Monthly Archives: June 2012

Dungeons & Dragons & Disney Session 3.

In our third session, the princesses undertake to enter and explore Malificent’s castle.

Notably Shari has switched from Tinkerbelle to Aurora. Since Ally was using the Aurora mini for Rapunzuel, she picked out a new mini, which looks even less like Rapunzuel. I might have to kitbash something.

 

I used the Paizo Monastary dungeon map, which has a quite labyrinthine catacomb level. The first room had three Zombie Grapplers and Four Decrepit Skeletons (Monster Vault), and a Poltergeist (custom level 2 elite artillery). The Skeletons were atop pillars and kept shooting down arrows, and the three Grapplers were on different sides of the room. Immediately Fionna, Mulan, and Rapunzel each charge a different zombie. The princesses still have a bit of a problem figuring out focus fire. After the first skeleton dies, Cinderella teleports atop one of the pillars; Tianna moves her light spell around the room to get the most of the battlefield each turn, and Cinderella keeps teleporting around so she is lit from below.

 

The Poltergeist proves to be annoying. With 52 hitpoints and insubstantial, it can take a pounding. It also gets an area burst 1 each turn. Despite everyone reminding each other to not clump up, that’s exactly what happens turn after turn. Fortunately, the damage on the burst is fairly low. Eventually they take it down.

 

They rest, and climb up one of the ledges to a raised doorway and explore the next room, and encounter one of Aurora’s fairy grandmothers, who were cursed by Maleficent. Now these were pretty nasty level 2 elite controllers: they had a ranged attack that immobilized (save ends), and also a teleport 10 that could teleport through walls without line of effect (recharge on a 6). So they would immobilize Mulan, Fionna, or Rapunzel, shoot some other attacks, and then teleport away. At first it was just one, then two, then three. Due to a lack of save granting powers, many of our heroines spent major parts of the fight immobilized, and many Heal checks were made to grant saves. Fortunately, Tianna, Rapunzel, and Aurora all have heal trained.

 

The final chamber featured Malificent in the deepest chambers, where Prince Charming was magically asleep. With a clue from one of Tianna’s earlier Auguries, they knew a Dragon was going to be in the dungeon, and were now pretty sure that it was going to be Malificent once she was bloodied. So Tianna went up and cast her transform into Frog daily on Malificent, using Heroic Effort to hit. She saved right away, but even so, it prevented a whole turn of attacks. Then Fionna charged up with her daily power, Life Ending Strike, and rolled a crit, for 46 damage. With the small damage Malificent had taken before, this was enough to bloody her, triggering her transformation and a breath attack! Cinderella followed up with an action point Crown of Glory for massive damage and blinding. I action pointed on my next turn for four attacks at final total of +2 to hit, managing to hit Fionna twice and knocking her out, but the dragon was soon defeated, only getting to make one turn of attacks.

 

Afterwards, the Faerie Godmothers offered to enchant either the group’s armor or weapons/implements. After some confusion whether people actually had armor or not (yes they did, and cloth counts as armor), they chose the armor path. Fionna now has Bloodcut Armor +1, and everyone else has vanilla Armor +1. (And again, it was a case of ‘you get the special armor,’ ‘no, you get the special armor.’)

 

Next session they will travel to Cinderella’s kingdom, where things are being turned into different things.

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Building Better Minions

`When 4th Edition first came out, Minions were one of my favorite innovations- the mook monster that only takes one hit, meaning you can throw tons of them at the players, and keep easy bookkeeping. Players seem to respond well to them too, especially when they can come up with tricks to mow them down (Flaming Sphere seems to be a favorite at 1st level). However, experienced players may have noticed that minions don’t always pack the full punch of their XP value, and with the need for a simpler design block, too often a minion is simply a static damage number, and not much differs one minion from another. So here are some of my ground rules for minions:

*Use more than you think you’ll need.
Minions are overcosted. Throw in a couple of extra to spice things up. It allows characters with area attacks to get a little more mileage. Try intentionally have them loosely clump, so your party wizard can take out two or three at a time, but not the whole bunch.

*Pair them with Leaders, Soldiers, or Skirmishers.
Any Leader in general that grants attack bonuses to your minions allows you to get a few extra hits out of them before their inevitable demise. More minions means more combatants, which means more flanking opportunities, which is good for Skirmishers and melee Soldiers. Some soliders also have mark effects, which can keep your Minions alive a little longer.

*Give them abilities that are simple but strategically interesting.
Minions should never have recharge abilities, and should rarely have encounter abilities (you can use a marker or token to represent that it has used its encounter ability.) A minion that does +2 damage on a flank gives more tactical opportunities than a minion that does 1d8 extra damage on a critical hit. (An with the later, you have no guarantee the ability will ever come into play.)

*Do something cool when killed.
Because let’s face it, it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Heroic Threats contains 20 minions. They are:

The Rodens Squeaker (level 1 skirmisher) has the Rodens racial abilities of Rodens Tactics and Scuttle into Darkness, which already lets it have an easier time of gaining combat advantage and flee from missed attacks, but its Scatter! Ability lets it shift out of the way of an incoming area attack, as long as one creature remains to get hit by the attack.

The adorable Lap Drake (level 1 lurker) is immune to close and area attacks while in another creature’s space, and its attacks can force you to grant combat advantage as it nips at your heels.

The Shadow Figment (level 2 lurker) has all the stealthiness of other Shadows, and its Not Really There ability gives it a bonus to defenses against close and area attacks, making it harder to take them out in clumps.

The Halfling Lookout (level 2 artillery) has the Sound the Alarm encounter power, which lets it make an attack and then a move as a single standard action, which it can then follow up with another move, clearing plenty of ground in one turn.

The Cultist Initiate (level 3 controller), as already seen, inflicts ongoing poison damage. However, if the target is already taking such damage, it instead deals bonus damage. Spread out the damage, or clump on one person- it’s your call. Their Dance of Knives ability also gives them some shifty mobility to set up flanks.
The Mudman Slime (level 3 brute) creates Muddy Terrain when it dies, which will slow down your players, and benefit other Mudmen in the encounter.

The Zombie Runner (level 4 skirmisher) gets an additional bonus to hit and damage with charge attacks. But more important, if it’s reduced to 0 hp during its own turn (such as by an opportunity attack), it doesn’t die until the end of its turn, allowing it to finish its charge.

The Dwarven Miner (level 4 controller) can Mine Out solid barriers and walls from the encounter, opening up new passages for attack.

The Shifter Sellsword (level 5 soldier) and Shifter Fangshot (level 5 artillery) both get a twist on the Shifting racial power. Packheart Shifting gives them +2 to speed and +2 to damage if another minion with the same name has been reduced to 0 hp.

The Doom Shroom (level 6 controller) is slow, but deals poison damage in a Close Burst 1. Worse, when killed, it releases poisonous spores in a close burst 2!

The Satyr Reveler (level 6 skirmisher) has a minor action Kick that pushes the target 1 square. Multiple Revelers can set up a dangerous chain reaction.

The Elven Archery Adept (level 7 artillery) has the Rapid Volley attack, which allows it to repeat its ranged attack at another target at -2 if it hits, then -4 at a third target, -6 at a fourth, and so on. With good rolls, it might hit your whole party for 5 each turn.

The Eladrin Blade Student (level 7 skrirmisher) has an at-will teleport speed of 2, allowing it to be very maneuverable in a tight melee.

The Razor Vine (level 8 brute) thirsts for blood- it gains combat advantage against bloodied enemies. In addition to doing brute damage, its attacks add just a touch of ongoing damage.

The Living Storm Wisp (level 8 artillery) has a Ranged attack that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, and deals Thunder damage to everyone next to the primary target.

The Iceman Frost Legionnaire (level 9 solider) chills its foes to slow them down and keep them within range. In addition, the Iceman Chill Lord leader can inflict cold vulnerability, which makes a Legion of Icemen very dangerous.

The Tiefling Longknives (level 9 lurker) can attack twice when hidden from a foe, but also gets to deal some Infernal Wrath damage when reduced to 0 hp.

The Shadow Dire Reflection (level 10 controller) will attach itself to your players, becoming their shadows, and pulling them across the battlefield.

Finally, the Dragonborn Praetorian Guard (level 10 soldier) can redirect your attacks to itself, and force a penalty. And of course, as Dragonborn, they have an encounter breath weapon attack.

A Very Monsterhearts Christmas

Session Four:  A Very Monsterhearts Christmas

Abram (Logan the Infernal) had the plague, so he wasn’t able to make it.  He was written out of the session, his family vacationing in Florida.  I have evil plans to make his life not boring, but they’re going to have to wait.

On the last day of class before winterbreak, a few things happen:
*Marcell has gotten the condition “fucking psycho” for the cruel “Halloween prank” he played on Mindy.
*Daniel sees deceased Bobby haunting the school.  Daniel’s the only one who can see him… for now.
*Zola finds out that the housing district she and Daniel are squatting in is going to be bulldozed to make way for the ElectroCell Nuclear Power Plant.
*Zola also finds out that Winston Q. Black has xmas gifts for her and all her friends.
*Seth’s tutor Roxanne gives him the gift of local bestselling author S.K. Duke’s novel “The Horror in the Lake.”
*Social worker Diane Richardson tells Daniel he has a state-assigned foster family.  He agrees to meet them later.  He finds out from Emily’s mom that she’s crazy religious.
*Principal Dremmer tells Daniel that he reminds him of a student he had some ten years ago.
Daniel: “What happened to that guy.”
Dremmer: “He got in over his head.”

The gang meets up at the malt shop, including little sister Jess, who Emily promised to take xmas shopping.  Jess has crushes on all of Emily’s male friends, but especially Seth, as it turns out.  Daniel, Marcell, and Zola can’t resist cracking jokes about their undead-ness, which Emily tries to brush off as them joking around.

Emily: “Hello, little sister’s here.”
Jess: “Oh, it’s like Halloween, where Marcel was a vampire, Daniel was a ghost, and Zola was a hooker!”
Zola: “WHAT?”

Later, while Emily is preoccupied.

Jess: “Guys, I’m twelve, you can be honest with me.  Is my sister a vampire?”

(Totally getting the wrong idea.)

Daniel meets with his foster-parents to be, and says that his “Satanic death metal lifestyle” might clash with theirs.  They walk out on him.  Mission accomplished?

Xmas Presents:
Winston Q. Black gives:
Zola a fancy dress, and a newspaper (“can I have that newspaper? ” “of course!”)
Marcell a giant gothic coffin. (“Zola told me you were with the goth set.  I just need some help loading into my car so I can deliver it.”  Mr. Black drives a hearse.  “Lots of room in the back for deliveries.”)
Emily the Cursed Sword.
Jess an impossible geometry necklace.
Seth a giant pet snake, and a ride home through the snow!  He meets the family, who find Mr. Black absolutely charming.
Daniel a GPS device and a set of coordinates, which is enough to sate his curiosity.  (“Geocaching!  It’s all the rage with the college set, I understand.”)

Winston Q. Black now has a total of 10 strings across the 6 PCs, as well as a string on little sister Jess.

Emily invites Seth, Daniel, and Zola over for xmas dinner.  Emily’s mom is mad at Marcell, so he’s not invited.

Daniel and Zola have sexy time.  First time in game we’ve had sex moves trigger!  Zola now hungers for his ghost meat.  We find out why Zola has kept Coach Flowers alive thus far, and what Daniel remembers of his death (not all of it.)

Marcell goes over to Mindy’s apologizes, and then vamps her.  I have him roll +Dark (with +1 forward).  He gets a 7-9.  She comes back, but slightly wrong.  Marcell is disappointed.  She wasn’t supposed to come back like that.  I promise him a full custom move writeup.

Marcell:  “I will make it so no one can hurt you ever again.”
Mindy:  “Like self defense classes?”
Marcell:  “You see, Mindy, I am a monster.  Like out of Anne Rice, or, or or (dammit don’t say Stephanie Meyer)… Jim Butcher.”
Misha OOC: What’s wrong with Bram Stoker?
Sabe OOC” I don’t think Marcell knows who that is.
Mindy:  “Oh, you mean like Twilight?”

Chistmas Eve:
Seth has a dream: a visitation from the Thing in the Lake.  He fails his Dark roll, so doesn’t get any particular information, other than that it wants him to “Despoil their Christ’s Mass.”
So what does he do?  Go xmas shopping.  Meanwhile, everyone else is going xmas shopping, and Marcell and Mindy are stalking the mall for victims, and Emily and Zola are meeting for coffee.

Daniel:  “It’s my favorite sucker…. and Marcell.”
Mindy:  “I’ll take you in the bathroom and suck you right now, Daniel.”
Daniel:  (roll to shutdown)  “You are such a whore.”

After doing his shopping (giftwrap, and the book he’s been reading for Jess), Seth releases his snake into the Santa Claus display chaos ensues.  Mindy grabs Bethany and goes back to her place with Marcell.  Seth retrieves his snake.

Mindy feeds on Bethany until she’s dead.  Marcell tries to pull her off (lash out physically), but only succeeds in ripping a giant chunk out of Bethany’s throat.  They end up tossing the body off of the oceanside bluffs.

Xmas Day:

Seth is disappointed that his despoiling of Christmas is overshadowed in the papers by a missing girl.  Oh well, he’s got a Christmas dinner to attend.

Marcell abides his family’s xmas dinner, but finally snaps- THEY KNOW!  He goes for a walk.

A perfectly nice xmas dinner at the Sorenson household.  With some pleading by Emily and Jess, mom agrees that Daniel can stay with them “until they can get a hold of some of his relatives.”  Seth gives Emily the sanctified knife she lost that he found at the bottom of the lake.  Seth and Jess exchange S.K. Duke novels.  “I Was a Teenage Vampire Mass Murderer”  Marcell stops by, and leaves a note, which is lost in the bustle.

Daniel and Zola burn Daniel’s old house down.  If it’s getting torn down anyway, they might as well be the ones to do it.

Emily and Jess are cleaning up.  Jess decides to chug all the gravy.  Suddenly, she is possessed by the Lord of the Slime!  The heimlich doesn’t work.  Emily calls Daniel and Zola to get there right away, and then gets mentor Christine on speaker phone.  “You have to do an exorcism.  Draw a pentagram in salt, and put on some Gregorian chants.  You have those on CD, right?”

Possessed Jess starts choking Mom, so Emily has to knock her out (doing great harm), but that makes her stationery enough to not resist the exorcism.

Meanwhile, Zola hotwires a car and they drive towards the house.  Zola fails to Hold Steady, so a cop car starts following them with flashers on.  She fails to Run Away, and plows the car into a snow bank.  (Daniel then Runs Away, briefly bumping into Mindy, before getting to the house).  Zola encounters a police officer (the same one she bit earlier) who she attacks.  He puts a few shots into her (3 harm!) and then she eats him.  This is the first time she’s killed to feed.

Daniel shows up at the Sorensen household.  They find the Gregorian chants CD.
“Now lock hands and eminate positive energy.”
So they start singing “we wish you a Merry Chrismas.”  Cut to shots of Marcell pacing and brooding and making a wooden stake, Seth asleep in the trailer park snuggled up with his snake and a book, and Zola murderously eating a police officer.

Final shot of Marcell’s note on doorstep:  “Watch out for Mindy.”

Dragons & Disney Session II: What Do We Know About Faeries?

For our second session of Dragons & Disney, our heroines pressed into the Enchanted Forest, seeking out Sleeping Beauty’s kingdom and information about what might have happened to the princes.

Since Misha, our player for Fionna, was absent with a nasty sickness, we were down to 5 players.  Amelia (Cinderella) was running late, so we started with four players in a forest campsite, stopping for a rest.  Tianna cooks up some delicious forest gumbo, but then they hear growling from the woods: two badgers!  And from the other side come Twig Blights- three minions, and one Twig Blight.  (The Badger is from my Heroic Threats monster list; Twig Blights from Monster Vault: Nentir Vale.)

The princesses had some trouble concentrating their fire, and before long almost everyone was bloodied, friend and foe alike.  Amelia arrived, and Cinderella was placed on the map, pursued by a second twig blight.  With some ranged Warlock attacks and the high damage from Mulan, they were able to take out first the badgers, then the Twig Blights (but not before one turned invisible and retreated into the forest, and then came back with its Blighted Claw).  Tianna used both her encounter and daily to attack multiple targets, but had poor rolls, getting about a 50% hit chance, but still spread the damage around and killed some minions.  Despite having to use most of their healing resources, the princesses were victorious.

While the Twig Blights were destroyed, the thrashing served to break the enchantment on the badgers.  Tinkerbelle realized that as a pixie she could talk to beasts, and the badgers explained that an evil faerie had put an enchantment on the forest, and was in “a stone burrow” somewhere.  The princesses discussed what they knew about faeries and who could be the enemy.

Even with the assistance of the badgers (representing a +2 to skill checks), the princesses failed on the Navigate the Forest skill challenge (Mulan and Rapunzel used Athletics to chop a path, Tinkerbelle and Tianna used Nature to navigate, and Cinderella used Arcana to look for traces of magical energy.  As a result, their enemy got an initiative bonus in the next encounter:

(At one point during the encounter, Tianna was reduced to -9 hit points- 1 hit point away from retirement!)

In a giant forest clearing, they saw a Corrupted Triple Treant.  This encounter was inspired by me buying an incense burner at Wal-Mart, which has some great things for potential minis in their incense section.  The Triple Treant is a large tree with branch arms, three faces, and a ‘Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, See No Evil” motif.  It looked exactly like a boss monster in a cartoon.

This being their first boss fight, the princesses approached with a mixture of caution and fear.  Mulan and Rapunzel hesitatingly charged, with Cinderella, Tianna, and Tinkerbelle shooting from afar.  Tianna used Witch Bolt, and having hit, was able to sustain each round without having to roll an attack, which was handy.  Mulan got more of a share of bonus attacks as the Treant shifted each turn to get out of her aura so it could use its Ward off Evil.

Shari, playing Tinkerbelle, asked if she could fly up and land in the trees branches.  I said yes.  This provoked an attack of opportunity, which hit, but Mulan got an additional attack as well.

On my next turn, the Treant used its Branch Frenzy attack, which can only be used on an Action Point action, to attack Rapunzel, Mulan, and now Tinkerbelle who had come within range.  The attack knocked Tinkerbelle prone, and reduced her to 1 hit point, and knocked her prone.  Since she was now prone, I asked Shari to make an Acrobatics check to try to stay on the branch.  She failled, and falled 20 feet- taking 18 damage, and bringing her well past negative bloodied.  Tinkerbelle has been reduced to a beaten state and retired.

There was some serious discussion about whether or not to run at this point, but then Cinderellatook her turn: attacking with her encounter power, bloodying the Treant, and then action pointing for Crown of Radiance, which blinded it for a turn.  Another turn allowed the princesses to put down quite a beat down on it, and it was defeated by Eldritch Blast on Cinderella’s next turn.

The princesses then met up with Aurora, Sleeping Beauty (the lazy warlord), who Shari will be playing.  I gave her some information which she shared with the other princesses- everyone in her kingdom has fallen under a sleeping spell, and her prince went off to Maleficient’s castle, but has not returned.  And now, plants are creeping in and overgrowing the place.  An extended rest later, the princesses determined to set out for Maleficient’s castle.

This session was seriously shorter than I had anticipated: 2 and a half hours, everything included.  I still have to adapt to the quickened pace of low level games.  Tim suggests having extra filler encounters I can drop in, but maintaining balance is important that I don’t overwhelm the players, punishing them for swift play.  I will certainly have three encounters for next week, and an exploration section of Maleficent’s castle.

And then we played Cards Against Humanity for an hour.

Bonus Heroic Threat

Heroic Threats is up to $250.  If you haven’t backed it yet, there’s only five days left.  And here’s a special bonus monster, only for people who check out my blog:

(It’s also the boss monster for today’s Dragons & Disney game).

Corrupted Triple Treant

Huge Natural Animate (Plant)

Level 1 Solo Controller

HP 128, Bloodied 64

AC 16, Fortitude 15, Reflex 11, Will 13

Speed 4, Forest Walk

Vulnerable 5 Fire

Resist 5 Poison

 

All Saves +5, AP 2

Standard Actions:

Branch Lash: +6 vs AC, Reach 3, 2d6 + 3 damage.

Branch Frenzy: (The Corrupted Triple Treant must have spent an action point this turn). +4 vs Reflex, Close Burst 3, 2d4 + 4 damage, and target is knocked prone.

 

Minor Actions

 

*Ward against Evil (once per round)

The Corrupted Triple Treant uses one of the following attacks. If bloodied, it uses two attacks. Close Burst 6

Hear No Evil: +4 vs Will. Hit: 1d6 + 3 psychic damage and the target is dazed and deafened until the end of the Triple Treant’s next turn, or until a saving throw is rolled. (recharges when See No Evil is Used)

Speak No Evil: +4 vs Will. Hit: 1d6 + 3 psychic damage, and the target is silenced and cannot speak, and can only use at-will powers and abilities until the end of the Triple Treant’s next turn, or until a saving throw is rolled. (recharges when See Hear No Evil is used)

See No Evil: +4 vs Fortitude. Hit: 1d6 + 3 psychic damage and the target is blinded until the end of the Triple Treant’s next turn, or until a saving throw is rolled. (recharges when Speak No Evil is Used)

STR 18 (+4), DEX 14 (+2), CON 16 (+3), INT 16 (+3), WIS 18 (+4), CHA 14 (+2)