Thursday, May 20, 2010

Primal Adventures

I've been meaning to do a weekly report (actual play, reflections, thoughts etc) on my gaming for some time, and might as well get round to starting it. Currently I'm in two D&D 4e games which run on alternate Wednesdays at our house. Yesterday was the one run by my better half, in which I actually get to play.

We're a group of Longtooth Shifter (werewolf-lite) Primal characters (which means we get our powers from Primal spirits: think animal spirits, elementals etc), who are the scouts for our tribe and, having just moved in to a new area, are checking the surroundings for threats and mostly responding by killing every living thing we find. Now there are four of us, we have all four roles covered. I play the Druid, the Controller, whose main tactic is to Wild Shape into Beast form and charge into battle: doing some damage and herding the enemies together so I can shift back into human form and blast them with an area of effect power like Tundra Wind. It's not a wildly effective tactic as I'm quite squishy and sometimes have difficulty extracting myself from fights to heal up - as far as I recall I'm so far the only member of the party to have lost consciousness in any of our encounters. C plays the smashy-hitty Barbarian (Striker) who charges around killing everything in sight and gaining temporary hit points left, right and centre, while being mostly unhitable thanks to his ludicrous AC. GM is being slightly frustrated in attempts to threaten him much, but did manage to bloody him towards end of epic fight of epicness (see below). T's character is the Shaman - the Leader and the healing machine, giving us free healing or temporary hit points all over the shop if we stay close to his spirit companion. Combined with the Racial power of Longtooth Shifting which gives us regeneration when bloodied, we're a pretty hardy bunch and while fights tend to be long we can take on harder stuff because we don't go down so easily. The newbie, D, joined late and plays a Warden - the Defender/tank who has some smack-down powers and a very nice daily that ties in thematically with my cold based powers too (we're a nomadic tribe of wolf-like people, I keep imagining we're used to Northern forests and cold winters, despite lack of background from GM).

In our effort to seek out and destroy all life in the vicinity, we have so far found and dispatched kobolds, goblins, rats, ankheggs and swamp horses crocodiles. While killing the kobolds we encountered some weird, floaty, tentacled things and interrupted some sort of ritual and were stunned (and somewhat scared) to have a run-in with a dragon who told us "this will be reported" before leaving. We mostly tried to forget about this, but after bumping into some black dragons in the swamp who gave us a plot dump ("The Far Realms are touching our world and stuff is trying to come through. This is bad. We're trying to stop it. Please don't interfere or we'll eat you.") we went back and found yet more weird, floaty, tentacled things and some very icky once-were-kobolds conducting more rituals, but of chanty evilness this time. They seemed to be corrupted by....something, and helping....something, "come through" to this world.

Thus began the Epic Fight of Epicness. This single encounter lastest about three sessions with one fight per session: after finishing off the kobolds and assorted monsters in the first area we realised chanting was still going on deeper in the building and rushed off to investigate. Here, as well as more floating tentacles and another chanty kobold we found three glowing rocks that helpfully "revitalised" us (let us gain the use of an encounter power back). Although due to their positioning and a lack of mobility we didn't use them as effectively as we might have, it did mean we had enough healing to keep us going. Also, near the beginning of the first fight the Barbarian and Shaman both used daily powers which gave us a huge edge - the Barbarian was gaining temporary hit points every time he hit something and we all had damage reduction which made us a lot tougher than the GM was perhaps expecting. Still, the second fight dragged on for quite some time, and we'd finished off everything before realising there was still chanting going on....The final room had four chanters, a horde of more monsters protecting them and a ball of smoky swirly something in which a shadow was growing larger. Unfortunately for me, this is where the dice starting hating me, and as well as failing to stop the shadow turning into a ....thing (a Beholder (almost certainly), although my character is just going to think of it as a weird, floaty, tentacled thing with eyes), I mostly flailed and killed a few minions, maybe hit a non-minion once and ended up on exactly zero hitpoints at one point. The Barbarian was actually starting to hurt as everything ganged up on him (his fault for going to attack the beholder once it came through) and with the Shaman rushing off to the previous room to recharge healing, we ended up spread out and struggling. In the end, the beholder escaped, to be hunted down another day.

It was a pretty fantastic battle overall - the having to work to recharge encounter powers made things a lot harder and we were a lot more reliant on our at-wills. The damage reduction and Longtooth Shifting lasting throughout it all was a plus, and despite it seeming a bit of a slog at times, there was just enough variation between monsters and set-up in each room to keep the fights interesting and different. Plot-wise, it seems to be going interesting places too. The idea is that as a nomadic, rural tribe that worships Primal spirits, we know little to nothing about things like Abberrant monsters, the Far Realms or anything related to Arcana. This all being strange, disturbing and utterly alien is perfect flavour wise and something I'm loving roleplaying. My druid, being an inquisitive little so and so, is trying to figure out everything she can by examining the ritual circles, listening to the chanting that was going on, and dissecting the remains of any monsters that don't just evaporate. Being an alchemist, she's also harvesting them for parts. Some day, I may work out what to do with them...

So that's the story to date, and I'll try to keep you abreast of what goes on. Next week, it's my game, and I might finally start my series of posts entitled "How Not To Run A Campaign".

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