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Saturday, May 28, 2016

High Rollers D&D - Episode 1

Over the next week or two, I will be checking out different D&D streams/podcasts and reviewing them. Today I am doing High Rollers.

You can watch this episode on youtube here.

This show is very well done. They have a sweet technical setup and they even superimpose backgrounds behind the players. The sound and video quality are perfect and there are no technical hiccups at all.

The DM: The DM is a guy named Mark Hulmes and you can tell that he runs a lot of games. He's really on the ball, he's enthusiastic and he is more than ready to run this thing. 

New Players: Many of the players are new to D&D, but they have no problems picking the game up. Kim is a complete natural and she immediately shines. Chris Trott is a guy we've seen as "Falkon" on Dice, Camera, Action.

On that show, he was very serious. On this one, he is the straw that stirs the drink. Right from the start, he jumps in and says and does stuff in character that I think helped the other players have space to get comfortable. He broke the ice for them and he was pretty funny.

House Rule: No darkvision, just low light vision.

The Setting: The DM kicks off the campaign by explaining the setting.

Arrak was once a land of peace and prosperity. Arrak was blessed by a magic comet called Pelor's Light that passed through the material plane once every 100 years. The comet kept monsters in a magical sleep and helped crops grow, that kind of thing.

Then, in the 1300th year, something happened. The comet appeared as usual. Suddenly, crimson energy hit the comet and there was a massive explosion. The comet was shattered.

Shards of the comet fell on Arrak and destroyed cities and towns. Monsters woke up, and the world was plunged into chaos. This event is known as "The Lightfall."

The Party


(Kim) Jiutou Zhiji Jing - Tiefling Monk
(Chris) Cam Buckland - Human Rogue or cleric
(Katie) Elora Galanodel - High Elf Druid
(Matt) Trellimar Aleath - Drow

46 years after the Lightfall...

The group is traveling in a caravan. They don't know each other. We learn a bit about each hero.

Cam Buckland: Human "Trickster Cleric." He was found in the forest as a baby by a gypsy troupe.  He was raised by them and he traveled as one of them for many years. He left the gypsies for mysterious reasons. He's supposedly a cleric of Avandra (goddess of luck)

Trellimar Aleath: In this world, drow were driven up to the surface. They have an uneasy alliance with dwarves. He hears voices and his temple was attacked by creatures known as the Dalkyr.

Elora Galanodel: She's an elf druid that is friendly and naive. The elves retreated from the world after the Lightfall. They live in these scattered spires that slipped into the Feywild once the Lightfall happened. She is among the first of the elves to return and she wants to bring the other spires back to the world of Arrak. Her father leads her spire, so she has a noble lineage.

Jiutou Zhiji Jing: She's a tiefling monk. In this world, most tieflings are slaves of the dragonborn. They cut off the tiefling's horns when they enslave them. Jiutou lived in a village of free tieflings. It was discovered by the dragonborn, and they attacked. During the onslaught, Jiutou's parents were killed. Jiutou was enslaved. She escaped after a few years and hid in a monastery. She trained there and became a monk. Years later, she emerged and is now devoted to freeing all of her enslaved people.

We start out with the group imprisoned. The last thing they remember, they were on the caravan. A hooded figure knocked them unconscious.

They wake up. Their weapons are gone. Their hands are bound behind their backs with razorvine! Awesome.

Elora is able to free the group using her druidic powers to make the vines loosen and release. Trellimar uses darkfire to blow a small hole in the vine wall. The group's weapons are on the other side.

Jiutou uses her prehensile tail to grab her blade staff. The group cuts their way out and creeps down a hall to a room partly overgrown with vines. Cam starts schmoozing and bullshitting the group. Jiutou takes an instant dislike to him.

There's a creature in the room beyond their prison. It's a plant-thing with glowing eyes. We roll initiative. This is much snappier than the Critical Role episode I watched. The DM is keeping things moving perfectly.

Jiutou goes first. She's in the hallway behind two heroes. She runs up the side of the wall past her allies and hacks into the creature. That was a really cool idea.

Two more creatures grow up out of the floor. Elora casts entangle to immobilize two of them.

Cam kills one with a thrown dagger. Jiutou kills the others. The group took some damage here, especially Jiutou.

The symbol of Corellon is in the floor, slightly altered. It's a tree with stars, and some of them are gold. Elora can tell this place is ancient.

Jiutou very smartly checks out to see if the stars are part of some secret door or pressure plate. They're not, but she spots torch sconces that are some sort of secret lever. The group pulls each, then pulls them at the same time. They hear grinding noises but nothing happens.

The next room has a statue and a lot of fresh dead bodies. Cam heals Jiutou with a spell. Huh.. he's a dagger throwing cleric, supposedly. Weird. He has a ring that glows. Ahh... the ring might be giving Cam these spells somehow. Jiutou picks up on it immediately.

Cam creeps in there and sees the bodies are moving. They're other members of the caravan that the group was in. Trellimar goes in and checks out the guy who is moving. There's vines winding through his body and coming out of his eyes!

Combat number 2. Cam takes some damage but the group kills the vine zombie thing.

Then we take a break and there's all of these animated clips which are pretty cool.

The group finds some potions of healing and they take a short rest. The group wonders why they were separated from the other people in the caravan.

After the rest, the group checks out another room. There are more bodies, leaning against the walls bleeding. One is alive - Thomas the caravan master. He's got a number of gory wounds.

Cam bandages his wounds and re-sets his broken arm. He can't walk. Thomas explains that the caravan was attacked by these vine creatures. He had been held with the heroes, but they creatures came and dragged him out.

Thomas mentions that a ranger named Renwin was part of the attack, and that he was participating reluctantly. Renwin might be able to control the creatures.

The next two rooms involve a lot of talking. They meet a dryad who explains that the angry spirit of an elven queen is behind this. Then they meet the ranger, who has been forced to help the spirit.

Moving on, Cam steps on a pressure plate thanks in part to a low perception roll. Darts fire up at him and poison him. He's woozy and has vertigo.

Trellimar has hoarded the potions of healing and doesn't want to give one to Cam. Cam ends up trading his purple handkerchief to the drow for a potion.

The heroes creep into a cold chamber with a sarcophagus. Jiutou has had enough of Cam's antics and shoves him on a sarcophagus. Suddenly, a green ghostly entity - the elven queen - rises up from the sarcophagus and roars in rage.

That's where we stop.

Timestamps
Overall

Good DM: Mark, the DM, is extremely well-prepared. He pre-drew a map and covered it with black paper, revealing map sections as the group explored. He does a real nice job of allowing banter but reminding the group that they can only say so much in a round.

He has clearly run a lot of games. He's got a lot of stuff worked out like immediately calling out the "floor dice" rule (His version: A die must be rolled on the table to count).

Some of the players are new to D&D, but Mark is able to explain things without slowing down the game at all.

Cool Setting: The whole Lightfall thing is really cool. It's a great idea and the DM really developed it well. He gave each race their own story within the framework of the Lightfall event.

Too Long: Three hours is just too long for me. Dice, Camera Action is usually a bit under two hours and I can barely get through it, even when it is a really good session. In this, the third hour really dragged for me. The section where the group talked with the dryad and the ranger was hard for me to get through. To me, that is the biggest problem with the whole idea of a D&D stream. Three hours is a major weekly time investment.

I think the time investment might be OK if you don't play in a game. Watching this could be a way for those who don't have a group to experience D&D. You could vicariously play through them.

Production Quality: The character art is phenomenal. The graphics are great. To me, this is how a D&D steam should be. It is a very professional set-up and it is much appreciated.

3 comments:

Andrew Morris said...

I find the whole Lightfall setting to be amazing. As you watch the rest of the show, little pieces of the mystery continue to be revealed, and it really is quite incredible how invested I am in the world itself. I remember the issue I had at the start of the campaign was that it felt like Cam was having to carry a lot of the show himself ... but then Chris Trott is amazing, and to be honest I felt he basically DID carry the first few episodes all by himself (albeit aided by the very experienced DM, Mark).

In the end, though, the other players started to come out of their shells a bit, especially Matt who really comes into things from about the 5th episode onwards if I remember correctly. I've been finding Critical Role quite frustrating recently, and the tech and audio problems in DCA still frustrate me, so High Rollers is what I tend to look forward to most in a week of DnD.

Ashley said...

Personally, I'm loving all of your write ups on these streams, though I can only imagine the time you're having to invest in watching all of them. Besides DCA, are you just aiming to do the first stream of each series? I tried to get into Critical Role, but for the reasons you listed (length, slow pacing), I found it really difficult. This is not only renewing my interest in some of these streams, but giving me a good idea of which ones I might want to check out- so it's much appreciated!

On that note, have you checked out Titansgrave, also by Geeks and Sundry? It's Fantasy AGE, not D&D, so I don't know if it's something you'd be interested in, but that has by far been my favorite series. Instead of being live streamed, it's put out as episodes; they're edited for time and pacing, but also to add in commentary and some gorgeous artwork, and I personally find it a lot easier to stay engaged with than a lot of streams.

Sean said...

Andrew Morris: Yeah the setting is very cool. I can't even guess what actually happened to the comet, it's very interesting. I can see why you like this. I really love the character art, it helps a lot.

Ashley: Thanks for the kind words! I plan on doing the first episode of a bunch of different shows, just to sample what is out there. I'm mainly interested in D&D, but to me an edited version is the way to go. These shows are actually good to listen to. I'd probably be up for an audio version of some of thee shows, you could listen to them on the way to work and stuff like that.