Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TPK’d in Brimstone

We got our chaps-wearing butts handed to us when we played Shadows of Brimstone on Friday night. We had four PCs (gunslinger, preacher, lawman and an indian scout) so we our threat difficulty was Medium.

The first couple mine cards we drew were just corridors, so we were all getting a little antsy by the time the first room showed up, so we weren’t coordinating our movement very well. The preacher rushes ahead into the new room, leaving my gunslinger around a blind corner. I considered asking him not to do that, but I figured it was our first room and we were all at full health and equipment, so what could go wrong?

The exploration token called for an Attack, so that’s one Medium Threat. The room had an Advanced box on the mine card, calling for an extra Encounter card. Long story short… The Encounter card added a High Threat to the fight. The High Threat was itself "Draw Two Medium Threats", one of which was "Draw Two Low Threats". On round two we failed to Hold Back The Darkness, and the card added another Medium Threat to the fight. Thus our very first battle of the campaign was against 3 Elite (+2 damage) Night Terrors, plus 1 Slasher, 6 Void Spiders and 6 Hellbats. All appearing in a large room around the corner where my gunslinger special ability to get free shots at spawning monsters couldn’t draw line of sight.

TPK in the first room. Technically, they left us for dead, and wandered off to destroy half of the frontier town.  We fought to the bitter end, and when finally the Lawmen fell, there were only two monsters left (the Slasher and the last Night Terror) both of whom were badly wounded. Those of us who didn’t go down the first round scored a lot of XP, but not enough to level up. So we survived, but with a permanent wound or two, hardly any treasure, and very limited options for stocking up before our next mission. We’re off to a great start on the campaign.

I’d actually been a tiny-bit worried prior to this that the game might not be dangerous enough. The two demos we’d played with FFP had been mostly cakewalks (especially the more recent one). Fun cakewalks, to be sure, but not exactly close calls. Instead, I see now that the full game starts in the sweet spot where one wrong move (or unlucky card draw) can smash your face, but actual “gone forever” character death is rare. (They may have stacked the decks and/or exploration tokens at the demos, to specifically encourage the cakewalking. I don't know.) Given the way the Elite and Brutal system automatically scales up the monsters as you advance in character level, I think it’s going to sustain the tension into the later stages of the campaign. I’m very excited to play more again real soon.

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