Tuesday, 9 April 2013

If you go down to the woods today...

Who let the dogs out? Woof!
We managed to convene for a lengthy Pathfinder session at the weekend, all six and a half hours of it. I used to play big sessions of Dungeons and Dragons on that scale back in the day, but there is not as much opportunity for it these days. I woke up with a blinding headache the next day, which was either caused by all the number crunching Pathfinder requires, or the wine I was drinking (think I have an allergy to some wines from the Mediterranean littoral, but that's another story).

We continued with our Carrion Crown campaign, which has been bubbling along nicely like a spicy hot pot. I had expected more investigation in this campaign though (heck, that's how Ben pitched it to me). Each scenario involves a bit of poking around (oo-er) - for example, the current one required some snooping at a hunting lodge - but at the end of the day brute force appears to be the best way to deal with the machinations of the Whispering Way, the necromantic cabal that is obviously plotting the Downfall Of Civilization As We Know It (much like Ed Balls, really!)

We've been - until recently - in the Shadow Wood, where the WW has been fiddling in werewolf politics. There has been much battling against lycanthropes, who seem more like the clan-based dudes from a certain White Wolf RPG. Seems as if we may even be in the process of teaming up with one of these tribes - never advisable at the best of times - oh, and yes, some of them are gypsies! High point for me is a werewolf druid turning into an eagle to escape, only to be downed by our team's sniper with an amazing shot. In the dark. With a cross wind. Awesome.

I'm playing the party's cleric, Veneticus, and had set him up originally as an investigative character, but increasingly find his combat traits are being called upon. Mind you, our paladin, Sir Eradil, is now a Dragon Disciple, and has become the party tank, able to use his mighty hammer as a reach weapon to obliterate much of the opposition. The key here is to keep Sir Eradil in the fight, and heal him up as quickly as possible. But thus far he's been quite successful in taking down the bulk of our foes. We're also now assisted ably by Norman, Nicodemus' butler, who is also a gunslinger in his spare time and has been tutoring Tarion on the use of firearms. Norman has a musket which he is using to inflict severe damage on the enemy from afar. Bang!

I last played a cleric in 1988, and this time around it really has been a question of getting to know the divine spell list in Pathfinder. It is quite hard to work out which spells to learn of a morning - there have been instances where Veneticus has prayed for combat spells and ended up investigating, or prayed for interpersonal magic, and ended up being swarmed with dire boars or werewolves.

Cheery Varisian travellers or a bunch of lyncanthropes?

Scrolls have helped with this, but budget is limited. Speak with Dead is an obvious scroll choice, for example, as is Zone of Truth. The weird thing with Pathfinder spell lists, and with Dungeons and Dragons as a whole, is that some spells seem to be almost too powerful to be graded as the level they are, while others are too weak. Yes, the DC goes up for higher level spells, which is why Hold Person is increasingly useless against the NPCs and bosses we're up against, but some of the 3rd level cleric spells are surplus to requirements, to be honest. I'd much rather have had these at lower levels. Now I look at them, and wonder why...

Really, at 8th level, Veneticus' main strengths seem to be healing the party, dishing out serious damage to undead when they appear, and increasingly using area effect spells like Order's Wrath against large numbers of mooks. However, Pathfinder published scenarios being what they are, many battles are with bosses, where area attack spells that do, say, 2d8 damage (half with a Will save) are not going to be noticed in a fighter where combatants are dishing out 30-40 hps a hit (more in some cases).

We covered a lot of ground during Sunday's session. I'm still not completely sure what is going on: we figured out why the werewolves never attacked the hunting lodge, and also had an encounter with the hobbit butler at the lodge who was obviously more than he seemed (he escaped using an alchemical cloud). We even put on trial and executed one of the villains (a noble in league with the Whispering Way) who we beheaded with a scythe. Given the 'clear and present danger' presented by the WW to Ustalav, Veneticus felt a trial was somewhat of a risk, as the nobles assembled for it might have backed their own, but luckily they seemed too intimidated by the dragon disciple to offer much in the way of resistance.
I'm on your side. Honest.

No gaming for me this Friday, I'm afraid, so I'm on a two week hiatus from Pathfinder, but we have proceeded to the cursed village of Feldgrau where the WW seems to be up to no good, having...hopefully...thwarted its plans to change the leadership of the werewolf tribes in the Shadow Wood.


  1. Ben seemed to suggest that the evil hobbit was an addition and not in the original adventure. I think we now have a recurring villain to tackle, although Norman is going to shoot him on sight, so maybe not!

    I have read and played so many variants of D&D over the past couple of years that it's difficult to keep them straight but there is one in which clerics don't have to select their spells at the start of each day. Instead a first level cleric would get two spell slots and he would only need to decide on the specific spell at the point of casting.

    I like it because it makes clerical magic a bit different from wizard spellcasting and seems more in keeping with the divine source; it's difficult to imagine a deity saying "You get create food and water today and that's it".

  2. I am happy for you to use something like a spell point system if you prefer Stuart. It would give you more book keeping mind- but more flexibility. Spells would cost more from such flexibility. But you would have access to everything. There is a 3rd party product for that for PF.

    This werewolf story has got rather fighty fighty - partly the nature of PF - but I guess after 2 adventures which had more investigation... The Cthulhoid one coming up has exploration and interaction - and sanity loss - along with some nasty fights! It starts to get nasty from the next fight on when the magic buzzing around is more awesome dude kinda magic. Like Circle of Death. ;)

    & yes. The Halfling was Tarantino and Samuel L Jackson influencing the script. Needless to say you have not seen the last of the s*d ;)

  3. plus....if you are looking to build the cleric differently this is fine by me, since he should have a much greater role that simply healing - a role which can be done via potions and rods/ wands...... look at the boards and how others have built their clerics. Think more martial - maybe get him a feat in Heavy Armour (Tank him up) and another one in which helps dish out damage. ;)