I was pleased to learn that my party did advance to the semi-finals of the D&D Championship even though we only completed three of the four encounters during the qualifying round. This time around we finished the entire adventure and it was a very rough ride for a whole bunch of different reasons.
As a reminder, I came to this event not knowing any of the other participants. This meant that five strangers were placed randomly together at a table and we formed a party. As I described in GenCon: D&D Championship yesterday, our party consisted of the following classes.
- Dwarf Fighter (defender)
- Elf Avenger (striker)
- Kalashtar Cleric (leader)
- Drow Sorcerer (striker)
- Warforged Artificer (leader)
I played the Artificer. Since we advanced to the semi-finals we all got to play level three versions of our character this time around. I was happy to learn that in addition to leveling I got to reselect magic items appropriate for my new level.
The Story Continues
The story picked up right where the first one left off. The PCs are sent to recover another one of the five missing Dragonshards fragments. This time the forces of evil are trying to destroy the fragments. The adventurer who had the initial vision of these Dragonshard fragments saw that by reuniting these five fragments it would lead to the reformation of the fragmented Five Nations.
The PCs were give two magic items to aid in their mission. The first was a magical arrow that would point to the shard when the PCs were within one mile if it. The second was a magic teleportation device that would transport the PCs and the Dragonshard fragment home just by saying the command word. With these aides we were off to find the missing shard.
The Next Adventure Begins
D&D is supposed to be a team game. Even though the DM runs the villains he’s not supposed to really be out to get you. At a home game where each player takes turns being the DM there’s still a lot of camaraderie regardless of who’s on the other side of the screen. It’s not supposed to be an “us” vs. “them” mentality when it comes to the DM vs. players. That’s the objective. Not so with our DM.
Of all my public D&D game play experiences the DM we had for the second round of the D&D Championship was the worst in this regard. He wasn’t a bad DM from a mechanics point-of-view, but his attitude definitely sucked. When his dice got hot and he chuckled at our massive hit point losses, we shrugged it off. After all it was kind of funny in a sad way. But his mood seemed to genuinely improve and get more jovial as he rolled crit after crit and the PCs took more and more damage. Since he didn’t know any of us I think he believed it was his personal mission to see how much he could do to take out the party. It was even worse when he would laugh with genuine glee as PCs failed saves and missed with attacks.
During one particularly difficulty adventure a monster kept charming the party with a sonic attack. It was dependent upon PCs hearing the effect. After failing a few saves, one creative PC said “I take a full round to cut up a cloth shirt and stuff my ears with the pieces. I’m trying to deliberately give my character the deafened condition.” The DM immediately said “Don’t bother; it won’t have any effect.” What happened to “say yes.”? I agree that complete immunity seemed unlikely, but at least let that PC have +1 or +2 on any future saves to snap out of the ongoing effect. Nope, the DM wasn’t having any of it. So much for the rule of cool.
Revenge of the Players
We finally got the better of the DM in the end. With only ten minutes remaining and one full encounter to go we decided not to fight any monsters but to just complete the goal of recovering the Dragonshard fragment. Here’s how it played out.
We began at the end of a short hallway. Our first turn was spent moving up and assessing the room.
Two guards stood near the doorway ready to block us. In the middle of the room was a locked chest sparkling with electrical energy. The Dragonshard fragment was locked within. The Fighter, Cleric and Avenger moved forward to keep the guards busy. The Sorcerer used a power to fly herself and the Artificer into squares in front of the chest. She then made a Thievery check to open the chest (fortunately she was trained). One success. She then used an action point and made another check. Two successes. The Artificer (also trained in Thievery) made a successful check on his turn. One failure. The Sorcerer and Artificer began taking ongoing electrical damage. The Artificer also used an action point and tried again. Three successes.
The combat continued near the doorway. The Sorcerer made another Thievery check to unlock the chest. Four successes. The chest popped open. The Sorcerer grabbed the Dragonshard and activated the teleportation device to get us the hell out of there. No sooner had we completed the encounter then a voice came over the PA announcing that the event was over. We finished with literally seconds to spare. The DM was pissed.
The End Result
We finished the final encounter in three rounds and spent just under ten minutes of real time to do it. When I arrived in the convention hall the next morning I was pleasantly surprised to find my team made the final cut and advanced to the D&D Championship finals. Only 11 teams advanced and we were one of them. Check back later today when I write about my experience and victory in the final round of the D&D Championship at GenCon 2009.