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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dead In Thay: Trying to Impress New Players

We are rapidly approaching the release of 5th edition. From what I understand, WPN stores will be getting the starter sets on July 3rd. The store owner asked me if I'd run some demo games in exchange for a free starter set. My answer: Yes.

While I am pretty fired up about Tyranny of Dragons, I am a bit bummed for my players. Their characters have gotten all the way to eighth level and they'll be a little sad to start over.

I ran the latest installment of Dead in Thay yesterday. As I sat down and set up, two new players asked to jump in. Both were female. One was about 11 years old. That was awesome. In all the years I have run encounters, I don't think I've ever had a young female jump in, Immediately I was determined to sell her on D&D and really tried my best to make sure she understood the rules and most importantly, had a good time.
Unfortunately, I don't think I succeeded. My regulars showed up - teenage boys. They all sat together and for some reason were really fired up about talking about video games. The two new players were a bit isolated from them. My guys weren't overly welcoming.

I remember back when I was in high school running games of D&D. The players were often impossible to corral. They'd start talking about some movie or telling jokes and I just couldn't get them to focus on the game. A few times when it got really obnoxious I literally got up and left. They'd come find me and beg me to come back, and promise to pay attention.

I am a grown man, now. I can't go sulk. So I have to loudly try and keep these guys in line. It was a bad first impression.

Secondly, the new players remarked to me that this adventure was very "kill-y". I can't disagree. I love this adventure, but it is a whole lot of hacking and slashing. I think they were looking for something with more variety.

Who knows, maybe they'll show up next week, but I am not optimistic about it. I gave it my best shot.

Our heroes had chosen to go through The Predator Pools last time. We continued that. Once its' done, they want to try the Forest of Slaughter.

78. Undead Pool

This is a room with a pool and 8 aquatic ghouls. The new player's wizard launched a fireball into the room and killed half of them in a single shot. She got a big kick out of that. The rest of the heroes ran in to mop up in their inimitable berserker style.

79. Bone Pool

Four merrows, slaughtered. The new player cast sleep, which unfortunately wasn't too effective. Each merrow has 56 hit points, and her sleep spell only affected one creature of 20 hit points or less. I cheated and had one merrow fall asleep. More mad hacking followed.

I believe it was in this encounter where a player was eating food from Wendy's. He had one of those little cups that holds ketchup. He went to roll to hit and plop.. right in the ketchup. I wanted to count the roll, but it was cocked between an 8 and a natural 20.

I think normally I would have counted it as a 20 just because it was fun and unique. But one of my pet peeves is people eating meals while we play D&D. In fact, I am of the belief that it's a little rude to eat a meal like that in front of people in general. Eat before you come. Snacks, obviously, are fine during a game. A steak dinner, not so much. Usually at this game, I just wait for them to finish eating and then we start, but in this instance I wanted the new players to get started right away. I didn't want to bore them for 15 minutes watching this dude eat a chicken sandwich.

80. Black Gate Pool

Somewhere during this encounter, the older new player had her boyfriend come and watch. He seemed nice. I think he has played D&D before. He was making comments to me about the group, asking me why Hack and Slash Guy was running clear across the room alone. I explained to the boyfriend that that was what he always did. 

"But he's going to die," pointed out the boyfriend. Hack and Slash guy smiled and pointed out the cleric would heal him.

There was a bunch of weak kuo toas in here. I like kuo toas - especially their minis. They just look cool to me. I at this point sensed the possibility of this becoming a very dull session. In this room were some of those hovering globes of water that you can move with an INT check and suck people in them. So I had the kuo toas use them. The new player wizard decided to use them to. She loved it. At the end, she had control of a globe that a creature was stuck inside of. I told her she could do whatever she wanted with it. We all brainstormed ideas like having him spin around like he's in a washing machine, mixing foul substances into it, etc.

She again had a big smile on her face and was laughing.

81. Spawn Hall
This room had a bunch of pools full of tadpoles that hurt you if you go in. Also lurking in the room were a horde of undead. 4 zombies, 2 wights and 2 dread warriors. Originally there was one dread warrior but I decided to add one as things had been extremely easy for the heroes.

The thing about these tadpole pools is just the fact that nobody is going to go into them. I guess I could use a monster action to throw them in. In retrospect, I should have done that. I had four zombies, I could have had them do like zombies do - grab a PC and drag them in.

The extra dread warrior made a big difference. He's got 75 hit points and 2 attacks per round. I have some PCs with ACs of 18 or 19, so hitting them is difficult. Zombies have a +2 to hit, so it's almost not even worth it to attack them. But, then again, a zombie isn't going to decide to attack someone because they have leather armor on, right? It's just going to lunge for the closest living thing.

Hack and Slash Guy ran clear across the room and ate face-fulls of magic missiles. It was a somewhat challenging fight for them. The new player fired off a lightning bolt. She thought about using burning hands, but it would have hit her allies. The undead were eventually defeated.

We stopped it there. The heroes needed a rest. I continue to allow them to rest in the Seclusion Crypt whenever they like, at the cost of aging two years. They rest literally every session, so the humans are getting up there and approaching middle age, which I find very cool and different. This dungeon is taking its' toll on them in a very unique way. Yes they will defeat Szass Tam, but it is literally taking decades off of their lives.

I told the new players they did a great job and told them the different games I run in the store and that they were welcome to play. I did the best I could.

I almost forgot. A guy came up to me while I was running the game. He had played in encounters years ago and he and his girlfriend want to jump in again. This guy was not exactly a team player back then and pretty much single-handedly caused a TPK in a fight against the black dragon in Keep on the Borderlands: A Season of Serpents because he absolutely insisted on hitting the dragon and the party with area burst attacks. The group was furious at him and he got the message and stopped coming. That kind of thing will go over like a lead balloon with this group, so I guess we'll see if he shows up and if he does, whether he's grown out of that kind of thing.

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