I set up a quick combat test so Josh could try out his new, first-level fighter, Alexander. I had him out in the wilderness, searching for clues about a couple of missing children. He stumbled across a magic circle which Alexander recognized as being dedicated to life and fertility. As Alexander was poking around the circle, he was attacked by some vicious creatures made of sticks and mud.

The first battle test with a new character is always hard. Josh wasn’t exactly sure how to make use of the powers he had, and he was only armed with a heavy shield and a +1 magic sword. A magic sword might sound like a lot, but they’re not much to write home about in Fourth Edition. When you consider that he gets no armor, it’s a little easier to understand — plus, it’s part of his background. He was found with a sword.

I improvised the battle using half of a map that included a waterfall, a cave, a forest, and a magic circle. The creatures were essentially re-skinned kruthiks, second-level brutes. I didn’t really know what to expect when I threw three 2nd-level brutes up against a 1st-level fighter, but I decided that the stick-and-mud-kruthiks had to succeed on a “morale” check in order to enter the circle, because of what the circle represented.

Josh handled Alexander as well as you can handle a brand-new 1st-level character, I think. He had some problems with understanding his new powers, but I helped him along. He managed to survive the encounter mostly by the skin of his teeth, and some good dice rolls. His luck mostly came when a bloodied and battered creature, about to finish him off, would finally fail a morale check and flee from his presence.

Alexander emerged battered, but victorious.