It's time to get spooky! Those Order of the Amber Die folks delivered their report from the third chapter of Doomsday Dawn, and now y'all can read about how it went for them (and see the pretty pictures they took of their experience. If you intend of playing through this adventure, maybe wait to read this blog after you're done so that you don't run into any spoilers!
After our initial experiences in Part One and Part Two of the playtest, it was time for part three and our first adventure by author Amanda Hamon Kunz. To set the atmosphere for the land of gothic horror, our GM decided to render the old mansion on vinyl and bring it to life with some custom pieces from Geordie John Studios. Having full access to the mansion in 3-D allowed us to better appreciate, explore, and eventually defend it. Then we surrounded our play area with candles, put on some dark music, and ventured out toward Sombrefell Hall on the shores of Lantern Lake.
In much the way part two had certain guidelines for character creation, part three had its own interesting challenge regarding party construction: a group in which every member had access to healing. With that before us, we tried to make heroes that fit into both the setting of Ustalav and conformed to the guidelines for part three, while still allowing ourselves the opportunity for some character customization. To add some mood to our interactions with each other, our GM decided that while our characters all had ties to the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye, they didn't necessarily know each other very well. Exploring an old mansion by candlelight when we weren't completely secure with each other added tension, but we clicked well enough when combat broke out.
Casia Libitina human cleric 7
Class Feats: Cantrip Expansion, Emblazon Symbol, Steady Spellcasting
Played by Jody Gerst (1998)
Don Sancho "Bishop" De La Vega human divine sorcerer 7
Class Feats: Dangerous Sorcery, Magical Striker, Reach Spell
Signature Item:Ring of the ram
Played by Alex Rivera (2015)
Tinryl Prind half-elf cleric 7
Class Feats: Conical Channel, Emblazon Symbol, Turn Undead
Played by Daniel Scholler (2007)
Natasha Anatoli human paladin 7
Class Feats: Attack of Opportunity, Divine Grace, Hospice Knight, Mercy, Warded ouch
Best Magic Items:Slippers of spider climbing, +2 full plate, +1 bastard sword
Played by Sean Linville (2016)
"Affair at Sombrefell Hall" By The Numbers
Player Tracking Sheet
- Average time spent in character creation: 119 minutes
- Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: 1 (Don Sancho)
- Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: 0
- Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: 1 (Don Sancho)
- Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 1 (Natasha)
- Number of Hero Points used: 14; 3 (Dan Sancho), 2 (Natasha), 5 (Casia), 4 (Tinryl)
GM Tracking Sheet
- Total time spent playing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 6hrs, 5min
- Total time spent preparing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 4hrs, 10min
- Number of sessions spent playing "Affair at Sombrefell Hall": 2 (session increments are 4 hours)
- Total number of Hero Points given out: 24
- Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 1; Tinryl (1)
- Number of characters killed: 0
- Number of times a player cast a heal spell with one target: 3
- Number of times a player cast a heal spell with more than one target: 12
- Number of times a player used a healing ability other than heal: 4
- Number of rounds spent on each event (in order): 3, 5, 6, 6, 13
- Number of party rests: 0
- Number of channel uses: 5 (each a 3-action channel)
- Applications of Undead's Bane: 5
- Total damage dealt via channel to all enemies: 448
- Number of enemies' critical fails vs. channel: 4
Don Sancho "Bishop" De La Vega
- Uses of Magical Striker on +1 magic crossbow (following 2-action spell): 4
- Successful hits: 2
- Damage dealt: 23, 19
- Cantrip damage dealt with disrupt undead: 14
- Uses of Turn Undead: 4
- Uses of Hero Points to reroll a d20: 2
- Number of successes when rerolling: 2
- Total attacks of opportunity: 4
- Successful attacks of opportunity: 4
- Uses of Retributive Strike: 3
- Successful Retributive Strikes: 2
- Uses of Lay on Hands: 4
Highlights From Affair at Sombrefell Hall
The narrative structure of this part was entirely different from the first two. After the all-too-quiet build up we experienced while exploring the mansion, things exploded into frantic wave-by-wave action against undead. We rushed to build barricades along the mansion's key entry points, and things started to feel like the best mashup of both Pathfinder and Call of Duty: Zombies. Props to the author here, as tactical awareness was just as valuable as the dozen channels our clerics fired off.
Our first paladin of the playtest had a great showing, and it's hard to select a single highlight out of her many: kill-stealing a wave of ghasts from the party, landing a couple of clutch retributive strikes, and standing toe-to-pincer with a brain collector at the end.
After several intense game hours of holding back undead, resources were starting to run low and our potential for error grew. Dan is laughing about a second stat like this, but a surprise appearance by an aberration leading the undead resulted in another "own goal" on his record. Granted, he missed the identification roll, but Tinryl healed it nonetheless when trying to channel it down. The ungrateful brain collector returned the favor by dishing out two critical hits to the cleric in the same round: 105 damage.
None. While we can chalk this up to the massive amount of healing power this party was packing, it can't go without mention that we played a tight game when it came to barricade placement.
What was supposed to be an information-gathering mission to contact a professor on sabbatical, became a five-hour scrap against a variety of undead and one of our best performances in recent years. We did lose an NPC, a research assistant who hid well enough in a bedroom--which happened to become a battleground. As we build characters for part four, despite this being a playtest we're too competitive with ourselves not to tally up our record: 2-1.