Winter stared at Aelar, her dead grey eyes betraying no emotion. “I don’t like you Aelar.”

Tonight we had a great D&D session.

It was almost completely RP, with only a fight at the very end of the session, which we’ll finish next week. But it was a very tense session, with distinct emotional drama in game. With characters really addressing each other, and two characters who’ve been having issues.

Winter, a broken doll, a Revenant Ranger (was an assassin in her previous life), has been brought back from hell by a trio of deities, including the Gods of Light (Sun and Moon – Nae’raash and Rae’unna), the God of Death (Palus pronounced Pay-liss), and a deity who hasn’t revealed their identity to date. In their last big adventure, Winter was presented her past from when she was a child suckling at the teet of her mother, when a massive demonic entity came through and tortured the mother, and turning the milk to a black pitch like tar. A corruption of the child as it were. The angels showed her what was her genesis for that previous life, before she became a relentless remorseless killer who slaughtered innocents and guilty alike. All fell to her bow or blade. She saw she was manipulated in that former life, though with the crushing reality that though she was corrupted, she was always free to choose what she willed. But that last part is a greater sense… that may come back into play in the future.

Well there’s this other character in the group.. Aelar. A Half-Elf Warlock. Sarcasm and wit are but mere playthings to this mortal. He’s had horrific events occur in his life, and is hunted by an elven faction from his elven homeland, who feel that he has the soul of a great champion within him. (Or as it was explained tonight, that there is a thread of an ancient being trapped and hidden within his soul and they want to get him back to extract it so they can power the avatar of a great being.) And that he’s also been manipulated in his life by the Autumn Court in the land of the fey. They refer to him as an Autumn Prince, and their is a great and powerful being who unlocked his powers, and gave him the first spark to connect to his side, and (counted as a Pact… but as always there is free will involved..) the Autumn Queen has been keeping a close attentive eye on her prize.

Well those connections with Aelar never truly knowing whence he got his power, he just seemed to grow into it.. never fully knowing the source. Coupled with his brutal sarcasm, and an audience who has a complete lack of humor. And an initial issue with trying to get a Titan (Warforged mechanically but with the soul of an ancient hero… residing in it’s host unit… which is a bit like a helmed horror but with runes inside the armor hosting an ectoplasm like force) to lighten up and make less conflicting commands.

And well it lead Winter and Aelar to a situation where Aelar really likes Winter. Winter, really disliked Aelar, but also distruted whence his powers came from and she did not want to bring him along to face such a dark entity with a power mad (total over the top humor style that goes literally over the top of those with less humor) warlock who may succumb to the secrets offers from devils. Yeah so they finally had a chance to hash it out.

Great emotional moments, good arguments, figuring out that the Autumn court made an appearance to Winter… threatening her with failure if she left Aelar’s side, and that her task would fail. . . which of course just pissed off Winter… it did call her a deadling and all.

And then it came down to Winter wasn’t going to stay in the party… which bothered everyone else. Because they felt she was being manipulated into going off on her own, (well not really she would of had Reynor on her side.. Uhl-gir half-giant – Mechanically a Goliath, Battlerage Vigor Fighter.. who’s been raised from childhood to be an elite soldier of of the Rictus Legion, Widowmakers brigade. Great and powerful figure who doesn’t fall down..) where she would be vulnerable…

And then after it all happened.. with Winter making the final decision..

(DM’s Note: And for the record this was a very tense moment, and one that was completely up in the air, as to whether she would stay or go. With everyone hoping she would stay with the Tide of the Risen Nemesis.)

And she chose to stay! It was a great moment, and a celebration was had. And this worked out incredibly well. (DM’s Note: I was very happy.. because I’ve been layering in threads for their long term story as part of a greater tapestry, and she’s been there since level 1 day 1.)

Much w00ting going on. Also they then began their 3.5 month downtime where they focus on adding things they learned while adventuring to their ever expanding repertoire, of powers and feats, and skills, and attribute bonuses.

Let me explain that last part.

To simulate time passing by, I have the characters spend 1 week per level they’ve gained during an adventure to simulate them really focusing on their powers and skills and learning that power permanently. This also helps simulate the passage of time. That once an adventure is done, time goes by, you get some down time, and get stuff done.

But an adventure may contain a few levels per, before their downtime fully kicks in. So I let the adventure continue, including leveling up, gaining new powers, and so on. But once there is a good spot with downtime available.. they have to spend that time getting used to their powers. This also provides an organic play style with opportunities for RP, and letting the group do things that take time to accomplish but that won’t happen overnight.

Also it gives the group opportunities to begin to amass clues for long ongoing skill checks. (Used to simulate those montage moments… training, gathering information, finding out clues that add up to some bigger clue which will lead you deeper into the threads of the campaign.)

Including personal skill checks, that lead to specific goals you might be wanting to pursue.. but will take some longer time to make happen realistically.

All of this adds up to a lot of fun. So what were doing right now is running a virtual battle table, using Maptools . For our voice client we use X-Fire. It’s free, it works and allows us to have nice private rooms hosted by their servers. Also, I use the Combat Manager 4E, so I can run the combats swiftly with easy to track stats, and to keep track of modifiers. I also utilize my DnDInsider subscription to fully utelize the monster builder program as well as the Character builder program for characters.. completely indispensable. (Though with the newest changes to the Monster Builder program updated to the new format, it’s not working right with the DnD4eCM, at this time and so were waiting for an update from folks over there on that program to update the data xml reading set to process the new format.)

But all things being considered, this was a great night. Lots of passionate roleplaying. Playing with friends I grew up with and who happen to be 1,100 miles away, and invidually all playing from their homes scattered around South Jersey.. Full of awesomesauce!

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About gorstagg

Life long gamer.
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