Busy busy busy weekend. In fact, I woke up this morning, and still in a haze, wondered what day of the week it was, hoping it was wednesday or thursday already. It wasn't. And still isn't.
Saturday I was at work, fooling with cameras all day. Sunday I was dragging a bit, but then headed to GaryCon!!
Shortly after 1, the nerds began to assemble at Jason's place, who was kind enough to have all kinds of good food and stuff prepared for us. I pulled out all of the pre-release and forum-gathered stuff related to 4e D&D and we rolled into some instant-action combat stuff. Present initially were Jerry, Andrew, Michael, Jason, Krissi and myself. I passed out the 4e pregen sheets from the D&DXP thing, as well as the Elven Rogue that a clever ENWorld forumer (forumite? forum user?) put together. I did not keep close track, but Jerry took the Cleric, Andrew took the Rogue, Michael took the Ranger, Krissi the Warlock, I think, and I'm not sure which character Jason had (paladin maybe?). Everyone poured over the data for a few minutes before we picked up the dice. Michael had never played D&D before (!!!), and everyone else was of course new to 4e, though Krissi and I had played a little skirmish the evening before. Without much more fanfare, we got to it.
Oh Noes! A group of nasty kobolds had taken over their favorite tavern, and they had to Save The Day! Just as the party was rushing the tavern door, Maddie and John arrived and picked up characters. Maddie grabbed the fighter, and John took the wizard. They charged in the front door, and promptly got set upon by a cluster of kobold soldier types, who whacked Jerry's cleric pretty good, I think. In fact, I believe they dropped him pretty much right off the bat. Which quickly gave us one of the things that 4e does, and we saw this again later in the day. While previous versions of D&D have a mechanic called "No, sorry, you don't get to play this game anymore", also known as Character Death, 4e still lets you get smacked, but is willing to forgive you and let you try again right away. So the cleric's Second Wind kicked in, and he was on his feet again. Michael loved how the Eladrin got to feystep, and just pop up behind the kobold line. It's still D&D, so as you can imagine, there was much fighting of kobolds. It was a good little fight, and all of the characters performed exactly as intended. The ranger is an excellent striker. Standing back a little and raining death onto his opponents. I like that in 4e, everyone has more hit points to start with. That means that, for 1st level stuff, instead of fights being over because everyone has between 3 and 12 hit points, and can really only take one or two good hits, everyone - both characters and monsters, has enough hit points to give and take for a few minutes. In a game about killing monsters, its cool to be able to go a few rounds, trading blows back and forth. Anyhow, finally the characters were triumphant and wiped out the last of the kobolds.
I went straight into another encounter, wanting to continue to test/demo the 4e stuff. I drew out a rough map, and surprised the party with the dragon from the final encounter at D&DXP. The players were... anxious about fighting a dragon at 1st level. Made more anxious after the fighter got beaten on a bit. But they quickly turned the tide of the battle, pulling out all of the stops and using all of their available powers to kill the dragon. About this time, Jeremy Younger made it out, and so I offered to run more 4e stuff, to do some old school Tomb of Horrors stuff, or whatever else everyone wanted - Conan movies, etc.
They wanted some more 4e, so we let folks go through the characters again and pick which pregen they wanted to play. This time around Jerry had the rogue, John took the cleric, Maddie stuck with the fighter, Jason had the.. warlock I think, Michael took the wizard, Andrew the ranger, and Krissi took.. the paladin I think. We endeavored to do a "dungeon crawl", and they checked out the first room. Michael's wizard went to the corner of the crypt room and started rifling through a big pile of junk and trash and bones, when suddenly, three skeletal warriors rose from the pile and advanced, just as the lids burst off of two of the stone sarcophagi in the room, and two more skeletons joined the melee. Of course, Michael's wizard go the brunt of the punishment, and again, the system smacked him, but let him keep playing. Shortly after, Jerry and Andrew and Michael had to go, as it was already 5:30 or so in the evening. After the skeletons were defeated, we ran one more encounter, against a couple of Gnolls, and then called it a day.
Apparently everyone had a blast with the 4e stuff. We had to make some assumptions on some things, and just go with it, since we have limited information to use. But it was alot of fun. Everyone enjoyed playing, and using the cool abilities and options that each character had.
We did not break out the Tomb of Horrors. After reading through it, I realized exactly how much of a killer dungeon it is. I've heard people talk about it in broad, general terms, but the traps and puzzles in it are just so arbitrary and... sadistic.. and by sadistic, I mean the kind that my players would have found un-fun. There exists, I think, a different mindset, from the D&D of the late 70's and 80's, than today. At least in my group. In its infancy, D&D was a game about simply surviving, outwitting the DM, and inventory/resource management. It was a bizaar mix of Simulation and Gamist play - bizaar to me because it there are distinctly Sim aspects, and distinctly Gamist aspects, and often they seem to be at conflict with each other, or at least not to fit well together.
Anyway, I call it a very successful GaryCon. Gamer nerds got together for some D&D and fun. Jerry, while playing the Cleric, and John too, invoked their Divine Wrath power against their enemies, while growling "IN THE NAME OF GYGAX!"