Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday Night Gaming 7/9/10 - Morg's Story

TheBro prepared Wizards' Free RPG Day adventure for Dark Sun. He reports that we've played through just half of it at this point (which is awesome since not only is the production value HUGE on this free adventure, but it's really two sessions worth!). I played Morg, the Mul (half-dwarf) Thunderborn Barbarian. It was my first experience playing a barbarian and as a melee striker - and it was a ton of fun. I got a very good understanding of the charge rules, and I was killing non-minions in one turn.

The adventure itself was very straight-forward, which is good if you want to bring new players in. There were four of us players last night, and our party was composed of myself as the only striker, an Elven Battlemind and Half-Giant (like the guy to the left here) Fighter as tanks, and a Thri-Kreen shaman as our healer. We opted out of playing either the wizard or warlock to avoid the whole issue with arcane characters in the Dark Sun world (in short, people hate arcane characters).

For some reason I decided to take a lot of pictures last night, so I'd like to do a blow-by-blow play report of the first half of this scenario. There will be spoilers ahead for the Free RPG Day Dark Sun scenario, so beware of that if you intend on playing it!

The night started out peacefully enough. We were a hired group of mercs just out to gain a couple of ceramic coins in a world made to keep you down. A group of Elven slavers hired us on to help escort their new crop of slaves from one of the few settled towns to the next. Morg grew up in servitude, trained to be a gladiator. Let me rephrase this - Morg started the game hating his pointy-ear bosses. After a fun skill check of trying to help the slavers (and slaves) make the trip quicker and safer that involved Morg attempted to sing gladiatorial songs every night to the slaves (with a -1 Charisma and no trained skills), we awoke one morning to find the slaves missing.

But no, they weren't missing for long! We went ahead of the caravan and ran into a group of bestial men. Morg recognized them immediately as his friends amongst the slaves, but now they were aggressive and lead by some rebels! It pained Morg to fight these men and women, but his loyalty to the party was greater than his desire to free slaves, and so he had to earn his coin.

And earn his coin he did. As a striker (I'm used to playing as a defender or controller at this point) I realized that I take on the big bad guys. The minions are great targets for those who don't deal massive damage, but for the barbarian, only non-minions will do. I proceeded to kill all three of the dual-wielding rebel leaders (you can see the dead markers above that TheBro used to show where the rebels fell - these are from the fantastic Gale Force 9 DM token set). Although in my character's heart, each kill was a blow to his pride and his cause, in my own eyes, playing a barbarian was awesome.

Morg did his job (with a little help from his friends I s'pose), and the encounter was very satisfying. You can see that TheBro incorporated a lot of different sources to make the night visually appealing. First we had the 3-d terrain rock formations we bought at Gencon years ago for miniature war gaming - a perfect set of pieces for Dark Sun. He then used Descent and re-purposed Horroclix minis for the monsters. I had my doubts when he told me he picked up a bunch of Horroclix minis to use for monsters, but so far I've been really impressed with the scuplts and paint jobs. For our characters, we had minis from the D&D minis game, the Confrontation pre-painted game, and Heroscape. There really are a lot of good options for pre-painted fantasy minis out there (if only we could get more sci-fi!).

Afer we cleared out the dead slaves and rebel leaders, we were lead on, now slaveless (Morg: "Yay!") to the our destination (unfortunately the name of the town escapes me right now). We began by entering a market. You can see above that the elves weren't happy with our services (which was fine by Morg - he wasn't happy to be giving them) and lashed out at us like you would expect shifty-looking elven slavers to do. The red spider things (again from Descent) were described as "Kanx" - they were the herd animals we were using in the caravan to carry supplies. Thinking of them as cows was our first mistake.

We made quick work of the minion elven archers. We of course charged all in opposite directions, and poor Morg was stuck far away from any tanks. After dispatching with my minion, I wasn't going to attack the two Kanx right near me - why would you attack cows? Of course cows don't spit slowing, poisonous acid. It wasn't before long and they were attacking us. The Kanx were considerably more difficult to dispatch than the rebel leaders. Nonetheless, I eventually took care of my two while the evil elven slaver lord was targetting our Shaman.

I guess there was some other stuff going on while Morg was heroically defeating the cows -AHEM- Kanx. In truth, the elven slaver lord - the blond guy with the staff upraised in the picture to the right here - was one tough bastard. I never got to the point where I could help out and kill our blond friend here. On the turn where I was finally freed from Kanx and the slowed status effect my fellow party members managed to bloody the elf which immediately caused the market guard to step in and stop the fight. Guess the local sheriff doesn't mind if some simple elven archers die, but WHOA that pretty blonde elf guy? He's rich, he can't die!

So he didn't. The sheriff, who evidently was watching, but not paying close attention, gave both sides a choice: die, or let the matter be settled in the arena. Morg's ears perked up. Arena? You mean Morg, the barbarian with the gladiator background gets to prove his point (that the Elven bastard started the whole thing!) with the edge of his bone greataxe? Deal!

But this is a game of surprised and twists, and it turned out that no, it was no deal. Instead of combat to the death (Morg: "Yes!") we were to play a sporting game (Morg: "?!") Each team had a chest on either side of the arena, and in the center of the arena there was a chest full of seven large ceramic coins. We would play five rounds, and at the end of the five rounds whoever had more of these coins in their home chest would win. The catch? If we caused any direct damage to the other team, we'd be disqualified and removed from the game.

See all those little wooden squares? Those would be large, dangerous bramble thorn plants just waiting for an unsuspecting players to end their turn on one of the squares. So while we couldn't cause direct damage to the other team, we could bullrush and push them into the perilous potted plants. We split up and the fighter and I headed for the opposing players. Bull rush requires a good strength attack, and we were the strong arms of the team. The shaman and battlemind went for the coins, and everything was going well.

Until the second round. That's when the reptillian dogs with all the extra arms that were very grabby came out. They kept me locked down pretyt well, but eventually the fighter was able to keep taking out the minion opposing players by pushing them into the plants. It was a very close game and I believe the final score was a meager 1 - 0 with us winning! Morg had a lot of pent-up energy, but it was a very well-designed encounter that didn't have to result in us killing all of our opponents.

In the end, the blondey elf slaver lord was the only survivor on the enemy's side, but I could see this being an advantage as Morg has a real hate-on for him, and he could be a recurring enemy in the future if we go forward with this campaign. With our game ended, the town magistrate put us up in the barraccks for some rest and relaxation. He was impressed with our skills, and I imagine will be giving us some decent (hopefully non-slave related) jobs in the future.

Quick sidenote: with the exception of the first map we played on (which was a Paizo Flip-Mat), the maps provided to us where included in the free scenario. In addition, we players had extremely nice player cards that were dry-erase and had everything from stats to powers on them. I am very blown away by the quality of the production values for this free item. I'm guessing we'll see some of these kits being used at Gencon to demo D&D 4th Ed. and Dark Sun in general!

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