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October 17th, 2004

Shoot First, Loot the Bodies Later

Well, yesterday being the celebration of D&D's 30th anniversary, it's appropriate that we played last night. I once again took up the mantle of DM, and after a rocky few attempts to pick it up again, I think my campaign has finally got a good head of steam again.

When last we left our intrepid heroes, two of them were suffering from level drains c/o a spectre, and one of them was also mentally dominated by a cursed club that wanted him to go forth and slay humans. In a way, this combination served them well, because picking up the club also hit the character with a level drain, knocking him unconscious and effectively preventing him from actually carrying out the club's nefarious plans. However, under the club's influence, the character managed to break away from the rest of the party and flee into the woods, where he encountered a drow cleric on a mission of her own. The scenario began with the rest of the party searching for the escaped character.

Well, I knew the party would be hostile to a drow cleric, but since she was not immediately threatening, just sorta creepy, I figured they'd probably parley a bit, and from her get the various spells they needed to remove the influence of the club, even if they eventually sent her packing when they found out what her mission was.

Nothing doing; they attacked her on sight and sent her fleeing (via teleport from her dark master) with a handful of hit points left. This left the lawful good monk arguing that creepy as she was, she was peaceful and hadn't hit them first, to which others in the group replied that when it comes to drow clerics, you don't need a reason. It also left them level-drained and club-dominated ... but a good DM knows that you should always have a backup plan in case the players don't do what you expect. To that end, I had another cleric (a dwarf, this time, and one they'd be more inclined to be friendly to) in the next town.

(Re: attacking drow on sight, I'm half-tempted to import Drizz't from "Forgotten Realms" just to mess with them. But that'd be mean, wouldn't it? "Okay, you just ambushed the lawful good drow 10th-level fighter 1st-level barbarian 5th-level ranger. Roll your initiatives and hope he goes easy on you. By the way, your alignment just shifted.")

Anyway, that was just the prologue to the actual adventure. Another adaptation from Dungeon magazine (All hail the incredibly-useful Dungeon magazine!), this adventure besets the heroes with a town where the entire population (except for a few holdouts) has been turned into skeletons by means as-yet-undetermined. By day, the skeletons lurch around the town going through mockeries of their former lives: skeleton farmers harvesting badly-tended crops, skeleton guardsmen taking tolls as you enter the gates, a skeleton bartender serving skeleton patrons who promptly splash themselves with the ale because they've got no throats.

Fortunately, the mentally-dominated fighter had the presence of mind to go to the tavern first, where they found a new party member for the time being, the aforementioned dwarf cleric. For a very reasonable price, he burned up a few scrolls and potions to cure them of their ills, and then they went exploring the town.

They never did find out exactly what the drow cleric's mission was, other than it involved the wraith that's supposedly causing the town's odd haunting. A mission she still has, I might add ... we'll see what happens next week!

-The Gneech

How To Make a Computer Game Annoy Gneech

  1. Put in respawning enemies in general, and levels full of them in particular. Require that Gneech's character have to go back and forth through these stupid levels full of respawning enemies multiple times, effectively forcing him to keep fighting the same stupid fights over and over and over. For bonus annoyance points, make those fights irritatingly tough, rather than little skirmishes.

  2. Build scenarios that effectively make some character builds useless, particularly character builds that Gneech is fond of. For instance, when Gneech wants to play (say) an elven archer, put in lots and lots of fights with undead (negating sneak attack) or creatures with damage resistance (requiring melee and power attack).

  3. Combine #1 and #2, e.g., levels full of respawning undead. If a fight was tough for an elvish archer the first time, surely we can annoy Gneech that much more by having the same irritatingly tough fight happen again and again.

  4. Make it so that when Gneech has finally reached the point where the game isn't fun any more but is just work, adjusting the difficulty to "easy" doesn't make a difference. For instance, if Gneech is being hit with half a dozen insta-kill spells every round, have it so that "easy" doesn't change the saving throws at all.

  5. Hit Gneech with half a dozen insta-kill spells every round. Have those spells take effect no matter how much spell resistance Gneech stacks onto his character.

  6. Have creatures that automatically detect Gneech's stealth character at any range, no matter what his character's stealth skills are. That cloak of elvenkind is a nuisance, so let's just ignore it.

  7. "You cannot rest when there are enemies nearby." And where are they, exactly?

  8. Did we mention respawning enemies? Why shouldn't there be an infinite supply of shadow mages?

Le sigh.

-The Gneech <-- wants to finish Shadows of Undrentide, but is rapidly losing patience with it

More Undrentide Griping

The Arcanist's Tower/Shadow Realm level is insane. Seriously. If I was a player in a group with a DM like this, I would have quit by now. After you use up all of your ammo/spells/items just getting through the Infinite Shadow Mage generators to the boss level, you then have to deal with something like 15 shadow mages and shadow healers, PLUS the shadow lich AND all the crap it summons. And of course, the first thing they do off the bat is cast darkness, which mysteriously makes your henchman forget that they're there and stand around picking lint out of his navel while they hit you with spell after spell after spell -- all of which amazingly penetrate any SR items you might be wearing.

(Yo, Deekin: what part of "Attack Nearest" didn't you understand?)

It wouldn't be as hard if I still had my necklace of fireballs, but -- OH YEAH! I used it up to get to the end of the friggin' level. 0.o

Okay, so I guess I need to go back to an earlier save and hit the magic shop for a ton of scrolls of any and all area affect spells I can get, because my only hope is to come in like a meteor shower and knock 'em all dead in a couple of rounds -- otherwise, I'm just going to keep getting "You are dead. Do you wish to load a saved game or quit playing?" for the rest of eternity.

When a hasted 11th-level elvish fighter/rogue with SR 14, AC 29, +3 to all saves, owl's wisdom, cat's grace, endurance, and bull's strength -- who then lets fly with two cones of cold to start the fight -- is dead within five rounds and there are still 8+ mooks and an uninjured boss still standing, THE FIGHT IS TOO DAMN HARD. Crikey.

-The Gneech <-- would like to see the end credits, but not THAT badly

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