Back in 2007, with college winding down and work beginning to dominate the lives of me and my peers, I realized that if I was to continue playing D&D, I had to change the format somewhat. Gone were the days of the weekly game, but at the same time we were (mostly) no longer bound by the whims of the semester. We'd game less frequently, but then we can game for longer stretches of time.
We were also aware that D&D 4E was coming, and we wanted one last hurrah with D&D 3.5E as well as Pharagos, the world that we've all been playing on during most of our college years.
Anyway for that game, we played once a month at Bo's Coffee in Katipunan. I talked to the coffee shop's management, and promised them that in return for letting us stay 6-7 hours, we would order something at least every 30 minutes. It seemed to work out.
Looking back, I can see where that the way I organized and ran these games where very similar to how I am now running for many groups these days. I set the dates way in advance, I set a story hook from which all character concepts will bounce off on, I looked for quiet rooms to reserve in, we went to a place with good food. But the one difference from then and now is that I was okay with running for 8 players back then. It was in this game that I learned the drawback of a big party. Even at your best, you just won't be able to focus on every character on any one game session.
I was particularly concerned about the player who was called Q. Q was fairly new to D&D, and his arcane trickster build was just not up to par with the experienced players. The casters out-magic'd him and the dedicated skill monkeys outskilled him. His damage output was lower than the dedicated fighters. He rolled low all the time. My 2007 self tried his best to keep him happy, and I suppose it worked. He always had a smile after the game, and he did keep coming back.
Anyway, 4th edition was finally out, the player characters were getting to that power level where where D&D 3.5E just broke, and the plot has converged to a suitable endpoint. I decided it was time for a finale. Instead of playing at Bo's, I rented a room at Game Crab, where I had control of the audio and we could be as loud as we could.
|Look at all that... youth that I used to have.|
Ever the schemer, Meph believed everything was all according to plan. "Mortals, checkmate in four steps." (The Mandrakori warrior culture where all the player characters hailed from had a strong chess theme with their deities.)
- Mephistopheles summons two pit fiends. The players defeat the summons within the round.
- Mephistopheles uses a quickened Meteor Swarm. The cleric counters it with a readied greater dispel magic.
- It was a trick! With the readied dispel gone, Mephistopheles casts an empowered, maximized, hellfire meteor swarm which will overcome fire resistance. But the artificer demigod was ready! He has prepared a specially empowered Rod of Negation just for this, and he uses it to deliver a counterspell.
- Mephistopheles counters the Counterspell with a triggered Greater Dispel Magic of his own! Just as planned!
They were all rightly screwed. The DC was astronomically high, and if I remember correctly, the spell would have dealt 180 hellfire damage.
But then Q, who was forgotten by everyone, uses his readied action to cast Greater Dispel Magic to counter the Greater Dispel Magic that would counter the Rod of Negation that was supposed to negate the Hellfire Meteor Swarm of Absolute and certain Death. Impressive! But his caster level was not as high and he needed to roll to see if it will punch through.
Q then rolled a natural 20.
The fighter types then kicked Mephisto's ass over the course of the round. It was indeed done in four moves.