After a brief foray to Gamma Terra, we return to Eberron for the continuation of our regularly scheduled D&D game.
When last we left our intrepid…heroes…they were on their way to Sharn, having cured a town of a magical plague despite their best efforts at leaving the townsfolk to their uncertain fates. Master Yorel greeted them with sacks of gold after receiving the Coat of Eyes and bade his Acquisition Experts to standby for another assignment. A few days later, he presented them with round-trip Lighting Rail passes to Starilaskur. Their new mission was to transport a strongbox from Sharn to a colleague of his at The Broken Forge, Clockwork. In addition to the money he gave them upon bringing him the coat of eyes, he gave them each an additional 250 GP for expenses and sent them on their way.
The first leg of the trip, from Sharn to Wroat, passed uneventfully. What apparently transpired in some of the cabins is best left for certain texts of a more…blue…nature. They stretched their legs at Wroat, and were surprised that no one accosted them or tried to rob them or tried to hire them and boarded the train again. The next day, while on the long leg of the trip between Wroat and Starilaskur, the…debaucheries…were interrupted by armed men demanding money from the passengers. Our intrepid heroes would have none of it and slaughtered them in hallway of their coach. The screams of the passengers in the other cars caught their interest, but they decided to climb to the top of their coach to survey situation. Mounted Gnolls ran alongside the train and more bandits, humans and gnolls advanced upon them. As they fought back the ones on top of the Lightning Rail, the conveyance came to a halt. Once the gnolls on top of the train were dealt with and the mounted ones fled, our heroes questioned the Lighting Rail driver about why they stopped. Someone had stolen enough of the conductor stones guiding the Lighting Rail, that the coaches could not continue without derailing.
Track led away from the route, tracks which suggested someone stole the conductor stones deliberately to halt the Lightning Rail. Our heroes followed the trail into the hills, making sure their strongbox was secure and well-guarded…
It seems like nothing happened, but 4E combat takes a lot of time. Plus, we did slip into a lot of tangents. They were entertaining, but tangents, nonetheless. Plus, a few players don’t have DDI accounts, so some of the characters had to be updated prior to the game on my PC and that caused us to get a late start. It’s the biggest downside I’m seeing to this 4E game. I don’t feel right asking everyone to have a DDI subscription, so I may start asking people to e-mail what changes they want made to their characters so I can go ahead and make them and print them before the game starts. Ultimately, I’m finding the reliance on the electronic tools for tracking characters to be more of a hindrance than a boon, though I do like the DM’s tools (particularly the Encounter Builder, even if it isn’t as up-to-date as I’d like).
I’m also starting to get a feel about what will motivate my group, in game, and I’m having to adjust my playstyle accordingly. My attempt at the last session to allow them a chance to play the role of the hero went over like a lead balloon (they wanted to leave the town to its fate and were very reluctant to determine the cause of the plague). Clearly, I should have made more clear my ideas that they would be playing the Heroes in this game. Ah well. These things happen and I’ll just adjust my expectations; it’s no biggie.
Also, I have observed that I feel very RUSTY when running adventures of my own design. When I brought this group together, it was after, essentially, a three year hiatus from GMing. Sure, I ran a few games at conventions in the interim, but those were one shots and mostly Paranoia (which is MUCH easier to run/play than D&D). When I started again, I was running pre-made adventures. Clearly, my skills have atrophied a bit as I am not really comfortable writing my own adventures for D&D anymore. I don’t have a problem with other systems, like Star Wars (d6), or Paranoia, so I wonder if I’m just not feeling the DM vibe anymore. Or maybe, I’m just out of practice. Maybe since D&D 4E isn’t my favorite variation of the game, I’m not as into it as I could be. It could be several things or something I haven’t thought of yet. One thing I may try is to adapt a pre-written adventure to fit into this Eberron campaign and see how that feels. Maybe I’m just feeling the crunch of working, trying to spend time with my family, trying to write books to publishing, AND write stuff to GM. Nevertheless, I’m committed to trying to provide an entertaining game for my friends, so I shall soldier on.