Encounter Party: See Monster
May 18, 2024 12:33 PM - Season 1, Episode 5 - Subscribe

The party narrows down the killer to one of three people and leaps into action. Swords, spells, and swashbuckling erupt on the top deck but don't look anyone in the eyes.
posted by Saxon Kane (3 comments total)
What a battle! Lots of good moments. It looked like everyone was going to break into dance from Flik's spell's sound effects. I loved the camera effect whenever Tolo teleported. And don't mess with Asher.

Eep, when David handed over his character sheet... But it was weirdly understandable for someone to want to go home, even while remaining convincingly otherworldly. It folded in rather neatly with the ship's/orb's ability.

I was shocked that the characters went their separate ways once they reached Baldur's Gate, expecting that their recent shared adventures on the ship would've drawn them together (plus, well, narrative simplicity). But this makes much more sense, and respects the characters' differing motives for heading to BG in the first place. I got kinda emotional at the good-byes, even knowing they wouldn't be permanent.
posted by thataway at 6:55 PM on May 19

I intentionally DIDN'T take notes on this one, so I'm relying on memory from my re-watch a couple of days ago...

I was also surprised by the (temporary) separation at the end of the episode, and again I think it speaks to how smart they were about making this like a TV show. Before this, the only actual play-type show I'd ever watched was HarmonQuest, which is a very different beast, really. But in my limited playing experience, usually the fact that the PCs are a "party" and will generally agree on where to go, etc. is just taken for granted because the real life players are agreed upon playing a game together. I'm sure 95% of the viewership of this show are already D&D players (or closely adjacent), but crafting the campaign narrative in such a way that the characters' interactions with the world provides the reasons for the plot rather than just the mechanics of the game and the fact that 7 people are sitting around a table at the same time.

The battle was a lot of fun. I love both that Asher is very self-aware about how socially awkward and potentially off-putting she is. I also like the hint of her darker side when she just roasted the Dragonborn Priest. Yikes! Which brings me to...

I know it was at least partially just to mess with the players, but I was kinda with Brian when he kept asking them stuff like, "So, you're just going to keep wailing on this scrawny dude, huh? OK then!" Of course seeing it from the outside, it's easier to say, "hey, maybe just subdue them, or try to parley or something first?" I wanted to find out why the Dragonborn was helping the Being/Spirit/Demon/Whatevs -- I assume it had something to do with his religion, perhaps believing (correctly?) that the Thing was a manifestation/servant of his deity? Oh well, that dude just got pulverized! (Ok, I'll admit, Tolo tossing him over the ship with a Nat 20 was pretty darn funny, so I'll allow it :D)

Side note: I've never actually played 5E -- the last group I played with (pre-COVID!) was running 3.5E, and most of my experience before that was back in the day with AD&D 2E. Were these characters really powerful for 3rd level? In particular, Tolo's seemingly unlimited ability to zip in & out of space-time, but to some extent also his and Vinh's battle abilities, and the number & power of Asher's spells. Again, it's been a while, so maybe I'm totally off, but does 5E power up the characters more quickly than earlier editions? They don't seem particularly over-powered, though, and as we see here, bad dice rolls can take down even the toughest, but they do seem to have some muscle (literally & metaphorically).
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:51 AM on May 20

Yeah, I confess that I myself as a player will do my best to keep things easy for the DM and try to get the party to stick together. But it is more satisfying when the characters' bonds with each other get to form more organically.

Something was definitely up with that priest and the way he was acting around the bodies. I'm not exactly sure how possession lines up with Ilmater being the god of suffering, but if I squint I could see a connection with bearing burdens. But yeah, hard to complain about the way he was dispatched!

I had thought that level 4 was when the cool feats started kicking in, so I actually looked up Tolo's teleportation ability. It turns out to be a randomly rolled effect when a L3+ barbarian on the path of wild magic enters rage (Wild Surge, from a supplemental sourcebook), and can be repeated as a bonus action through the combat. I haven't played a ton of 5e, and I'm guessing that going beyond the basic set of rulebooks really opens up these possibilities. I think David said Vinh is a battle master, which does grant some nifty maneuvers at level 3. And maybe Asher's background in originating from the Feywild gave her some extra spells?

Okay, I will stop going down the rabbit hole of figuring out the game mechanics. :) But yes, I'm glad they started at a level where they can do cool things, but still be reasonably challenged.
posted by thataway at 7:58 PM on May 21

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