...rather than banana skins. Congratulations to GM Andrew for getting over the difficult second session with consumate ease. I'm not going to go into the body of the game in detail as you can read it on his blog, rather I'll look at some interesting aspects of the game itself.
1. Invisible Skill Challenges.
In the previous session we had been introduced to the 'Win 3 before you lose 3' skill challenge technique. It was very explicit. This time the skills challenges melted beneath the narrative and no mention was made of them specifically. This made for a far less mechanical game and was, I think, better. As players I think it is imperative upon us to maximise our bonuses for skills. When I challenged the Captain of the Grub's Guard I could easily have used my Insight (+8) to size him up first and claim my +2 bonus. I didn't. We're still learning.
2. Oodles of Roleplaying
Thats more like it. Every character now has a voice in the game. The duplicitous tiefling hating Artemis, the blunt instrument of Morn, the cultured ambassador Assamber and the quite alien and pious Azhanti. Very good. I loved the interactions between the characters and the very 'shades of grey' that (mostly) they inhabit. There can only be trouble ahead between Morn and Artemis and thats going to take a little thinking about to stop it resulting in one of us being dead or dying!
3. A City ALIVE, I tell you, ALIVE!
My hat comes off to Andrew for his sheer verbosity and excellence in narration. He never stumbles over his words and never has less than an excellent description of that is going on. He covers all the senses and gives a real spark of life to the setting. The City of Kings lived yesterday. A broken guardtower in the spice district of the market, the derelict sea walls made poor by the Sundering, the deathly march of the Giant's Cradle, the chaos of the Night of Madness, the decadence of Jabb.... The Grub's Lair. It was all excellent.
4. However, too much too quick.
If I had one criticism it would be that the pacing of the nights adventures was too fast. We had individual issues which lead to doing a job for the rebellion which lead to doing a job for the Grub which lead to doing one of two jobs for the Cabal whilst still doing a job for Kyia and whatever else we had left over from our personal stuff. We saw the docks, the Night of Madness, the tieflings, the Cabal, the Rebellion, the Giants Cradle, The Grubs Palace ... it was all a bit of a blur. I missed the Quest sheet from the previous session as they gave these interactions a bit more solidity. I understand that the game needs to settle into a pace of its own and that will mean that the characters need to be established but it was just all quite difficult to take in. Or maybe thats my age!
5. Levelling without Scope
There is one more issue that I would highlight and that is the consequences of the storyline levelling that we are doing. We are aiming for one level per session (or set of adventures) which will see us through the game from 1-30 within say 18 months. One of the issues with this is that the characters are gaining 'power' at a pace. This means that a monster that last week would have caused us problems was now a reasonable inconvenience. The GM has recognised this and has signalled that he intends to 'ramp up the opposition'. This is cool but it doesn't allow us to wallow for very long in our new power level. This means that we have no real handle on how tough we are and we have to trust the GM that the things presented before us are beatable. Next session we have been contracted to either (a) kill the Cabal's Big Chief Bountyhunter Woman or (b) kill her boss. I have no idea whether this is achievable or suicide, because I have no real idea of our capabilities. A little consolidation, occassionally, might be in order?
Regardless, this was an excellent game and created some excellent interactions at the table. Looking forward to the next session a lot - oh, and I got my legendary item as well - the Uber Hammer of Knocking Over!