I seem to be settling into a miniatures lull, so I have no pretty pictures to share. Still, I have a couple of things to report:
Another Six by Six Game
Last night, my wife and I pulled out DC Rivals (our first game since the new year). I struggled early on, not getting the cards to buy good stuff while Elizabeth was stockpiling. Soon, she had the first confrontation under her belt. But then I roared back, and managed to win 2 confrontations. One more and I'd have the victory. Soon after, Elizabeth pulled even. As the draw pile dwindled, I realized that neither of us would get that final confrontation so I concentrated on buying good cards. The game ended and we tallied up our points: I won 40-38. Whew, what a close game!
This is the only game of the 6 x 6 challenge I haven't played. This is because I don't have the figures for it. Well that changed yesterday when my order of Irregular Miniatures arrived. I'll have to get painting so I can start on this part of the challenge.
Four Against Darkness
I finally got my characters to 3rd level so they are finally ready to take on the Three Rings module. I've been excited to play this module because it takes the 4AD system into a wilderness adventure. Before I set them loose I gave them reinforcement - a NPC. I created a ranger character using the new character classes in the fan-made supplement, Uncanny Against Darkness. Then, they were off into the woods, hunting down a band of orc reavers that stole 3 rings.
As I read through the adventure I had some misgivings. There is no map; instead the player just rolls up an encounter and plays it. I feared that this would make the encounters feel incredibly random and would remove any illusion of player control over the character's progress through the adventure.
An illusion of control is one thing that original 4AD did so well. When you come to a fork in a corridor it doesn't really matter if you go left or right. What you encounter will be determined randomly. Nevertheless, by giving the player a decision point, the game gives the illusion that the player has control. If the characters go left, run into a dragon, and get wiped out, one can easily think "I should have gone right." In reality it doesn't matter - a dragon would have come up either way. Yet the illusion makes the game better.
Sadly, as I feared, that illusion of control is largely missing from Three Rings. There are occasional opportunities to steer the characters toward the goal, but encounters feel so random. And because it is so random, I didn't feel like I was making progress to the goal. Unlike standard 4AD, I can't fill up the map, forcing an encounter with the boss. Instead, it's roll, roll, roll and hope to find a reaver.
Still, I think this module is worthwhile. There are a lot of interesting encounters, such as the giant that drops random items to the cabin in the woods, etc. Because of the fun encounters, I don't want to give up on the module. I plan on tweaking it a bit, turning it into a hex crawl (actually 3 hex crawls, one for each rng). I'll map out a 4 x 3 hex area, giving 12 possible encounters. If I come to the last hex and haven't found a ring then I'll automatically have a boss encounter. I think this will mitigate against the sense of randomness.
In other 4AD news, I went to the Ganesha Games website so I could get the URL for Three Rings. I noticed that they have a new supplement, Fiendish Foes, which adds more monsters to the system. What an excellent idea! As I have been making my own adventures for the system, I found a need for more monsters. Glad to see it become a reality, and hope they do more similar supplements (perhaps having themes, like my Greek myth themed adventure)