My Emberwind Exerience

My name is ZeSoren and I got Emberwind from KamiCon last week. This week, I ran through as much of The Skies of Axia as possible during a tabletop event. I played the role of the storyteller and four others played as the PCs. In preparation of being the storyteller, I combed through the book learning all of the lore and threads that tie everyone together.I love the setting being on floating continents making it a seemingly infinite universe. I compared the characters to enemies during the encounters and I had a feeling that with the right tactics, the PCs can gain a steady upper hand, but looking at the enemies, there is always a threat of PC being fallen if caught in the wrong place.

When I introduced the game and explained the mechanics, every single persons reaction to the style of rolling low was always shock, awe and fear. There were many times during the first two encounters that when the players rolled a natural 20, they get excited, but quickly realized their doom when their attack misses. At the same time, rolling a critical hit was met with extreme excitement as they do maximum damage and destroying their foes in a single move.

Below, I'l list and explain some of the changes I've made in preparation or during the campaign. I realized at the end that Emberwind is so malleable, yet the core elements stay intact and you can implement new mechanics or paths to add more flair.

  • (Intended) Elise gives 5 extra gold pieces if the PC asks for more
This change is the start of more social interacts I could do as a storyteller. It's a hidden path that rewards players for successful role play and thinking outside the box. This also ties in with adding flair with Elise because she is worried about the safety of Piper. Drawing threads between NPCs and PCs adds an enriching experience and opens new paths if we think about it.
  • (Unintended) An opposing skill check between characters when stealing from the sleeping guards
This change was off the top of my head because these players have 5e experience and jump at the sight of opportunities. With Emberwind being "on-the-rails" it's difficult to let players do actions outside of the story, however, being a good storyteller (and DM) means adapting to certain situations and letting your players play in the world. They did stop to check out the guards and presented with the two options, Rath wanted to steal and Lauret wanted to wake them up. I made Rath roll a SoH check to see if he could steal quick enough before they wake up. He fails and played it out to where he reaches for the pockets, but the guards spring up when Lauret yelled. They still gain +1 to the clock and it made me think that these type of challenges could make for interesting PC vs. PC dynamics.

  • (Intended) The Houndmaster Encounter
The first encounter went really well. The hounds had the advantage at first because of their Pounce ability and the party instantly felt fear knowing each hound could move up to 10 spaces; well over half the distance of the bridge. I knew three hounds would not be enough to take down the party so I intended reinforcements to show up. I also gave the option of the players to surrender and let the woman die after the first round because Rook was under half health after the first round. I also let the woman stay in the field because knowing my players, they would jump headfirst and put themselves between the NPC and hounds. The players decided to continue and they slowly started to think tactically. The Houndmaster got snped by Piper as she used her tide turner and blasted him to nothing. The Rath teleported himself and Rook into a flanking position on one of the hounds to catch it off guard and Lauret stayed in the back healed up anyone who was low. As soon as the Houndmaster went down, I made every hound target Piper as per their modifier and all three at the time, Pounced onto her and killed her. I could read the minds of the players as they thought they needed to kill the rest fast. A new modifier I added to the hounds was Feral: if the Houndmaster is Fallen, Pounce gains an addional effect and their basic attack is now 2d10 + 10. Pounce works as the same as before, but if the player fails the willpower check, they take an additional 1d10 + 10. This made the whole encounter steadily challenging at all fronts. If the Houndmaster dies early with plenty of hounds left, the players are faced with feral and rabid dogs that could easily down one character.

  • (Unintended) The Slitherspine Encounter
At the snap vote two people voted A and two voted C. Seeing as it was a weighted decision, it would thrust the other two combat since they wanted to try and talk their way through. Instead of it being weighted, I required both Rath and Piper to make their choice of Fast Talk or Intimidate check. I wanted them to both succeed so that they could not ge tht e ladder kicked over before I turned my attention to Rook and Lauret. They both failed and combat ensued. I intended to play out a scene that would allow Piper and Rath to get down to the ground so they wouldn't have to jump. This would split the party in the upcoming enounter making it even more difficult for them to succeed, but I would still give Rook and Lauret a chance to talk their way down.
I was proud to see the tactics by the party go better and better. Piper used Chains of Calamity to deal decent damage to both slitherspines before she instantly drops to both of them. The party rouses to slay them both letting Rook and Lauret buff and heal while Rath deals massive damage and poisons them both. He also made liberal use of Toxicshock to cancel attacks and deal extra damage. I never intended to use the powder keg slitherspine, but seeing as how well the party was doing, I made him appear after the second round and used deadly kamikaze combo between it and a Rift Mage: The Slitherspine drags one character in and the Rift Mage detonates the explosions dealing damage to all three combatants. This part was at the end, but it made a statement that their foes are smart and hard to fight.

  • (Intended/Unintended) "Did we get drugs?"
Probably the most fun the party had. Instead of having the party know what the powder does, I made Lauret do a knowledge check. She succeeds and I gave a backstory on how people have figured out a way to grind hearth crystals into powder and sell them on the black market as drugs. We taken in, it bolsters their resistance to magic, but seeing as this is an unrefined way taking in this power, you would have negative side effects. Piper wanted to try some so I described it as she went blank for a second, but came to. To the others, she just stood their with a blank expression for a second. To Piper, it felt like she went on a trip for a solid thirty minutes before coming to. She could see her veins pulsing with a dull blue color and she feels a little safe against magical effects. I also said that the item wasn't used because it was a small amount and to gain the full effects, they had to use the entire pouch. We all laughed as we thought about scenario where before the final battle, they would use up the entire pouch and go into battle high out of their minds.

Closing thoughts, we really loved this game and we wanted to play more. I myself, really loved playing the storyteller and taking players on the journey and controlling tactically smart foes. I have many more ideas I could runt through the campaign to really mold it that could fit the desires of any party whether they be new, seasoned or a combination of both. I look forward to the future of Emberwind and I am behind this game 100%. I can't wait for the new campaigns to come out.