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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Scourge of the Sword Coast: Laptops and Magic Items

Z is for the Zombies in 13b!
I just got back from the game store. I ran another session of Scourge of the Sword Coast. Quite exhausting! There are big time spoilers in here, so proceed at your own peril.

As usual, I waited until just a few hours before game time to prepare Floshin Manor, the final 'dungeon' of this adventure. There's not exactly a big build-up for this. And the manor isn't anything special, either. Firehammer Hold was much cooler.

I've been leveling my players slower, as they wanted to keep their PCs from legacy of the crystal shard at least through this season. But now that I know that the next season is level 6, I suddenly need to bump them up! Encounters players really hate having to start over at level one all the time, so this next season is already exciting to them.

I leveled everyone to level 5. None of them can do this on their own, because they don't read their packets or do anything outside of this session. Leveling up is easy: hit points, maybe a new spell, maybe a bonus, and one thing. It is really nice.

The thief now has an ability called Evasion, where she can take half damage once per round. That is great. The fighters and paladins now have two attacks per round, which they loved. The two attacks worked extremely well, it wasn't overpowered somehow. It just made the fights snappier. And the clerics got level 3 spells - mass healing word heals up to 6 people for d8+2! Nice.

The group is almost entirely made up of high school kids. It really does feel like I am running an after school club. Their attention spans are pretty bad. I have started letting two of them use their laptops while we play. Yes, this means they don't pay attention but it also keeps them from being a distraction.

This is something I would never allow in a home game, but I don't consider encounters a "real" game. Unfortunately, when I looked at my players tonight, I saw three that are really mature and into the game. I kind of think the laptop deal bothers them. It almost feels like maybe I am letting them down, and am not giving them the best game experience possible by essentially giving up on two of the players. On the other hand, nobody is punching anyone in the arm or savaging bathroom walls.
 

The actual encounters were very dry. Fight after fight after fight. I tried to dress it up a bit but it still felt a bit stale.

One player decided to have his character get drunk off of a barrel of dwarven beer found in the Swan's Nest/Crypt area. I declared he was intoxicated, a condition that gave him disadvantage on just about every roll. He soon after ended up drunk in a combat, pinned to the ground by a portcullis while a gnoll tried to cut his head off. The most brutal part about the portcullis trap was that if you fail the save by five or more, you take more damage.. 18 damage! Poor guy had disadvantage and thus rolled real low on his save.

Our heroes found some cool items. They found a bag of holding, which they were insanely pumped up about. They were asking me if they could climb in and be carried around, prompting me to tell them some bag of holding stories from other campaigns. They also found a cloak of elvenkind, which is kind of odd. If the wearer is 20 feet away from other people, she can put up the hood and get a bonus to her stealth. I guess she's predator-invisible? I don't know, felt a little wacky to me. Why not let her just be invisible? She can appear when she attacks.

LOOK AT IT
I have some serious issues with this manor map. I brought dungeon tiles this week to help depict it. The map is ridiculously complex with a million different entry points. The PCs could have theoretically taken stairs right down to the final fight, skipping two levels of dungeon (i.e. TWO HOURS OF PREP WORK). Our heroes are going level by level, though, so we didn't get nearly as far as I thought we would. The heroes got into Floshin manor, killed some gnolls, a dread warrior, shadows and zombies. I made sure to try to emphasize the cool elven magic in the manor: Elven command words can be used to clean the bathroom and summon water from the nearby waterfall to come out of a tap. The water's temperature can be magically adjusted. That's a cool touch that I think gets PCs thinking about putting magic stuff in their own home.

The adventurers got to the master bedroom, where a pair of grues are supposed to ambush them. They found the magic items in there, and they were so excited that the session kind of screeched to a halt as I fielded a million questions about magic items. Honestly it was the best part of the whole night. It is nice to play D&D people who are new to the game. Everything is fresh to them.

Overall I'd say this was an OK session. This Floshin Manor, though... kind of sucks! It feels too similar to some of the other ones. I would have liked the final dungeon to have been something really cool. Floshin Manor is pretty much the most bland of them all.

Oh well, almost time for the Doomvault. Can't wait!

1 comment:

Weezoh said...

Sounds like you're doing OK, Floshin is kind of 'meh' but story-wise I'm glad my group did that instead of Firehammer (just not enough time to do everything at the pace we go and amount of time we have). The other table at the flgs did firehammer and skipped floshin. I just leveled my crew up to 5 also since we now know that next season starts at 6.

Combat is very quick with my group - no mage; the clerics only cast "spare the dying" once someone drops <0 and the minmax players have between 3 and 4 attacks per round with advantage plus rage damage plus blessed damage or plus sneak attack damage because of multi-class cheese factor. (really expect multi-classing to get severely nerfed come release).