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D&D 4E Running player commentary on PCat's 4E Campaign - Heroic tier (finished)

So you're clearly throwing encounters at the party that are higher level than they are. About how difficult are you going, because I always run into slow down if I set it more than 2 levels above the PCs, whereas the fights always seem too easy if I go any lower. This conundrum has frustrated me mightily about 4e.
 

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Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
So you're clearly throwing encounters at the party that are higher level than they are. About how difficult are you going, because I always run into slow down if I set it more than 2 levels above the PCs, whereas the fights always seem too easy if I go any lower. This conundrum has frustrated me mightily about 4e.
Well, I'm staying within the XP budget. Three lvl 4 lizardmen are (3 x 175 = 475 xp), vs. a 500 xp budget. I tend to use fewer more powerful monsters in areas where space is more limited, and a greater number of weaker monsters in areas where the fight can spread out. I like using minions as well, because they die so nicely when hit with area attacks.

That xp budget seems to be a thing of beauty. The dog-gobblers were generally lots of lvl 1 and 2 monsters, but more of them, and the fights were the right level of challenge. One thing to keep in mind is that fewer, more powerful monsters focus their (more powerful) attacks on fewer PCs. In that sort of a fight you'll have a few people on death's door and a few people who are virtually uninjured. This makes fights go faster - fewer attacks for you to roll - while still maintaining menace and danger for the PCs.
 

KidCthulhu

First Post
A final note: KidCthulhu, playing Strontium, does an absolutely amazing job voicing her Warforged character. She manages to convey a clearly non-human, machine-like voice without being the slightest bit hokey, and delivering plenty of inflection and personality-appropriate humor. It’s really cool.

Aw, shucks. I can't take complete credit for Stron's voice. I stole it from the audiobook of Terry Prachett's Making Money. There's a golem character in the book, and I liked the voice. They came together in Stron.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
So you're clearly throwing encounters at the party that are higher level than they are. About how difficult are you going, because I always run into slow down if I set it more than 2 levels above the PCs, whereas the fights always seem too easy if I go any lower. This conundrum has frustrated me mightily about 4e.

FWIW in my experience 'soldiers' is where it becomes a potential problem, since they have higher defences and a higher level soldier becomes much more difficult for a given level of PC to take down. I've not seen it as an issue for any other monster type.

Cheers
 

KidCthulhu

First Post
Can't disagree with that!

Actually, my rogue was already in the water; the boat wasn't big enough for the whole group, and since he's a decent swimmer, he volunteered to swim along behind while tethered to the boat by a rope. The croc went for him first (though it missed with its bite).

Just chiming in on this comment. Strontium now calls Cobalt his "chum" because of this incident. Partially because they are comrades and partially because you dangle him behind the boat to attract predators.

Stron considers this the height of humor, which should tell you a great deal about Stron.
 

Rel

Liquid Awesome
Just chiming in on this comment. Strontium now calls Cobalt his "chum" because of this incident. Partially because they are comrades and partially because you dangle him behind the boat to attract predators.

Stron considers this the height of humor, which should tell you a great deal about Stron.

You and Kevin just sit around all day telling increasingly horrible puns, don't you?
 

Aravis

First Post
So you're clearly throwing encounters at the party that are higher level than they are. About how difficult are you going, because I always run into slow down if I set it more than 2 levels above the PCs, whereas the fights always seem too easy if I go any lower. This conundrum has frustrated me mightily about 4e.

We felt like he was continually ratcheting things up after the lizardmen. So, we developed a theory that he was never actually going to let us get to level 2. Instead, we figured he was just going to keep ratcheting things up until he found out just what it takes to TPK a party of 5 first level characters.

Alas, we were wrong. We get to go to level 2.

Aravis
 

Aravis

First Post
So, a few comments.

3. A small amount of hit points make a huge difference. Toiva stayed on his feet due to his toughness feat, and three or four of my baddies died when they were reduced to -1 hp. A few more, and they would have stayed up and attacking.

4. My dice were hot, and the players' were not. Stron the wizard missed something like three of his four attacks (and was mightily disappointed that magic missile is no longer an auto-hit, let me tell you.) I, on the other hand, rolled two criticals in the same round with two monsters.

Actually, Toiva does not in fact have toughness. An oversight that will be corrected next time. What kept her on her feet was bolstering strike, a heal potion, and a lay on hands.

And let me tell you how annoying it was to miss on BOTH of Toiva's charges. What's the point in having a weapon that does an additional d8 on a charge when you can't hit!

Aravis
 

I have that exact same problem. 5th level warlord, vanguard spear, and I always miss with it. I know from a tactics standpoint I should wait until I can sharge into a flanking position, but narratively, it's silly to call yourself the vanguard if you wait for your rogue buddy to get behind an enemy before you attack.

I dig these reports. Keep 'em coming.
 

blargney the second

blargney the minute's son
I have that exact same problem. 5th level warlord, vanguard spear, and I always miss with it. I know from a tactics standpoint I should wait until I can sharge into a flanking position, but narratively, it's silly to call yourself the vanguard if you wait for your rogue buddy to get behind an enemy before you attack.
Ready an action to charge into a flank as soon as the rogue is in the right spot.
-blarg
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Interesting: the group is considering not leaving and defending the tower against the approaching humanoid army. How well do we think a well-fortified team of lvl 2 heroes can do against a horde? They have a defensible spot, a stout trapdoor they could shut, something similar to napalm, hundreds of weapons, some revolting food and apparently alcoholic swamp-slurry, and at least one unexplored tower level containing... something. In comparison, if they run they'll be out in the swamp on two heavily loaded and ponderous barges, but have a small chance to escape... but they'll leave all the weapons to the humanoids.

I wonder which they'll choose.
 
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Herobizkit

Adventurer
"To the death!" is a common adventuring cry from my group of players. My question is: what's at stake if the humanoids procure the weapons?
 


Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
I'd go for the "confuse the heck out of future archaeologists" route, and toss all the weapons into the swamp.
Bad tactic when there are between 100 and 200 of them, and most of the people who can use them can swim...

The weapons are good quality human-made steel - much better than a wooden stabby pole. The group knows that there will be a concerted attack on Floodford using these weapons. Without the weapons? Hard to say.
 

The_Warlock

First Post
The better question is, how much of the other supplies there and on them are flammable?

Because nothing ruins an army's day like trapping their weapon cash to catch on fire AND release an angry and hungry cthulian horror from an ancient tower in one flashy "Bruce Willis Movie" blow.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
Against a hoard? They bag it and thats it!

Against a horde?

It seems to me that defending a fortified position from an advancing army is an excellent choice to make. The army can't just bypass you to attack the village (they need the weapons), they can't just lay siege to you and starve you out (they don't (necessarily) have the time, and you've got supplies).

If the party have the Animal Messenger ritual then they can send an alert back to the village (I wonder which rituals Strontium knows?).

If the advancing army includes a lot of minions it would give Strontium a chance to shine (at-will area attack? Yum!)

I hope they choose the fortified position, personally!

Cheers
 

Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
Bad tactic when there are between 100 and 200 of them, and most of the people who can use them can swim...

The weapons are good quality human-made steel - much better than a wooden stabby pole. The group knows that there will be a concerted attack on Floodford using these weapons. Without the weapons? Hard to say.

Between 100 and 200?! I guess our initial estimate of about 50 was off by a little.

Piratecat has indicated that there's no way we can destroy the weapons in time (even with Scorching burst and barrels of napalm), but that we could unload the barges hastily into the tower. Either way, denying weapons to the approaching horde seems like a high priority!

Once we're in there, we'll have two options:

1. Leave the door open, letting Strontium fire Scorching Bursts out (and allowing Doc to do the same with arrows), and have the rogues and paladin deal with anyone who tries to squeeze in with us. Ideally we'd kill enough of them to break the morale of the survivors, and they'd flee.

2. Lock the door, hunker down, and hope that without weapons, they'll go home instead of march on the town. Alternatively, the mob could try to lay siege to the tower, and we'd have to hope that the Grey Guard will send someone out to find us before we run out of water.

Then there's the "war golem" at the bottom of the tower. We know that the approaching horde is likely led by someone who can control it, so it's especially important that he not get into the tower with us. (And we'd best hope he can't activate it from outside the tower!)
 


Sagiro

Rodent of Uncertain Parentage
If the party have the Animal Messenger ritual then they can send an alert back to the village (I wonder which rituals Strontium knows?).
Cheers

Alas, Strontium doesn't know Animal Messenger. According to his sheet, his three rituals are: Comprehend Languages, Tenser's Floating Disk, and Make Whole. Plus, we have a 4th ritual that can fix leaky boats and help with fishing.

In any case, we don't have any ritual components, so it's a moot point.
 


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