We met in the park to play. That's right, no one has a game space in their home/apartment/whatever, so we played in a pavilion at the park. Except, someone rented out the pavilion, so we huddled around some benches instead. After the session, I offered my house as a gaming location, so that worked for the immediate future. Where that goes is a separate post.
The game was supposed to start at 11, but I was late and got there around 11:30. I immediately started to make my character and was able to finish before the game actually started well after noon at this point. As I mentioned before, I'm playing Gorthak, a 2Cleric/1Fighter NG Half-Orc. Thanks to 3.5's "balance" paradigm, I can make a walking contradiction like that. He worships Kord and has Luck and Good as his domains. Gotta love a free-reroll. Probably the best ability for a 1st level anything out of the standard rules. I roleplay the guy with the value set of antiquity, that the good life is found in valorous battle while enjoying its spoils.
The adventure starts off with my character at some border keep, where I have to make a series of skill checks to hear a scream and notice that there is smoke on the horizon. Being the dashing do-gooder, I am off towards the scene. Two other PCs are in this keep too and head down there, one of which has a clockwork horse (WTF?).
The scene is a farmhouse with the fields aflame. There are about a dozen humans standing near the flames not doing anything or responding in any way. There is another couple guys in the farmhouse plus a woman and a hobgoblin. Turns out these guys (PCs by the way) had an altercation with this woman who was now dead (?) and the hobgoblin was taken prisoner. Gorthak has no clue what the hell is going on, so he resorts to detect evil, which shows no bad guys. Hm, next step, try to turn undead on the humans standing near the fire, no luck, no response.
At this point, I'm pretty much tuning out the non-action as the PCs engage in various pointless acts. I'm being really vague here because I can't recall anything happening. No one would fight the weird humans with me nor did they didn't react to my casting spells or turning undead. Eventually, the exposition spout turns on in the form of the hobgoblin. Thanks to the wonderful anti-RP skills of sense motive, bluff, and diplomacy, we can be sure everything he is saying is true. This exposition fountain will be a reoccuring theme each adventure. We will quickly see a pattern of mostly pointless fights leading to plot points, just like in good Final Fantasy fashion.
If 4e is the D&D version of World of Warcraft, 3e is the D&D version of Final Fantasy 7.
So it turns out there is some curse or plague in the lands and this hobgoblin is a lackey of the necromancer who's behind all this. Ostensibly, it is about inciting some kind of revolt against a liege, but at this point, it's all flavor text with no investment on my part yet. The hobgoblin pretty much tells us everything we need to know to move the plot forward (conveniently). The guys near the fire eventually get as bored with the situation as Gorthak and wander off.
The party wants to camp out in the farmhouse that is now devoid of life (I didn't ask). They want to build a wall of fire around the house so that the humans (or plague people) don't sneak up on us in the night. I instead suggest we just go bash their skulls. That idea is pushed aside for more dick waving, but we do eventually head into the woods to gather firewood, so the skull bashing can commence.
Some more skill checks later, and 10 of these plague people pop out of nowhere and surround us in a circle within 10 feet of our position. Pretty damn sneaky, HUH? Except, they all get slaughtered, presenting absolutely 0 challenge. And 0 loot, but thankfully 3e awards us gobs of experience since some asinine encounter level chart tells us to pass Go and collect $200 for a battle Gorthak could handle solo with Cleave and a decent set of rolls.
At that point, we break for lunch. It's probably around 3pm, and if past experience is any indication, breaking to find food and then reconvening after eating would take us to 4pm. With that in mind, I gracefully bowed out since I do have a home, wife, and a second job to attend to. During the post-mortem, the DM (I guess we can start using names to clarify this; Justin) makes the suggestion that I could DM. I had mentioned my prior D&D experience, but didn't expect to get an offer to DM so fast. At least it has kept me invested in the group to this point.
All in all, it was pretty much what I expected. The players strutted their characters around, made hordes of out-of-character references to video games and other nerd-dom, and it lacked any real interactivity. The party is dominated by the mindset of the individual should shine at all times in a world catered to making heroes out of them. Never mind teamwork or cooperation or mortality, everyone is overly cautious to protect their legacy. We received our plot exposition and had a token fight in what was an otherwise unmemorable session.