Veni, vedi, lusi. I came, I saw, and by all the gods I played. Session one of the Endday campaign is done, dusted and damn it was good! Best part of the session: one of the players cleaving Dretches with a crowbar. Worst part: there was no worst part.
I’ve already revealed my plans for the first session, and it pretty much went as I’d hoped, complete with scrunched-up graph paper for road and Matchbox cars tossed around. Much as I’m still not a big fan of using battlemats, having those on the table as a visual cue really helped put across the impression that the characters are in the middle of one heck of an unnatural storm.
One thing that still impresses me about 4e D&D (and something you don’t notice at all if just reading it) is how the monsters feel in play. The combination of Powers and abilities really does a great job of making each one feel and play like a different critter. For example, in this session I just used two monsters – the Dretch and the Gnaw Demon, and Minion variants of each.
Now, the Dretch is just downright stinky. It’s got an aura around it which does 1 damage if you move or take an action within it (2 if you do both), and when it dies it dissolves into a poisonous cloud that does 5 damage. Oh, and it’s got claws that do 2d6+2 damage too. Ouch. Now, considering this session was all about rescuing as many people as possible from the storm and demon invasion, and everyone else on the road are all Minions, the Dretches could just move through the wreckage and leave retching and poisoned victims in their wake.
When Oscar Marcinelli Cleaved through two Dretches with a single hit and ended up in the aura of two poison effects for his trouble: priceless.
Then there’s the Gnaw Demons. These are frustrating critters who can teleport away when blooded and are drawn to bloodied foes – in other words, great skirmishers. They’ve also got a reasonable Stealth skill so at one point I had two of the players trying to find the last Gnaw Demon who was hiding among the car wreckages. Great stuff!
This was, by design, a combat-heavy session. I wanted to throw the players right in at the deep end; at the start of the session they were just normal folks – no Powers as such, just Basic Attacks and no weapons other than what they could scrounge. Crowbars, tyre chains and hubcaps became improvised weapons doing d6 damage each and at one point one of the players was hitting a Gnaw Demon over the head with a rusted exhaust off a pick-up truck :D
But just because it’s combat-heavy doesn’t mean there’s no role-playing. Contrary to popular belief the two aren’t mutually exclusive! Our heroes were busy helping the wounded victims, getting to know each other and growling one-liners at the demons like bad movie actors. Wonderful stuff.
Just as the characters are reaching single digit Hit Points and all looks bleak, this happens:
“A wave of silence floods over you and the only noise you can hear is your loudly beating heart. Time slows. A rush of bright white light fills your vision and you hear an echo of angelsong. Your hands open then clasp something familiar, though not something you’ve held in your lifetime. You feel a comforting weight change as ancient armour and clothing covers your body. This is you. The light and sound returns, time restores and the battle is on!”
I give each character a free Healing Surge and the battle is renewed! Now the characters have all their Powers and it’s payback time. It doesn’t take long for the demons to realize they’re now on the losing side. Slowly, the storm fades and all that’s left is the dead, the dying, and Our Heroes.
Here’s one of the characters from the campaign. Meet Caroline MacAulney: hot biker chic, free spirit and all round badass Fighter. After the Event she’s equipped with a Spiked Chain (replacing the tyre chain she was using) and Chain armour. Here’s her character sheet.
Next: LAX Demonicus