Last Saturday, everyone full of Christmas cheer (or at least some beer), we had another session of Josh's 3.5 campaign.
It was fun, but there was a lot of tension in the room. Everyone at the table seems to have some different ideas about what we should be doing. I think I've mentioned it before. And Josh still really doesn't know the 3E system at all, so he's basically running a 2E game allowing us to use 3E characters within it. It makes for some oddities in play.
We had been leveled up to Level 3 by DM fiat. Our characters had been on the cusp of L2, but Josh wanted to throw a few harder encounters at us. And he did. Our shanty-town just outside of the totalitarian empire's capital was raised by soldiers because of the insurrection we had taken part in, and the sorceress we rescued led us into a wooded area with caves leading inside the town before she was arbitrarily killed for 'story' reasons (it would have been too easy for us if we'd had a high level sorceress with us, in other words).
So we kill her killers, then head into the dungeon. We faced some softball encounters first--a few hobgoblins, some shriekers and gibberlings, ran away from a giant slug, fought tough fights against some bugbears and osquips, and finally ended the night after slaying some cave fishers. We're apparently about 1/4 through the tunnels leading to town at this point. And we finally found some decent loot (Josh had been keeping us poor).
Some of the highlights of the evening came from some things that Josh just made up. We found, among the dead sorceress's things, a box with an imp who would identify magic items, but there's a chance he'll eat whatever he's identifying (hasn't happened yet, but Josh keeps hoping), and some scrolls to enchant either a weapon or armor. Without a spellcaster in the group--2 Fighters, a Paladin, and a Rogue--the Rogue had to Use Magic Device, and of course botched yours truly's attempt while succeeding on everyone else's. So I don't have a +1 elemental bastard sword. At least the party decided to give me some bracers +2 we found later, so my heavily armored guy (if chain shirt and a large shield is heavily armored?) is even harder to hit.
The problems basically came down to these points:
Rules consistency--I find 3E overly complex and whatnot, but if we're gonna play it, I wanna be playing it. Having the DM just decide in the middle of a combat that any weapon can threaten a crit on a 19-20, and do x3 damage if he rolls a 19-20 on the confirmation roll--or more, he'll keep rolling in such situations) bothers me. I'd rather stick with the base rules, or have him state up front that he'd like to do that. My big sticking point of the evening.
Story immersion vs. challenging game play--this came up in two different ways as a problem for both Alex and Dave. For Dave, he built a concept character. He intentionally didn't min-max his character in order to play a Solomon Kane-type Paladin. And he's finding himself to be somewhat ineffectual as a lightly armored, rapier wielding Paladin still trying to be a front-line warrior, and without a high enough Wis to cast spells. He's suffering from playing to concept when Josh is DMing for keeps.
For Alex, the problem is that Josh is DMing for keeps at all. Josh has flat out stated that he will kill us, and will actively try to kill us if we do something he thinks is stupid. This irks Alex, who seems to enjoy the kind of game where he can have a cool character do cool stuff and just ride the GM's railroad to a successful end. That's why he won't play in my Classic game at all. He wants his character to be special, not just another 3d6 down the line disposable guy until he can gain enough levels to be considered a hero. He wants to be a hero from the get-go.
Of course, Alex is also suffering from poor character design. He's trying to play a ranged Rogue focusing on the ranged sneak attack, but that's a pretty limited build. And he's getting shown up by Pat's Fighter archer.
Pat's problem seems to be that he's content with his character and the way Josh is running things, and is annoyed at all the stopping to argue rules or play style by the rest of us.
Well, maybe we'll get things ironed out soon. I'm trying to ignore my inner rules-lawyer. But it's hard. If Josh wanted to run 2E, I'd be happier. Why do I have to mess with all this fiddly 3E stuff, while he can do whatever behind the screen? Oh well, I guess as long as my fiddly 3E stuff is working, I shouldn't worry about the rest.
I'll just try to enjoy it for what it is, and bide my time until we play my Classic game again.