Friday, August 15, 2014

Genki meet Drizzt.

We've been hosting a Japanese college student named Genki Kingetsu these past two weeks. His name translates into something like, "Happy Goldmoon." Forgoing a viewing of the classic Adam Sandler film, I instead recognized how similar the English version of his name was to certain ones found in fantasy literature and gaming. Thus, I decided to introduce our Eastern guest to Western-style tabletop gaming through the vehicle of Drizzt Do'Urden and his adventures.

Genki chose his character first, opting for "Wulfgar" with the low AC/high HP. Yume suitably went with her typical choice: "Catti-Brie," the long-range threat. I rolled the dice and wound up with "Bruenor," the ax-wielding, shield-bearing king of Mithral Hall. Together, we sought the ruins of that fabled dwarven keep, and the early goings would betray the danger therein as we quickly faced off against a troll, an ogre, and a pesky trap that sent out pulses of harmful force energy repelling us away from its location.
Our next couple of turns featured a battle between good fortune and bad. Catti-brie was successful in downing the ogre, it too wounded by the force trap that had sent me flying, but ran into a goblin cutter. Wulfgar came into play and discovered the "Secret Cave," a place where we could avoid some of the dangers of the Underdark, but first we'd have to unseat its then resident, a massive owlbear! Another trap, this one a goblin snare, sprang on us, but despite these developments the giant troll was fortunately held at bay by the cavern's topography. (Granted, the rules don't state that large-sized minis can't squeeze through narrow passages, playing it this way seems to make more sense.)
We took out the mobile threats and moved out of range of the trap-laden entrance but soon ran afoul a goblin archer and hard-carapaced umber hulk. Much to our chagrin, Catti-Brie began to miss targets left and right, thanks to Yume's luckless die rolling, leaving much of the fighting to Wulfgar and I.
Having dealt with the goblin, I raced passed my adopted daughter and her former lover and swept through the broken door of ancient Mithral Hall. We had found it! It, and another feral troll being kept on a long-leash by a drow house guard. Back toward the entrance, Artemis Entreri, the famed assassin (and this adventure's boss villain), had entered the caverns, seeking us out! If we could but seize the crown lying on the throne and defeat the assassin, we would win the day!
Artemis quickly caught up to us and we began to fight him off, but not before the fearsome troll sent me reeling across the map and unconscious on the stone floor. Complicating matters, a third trap, "The Juicer," spawned on Wulfgar's tile, bringing him dangerously close to dropping as well. A single attack from Artemis a moment later, and he finally did.
Fearing that victory was slipping away, and with no more "Healing Surge" tokens, the speedy Wulfgar broke free from the fray to get the crown, but was brought low by the combined threats of the troll and yet another trap, this one firing poison arrows. Catti-brie and I continued the desperate fight against Artemis, but saw our doom in the coming of a drow priestess who spawned at the entrance after drawing an "Encounter card" we could not ignore.
And that's where we failed, unable to get to Wulfgar in time to revive him; a powerful and unforgiving example of how this game can tease you with victory, then steal it away from you in merciless fashion. Hope you enjoyed your introduction, Genki! (Can't wait to play again!)
A close-up on the "Owlbear," from the Blood of Gruumsh expansion.
And the "Umber Hulk," from Sting of Lolth.