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Gen Con 2014 report: Defiance in Phlan

Gen Con 2014 report: Defiance in Phlan-slide0
Michael Tresca

Defiance in Phlan

Rating:
Star2
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Our group of six players all started Defiance in Phlan by grabbing pregenerated characters. Of course, I was playing Tobias Hyrthstone, who was my playtest character and favorite DM NPC that accompanies my kids' characters in their adventures. But everyone else had the same idea -- we had no less than five pregenerated dwarf clerics of life. Two of the players grabbed new pregenerated characters, switching out as a fighter and a wizard. With just three clerics now, two fighters and a rogue, we were off to a much better start.

We played The Screams at Dawn, a rescue mission. Goblins kidnapped a husband and children, so we were tasked with retrieving them. In typical bullheaded fashion, we tracked the goblins to their lair and -- discarding all attempts at subtlety -- marched straight into the lair. A tripwire triggered a falling block trap. We were then set upon by three goblins, two wolves, and a worg. Winning initiative, the wolves tore into us and it didn't take long before our fighter was dead.

This is a common theme in fifth edition, where whoever wins initiative seems to slaughter the other side at lower levels. The DM decided that a twin brother of the fighter who died marched in to pick up where his "brother" left off. We then moved on to face the boss (a bugbear) and five more goblin minions. After the bugbear went down the goblins surrendered. We rescued the prisoners and got 50 XP for the trouble.

There also wasn't a lot of use of maps. I find maps particularly helpful when traps are involved and it helps act as a shorthand to allow everyone to instantly comprehend their surroundings. With just one hour of play, this is essential.

I was not impressed with this one hour scenario. They're best played by experienced players working together as a team. Newbies don't know the game, don't know the characters, and are so new to everything that they have difficulty working together. As a result, advanced concepts like stealth, an attack plan, or anything other than attempting to slaughter anything in sight are beyond most groups. In some ways it reminds me of first-person shooters -- the teams who do the best are the players who practice together and learn to designate leaders. The teams that are worse off look out only for their own interests.

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