Playing at paragon tier, or learning to crawl before you can walk

Posted on May 7, 2009 by


So my regular group has been having scheduling problems, so some of us decided to do a quick one shoot last night to get our fix.  We decided that I wouldn’t DM, to give me a chance to play and experience the other side of the screen for a bit.  Now, our DM was also switching roles, as he is a player in my campaign and had never DM’d 4th ed., so it was a night of new experiences for us all.  The other two players were also playing character classes they haven’t played yet, with some of us running two characters at the same time.  All this in the paragon tier of play, as we were running Dungeon Delve #12.  The characters were a Genasi Sorcerer, Half-Orc Babarian, Elf Avenger, Human Bard and Human Druid.  I was playing the Avenger and the Bard.  This was kind of our version of D&D Game Day from a few weeks ago.

Sadly, we found ourselves not having as much fun as we should have had playing D&D, and I believe it was for a variety of reasons, which I’ll go into here:

1.  Length of combat. This has been talked about a gazillion times, so I won’t add to the discussion except to say that I experienced much of what others had complained about on D&D Game Day.

2.  Starting at Paragon without previous experience. This is not a fault of the game, but rather our own.  Now I am a firm believer that this system in particularely is not as friendly to players wishing to start at higher levels than other systems.  My character sheets were 5 pages long, and I was running two guys at a time.  I had so many options that I even got kind of confused for a while as to how to play the guys properly.  If you bring a guy up from heoic a level at a time, I am sure it is a much smoother experience once you arrive at the paragon tier.

Don't worry Druid, we were all a little dazed... except you made your save.

Don't worry Druid, we were all a little dazed... except you made your save.

3.  About that lengthy character sheet: We made our characters using the DDI Character Builder, which is great.  The output is fantastic and it’s very easy to use.  I love it.  But there are so many options!  The sorcerer had abilites and features that spread out over four sources:  PHB, PHB2, Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide, and a Dragon Magazine. We noticed that the character sheet didn’t include every bit of information on class abilities and so forth, so we had to reference the books.  That means that for future reference, a lot of PDF cutting and pasting will have to be done to get stuff out of Dragon, for example.

I don’t want to blame the system itself for our less than stellar game last night because it would not be fair.  We have to chalk most of it up to inexperience.  We should not have been running two characters at a time.  No way, and I probably would not allow it in my campaign after last night’s experience.  One character is enough to keep a player concentrated on the different tactics and stuff available to him to have to worry about another character.  Which brings up my next point:  character death and new characters.

In my home campaign, eventually someone is going to die.  It is inevitable, especially as I learn over time to run the monsters a little better and deadlier.  When one of my player’s inevitably kicks the proverbial bucket… well, he’s going to have to roll up a new character, and the same sort of issues are going to creep up.  We are almost out of heroic, mostly with the same characters since 1st level.  The party is comfortable in their roles and play their characters with flair.  As we approach paragon I can’t help but think what’s going to happen when someone has to roll a new 12th or 14th level guy, with all those powers and abilities?  Interesting question.  I predict that on his initiative turn it’ll grind the game to a halt.

So there, a little report on our experience on a paragon tier delve.  It took forever, we skipped a whole encounter, and didn’t even finish the last battle.  Mostly though, to be fair, blamed on our inexperience at that tier of play.  I am now sold on starting play at heroic and learning to crawl before you can walk.

Random plot hook of the day:  An orc tribe has lived a few miles outside of town for years with virtually no problems, but now things are getting tense.  An orc woman was found raped and murdered in the woods, and all things point towards a member of the town militia.  Will the PC’s have to face the militia, or broker an uneasy peace with the orcs?  They want revenge their way, the militia wants war for false accusations( they aren’t).  Go negotiate!

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Posted in: 4e D&D, Gaming