Our Savage Tide campaign got underway again last friday. It currently has the PCs exploring the City of Broken Idols on the Isle of Dread. We had two new players (Nate & Adam) replacing our departed-and-sorely -missed friend Rob, and our “I’ve got a job”-friend Craig. Bradford missed the session due to unspecified reasons, as is becoming unfortunately usual.
Without Bradford, it’s a lot trickier doing roleplaying, especially when the PCs are in the middle of a dungeon crawl. Also, every PC has low charisma, so what do you expect? The PCs needed to cross a lake, so Martin’s wizard Corbin cast mass fly on them. As they were approaching the broken city, a watery demon appeared before them and dispelled their fly spell (except on Adam’s Whisper Gnome – yes, for his final 3.5e character he chose to play a Whisper Gnome psion), and then used blasphemy as they scrambled to react. That killed their Strength scores, especially Adam’s, and so Adam spent the rest of the combat just hanging there. Martin used his boots of levitation to stay out of the water, Rich had a cloak of the manta ray, but Peggy and Nate gave good impressions of what rocks do in water.
Honestly, this encounter really showed up a bunch of things I don’t like about 3.5e. Apart from the fact that blasphemy is something you just can’t protect against, and knocks PCs out of combat for several rounds, you also have the reliance on the cleric. Rich is our least experienced player (which is probably why he got stuck with the cleric), and he’s not really used to casting spells like restoration and dispel magic in the middle of combat.
Martin managed to do most of the damage to the demon with his fire spells, and eventually destroyed it. Once on the island, they got into a bunch of big combats with Skinwalkers, which have to be one of the coolest enemies I’ve yet seen, conceptually, that is. Unfortunately, they also have that problem with massive stat blocks and lots of attacks (the blasted things are only CR 6). Sword, sword, claw, claw, bite, most with poison as well. I mean, huh?
Adam showed that he was as good at playing “Giles” as I was. He made the mistake of being the first into the room and having a poor Fort save. Several failed saves later, down to a 0 Str and paralysed again. Two out of two combats where he was out of action. See note above about 3e’s need of cleric.
The other PCs had fun, although it was a long combat. Just as they thought it was all over, in came the skinwalker chief and two acolytes. At least Adam was unparalysed by then. Martin disintegrated the balcony they were on, which was rather amusing, but then found himself on the wrong end of various attacks. Martin had his first death of the campaign. Hmm.
The complexity of all these statblocks is really making me wish 4e was here again; and the complexity of Rich’s character (he’s a crusader/cleric) is probably doing the same for him. The PCs in the game are cool, but there’s a lot of stuff to keep track of.