As I am prepping for my Revenge of the Giants game tonight, which is being played out through Wizard’s Virtual Tabletop, I thought I would blog a bit about my thoughts on the module so far and playing at the Paragon Tier. The module itself is….okay. The production quality is fantastic (it makes me lament the fact that Wizard’s is not really publishing adventures anymore, I think we get one this year and the DDI stuff just isn’t the same). The story is fairly classic, with giantkind banding together to try and release an ancient primordial from its prison while wreaking havoc and laying waste to everything. The adventure essentially plays out in a series of delves or crawls and is very combat heavy, punctuated by forced and sometimes mechanically awkward skill challenges. There is a really weird section/delve where you travel back in time and lay some smack on Acererak before he became a lich. The hook is that you need to get some “sky metal” to make some potent magic weapons to aid you in your quest to defeat the giants. It left me thinking that if you can travel in time why not go back and alter the events that lead to the current predicament, but whataya going to do maybe that would violate the prime directive or something.
You can tell that this module was written early on in the life of 4th edition before they had a fuller understanding of how the system really worked and potential pitfalls (another reason why I lament the lack of new published modules because most of the ones in actual print suffer from this). The only tweaking I have done so far is to swap out monsters for their current versions post Monster Manual 3 or updated the damage to the new progression levels.
With regards to DM’ing at the Paragon tier, I have to honestly say I have no fucking clue about what’s going on during the game most of time. Each Character has so many powers, magic items and abilities that whenever I do anything 2 or 3 voices chirp up over the interwebs calling out numbers that reduce attack roles, damage rolls, or trigger some kind of awfulness for my monsters. It can be very confusing. I have access to all their character because they are stored on the virtual table, but really it is too much to keep track of and I think you have to just trust your players. It is even confusing for the players as some have crib sheets stored on the notes section detailing specifics or exceptions of how their characters work. Also, I can’t even imagine running this module or any paragon game without the new monster damage as it would be just a joke. Even with the pimped up monsters the party still hasn’t been really threatened. I haven’t dropped anyone unconscious yet and rarely bloody more than one person per encounter.
Here is the intro I sent out to the players as I wasn’t really feeling the initial hooks that were laid out in the adventure:
You are all members of the nation of Fallcrest’s Special Forces, some on the books and some off the books, whose mission has been the protection of your fledgling nation from the ever encroaching darkness.
Several weeks ago, tales began to circulate of a strange mechanical bird that flew into the throne room. After several minutes of just circling the room, the strange bird landed at the feet of the throne and began to address the king. Not all of the details of what was said have emerged but it is known that this strange bird addressed the King as “the mighty and benevolent ruler of Nerath” and repeatedly mentioned his duty to uphold “the Paragon Compact” and how the great city of Argent could not be left without champions as the world itself would suffer the consequences.
You have been ordered to equip yourself for deployment and present to his majesty in the throne room at first light.
When I had the king send them off to investigate the strange mechanical bird’s plea, I spoke as the King and asked if they had any questions. This was followed by nothing but dead air and the faint sound of crickets chirping. I then responded, as the king, “that’s what I like about you special forces types, all business no talk”. Guess this is the right module for this job after all ;)