yesterday was the second playtest of dungeons & dragons fourth edition (4e) & it was a more combat heavy one-shot. james ran it as a counter-point to his nascent campaign-- since we in that game play the fleeing loyalists, in this game we played as revolutionaries. though i don't think any of us were actually all that ideologically motivated. still, it was a lot of fun.
tracey & alicia both played warlocks, & i realized that warlock is maybe the best starter class? you don't need to worry about what weapon you use, or the 2[w] notation or armor or anything. you pick your pact & you are good to go. no other class is as easy, & warlock still contains plenty of nuance & fun. plus, doing damage, staying mobile? those are tactical gold.
i played a dragonborn paladin named kingu. first off, lets deal with being a dragonborn. i like the race, at least in theory. mechanically, the build is good, the skills are evocative (+2 to history!) & the breath? sure, it isn't a gamebreaker, but it is cool & more importantly, it is only a minor action. you have got to be able to find a free minor action once per encounter where 1d6 of area damage comes in handy. i decided that since the write up in the player's handbook is pretty vapid ("dragonborn care about...honor! &...they look like dragons!") that i was going to have to reinvent them. my solution was just to go "hey, okay. i'm playing a dragon. sure, i'm a humanoid dragon, but i care mostly about treasure that is pretty & things that are delicious. like gnomes." so i went a apex predator route. & i ended up eating a lot of things that we killed. like another dragonborn, & a gnome, & an angel, & a red dragon...
the paladin. so i gave that guy a test ride, & i think i have a decent idea how low-level play with a paladin goes. i ended up with three sixteens (+3s) in my stats-- strength, charisma, & wisdom. i think i should have worked it to have more con, though. here is the thing (kingtycoon take note!)-- the paladin's challenge really works. i mean, it is prohibative as hell. if whoever i marked didn't attack me, he took a -2 & also 6 points of damage. nothing to sneer at in our level bracket, though i don't know how it advances in play. i also had some encounter power that let me mark all the people adjacent to me for a turn-- which ended up dropping me. i poured all of my lay on hands into myself just to stay up. i mean-- i really did tank well? i don't know that the two warlock's ever ended up hurt. the ranger went down twice & i went down twice, though. so yeah-- if you are playing that masochistic hellfire warlock build that kingtycoon's cooking up, maybe the multiclass paladin's challenge feat is worth it, because it really draws the pain.
i should add though that it makes you feel a little crestfallen to be the tank & not be able to bring the hurt. i mean, okay, i have some not too shabby attacks? but i went with two handed, & i was doing 2d4 + 3 & either three damage to the foe or three temporary hit points to me. this is me in the nitty-gritty, meanwhile the warlocks are all turning into shadows & pulling down pain in a big way, putting a pretty big deal of hurt on guys. strikers versus defenders, i get it, but i want to be the guy who wades in to take on the big guy & then succeeds in taking on the big guy, you know what i mean? you can't have everything, though, i get that. just a paradigm i have to get with.
the encounters were fun; we fought a wizard, a sneak, & a bravo first thing. we beat them up pretty well. then we had a bit with a trap. traps-- still mostly encounters for just one character? then there was a fight againsts an archer, two skulks, & two ghosts-- that put me down & almost in the grave. luckily, an eight hour rest & i was good as new (boo!) after that was the big brawl with a young black dragon. james had filed off it's scales & coloured it red, though. that was a fun fight; we pounded it pretty hard, & i took all the pain (with the ranger getting in all the breath weapon cones with me!) & we went down the both of us in the last round, though the warlock's finished it up right after.
we also invented the inside jokes "dog poison" & "cut the chocolate cheese."