I spent Worldwide D&D Game Day 2009 at 401 Games, a game store in downtown Toronto meeting new gamers and playing the adventure One Night in Weeping Briar. This was an adventure for five, 11th level characters and was designed to appeal to experienced gamers as well as people trying out D&D for the very first time. Overall, I think it was a great success, but I do have some feedback about Game Day that I’d like to share based on my experience.
The adventure itself came in a box stocked with all the materials you need to play the game.
- The adventure One Night in Weeping Briar
- Pre-generated characters
- Full colour maps
- Minis of all the monsters
- Minis of all the PCs
As an introductory vehicle for new players, this package had everything you need to get started, aside from the core books. It had a few faults (which I’ll talk about in more detail below) but nothing major. All-in-all, I think Wizards did an excellent job in the presentation and preparation of this event.
I’m going to try and keep my comments as spoiler-free as possible just in case anyone reading this ever plays One Night in Weeping Briar. I don’t want to ruin it for you, and I certainly don’t want to give you any unfair advantages.
The adventure began with a combat encounter, followed by a skill challenge, and then two more concurrent combat encounters. I thought the combat encounters were pretty much evenly balanced. I find in the official modules that the battles often get more difficult as you progress. Once the PCs realize this trend, they are reluctant to use their Daily powers early in the game, opting to save them for the final battle. By making all the battles of equal difficulty, the PCs didn’t feel that they wasted their Daily powers when they used them early in the adventure.
I’m not a big fan of playing a character someone else has created. There are always details I think I would have handled differently during character creation. But, I understand the need to include pre-generated characters for this kind of event, so I’m willing to accept the characters provided by Wizards. If nothing else it showcased new classes and new races, which is a great advertising tool for their new PHB2.
I question the wisdom of making the Barbarian a Warforged when the specific rules and feats on the character sheet can only be found in a Dragon magazine (and not in the PHB2). The other problem we ran into was that the number of healing surges per day on the Paladin was wrong. Starting with 8 rather than 11 healing surges resulted in PCs dying during the final battle.
The advertising claimed that this adventure could be completed in 3 hours. I can’t image how this is possible. There were two sessions going on at 401 Games and they both took over 5 hours to complete. I find this is often true for the LFR games as well. They claim that they can be completed in under 4 hours, but this rarely seems to be the case in the many games I’ve played. I’d like to know how Wizards comes up with this estimate.
With only five characters to choose from, the Paladin was the only Defender in the party. A lot of people think that the Paladin is not nearly as sticky as other Defenders, and after playing this adventure I’m inclined to agree. Some of the monsters had high enough resistances to radiant damage that they just ignored the Paladin and bashed the weaker PCs despite being marked
A combination of exceptional rolls from the DM and lack of familiarity with the characters resulted in the PCs taking more hits and more damage early in the adventure than we would have liked. The result was that three of our PCs, including the Paladin, went into the last battle with less than full hit points and only 1 healing surge each. After the Paladin used his second wind, blowing his final healing surge, his Lay on Hands became useless and two PCs died (including the Drow Avenger I was playing).
When all was said and done I think the day was a tremendous success. We had new and experienced gamers show up and play some D&D. I believe everyone had a good time and I think the new players got enough of a taste to want to try it again. I compliment Wizards for providing the opportunity for us to get together and share in this common gaming experience. After yesterday’s game, I’m counting the days to GenCon 2009.