Fifth Session (12 page pdf) – Schloss Caromarc is creepily well-kept but seemingly abandoned, except for traps and occasional golems. It is also riddled with non-OSHA compliant bridges, which conspire towards our downfall…
The castle is cool and creepy, full of abandoned rooms and taxidermy that against all our expectations doesn’t animate and attack us. Good for that.
However, let me just pause a second to ream on the castle/dungeon/adventure design here. We keep having to cross bridges that require like multiple DC15 Acrobatics checks to not fall off and die. Of course, the average fighter in his armor has like a -1 Acrobatics skill. First of all this is a game rule fail from someone who didn’t bother to read the Acrobatics skill entry – you should only be hitting DC15 if you’re trying to cross a 6 inch wide balance beam, not a three foot wide rope bridge or anything with handholds. Second of all, it’s a worldbuilding fail – this is a castle built by people, for people to live in. Anything requiring a DC5 let alone a DC 15 skill check to “not die” on a routine day doesn’t pass muster. “Well the Count could cast fly” doesn’t excuse it – he can’t fly all day every day, and if you risk death every time you have to take a crap (Sredni Vashtar’s Girl kept looking for a privy to wash up and there aren’t any, I’ll note) or want a snack the numbers will catch up with you. Does he carry his own big crates of stuff around? Do his own drywall? Oh, “his golems carry stuff for him?” His golems are clumsy as hell, has he lost 1M gold pieces worth of them to falls? (I can imagine a town downriver constantly traumatized by wounded flesh golem attacks from the water… “Why God why?!?”).
Anyway, the vast majority of this session was a fight with a summoned erinyes who totally owned us. Our crossbowman was useless against her, my spells were useless against her, and everyone else was either screwing around (Vlad) or generally clinging to things for dear life (Oswald, Icobus). Everyone nearly died several times. Only her clock eventually running out saved us. And if we didn’t get across before the bridge burned we’d be literally stuck, none of us can fly yet so it would be ‘adventure over.’ I don’t know if they assume ‘well of course they should be fifth level so they would all have fly now’ but screw them. Pett, you make creepy stuff which is good, but it feels like this adventure made certain assumptions that were not necessarily reasonable. If we didn’t have our rope of climbing we’d just have had to quit and leave the whole castle because it’d just be impossible to traverse.
The fight with the weirdo homunculus-led golem was interesting; we figured out just from looking at the thing “don’t even bother hitting it, kill the homunculi” and sure enough. Yay video game design.
This session was a mix of enjoyment and frustration mainly from us banging our head against “you know, going across this next bridge is sure death for half of you… And no, there’s no way to bypass or improve it.”