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Dungeons and Dragons: the Debreifing

So last night's session happened. People seemed to enjoy themselves, but I'm not so sure it went as well as I would have liked...

The premise was that one of the party's companions, a half-red dragon sorcereress named Cinder, was lost to one of the Infinite Layers of the Abyss - Gelid - and after a few battles and plane-hops the party have finally been able to attempt to rescue her.

The PCs in question for this session were Ariss (vorex), Ibrahim (mousebane), Dayne (bishi_wannabe) and Treganter (Lon). Sir not appearing in this film was Tethryn (who will return when morsla hands in his thesis).

Thre party had just managed to escape the inescapable realm of Oubliette, and found themselves in Westgate, one of the larger cities in the plane of Toril (hello Forgotten Realms). Thethryn left the party for a short time to visit his relatives and (coughcough) ex-wife, down by the Lake of Steam. A young monk named Shadow who had followed him from Oubliette was left feeling quite awkward after his departure, and left on horseback to the north to rediscover her purpose.

The party meanwhile made arrangements to have a planar gate to Gelid opened. Fortunately enough they already had a guide - a teifling theif named Bastion, who has taken quite a shine to Ariss. Bastion had been held as a slave for quite some time by the Abyssal Lord Anaxie, who rules over Gelid with a bloodied iron fist.

Anyway, the party was taken in by the ruse of three succubi in disguise, who took a bit of a fancy to Ibrahim. When they attacked, Ibrahim took the brunt of it. Once they were defeated, the party took to teasing Ibrahim (who is known to have shared feelings with Cinder), who promptly lost patience, failed a listen check, and stormed off right into a pack of Winter Wolves.

Being half fire genesai (or however it's spelt), Ibrahim was at quite a disadvantage, and despite the best efforts of himself (and the rest of the party), he fell beneath the Winter Wolves icy onslaught. He was, however, promptly ressurected by Markov, a recently hired cleric of Selune... but what damage has been done that divine spells cannot mend?


There was more actual roleplaying this session than in previous sessions, and consequently less bashy-bashiness of monsters. However, the whole monster thing is a bit of a concern to me, because... well... we have a fighter. The thing about fighters is that they end up being much tougher than the rest of the party, and I'm now becoming increasingly concerned about game balance. You know, keeping challenges that are interesting (but not overly fatal) for the majority of the party that the fighter won't just mash in two rounds. Or, alternately, that the fighter will find challenging without mashing the rest of the party.

Sigh. It's a tough life.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 15th, 2004 06:00 pm (UTC)
Well, Dayne is a stock, off the rack fighter. He hits things, has a lot of hitpoints...and well, that's the whole story.

I have for roleplaying reasons done some things that have twinked a few of his social skills...but we don't have a bard, so that's not stepping on anyone's niche.

Common wisdom seems to be that mages (especially specialty mages) leave fighters behind in the dirt in terms of flexibility and raw damage capacity (especially against nasty foes with huge AC), but the fighter makes up for it with sheer consistency, chugging along at the same meaty level of power for the whole session. Treganter and Dayne should be roughly converging - I'd say they're pretty equal already.

Ibrahim's problem, were I forced to guess, would be that he's perhaps a bit too rounded - rather than having a touch of fighter to enhance his spellcasting, or the ability to drop a couple of spells to help out his fighting, he seems to be split down the middle - which, like most generalised characters in most games, means you can participate in a wide variety of situations, but never shine like a specialist.

Dayne, on the other hand, is really a liability to the party until a fight starts - outside a fight he doesn't have a lot to contribute, mechanically, and in a roleplaying sense causes all sorts of trouble with his crazy skewed-paladin morality. That means, of course, when a fight starts, he goes ballistic, because that's his niche - as long as it's a conventional fight. Unusual fights tend to leave him lacking because he's a stock fighter, there to crunch up the line monsters and soak damage - but he has no special capabilities.
Sep. 15th, 2004 06:04 pm (UTC)
The other thing is that I feel no pressing need to be challenged. I enjoy easy fights as well as tough ones. Don't fret about me getting bored because I easily kill the enemy - drown me in goblins and watch me giggle ^_^

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 15th, 2004 10:06 pm (UTC)
The challenge thing has always struck me as a little funny, actually - there seems to be a persistent idea that you have to constantly keep challenging combat characters, upping the pressure on them whenever their skills increase - surely, though, the point of increasing those skills in the first place is to have an easier time of combat?
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 16th, 2004 12:32 am (UTC)
I think the CR system is based on the assumption that if it isn't "challenging", is your character really gaining anything (well other than the joy of looting corpses) from the experience.

I guess it falls back onto whether or not the GM believes in tailoring every encounter to fit the CR curve (so that x encounters of CR = to party level results in a level up), or make encounters as defined by the plot/setting and refer to the curve to work out how much XP any given enounter is worth.
Sep. 16th, 2004 02:30 am (UTC)
The trend is probably much stronger in non D&D games, where the sort of base level of combat competency (assuming you use all your stuff, as poor Ibrahim didn't on that occaision) is more or less protected by the class system.
Sep. 16th, 2004 04:04 pm (UTC)
I look at the CR system as a means of guaging what will be a conflict that will keep the interest of the players without being too hard.

After all, I *could* just throw a never ending army of kobolds at them, but I want them to enjoy the session.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )