So, this time we got our veteran up and running into the party. Craig is an old hand, and was very adamant about not discussing his character other than letting them know he’d play a cleric, just so their first reactions could be in-character. Unfortunately, workload being what it is at a game development company, Ben couldn’t make it, so Jome the “elven” wizard was sadly absent.
Wait. Crap. Yeah, I’d kind of planned for them to hit the keep tonight, but there was no way Perseus would go adventuring while his Bestest Buddy Ever might be in trouble. So I ad-libbed a quick kidnap plot, and the guys got to chase down kidnappers hauling a drugged elf away, demonstrating how the world reacts to their actions. They managed to rescued the still-unconscious Jome, grab some nice money and get some info on Grimstone.
So did this session have teaching points as well, or were there no surprises? Oh ho ho ho, to ask is to not trust my players.
Dungeon Tiles Are Pretty Okay. I totally forgot my Vis-a-Vis pens for the battlemat — and of course, those are hard to find in any modern office supply closet. But Craig brought in a mass of those dungeon tiles thing, and I gotta admit…. kind of a lifesaver. I think they’d get repetitive over a long campaign, but I was able to set up an outdoor fight scene with lots of rock formations and difficult terrain, and it looked pretty great. It also set up some nice player tactics.
Twinked-Out High Stats Are Useful. The elf ranger’s Perception is ridiculous for first level. Totally hax. Very unlikely I’ll ever surprise him in this game. And that’s fine. Because of that high skill, I could present them with a situation like “your friend is gone from his room with barely a trace” and trust that Perseus could find all the clues to the kidnapping and track the enemies with ease. No roadblock, no bottleneck. Don’t fear players being good at what they do. Let them open doors with that stuff; you can always challenge them in other ways, even in their areas of specialty.
Alignment Is Generally Useless. This aphorism gets brought out a lot within the context of alignment being something you “grow out of,” in the sense that experienced gamers create characters with more nuanced motives than being “good” or “evil.” From what I’ve seen, it’s not super-useful to newbies, either, save as a possible point of inspiration much like “do you have any siblings?” The player of the elven ranger Perseus, who wrote “Good” on his character sheet first thing, has gotten much more mileage out of his personal code than out of his alignment. Mercenary with a conscience; won’t kill women and children. Perfectly okay executing surrendering captives who offended him if they’re not civilians, mind. Is that a Good thing to do? Who cares? The code this new player created is more compelling for both him and me as DM. Bruais is a greedy coward on the surface, but also religious to the luck goddess and willing to stick his neck out for friends. Nasio is pretty laissez-faire about gold for a mercenary, probably because of his noble upbringing, and is as interested in a challenge or a good cause as a payout. None of this stuff is a direct result of alignment. It’s just not that restrictive.
Dwarf Rogues Are Best Rogues. I’m calling it here, Bruais is the Sensational Player Character find of 2012. In one session he returned to hit on a bartender some more, demonstrated his devotion to the goddess of luck, lied like a coward about the numbers of the enemies to his friends (“There’s at least 10 of them. They have Jome, but they’re too strong. He is lost to us.”) and then stood by them when they chose to fight, and of course gleefully looted corpses. But I think what’s fantastic about him is that the player wisely figured out that rogues are at their most entertaining when they’re a blend of flawed scoundrel and swaggering reluctant hero. And dwarves are so macho by default that they have a fantastic swagger, and the juxtaposition with something classic like “cowardice” is hilariously unexpected.
Another good session, ending a little early. I let them level up to Level Two so that they can have that level-up experience and play with new utility powers (plus Bruais could use all the math help he can get). If I want to close this out at three sessions, I’ll probably have to slam them down in front of Grimstone Keep’s gates promptly at 6 PM next Monday and hope they burn through it. But so far, what a ride.