and a lot of new stuff has been released (namely, Essentials). Plus these two players both wanted to get some experience DMing 4e, so we decided on doing a "campaign" where we would all rotate DMing duties, switching at the end of each mini-adventure. With only 2 players and the DM, it was also decided that the players would each run 2 characters. The cast of PCs would also rotate, with each player having a pool of characters (with some even being common to anyone), choosing 2 before each adventure. Basically, they're all in a mercenary/treasure hunting guild, so the characters have a reason for sometimes traveling with different parties.

Because I haven't posted here regularly in a while, I've decided to blog about this "campaign" from my own perspective. This will probably be equal parts session re-cap and class/build analysis. As a player I enjoy reading things like this because it gives me insight into how a class actually plays, even if I haven't necessarily played that class. And even if I'm experienced with a class, it's always nice to learn how they work in the hands of other players, or under different circumstances.

My Characters

Level 3 Elf Hunter
Initiative (with Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx): +13

Str 10, Con 13, Dex 18, Int 11, Wis 18, Cha 8

AC: 18, Fort: 14, Ref: 17, Will: 16

HP/bloodied/surge value: 35/17/8
Number of surges: 7

Attack (Ranged): +11 (+5 damage)
Attack (RBA): +11 (+7 damage)

Feats: Crossbow Expertise (class), Weapon Prof. (superior Crossbow), Improved Initiative

Stances: Aspect of the Pouncing Lynx, Aspect of the Dancing Serpent

Utility Powers: Invigorating Stride, Elven Accuracy

Encounter Powers: Distruptive Shot x2

Albus and Padfoot
Level 3 Half Elf Spring Sentinel
Initiative: +2

Str 10, Con 18, Dex 13, Int 11, Wis 18, Cha 8

AC: 20 (18), Fort: 18 (16), Ref: 14 (16), Will: 16 (16)

HP/Bloodied/Surge Value: 45/22/11
Number of Surges: 11

Attack (implement): +8 (+5 damage)
Attack (weapon): +10 (+5 damage)
Animal Attack: +8* (+8 damage)

*functionally +10 since Padfoot always has Combat Advantage from his own aura

Feats: Versatile Expertise (spear, Alfsair spear), Toughness

At Wills: Animal Attack, Grasping Tide

Utilities: Knack for Success, Verdant Bounty

Encounters: Combined Attack x2

Dailies: Summon Pack Wolf

Session Re-cap

The adventure was a little cliche (somewhat intentionally so), but basically we had to infiltrate a castle and rescue a princess from an evil villain. We were given magic carpets so that we could enter the castle through the skylight, and upon peering through it noticed a small room with just 1 goblin that appeared to be half asleep. The Fighter smashed the skylight with his greatsword, and Immeral and Albus both readied attacks to snipe the goblin as soon as the skylight was smashed (Clever Shot and Grasping Tide, respectively). This was a surprise round, and Immeral easily won initiative and killed the goblin with another Clever Shot. We entered the room, finding three glowing magical doors and one double door that wasn't magical. A nasty lightning trap greeted Albus as he tried to enter one of the magical doors, so we decided to abandon that route. We were told by the DM: "you shouldn't have killed that goblin, he was supposed to tell you how to get through those doors." Oh well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it I guess. Onward through the non-magical door.

A stairway led into a small room with a human and two goblins on either side of the doorway. In addition to the magic carpets, the party was also given 1 invisibility cloak which the Fighter used to make his way into the room. He quickly revealed himself, using his breath weapon on the two goblins. Albus and Immeral decided to delay their turns until after the human went, because presumably he would engage the fighter and then neither would need to provoke OAs from him. It worked like a charm. Another newbie mistake on the part of our DM: the rooms were very small for 4e combat. All of the enemies were perfectly positioned to be hit by an area burst 1. Albus was first into the room (he got a 21 for initiative on a roll of 19, whereas Immeral rolled a 4 and still had a 17 total), and he positioned Padfoot adjacent to the human. This gave him combat advantage for Grasping Tide, which hit all targets. Then Immeral entered the room, and used Rapid Shot on all targets (again, benefitting from CA vs the human thanks to Padfoot's aura). I can't remember which enemy was left standing after all that, but I think it was one of the goblins (Rapid Shot missed 1, even with Elven Accuracy). Anyways, the Fighter finished off the last target. Cakewalk encounter, check!

Immeral then scouted down another hallway with the invisibility cloak, listening at 3 different doors. He heard voices behind 2 of them, and the other he discovered to be a storage closet (which would later come in handy during a short rest, as I asked whether any medicinal plants could be found in there. Albus was thus able to benefit from his Herb Lore wilderness knack). After Immeral reported back, the party decided to break down the nearest door. The Fighter stood in the hallway, while Albus and Immeral stood back, readying ranged attacks for the first foe that passed into the hall. Unfortunately, the Fighter used his breath weapon to hit 2 goblins, but forgot to shift back. Since he blocked the doorway, that was a wasted round for my two guys. Two goblins descended a flight of stairs in that room (which obviously only the Fighter saw), and 4 humans attacked him. Next round went better, as the Fighter moved out of the way and a human stepped out, only to be immobilized in the doorway by Immeral's Disruptive Strike. Perfect. Bottleneck. Honestly, we could have slaughtered the opposition in this manner but instead decided to take pity on our poor new DM and prioritized engaging the humans before the two goblins came back with reinforcements. Two of the humans were archers, and so didn't crowd the doorway. After the first poor sop was killed, Albus sent Padfoot into the room toward the archers, provoking an OA from the remaning melee warrior. Since Padfoot and Albus use the same move action, and creatures can only make one OA per turn, Albus was safe to pass without provoking. They ganged up on an archer (with Padfoot adjacent to the other one, who was conveniently positioned between Padfoot and a wall), and used Combined Attack. And missed with both attack rolls. Boo. Time to switch out d20's (not that it helped, I rolled terribly the entire time. Thanks a lot Auspex, I think you cursed me, lol). Then Immeral passed through, stood near the stairs, and pummeled an Archer with Clever Shot. The Fighter drew the remaining melee warrior outside the room, which would turn out to be a HUGE mistake.

Reinforcements arrived next round, and it consisted of 4 goblins and 2 more humans. Luckily they all rushed up the stairs at once, and Immeral was able to attack them all with Rapid Shot. Oh, the carnage that ensued. He critted one of the goblins, bloodying it, and damaged all but 1 of the others.

After that, I can't remember the round-by-round synopsis very clearly. The reinforcements poured into the room, with two of them parking themselves at the doorway so that the Fighter couldn't return to us for several rounds. Fortunately Sentinels can take a lot of heat, because Albus and Padfoot got focus-fired on hard. Padfoot dropped 3 times during the encounter, and as Albus was stuck in a corner of a small, enemy filled room, he couldn't even move into a position to summon his Pack Wolf without taking multiple OAs. Immeral was slowly backed into a corner as well, since he kept shifting + firing (Rapid Shot) each turn. I do remember one turn where he rolled I believe 2 2's and a 1, hitting only 1/4 enemies with Rapid Shot. Once he appeared cornered for good, Invigorating Stride allowed him to weave back to safety so he could play the shift + fire game in the opposite direction. Fortunately, at this point half the enemies were dead, and only 1 goblin was bothering him. Disruptive Shot stuck him in his place (literally), and shortly afterwards the Fighter finally made it back into the room and Immeral used Clever Shot and slid the remaining 2 enemies toward him and away from Padfoot (who was low on HP and wanted to remain untouched since his HP would recharge after the encounter anyways) and Albus (who had already used his second wind, plus he was 3 surges down just from reviving Padfoot). One enemy actually died from the Clever Shot that slid him, and the other was quickly dispatched by the Fighter.

We had actually made it through the entire encounter without having to use any of Albus' Healing Words, and in hindsight I probably should have used one instead of having Albus use Second Wind (though the defense buff did help when he was surrounded). The Fighter did use a healing potion when he was off by himself though, but overall Albus took the brunt of the punishment in this encounter. Which was fine with me, because his AC was 1 higher than the Fighter's, and he had I think 3 or 4 more HP (thanks to Toughness, and the fact that the Fighter's Con wasn't terribly high). I asked our DM what the total experience value of the encounter was, and he added everything up and told us 1,300! According to the DMG, that was over a 9th level encounter (given that we had only 3 PCs), which is 6 above our level! Fortunately he had forgotten about some of the enemy's powers and was pretty much using basic attacks, but in light of the difficulty (and the Fighter's mishap) I think we performed rather well!

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