Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Big Finish

Moritz took some photgraphs!

Friday, May 14, 2010

DT Goes Fourth

So, our campaign has come to an end.

The players were either killed or else died of old age in the years that separate this campaign from our next.

As a group we have also decided to move forward.
Members have left (Bye Moritz!) and others have joined (Hello Christoph!).

And so for the new campaign we will be playing 4th Edition, starting from 1st level, remove computers and projectors from the group play sessions (but keep them for character creation), and also be playing in a more cosy conference room.

The campaign itself will be set in darker times after the war between the Blue Dragon and the Pit-Fiend.

If you would like to follow our activities see our new blog Dragon Tales at

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Collective learning? Effective teaching? Not in my adventuring group!

In his last comment under the post "No holds bard", Kirk made a good point about how
we, as a party, are meant to collectively learn from our experiences and take the
appropriate measures to ensure we don't repeat the same lessons too often. I agree
that the apes throwing rocks was an excellent way to teach us about how to deal with
being ambushed and surrounded by a team of fairly weak creatures; the point was made
clearly and effectively, as many of us felt embarrassed by our performance while at
the same time we understood the point being made. The fact that our characters were
none the worse for wear ensured that all of us should have been able to act in a more
appropriate way when the opportunity presented itself.

The thing is, it's very difficult for a group of people to collectively learn
anything, and we all know this. I'm not saying that it never happens; indeed, the
fact that companies learn how to adapt to changing market influences, athletic teams
learn how to beat other teams, and armies learn how to outsmart / outmaneuver / kill
other armies every day shows that groups of people can clearly learn from their
collective mistakes. However, all of these entities have two elements in common:
structured leadership and the ability to remove or retrain unfit members to
improve the group's net performance. As an adventuring group, while we can't force
our own members to leave if they're not performing well enough (and we shouldn't!),
we can retweak our characters to work better within our specific group. Additionally,
we've occasionally debated about our lack of centralized leadership, let alone a
command structure of any sort, and I think we should give it a shot in 4e. Otherwise,
it's going to be very difficult for us, as a group of individually-minded adventurers
who can be resurrected after dying, to collectively learn anything.

Having said all that, I imagine that if I were in Kirk's DM shoes, I probably would
have done a similar thing to our party -- after I gave them fair warning that I'd be
testing them to see how much they learned from the adventure! It can be very
frustrating to try and teach something to an entity who cannot or will not learn, and
if I had one last shot to see whether such an entity had learned anything, I'd
probably also make it a painful test. However, to not tell an entity that you're
trying to teach them something; to not tell this entity that you'll then test them on
everything you've been trying to "teach" them; and to then berate them for not
"learning" anything from your "lessons" is just silly! It's also cruelly fun, but
that's besides the point. ;)

In short, I think that we, the players, should try using some sort of simple command
structure to better coordinate our fights if we ever want to collectively learn and
grow from our adventures. Otherwise, our post-battle reports will always have lots of
comments that read like this: "gosh, that was a clusterfuck! why didn't X do Y?"
Similarly, if DMs are going to test how well we learned the lessons of an adventure,
they should let us know. Otherwise, we're going to operate under the presumption that
they're going to try out some cool new monster / combat feat that they've discovered.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Arrow too far?

‘Challenge Ratings’ are pretty lame. Would 17th level Estaban have lasted more than 12 seconds if he stood against the Party alone?
The way I see it is that a 'Challenge rating' equal to the Party is only a quarter as powerful.
Just out of curiosity though, would one of you ‘Techies’ work out what the ‘Challenge Rating’ was for the final battle?

The Party:

1) Eolar: 17th level Cleric/Ranger
2) Thesis: 17th level Fighter/Barbarian
3) Bodush: 16th level Sorcerer
4) Durin: 14th level Barbarian
5) Mara'ch: 13th level Rogue/Sorcerer thingy

Party assets:

1) Ragnar: 13th level Fighter/werebear (Don’t say he doesn’t count just because he’s a sidekick)
2) Roly: 5th level Cleric (Would have healed ‘certain’ Party members)
3) Lizard-folk slaves. x 2 (CR:2)


1) Meldo
2) Children x 7
3) Siren children x 3
4) Sailors x 3
5) Hamster-men x 2


1) Estaban: 17th level Bard (With only one offensive spell that he could only use once)
2) Dorgon: 12th level Fighter. (Meant to have targeted Mara'ch)
3) Valdis: 13th level Fighter/Barbarian (Silver-sheened Halfling of death!)
4) Mendoza: 12th level Fighter (Hit and run specialist)
5) Hawkmoon: 14th level Fighter/Wizard (Traitorous turncoat)
6) Mendez: 17th level Fighter/Barbarian/Ranger (Geased to attack any that attacked family)
7) Benidict: 7th level Rogue (Law hating backstaber)
8) Eris: 3rd level Wizard (Sweet 18 year old little sister)
9) Brothers x 11: 4th level Fighters (Completely safe on their 10' wall...)
10) Thugs x 12: 1st level Fighters (Completely worthless)
11) Servants x 4 1st level commoners (Even more completely worthless)

As for the encounter setting...
Estaban had planned against you but the courtyard itself was only a minor obstacle and the tactics were pretty straight forward.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Final Banner: The End

Oh my. Utter carnage.

Should we review what happened? OK, Lets:

Bodush and Eolar were under a gaes, and were compelled to return with the diamonds.
We all duely did the same (why?) and strolled into the killing-field courtyard.
Hawkmoon revealed himself as the spy and shot at Bodush, who survived thanks to stone-skin.
Bodush then took out Hawkmoon with a power-word stun.

Two more attacks took place, one from the halfling with his silversheen dagger against Ragnar and the other by the sailor-spy on Eolar.

All fine up to that point. We could even be said to be winning and Mendez was holding back on shooting anyone.

But then, it was up to us and frankly our decisions were poor in terms of who to attack.

The obvious candidates would have been the spy and the halfling.

Thesis and Durin chose neither. We did what we always say we shouldn't do but do anyway - split up.

Eolar's decision was possibly worse: let off an indiscriminate killing spell.

From there on in it was probably over, but, yet there were one or two more chances.

* Had Thesis acknowledged that Mendoza and the big guy had broken off and dropped back to aid the dying Eolar, that would have helped.
* Had Durin run across the wall he so incredibly lept upon earlier and engaged Mendez, that would certainly have helped.
* And, had someone (any of us) decided to stand with Bodush things would have been a lot different.

Clearly we could and should have played it differently, but would that have been enough to win? I'm not sure, there were a lot of brothers on the wall and Esteban was in full-rude health.
We may still have lost.
And in any case, there was a devil waiting for us inside. :P

What do you all think?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bard to the Bone

A week before the end...

Mendez’ face is clouded when Estaban moves to sit back down with his youngest son.
"Now Mendez, although I’m grateful for the gifts you have given your brothers, let’s see what else you have that’d be useful... Hmmn. Frankly I’m surprised by how little magic you have considering you’ve been adventuring for nearly three years. These ‘Tanglefoot’ bags look like you’ve been carrying them around for ages! Still from what I’ve recently learned a few of these items, specifically this pot of ‘Silversheen’ may prove useful…"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stinker, Sailor, Soldier, Spy

About five weeks ago…

As the massive gorilla bounds into the clearing, the three sailors draw their swords.
The two Hamster men simply cower idiotically and try to hide behind the trees.
Easily out powering them, the gorilla rends the first sailor in half and quickly turns to dispatch the remaining two. With astonishing speed, the huge ape grabs at the second sailor. His powerful jaws clamping down on the weathered sailors throat.
Suddenly a sword erupts through its powerful chest.
Dropping the dying sailor, the ape tries to turn, but his back is stabbed again.
With blood pouring from the two serious wounds, it dies gazing up at the fragile looking human. A look of confusion frozen onto its leathery face.
Benidict regards the massive ape with contempt and then calls to the Hamster men.
“Come out. You’re safe now.”
Obviously relieved, the two Hamster men emerge timidly from the foliage.
Like sheep they approach the remaining Sailor for reassurance and like lambs they are cut down by their supposed saviour.
“I’m sorry rodents, but I just can’t have you telling the adventurers what I just did.”
Benidict stares at the carnage for a moment before getting to work.
He carefully arranges the bodies to make it look as though everyone was fighting the lone ape. He then proceeds to cut himself several times across his chest. Deep enough to bleed freely but shallow enough not to cause serious injure.
Benidict then hides himself in the bushes until help arrives.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

No Holds Bard

Three weeks ago…

Hawkmoon is searching idly for more diamonds when he hears a noise nearby…

“Are you alone?”

Looking around, Hawkmoon can see no one but knows Estaban’s tricks well enough to recognise this as being one of his.
Durin’s in sight but too far away to hear anything.

“What do you want Estaban?”

“I need to hear your report. I need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your travelling companions. Their favoured spells and tactics. Their vulnerabilities and defensive shortcomings. Everything I need to know to defeat them when the time comes!”

Hawkmoon sighs and, while making sure he’s out of sight, tells Estaban everything he wants to hear.

“Very well - though I don't approve of your underhand tactics to influence the others. Am I not insurance enough?
Overall the Party are a disparate bunch. Different aims and goals. They don't act together, but somehow manage to salvage most situations. Usually through the use of powerful magics.

Bodush should probably be your first target. His firepower is unprecedented, but catch him early on and he would be an easy target.
After a few seconds, though, beware. He will fly, become invisible and also likely create a number of fake images to confuse your archers.
There's even a chance that he’ll pre-empt an attack and protect himself in advance.

The Werebear is nothing special in his human guise, but beware him once he changes. He becomes extremely strong. I would suggest avoiding melee with him if you can.

Next you may wish to focus on Thesis: the lizard-man. He and the Dwarf are both good close combatants, but the lizard has the slight edge. Being a barbarian, Durin's tactics are often baffling but once stuck in a combat he will quickly become angry and become a whirling dervish of axe! Be prepared for healing against these two. Split them up; Divide and conquer.

The pedantic Cleric: Eolar is more an annoyance than anything. He’s self serving and almost as shambolic in combat as the Dwarf. He will probably be called on to heal the others, but instead will try to damage you himself! He may call down the fury of his God, but catch him in melee and he will drop quickly.

Mara'ch, the new Kobold, is a tricky one. Keep your fighters away from him. He can't fight himself but is somehow able to sap the strength of others.
If you are looking for an easy kill, then shoot him. Be quick, though, as he will likely disappear like Bodush.

Use the element of surprise to your full advantage. Act quickly decisively. Concentrate your attacks against one target at a time.

I have no loyalty to these adventurers - but make no mistake. Turn on me as you would turn on them and I swear I will return from the very bowels of Hell to take my revenge upon you...”

There’s silence for a moment before Estaban speaks again.

“Good work Hawkmoon. You’ve confirmed my thoughts and given me everything I needed to know. When you arrive back here, do nothing until Bodush and Eolar have handed over the diamonds. No doubt my youngest son will try to speak up for his friends. As soon as he starts talking, shoot Bodush in the back.
As for me turning on you… save your oaths. A deal is a deal."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Big Picture

A hundred years have passed since we brought our Most Noble Lord and established him in His rightful place as King of Gom Dalat and Emperor of the Furnace Coast. Throughout His glorious reign, He has time and time again demonstrated His commitment to peace and prosperity, freedom and stability, justice and mercy. While the rest of the region has been devastated by warfare, Our Most Noble Lord has kept us safe, entering conflict only when necessary to protect His charges from harm.

It is with great pleasure I have been asked to speak at this banquet of the merchant guilds commemorating His centenary Jubilee. We are all beneficiaries of His strength and wisdom, and trade is only possible due to His stabilising influence.

Going over His record as ruler, we only have to look to the early years for confirmation of our great fortune. As tales of the horrors of Seawell spread across the region, the jingoistic priests of Febril prepared for a brash assault against the Pit Fiend. Forging an alliance with the noble Dragonborn of the Island of Sunrest, their fleets sailed against Seawell. Our Most Noble Lord sent his emissaries to the Priests and to the Devils, urging against this war, stating time and time againg that this conflict would only bring ruin to all.

His warnings were not heeded, the Furnace coast ran red the blood of devil, dragonborn and human alike.

Still, our Lord was magnanimous, offering succour and shelter to the innocent refugees of this war. It was this that pulled him into war. A Pit Fiend does not understand the very concept of mercy or justice. A Pit Fiend cannot comprehend the nobility of Dragons, and so the Pit Fiend of Seawell betrayed us all, sending his armies against us.

Dragonborn and Human united under Our Lord's blue banner, and we pushed the invader back. Sacrifices were made by all, but His leadership saw us through.

It was then that Our Lord unleashed his most potent weapon. Drawing round him a circle of sorcerers from lost Febril, he oversaw the ritual that twisted the very fabric of reality and brought the forbidden lands out of the shadows. Out of these lands came a new army, fresh from an eternity in the primordial chaos, emerged. Once human, but now warped beyond recogniton, the Tieflings fell into the flanks of the retreating army, and the Pit Fiend was driven away from our world.

When I now look at this assembled crowd, when I look at the prosperity of our beloved city, I know who I should thank. If it was not for the noble Dragon-nature of our Lord, we would have shared the fate of Febril and Seawell, now just ruins in the Marshlands. I propose that we raise our glasses in a toast to our rightful ruler!