Tyranny of Dragons | Council of Waterdeep

Our Monday night group started the second half of Tyranny of Dragons with The Rise of Tiamat.

This will be my last Tyranny of Dragons article. I do not feel like the campaign is a good space where writing about it would be beneficial to myself or the readers. I may mentioned Velkyn later in Hacks articles, mostly as an exercise in character building, not really as character development.

Hopefully, you will stick around as I begin introducing my home brew setting and campaign notes for Maelstrom and more Hacks.

But… what do I know…?

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Tyranny of Dragons | Castle in the Clouds

Half-black dragon, white dragon, Red Wizards, giants, and a flying castle full of enemies… this was a generally fun session.

Without revealing too many specifics about the chapter, having multiple spellcasters able to layer down spells in a surprise round is very effective. The party snuck aboard the flying castle–and attached giant iceberg–and were able to recon around. We bypassed guards and struck directly at the leaders, taking them out one-by-one. It was nice because there was no plot armor on our targets this time. With so many enemies around, being sneaky and tactical was the only logical choice. The silence spell is great for parties, especially to disable enemy spellcasters–nearly every spell has a verbal component–but sucks for dealing thunder damage. We swept through the rooms with lethal abandon.

The session ran long–as to be expected with essentially a dungeon crawl–but instead of carrying over to next session, the DM used his board game rules to finish the rest of the combats. So he hand waved what were potentially interesting combat encounters.

As 5th level spells go, destructive wave is a particularly nice spell, especially when able to maximize the thunder damage. Sleet storm was effective as well against the low Dexterity white dragon, knocking it out of the sky. A lot of spellcasting this session…

I have some additional thoughts about the character and the campaign, but I am going to think about them more before speaking them aloud.

But… what do I know…?

 

Tyranny of Dragons | Hunting Lodge

So this session went a little… off.

The purpose of this chapter of Hoard of the Dragon Queen is for the characters to find out about the flying castle that is transporting the hoard. If you read some other reviews, likely they will mention this is just a filler chapter–yes, you can meet some interesting non-player characters, but most likely you will just kill them. So our party decided to storm this place because there was no clear direction on where else to go.

Inside, we climb to the second level and meet Talis the White, a minor villain who is willing to work with us to further her own goals. We ask questions, she tries to convince us to join forces, and we decide to leave the room and “Pharblex”–our way of saying “Jenga”. Please watch Critical Role if you do not understand that reference.

Here comes the plot armor.

In the split second it takes for us to exit the room and blanket the room in spell damage, the villains have jumped out the window, closed the door, and crossed 100 feet to the teleportation circles. Where I am expecting a stand-up fight at this point, but instead the villains will escape without so much as a scratch. So my character casts thunderwave, pushes the guard standing at the door away, and jumps out the window. I ask the DM what my character sees. He says that he does not want to tell me because it will affect the actions of the other characters. Now I have gone from annoyed to really annoyed. I told him to tell me in secret and then my character can convey what is happening to the rest of the party.

Let me stop here a moment. Some DMs get frustrated and make mistakes, however, this DM was clearly showing frustration and cheating in order to get what he wanted. I have no problems with DMs stacking the deck, making characters work for a prize, and running a challenge–but cheating? DMs can already control the entire world, not following the rules set out just annoys me–everyone play by the same rules or do not play. Go frustrate the characters, but when you do that to the players, problems arise.

Moving on. Through the previous conversation, we find out where we need to go–the village of Parnast–but on a DC 24 Survival check, we cannot find the path. The DM turns to me and says “that’s in the book”. No it is not. What is the point of cheating here? The characters need to move on from this scene since the enemies are all gone, we already got the clue that this chapters was meant to give, and no one is going to challenge the party as we move on. So finding a well-travelled path where wagons and heavily burdened pack animals carrying hoards of treasure takes a DC 25 because the DM was frustrated again? Punitive and petty. I rolled my eyes and mentally checked out. We passed the challenge because we stacked Bardic Inspiration and guidance and advantage together to roll a DC 27… and the DM said we get to move on. Yay for anti-climactic. Someone needs to listen to Gaming and BS and their GUMSHOE episode.

So any DMs out there reading this: check your ego at the door before the game. The players and characters are not against you, they are playing the story. If it affects you so much, you need to detach and play along with the game, rather than adversarial approach. I see way too many people DM in this manner, especially in public play. Shove the attitude and cheer on the players and characters, everyone has more fun that way.

Next session is a board game again.

Not much to say about my character at this point. I do not really get to play him as intended–he has turned more into a spellcaster than a self-healing tank. We are entering the flying castle, so hopefully we get to cross swords and spells at some point. Dragon, storm giant, an army of Cultists–I am of the mind to start a huge melee and see what happens.

Bleh.

But… what do I know…?

The Blood Hunter Class – First Impression – Hands On

Alright guys I had the great opportunity to actually fight with my blood hunter last game session and I have a better feel of it now. So today is more of hands on review of the blood hunter abilities and how to fight… To the best of my abilities that is.

I am writing this waiting for my imminent lost in Guild Wars 2 Rank solo queue . Anyways moving on!

What I found with the Blood Hunter is that the class is incredibly strong but that come at a cost. The Blood Hunter damage is his basic attack, that is his main damaging skills. If you are buffing the damage you will be behind in most scenario which does not involve a boss. That is the cost you have to weight as you are fighting.

Here is a scenario that I encountered, we are fighting several enemies and unfortunately I did not have time to prepare my Rite. So first turn, I activate it and there goes my bonus action. I activate the Rite of Storm for lightning damage and went on shooting at people with my action. For the sake of average, only 1 hit out of 2. Come next round and now if I cast hex which will increase my damage by 1D6 necrotic but I do not get to attack 3 times only twice since that will take my bonus action. So doing the math here:

The following is basic math and we will take 6 rounds for argument purposes because that the highest of a D6. Now that is best case scenario where the rite you choose is the right one and you do not have to switch to another one. For the sake of the calculation I will take the maximum damage possible and this will be done using a crossbow because this is what I am using right now.

Scenario 1 of just Rite damage:

Round 1: Activate Rite + 2 attacks = 2D6 + 2D6 (24)
Round 2: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 (36)
Round 3: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 (36)
Round 4: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 (36)
Round 5: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 (36)
Round 6: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 (36)

Total: 204

Scenario 2 with Rite and Hex damage

Round 1: Activate Rite + 2 attacks = 2D6 + 2D6 (24)
Round 2: Cast Hex + 2 attacks = 2D6 + 2D6 + 2D6 (36)
Round 3: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 + 3D6 (54)
Round 4: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 + 3D6 (54)
Round 5: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 + 3D6 (54)
Round 6: 3 attacks = 3D6 + 3D6 + 3D6 (54)

Total: 276

Scenario 2 wins hands down from 3rd round on but this is the absolute best case scenario where you are fighting an incredible boss and do not have to micro manage the Hex. When fighting small fry personally I would go with scenario 1 because of 3 reasons, the very limited spells, micro managing will take a toll on the damage dealt and they might die faster than you can cast Hex.

You can also up that damage by a lot when using the Marked blood curse to increase your Rite damage, you should keep that for a boss though.

I will keep testing that class and keep you guys updated but so far it has been a lot of fun

 

Tyranny of Dragons | Castle Naerytar

So this week  our characters walked into a grinder dungeon crawl of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Castle Naerytar out in the swamp. This chapter has tons of enemies and adversaries, level upon level of rooms and doors, overly complex design, and unclear and badly-written descriptions–all-in-all, a potential death trap… Continue reading “Tyranny of Dragons | Castle Naerytar”

Tyranny of Dragons | On the Road

Two weeks and two levels later, we are back around the table to play Tyranny of Dragons–that is, to play D&D.

Leaving behind the board game debacle–until next time–we dove back into our personas and continued the story. It is incredible how this group has really developed into their roleplaying in such a short period of time. It was only last November this group got dumped unceremoniously into the Underdark and forced to work together. Now, everyone is comfortable taking on the mantle of character. I admit I was stunned being on the player’s side of the DM screen, I withdrew a bit just to admire everyone play. When I DM, I do not have the luxury of sitting back and watching the interaction. I am either interacting with the characters or I am mentally reviewing what happens next. Our Tyranny of Dragons DM is very good with the social interaction portion of the game. His characters have life and personalities. He also creates sidebar quests or mini-games which are amusing, but generally serve no purpose to move the narrative forward. I think he is trying to instill a particular memory or experience for our characters, I just do not know what exactly we are supposed to get out of it. Regardless, it is D&D and it is fun, so I guess the story can wait.

I take full credit for derailing the DM when I asked to purchase magic items. Part of my character’s backstory is to constant search for items or powers that do with flight. While those items did not appear, we got to go shopping for uncommon items. My ulterior motive was to see if the DM gave into requests to purchase magic items in the guise of my character’s quest. We spent a good chunk of the session dabbling in the shops.

During certain parts of the session, I felt as though we should have the opportunity to roll our skills and use our characters–try the luck of the d20–but the DM is not always as consistent with that. Even if we roll well, it might not mean anything where things are a bit more arbitrary. Only time will tell how things go. We ended the session midway through On the Road, chapter 4 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, so next week will need to make up for lost time.

Being as this is the first time I have played my character since 1st level, I cannot say there was much change since we had no combat and little in the way of skill challenges or things to do. Also, my character is not the chatty one, so Persuasion or Deception are not his strong suits. He plays around to reinforce others, usually with spells. Next level is the big boost in power, increased proficiency bonus, 3rd level spells, etc.

(The article is a bit shorter this week because it was written during a very busy week and completed a week after the actual session. My memory is not what it used to be.)

But… what do I know…?