This was an odd session that we had only 3 players (plus myself). I’m used to juggling a much more crowded table, so I was super curious how this was going to go. This was complicated further by the specific characters – our Ice Warlock, Battle Master fighter (archer) and elemental Monk. You will note that there is not a lot of healing in that bunch.
Hook was pretty simple – Little old lady had her son’s claim, but he had died, and she needed money. Our heroes were going to help her. Of course, she was a green hag in disguise, running a scam to get them ambushed and dead. Amusingly, the only person who got hints of this was Tuesday, the war forged monk, whose understanding of human anatomy kept her from grasping the implications of a human feeling scaly.
The claim was one where a forest had pushed up through the ice. This is pretty obviously bad news because forests shouldn’t do that, and the whole thing was dark and twisty – pretty much a disney dark forest. Because two of the three party members lacked dark vision, they camped outside it as night fell. So, of course, they were ambushed by an awakened tree in the night. That fight went ok, but they saw the lantern of someone watching the fight retreat into the woods as they won. They pursued and I had a little bit of GM thrill because I ACTUALLY MANAGED TO PULL OFF A WILL O WISP ENCOUNTER.
The fight with the actual wisps (2 of them) went interesting directions. Wisps are fragile (low HP) but fast and tough (AC 19, resistant to normal damage) and the players had not had a short rest since the previous fight, so they had fewer resources than they would like. However, the players hit a few natural 20s which is enough to turn anything around.
Unfortunately, they were then lost in the woods, so they had to rest there, and it was bad enough (not enough gear, creepy) that they did not benefit from a long rest. This was compounded further when daylight came and they found their way out, and discovered their camp had been thoroughly pillaged. They followed the tracks back into the woods, but spotted the ambush and prepared their counter-ambush. They almost pulled it off, but that Hag spotted them and mimicked Kit’s voice calling for an attack, which pulled the trigger prematurely. The fight (against the Hag and 7 or 8 goblins) was nasty, but the simple fact that Kit was covering it from range kept it from going pear shaped.
The party ended up cutting a deal with the last of the Goblins for a share of the Hag’s treasure in return for leaving the rest of the clan out of it and being warned about the Hag’s safeguards. The deal worked out ok, and this goblin (“G”) is totally going to show up again sometime.
With G’s help, they dealt with the frogs that were guarding the Hag’s aquatic lair. He wasn’t much help with the skeletal abominations that animated when they disturbed her altar, but he also just got out of their way, so everyone was good with the deal when he took the cash and they took the magic items, recovered their gear, and headed back to Placeholder.
- I think this may have been the most fun treasure outlay to date. The dice gave us a Circlet of Blasting (which we decided was a piece of warforged weaponry that Tuesday has now installed in her arm), eyes of the eagle (so kit now has some badass looking googles, one of the first times I’ve been happy with a steampunk aesthetic) and a pair of Boots of Winter, which we decided were elven boots of the Ice Elves, which went to Tuaq. Fun, thematic stuff.
- Man oh man archer focused fighters remain delightfully badass.
- Tuaq’s first Warlock ability is based on the Archfiend pact (he gets ice armor that gives him temporary hit points) and they mattered a lot in the absence of healing.
- Tuesday felt a little currency deprived. With only 3 ki, she really could not do much elemental kung fu without frequent rests. Imagine this smooths out over time, but I admit it felt a bit less awesome than it should have.
- 3 players was a lot of fun. Fights went fast and things seemed less inclined to go off the rails. This makes sense – bigger group means more opportunities for edge cases to pop up. It also let me play around with smaller opponents, used cleverly, and I liked that a lot.
- They have now leveled to 4 (which will apply to the whole crew). I am now much more appreciative of how big a jump it’s going to be when they hit 5.
- My delight with the magic items really had me thinking about what makes magic items good and fun vs. mere slot fillers. One of the nice things about throwing back to the older model is that there’s a lot more of the stuff I found cool and colorful in old editions (rather than the more strictly utilitarian 4e stuff).
- I shed a single tear for how much 4e itemization crushed my soul.