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Barney’s Adventures July 22, 2009

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, Barney's Adventures, DM, One Shot.
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This afternoon I received another text from my step-brother saying that he was in town and wanted to play Dungeons and Dragons again. I was more than happy to oblige the man. He came over along with two of my friends (one had played the 3.5e Basic Set module with me last summer when I was first trying my hand at DMing, the other has been my friend for a LONG time but had never expressed any interest in a game like D&D).

I am truly growing to love these random, very loosely planned, one-shot adventures that my little bro requests. I never have much time to plan them, and therefore they are never taken too seriously. It helps me to set aside the perfectionist in me and just relax so we all can have a good time. Plus, I am learning so much each time we play about what is fun (and what is not) for the players.

My friend, who had played a year ago, is much more into character creation and the role-playing aspect of the game–he would gladly take a penalty to a roll if it is due to a decision that his character would make in that situation. He came over with the idea in his head (remember, his knowledge of character creation in regards to mechanics–as well as the mechanics of gameplay–is minimal at best) of a sneaky guy that is not physically strong at all, but is very quick and agile. His character would use throwing daggers as his main weapon, but for up close melee combat, a form of a handaxe (he actually did not want a handaxe, but that was the closest we could find for what he was trying to describe) would be his weapon of choice. He wanted this character to be a potions master, who relied heavily on potions to augment and make up for his weaknesses. In my limited experience, what he was looking for was some mix between a rogue and an artificer. For the sake of time, we quick-drew up a rogue that would use throwing daggers and be a trickster build. As his melee weapon I used the kukri (that almost looks like a handaxe in a weird way, no?).

My other friend played a dual-blade wielding elf ranger. He was more than happy to just use one of the many many pregen characters that I had rolled up when I found DDI’s character creator freeware version thingie. The only thing he said when we first started to play was that he wanted an archer-style character (he was afraid of the up close combat to some degree I believe), but as soon as the first battle started, he abandoned the ranged style of combat and got up in the mix of things. So… go figure.

I’ll give a narrative summary of what happened later.

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Prison Break July 14, 2009

Posted by elopingcamel in 4e, DM, One Shot.
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Yesterday my younger step-brother and his friend were driving into town and would only be here for a couple of nights. They wanted to play a quick game of D&D while they were here (my brother had only played it that one time a few weeks ago and his friend hadn’t played since he was in 8th grade), so I scrambled to throw something together for them. With so little time, I forewent any semblance of backstory or whatever and just went with the idea that they were already captured and in a goblin prison. This game would be a prison break. My brother played his drunken human wizard again (we had to briefly update it to 4e rules, because I am more familiar with the idea of a quick setup game in 4e than 3.5e), named Barney (most definitely inspired by the similarly drunken Simpsons’ character of the same name). His friend made a drow ranger (two-blade melee) named McGee (with “Poopy” usually tossed in there for some reason). Also in their cell were twin weakling human prisoners named Wickam and Stickam, and a tifeling rogue named both Gary Waddell (a local news reporter) and Bordeaux. I initially called him Gary Waddell as a joke, and then told them his real name was Bordeaux. It was too late; they had already latched onto Gary and so, despite my best efforts to call him Bordeaux, he became Gary Waddell (I myself calling him that by the end of the game).

As luck would have it, Bordeaux successfully breaks free from his bonds and cuts the other prisoners loose to start off the game. None of them have any weapons or gear, but they are able to break one of the chains from the wall to wield against their jailor. They wait until meal time, when the goblin (minion) opens the door to toss in their meal. They fail their stealth/concealment checks, but are able to drag him inside while the door is closed. After killing him, they now have the key to their cell, his short sword, a chain, and a couple of copper pieces. However, Barney is pretty ineffective without his mug of ale (Barney’s orb implement), but I was impressed by his creative little idea to use the goblin’s head as an orb-like channel for his powers, so I allow him to use it as his focus (with a penalty of course). Cutting off the goblin’s head sparks the idea to dismember the poor little creature and hand out his limbs as weapons for the other prisoners to use.

They begin their escape, heading down the hall to the closest door. They are very crudely armed now and looking for their gear and normal weapons, so they lay a carefully constructed plan to call out to the goblins inside of the room to come help move one of the dead prisoner’s bodies (Barney took Goblin as a language). They quickly dispatch the two minions inside and gain a couple of daggers along the way, which helps them greatly in the next encounter against two more goblin minions and a skirmisher. I hadn’t planned for their creativity in gaining weapons (like the skull implement replacing the mug and the limb/clubs), so they were breezing through the minions more quickly than I anticipated. Oh well, I am learning.

Things seem to even out more once they get to the skirmisher. Both Wickam and Stickam get slaughtered by the three goblins, and Bordeaux also takes a beating (he goes down to 3 hp and has to withdraw from battle to recover, leaving Barney and McGee to take on the remaining two goblins alone). During this encounter, Barney goes on a long and frustrating run of terrible rolls, so after a few fruitless turns, he gets a little creative with his minor action spell: Mage Hand. He decides to cast it against the goblin skirmisher aiming directly at his crotch. I see no problem with this use of Mage Hand (it says it can lift up to 20 lbs., and come on…no goblin is THAT hung), so Barney spends the next few rounds relying on his Mage Hand Nut Squeeze (I have him roll the d4 for damage with it). His rolling continues to suck for a few more rounds, but this at least allows him to do a little damage each turn, so he is happy. To be honest… I think he was happier with this move than any magic missile or spell he cast the rest of the game. After defeating the skirmisher and minion, they find a large iron key on a chain around his neck and discover all of their weapons/stash behind one of the doors in the room. Behind the other door, they find Barney’s hireling, chained naked to the wall (this was the creepy nephew of the tavern owner/shop keeper that Barney hired to be his “caddy” for his ale-barrel cart in the last 3.5e game I ran for him–his first game ever).

Down a couple of members, but now armed with their real weapons, the party decides to move onward down the tunnel to find their way out. McGee decides to cart along Wickam’s body (he got the idea to use Wickam as a meat shield when opening a door), and so, after hearing some slow shuffling behind the next door they come to, they decide to douse Wickam’s body (minus his legs) with ale and light him on fire before they open the door. After the door is opened and they see two zombies and a skeleton, they grab Wickam by the legs and launch his flaming corpse at the nearest zombie (minion). That effectively takes the zombie out, leaving only a skeleton minion and a zombie skirmisher (the lvl 3 imp was still hovering invisibly). The party rushes in to take out the two visible monsters and imediately destroys the skeleton minion. The imp surprises them all, appearing from nowhere to score a wicked hit on the nearest foe: Bordeaux. He then flees to the end of the room, where is able to go invisible on his next turn while Barney and McGee finish off the last zombie (skirmisher). With the imp invisible, the heroes all use their turns to ready actions, with the exception of Barney who tries to throw a mug of ale as a way to see if it splashes off of the invisible imp–thus telling them where it is. His throw misses the imp and tells them only where he is not. The imp appears right next to Barney (opposite direction) and scores a hit, but is then immediately barraged by attacks from the nearby McGee and Bordeaux. He is weakened considerably. Barney’s hireling has the honor and distinction of claiming the kill in the end though, as he swings the short sword and chain that McGee gave him, after they freed him and got their weapons back. The sword deals enough damage that the awkward swing of the chain is not even needed.

They escape the prison, having earned back their gear, as well as some treasure, additional weapons, and XP. Good game.

I’ll be posting som things that I learned later, because this is already plenty long as it is.