From a DM perspective combat goes by fairly quickly, we are all fifth level, and do reasonable damage when we do hit things. At one point my cleric and my wife's thief fought a wight and managed to take it out in about 4 rounds of combat.
The whole cantrip spells doing crazy damage at almost "basically at will" doesn't really break the game, but.... I was not a fan of Eldritch blast, ad I just noticed yesterday that the sacred flame spell for clerics is basically the same thing. If the monster doesn't have a successful save, its 2d8 radiant damage, which is pretty nutso.
Another thing I've noticed, is its essentially pretty difficult to kill off a PC unless they do something really stupid. As far as DC saves and ability checks are concerned if a DM is rolling behind the screen, you will never honestly know as a player if the monster succeeded or failed their attempt.
What I'm finding is that 5e isn't really story gamey, but it does allow a bit of hand holding on the part of the DM to keep the characters alive, unless of course as I said they do something really stupid.
Whenever I DM 5e again, I plan to have a few warlocks to throw at the players. That is one thing that we haven't yet come up against. a magic user firing spells at us. Just basically random meat.
Anyways, onward. We were in the basement of Strahd's castle, surrounded by really old tombs. Some of them have funny names, including the guy Sir Klutz something. Apparently he died with a sword going thru his gut when he fell. At the start of the session we decided to take a long rest. We had a brie discussion with Amiel the werewolf who we had previously had under a charm spell. He wanted to stay with us in Strahd's parents tomb, but some magical curtain wouldn't let him in. I was ready to take him out, but he decided to just walk away.
After the rest we got up, and my character made french toast whilst the other characters got their armour on etc. (not really I just said I did).
We discussed the idea of looking at the last largest tomb, and went around checking out a few of the smaller tombs. Our gnome illusionist Nym really wanted the portable hole that the thief found. He has big plans for Strahd, and opening a rift in time/abyss at some point. After a bit of roleplaying the thief finally gave it up, provided she was given a pile of gemstones.
On our walk to the southern tomb, the party got split up, the gnome was on the back of a barbarian fighter (who has a very Arnold accent) and they fell thru some magical trap into one of the tombs.
At the same time, a wight showed up, and the thief & I beat the crap out of it. After the fight, we went outside for a brief break while the action moved to the other 2 players.
Apparently they investigated the tomb, grabbed some staff and the gnome got electrocuted. Later in another tomb the warrior touched a staff and got electrocuted. Kudos to the writers of the adventure for putting 2 deadly staffs in the same area hahah.
We finally made it into the last tomb, which we believe was probably Strahd's himself. Black coffin and all. When we walk in the room, the DM says there's a large lever. Without a chance, I yell out "My character goes and pulls the lever". As my background quirk is that I fiddle with things and break them. I got inspiration for playing that up. However we were now stuck in the tomb. Cue 3 vampire women. A large fight ensues. We almost die. The gnome is making death saving throws (second time that game) but managed to crit his throw which was great.
We take out the vampires, me firing sacred flame left and right. the warrior manages to cut one basically in half with his warhammer (he rolled a 20).
And that is where we left off. Second session in that god forsaken basement. The plan so far is to get the hell out of there next session and maybe wander the countryside for a bit. It's a bit META but I'd like our characters to be a bit tougher before we meet strahd again.
It was a fun afternoon. Drank copious amounts of tea.
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