Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rise of the Runelords: Burnt Offerings

My new 3.5 game started the other day. My skills are a bit rusty but things went fairly well. We had a bit of page turning as many of us were used to 4th edition. The look of horror on players faces when they realized they didn't have the cushion in terms of dying that 4th ed allowed was pretty priceless.

I already put in a few minor mods which don't necessarily work in the players favor. For one, I'm not confirming criticals or fumbles and I am using the decks that Paizo makes for each. Its good stuff as I got to use both of them. For another, point buy and fixed hit points. I hate to say it but I am a bit of a control freak and that was one of the things that 4e had that does appeal to me.

For the initial combat, my main problem was that there were many players; from my left to the right were Ryan playing a sorcerer, Sergio playing a halberd wielding fighter, Angel playing a druid specializing in shape changing, Tom, our host, playing a warlock, Erik playing a cleric, and Ana, playing a halfling rogue. I needed to add some most monsters to the three encounters but failed to do so, still getting my feet back under me.

On the other hand, the players didn't get as much experience as they might have otherwise. And ugh, the 3rd edition experience point system is still an ugly dog. Of all the things Monte cribbed from Rolemaster, that was one of the worst. Challenge rating against character level is good in theory to prevent players from gaining experience from slaughtering things many levels beneath them but its also another layer of complexity in the game that doesn't need it.

In terms of what works, Paizo does a great job of providing information on the locations and the locals. This allows you to add in a lot of minor flourishes that might otherwise be missed. For example, in the Iron Dragon tavern/inn, I explained to the players the different garb that the barbarians and tinkers were wearing and drew a few interested eyes in terms of the sword-shield the barbarians have.

The real winner of the game, and the one that gets the inspiration going here, is the reimagining of the goblins. In addition to a catchy little goblin tune, the players also get to meet a skilled ranger whose battled the goblins numerous times, and she can act as an information dump allow you to humorously highlight the strange behaviors of the goblins of this setting.

In terms of providing details though, Paizo offers a free player's guide, that provides some minor game mechanic information (3.5 at this point) as well as role playing details on the region. Because this is a free download, I'd recommend anyone who wants to see what the praise being passed along on the setting is about, download the guide. Paizo has continued to offer free guides for each of their adventure paths so they allow the players and Game Masters a  chance to see if there might be some hooks for them.

The only flawed thing I find in Paizo's logic here is that with the print books being out of print, and the whole first series, Rise of the Runelords, getting revised latter, that they should drop the price of the original six books by a substantial amount to generate more interest and allow those that may not have purchased the adventure paths when first brought out, into the fold.