Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Adventuring at our own pace

Our group has been playing 4e since it was released, which has been for, what, fourteen months? Our party is level four.

At this rate, if I don't kill the party outright, we'll have explored the field to thirtieth level by 2018. We'll have missed Fifth edition by then, but might be willing to try 5.5.

Instead, I've proposed to our group that I start doubling the XP per encounter; this means reducing the number of encounters by half, of course, so the party doesn't advance beyond the challenges. This is actually quite tricky when it comes to the Wizards pre-made modules, because the "dungeons" are laid out in a way that all of the encounters matter -- they aren't there just to give the party something to do from point A to point B. And it's not as simple as just cutting each encounter in half, because the challenge is no longer there.

But why are we doing it? Again, to see the higher levels of 4e in our lifetime; whether that's to determine whether we'll stick with 4e at all (after having given it a fair shake) or just to finish a campaign and start up a new, homemade one, depends on who you ask in our group.

Not that I'm in a hurry to abandon the Wizards pre-made modules. As Griff just mentioned, the treasure is much more balanced -- according to their own rules! -- than the 3.5 modules. I started to feel really bad for sticking to the 3.5 modules as written. I will be adding an item or two, and a little treasure, to this current adventure, just to pad it up to the "parcel" level described in the DM's Guide, but it's not a huge addition -- if we had a party of five characters, I might very well not do it, but since we're six, it's a little more noticeable.

One of the things I'm enjoying, as we advance through these modules, is getting to play new monsters. Griff and I have both mentioned how we like the new monster design, where many of them have that signature power or ability, like the kobold's shiftiness, or the hobgoblin's phalanx. It's one thing to read it in a book, but it's another to put it to practice (if you remember, that is).

In fact, I was actually disappointed last session when one of the new monsters, a dire wolf (oops -- forgot to mention it was dire, did I, guys?) never got to use its signature ability. Griff even posited that the creature should have been able to knock the characters prone, and to watch for it, but the triggering environment for that ability, which the dire wolf does indeed have, never occurred. Good for you, young party of adventurers!

Also from our last session, there was one of those moments that sticks in the minds of the players for years to come (such as my cleric getting attacked by every animated object we encountered, a party member using a rod of lightning through the whole party "for the greater good", the aforementioned cleric, heavily clad in armor, crossing a rickety bridge safely, while his lightly-armoured companions behind collapse into the fast-flowing waters, one losing their prized magical rapier...)

A hobgoblin ran up a flight of stairs and leaped upon the back of said dire wolf in a flourish, landing and firing an arrow in one fluid motion -- only to be hit by Griff's wizard/fighter hybrid with a thunderwave spell, unceremoniously dumping the hobgoblin from the back of the wolf, tumbling down the stairs, landing flat on his ass. Perhaps the rest of the group won't remember it as I do, but the visualization of that sure stuck in my mind. And this is why I play this game.


Crwth said...

Damn it... I was writing this post as Griff posted his own regarding the thunderwave awesomeness.

Griff said...

Our rogue's use of the Bait'n'Switch followed by the paladin actually rolling a good to hit was another memorable moment.