5E Why is Hoard of the Dragon Queen such a bad adventure?

the Jester

Legend
How many and what level were the PCs? 3 Gricks would be a morning warmup for our group (even when we were lower level, granted, there are 6 of us).
At the time, the pcs were:

Bard of valor 3
Evoker wizard 3
Warlock 1
Paladin of vengeance 3
Ranger 1


They had no magic items except for a potion of healing. So, as you can imagine, it was a very rough fight, especially as they were already somewhat depleted from dungeoneering. They had a short rest and everyone was at max hps after the slide, but they were short Hit Dice, a few spell slots, etc.

The wizard, paladin and ranger survived the fight with the gricks; the bard and warlock did not. By the end of it, only the wizard was conscious, but IIRC the paladin rolled a 20 on a death save and came back around right after the wizard blew his last spell slot to thunderwave the gricks off the unconscious pcs (munch munch munch). The one on the bard made its save and killed him; the warlock died by failing 3 death saves.

(Again, that's IIRC; it was over two months ago at this point.)

Another factor in the lack of shining for my wizard is that we also have a ranger 2 / evoker 2 in our group. So he walks around in armor (AC 19), attacks with his weapons, and pulls out (mostly) first level evocation spells when necessary. We have a Bard that casts Thunderwave and Sleep. So there is a bit of repetition except for the fact that my wizard has second level spells.
Ah, that makes sense. It is harder to shine when half the party shares your tricks.
 

Sailor Moon

Villager
At the time, the pcs were:

Bard of valor 3
Evoker wizard 3
Warlock 1
Paladin of vengeance 3
Ranger 1


They had no magic items except for a potion of healing. So, as you can imagine, it was a very rough fight, especially as they were already somewhat depleted from dungeoneering. They had a short rest and everyone was at max hps after the slide, but they were short Hit Dice, a few spell slots, etc.

The wizard, paladin and ranger survived the fight with the gricks; the bard and warlock did not. By the end of it, only the wizard was conscious, but IIRC the paladin rolled a 20 on a death save and came back around right after the wizard blew his last spell slot to thunderwave the gricks off the unconscious pcs (munch munch munch). The one on the bard made its save and killed him; the warlock died by failing 3 death saves.

(Again, that's IIRC; it was over two months ago at this point.)



Ah, that makes sense. It is harder to shine when half the party shares your tricks.
I don't understand your last part.

Since when does being able to shine have to be associated with having a niche ability?
 

KarinsDad

Villager
Since when does being able to shine have to be associated with having a niche ability?
It's about frequency of shining. If everyone can heal, then nobody shines too often by healing since someone else might beat them to it in a given fight.

If multiple PCs can cast Sleep, then if your Wizard has Sleep and it would allow him to "save the day", a different player can save the day if his PC has a higher initiative.

Wizards are almost exclusively limited to the equivalent of 4E Daily powers (i.e. spell slot spells). Clerics and Bards can wade into battle. Wizards? Not so much (although there are exceptions like Dwarven Wizards). Low level wizards mostly hang back, pinging a few foes with cantrips (possibly bows for Elves) and wait for opportunities for when they can shine with their Daily spells.

Most other classes either have At Will melee or ranged capability or Encounter (i.e. short rest) ones which allow for them to shine more often.

Sure, a specialized non-human Dwarven or Elven wizard might have At Wills stronger than cantrips, but this is not the case for all races.
 

KarinsDad

Villager
At the time, the pcs were:

Bard of valor 3
Evoker wizard 3
Warlock 1
Paladin of vengeance 3
Ranger 1


They had no magic items except for a potion of healing. So, as you can imagine, it was a very rough fight, especially as they were already somewhat depleted from dungeoneering. They had a short rest and everyone was at max hps after the slide, but they were short Hit Dice, a few spell slots, etc.

The wizard, paladin and ranger survived the fight with the gricks; the bard and warlock did not. By the end of it, only the wizard was conscious, but IIRC the paladin rolled a 20 on a death save and came back around right after the wizard blew his last spell slot to thunderwave the gricks off the unconscious pcs (munch munch munch). The one on the bard made its save and killed him; the warlock died by failing 3 death saves.

(Again, that's IIRC; it was over two months ago at this point.)
Yikes! That would be TPK territory. For all intents and purposes, you have one PC that can move up and engage (the Ranger would possibly go down in a single round against a Grick and probably did). Our group has 3 high AC good hit point PCs for the 3 Gricks. One PC cannot hold off 3 foes.

That is the cool thing about our group. All of the players strive for the highest AC. Five of the PCs had a starting Dex between 14 and 16 (the Fighter had a 12) and 4 of them took Stealth (even the Fighter, +3 to a disadvantaged roll means that he does make it sometimes).

Although 5E is not about roles, our group probably still thinks in those terms. It's the role of the Fighter, Cleric, and Ranger/Wizard to form a line and hold foes off the lower AC PCs. It's the role of the Rogue to be a striker and improve action economy by taking one foe out from the opposition most rounds. It's the role of the Bard to support (with Sleep or Faerie Fire, or a bow shot on a damaged foe, or healing or Bardic Inspiration). It's the role of the Wizard to, well, mostly fire off cantrips and when it makes sense, drop a Web or Fog Cloud or Scorching Ray or whatever. For easy fights, that usually means no spells casts. For moderate fights, sometimes one. For harder fights (which half of our fights are), at least one and sometimes two or more.
 

Sailor Moon

Villager
It's about frequency of shining. If everyone can heal, then nobody shines too often by healing since someone else might beat them to it in a given fight.

If multiple PCs can cast Sleep, then if your Wizard has Sleep and it would allow him to "save the day", a different player can save the day if his PC has a higher initiative.

Wizards are almost exclusively limited to the equivalent of 4E Daily powers (i.e. spell slot spells). Clerics and Bards can wade into battle. Wizards? Not so much (although there are exceptions like Dwarven Wizards). Low level wizards mostly hang back, pinging a few foes with cantrips (possibly bows for Elves) and wait for opportunities for when they can shine with their Daily spells.

Most other classes either have At Will melee or ranged capability or Encounter (i.e. short rest) ones which allow for them to shine more often.

Sure, a specialized non-human Dwarven or Elven wizard might have At Wills stronger than cantrips, but this is not the case for all races.
I still don't see a problem.

I'm not there to take turns in the spotlight, what exactly constitutes spotlight varies from player to player, I am there to play my concept. I don't care if Jimmy the Rogue picks a lock or two and then somewhere down the line I get to pick one too. I don't see many adventures that have this giant lock at the end and it's a competition between us who gets to unlock it. Also, two people of the same class can go in two different directions and those classes that are similar do not play exactly the same.

Repeating damage is never a bad thing and why aren't the spellcasters talking with each other about spells? If you want the monopoly on Sleep then speak up, even though I don't see multiple Sleep spells a bad thing. I'm seeing a lot of carry over attitude from 4th edition here.
 

weldon

Explorer
If I had to do the first episode over again, I'd go the route of having the party be in town for a day or so and then be attacked by a very young dragon along with the raiders. The young dragon being plausible given the hatchery in episode three.
Brilliant. I might use this.

The change here doesn't make the dragon so overpowering at the start, but introduces the theme. It also suggests a situation where the cultists have been a nuisance for a while, but now they show up with a baby dragon (in chains?) and a bunch more soldiers to make themselves a real problem. If they have a baby dragon, the obvious question is, "where did they get that?" which leads to finding their camp and the hatchery.

It also provides some foreshadowing for encountering progressively older dragons as the adventure continues.
 

KarinsDad

Villager
I still don't see a problem.

I'm not there to take turns in the spotlight, what exactly constitutes spotlight varies from player to player, I am there to play my concept. I don't care if Jimmy the Rogue picks a lock or two and then somewhere down the line I get to pick one too. I don't see many adventures that have this giant lock at the end and it's a competition between us who gets to unlock it. Also, two people of the same class can go in two different directions and those classes that are similar do not play exactly the same.

Repeating damage is never a bad thing and why aren't the spellcasters talking with each other about spells? If you want the monopoly on Sleep then speak up, even though I don't see multiple Sleep spells a bad thing. I'm seeing a lot of carry over attitude from 4th edition here.
Have you actually played 5E where the low level Wizard only has a few spells and when he casts some of them, the foe saves and the spell fizzles?

Have you cast cantrips most rounds and averaged less than 3 (or sometimes even 2) DPR round after round, encounter after encounter, adventuring day after adventuring day because the to hit or damage dice were a little cold?

Yes, it is not a competition. But when some PCs are averaging more than double (and sometimes triple) your damage, have more hit points, better AC, and they can cast spells just like you, it can be a bit monotonous. It's like you are the henchmen and they are the PCs.

Judge that all you want, but it is what it is. It sucks a bit to be the 5th wheel for the first four levels (6 months of real time in our case due to scheduling conflicts) until you finally starting casting Fireball and making a real significant contribution. While most of the other PCs are making a significant contribution half of the rounds, the Wizard often does it once or twice per adventuring day.


Or try playing a 1st level Wizard when everyone else is 8th level because you died (and if the DM catches you in an area of effect, you will minimally go unconscious again). You will really feel like the party henchmen, and until you personally actually do that, don't judge others. Even if you've DMed for a PC wizard, don't judge until you yourself have played that type of PC in that type of party (versatile, well designed PCs) for many months in that situation. It actually does get old at times. Not all of the time, but once in a while when everyone else contributed in a fight and your PC did not do anything. With 3 and 4 rounds 5E encounters, it can happen more than you think.

And btw, before someone jumps on the roleplaying bandwagon, I am not talking about that. I am only talking about the combat aspect of the game.
 

Sailor Moon

Villager
Have you actually played 5E where the low level Wizard only has a few spells and when he casts some of them, the foe saves and the spell fizzles?

Have you cast cantrips most rounds and averaged less than 3 (or sometimes even 2) DPR round after round, encounter after encounter, adventuring day after adventuring day because the to hit or damage dice were a little cold?

Yes, it is not a competition. But when some PCs are averaging more than double (and sometimes triple) your damage, have more hit points, better AC, and they can cast spells just like you, it can be a bit monotonous. It's like you are the henchmen and they are the PCs.

Judge that all you want, but it is what it is. It sucks a bit to be the 5th wheel for the first four levels (6 months of real time in our case due to scheduling conflicts) until you finally starting casting Fireball and making a real significant contribution. While most of the other PCs are making a significant contribution half of the rounds, the Wizard often does it once or twice per adventuring day.


Or try playing a 1st level Wizard when everyone else is 8th level because you died (and if the DM catches you in an area of effect, you will minimally go unconscious again). You will really feel like the party henchmen, and until you personally actually do that, don't judge others. Even if you've DMed for a PC wizard, don't judge until you yourself have played that type of PC in that type of party (versatile, well designed PCs) for many months in that situation. It actually does get old at times. Not all of the time, but once in a while when everyone else contributed in a fight and your PC did not do anything. With 3 and 4 rounds 5E encounters, it can happen more than you think.

And btw, before someone jumps on the roleplaying bandwagon, I am not talking about that. I am only talking about the combat aspect of the game.
Sorry but I'm not about the DPR. Couldn't give a fig tree how much damage, AC, HP, or to hit Bob has. As long as I am playing my concept then it's all good. This edition wasn't designed around the things you have a problem with, hell no edition was designed to handle what you have a problem with. Hell, everyone misses, everyone has a bad night of rolls, everyone has had a character killed. I mean if you have a beef with having a bad night or two of gaming then you aren't the only one in that boat, the difference between you and I is I understand that it is a game and sometimes these things happen. There are better systems out there that would be better suited for the kind of things you want. I'm glad I don't have to worry about these things with this new edition.
 

KarinsDad

Villager
Sorry but I'm not about the DPR. Couldn't give a fig tree how much damage, AC, HP, or to hit Bob has. As long as I am playing my concept then it's all good. This edition wasn't designed around the things you have a problem with, hell no edition was designed to handle what you have a problem with. Hell, everyone misses, everyone has a bad night of rolls, everyone has had a character killed. I mean if you have a beef with having a bad night or two of gaming then you aren't the only one in that boat, the difference between you and I is I understand that it is a game and sometimes these things happen. There are better systems out there that would be better suited for the kind of things you want. I'm glad I don't have to worry about these things with this new edition.
I'm glad that you are so mellow with your game and that your focus is different than mine (in combat, my focus in on contributing, I prefer being a solid part of the team, not someone the rest of the team has to carry). You said that you did not see the problem, so I explained it. Just because it does not apply to you does not mean that it does not apply to others. Have fun with your game.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
The introduction covers this - using Milestone XP characters should gain a level in each part except 5. Presumably because part 5 is so very short. :)
Thematically, Ep 5 and the first part of Ep 6 should be Ep 5... The only reason I'm even making note of it is for AL play, where Ep 5 means another 10 downtime days and 1 rep.
 

pemerton

Legend
Sorry but I'm not about the DPR. Couldn't give a fig tree how much damage, AC, HP, or to hit Bob has. As long as I am playing my concept then it's all good.

<snip>

I'm glad I don't have to worry about these things with this new edition.
I don't see how this is special to 5e. You can "play your concept" and ignore the bigger picture (mechanical and/or story) in any edition.
 

doctorhook

Adventurer
I don't see how this is special to 5e. You can "play your concept" and ignore the bigger picture (mechanical and/or story) in any edition.
In theory, yes. In practice, some character concepts relied on suboptimal mechanics, though the extent of how problematic this could be depends on which edition. Overall, I think the point was merely that 5E's power curve is stable enough that virtually any by-the-book character will be exceptional in play, regardless of concept.
 

Parmandur

Legend
In theory, yes. In practice, some character concepts relied on suboptimal mechanics, though the extent of how problematic this could be depends on which edition. Overall, I think the point was merely that 5E's power curve is stable enough that virtually any by-the-book character will be exceptional in play, regardless of concept.

That's a positive legacy of 4E on the design of 5E, I reckon.
 
Two cases:

1) Wizard casts Mage Armor (or Alarm) before combat. This is the one I was discussing. If Mage Armor is already cast, Arcane Ward is already up. Sure, it might make sense to cast Shield against a foe that is paralyzing PCs or doing 20 points of damage or some such, but mostly, the Wizard lets Arcane Ward take the damage of the next hit and conserves the first level slot by not casting Shield. Casting Shield wastes the extra arcane ward points in this case and it wastes the spell slot.

2) Wizard does not cast Mage Armor first. This is the example you are discussing in your #1. It makes sense to cast Shield in this case. Arcane Ward is not up yet.
I'm still not completely seeing it. I can see that yes, spell slots can be more valuable than Arcane Ward ablative HP, but that doesn't just apply on the first hit of the day: it applies each and every time when you are hit and value your spell slot more than the HP you would preserve. If you have one 1st level slot left and you're saving it for HP, and you think you're going to rest as soon as you kill this last group of Gricks, you won't spend that spell slot on Shield even if the hit would take you down from 25 to 15 HP. That isn't unique to abjurors, it's just part of the tradeoffs of the Shield spell.

The only unusual thing about abjurors is that their Arcane Ward gains 2 HP each time they cast Shield, so if you Shield when you're at full Arcane Ward HP you lose those 2 HP. To me that still doesn't seem like a big deal, since you can recharge your Arcane Ward between encounters anyway with Alarm--and if you're in an area dangerous enough that you won't want to stop and do that, you're fairly likely to be in a high-intensity combat where that Shield spell you're foregoing (in order to gain 2 HP later on) would save you 10 or 20 HP right now, which is a pretty good tradeoff for one 1st level spell slot. In short, if I were playing an Abjuror, I probably wouldn't view the very first hit of the day as something special requiring special handling: instead, I would eschew Shield entirely when in low-intensity combats (even after the first hit), and use it liberally to stay alive in high-intensity situations.
 

Sadras

Explorer
I don't see how this is special to 5e. You can "play your concept" and ignore the bigger picture (mechanical and/or story) in any edition.
Just elaborating on what @doctorhook replied above...there is no necessary feat tax (3e), there is no necessary ability improvement that needs to scale with the monsters AC (4e). But as @Parmandur mentioned which I agree with, they improved 4e's +1/2 levels by introducing bounded accuracy.
Funny enough, half my playgroup wishes to introduce the 2e ability scaling where the "plusses" were even lower.

I'm not sure if this is only my playgroup, but a few of my players really want to incorporate quite a few of 2e's concepts such as action declaration and initiative every round. I'm not sure where this sudden resurgence has sprung from as they never voiced such concerns during our 3e and 4e playing years, not that I'm against it, I'm just surprised.
 
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KarinsDad

Villager
I'm still not completely seeing it. I can see that yes, spell slots can be more valuable than Arcane Ward ablative HP, but that doesn't just apply on the first hit of the day: it applies each and every time when you are hit and value your spell slot more than the HP you would preserve. If you have one 1st level slot left and you're saving it for HP, and you think you're going to rest as soon as you kill this last group of Gricks, you won't spend that spell slot on Shield even if the hit would take you down from 25 to 15 HP. That isn't unique to abjurors, it's just part of the tradeoffs of the Shield spell.

The only unusual thing about abjurors is that their Arcane Ward gains 2 HP each time they cast Shield, so if you Shield when you're at full Arcane Ward HP you lose those 2 HP. To me that still doesn't seem like a big deal, since you can recharge your Arcane Ward between encounters anyway with Alarm--and if you're in an area dangerous enough that you won't want to stop and do that, you're fairly likely to be in a high-intensity combat where that Shield spell you're foregoing (in order to gain 2 HP later on) would save you 10 or 20 HP right now, which is a pretty good tradeoff for one 1st level spell slot. In short, if I were playing an Abjuror, I probably wouldn't view the very first hit of the day as something special requiring special handling: instead, I would eschew Shield entirely when in low-intensity combats (even after the first hit), and use it liberally to stay alive in high-intensity situations.
Actually, it seems like both you and I are misreading Arcane Ward.

I was reading the recharge rule as conditional on it being at zero hit points. Someone at WotC verified that this is not the case.

But, you cannot recharge your Arcane Ward with Alarm between encounters because it only resets after a long rest.


Edit: As a side note, casting Shield when Arcane Ward is a bit of a bigger deal than you are letting on. If someone is willing to do that on the first hit of the day, they are often also willing to do it on the second, third, etc., especially at higher levels and hence, not be giving up 2 points of Arcane Ward for Shield, but 4 or 6 or more. So, situation depending, it is often still worthwhile to allow the first (or even second if the first hit is in a low-intensity situation) hit to go through. Granted, if the DM often throws damaging save spells or breath weapons against the group, saving Arcane Ward might make sense. But as a general rule, using it up early is not a terrible decision, especially if each Shield spell from then on charges it by 2.

On the Alarm issue, Alarm only makes sense for PCs with Armor (e.g. Dwarves, multiclass, etc.). Otherwise, if I have a choice between using up a spell choice to up my AC by 5 one round per day or by 3 8 hours a day, I'll be taking Mage Armor every time and Alarm is not necessary.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I think the point was merely that 5E's power curve is stable enough that virtually any by-the-book character will be exceptional in play, regardless of concept.
That wasn't how I read it - for instance, [MENTION=6776331]Sailor Moon[/MENTION]'s comment that s/he "couldn't give a fig tree about how much damage", and eschewing of intra-party comparisons, seemed to imply that effectiveness was an irrelevant consideration for him/her.

there is no necessary feat tax (3e), there is no necessary ability improvement that needs to scale with the monsters AC (4e).
These are all points about effectiveness. But I thought the poster I was responding to was eschewing effectiveness as a relevant measure for the viability of a character: "As long as I am playing my concept then it's all good."

If playing my concept includes an effectiveness component - ie if playing isnt just about action declarations and getting into character, but is also about the outcomes of action resolution - than [MENTION=2011]KarinsDad[/MENTION]'s metric for evaluating his wizard PC seems fairly reasonable.
 

KarinsDad

Villager
If playing my concept includes an effectiveness component - ie if playing isnt just about action declarations and getting into character, but is also about the outcomes of action resolution - than [MENTION=2011]KarinsDad[/MENTION]'s metric for evaluating his wizard PC seems fairly reasonable.
And actually, I would use the phrase "semi-consistent contribution" as opposed to the word "effectiveness", although both seem to apply. I don't have to do the most damage in the party, or delay the actions of the most bad guys, or even have the bad guys often fail saves against my spells. The actual effectiveness doesn't matter quite so much. I just want my actions to count on a somewhat regular basis which had not been the case at all for levels 1 or 2. Level 3, it picked up quite a bit, presumably because the number of spells per day effectively doubled from 4 to either 7 or 8 (actually, 3 to either 6 or 7 since one spell per day is used up for my PC for Mage Armor every day and I don't really count that). At level 3, a Wizard can, for the most part, cast one spell per encounter most days and feel like he is doing more than being a cantrip caster.
 

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