Last night, I participated in my first gaming session of 2015, and the first game I'd gotten to play at all in a while. This was Dean's 4E Eberron Game, which is a weird, fractured fairy tale Eberron, using 4E rules but without a grid.
I reprized my character from...what, a year or two ago?...Ryuden Kenjumon, a Githzerai Swordmage whose Astral Monastery has materialized in Eberron. One nice thing about 4E, it really allows you several options for wuxia style characters. The Swordmage is a Fighter-type class (Defender) with the ability to spontaneously enchant their sword with elemental magic effects.
Jeremy was playing an Orc...surprise! He was using the 4E Essentials Fighter/Slayer build to be more of an "orcish assassin" with a huge honking blade. If you know Jeremy's art work from his Omegapointilist Studios, you'll know what sort of vibe he likes. Big muscles, bigger weapons. [And I like to tease Jeremy on this. I'm actually cool with him playing the big muscle-bound dude with big weapon almost all the time.]
The other two players have been playing in Dean's game a long time, but it was the first time I'd played with them. Brad plays Rhea the (Human?) Witch. Not sure which actual class he plays, but she's ancient and feisty and swears like a sailor. Jason plays Jade the Half-Elf Ranger.
Our adventure had us on the road to the Tower of Prophecy, but there was this huge, semi-unnatural tree along the path. The tree had leaves with arcane symbolism on it, and after much debate and experimentation, we finally climbed the tree (well, Jade and Ryuden did) and we saw an enormous bear heading toward another tree in the distance. We collected some leaves and acorns and headed on our way.
That next tree was all sparkly and "fae." It had a sickeningly sweet odor to all but Jade, who thought it was excellent. This was an oversized apple tree with glowing rainbow colors and firefly-like sparks in the air around it. We gathered some fruit from it and continued on after a brief debate about whether to camp under that tree or not (we decided not, obviously).
The third tree was a strange, dead thing with screaming faces in the trunk. Surrounding it were ghosts, including that of Ralex the haughty NPC Fighter from our Vaults of Ur game and one of Thidrek's chickens. Rhea's ghost also appeared, as did a drow that attacked the Orc (trying to remember his name, Azog or Atrog, or something like that). The attack froze him in ice, but a timely assist from my Swordmage and a critical hit ended the ghostly threat. We gathered a branch and set out to the next tree.
This one was a hellish, burning thing. And it was inhabited by demonic birds. There was a crane-like ground runner, a gorilla-owl, a flying squirrel-turtle, two baboon-sparrows, and two monkey-birds. This was the big set-piece combat encounter for the night, and true to form for 4E, even without the grid the combat took a long time.
In fact, it took so long that Jason had to log off (we play on G+ Hangouts) after only one round, so Dean decreed that his PC ran off, horrified by the tree, and one monkey bird thing followed him. That left three of us versus the remaining six bird-demons, and it was a tough fight. We were all low on HP at the end, with Ashrog having dropped and recovered due to a 20 on the saving throw. We put our various powers to good use, though, with Rhea "controlling" the enemies, Atorg "striking" for big damage, and Ryuden "defending" with his good AC and high hit points.
The Prophecy in the game involves the "Seven Realms" and these trees were obviously representative of the first four, Eberron, Faewild, Shadowfell, Underworld. So we've got trees for the Dreamlands, Far Realm, and Celestial Realm coming up before reaching the Tower. While I don't like how slow 4E combat can be, I think I'm going to try and make it for the next session just because I dig Dean's quirky take on Eberron.