Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Apologies, Play Reports, and... Disneyfication?!

First off, apologies to all following the work on this blog: partly due to work, partly due to no less than three friends getting married this month, and partly due to having started running my campaign for my group sooner than originally thought, time has been a little tight. The upside of my free time mostly going in to preparing the campaign to be run means that I have quite a lot of notes on the conversion of the adventure ready to be typed up into something more substantial for the blog; my group have reclaimed the monastery and have now moved on to their first "guerilla" run on Kelmarane, so I hope to have part two and some of part three up on the site before too long. Meanwhile, my group have opted for a theme for their party that is somewhat... unusual.

Legacy of Fire is one of Paizo's more mature adventure paths with it's darker themes (although almost all of their Pathfinder adventures have tended to be rather "grown up" in this respect) and my group decided that all their characters were going to be from Disney cartoons. Originally, they were all going to be from Aladdin due to the vague Arabian flavour to Katapesh, but the idea grew a little bit in scope, so we now have: -

  • Aladdin - Human Rogue
  • Jasmin - Human Shaman with Rajah as the spirit companion.
  • Jaffar - half mummy Warlock-Invoker hybrid class (actually a refluffed Shadar-Kai race and lots of reflavoured powers into things like beetle swarms). The character is a little sinister in tone, which I would usually be wary of including, but I believe the player behind the character should be able to avoid the characters nature becoming an obstruction to the rest of the group.
  • Mowgli - a Warden who in game is perfectly human, but mechanically uses the gnoll race after being raised amongst a tribe of the creatures, which could provide some interesting contrasts with Dashki later in the adventure.
  • Rafiki - a mandrill Monk (more reflavouring, this time using the rules for the halfling race for the simian character). Thankfully, the player decided that the character can speak Common perfectly, although he doesn't always present this fact up front.
In our first session, there was a bit of settling down, questions about the characters and little bits of tweaking to account for my house rules (half level stacks with odd stat bonuses and the background traits listed in an earlier post being the only pertinent ones so far). When we got down to the actual play, the group managed to make it through the opening group of skill challenges before we had to call it a night. As two of my players had never had any experience of 4th Edition prior to this but had heard some rumours of it being "nothing but combat", I felt that this was a nice introduction showing the adaptability of the rules and also a gentle way of introducing some of the rules without the comparatively larger amount of rules involved in the combat aspect.

After the players had introduced themselves (as far as their characters were willing: Jafar, for one, had been a little reticent to fill the group in on his full background) they came to Almah's camp with the fire having fully taken hold. They needed little prompting to actually start getting involved with helping out, although Jafar kept his distance from the fire and any manual work and involved himself with bossing about the guards to form a more organised bucket chain. Aladin busied himself carrying several buckets at time, Mowgli briefly assisted with trying to push the second cart but then moved to assist Jasmin in the rounding up of animals, and Rafiki started helping out Father Zastoran with the injured mercenaries, but opted to forgo speaking any common just at present to avoid startling the rather shaken priest.

A few things became apparent as I was running these challenges, the first of which was that I could really have done with a single sheet overviewing all the skill check DCs for each challenge, as I ended up shuffling backwards and forwards through my sheaf of notes frequently moving from one player to the next. Thankfully I was very familiar with the design, which helped in this regard, but if such a thing would have been useful for me, it would obviously be very useful to anyone running the adventure who didn't have the benefit of having designed the encounters. This is obviously something that will need including when it comes time to compile all the notes in to a reference document.

The other thing was that it was very useful to have the social skill challenges for befriending members of the camp available for certain members of the party to segue into after they had dealt with the physical challenges most appropriate to their areas of expertise. With the higher complexity of the Healing the Wounded Firefighters challenge, this particular section of the encounter outlasted the extinguishing of the fire and rounding up of the animals, but only two of the party had skill training in Healing, while one had enough of a stat bonus to be able to make fairly consistant Aid Other checks. This still left two characters (Jafar and Aladin) with little to do after success in the other challenges, but thankfully they started to ask questions of the camp inhabitants, which allowed for a few early checks on the social challenges. This was little more than a happy accident in design on my part, but a valuable lesson for going forward.

With both the mercenaries in stable condition, the other members of the party started getting involved in the social and investigative side of things and the group mostly split up to interview the NPCs most appropriate to their characters: Jafar continued to try to take charge with the guards; Mowgli spoke to Dashki to assess his knowledge of things gnollish; Jasmin conferred with Hadrod and Hadrah regarding the livestock; Rafiki meanwhile shocked Zastoran by enunciating the common tongue perfectly and once the old man recovered, struck up a quick friendship.

The party was quick to point the finger at Dashki as the source of the fire, but were rather eager to bury him up to his neck without investigating his claims of little pixie like creatures. Thankfully, mention of the missing goat set Mowgli out looking for goat tracks, which he easily found along with many tracks of tiny bipedal creatures, which swayed much of the group towards believing Daski's story, although not enough that they didn't insist on him being kept under the close watch of the Pactmaster guards while they struck out into the night on a pugwampi hunt rather than have the man accompany them. And so, as party headed out into the moonlit desert, a few torches in hand, our first session came to a close.

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