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Monday, May 30, 2016

Misscliks D&D: Seaborn

That's a pretty sweet logo, right? Here's the deal. Keep in mind that I like a lot about this show and if I were running or playing a game online, I wouldn't want some random schmuck picking my game apart. That said, I had an issue with a few things and I am going to try and be as fair-minded as I can.

This three hour episode is broken into three parts. I watched the first two. Check them out on youtube here:
AD&D 2nd Edition: The DM is a guy named Neal. He is running this campaign using AD&D 2e rules. This should be fun. There's a lot of weird, optional rules in 2e and the DM knows the system really well, from what I can see.

The DM is tracking ammo. He's on top of the weird "2 attacks this round, 1 attack the next round" combat system of this edition. He even does the "projectile recovery" rule. I think it goes like this: For each arrow you fire, there's a 50% (?) chance that it's broken and you can't use it again.

Technical Problems: The audio is out of sync. There's about a two second lag between video and audio. Also, Gen's volume is too low. They try to put a map on the screen but there's all sorts of problems with it that occur over the first two parts.

I am wondering if this is their first time using Roll20? The problems smooth out to a degree as the show progresses.

The Party

(Anna) Maribel - Half-Minotaur Fighter
(Jess) Algrund - Dwarf Cleric
(Trump) Bruno - Human Bard
(Gen) "Dark" Albert - Elf Mage

The Island: The heroes live on the island of Embershore. There are two mountains: Mount Goal and Phallusuvius. A few days ago, the volcano erupted and killed most of the island, including most of the people in the town.

The players explain their characters:
  • Bruno aka "Bongo": Human Bard who plays the bongos. Has a dark beard.
  • Algrund Strongaxe: Middle-aged Dwarf Cleric. He grew up to be a lumberjack, but he had a work injury - a tree fell on his leg. He dresses and grooms himself in the style of a human. The beard is closely trimmed.
  • Albert aka "Dark Albert": Elf, a bit of an outcast. He's a self-hating elf. His fellow elves had imprisoned him for many years. Black hair, black eyes. Looks like a 40 year-old human. Eyepatch.
  • Maribel: Half-minotaur/half-human. Her mom was a minotaur, her dad was a human. That's definitely different. She was a bodyguard for an abusive noble, but she ended up chopping off the noble's head. She fled to Embershore and here she is. She's 7'1" and she has a human body and face, horns and a cow-ish looking nose. She has fur in patches on her arms and hooved feet. Maribel is extremely literal and nna plays her that way through the whole adventure.
The Mayor is Donabella Trumpet (what an epic name). Apparently the group had a hand in making names for this campaign. The players protest, as it turns out "Donabella" is not the name they picked. The DM agrees to go with the original name they chose: Donalda Trumpet.

The group is tasked to go stop kobolds who are stealing goats. The adventurers will be accompanied by an elderly fellow named Mo Shepard. The goats are his. The town is going to need at least 30 of the 50 goats recovered for the town to persist.

2e kobold
We get into a big, amusing discussion about whether the half-minotaur is hot and whether there should be a roll to find out.

Albert starts trolling the old shepherd, trying to get him to bark like a dog and questioning if they really need that many goats.

They head off into the woods, following the trail. They come upon some kobolds that are about to cook and eat a goat.

Initiative. Wow.. 2e initiative. Roll a d10, lowest wins! And it's group initiative, so just one person rolls and the entire group takes their turn at once. 

If I remember right, a 2e round is one minute long and each round is an abstract series of feints, strikes and maneuvers.

Bruno attacks a kobold and rolls a natural one. He needs to roll a saving throw vs. death or, I assume, he gets some kind of critical miss effect. He succeeds.

Anna rolls a critical and does 20 points of damage to a 4-hit point kobold. The DM lets her tear through it and strike another kobold.

Algrund is surrounded. There's a really weird exchange with her and the DM. Basically, she tells the DM her character is lazy and didn't pray for spells that morning.

The kobolds end up running away after Maribel kicks the crap out of them.

Part Two

The heroes continue on their quest for 30+ goats. They spot four kobolds up in a tree, whispering and pointing at the heroes. The group kills one. The other three run toward a cave and shout a warning.

Maribel goes into the cave. It's pitch black in there. Maribel sees many pairs of eyes glinting in the darkness. She warns the kobolds that she will "lethal spank" them if they don't hand over the goats.

So it looks like we're going to have another combat here. Algrund never memorized spells. Jess, Algrund's player, wants to pray for them while the group fights..? She says that she only has two hit points and she doesn't want to be involved.

I know that 2e is really lethal. Is she really going to sit out of combat like that? I do not understand why she decided not to pray for spells that morning. I think she'd only have one or two spell slots for the day, anyway.

In this battle, she could hang back and fire off rocks from a sling, if nothing else. I think that 2e clerics are proficient with certain ranged weapons, depending on what god they worship. I'm guessing she has decent armor and a good melee weapon.

Two players take their turns. Jess has her head down, she's working on something. Then she says, "How long has it been?"

A round is one minute. That's the ultra-basics of 2e. The DM told you it would take ten minutes. Not even one round has passed!

I just stopped watching this stream and checked future episodes. I am kind of wondering if she gets kicked out after this one. Nope. She's still on the show and they have some nicer maps. Judging from the player reactions to her, they are not bothered by this behavior. I think I might be misreading her tone.

OK, back to the show. A few more players go. Not even 2 rounds have passed. Then Jess asks again how long it has been. She's not paying attention. It looks like she's actually doing other things while the group plays. I think she might be doing the technical stuff - maybe she is the one handling this Roll20 screen?

It is Bruno the bard's turn. He's wielding a spear. He calls out, "Where is that dwarf?!"

Algrund: "Me? I'm back here learning my spells."

Bruno: "We're fighting, you know."

Algrund: "I know no fighting! Fuck off! I'm trying to learn my spells!"

Almost any group I've ever been in would have a problem with this behavior. Again, maybe I am misreading this entire thing.

The kobolds flee. The goats are in the cave.

There's a ladder in the back of the cave that goes down. Algrund has finished praying for her spell - entangle. The group starts to descend the ladder and Bruno pipes up and says: "We found the goats. Why are we going down the ladder?"

Good point! Plus, if they go down there, the kobolds could come back, drop old man Mo and take the goats back.

Down below is an altar, broken tools and a pickaxe. There's also a painting of some hideous beast.

That's the end of part 2. I skipped through Part 3 and I actually landed on a moment where Algrund tries to cast entangle and the DM realizes that Algrund can't cast that spell - it's not on the list of spells available that he had sent to Jess for her to refer to when she made her character.

Now I'm skimming future episodes to see if the technical issues get resolved. I also want to get a sense of how the campaign progresses. I thought this show was going to be about heroes on a ship, but as far as I can tell that's not how it is on these early episodes, at least.

Episode 2: Sound is still out of sync. I swear I land on 21:10, where it turns out that Jess still hasn't looked at her spell list and the DM says he'll send the list to her again.

Episode 3: I click on 10:49. Gen's volume is fixed and we have background music!

Episode 4: 15:02. Pirate-y background music!  Sound still out of sync. Maribel breaks a wooden counter and glares at a general store owner. The owner tries to kick her out. Poor Bruno is so poor that he has to borrow copper pieces, wow.

Episode 5: 16:28. Sound is in sync! DM Neal shaved his beard, too.

It looks like the technical problems get fixed as we go.

  • (11:36) Is the half-minotaur hot?
  • (40:17) Anna demonstrates her real life halberd-swinging technique, with sound effects.
  • (30:43) Bruno asks, "Where is that dwarf?"

The technical problems did the group a disservice. The battle was hard to watch because the map kept getting moved around and covering the screen. It is also very jarring to watch a video where the sound is so out of sync.

This bothers me because there are a lot of cool players in this group and the DM knows his stuff. I love the idea of watching a 2e game.

Also, Gen seems really cool and funny. But her audio is low, so it's hard to make out what she's saying.

I really admire how Anna consciously injects energy into the game. She is so good on these D&D streams. Not only does she play with enthusiasm, she tries to keep the atmosphere light and she even helps the pacing when need be.

I would say that this is an episode that is best listened to, not watched. There's too many distractions and if you're like me, you might have a hard time with it.


Unknown said...

I'm enjoying these stream reviews. These days there are so many that I don't often get the chance to sit down and listen to them. I usually just listen to the audio as I do other things. I can barely keep up with Dice Camera Action so I appreciate that someone is, not exactly reviewing, but summarising these so I can decide if this is something I want to put on my queue.

Do as many of these summaries as you can, I will continue to read them.

Sean said...

Unknown: Thanks! That's exactly what I wanted to do, help people see what the different shows are like. It's also fun to see how different people play D&D.