Driders…. Always driders. I love and hate those bastards. Yeah, I know, they’re not an animal or insect or technically an arachnid, but close enough for me. Though, when we ran through City of the Spider Queen we did run into a massive spider or two that made for some fun combats. Still, though… driders…
Oh, another tough one. It’s a toss-up between beholders and illithid. They are both a lot of fun from a game stand point. And by fun I mean “AH! AH! AH! AH! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN!”. Seriously though, one of the most fun adventures we have run was the Illithiad modules.
Although, the party did have a pet mimic for a while in Shackled City. He was fun. Guarded our house for us while we were out adventuring. Although, eventually we were gone too long and he got hungry and left. As I recall, the city guard had to put him down. Very sad….
Bodaks. When one of my characters died by a bodak’s gaze and then turned into a PC bodak for a time, it was a lot of fun. Short lived, but fun. Unfortunately, as an undead, there was no way for the party to heal my wounds and eventually the damage accrued to the point of my destruction.
As a player, I think my favorite NPCs would be a tossup between Lord Soth from Ravenloft and all the various beings who believed they were Keraptis in White Plume Mountain.
As a DM, my two favorite NPCs were Gharaleth Axom from The Speaker in Dreams and Halaster the Mad from Expedition to Undermountain. Yeah, I know, Halaster dies at the beginning of the module. Well, not Halaster exactly, but his clone. The way I tied it into Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk it worked really well. They way I did it was that Halaster’s clone and Iggwylv’s clone fell in love and, tired of being slaves to their masters, plotted to trap Iuz, Iggwylv and Halaster in the God Trap to drain enough of their energy to become real beings. Their attempt to trap Halaster failed because at that moment the real Iuz and Iggwylv tried to open a portal from Greyhawk to Undermountain, causing Halaster to die and triggering the start of Expedition to Undermountain module with Halaster’s Call.
I think it turned out fantastically, but you’d have to ask the players. At the end of that when they had saved Undermountain, it flowed right into Ruins of Greyhawk where they from Undermountain in Faerun to that world and then dealt with the God Trap and ended the threat to both worlds.
What’s the best way to put this? I HATE TRAPS AND PUZZLES! There, I said it and I won’t take it back. There is not one single, solitary trap or puzzle I’ve enjoyed or liked as a player. None, whatsoever. Whenever I encounter a trap or puzzle as a PC, I let the other PCs take care of it if possible and will only involve myself if I have to. Even when I play a rogue, I’ll let the others deal with puzzles and I’ll take traps.
As a DM, I understand that they are often necessary and will include them when I need to, but generally just the minimum effort (i.e. module as written for traps & puzzles, no additions or creativity usually).
My favorite dungeon types are old school dungeon crawls. Just a place underground with a bunch of levels and a bunch of halls and rooms on each level. First adventure I played was The Keep on the Borderlands. That style has always been my favorite. Castles, citadels, towers, cities, sewers, forests and whatever else take second place to the old school dungeon crawl.
As a DM, the one I’ve enjoyed the most was running Return to Undermountain and Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk back to back as one story arc. It was a blast and I had a lot of fun as the DM in that arc. My second favorite DM track was running the Speaker in Dreams module. I loved the illithid behind the plot, Gharaleth Axom.
As a player, my favorites so far have been Return to White Plume Mountain, Shackled City and facing off against Lord Soth in Ravenloft (I think the module was When Black Roses Bloom, but it was a long, long time ago). The last was a blast as my wizard Delban used a whisper/message spell to speak torturous words into the ears of the slumbering Lord Soth in trying to wake him from his trance and save his dying realm of Sithicus. It was also in Lord Soth’s castle where Delban ran afoul of a banshee, which had the effect of turning him all Raistlin-ish (white hair and gold, glittering eyes – no hourglass pupils thankfully) and probably started him down his path to evil. Blame it all on Ravenloft. It tends to have that effect on people.
There have been so many, it’s really hard to pick. Here are a few highlights, both as player and as DM:
- The endless jokes about being a one-armed paladin, including jokes that my mount should be a three-legged horse
- The time I was DM and a barmaid lured the fighter Jhon Tsaran to the barn for a “roll in the hay”. She was a medusa wearing a hat of disguise and the party had to haul his statue back to the keep. That led to a fun one-off session entitled “Bring me the head of Jhon Tsaran”
- The time our warrior got on the back of Lord Soth’s nightmare steed and it took to flight to the top of the castle
- The time Delban got stabbed with a spear and the following exchange took place:
- Farid: “I pull out the spear…No! Wait! I push it through!”
- DM: “You push it through?!? It’s an 8 foot long spear! It only went in 4 inches!”
- The time my thief was killed by a bodak and returned as a bodak player character for a while
This is a question that is kind of vague. If it’s talking about pre-defined characters such as Drizzt or Bigby or Tanis Half-Elven or whatever, I don’t really consider them PCs. Even when I was involved in groups running the original Dragonlance modules, I didn’t really consider them PCs. They were NPCs that we’d temporarily stepped into playing.
I’ll interpret it, rather, as the favorite type of PC that I like to create and run. First, I like to have some sort of tie in to a previous PC or NPC. It’s never something big or something that really affects the gameplay aspect of the character. I just like to believe that all the great “heroes” have some thread that ties them all together. For example: my good then evil then neutral-ish mage Endeleban Losteast and my one-armed paladin of Helm, Terun Eastmore, are actually brothers. They are the middle two out of four sons of a Purple Dragon general. Delban was disowned for not following in the footsteps of his three brothers and joining the Dragons. He always preferred arcane studies to that of a warrior. Terun eventually found his way into the order of Helm through other events.
They are the two most closely related characters I’ve played. Others include two clerics of Pelor who both came from the same sanctuary. One took up the same quest as the other after the first one vanished without a trace. Another was a dwarven ranger who served an NPC king the group encountered in another module. And so on. Probably 80% of my characters have had at least some thread that tied them to a previous character or NPC from the Wyrmfang Chronicles.
Second, I like my characters to have a flaw of some sort. Whether it’s a paladin whose ideas on being a paladin aren’t quite the standard point of view, an elf who hates all other elves, or a character appointed as party treasurer who’s stealing funds from said party treasury, I like that there’s something that isn’t necessarily “heroic” about them. The last one was mildly amusing because we ran through pretty much the entire campaign arc without anyone figuring out that he was skimming about 10% off of the party treasure for himself. I don’t think they’ll ever ask me to be party treasurer again.
Third, I like for my character to be driven by some overreaching goal that happens to align with the party. He needs to have a reason to align himself with these people he normally wouldn’t. I’m not a fan of the “You look trustworthy!” approach (bonus points if you know the reference). Whether it’s a bard looking to restore his family fortune, a cleric seeking a cure for a mysterious plague or a mage lusting after power as a shortcut to greatness. My current character is a cleric of the old Osirion god Ra who is seeking to draw the old gods (read: true gods) back to Golarion by restoring worship of Ra to the Pathfinder world. He believes doing so is the only way to restore the true line of pharaohs (read: overthrow these ridiculous pretenders and restore the seat to the proper family) to the land.
Aside from those three points, I typically like to throw a lot of variety in there. Some people like every character to be the same: elven wizard, human barbarian, dwarven ranger, whatever. That’s fine for them but I don’t care for that. For me, playing the same character over and over gets old fast.
It’s a tossup between three of them. First, is Endeleban Losteast (Delban). He’s a wizard and former Aes Saidarr of Cormyr. He was the second character I played with the Wyrmfang Chronicles as we adventured through the dream realm of Ravenloft. It was there he made a mortal enemy of the death knight Soth and gained a Tome of Evil that he made use of later in a quest for power. After turning to evil, he entered the state of NPC-dom, making 3 or 4 appearances over the years before eventually returning to a PC status for a jaunt though the Underdark in the City of the Spider Queen trek. It was during this trek that he cast off the powers of evil that he gained for more neutral status and a future unknown.
Second is the paladin Terun Eastmore. As a paladin of Helm, he followed a path slightly adjacent to what most paladin’s might call correct. In 3/3.5e Forgotten Realms, paladins of Helm are concerned only with destroying evil where they find it, sometimes with a disregard for helping those in need or who might be deemed innocent. This led to some strife within the party and he eventually left to find his own path. He also lost an arm along the way, leading to endless jokes about the one-armed paladin in the party.
The last one is Aeduin, the cleric (former bard) of Occipitus. I mentioned him a bit in Day 6 and he’s the only character I’ve played through to level 20. He was last seen taking ownership of the Inn Between Worlds and giving it a permanent home on Occipitus. Little is known about what’s happening there but word is that Occipitus is quickly becoming known as neutral ground where all may gather without concern for too much trouble.