Where to begin? Oh, probably with some unexciting stuff. I do have some enthralling material later, but let’s get some minutia out of the way.
It sounds so simple. Take two days off from work. Fly out to Madison on Thursday, fly back on Sunday. No commitments other than True Dungeon. Take L5R to play when bored and take Traveller to show off.
I kind of forget what it’s like to fly East. Set alarm for like 3AM to get up and finish packing before getting to airport and being delayed half an hour because of undownloaded paperwork. Set alarm for 4:30AM after Daylight Saving Time ends, in the dark, at 2:30AM, to head back. Sure, we could sleep in twice, but, then, there’s the “what the hell are we going to do with all of these tokens we just acquired?” phase of the con.
Everyone else, even Californians who flew out, seemed to really like GHC. I didn’t. Oh, I don’t think it’s the con’s fault. I think it’s the city’s fault, in part. The convention center is isolated, so you can’t just run over to a restaurant and run back between games. The food trucks and stalls didn’t have bad food, just food I didn’t want (well, the smoothie that was $2 more than it should have been was desirable tasting).
The hotel was loud – first night seemed like a helicopter flew right over the building. Okay, that’s unusual and hard to control for. Next two nights could hear our neighbors talking clearly, and I’m sure they could hear us talking clearly. Doesn’t it get cold in the North? Would think sturdier buildings.
Our one opportunity to go out for food was okay (if expensive). Always amusing to go to Wisconsin for your Laotian food. I wonder if the pork tod mun would have been better as beef, and the beef Lao paradise meat would have been better as pork. Might have fixed the texture oddities the two appetizers had. The main dishes were good. Who doesn’t like deep fried noodles? I could get even further off topic by talking about ratings for food as I travel, but let’s get around to gaming at some point.
We played a game of L5R Thursday night.
Three True Dungeon runs and True Grind. Since there were only two dungeons, a lot of stuff just runs together.
I think I played monk on the first run, cleric on the second, ranger on the third. Did play ranger in Grind.
The first two runs weren’t terribly notable, except some general views on the changes from Gen Con.
I didn’t like Dancing at Gen Con. I loved Moongate at Gen Con. I actually wasn’t terribly fond of Moongate at GHC and thought Dancing was respectable at GHC. Switching out one of the puzzles in Dancing improved it. Sure, the fights were still not great, one of which was actually ridiculously pointless on normal and hardcore because of how little damage was dealt. Moongate suffered from having too little combat. And, while I understand why it was used and we even somehow solved it on our third run of Moongate, it had a puzzle I hate … not hated … hate. Plus, it had a puzzle I was over with the second time I ran Moongate at Gen Con.
Then, came run three. We played hardcore, with six players, three of which lacked much experience, and two of which didn’t have hardcore level builds. What’s a hardcore level build? Hard to quantify outside of my view that you should never play hardcore with less than 30 hit points and shouldn’t play nightmare with less than 40. If we had a full party, probably would have been more enjoyable.
So, we got to the second fight and we got wrecked. Two players were a round away from dying. I took 42 damage. I figured we were doomed at that point, even though we got through the room. Look, the point of challenge level is to be challenging, not to be “well, you asked for it”. The fight didn’t scale based on our party size, and I still contend that it should due to how it worked. If it worked differently, then, sure, don’t adjust it for underadventurered parties.
Now, we did the exact opposite of what you are supposed to do in another room. After that amusing fiasco, I knew we were going to get wiped fast in room seven. In some ways, that was a good thing. For, you see, in none of the other six runs were Andy and I challenged. Now, some of that had to do with knowing the solutions to many of the puzzles from Gen Con. A lot of that had to do with my whining about playing a loser paladin who only ran around with 60 hit points, unlike my 77 hit point monk. Of the seven runs, I think three were normal and four hardcore. When we played with nightmare level players, we also had party members who could never be relevant at nightmare except as victims.
So, we were challenged and end room wiped. Something else happened during this run. I used consumables. I never use consumables because that’s like burning money, in a way. Not only did I hand out potions, but I actually used a Mystic Mushroom to bring someone back to life. That’s right. I finally used a token to bring someone back to life. That’s actually more like what TD should be when you play a combat run.
There’s an argument that the reason to rein in the Eldritch healing bonus is because it makes runs boring with how easily clerics/druids mass heal parties. Having played various ultrarare builds on normal difficulty, I totally get the idea of not feeling like there’s anything at stake, anymore.
We went to play Grind. Before I get into some facets of that experience, I’ll note that while talking to Andy about how the last run went, I realized that I had completely forgotten: I was psychic and could heal 4 hit points; 5th level ranger has a healing spell; I was wearing both a Linked Shirt of Healing and Pants of Blisswalk to get bonuses from Andy’s healing spells. I may also have forgotten Icecrag healing at times.
Then, I failed to murder a puppy.
In True Grind, we played with six players who didn’t know anything about what TG is like, which is reasonable as I didn’t know what TG was like until … until … I played it. More problematic may have been that they really didn’t have the tokens to be playing Grind.
Though, our bigger problem wasn’t combat effectiveness … no matter how much the giant head and neck of the puppy evaded my +18 to hit with my +2 Keen Slayer Longbow. Our biggest problem was indecisiveness. At Gen Con, with a similar plot, the group made decisions, mostly to fight, and it was good. With this group, we kept not knowing whether to fight or not.
It was amusing. Besides missing every single attempt to put an arrow in a puppy’s head, I did get devoured by a Gazebo – the just punishment for not being a “I guess I Mad Evoker’s Charm my Lightning Storm and Ring of Spell Storing my Charm of Spell Swappinged Magic Missile” wizard.
Worst ranger ever. I think it only fitting I never play ranger again. “Oh, crap, I had spells!?!” I didn’t even remember to cast Barkskin, which I talked about doing before we started playing.
If you’ve survived to this point, let’s say I’ll go over what I thought of playing different classes after I explain Saturday.
It is pretty sweet to have transmuting when you want to transmute. We got 50 treasure pull bags and got mostly junk, which is to be expected. We did finally get an ultrarare in like our sixth bag, maybe fifth bag. We tried to put together trade item transmutes to cut weight.
For, you see, TD is really all about reducing how many tokens you have. TD is all about cutting weight. As Leftcoastians, we fly. Now, if United or Southwest, we can get by with weight. But, even so, I had to correct the counter person that I could have two overweight bags at my status level. If you are kind of dim and fail to comprendez the problem, plastic tokens with metal inside of them weigh a lot, especially when their owners aren’t too organized and bring extra stuff to try to get rid of it only to realize that you constantly get more stuff you want to get rid of and don’t have time to because you need to get back home before work starts.
Four runs, including the last Dancing run. I played paladin in our first run, our only run organized ahead of time through the forums – one of our better runs … hmmmmm … could there be a connection? Then, I played monk, bard, and, finally, paladin.
Beginning with the ending, because save the best for last, our last run was so easy that I guarded someone squishy and never received any damage on a combat run at hardcore. See below for more on playing a paladin.
Will get to playing a bard in a moment.
I found monk to be rather pleasant. Of course, I was playing a ranged monk, as all “geniuses” do. See … no, screw it, let me talk about ranged builds now.
I was told that in Kirk’s DMing class/seminar on Thursday night that the most common or one of the most common mistakes by room DMs is using melee stats for people using ranged weapons. I believe, though I’m old and increasingly senile, on every single one of my seven TD runs (not my TG run, of course), there was at least one room that the DM used my melee stats when I never used a melee weapon. Yup, in seven runs, including playing cleric(!!) and monk(!!), I played seven ranged builds.
I’m trying to get increasingly efficient with tokens and it’s just really easy to use the same high Dex builds for every class.
On some runs, it was particularly egregious how my attack mode was ignored. In the only challenging run, my melee stats were used in the room that doomed us. Look, I’m into being a sidekick. I’m good with others murdering puppies better than I. But, when I’m needed to impale fae spiders, I kind of want to be impaletastic.
I’m aware enough to call out that someone should use my ranged stats on a challenging run. My bard can bury my strength so deep that I get -2 to hit and the DM realizes that can’t be right. (Btw, when I played bard with a STR of 6, I was also hauling around a 30 pound backpack for 8 hours of upright gaming.) But, what about other poor schleps who don’t scream bloody puppymurder?
It was not a bad experience. It was a learning experience. What we learned is that there’s not really any reason for us to go to GHC again. We could have been at the L5R Worlds, at a HoR con. All we really did was play True events and it was repetitive and below great. Yeah, I’m cool with the idea of getting to know other forumites better, etc. I just don’t need this particular setup to do more of the same.
I don’t want to play bard again. Maybe it would work in a run where I knew everyone. But, it’s not the awkwardness of singing that sapped my enthusiasm while I was playing, it was that bard has too many options. I could lore, I could bardsong, I could attack, I could scroll, I could cast. Just too many options where I’m not that into any one of the options.
Andy’s girlfriend did ask about highlights of the experience. I did eventually remember that having like four attacks succeed … in one round … because of bardsong was a highlight.
I only played cleric on a run where challenge was so irrelevant that nobody even bothered skill checking me. Hello, why do we play the game? We play the game to pass skill checks through being suprageniusy at memorization.
I studied beads. I never studied beads before. I … I … *weep* … never got to prove I could identify a bead. My soul has been crushed.
I hated playing cleric, anyway. As I figured would happen, I was just constantly in “do you need any healing?” mode, which is tiresome. I want spells that can burn any puppies who blink at me.
Good times. Originally, I pegged monk as one of the classes I would never want to play. Then, I won an auction for a crossbow, and I realized it would be perfect to be a crossbowing monk with saves greater than that of God. I didn’t go full overboard saves with my GHC build, but I was pleased with my +14/+5 ranged monk build, playing either normal or hardcore. On hardcore, maybe I switch into Bracers of Supreme Archery for more damage, but whatever. I’m not sure how, but I was doing like 21 damage with some shots. Not sure where bonuses were coming from that would have got me there.
Maybe I create some sort of thematic monk character to get into character. Or, I just impale things with bolts instead of useless puppymurderfailing arrows.
Two runs, two not remotely in danger scenarios. But, I did learn one thing. Every DM I had avoided attacking me or my ward(s). I’m pretty senilesure that nobody I guarded and not my own personage were ever targeted for attacks. That’s something that maybe someone can abuse in a meta way. It’s also a bunch of crap. The point of having abilities is using them.
The irony was that I was playing a paladin build that didn’t have an unusually good AC and had relatively poor hit points. I was guarding the ranger on one of the runs, too.
Dead to me. Devoured and fertilized in the great gazebo planes.
Not a single wizard or elf wizard play. That was good. Fighters are mindnumbing to me, rogue would only be tolerable in Grind, druid was so close but I didn’t have a build built because I don’t expect to be able to play druid, barbarian is just too brutal for sensibilities except maybe on nightmare where I can unleash.
Finally, I can get someone to go to Origins. Now, I can play in the V:TES NAC with TD as … a time competitor?!?