Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dungeons & Chimneys: Level up!

Avast, my dear readers! I would like to have written this post two months ago but I couldn't do earlier. You know, between exams and holidays you end up forgetting everything. Better late than never at all, as we say in Spain. Welcome back to Dungeons & Chimneys.

Levelling up from level 1 to level 2 is probably the best gift a DM can give to the party. Every class has its pros and cons but, honestly, all of them suck at level 1. Especially clerics.

But level 2, on the other hand, is so cool. Everybody gets their skills improved. They start being good at something specific and are able to use their skills more often or more efficiently. Level 2 is a very well deserved reward for having suffered so much trouble at level 1. Level 3 is cool as well (new feats!) but we didn't go that far on our little campaign.

My party started raiding their first dungeon after the weary investigation which led them to the Cult of the Yellow Sign's Temple. Honestly, they were doing quite terribly: They fell in all the dungeon traps but one and got gravely injured during their first combat. I made some calculations and concluded that there was no way for them to beat the dungeon. So I cheated a bit. Cheating is OK in order to keep the players' interest in the game.

I created a home rule right there, out of the blue. "Levelling up restores your Hit Points and daily spells, just like levelling up in World of Warcraft instantly restores your health and mana." I could see the relief in their faces after saying these words.

I also gave them a little boost on the experience they got on the next battle so that they would reach level 2 just before the Final Boss, a level 4 Cleric/Warlock. According to my calculations they would die inevitably if they encountered it at level 1, but being level 2 would provide a tough battle which could be won without casualties.

I was wrong.

They didn't get a "tough battle without casualties". They didn't get a tough battle at all. Really. It was so sad. Specially for the boss, who was forced to summon two servants of the Temple to heal him.

"But how?", you'll be asking. "How did it become suddenly so easy?" Well, all the characters got a new or improved skill, but the trick was to understand that they could combine them instead of attacking on their own. For example, the Cleric got more daily spells. That meant other players could be healed more often. The Monk received the feat "Deflect Arrow" as well as "Evasion", which improved his chances of survival. Meanwhile, the Wizard learnt the spell "Mage Armor" (+4 AC), which was crucial, because he was able to cast it on our Ranger to turn it into a tank — he had an AC of 20! The Ranger himself got his bow skills improved, including the ability to shoot two arrows in a row as a full-round action.

Given this, we could establish an strategy before attacking. The Wizard would Mage Armor to the Ranger and/or the Monk, who would engage the boss first at range, then melee. With an AC of 20, the boss couldn't even touch him, so he started to cast area damage spells, fear and other stuff to disable the Wizard and the Cleric. He also called his servants to help him, so the Monk proceeded to tank them. Astonishingly, none of us got gravely injured, so our Cleric could even help in dealing damage without letting anybody die.

So in the end we turned our crappy all-ranged-combat party into a classical RPG team (with tank, healer and damage dealers), which was the key to victory. And victory we achieved.

Thanks for reading!

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