November 24, 2009
The Children- Pools of Blood
The characters are still in the Well of Souls. We had ended last game with the characters having just entered a room. I had given a brief description then we called the night. The room consisted of two pools of blood that had to be traversed. The blood is detrimental to non-demons and helpful to demons. In addition there were two statues that produced damage on anything in the room, but not in a blood pool. Of course the object the characters needed was on the other end of the room.
Before we even got started we "wasted" some time just talking, mostly about WoW. People seemed inclined to socialize for a bit at the begginning so I let it continue. One player, however, was left out. He had played WoW in the past but does not do so currently, so while he understood most of what we were talking about, he had no real interest in it. After about 45 minutes of this, I could tell he was getting antsy to play D&D, the game he had come for. I cut the talking short and we starting playing the adventure.
Normally the encounter would have been a difficult one, but I ruled that since the characters were half-demon they would take no damage while in the blood pools, but instead gain half the benefit the pools provided for demons. The players loved it. They gained a special advantage for being who they were. Normally I keep behind-the-scenes mechanics to myself and do not mention them to the players, but this time I let them know the special perks they were getting and why.
The encounter was trivialized by this advantage, though the players did enjoy the challenge of negotiating the room by staying in the pools and off the upper areas that were dangerous.
Leaving the pool room they cut through a passageway to another pillar room. Or they would have if they hadn't misled themselves. They remembered being told by some ghosts that the center room had a Giant Ball of Doom which rolled around crushing everyhting in its path. The part they forgot was that the Ball only appeared when they opened the inner sanctum door. They wasted some time on this "trap" but not figuring it (and not seeing the wall whirl by them) they moved on.
Pro-Tip: When the players assume something that makes things harder in an in-character manner, let them. I could have reminded them of the true story, but right now they (and their characters) are confused. Sometimes confusion is bad, but in this case it is good. When the Giant Ball of Doom finally does make its appearence it will actually be a surprise.
They now reached the room that held the last key piece. This is an excellently designed room which highlights some of the strengths of 4E. In addition to some monsters, there are a number of pillars spread out. Each round, all the pillars do something random. My players loved the random aspect of the room. It kept it dynamic for them, with the encounter ever changing. Even better, one of the effects caused creatures standing near a pillar to be randomly teleported around the room, further keeping the battle dynamic.
We ended mid combat and I recorded their locations on the battle map.
-Socialization that disrupts the game is ok, but remember to include everyone.
-Its ok to let the characters be powerful occasionally. Being special is something people all look for and even if its only a character, the player still feels good.
-Dynamic encounters keep the battle ever changing, and that is a good thing.