Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pathfinder Complete, Part Three

DSCN0205, a photo by The Gonk on Flickr.
The third half of the first day of our Pathfinder fun (part one, part two). We played this last Sunday, and it went well, although not quite as smoothly for a variety reasons, mostly my fault. We had time on Sunday, and I had been monstrously busy at work, and figured this was about the only time I would have for at least another week, and I wanted to get the game finished. However, I had also just bought Number One Daughter the Hunger Games. She is a voracious, obsessive reader, and she made it clear in no uncertain terms that should would rather be reading!! I made it clear that I would really rather come and play with us, and I won. However, she was a little sulky. Mistake first of many, I suppose.

I ran them through a summary of the previous adventure. They were resting in an alcove with a magic pillar, along with a chalk inscription that finally warned them explicitly about the dragon ahead through a crypt (although, I don't think there was any surprise there, as I had had the dragon miniature bouncing around on my painting desk for a month). They could read runes on the pillar, which they could tell read "breath" and "water," which was intended for them to touch and get the ability to breathe water, so they could more easily cross the underground river ahead. They ignored the pillar, though. Fortunately, it wasn't needed, but in retrospect I felt I should have reminded Number One Son about Slate's Detect Magic skill and had him figure out precisely what the pillar did.

Across the deep underground river, they could see the glitter of metal hidden in debris. Kaijitsu and Slate swam the river easily, while Milton, unable to swim, stayed on the far bank. Kaijitsu and Slate soon began divvying the treasure find-- potions of invisibility and levitation, some gold, and a dragon-bane long sword. As they were determining who got what, Milton started yelling from the far bank. The reefclaw had emerged from the river and attacked him! Kaijitsu won initiative, and started to swim the river. She couldn't make it and attack, so I told her to try and throw a dagger-- only as I looked at the situation, I realized she would get a -4 for the reefclaw being next to Milton. At that point, I told her to she probably ought to go ahead and swim the river. She said she wanted to attack the the reefclaw from the water. Crap, I just wasn't prepared for that-- I was pretty sure there were no rules for that. Do I wing it? I was trying to teach the rules as well as play. I dithered a bit, then just asked to swim the whole way and attack from the land. She was obviously a little disappointed. Ugh! I should have just winged, I guess.

Anyway, Kaijitsu wound up dispatching the reefclaw with two slashes of her rapier, without it doing any damage in return. The party then went into the area with the goblin throne room, which had been the source of the earlier sounds of goblins arguing. The goblin king's sister had run off with his dragon toy-- obviously, she was the goblin corpse they had found said toy on in the spider's lair-- and the goblins were arguing about who would have to go find it. At this point, once the kids started trying to talk with the goblins, order rather fell apart. They were talking over each other, interrupting, making jokes, etc... I got a little irritated and had to calm them down again. Eventually, they had Milton hand over the toy dragon, and the goblin king gave them them a Wand of Cure Light Wounds. Yay! Only it turned out, nobody in the party could actually use that. Boooooo. Lack of prep on my part, I retconned it to a wand of magic missile, which please Number One Son Also, the goblin king...well, he told them the way to the dragon. Here my lack of preparation shone large, as I don't believe the king told them to strike at the dragon's belly. Which would have given them a large bonus to hit, I later read. Yeesh.

They scaled a cliff, and there were lots of cracks about leaving Milton behind, getting him killed to see what they could get off him, or just outright killing him. I guess that sort of stuff is just natural! Anyway, this cliff led into the aforementioned crypt, and three skeletons came out. I thought they wouldn't be too difficult, yet the party had a hard time. Nobody could hit for anything, and before too long, Milton would down and stabilized at -2 HP. Number One Son was saying that while his character probably wanted to stay, he wanted to get out of there, while Number One Daughter was saying that while her character probably wanted to leave him, she wanted to stay! Anyway, they retreated a while, away from the skellies and towards the dragon. I pointed this out to them, and they seemed to think the skellies would stay in the crypt. I wasn't sure why, but I said maybe, but maybe they would follow you and you'd just have to fight the dragon and and skeletons. The scales fell from their eyes, and they went back to fight the skeletons.

Slate at this point went into overdrive, using his Hand of the Apprentice to throw his quarterstaff into two of the skeletons, killing each in one blow, and then whacking the last one by hand for critical damage. They tended to Milton, trying to figure out what to do. In game, Milton encouraged them to finish the quest, and come back for him-- if they survived. They really dithered badly on this, so out of game, I explained that the cliff face and the threat of the dragon would probably keep any monsters from coming up from behind, and Milton was pretty secure. Still, Kaijitsu left him her bed roll and several rations.

At this point, I encouraged them to come with a plan of attack, as they could hear the dragon ahead. With only a bit of help from me, they decided Kaijitsu would quaff the potion of invisibility, then creep in and Sneak Attack the dragon with the dragon bane sword. Slate would provide magic missile fire support from behind cover. I talked about how Kaijitsu saw the dragon, slightly larger than a horse, was busy taking huge bites out of dead cow. "Old Betsy!" they declared.

Kaijitsu got into place, and struck home. The dragon roared, and Slate fired from cover, hitting him in the open mouth, I described. And then he used his move to fly away. I was very concerned about the outcome of this fight, a little tired of running it for the rambunctious kids, had a legitimate combat out, and I took it-- if the dragon is ever hit by the dragon bane sword, he flees. The kids seemed a little confused, I obviously didn't draw the connection in game well enough to the sword. I explained that they had basically defeated the dragon by their good planning, and they accepted that.

Then we got to the treasure.

The friggin' thing was guarding a scroll of new life-- basically, a resurrection spell. I don't believe I had ever noticed that at all, concentrating on everything up to that encounter, but nothing after. Not only that, Kaijitsu still carried the Energy Heart. I had been planning for so long to have the dragon acid blast her, since she was carrying it. However, in the heat of battle, and my desire to make sure they didn't die, I completely forgot. I completely should have had the battle go on for another couple of rounds, had the dragon breathe acid on Kaijitsu, attack once more, even if it killed her, and then flee in obvious fear from the dreaded sword. Stupid!! I'm so stupid!

Anyway, I'm a little self-critical because I want to do a better job next time. They had a reasonable amount of fun. Number One Daughter still just wanted to go read her book, so I released her. Number One Son was pretty excited about the game, and asked if she wasn't going to play in the game anymore, if he could have her stuff. LOL.

Number One Son has made noises about creating his own character-- an elf wizard. He said that he had tried to make a character, and found it a little confusing. I told him to go ahead and try, and then I would sit down with him later and go over with him and help him out. I'd like to maybe run him through a solo campaign. This whole game was two two hour sessions, which seemed to be long enough to accomplish some fun and interesting play, but still short enough to keep his attention. And, running the game for him alone seemed a little easier, although we'll see how that works out in longer sessions. Should Number Two Daughter ever wish to jump in, she can always either bring the wandering Kaijitsu back into town, or run a previous NPC.

Thinking about running a solo campaign in a rules-heavy system like Pathfinder, and for a low AC, low HP class like a Wizard, I was thinking about running a few Milton-like NPCs. They stay in the background, follow orders, soak hits, and most importantly, don't steal the spotlight. The three of us have just finished watching the Fellowship of the Ring, which they are very excited about, and he could take a sort of Gandalf role among some other lesser heroes. Anyway, just some thoughts, we'll see how it all shakes out.


  1. "No Dungeon (or other adventure scenario) survives contact with player characters intact", LOL! Good show. It is often easier to run these things for somebody *else's* kids than your own, I suspect.

    1. Peter, I am exactly that way. I expect more from my family, I suppose. I worked a help desk for years and cheerily helped people with their technical problems, but I get so frustrated with my wife's computer problems.

  2. I think it sounded like great fun. I've already purchased one of the Lego adventure games for my daughter and she had fun explring the Lego dungeon. I'll hook them on gaming or die trying!