Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 9

During our last session, we were back at the underground water temple. This time, we were looking for the leader of the place. So we went off in the wrong direction, of course. Before wandering however, the table talked about how to approach the rest of the temple… which leads into my topic.

When faced with a dungeon location, it is pretty typical to go room-to-room and clear as you go. Hopefully this means you will not have enemies coming up from behind and maybe you can get clear an area without reinforcements. However, by the time you reach the big bad boss at the end, you have used up resources in the intervening encounters. You might have picked up useful stuff along the way, but you are just as likely to be drained. Conversely, you enter and go straight for the big bad, full and ready, then with diminished status, try to fight your way back out (or even run).

We faced this situation last session. After facing a two-stage encounter we were unprepared for (and nearly faced TPK if not for a lucky hypnotic pattern spell), we showed up in the boss room. That meant taking on the boss with less resources than we wanted to be at.

All things considered, the module is getting better. The challenges are starting to vary more and enemies are getting interesting. MORE LOOT! Heh.

I was going to mention the bag of unreliable holding and also a bit about Unearthed Arcana and playtesting, but as I am already late with this post… next time!

But… what do I know…?

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Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 8

I miss D&D, but now I am back.

During Monday’s game session, we nearly got ourselves killed resting. Instead of escaping the area, we decided to hole up in a guard room we cleared the day before. We already fought off people in several rooms and alerted the dragon turtle, but for some reason it did not occur to us to retreat a few hours away (back to a keep we cleared and conquered).

After thinking about it, I know the exact reason why we did not abandon the area to come back later: Treasure. This module is extremely stingy about loot. No magic items, nowhere to sell items or spend gold. The want for something shiny is driving us forward, the greed is sticking in our collective craws, but we are getting nothing to satisfy that need. So we hang around dangerous areas, blinded by our need to be rewarded for the fights and combat.

I realize this is not my first gripe about this module, but even the Dungeon Master mentioned the lack of rewards to us, which I assume means he read through the entire module with more intensity to make that deduction.

The new edition does not have any set measure for doling out magic items, but that is definitely part of the excitement of playing D&D. If you take that away… the least you are going to get is cranky players.

But… what do I know…?

Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 7

Remember the dragon I spoke about before? Well…

Last night’s game session livened up significantly. We are still underground in some watery complex, we lost the invisible scout (sacrificed by his master), and we already spent a long rest in their midst. So what do we do? We spend 15 minutes talking about our last total party kill (TPK) and joking about dragons…

So we ran into a dragon (turtle).

We were told afterwards that it was a juvenile gargantuan dragon turtle… with a 52 point damage breath weapon. The only reason we did not wipe in the first round was because multiple characters have resistance. If you have not yet tangled with a dragon, you are missing out on the sheer terror facing one. We managed to drive off the creature, but not kill it.

Two things I picked up from this encounter:

First, Wizards needs to make a dragon turtle miniature. It is a pretty awe-inspiring creature, but a couple pieces of cardboard that we used does not do a justice to a gigantic dragon-headed snapping turtle.

Second, the combination of spike growth and repelling blast works like huge cheese grater. Spike growth is a 2nd level spell that creates an area of camouflaged spikes that deal 2d4 for every 5 ft. travelled through and repelling blast invocation pushes a creature hit by eldritch blast 10 ft., hence the combo. There was no more opportune moment than this to create a field of spikes the width of the room. The spell managed well over 50 points of damage as we slide the dragon turtle back and forth across it. Of course, I need to learn to read spells more carefully as the spell calls for difficult terrain (definitely would have helped) which I forgot.

Stay connected every Tuesday as I delve deeper into Dungeons & Dragons, campaign highlights, character stuff, and more rule hacks.

But… what do I know…?

Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 6

(Yep, I missed a few sessions… continuing on…)

We finished clearing out the keep with water cultists last time and are now set on exploring an underground waterway. Is this the most obvious way to go? The DM controlled party member has reservations about our choice of path, but we forge on heedless…

Something is starting to bug me about this adventure. It is really aimless. I am not even sure what we are supposed to be doing anymore or how anything of what we are doing now supports our original mission. As a player, I am used to a little more “leading by the nose” to get a satisfying conclusion for clearing a dungeon or killing a villain. This adventure does not even have decent treasure to placate the murder hobo in me. No clues are being revealed, no neon carrot to help with the story–it is as if the author decided to write lots of little stories and plots and forgot to tell everyone to put everything together. “Horribly disjointed” is putting it mildly.

At this point, I would dissuade you from playing (or running) this module. The mystery of the campaign is actually finding the plot, let alone solving it.

But… what do I know…?

Princes of the Apocalypse, Session 1

Red Larch

We started the highly reviewed Princes of the Apocalypse last night. My friend Alex is running the game, set in his homebrew setting The World of Eld. Instead of a play-by-play or spoilers for the campaign, I am hopefully going to talking more about characters, fun things that happened, and my general joy at playing D&D.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am playing an air jin (genasi) ranger named Zeph. A rough childhood and constant betrayals has left him very closed and suspicious. He plies his trade as a bounty hunter to hunt down the people who imprisoned and tortured him. The other characters (updated) are Ill (wood elf ranger/cleric), Barakas (tiefling sorcerer), and Nok (orc [half-orc] barbarian). Barakas is interesting… he is devil-blooded, blue dragon ancestry (forgot to ask his final skin/scales color, maybe purple) who specializes in ice and cold spells. He needs a belt of dwarvenkind and more resistances, maybe infected by a few more bloodlines. Heh. We all travelled to Red Larch together and are just getting to know each chaotic other.

The party plays a bit different than we have before. Everyone is trained in Stealth and has darkvision, so we move in the dark and sneak around a lot. This is a huge advantage because we can ambush enemies, snuff out torches and campfires, and slit throats in the night. We took a small camp of bandits completely by surprise, the enemy did not even get off an attack roll. By the way, if you are going to interrogate someone, the fanatical leader resistant to torture might not be the best person to keep alive…

The adventure plays like a huge mystery so far and we do not have enough pieces to even get an idea of how big or small whole picture yet (metagame information aside). I feel like there are lots of clues, but they are not connected and have no context without a lot more information. So far, we are just wandering around doing individual side quests. Hopefully they fit together… somehow.

It might matter less at 5th level when everyone else gets Extra Attack, but having two attacks (with Crossbow Expert) hitting an Unconscious opponent (advantage to attack and critical hit) is an impressive amount of damage. Also, the barbarian rolling 3d12 critical damage needs better dice. Heh.

Overall, the adventure is going along nicely. It does not drag you around by the nose and there is a lot of possible exploration and options. We will find out more in two weeks.

But… what do I know…?

My Character

I like my character, but I do not know what he looks like.

Last year, I wrote about character portraits. One thing I neglected to mention is that I usually play human characters (and rarely elves), which makes finding a character portrait relatively easy. However, this time around, I am not. Try typing “air genasi” into a Google, it does not bring up a large selection. Also, adhering the spirit of the air genasi description, I scoured for any blue skinned humanoid with wild hair. This would be simpler if it I was looking for a female portrait as the selection is much better. It is more difficult to breath life into a character without knowing what he or she looks like. Some Photoshopping might be involved at this point…

Our Princes of the Apocalypse campaign begins next week and we are finalizing characters at the moment, as well as learning more about Eld, the homebrew setting created by the DM. Our characters are: air genasi ranger (me), tiefling sorcerer, wood elf (subject to change) rogue/cleric, and mountain dwarf barbarian (as played by the DM, just in case). We have a few part-time players, but they have not committed to anything yet. The reviews for Princes of the Apocalypse are overwhelmingly positive and the module is written by ex-WotC employees over at Sasquatch Game Studio.

What is your favorite part of starting a new campaign?

I will endeavour to keep updated on the campaign. Less death notifications, more victory speeches.

But… what do I know…?