There’s been a lot of gaming going on in the time since my last post. The 4e Dark Sun game I’m in is still happening, though we’ve hit another long streak of cancelled sessions due to a variety of sickness and conflicting schedules. After concluding the initial adventure that brought us out of the wastelands and into Tyr we completed a number of shorter adventures, one within the city and another just outside it’s walls.

In both we were working for the Veiled Alliance, the first time clearing out the den of a Defiler in the city with the help of a Templar and the second being sent to an abandoned keep in search of an ancient Preservers documents. Within the underground chambers of the keep our 3 man party (Knight, Barbarian, & Bladesinger) encountered the deadly, vile and unholy Tembo.

It killed us in 4 rounds.

After a brief discussion we decided to rewind and try it again, this time with 2 companion character versions of PC’s that hadn’t made it to that session (A Shaman and a Bow Fighter). With the help of those 2 we managed to kill it…barely. It came down to the companion character Fighter and the Tembo. Everyone else was unconscious and close to dying, and the last 2 rounds were very climatic as both the Fighter and the Tembo were in single digit Hit Points; a wild swing or lucky shot would have sealed our doom, but in the end the Tembo was slain and the Fighter stood victorious. We were slightly chagrined that it was the companion character that saved the day, but we knew that we couldn’t have done it otherwise.

As we left the keep we encountered a small band of men waiting outside, led by a Templar of Urik. After the Tembo these guys were a cakewalk, but they were a setup for the current adventure we’re on: The Road to Urik. Our DM is a huge Dark Sun fan and likes to convert the old adventures for us. I’m not sure how long this adventure is, but we’re a few sessions in and it’s been interesting to play a 2nd Edition adventure after years of playing and running 3rd edition.

In the few sessions we’ve played this adventure it’s been mostly running around the city of Tyr and talking to people, trying to influence, persuade or do jobs for them. Our Barbarian failed in the one on one combat versus the leader of the Gladiators in order to win control of that faction. We were also manipulated into securing an incompetent figurehead as the leader of the army, something our characters weren’t happy with. One thing that has made this adventure interesting is that it’s just been our 3 man party and between us, my Human Knight is the only one that is trained in a social skill, and it’s Intimidate.

So it’s been amusing, going through the mainly social parts of this adventure with three fierce warriors that lack the finer aspects of social graces. However, we did manage to discredit the Urik spy that had been rallying people in the streets. Through a combination of Intimidate and evidence of the Urik cape taken from the dead Templar outside the keep we were able to convince the crowd that he was lying and we chased him down and captured him. Old school tip: always take any clothing or insignia from dead enemies that bears an official marking. Never know when you’ll need to use it as a disguise or as evidence.

That’s where we currently stand in the adventure as we haven’t played a session since then, but I think we’re all eager to being the interrogation of the spy and take the fight to Urik.

As we haven’t played the Dark Sun game in about a month and a half I’ve had time to play with another gaming group in town. We started out with one DM (Dan) running his homebrew world setting in the Heroic Tier. We’re 4th level in that game and I’ve been playing an Essentials Assassin. The Executioner is a mixed bag in that it’s definitely a striker, but it lacks the big hits like a Barbarian or steady damage of a Thief. I knew this going in though and have settled into a niche of stealth and garrote attacks. I’m enjoying the character, both mechanically and role-playing. We’re currently on a mission to save a Paladin that got himself into trouble…but my character has been secretly ordered to assassinate him. So we’ll see how that goes.

That game happens every other week and in the by weeks we’ve started playing an Epic Tier game. One of the players has taken up the DM screen and is running a game based in Sigil using a variation on the old Great Wheel cosmology. Sigil is again at the top of the Infinite Spire, and I think it’s a shame that 4th edition got rid of that. We’re starting at 21st level and we’ve had 3 session so far. It’s been an interesting experience.

The party consists of a Dwarven Slayer/Warlord (me), Minotaur Cleric, Eladrin Summoner Wizard, and an Eladrin Bladesinger. The Bladesinger is crazy at Epic tier. It was amazaing to see the amount of battlefield mobility via teleportation that he had. My Slayer is no slouch either as I went with the Halberd and the Polearm Gamble feat. He gets a lot of off-turn attacks from other feats like Agile Opportunist and Stonefoot Repisal. Through the few sessions we’ve had I’ve learned a few things about Epic tier.

1. Before play begins, have each player go over their main combos or tricks.

I redesigned parts of my character before we even started playing. Through a combination of feats & magic items, I had basically made my character immune to any melee attack that wasn’t a reach attack (Polearm Gamble + Polearm Momentum + Knock-Back Swing + Rushing Cleats). The DM and I talked about and both agreed it was overpowered. The current setup I have is a small version of that, letting me keep some of the tricks but I’m in no way immune anymore. So it’s important for both the players and the DM to vet the characters for potentially game breaking combinations, whether intentional or not.

2. Know your characters abilities.

One of the players had a full page printout of an MS Excel spreadsheet listing his attack and defense options. Another had a 3/4″ binder with various notes and cheat sheets. I was able to fit my notes on a large index card, but that’s partly because I was playing a Slayer. They are both easy and fun to run and I anticipated that at Epic levels it was going to be a lot to keep track of, and I was right. For players and DM’s that are going into Epic Tier for the first time I strongly recommend sticking to Essential classes unless you’ve been playing your characters since Heroic tier. If you’re starting the campaign at Epic it’s almost overwhelming trying to remember and understand all the things your character can do. On the other hand if you’ve been playing your character for 15 levels you probably have a solid understanding.

3. No retcons.

One of the rules that our DM laid out was that there’s no going back. If you forgot that a power had an extra effect on your turn, too late. With the amount of craziness flying around it’s chaotic enough without having to go back a few turns and adjust from there. This rule applied to the DM as well as the players, so it was an across the board ruling. If you forgot it, keep rolling and try and remember it next time. I’m sure this saved a lot of time and helped to speed up the combat time, which seems to be the golden ticket in 4e.

There’s more gaming to report on but it’s not D&D. Next post: My first campaign of Legend of the Five Rings!