So we actually played some D&D! Wha? Only a month and a half after I had hoped to start the Islands in the Sky campaign, but hey, its started! Five players and myself running the game: Kevin, a Revenant Avenger of the Raven Queen who was a Shadar-Kai in his past life; Curtis, a half-Orc Ranger Scout (Essentials build); Lisa and Joey, playing pre-gens I took from the WotC website, a Tiefling Invoker and a Warforged Warden; and my beautiful wife Gabby and her Eladrin Druid.
Kevin's Revenant Avenger we stole outright from the WotC message boards Character Optimization Forum. And he kicked ass. He likes a lot of story and plot mixed in, and took a little bit of time trying to figure out his motivation for helping everyone else, but it was definitely all good.
I honestly wasn't impressed with WotC's convention builds. A warforged warden? I'm sorry, I just have a hard time connecting a mechanical/magical construct with the primal power source. And there are better ways to build an Invoker. That being said, Lisa and Joey are real champs for sticking with it and being ready to come back for more. I'll be searching for proper builds for them over the next couple of weeks, before our next game, so they can also kick some major ass.
But yeah, it looks like we might have a team of (mostly) strikers by the time I'm done printing character sheets.
A couple more things before we get into the play report. We played with a couple of supplements, to make things even more confusing for the noobs: D&D Fortune Cards (which I handed out to the players) and Paizo's Plot Twist Cards. The Fortune Cards only got used a couple times, but I think there are two reasons for this. First, the party pretty much cake-walked through the encounters. Second, nobody yet has a great grasp of the rules and terminology. I'm the only one with the books or the DDI subscription. So the Fortune Cards will probably see more use as players get the hang of the mechanics of the system. All the players were drawing from my one deck (I only ever picked up four or five booster packs), so I think a lot of them got cards that were kinda useless.
The Plot Twist Cards were definitely better, helped move the game along and kept me on my toes, but in a very good way. I loved what they added to the game. More on this in the Actual Play run-down.
Another thing that was a big help was having little pop-up monster info cards. 3x5 index cards, folded in half, with monster defenses written on both sides. I set them out at the beginning of combat and it definitely cut down a lot on me having to look through books and sheets during combat. Some might argue that players shouldn't know all that info right off the bat; I don't really care. It helped speed up the game and it helped players make decisions. All numbers in the game are purely meta knowledge anyway, so we might as well lay it all out on the table.
I also didn't use a DM Screen, probably for the first time. All rolls were out in the open, no fudging at all. I found this extremely liberating.
All in all, the players had fun, I had fun, the game ran well and everyone is coming back for more! The next post will be a proper report of what all went down.