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Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 04:47 AM #71
Lama (Lvl 13)
1) I narrated the settlers small guard dying valiantly beside the PCs within the horde's swarm of seething flesh and steel while protecting the city. The settlers guard were a small swarm themselves with an encounter power. They died by the end of the 3rd round (as predicted) but they made a small dent in the horde's HPs and provided aid by way of the encounter power (Immediate Reaction upon their noble sacrifice giving the PCs temp HPs - basically inspiration/morale).
2) The terrain/battlefield was pretty interesting as well with some Limited Use Terrain (Ruined Wall, Snow Dune) and the field-stone wall and guard tower was climbable to escape the aura (but triggered an OA due to the swarm trait). Better than that, I ran a Skill Challenge beforehand where the PCs and the settlers attempted (successfully) to set up some Limited Use Hazards (in the very limited time - one evening) before the fight to prep the battlefield. They made full use of their efforts once the fighting started.
3) After the Barbarian Horde Swarm was defeated, I split it up into the lvl 10 Solo Warlord (Primal Controller, Leader) and 6 lvl 11 Minion Guards (2 Soldiers, 4 Brutes).
It captured the feel of an implacable horde sweeping down upon a small settlement and the desperate fight to fend them off quite well. This was only 3 PCs (one controller, 1 striker, 1 defender/striker/controller hybrid), their strategic setup of the town before the raid and the small group of the settlers' guard as defenders. I counted the settler swarm + limited use hazards as an extra PC so for a 4 party group this fight was almost exactly L + 5. I tested it a few times beforehand to make sure things worked as I wanted and it worked out better than any "Mass Combat" I had ever run before. It captured the dynamism, the desperation and the climactic nature I was hoping for (it was basically a 50/50 TPK). Below is the Swarm I created for it (feel free to rip it for your own campaigns if it seems something to your liking):
Colossal natural humanoid (swarm)
Level 11 Elite Brute XP 1200
HP 276; Bloodied 138 Initiative +9
AC 23, Fortitude 24, Reflex 23, Will 21 Perception+7
Resist half damage from melee and ranged attacks; Vulnerable 10 to close and area attacks
Saving Throws +2; Action Points 1
Swarm Attack * Aura 1
Any enemy that starts its turn in the aura takes 7 damage and a -2 penalty to all defenses.
The horde can occupy the same space as another creature, and an enemy can enter its space, which is difficult terrain. The horde cannot be pulled, pushed, or slid by melee or ranged attacks. It can squeeze through any opening that is large enough for at least one of the creatures it comprises.
Reckless Abandon * At-Will (Martial, Weapon)
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature and each creature in the mob’s space); +16 vs. AC
Hit: 2d8 + 13 damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Flowing Horde * Recharge when first bloodied
Effect: The mob shifts up to twice its speed.
Trampled Underfoot * At-Will
Trigger: An enemy in the swarm's space is knocked prone.
Attack: (Free Action): Triggering enemy; + 14 vs Fortitude
Hit: The target is restrained and takes 10 damage (save ends)
Warlord's Curse * Recharge when first bloodied (Implement, Primal, Psychic)
Trigger: A close or an area attack hits the mob.
Attack: (Immediate Reaction): Ranged 20 (triggering enemy); + 14 vs Will
Hit: The target is weakened and takes 10 psychic damage (save ends)
Last edited by Manbearcat; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 05:58 AM.
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Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 05:17 AM #72
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I ran a rather large PCs-and-villagers combat against an invading Red Wizard with her apprentices and their human and undead soldiers using similar rules.
But, I posit, a "swarm of ogres" monster is not the same thing as a swarm of "ogre monsters."
"A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 05:26 AM #73
Lama (Lvl 13)
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 07:05 AM #74
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Back to encounters, the guideline maths is a little off (results vary a lot depending on the creature). But, taking them at face value, they work like this . . .
Ogres are 3rd-level, 480xp creatures. That makes them tough opponents at 1st, standard opponents at 2nd, 3rd, 4th level, and easy opponents from level 5 onwards.
Following the DM Guidelines section on encounter building - including how to build "easy", "average" and "tough" encounters, for a party of 5 PCs:1st level: 3 Ogres would be a "tough" encounter, and PCs should be able to handle just a couple of those per day.I don't think that currently the numbers that happen during play testing match these assertions terribly well. Replace ogres with zombies for instance, and you could happily spend double the xp budget for no threat at all.
3rd level: 3 Ogres would be an "average" encounter, and PCs might face four such encounters in a typical day.
5th level: 3 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter, and PCs might face six to eight such encounters per day.
7th level: 12 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter.
9th level: 16 Ogres would be an "easy" encounter.
I'm not sure whether WotC is trying to put ogres specifically as a level 3 opponent, or whether they have picked the stats and assessed them as level 3. If I were to guess at this point I'd say it was the former - the designers are trying to place ogres in the game as a level 3 opponent.
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 09:21 AM #75
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Last edited by Harlekin; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 09:23 AM. Reason: Grammar
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 10:59 AM #76
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
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A- higher % chance of hitting the monster (possible cause: higher attack bonus, increased ability scores, magic weapons)
B- greater % of damage-per-hit done relative to monster's total HP (possible cause: increased ability scores, bigger spells, magic weapons)
C- lowered % chance of being hit by the monster (possible cause: increased ability scores, better armor, defensive spells, magic items)
D- smaller % of damage-per-hit received relative to own total HP (possible cause: more total HP, increased ability scores)
These don't take into account the fact that the PC also gained plenty of added flexibility, especially thanks to new and higher-level spells.
Overall the "spread" looks more than quadratic... this means that just increasing the number of monsters may not be enough, at least not beyond a certain point (we also have to keep in mind that too many monsters may just not make the battle feasible to run).
Bounded accuracy tends to lessen the spread of points A and C, but has no effect on points B and D which are largely dependent on the HP totals which are currently NOT within bounded accuracy but instead just scale up proportionally with level.
Thus the question is: is it a good principle that a monster hits you only slightly less frequently than before (bounded accuracy) but to lesser effect (your HP are much more)? Or would it be better the other way around i.e. to hit you much less frequently but each hit still means a lot?
I guess this question actually equates to: do you want the low-CR monsters to be rarely a deadly threat (a spear in the chest still hurts the same whether it comes from a BBEG or an orc with beginner's luck), or frequently a minor nuisance (orcs spears slowing grinding hp away from you)?
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Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 11:34 AM #77
A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)
In AD&D ogres and orcs hung around for a long time as well. Both monsters are present in the G-modules, for example (though they can give rise to the "fistful of d20s" problem).
here and here. The basic encounter design principles are very similar to those described by @Manbearcat above (very nice example, by the way).
Last edited by pemerton; Thursday, 4th October, 2012 at 11:37 AM.
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 12:50 PM #78
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Agreed on both counts. 4e already gives monsters a life over at least 10 levels, which is a lot. It means that you can use the same type of foe over a whole tier. I'm not sure why it is useful to go much beyond that,e.g. why epic characters that converse directly with the gods should still worry about a small army of Orcs
And one monster per PC is nothing but a mathematical baseline for 4e. I can't remember an encounter in a game I ran that used exactly this formula. Again, PCs against scores of foes works very well in 4e.
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 04:36 PM #79
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
I was responding to the idea that 10,000 ogres run as actual ogres is a remotely functional way to run a D&D game in any edition. Even as minions, it's a ridiculous pain with just too many dice involved (but at least HP tracking is nullified). As swarms? Most of that tracking is taken away and it still feels like you're being mobbed by a hell of a lot of ogres.
In the mass battle rules I used, I kind of combined the two - there was a Gladiator unit who was badass when in formation, but turned into a crowd of individual minions when they failed a morale check. It worked pretty great, too. They could do more damage overall, but as individuals they were insanely vulnerable.
Thursday, 4th October, 2012, 04:56 PM #80
Lama (Lvl 13)