Saturday, December 16, 2017

Guest Post: Play Report for 4e

  I am still working a contract that is eating up 50 hours a week and managing my own business, so my writing is still spare. In the meantime, 3 of the Fun Lads Four have been play-testing 4e. Thus follows this play report

Gingersnap's Medicine: Part 2 

 After taking several months off due to being busy with other game systems, this weekend, we finally resumed the 4th Edition campaign/play-test described on this blog back in August, in a post whose length I apologize for. 

 The party was the same as was recorded there, namely: 
Jack- controlling, 
     Killroy Killigan, polearm-specialist human fighter of absurdly intense bloodlust.
    Archie Dickens, unstoppably cheerful half-orc ninja. 
     Genericus McGi, bland elven druid with an inexplicably high movement rate. 
Sam- controlling, 
     Stark, the Swoleserer, human sorcerer with an 18 strength. 
     Tordek Valladwarf, bland but invincible dwarf paladin. 
     Erobern, amoral dragonborn warlord with globe-conquering ambitions. 
Nick- as gamemaster. 

 After learning that the Old Hermit did not, in fact, have the other half of the horse medicine that we spent the first adventure gathering, we set off to the City, to meet his old friend, Aloysius the Noble, who was sure to have the rest of the concoction. 

 As we neared the city, we passed through a section of tangled briars and brush where only the road was not difficult terrain, where we encountered a large band of suspicious personages dragging a prisoner in a sack. Despite their best efforts to pretend that they were not, in fact, dragging a prisoner in a sack, we quickly realized they were bandits, and made short work of them by getting excellent initiative rolls and taking out their only strong combatants immediately. 

The prisoner we saved turned out to be one Sir Redford, who, in a coincidence of cosmic proportions, turned out to be Aloysius' bodyguard, captured when he was unable to prevent his master from being kidnapped and held for ransom in the bandits' hideout. Luckily, Sir Redford was able to point us towards the bandits' secret path through the brush, and we were soon marching towards their base to recover our would-be patron. 

There was a brief encounter on the way, which might have gone poorly if not for Genericus' absurdly high perception bonus saving us from ambush. In this skirmish, we captured one of our enemies, the unimaginatively named Bandit Joe, who, grateful to Erobern for deciding to spare his life, joined the warlord's cause, and gave us a large amount of intelligence about the bandits' fortifications. This information came in quite useful when we shortly stumbled upon the bandits' forward fortification. 

Here, our tactics failed us, and we had a ton of trouble with the encounter. A surprise arrival of halfling minions disrupted our advance towards the fortified position where three elven bandits were sniping us with bows, and, in the ensuing confusion, Archie and Genericus both took a licking while Stark was kept too far away from the fray to use his best powers. In the end, we barely triumphed, and camped here before moving in on the bandit leaders. 

 The next day, we advanced again, and were before long at the bandits' central base, where an excellently enjoyable battle ensued. The encounter was a massive brawl with overlevelled bandit leaders and a large number of minions, which at first went against us due to abysmal luck in the first 3 rounds. However, after getting solid hits with a series of daily power usages, we were able to leverage a better tactical sense than we displayed in the last battle to force the bandit leader to exclusively attack the absurdly hard to kill Valladwarf, use many area of effect attacks to dispatch the minions, and do high damage early through use of Archie's sneak attacks. 

After a climactic ending battle with the leaders, in which Killroy used all his healing potential and was still reduced to his last hitpoint and Stark got into a fistfight with the bandit mage, we finally won, exhausted, nearly all bloodied, but victorious. 

 From the wreckage of the camp, we were able to save Aloysius, who, grateful for our assistance, set out with us to the City, where he promises to provide the medicine free of charge once we arrive. 


The game is surprisingly luck based for something so mathematically optimized, but, conversely, action points and daily powers serve well as a tool for getting you out of dire straits, so it balances out in the end. 

 Initiative is more or less everything. Improved Initiative is one of the best feats. 

 Our striker was much more effective when he relocated to the front lines, and our controller was much more effective in a battle with many minions. 

 The game is surprisingly complicated in many ways. Having three characters per player, which we thought would be easy with the wargame-like nature of this edition, makes it very hard to keep accurate track of everything. 

 So far, our experience has been that monsters classified as artillery are much more dangerous than their level guidelines would indicate. We'll see if this holds true over time. 

 Endurance is a big part of the game. Managing resources between milestones and daily rests is a key to success, and yet, it is still distinctly possible to have a one-encounter day that makes sense from a gameplay perspective. This is a sign of robust, professional design!