ZEITGEIST Three Milestones


We are rolling along through Always on Time and I'm looking ahead to the Three Milestones encounter. It is such an atmospheric and dramatic moment, but I don't understand the tactical combat side of it. A wave of five reapers is not powerful enough to be even an irritation to characters of this level, and the idea of fighting through (in our case) 60 vestiges just sounds tedious. The Ruin Wraith is more threatening, but only with one attack per round the action economy means that a party of 6th level characters will mop the floor with him in a round or two. The only threat seems to be to lower a PC's hit points until the end of a long rest (which could suck considering what is to come, but doesn't seem "fun.") Along those lines, the only real complaint my players have had thus far about the encounter design is the length of time it took to get from the back to the front of the train during the Screaming Malice attack, so I'm concerned about another encounter that involves going from the back to the front of the train (but with far less exciting foes).

What am I missing? In concept it is one of my favorite encounters, but when I imagine it playing out on graph paper in combat rounds I imagine it as nothing but tedium.

What is the concept? Is it just intended to drain resources (like area effect spells) so that the party is partially tapped when they arrive at Odiem? Otherwise it is more than 60 attack rolls -- even if they hit and kill an enemy every swing it sounds repetitive rather than thrilling. Very, very long, but not exciting or challenging. I've been thinking about having the vestiges "blow up" (doing 1d4 necrotic to everyone within 5' radius as they dissipate) when they get near a living being instead of rolling to-hit each time (just to reduce the number of die rolls as they swing and mostly miss and the party swings back).

Any thoughts or advice?

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My reading of it is that time is their greatest enemy. The undead are trying to knock them off the train. If they get knocked off, they start over again. They need to use area attacks and keep moving so that they can return to the land of the living before time runs out.

I haven't looked at how it was converted to 5e. But yeah, the 4e version was a bunch of minions. One hit kills, just a challenge to move through quickly. Plus, actually having monsters and getting into initiative nudges players into a 'time matters' mindset.


Sometimes encounters are skipped, I learned to accept this. In this particular case, my gunsmith (4e) skipped the entire train, teleporting via bullet of transit to the wraith, and defeated it solo.


Thanks all. This helps -- instead of all the one-hit minions as foes in a giant battle I'll think of them more as obstacles in a time challenge. Since wounds are healed (or converted to exhaustion) at the end anyway, this makes more sense anyway. Thanks for the help!!

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