View Full Version : [4e] Second Session Overview

2008-07-20, 12:38 AM
The Second Session

We finally ran our second campaign session of 4e last Tuesday, and for me, it was more enjoyable than the first session we ran. Some things that were touched on were skill challenges, larger-scale battles without using minions, homebrew monster guidelines, and using Elites as "bosses". The group was the same as last time, as follows;

Broderick - Human Cleric (Pelor)
Clyde - Halfling Rogue
Val - Eladrin Rogue
Kanan - Human Ranger (DMPC)

Before the adventure started, I had everyone roll 1d20 and multiply the result by 10, then subtract that amount in gold pieces from their character sheet in whatever manner they wished (whether it be items, gold, gems, or whatever). The adventure was taking place several months after the previous one, and the spent cash represented living it up, gambling, getting by, making purchases, helping the homeless, whatever.

The adventure opened with our heroes working aboard a two-masted merchant vessel in exchange for passage to a city accross the small inland sea. During the voyage, the PC's were waken in the night by the tossing of the ship and the whistle calling them to quarters.

The Storm - A Bunch of Skill Challenges

There were 3 skill challenges. When the PC's got on deck, the captain of the ship immediately ordered them to get to work. They were ordered to help bring in the main sail, while one of them would need to go up the main mast and reel in the rigging of the topsail. Clyde volunteered to handle the topsail, while the others worked on the main sail. The mainsail was a simple 6/3 Athletics challenge, which all three characters were required to help on (each had a different section of sail). Clyde's check was more complex. Athletics to scale the mast in storm-tossed weather, Acrobatics to balance himself as he maneuvered from point to point along the rigging (4 points), followed by Athletics again to get down safely. Clyde's challenge was a little different in that I didn't use the accruing failures and successes mechanic. Instead, on a failure, I had him make a saving throw to avoid falling (same mechanic as when pushed off a ledge).

In retrospect, this probably wasn't such a good idea...but it was great for the story. Clyde ended up failing his first acrobatics check, but made the save on the first attempt, clinging for his life. He righted himself, then successfully made the check. He then made the next check and reeled in some more rigging before failing the third one and missing the saving throw. Rather than plummetting to the deck, the ship was rocking and so he landed in the water quite dramatically. This is where we got to try out the swimming rules. Apparently you get 3 minutes of breath before your character drowns...which is a lot, about 30 turns. Failure by 5 or moreon an athletics check means you sink 5 feet. Since you can swim half your speed, it is pretty easy to fail the crap out of some rolls and surface again unscathed with a good roll. Which is what happened for a while. At this point, the rest of the group had finished their challenge, and Val had decided to try and find a way to get Clyde back in. Kanan and Broderick went on the 3rd challenge, setting sea anchors (Athletics 4/2) and were successful.

Val tied a rope to a boat hook and made some attempts (ranged attack) at getting the hook near enough to Clyde to grab hold. The throws were good enough, but Clyde's pitiful athletics skill kept failing him, he sunk about 15 feet before...The penalty for failing his skill challenge started to kick in. The main mast was torn down in a gale. The mast and sail crashed down on the water above him, and with a succussful athletics check he was able to get up to it, albeit trapped under the canvas. He used his dagger to cut an opening and get to the open air. He then climbed up the busted mast back onboard the ship.

After the storm, damage to the ship was pretty extensive, and it had run upon a shoal (again a result of losing the main mast). The crew was busy building the rigging neccessary to hoist the main mast back into place and to free the ship when my optional encounter showed up. If the ship had survived the storm, the group would have continued to their destination, and hopefully, the rest of the adventure I had planned :smallwink:, which they sometimes don't!

Raj the Bloody-Handed, Elite Brute

The lookout reported a sail on the horizen which turned out to be none other than the blood-striped sail of Raj the Bloody-Handed, a notorious pirate of the region. Seeing our ship stricken on the shoal, he brought in his shallow-drafted galley to claim his prize. The galley approached under oar and crashed into our merchant ship's bow, its ram becoming stuck into the merchantman. Then Raj's pirates slapped down some planks and stormed aboard. Outnumbered, the captain shouted out that the only chance we had was to kill Raj himself, a hook which the group was happy to bite upon. The toppled mast created a perfect (if precarious) bridge to the near midesection of Raj's galley, which the group took advantage of. Clyde, who was atop the foremast at the time decided to swing by rope onto Raj's galley, and into the middle of a crapload of pirates. I am convinced that the player thought the pirates were minions (There were tons of them!), but he learned soon enough that they were standard "monsters" (homebrew humans using the DMG monster guidelines). 5 stayed behind to try to kill Clyde while most of the rest moved on to board our ship.

It s important to mention here that there was no rest period in between "encounters". It was a large-scale battle broken down into separate encounters. The group pretty much faced 3 level-appropriate (level 2) encounters in a row with no chance to recover powers or use healing surges (aside from the second wind, and whatever the cleric allowed through his powers).

The battles went well, as they encountered pirates in 5-man groups aboard the galley, except for when they fought Raj, who was only accompanied by 2 pirates. Clyde came close to death many times (and ended the battle unconcious), and would have probably died 4 times if not for the help of the cleric Broderick, who used every power he had by the time the battle was over. The lesson was learned again that you shouldn't charge out ahead of your group in this game, which Clyde did multiple times to poor effect. The importance of a Cleric is huge in this edition. Almost everyone took advantage of his healing mojo at some point, and the only one who didn't (Kanan, who was flinging arrows from the back) certainly took advantage of +2 to hit from Lance of Faith hits.

Val didn't use a single Encounter, or Utility power, but did make use of Blinding Barrage to good effect.

Clyde may have but I honestly don't remember...he was dead or dying for most of the fight. I do remember him taking advantage of the terrain a few times, which was nice (swinging from the rope, fighting with his back to a corner to avoid the flank).

Broderick used everything he had.

Kanan used his Daily, but other than that used the amazing Twin Strike at-will power almost constantly (in melee and ranged combat).

The Elite Brute which was Raj the Bloody-Handed couldn't roll to save his life (indeed), and ended up rather lackluster, though not from lack of trying. I gave him some neat encounter and bloodied abilities, but the dice insisted upon missing with these every time. He did have a crapload of hitpoints though.

To end it, the group was able to take over the galley and cause her remaining crew to surrender, Raj's plunder became their own...or at least a share of it did. I laid it out as Raj had a great deal more plunder, but the majority share went to the captan since it was technically his prize. The reward from the authorities for Raj's head was enough to make up for the lost funds at the beginning of the session (The reward was "extra", i.e. not part of the normal treasure.


So it went pretty well. Everyone seemed to have fun with this one, even though it was mostly a hackfast. It was late, so we called it a night right here. The makeshift "skill challenge" was received well without the players neccessarily knowing it was a skill challenge until afterwards, though Clyde's skill challenge probably wasn't such a good idea (In changing the rules). I was impressed with the staying power of the group through multiple "encounters", without having time to rest. At one point one of the players went after some bad guys from another encounter group, but it worked in seemlessly and was unnoticed. The homebrew guidelines in the DMG for monsters are fairly solid. the bad guys created are dangerous, but killable, at least at this low level. Using the Elite Brute for a boss worked quite well, but if he had been anything other than a brute, may have been too powerful.

That's about it. Overall, a pretty good session.

2008-07-20, 12:36 PM
Nice report.

BTW I think you should adapt the encounters to fit more your particular party composition: 3 strikers out of 4 PCs means that they'll fare far better against single powerful enemies (as the Elite boss), especially since 2 of them are rogues. This is also the reason behind the heavy dependendance on the leader: without some defender to distract the enemies the rogues are going to get hurt (even more so if they have suicidal tendencies like that Clyde of yours :smallbiggrin:). Having a warlord instead of a cleric would have helped a little maybe, since they are more melee oriented and could have given some CA to the rogues. Also try to toss at them a squishy (say, controller or artillery) non-melee Elite boss, that should be easier to kill for melee strikers (and it could make a more interesting encouter, less "hackfestish").

My suggestion DM-wise: let the suicidal rogue run his risks if he wants, and if he gets killed suggest him to reroll a "strikeresque" warrior.

As a side note: in those months between the adventures, did they not work at all? I understand that once you get some loot you want to spend it, but subtracting tens of gold altogether is just plain evil! :smallwink:

2008-07-20, 12:49 PM
As a side note: in those months between the adventures, did they not work at all? I understand that once you get some loot you want to spend it, but subtracting tens of gold altogether is just plain evil! :smallwink:

Seeing how my players never go around looking for jobs as a barkeep or blacksmith when we get together for a session, I assumed they were the types to go for the dangerous big score (an adventure), and then enjoy the fruits of their labors for a few months.

My players didn't have a problem with it (it seemed), but your experience may vary. For the "episodic" campaign I am running, it fits in well. For a campaign with more continuity, I wouldn't do it.

As for using the Brute for a boss, I didn't want to use something more squishy because we had 3 strikers, so the Brute's extra HP kept the fight from being one of those anti-climactic 1-shot things. I think the Brute rolling terrible and missing all those times actually added some dramatic flair. With every swing or power that missed, the players were actually more afraid of actually seeing one of those shots hit.