We got together this evening for Character creation, and a little bit of dice rolling.
I made every effort to have everyone avoid committing to a particular character until we had a chance to come together and discuss. We did fine in that regard, but some of the players had their eye on a character. Maddie had been eyeballing a Tiefling Paladin for a bit, and Krissi was thinking alot about a Warlock. John was still somewhat undecided, but was leaning toward Warlord, Cleric or Warlock. Jeremy Y said that he was interested in creating a Wizard, as a break from much of his 3.x gaming with his fighter, Corrigan. Jason was somewhat ambivalent, and we were somewhat uncertain of what Jerry and Andrew would take, but I assumed that Andrew would gravitate toward Rogue or another striker, and Jerry was a real wildcard, but Cleric was a good bet for him.
So we got together and started the process. Everyone grabbed a character sheet and set to work. There was much flipping of pages, and asking out loud about various bits of the characters, then some decisions about powers.
We ended up with John playing a Half-Elf Warlord named Delvin. Maddie is a Tiefling Paladin named Sorrow. Krissi changed her mind about the Warlock and went with an Eladrin two weapon Ranger named Lybria. Jeremy created a Human Wizard named Illgiliant (pronounced Ill - Gil - Eeant). Jerry made a Human Cleric named Father Kreuz. Andrew went with a Tiefling Rogue named Nate. Jason made a Dragonborn Fighter named Dzur. Character creation seemed to go pretty well, and did take us a little while. It was a little staggered, but I would estimate that it took about an hour for each person.
There were some questions and so forth during this process. John wanted to play a character who was a shield fighter. Carrying a large shield, with another shield with spikes or blades that could be used as a weapon. There are no rules for this, but I didn't want to disallow it out of hand. We made up a feat for proficiency with a shield-weapon. I asked if, for balance sake, he was more interested in doing medium and up damage, and less interested in the Armor Class boost, or if he wanted the AC boost and to do less damage with the weapon. He wanted the AC, and so was happy to go with 1d6 for his weapon damage. Andrew wanted to use the old "tells" for Tielfings, interested in more variety than the horns and tail. I had looked around for the chart that I've got somewhere that gave lots of different Tiefling features, but could not find it. Since its flavor, I told him that sure, as long as it was readily apparent that his character was a Tiefling, then he could customize his Tieflingness.
Once finished with Character creation, we rolled straight into some gaming. I took a moment to explain some general information about the world. I explained that its a "points of light" world, in which the wilderness is vast and terribly dangerous, and that points of civilization are few and far between, isolated points of light in the dark world. In times long past, this land was part of a great empire, led by four great cities. These cities were places of incredible knowledge and learning. But something happened - most call it the Dying Fever, and the population of the cities was utterly destroyed, and the people fled into the surrounding lands. That was many lifetimes ago, and still people live in small groups of isolated communities, cut off from one another by vast expanses of inhospitable wilderness, home to monsters and goblin races that hunger for the flesh of the highborn races.
I'd planned to start the adventure in the midst of some action, so to speak, partly to avoid the whole false-step dance that typifies these kind of beginnings ("you are in a tavern with all of these other people. okay, now get along! go!"). The characters had each, individually, received commissions to hunt down an escaped murderer. Each on their own, they'd tracked Jalez One Eye, a halfling of vicious and wicked reputation, to an abandoned Dwarven mine just a few days from their community. They each made their way into the mine, avoided or dealt with the bandits/mercenaries within, and found their way to the central chamber of the mine, all suddenly blinking at each other across the room. Many entrances led into the large chamber, which was cluttered with disused and broken furniture and supplies. There were large statues of industrious dwarves, and the walls and floor were carefully carved and crafted. Also in the room, sitting in a chair, was a headless halfling. Jerry spoke first, saying that it seemed that they'd all come for the same reason. Everyone made their way into the chamber then, investigating the statues and chests and headless corpse. As they were trying to determine if there was a trail to indicate where the halflings head and its owner had gone, they heard the approach of a number of people. A group of human mercenaries burst into the room, yelling their rage at the characters. The group quickly moved to meet them in combat.
The fight went well, and although it felt as though it moved pretty swiftly along, we were at it for more than an hour, I think. We were all rusty with D&D, and all new to 4e, so there was a goodly bit of light rule discussion and interpretation. It went pretty well though. The defenders defended, the strikers struck, the leaders led, and the controller hit the bad guys with area spells. Everyone got to use cool abilities. Jason's character got caught in a bit of a punch, and took quite a beating, but was dishing it out as well. He was reduced to negative hit points, but his Second Wind immediately kicked in, and he was back up again. The cleric did lots of attacking and healing. The warlord helped others get additional attacks. The rogue kept a couple of targets locked up. The ranger darted in and out of the bad guys, dealing out damage. The paladin waded in and faced off with the biggest opponent that she could find. The wizard moved around on the field and threw damaging spells at the groups enemies.
I had a minor amount of difficulty keeping up with conditions and such, so I'll need to work on this. I have a plan though, involving tiny colored stickies. I rolled well for alot of the combat, so aside from the couple of minons in the fight, the bad guys dealt out some hefty damage, and seemed to take a little doing to put them down.
During the fight, someone tripped a mechanism which slammed the doors to the chamber shut, and began to fill the chamber rapidly with water. The fight went on, and they finished their opponents, and then set to solving the problem of the enclosed chamber full of water. The rogue was able to find and manipulate a mechanism, which opened a hatch in the floor, and basically flushed the room, and everything in it. They were pulled into a dark tunnel that flowed straight down, then curved and twisted, and just when they were certain to drown, spat them out in a pitch black underground cavern. The wizard gave them some light, and they could tell that the chamber was huge, and the water that swept into the cavern with them flowed into the darkness, and they could hear the sound of water falling over a precipice. We ended there for the night.
More observations, somewhat at random:
Mob roles - like them, they work well. They fought some diverse opponents. I had a mage-controller, a couple of skirmishers, a brute and a soldier. The soldier turned out the be the biggest threat, in a way. He hit hard, and knocked down people that he hit. By misfortune, the party ended up somewhat split in the combat, with Jason's fighter bearing the brunt of the soldier and a couple other bad guys. The miniions went down really quick - which is normal, but in this case, I thought they went down a little too quick, simply because they didn't really get to participate in the combat. But that's their role. The brute hit hard, and had alot of hit points, but was, in turn, fairly easy to hit. It was a good fight, I enjoyed it, and I think the players did too. Everyone was giving out and taking damage, and seemed to be very involved and invested in what was happening. The players seemed to, for the most part, quickly grasp how their powers worked, and how to effectively employ them.
After the game, I asked everyone to turn in their character sheets for me to keep. I think this was the one real glitch of the evening, but I'll gladly accept that. Everyone acted as though I'd asked them to cut off a finger. I'll make scans of the sheets, and give them back to everyone.
A few questions did come up, which I think we mostly answered but...
We discussed a few things like how to do Two Weapon fighting (my answer: unless you are a two weapon style ranger, TWF involves taking a feat and just doing extra damage. you do not get extra attacks). Whether multiclassing feat allowed you to take one of the classes dailies only from the explits section, or if you could take a class feature that was a power. Still not 100% solid on that one.