D&D 4E: It’s a trap!

Floor 2

If this doesn’t look like a tense situation to you, let me describe it better. We’re in the basement of a ruined tower; after a pitched battle on the floor above, we descend warily to the floor below, and in the flickering light of some braziers (NOT BRASSIERES, WENNER), see four sarcophagi and three kobold skirmishers guarding an altar to Tiamat, the Ender of Worlds.

I, dragonborn paladin Tipa, roll dead last on initiative, and stand frozen in fear of the crudely-hewn icon of Tiamat as the rest of the Adventure Co spring into action. Halfling thief Wenner and human wizard Bryn do some damage to one of the three kobolds. Elf cleric Sheeoil (whom we’d found unconscious on the stairs) discovers a trap — click. Sproing. Those braziers are _armed_.

The kobolds, alerted, heft their spears and move to attack. Wenner gets some deadly shuriken attacks in while Bryn keeps things heated up with the magic missiles. I’m lumbering slowly into position, as I have no ranged attacks (I’ll have to work on that).

The kobolds split up to flank me; I mark one with divine radiance, causing 7 damage to it if it attacks anyone else before my next turn. My halberd rings uselessly on the stone floor as I miss my attack, but I follow up with a puff of acid breath which burns and bloodies it. The other gets an attack of opportunity on me. Wenner sneaks up and hits it for normal + sneak attack damage. It turns to attack Wenner and my Divine Radiance goes off on it. Sheeoil attacks with a spell that grants me a couple extra much needed hit points while damaging the kobold.

The kobold I am attacking starts to run to the stairs leading further down; I pursue and Intimidate it. It cowers beneath dragonborn fury as the others finish off the second kobold.

Question time. We luckily both speak Draconic, and as we question it, it tells us that the kobolds are attacking caravans in order to obtain skulls for the Skull Skull Arena game… on the next floor. It has no other useful information for us.

Wenner, who has been off searching the altar for treasure (and finds 60 gold), comes by and casually sinks a dagger into the poor creature. I restrain myself from eating the halfling right there, and burn two Lay on Hands Claws to bring the kobold back to consciousness. I tell the kobold to go and never come back. It scurries off to the higher levels.

I may have need of those two Lay on Claws in the Skull Skull Arena. Thanks, Wenner. Wenner sheepishly admits that he found ten gold pieces on the altar, and offers to share them.*

Next week: The Game of Skulls.

* no, he didn’t actually try to keep more than his share. But he should have!

D&D: Kobold Seasoning

A tense encounter...

We’d been framed for crimes we did not commit, were thrown into jail, broke out, tracked down a crime boss to a tavern and beat the crap out of a halfling.

The day was starting off swell.

While our elven cleric, Sheeoil, was off dealing with some ecclesiastical emergency, the rest of us were asked by the local lord to see about a minor kobold problem… he’s sent the guard, but they apparently don’t return. There seems to be some darker power behind the kobolds… and wouldn’t we really be having more fun AWAY from the local tavernry? Of course we would!

We were three — the human wizard Bryn, the halfling thief Wenner (not the one we pulped back in the town), and me, Tipa Redscale, a dragonborn paladin of Bahamut.

The basement beneath the tower ruins seemed promising. And dark. We lit torches and sent the halfling to scout ahead. A kobold, bleary-eyed, shot out of the darkness! Wenner deftly knocked him into a pit of slime, Bryn roasted him with a magic missile, and I sealed the deal by mincing it with my halberd.

This was going to be EASY.

One more kobold ran screaming out of the shadows. We heard an iron grate raise, and three more came from some deeper level.

This was NOT going to be so easy.

Hours later (real time), three of the kobolds were dead, one escaped, bleeding, back below, Wenner had danced with death and bounced a few shurikens off the walls, hoping for deadly ricochet damage; Bryn had explained to the kobolds everything he knew about magic missiles; and my halberd was well-sanctified in kobold blood. Plus, I got to grope the halfling.

Not as much fun as it sounds.

Last night we finally got to use all the tools we’ve been learning to use — Google+ hangout, Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop, and DM Chris had found a cool online tool, Dungeon Painter, to quickly make nice looking dungeons that could be imported into Fantasy Grounds.

Can’t wait for next week :)

D&D 4E: All fun and games until someone loses connection

Hanging out on Google+

Last night was the second meeting of our intrepid crew of D&D 4th Edition (D&D 4E) adventurers. If the internet was made for porn, surely social networking sites were made to play D&D. One of the first ideas _anyone_ gets is, hey, I can’t find folks to play D&D with locally, but all my online friends want to play… maybe I could use MySpace/LiveJournal/message boards/forums/Google Wave OR WHATEVER.

We all remember sitting around a table with our friends from high school or college and just acting out bizarre scenarios which would make us pariahs to the mundanes… who would watch on in bemused merriment… but that was okay. We were not only in our own little world — we MADE our own little worlds.

And had fun doing it!

It’s been hard to recreate that sense of playing with real people ever since. But Google+ has this neat “Hangout” feature, where up to ten folks can gather together and just do whatever. There are music performance hangouts where people play music for each other or collaborate on new stuff. Cooking hangouts. Storytelling hangouts. And D&D4E hangouts.

I know we’re not the first. It was such an obvious idea.

Fantasy Grounds

Chris Smith of Level Capped offered to host a game online, do all the work to get a campaign made, host what needed hosting and so on. A handful of us signed up to be guinea pigs sacrifices players, and we got to ordering our dice and player handbooks ($$$) while Chris figured out just how we were going to bring the tabletop into our hangout.

Chris found a suite of free tools from RPTools that seemed to solve the problem. There was a map maker, a character builder, a dice roller and so on. In our first session, we connected to Chris’ server and played around with the tools while we rolled up our characters.

Last night, we were going to go on an ADVENTURE!!!!

If… we could all connect to the tool. There were issues getting our characters into the character builder. We couldn’t all connect to the map server at once. Some would get right in, some would sit at a “Connecting…” screen forever. It just wasn’t working for us.

So… we went to a paid alternative, Fantasy Grounds from Smite Works. For $24, Fantasy Grounds promised a much better player and DM experience, with real 3D dice rolling (thankfully I had my 3D glasses with me), automatic handling of attacks and damage and powers and so on.

It took us most of the evening to figure out how to enter all our information. They have this cool parser which takes spell and ability descriptions, verbatim, from the player handbook and figures out what to roll and save against, all that boring paperwork stuff.

Once we seemed ready, an Ancient White Dragon attacked and killed us all.

Well. It tried to attack. It didn’t get so far on the killing us all bit. We tried to attack back. We didn’t get so far on the dragon slaying, either.

In a poof of greasy black smoke, the dragon vanished and a weak kobold stood in its place. We could hardly do a thing to it.

So… it was getting a little late and we left the Lord Dungeon Master to figure out how combat worked beyond rolling pretty dice.

Next week: The party will be ambushed by a group of monsters that will come as a complete surprise to us! The PERILS OF SCREEN SHARING!