D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 11)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 11 of D&D Encounters. 

Please realise that both players and DMs read these threads, so do not put spoilers in your posts. If your post goes into enough details, then you absolutely must use spoilers. Enclose the spoilery bit in [*sblock=spoiler stuff][*/sblock]  (just remove the *) spoiler block tags so that players who haven't played yet don't have the surprise ruined for them. 

[*sblock=spoilerey stuff]

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will produce

spoilerey stuff


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once you remove the *.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
I can give an early report from Portland, OR and our Guardian Games store.

After clobbering my table last week (they made it, but spent tons of resources), I ran the table without scaling. Actually, I did scale, but only because at the last minute two regulars arrived pushing us to 7. I feel good about my ability to judge difficulty for this fight and adjust for the fly, so I ran the 7 players with the scaling for 6.

The result was a very fun and reasonable session. With the lower scaling I could use some decent tactics when it made sense to do so (and also be inefficient when it made sense to do so). I had probably four players bloodied a total of 7 times. Our table has a paladin and three leaders, so it was a good way to keep them challenged while being very reasonable. No dailies were used, and I think just one action point.

spoilers for week 11:

The party made the passive perception, so I just placed the Witherling and the skeletons out. I kept the Tomb Motes hidden and the Blazing Skeleton out of sight.

A PC lit up a sunrod, but being low on surges, delayed. The rest fanned out along the ridge and the paladin tied a rope around the big central rock and tossed it down.

On their turn, the skeletons hungrily surged forward. Two failed to climb and one made it up but could not attack.

The Runepriest went down the rope, drawing some AOs (against two skeletons, ouch!). The rest of the party fought at range, softening up the skeletons.

The blazing skeleton lit up one PC.

Three of the four tomb motes came out on the second round, dealing some solid damage along with the witherling and a skeleton to the runepriest. I used some nice tactics, with things like attacking from flank, shifting back, now the readied Witherling charges. The leaders had some fun attacking and range and keeping the bloodied up and also granting saves.

I played the witherling as full of bloodlust and had it constantly jump to and from enemies, triggering OAs and always getting CA. The paladin was able to crit it twice and hit it once more, which was fun for me and for them (we each got something out of it each time). It also was a nice way to add a dynamic element to the combat by having such a mobile skirmisher. It was pretty ferocious once it was bloodied and raised an eyebrow or two with the damage it caused (especially since I crit twice as well!).

Our dragonborn cleric is a young girl and she asked about climbing options. I just had to mention the DC to jump the pit, which her dad pointed out would take a 19 or 20 on the die for her to succeed. She totally wanted to do it. We all were amazed and on the edge of our seats as she rolled... 20! She has already had a moment of greatness and she had two action points, so I instead let her momentum carry her and she received an extra move action, bringing her very close to the blazing skeleton. This played out as a nice 1-on-1 combat with her taking fire but making saves or being granted saves, plus the elven archer helping from across the way. It was pretty fun and she ultimately downed the skeleton.

The monk was low on resources but played smart. I brought a printout of her PC at 2nd level, since she had not noted all the changes she should have last time. Then we noticed halfway that she has had a +1 Ki focus for 3+ sessions and never added the + to hit or to damage. So, on the next attack she rolls and gets a total of 12 or something for her attack. I say, "Well, with +1 for each time you didn't include your 2nd level bonus or your ki focus, yeah, you hit." And thus fell another skeleton and there was much rejoicing. The same player at one point dropped down, hoping to mitigate the fall damage and remain standing. She fell, but rolled to attack and hit and killed a skeleton anyway, which we all agreed probably looked intentional.

I added a zone of latent power, which recharged our Runepriest's daily power with a minor action. The monk and druid spotted it, the cleric figured out how to use it, and the runepriest activated it, so it was fun for everyone. This was a way of making up for how rough I was with them last encounter (when I made a mistake with how the myconids' hit point absorption worked. It should allow me to give them a real challenge in the last encounter.


All-in-all a lot of fun for everyone and they are eager for the next week (and for Dark Sun).

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easy breezy in Kanada

every one had fresh lvl 2 chars after last weeks wipe. I was a little concerned being down 2 players this week. One on vacation, and one unknown.  But with the fresh characters

....suddenly there was no shortage of healers

Once more into the breach


Now the party is down to 4, a str Pally, and 3 healers which they used to good effect. The Pally dove in head first while the support ranged from on high.

They choose to absorb the fire attacks while cleaning out the melee then make a concentrated rush on the blazing skellie.

The witherling decided to make a mad dash for the upper levels, trusting in his high ac vs opp attks to save him... It didn't , suddenly the entire party found the top end of the d20, 2 hits and a 3rd crit. the witherling didn't make it up to the support row

The motes dropped like flies in 2 rnds and it was looking like a 20 minute fight, so i gave the blazing skellie his scorching burst back to try to make it worth showing up, and that did the trick.. Party still handled it easily, but used up a couple healing surges first

 much hilarity ensued when the dwarf jumped down into the canyon and took 12 damage, knocking himself out, only to be helaed, move across the canyon, and fail the str check dc 5 to move the ladder.

All in All, a fairly trivial combat and a nice break in the hectic pace of the last 4 or 5.


This week was a total disappointment.

It was supposed to be the first week my fiancee and I played encounters.  The store we play at lists their start time as 6pm.  We get there early to make sure we don't miss anything.  We sit around waiting til about 10 after 6 and I the guy at the counter if it's supposed to start at 6 or what?  He let's me know they normally don't even start ti 6:30.

So, 6:35 rolls around, and there's no game master pulling a table together.  I go ask the guy what's going on?  He says the game master is running late.  I say thanks for the heads up, and we leave.

None of this is the fault of D&D:Encounters, of course.  It's just unfortunate that this store doesn't bother to inform their players that the 6pm start time isn't really the start time, nor do they bother to let us know when the game master is going to be late.

How hard is it to understand that some players have lives and maybe have other things they are scheduling around to make it to the game?

I won't be going back, though I am going to see if there isn't another store somewhere nearby I can go play at.
This week was a total disappointment.

It was supposed to be the first week my fiancee and I played encounters.  The store we play at lists their start time as 6pm.  We get there early to make sure we don't miss anything.  We sit around waiting til about 10 after 6 and I the guy at the counter if it's supposed to start at 6 or what?  He let's me know they normally don't even start ti 6:30.

So, 6:35 rolls around, and there's no game master pulling a table together.  I go ask the guy what's going on?  He says the game master is running late.  I say thanks for the heads up, and we leave.

None of this is the fault of D&D:Encounters, of course.  It's just unfortunate that this store doesn't bother to inform their players that the 6pm start time isn't really the start time, nor do they bother to let us know when the game master is going to be late.

How hard is it to understand that some players have lives and maybe have other things they are scheduling around to make it to the game?

I won't be going back, though I am going to see if there isn't another store somewhere nearby I can go play at.




Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.  Most stores run it at the same time each week and are fairly consistant with the time.  That said, real life happenes and at time people will run late or be unable to attend.  You have to understand that the DM and other players time is also valuable and important.

Did you ask how late the DM was going to be?  Also, being the 1st time and joining so late in the season, I would have called the store before leaving home just to make sure everything was in place.  Usually helps coordinate things better that way.

I'd call around to that and other stores.  See if you can call or email the event organizer.  That should give you the best feel for the times and number of players the store can handle.  Keep in mind DDE Undermountain concludes next week in an epic final encounter!

And the week after... DARK SUN!  Wooohooo!
This week the store had two groups. We started late due to delays in player arrival, but once we had everyone we got set up. My group consisted of a Rogue, Assassin, Warlord, Cleric, Paladin, and Monk. The Rogue and Assassin are new players, the others are more experienced having dealt with nearly all of the Encounters. 

The whole thing started off on an unusual foot, as the incidental decorations by the door into the encounter area got everyone's trap senses tingling, causing delays. Finally everyone ventured down and found the main portion of the map. They also spotted their quarry. From here, we descended into what may be referred to as 'proof your players watch horror movies.'

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The group saw the bodies scattered about and immediately began trying to find a way to torch them all, intending to turn the canyon into a pyre. Once they realized that most of the corpses were nothing but bone, they ventured down. For the most part this occurred without incident until the cleric and paladin both fell. The cleric was caught by the monk, who made comments about not wanting to put down the priestess of Sune. The paladin was 'caught' by the warlord, who suddenly discovered catching a large man wearing heavy armor can be painful. Both sustained incidental damage from the fall.

The resulting fight was straightforward- on the first turn the monsters in the canyon rose, surrounding the party. Everyone was engaged in melee, which meant the cleric was largely nullified, being as she relied on ranged attacks. The rest were more fortunate. While ongoing damage was suffered from the Motes, being marked and slowed did little to them as they were content to stand and fight. Round two, the burning skeleton 'woke up' and joined in, flinging fire at the monk (the closest target) with minimal effect.

It took two more turns before the cleric was rescued from the terrifying tomb mote, by which time combined arms destroyed the witherling, two more motes and two skeletons. The final skeleton and the last mote stubbornly remained, while attention turned to the burning artillerist. The monk took the hard route, climbing up the cliff face. The cleric, warlord, rogue and paladin stayed in the canyon. The assassin, being hit with a flash of insight, took the ladder to the top, then used it as a bridge to cross the pit. 

This led to the final round of combat as the monk, assassin, and warlord (who used his eladrin racial ability to get back in the fight) surrounded the burning skeleton and cut it down, managing to do so without beginning their round in range of the aura, and finishing it off before it could affect them.

In the end, we had three characters reduced to bloodied status, all subject to some sort of ongoing effect, and dice that severely favored the PCs over the monsters. The extra surges granted by the cold Fonts were used up, plus a few, and the players agreed that while it may not have been conventional, the halfling assassin's use of the ladder to get up the cliff and around to the burning skeleton before the monk had a certain degree of greatness about it- if only in the comedic sense.


Overall a good encounter that had the PCs feeling more confident after their last rout, though the subsequent squabbling over the crown seemed to convince everyone to conspire to kill the warlord off once they're done with the dungeon itself. 
This week was a bit of a snoozer.

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My group is very ranged heavy, and they were like fish in a barrel in the canyon.

The minions were pretty disappointing—they didn't hit a single time.

This was the first fight in which the monsters didn't have much in the way of tricks—be it auto-damage auras or multiattacks—to drain the PCs resources.

I was really disappointed that with so much amazing terrain, none of the monsters had forced movement. I mean, even the twitter buffs pointed at it. But with no way to push PCs into the pits, it really felt like a wasted opportunity.

I guess it was a nice breather before he last fight.


There was an all-star moment though. The Dwarven battlemind triggered his Speed of Thought as the PCs first saw the canyon, used it to start climbing, failed his athletics check, and found himself on his backside down 13 HP before the ranger with initiative 27 got to go.

I don't know who's using pregens, but the more I think about it, the less impressed I am by them.

Of six pregens, the options are very ranged-heavy, and PHB3 heavy (I'm mostly concerned about Monk and Psion). On the other hand, there have been a lot of encounters in relatively small spaces, that need more than one or two melee characters. It simply isn't a good balance. While I'm sure WotC wanted to highlight some PHB3 classes, it isn't new-player friendly. It was designed as a book for people who are already familiar with the system and are comfortable with more complication.

Of course, I offered for my players to use the original pregens (the first pregens that came out for 4e, that were released near the release of 4e), but they aren't printed on shiny cards, and might be less optimized anyways. They were definitely less popular, even though they may have been more useful.

I hope future seasons take more care in selecting character options.

Sorry for the slight off-topic, but I was reminded of it when the previous poster mentioned his was a ranged-heavy party, and it was a relatively easy encounter. 

the guys at my table used brain over braun this week.  i should be impressed, but somehow i can't stop being disappointed at how easy this one went for them. 
here's how it went down:

heretus, the psion, upon seeing the ladder on the other side of the canyon, decides he wants to use his telekinetic powers to bring it back across to their side.  someone suggests that he brings the ladder up to be lying flat, level with the top of the canyon instead, to use as a platform to ferry the party across the canyon.

(the party knows that there are undead hiding in the canyon, thanks to someone making their perception check and noticing the rattling bones, but the undead are still hiding at this point.)

the psion's ability states he can move the levitated object 3 squares per round.  so his first move is to bring the bottom end of the ladder up level with the top end.  next move is to ferry the ladder across to their side for someone to get on.

(the power states a max of 400 pounds, so they decide to have only one person go across at a time.)

the ranger gets on, makes an acrobatics check to walk on the flat ladder that's suspended in air, and then the psion ferries him across.  and then, surprise! it's initiative and the ranger has to fight the blazing skeleton alone.

now i'm thinking this will be cool, but then the cleric hits the skeleton from across the canyon with a ranged 10 attack that ends in a push or pull and pulls the skeleton into the pit!  at this point i have all the undead in the canyon come out of hiding and try to get up either side of the canyon to get at the party, but the only one that ever makes it out is the witherling (and only because he uses his Sudden Leap at-will move to jump 4 squares!).

the skeleton is able to make it out of the pit, but by this time the psion has ferried more of the party across to deal with him.  the skeleton goes down, the witherling goes down, and the rest of the undead die to ranged attacks from the top of the canyon.

i was going to make the psion roll concentration checks every round to see if he could keep the ladder-ferry up, but his power states he can sustain it merely with a minor.  so he's able to move around, make ranged attacks on the undead in the canyon, and ferry party members across the canyon every round!

i did make everyone who crossed with the ladder-ferry make an acrobatics check each round that they made a move action while on the ladder, but no one ever failed.  all in all, they turned this encounter into a cakewalk.


Sorry to hear you had a bad experience.  Most stores run it at the same time each week and are fairly consistant with the time.  That said, real life happenes and at time people will run late or be unable to attend.  You have to understand that the DM and other players time is also valuable and important.

Did you ask how late the DM was going to be?  Also, being the 1st time and joining so late in the season, I would have called the store before leaving home just to make sure everything was in place.  Usually helps coordinate things better that way.




Well, they have the time for the game advertised online and in-store as 6pm each Wednesday.  And I was in email contact with them for about a week before I showed up, during which time they never mentioned their listed start time was incorrect.  Once 6:10 rolled around I asked them if I was incorrect in the start time they finally told me they usually don't start until 6:30pm.  And it's not like they were spending the time between 6-6:30 setting up, or making sure new players knew what was going on, or anything.  At 6:40, after I asked them, they told me the GM was running late, they said he'd be probably another 15 or 20 minutes.  Meaning he was going to show up around 7pm.

Based on them advertising their game as starting at 6pm, I was expecting to be done by 7pm.  I get that there's a good chance the GM had a good reason for being late.  But I certainly don't feel it's appropriate for them to advertise that their games start at 6pm, when they know they won't even be trying to start until 6:30pm.  For an event that's only supposed to take one encounter, I shouldn't spend more time waiting to play than playing.
My own particular encounter went pretty smoothly.

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Only 4 PCs, so I scaled the encounter down by removing one of the skeletons.

The undead harried the PCs up on the starting ledge, while the blazing skeleton across the way sniped at them. The fighter in the party threw both tratnyrs at the skeleton--both missed, but they marked the creature so it kept attacking him.

One of the characters threw out a grappling hook/rope to catch the ladder and drag it over, and brought it to their ledge with a couple great skill checks. The ardent climbed down, but this triggered the skeleton's readied action to charge and mostly block them off at the base of the ladder.

The minions didn't get much in the way of action, going down pretty fast--as minions tend to do. The witherling climbed up and attacked, only to get caught between the human shield fighter and the githzerai hybrid avenger/swordmage and made unable to escape. (Shield fighters are basically the stickiest buggers around.) It ultimately died just trying to shift away.

The skeleton fought valiantly down in the canyon, but the PCs pretty handily hacked him down and just had the blazing skeleton to worry about. The githzerai got to him first (mostly with some great athletics checks), only to find himself catching repeatedly on fire--a bad combination with his 2 remaining healing surges.

They took out the blazer fairly handily, with some good application of attack bonuses. Seeing as how three of the people in the party have 0-2 surges remaining, I am definitely going to put the healing pool in the next chamber.


Suggested revision to the underground shore chamber (the beginning of session 12, between 3-3 and 3-4)--I am offering this suggestion in order to do a little to balance out the typos of session 10:

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If your PCs are particularly hurt (and after 3-2, they probably are), then I suggest this addition: the cold pool holds an inner healing magic sacred to an ancient deity (Mystra). If one is willing to endure the magical shock--the cold damage--the PC recovers 1 healing surge (or 2 healing surges, if they have 2 or fewer remaining). Once a PC has benefited from the font, s/he cannot use it again.


Cheers

7 & 1/2 players this time. (The other table had 12!!!)  Uber perception ranger didn't show up this time, and I convinced a new player to try the Psion since there weren't any controllers, but he had to leave after the 2nd round of battle.  I decided to try the twitter buffs this time adding one at the begining one between the 1st and 2nd, then I waited until the 5th and 6th rounds for the other two.  
I also made a crit/fumble deck and used that, it worked pretty well. Thanks Alphastream1 for help with that!
It's here if anyone is interested:
www.godeckyourself.com/core/card/card-li...



I upped the encounter for 8, and removed 1 when the new guy left, even with that and the extras being level 3 it didn't seem anywhere near as challenging as any of the previous encounters.  I'd go so far as even saying it was easy.  The Paladin did get beat up, I think being bloodied 3 times, and the Swordmage had to use a second wind, I think the first in combat healing he's ever needed. The warlord used her 3 healing words, so maybe it wasn't that bad to begin with.
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I gave the opportunity to take an extended rest, but the party decided it would be too dangerous to Fayne to do so, and soldiered on.  
So I added 3 skeletons for the 3 extra party members.
The battle started with the skeletons climbing up the wall, no one had perceived the other mobs.  Some people still coming down the ladder.   The blazing skeleton threw his fire attack and hit the warlord, immediately after the witherling appeared attacking the warlord.  I didn't know what the witherling was supposed to look like so I said it looked like a baby skeleton and it showed up next to the warlord attacking her since it had flanking with a skeleton.  Everyone thought the Blazing Skeleton was throwing flaming baby skeletons at people at this point.
Next round the fly 3 as a move action took effect, pretty much nullifying all the pits.  The last of the skeletons still climbing up the wall fly up to vacant spots, and the paladin is surround by all 5 of them, the tome motes use it to their advantage and make a line splitting the party with the heavies on one side and the clothies on the other.  They end up so that they can get 3 adjacent to both the barbarian and the psion, and one gets the first crit on the barbarian - a cleave which does modifier damage to an adjacent target, so the barbarian takes the 6 & 5 ongoing necrotic, and the psion takes 9.  Skeletons get a couple crits on the paladin nothing terribly interesting, he gets distracted and immobilized - he wasn't going anywhere anyway and they weren't trying to hide from him.
For some reason the party decides to ignore the tome motes and focus on those that were there last turn.  The swordmage flies over to the other side trying to head off the burning skeleton.  Eventually the party starts slowing taking down motes, the witherling and skeletons while the swordmage battles the Burning skeleton.  The barbarian got some use of a power that dropped the enemies AC withing burst 5, and the cleric something that raises the AC by 2 in burst 5, and the warlord being there giving heal 6 & extra save on AP use.  I think almost everyone saved against the various ongoing stuff especially with the cleric using the attack that gives someone an extra save, except the barbarian who eventually used his renown card for the extra save.  
The 5 skeletons did 25 points to the paladin one round, no crits though.  At one point the cleric got a 'body shield crit' on one of the skeletons doing +d6 from the twitter buff, which teleported & immobilized it next to him using it as a shield, but no one was attacking him.  Then the same skeleton fumbled the next two rounds picking up blind and can't speak before being put out of his misery.
At this point the party started drifting off toward the battling burning skeleton and swordmage and finished it off while the paladin & barbarian finished off the last skeleton.

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Week 11 went fast for us.  Full table, but no healer, as the player with the leader didn't show.  That didn't matter much, as the group was made up of striker, striker, controller, defender, defender.

The fighter spent two moves and his AP to get up the wall, while the sorcerer dropped an AoE around him when the minions closed in (gaining that renown point).

The witherling lept off the ledge to attack the swordmage (taking some damage in the process) and the other sorcerer fey-stepped up to help the fighter.

After that, it was pretty much over quickly.  The sorcerer chaos-bolted a skeleton into oblivion with a crit and wiped out the remaining minion on the second strike.  The psion and swordmage ended the witherling, and they all ganged up on the blazing skeleton.

In the end, I only dropped the fighter and the cosmic sorcerer, but they were quickly revived by the psion and chaos sorcerer for an easy fight.

We're all excited for next week's finale.
I altered this encounter a fair amount, for some variety:
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I added a skill challenge to cover the party's tracking Xeres through the dwarven ruins, and gave them a chance to find the surge restoring icy water.

Their success at the SC got them a chance to hear an argument between Xeres and Fayne, covering some plot points. A successful bluff had Xeres listening to an offer from the party to switch sides. Fayne took advantange of the distraction and bashed into Xeres, causing him to drop the helm into the ravine, where a player caught it. If they'd failed the challenge they would have missed all that.

Since some XP went to the challenge, I changed the monsters. Six 2nd level players. I had two witherings, each a level lower than listed, and replaced the two regular skeletons with 6 minion decrepit skeletons. No tomb motes, and the blazing skeleton was unchanged. 

The players enjoyed a chance to use teamwork and own the encounter. The blazing skeleton had to deal with two fire-resistant attackers...

I tried to keep the SC moving quickly, and the players found some creative ideas -- having two psions with TK was helpful. On the whole it went okay. The players did have fun with a fairly easy combat encounter that showed off their battle skills.

Nothingly overly exciting for this one.

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One barbarian ripped the ladder out of the starting area and used it to get safely down into the main area. The monk, halfling and other barbarian jumped/fell down.  7 players total, so while some were beaten up a bit, we came out of it fairly well.
This is a report for a different table for the Portland, OR group running on Tuesdays:

Note, we were down 2 judges this week and this is why we had two tables of 7 and a table of 6. Messes up our reporting but we had to deal.

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My tables is full of young bucks (mostly teen aged boys) and one new player:

cleric
rogue
rogue
ranger
fighter
swordmage
swordmage

You would think with 3 defenders and 3 strikers that the party would make short work of the opposition. Well they haven't grasped the concentrate fire on a single target till it dies method of survival. They kept spreading their damage around. I got 1 round with all the minions and an additional 2 rounds with a single minion after that. I will say that stacking 2 necrotic plus 5 fire ongoing damage (save ends) will ruin a player's day. That and blowing both saves for 2 rounds...

If it wasn't for the cleric blowing both dailies and judiciously healing the party, they would have gone down in what should have been a rout on their part.

Eventually they started to down some of their opposition and by sheer lack of targets began to concentrate fire.

My hope is these guys will settle down a bit and start using their heads a little more. I think I need to break the up amongst my more experience players so they can learn some tactics when we start Dark Sun. Otherwise they are going to get slaughtered.


As coordinator I have had to fill in as judge for the last two sessions and I am hoping to have all my judges present for the final session next week.

Bryan Blumklotz
GotG Coordinator
Running a table at 4p and another at 6p has been really fun- I learn all the tricks and quirks of the monsters on the first play through and my 6p group really suffers for it XD

For example...

The Skeletons learned not to toe-to-toe with the PCs... in the  6p game, THEY scrabbled up the ladder and made STR checks to haul it up and away from the PCs. The minions were great- they began in Stealth under the piles of bodies and attacked in groups of three every time a player hit the pit. The Hunter- er, Witherling, stayed Stealthed until the Defenders dove into the pit and left the clothy strikers and leaders on the ledge. Pounced him some Warlock, he did! The Blazing Skeleton was NOT about to sit on the ledge as bait, instead sniping from concealment as best he could until the PCs were on the ledge. Then the retreated skellies tried bull rushing them into the shallow pit. All-in-all, it was much more enjoyable for me the second time around, and really upped the ante for teamwork and tactics.