First-time godslayers - PCs kill Torog

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
They might have won, but it would have been noticeably harder. The opening crit would have hit anyway, and that really did get them off to a good start, but I'm sure there were at least some attacks that hit only because of the escalation die. And the bonus to damage was helping too, including on the zone damage.

Given the use of the escalation die, for milestone and XP purposes I treated the encounter as level 30 rather than level 34.

So is everyone and his cousin swiping that 13Age mechanic for 4e or what ;)
 

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MortalPlague

Adventurer
Quite honestly, I was more impressed by your skill challenge. That was an amazing work that really felt epic. Battling Torog seems like a great way to cap it off, though I'm not surprised by the results. I've set gods against PCs before, and it never ends up being as challenging as one expects.
 

Balesir

Adventurer
I've set gods against PCs before, and it never ends up being as challenging as one expects.
Yep - we're just starting Epic, and I've almost certainly got some of this sort of stuff coming up. Reading accounts like this helps me with mental prep a lot!

Epic currently seems like quite a big paradigm shift - but I have some plans for getting the players going on it "gently".

Character stories, aims and destinies seem to really come to the fore in Epic. The PCs really start to demand coherent backstory of the DM and serious ambition and focus from the players. I'm really looking forward to it!
 

pemerton

Legend
Quite honestly, I was more impressed by your skill challenge. That was an amazing work that really felt epic.
Thanks. In these actual play posts I try to give a feel for how play actually unfolded, as well as what the ingame story was.

In this case, framing the skill challenge was collaborative between players and GM. I use a technique I learned from [MENTION=6696971]Manbearcat[/MENTION], of setting out a die to represent successes required (in this case, a d12) and a die for failures (I don't have a d6 marked 1 to 3 twice, so I use a d4 and tell them when it gets to 3 it's game over).

I described the geography of the ingame situation, and then we started talking about options. The idea of using Waterwall to dam the souls came completely from the players; the idea that the fighter would hack his way through the scrivers to destroy the machines came from that player, but I was the one who told him that he could buff his roll with an encounter power (from my point of view as GM, I know, and from his position he suspects, that there may be a combat coming without a short rest where he would miss that power if he used it now, so there is a resource management aspect to the choice).

When it came time to escape, I called for the checks needed to escape without taking damage (Aths, or Acro for those airborne ones). But it was the fighter player who wanted to stay behind to protect the invoker-wizard, which I then called as an Endurance check, and then he was the one who wanted to shield him by making an Aths roll good enough to both get himself out and provide a bonus to the check for the frail PC.

I liked the feel of it in play. For me it's got the right mixing of tactical/resource-style play and working within and building on the fiction. I also like that the players and GM can work together on framing the mechanics of the check without it feeling like "cheating", because the d20 still has to actually be rolled, and then if it fails the player still has to make mechanically meaningful choices about how to cope with the failure (eg we have a rule that if you fail you can spend an action point to add +2 or take a reroll). In that respect it's like combat mechanics, I guess - cooperation in framing up to the point of resolution doesn't blunt the actual force of the attack and damage roll, and the consequences that flow from those.

I've set gods against PCs before, and it never ends up being as challenging as one expects.
Hmm. I anticipate battles with at least Lolth and Orcus in the party's future. Orcus obviously needs a lot of work from his MM version! But I will definitely be looking at Lolth too, in light of the Torog experience.

I think the biggest thing was Torog's lack of a recovery mechanic; he wasn't flexible enough. I think some sort of flexible recovery mechanic would have worked better than just finding more ways to nerf the stun - even though that stun definitely helped kill him, it was actually a lot of fun at the table. So rather than condition nerf, for future design of these sorts of solos I'm looking at ways of regaining some momentum. (Eg ways of generating additional action points.)

Epic currently seems like quite a big paradigm shift - but I have some plans for getting the players going on it "gently".

Character stories, aims and destinies seem to really come to the fore in Epic. The PCs really start to demand coherent backstory of the DM and serious ambition and focus from the players.
I've heard people complain that epic in 4e is just dungeon crawls with bigger numbers. Personally I'm not a big fan of dungeon crawls even when the numbers aren't big! The story is what makes it interesting.

I think part of why the story is especially important at epic is that the conflicts have to get mechanically bigger in scope, or otherwise the players will just coast through on their "1x/day when you die . . ." abilities and their largely unlimited supply of encounter powers. And conflicts that are mechanically bigger in scope I think need more story momentum too to keep them going.

Also, without story killing Torog is kind of cheesy. Whereas with story it can also be kind of awesome.
 

JamesonCourage

Adventurer
So rather than condition nerf, for future design of these sorts of solos I'm looking at ways of regaining some momentum. (Eg ways of generating additional action points.)
I've done this with a couple solos that I've homebrewed in my campaign.

The first one was from the first session. It was an orc necromancer / ice wizard, who had set up four ice mirrors that he could use to attack through, summon minions, or teleport to. The PCs destroyed one (since he kept using them), and I told them that he had gained an action point (a successful Arcana from the Wizard and Warpriest told them this, if I remember correctly). He could do this with every mirror, but no more than 1/round (it was an immediate reaction, I think). This caused the PCs to focus on the mirrors quickly, but the solo ended up with two extra action points.

The second solo was encountered recently, when the level 4 PCs faced off against a level 13 solo death knight. He destroyed the party, but at one point, the Warpriest used an action point, and I told them that he had gained one (I think it was via an Arcana and Religion). He wasn't limited to only 1/round, either, but it never came up. Of course, with that solo, some of his actions cost action points (like traveling between the Nine Hells and the natural world), so if he uses them all in combat, he can't escape.

At any rate, I do like the idea of action point recovery for solos. I like it a bit more than minor action attacks, honestly, unless the attack is tied to something that can be stopped halfway through the encounter (like the ice mirrors I mentioned). But that's just my preference so far with my admittedly small amount of experience (the PCs are barely level 6).
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
Hmm. I anticipate battles with at least Lolth and Orcus in the party's future. Orcus obviously needs a lot of work from his MM version! But I will definitely be looking at Lolth too, in light of the Torog experience.

My own experience with high level god-slaying came during a break between campaigns. We decided to have everyone roll up a 30th level character and we'd see how tough the gods were. The first session was a practice against a whole armada of high level dragons / demons. I don't even think a single PC took damage. Then we moved on to the real deal, with a beefed-up Ogremoch. The second fight was Lolth, and the third was with Vecna.

I go into more detail in the thread http://www.enworld.org/forum/showth...tion-We-Fought-The-Gods&p=5449423#post5449423

Of particular note, I stole some of RangerWickett's creations for the Lolth fight (which was the most successful of the three), so you'd do well to check out his work too:
http://www.enworld.org/forum/showth...-takes-Rio-de-Janeiro-(was-The-drow-pantheon)
 

pemerton

Legend
My own experience with high level god-slaying came during a break between campaigns. We decided to have everyone roll up a 30th level character and we'd see how tough the gods were.

<snip>

I go into more detail in the thread http://www.enworld.org/forum/showth...tion-We-Fought-The-Gods&p=5449423#post5449423
I remember that thread from when you originally posted it!

I saw that you gave the gods a free save without the +5 vs "til next turn" effects. For Torog I gave him such a save with his bonus, but costing him his immediate action (as an interrupt).

Am I also right in thinking your PCs were at full strength for each fight? Or did they get only a short rest between them?

In my case, the PCs had fought a 30th level encounter already (at 24th level - that's what got them to 25th), then done the skill challenge, fought the shrivers (challenge plus shrivers was another level 30 encounter I think), then Torog. Part of why they found the shrivers hard was because they thought they might have to face Torog and so were holding dailies in reserve: which they then duly unleashed! (Like their zones, and the sorcerer's stunning power.)
 

MortalPlague

Adventurer
Am I also right in thinking your PCs were at full strength for each fight? Or did they get only a short rest between them?
The PCs had the benefit of a full rest between each fight. It was more of an exercise in high-powered epic combat to see how the capabilities of a full epic party worked against the gods. For an actual campaign, they'd have been whittled down by the time they reached one of the deities. :D
 


MortalPlague

Adventurer
@MortalPlague - did your group ever do Vecna?

Yes.

I wasn't as thrilled with the design of the Vecna fight as the other two, and the fight wasn't nearly as interesting or fun as the others.


What Went Well:

Vecna, Lord of Secrets had many secrets during the fight. I didn't write him on the initiative, and he had more than one action each round. When he acted was up to the DM, and he acted frequently and decisively. I also kept it a secret when he became bloodied, and when he passed below 0 hit points. To unravel the Lord of Secrets, one had to solve the Great Mysteries of Vecna.

As a result of these things, Vecna felt very different to fight than the others, and appropriately mysterious.

In addition, Vecna carried a great Book of Secrets. He could trap a PC in the book, and they became Forgotten. Everyone else had to make a saving throw to remember the existence of their missing comrade. The book could be destroyed to release the forgotten adventurers.


What Went Wrong:

Firstly, Vecna was met alone. This was a mistake. He had the capability to fight the party well enough, especially taking so many actions, but he felt much less intense than Lolth and her pantheon, or Ogremoch and his guardians. Combine that with the relative lack of visible progress in the fight, and things were less than exciting (not exactly dull, but not as riveting as I'd hoped).

The second problem was the book; I trapped the barbarian early, and nobody realized that the book was what had sprung the trap. I didn't clue in to the fact that it hadn't been apparent, so the barbarian's player was sitting for a couple rounds (a while in epic). I finally had to point out that the book could be attacked.

So yeah, it wasn't as good a fight as the others. The PCs still won, but the Lolth fight was still a closer battle.
 

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