Over Crowded Party

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  1. #1

    Over Crowded Party


    Here's my problam:
    I'm a DM to a party of 6 PCs +1 NPC, all of levels 3-4.
    Due to an unforseen incident (one of the PCs got cocky for having a holy artifact-weapon of Lathander at his temple at Evening Star) 2 extra 1st level paladin NPCs are accompanying the group on their adventures, protecting the "Wielder".
    So what we have here is a group of NINE characters wading their way through adventuring career.

    The problam is that I'm running "The Sunless Citadel", an adventure aimed for a group of four 1st level PCs. They're 9 with an average level of 2.7! Not to mention the sorcerer's cat familiar and Meepo, a plot specific NPC kobold.

    Of course I revamped the monsters, making the goblins tougher and slightly more numerous, changed the druid to a lich, etc.

    BUT, still, in a group of 9 characters, one has a real problem to stick out and most of the players are feeling, well, over-crowded. It takes most of the combat to roll for initiative for everyone, then only 2-3 rounds for every monster to die. I tried sending a young-adult dragon at them (the mother of the infant dragon the kobolds stole, if you know the adventure) and THEY KILLED HER with NO CASUALTIES.

    Help! How can I get rid of the access NPCs without making it seem too contrived, plus how can you make an adventure more fitting to 9 players.

    Any ideas are welcome.


  • #2
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    If they're all levels 3-4, why on earth are you sending them into the Sunless Citadel?

    Besides which, they're still easy to kill, and a young adult white should have given them a severe mauling without too much trouble. A simple solution to cut down the party to size is - kill those NPC's off! And this is simply done by - enemies using tactics! Have even low level foes using pit traps, fire traps, ambushes, poison (poison in particular being effective).
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    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Could you post what happened with the dragon? A young adult white is CR7, and should have killed at least a few characters (esp. the 1st lvl NPCs, which would have helped you cut down on part size), if not the entire party. You probably need to visit the B.A.D.D. website
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  • #4
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    Assuming one PC per player, six players isn't really that much. It's on the high side, but still doable. The problem is the excessive number of _characters_ in the party, which can cut down on the time each _player_ gets in the spotlight. Suggestions:

    - let some of the players control the NPCs during combat. It's generally a bad idea to have more than one PC per character, but as long as they understand they're just doing this for the sake of convenience, it should be okay. You reserve the right to override their decisions, naturally.
    - use one d20 roll per player for initiative, no matter how many characters they control.
    - come down hard on needless chit-chat, rules arguments, etc during combat.
    - if someone can't contribute anything to a fight (eg no ranged weapons vs a flying creature) just ignore them
    - have them fight mobs of monsters who will gang up on the hapless 1st level NPCs and kill them off, thus trimming the party down to size.

  • #5
    For one, I'd try the Forge of Fury. Its a little tougher and meant for levels 3-5. You also might visit the website for dragon tactics. Dragons do NOT play fair.

    What's with the artifact? When is the PC going to lose it? (hint: the PC always loses the artifact. Always. They are the kind of things you go on s specific quest with, not that you keep forever.) Losing the artifact will cut down on the power level and lose two NPCs.

    I've got seven players, with an occasional cohort and animal companion. Here's the general rule

    Increase difficulty by increasing numbers. Having one or two big baddys will just let the group gang up on them. A horde is the only way to deal with a horde.

    As far as speed, when you get initiative from people get it ONE AT A TIME rather than everyone shouting it out. When it is their turn, don't give them more than thirty seconds or so to tell you what they want to do. They should be thinking about what they want to do on the other players' turn.
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  • #6
    All Hail El Presidente Meepo of the Sunless Cartel! Long may his Puppetship...err Leadership reign!

  • #7

    The dragon story

    Thanks for the replies.
    I think I'm definitly going to use the horde vs horde advice. Goblins are abundant in this dungeon.

    The dragon story (as requested):
    They encountered the dragon not far from the village (Oakhurst - from the adventure). I feared this dragon was too much for them so I played it as an enraged beast, frantic at the loss of its baby.

    All characters except 2 failed their Will save vs Dragon Fear and ran panicking into the nearby woods. The dragon used its breath weapon against the other 2. 5d6 points - I ROLLED 2 ON ALL DICE!!!
    They survived! Then, too, ran into the woods.

    The dragon flew over the trees looking for them and finally descended on the heaviest fighter of the group with the rest joing short after, when their fear state was over.

    It breathed and meleed, ALMOST killing 2 characters, but then died by the mightest fighter wielding his greataxe dealing full damage after full damage.

    That's it. It was sad really. The fighter (who almost single-handedly vanquished the beast) did NOT think it was sad though.

  • #8
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    I tried sending a young-adult dragon at them (the mother of the infant dragon the kobolds stole, if you know the adventure) and THEY KILLED HER with NO CASUALTIES.
    The horror...the horror....

    The dragon flew over the trees looking for them and finally descended on the heaviest fighter of the group with the rest joing short after, when their fear state was over.

    It breathed and meleed, ALMOST killing 2 characters, but then died by the mightest fighter wielding his greataxe dealing full damage after full damage.
    Well, this is one of the main problems here. Never let a dragon melee with a group of characters. Even though a dragon is a tough opponent in a fight, against a group of melee fighters it can be overwhelmed by the number and ferocity of attacks. As soon as the other characters arrived, the dragon should have flown away and tried individual grabbing attacks against the characters. The dragon should have focused all of its attacks against one character until that characters was dead. There is also no reason why the dragon should have fought until its death. A dragon normally wouldn't do so.

    Of course, you said that the dragon was enraged over the loss of its offspring, so it might not have been in the best tactical frame of mind. However, in that case it might have been better to challenge the PCs with another creature and leave the dragon for later. If the dragon is just going to act just like a mindless beast, you might as well use a mindless beast instead.

    Feel free to visit the B.A.D.D. website for further advise. Sign the guestbook if you feel the need as well.

    If you still want to give them a challenging encounter with a dragon, there's always the dead dragon's mate...

    P.S. Oh, and as far as your crowded party goes, I don't really know what to tell you other than get rid of the NPCs as quickly as possible. You could have a dragon eat them.

    In the future, if you add NPCs make the non-combatants. That will mean you won't have to worry about what they're doing in combat, and the PCs will have to worry about protecting them instead.
    Last edited by Wolfspider; Monday, 11th March, 2002 at 05:22 PM.

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  • #9
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    I think that lich should get rid of those pesky NPC's for ya. Probably a PC or two also. What level lich is it? Is it some cool fruity druid lich? anyway when they get to him thats when you can really clean house!

  • #10
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    Adventuring Parties - Size DOES Matter

    The group I'm currently GMing for weighs in at a healthy 10 to 12 living, breathing, PCs. I've discovered, the hard way (well, it was hard on the critters they faced), that they can easily deal with single creatures well beyond the CR they should be encountering. This also holds true for small groups of higher CR nasties.

    In my experience, it's a numbers game. And you have two options (okay, there are probably more...):

    The first is to simply keep the CR/EL of the opposition the same and increase the quantity of the opposition.

    The second choice is to make sure that any single creature they encounter has multiple attacks.

    The second is tricky in that most monsters with multiple attack routines also have a hefty attack bonus and dish out serious damage - so, especially at lower levels, you can run into the situation where one hit by the monster instantly kills one character.

    The second option still doesn't always work because you have many PCs nailing one set of hit points, while the single monster is dealing with multiple groupings of hit points (and the PCs usually have relatively easy access to on the spot healing). Though damage reduction can mitigate this and even the "playing field" somewhat.

    And, looking back at what I've written, I realize I probably haven't offered anything terribly helpful. Given the huge number of variables the new game presents for the players (and GM), it's difficult to give any hard and fast advice because the abilities of the specific group of characters makes a big difference in how they need to be handled.

    Anywho. Good luck.

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