We've moved the D'n'D game from Saturday nights to Wednesday nights. This seems to work better, because A) there's a lot less drinking, and B) there's a clear cutoff time when we have to stop so we can all be functional at work. We're still using the new set of characters, and it seems to be working well - it's a completely different play style from what we were doing before, and so far it seems a lot more effective (even without a mage in the party).
I'm enjoying it because my new character is much more the kind of thing I like to play, and the rogue/ranger combination is working very much the way I hoped it would. Basically, I do almost all of the searching, checking for traps, and opening locks -- and then I sneak up on things and stab them. I don't really have the hit points or the armor class to go toe-to-toe on the front line, but between Dual Wielding, Sneak Attack, and Favored Enemy bonuses I can dish out a pretty respectable amount of damage (especially considering that I'm mainly using daggers). Where I run into trouble is when we're facing opponents who are immune to sneak attack damage (which so far mainly means undead, but this campaign features quite a bit of undead enemies - I need to make them my next favored enemy)... Or when we're up against an opponent who can dish out a lot of damage. My best strategy seems to be to move up front, flank enemies with the fighter or cleric, and then drop back and snipe as soon as I take damage. (Alternatively, I can get a surprising amount done just working as an archer, but I don't expect that to scale up as we grow stronger and start facing tougher opponents.)
I was also recently amused at the contrast between how I think of the character, and how I present the character in the game. Like:
Thinking about the character: This is Vendril Bloodthorne, a member of the garrison at the border fort. His family has lived on the border for three generations, serving as scouts and soldiers to defend the realm from the incursions of the desert nomads and other dangers, and Vendril is proud to continue that tradition. He is aware of the human-vs.-elf conflict and prejudice within the realm, but out here on the border the soldiers treat him well; it's what you can do that counts. So when the patrol turned up an unusual number of unusually strong raiders in the ruins and their squad commander was killed, Vendril took charge of the remaining archers and they willingly followed his lead.
Vendril in the game: This is Vendril. He sneaks up on things and stabs them a lot.
Anyway, tonight we basically just finished clearing out a supposedly-haunted cave that the raiders were probably using to move troops around the border wall and into the realm. In the event, the cave turned out to be wildly, unbelievably haunted, as well as occupied by the nomad leader we were looking for. But we managed to fend off a rather large number of undead and the nomad raiders, mainly by using group tactics (and a surprising amount of Alchemist's Fire). We're considering keeping the place as a backup headquarters, in case the garrison at the fort is overrun, but we probably need to come back after we've gotten a bit stronger (we're still just 3rd level characters, which in D'n'D is just a step above cannon fodder) and clear out the remaining threats. Still, the nomads left a fair amount of supplies for their troops, and the setup is nice: underground, but with a raised structure that's reasonably defensible built inside the cavern.
Next week we should be headed back to the fort with our prizes (mainly, an ancient book that describes what the nomads are likely to be seeking - ancient weapons or magics or both, in one of the ruins that are just on our side of the border). We'll need to get some of the party members healed, too; remember, kids, battling undead is not for the faint of heart or the low of saving-throw.
But once we've checked in and turned over the book (and hopefully had a chance to find out more about what we're up against), we'll probably be off to the next set of ruins, to try to get ahead of the Nomad army and keep the weapons (or whatever) away from them.