Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day After 'Keep on the Shadowfell'

Last night was my first session with the new gaming group, and our first run through 4th edition D&D rules using the pre-rules release module, "Keep on the Shadowfell." The guys were all nice and, after BBQ sausages and chatting for a bit, we divvied up the character sheets and dug into the game.

Due to the fact the characters were pre-made, there was some question as to why and how some of the abilities were arrived at, but we played what we had. Within 5 minutes, we were ambushed by kobolds and found out that they weren't the same as the 3.5 edition cannon-fodder kobolds. Seems most critters have racial abilities, and kobolds are Shifty... they can 'shift' (move 5') as a free action. That meant they could come up, hit us, then move back. Then, when we went for 'em, they'd shift back again (using the free action) and we couldn't come in range. Enormous pain in the ass, given we were mostly close-range fighters.

Powers were pretty complementary. The Warlord and Paladin had group-enabling powers, most of which were activated with an attack. Paladin's was a once-a-day power that did 3d8+5 damage to a single target and allowed any one ally within 5 squares (25') to use a healing surge.

Healing surges are a handy new addition. Everyone has X healing surges per day. Only one can be used in combat. That's called a second wind. A healing surge gives you back 1/4 your health. While a second wind can only be taken once per combat, lots of abilities courtesy of the Warlord, Cleric or Paladin can allow someone to take a healing surge in addition to a second wind already taken.

Anyhoo... at the end of the night, we had a TPK... a total party kill. I've never been in a gaming group that's been wiped out, certainly not in the first game. The final encounter, however, was a bit overkill. Not enough minions (a great new 'fodder' feature for select baddies') and too many decent-strength kobolds. We also couldn't have outrun them, anyway. They could move farther each round than we could.

Overall, the rules are decent and work well. Game flow is vastly improved and there's a lot less of the "crap, I'm out of abilities - guess we have to camp" situations. After an encounter, a group can pause for a few minutes, use up healing surges to heal and regain once-an-encounter power. This allows for a lot more get-up-and-go and keeps things moving.


PG said...

Whoaaaa... I am not sure I like the sound of that. 3 minute recharge abilities? It sounds more like a video game than anything. Not that I was very keen on the "must campt 8 hours to regenerate", but it seems that D&D has gone the way of limitless power. I don't know - I guess I will have to read it. I like the idea of second wind, though. Sort of mirrors fiction where the protagonist is almost dead, and uses a last burst of energy to finish the bad guy.

12 days before I get a peek.


Wayward Mind said...

It's not limitless. If you use a second wind in a fight, that's a healing surge gone. If you get one initiated by a cleric, paladin or warlord, that's another one. (likely this will happen a few times - happened to me 3 times in the first small encounter... I used 4 healing surges, plus another 2 or 3 after the fight.) You don't get those back after a short rest.

When you see the rules, it'll make more sense. The classes are incredibly complementary. Teamwork counts. A lot.

PG said...

Well, we'll see! I like the concept of complementary roles and healing surges, but I guess I will have to test drive it to know.

I am even tempted to take D&D 4th Ed and translate it to GURPS 4th Ed. Just because.


Wayward Mind said...

You may not have to. I think you'll like the flexibility of the new edition. Takes a tonne more teamwork to overcome combat encounters as opposed to the "we stand there and hope they drop before we do" 3.x mentality.

Now it's more like: the rogue uses his at-will power to strike an enemy and shift it adjacent to the warlord. Warlord uses viper's strike (at-will) to hit it and will get an opportunity attack if the enemy shifts. The fighter cleaves, marking two targets (imposing a -2 attack if they attack anyone but the fighter). The wizard uses ray of frost to damage and cause a 50% movement reduction penalty on the enemy trying to flee. Paladin uses radiant strike, doing 3x damage and allowing the rogue to heal.

Etc. :) Everything can work in a complementary manner. It's pretty kick-ass.