DMs, read this! Typos/Edits in Enc 3-4

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I thought I’d post the edits to Encounter 3-4 here again, just in case people haven’t seen my other thread on the subject. They are also a little updated over those other notes, as I have had a chance to run through this encounter and see the potential pitfalls.

Notes to Encounter 3-4:
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Page 40: Make sure you refer to this page. The PCs should have a chance to see the cavern choker before the fight, and if they dispose of it—or even just hurt it—that will make the battle a lot easier.
I also highly encourage you to allow your PCs to recover one healing surge each (or 2 surges, if they have 2 or fewer currently) from the underground pool. They are most likely beat the heck up from the myconid encounter and could use the healing. Don’t worry—those hps will go away soon enough. 

Scaling: This is an exception to the scaling rules as presented at the beginning of the module, just because this encounter is so tough.

If you have a weak party (4 or fewer PCs of any level, 2+ PCs in the party lower than 2nd level, 2+ players who are new to the game, or you lack one of the four basic party roles: defender, striker, leader, controller), then remove the deathjump spider or the cavern choker (your choice) and one of the archers. (The rules as printed would suggest that you should just remove one of the elf archers, but this would still result in an encounter that's probably too powerful for your PCs).

If you have a normal party (5 PCs of 2nd level) but they're really beat up, consider removing one of the elf archers to bring it down to a more standard level 4 encounter.

If you have a strong party, go nuts!

XP typo: The encounter is actually worth 950 xp, not 900, making it a tough level 4 encounter. Each PC should get 190 xp for participating in the encounter.

Initial box text: There hasn’t been mention of a portal key before, so you should revise what Xeres says to this: “Come and die then, lesser creatures,” he calls. Then, in his other hand, he holds up a gleaming silver key similar to those you used in the chambers above. It glows brightly and you recognize it as a device to open a portal. “Or stay back and starve to death in this place, if you be cowards.”
Xeres's portal key allows the PCs to leave the dungeon and live to fight another day (after you read the ending, of course).

Development - Waking Fayne: Give your PCs some clue that helping Fayne can help them in the encounter; they've already had that experience bringing in Maerlyn's help, so they might catch on fairly easily. They should have figured it out by now, but in case they haven’t, there you go. Turning off Xeres’s aura makes a big difference in the encounter (see below for a further note as to the aura). And though it says “she does not take further standard actions”, you should feel free to have her intercede when necessary if you think it’s dramatic and/or appropriate.

Underground River: There is a negligible difference between the shore and the river, so forced movement does not knock one prone in the river or cause falling damage. A creature subjected to forced movement into the river may attempt a saving throw to fall prone at the river’s edge, rather than enter the water.
The automatic shift on a save is 1 square—the PC cannot shift multiple squares to get out of the river (though if they have some ability, that’s another story). The automatic shift does not represent actual movement in this case, but rather just pulling yourself to safety. If a creature happens to be immobilized (such as from Xeres’ Lightning Binding) when it saves against the river’s current, it may still shift out of the river, and is just immobilized on the shore. Otherwise, a DM could interpret this to mean that a PC who is immobilized and dunked in the river might save against the river but still be immobilized and thus just caught in the current again at the beginning of its next turn—in effect, the PC has to make two saving throws *at once* in order to escape.

Waterfall Pit: The last line of this note regards if you want to expand the module with your group in later adventures. It does not pertain to the DDE series.

MONSTERS

Deathjump Spider: This monster is widely thought to be pretty overpowered, so consider making its “Death from Above” an encounter power or at least recharge 5 6, rather than an at-will.

Elf Archers: The elves might well suck it up in this encounter--at least, they're nowhere near as impressive as Xeres and the other beasties. They can still bedevil the PCs' efforts, however--have them focus fire on PCs fighting Xeres, or PCs trying to sneak around him.

Xeres: His powers got a little typo’d, or at least they are unclear based on the MM2+ style of presenting powers. So here we go:

Offensive Warding (radiant): Add the following line: “If Xeres’s aura is ever deactivated, he suffers -3 to his AC until the end of the encounter.” This is to play up the swordmage flavor, and also as an olive branch to PCs who are having a devil of a time hitting him.

Vicious Broadsword: Damage is correct, but for clarity add (crit: 1d12+14 damage). Also, remove the “and slide target 1 square” effect. (Sliding a PC into the river every turn is overpowered and, frankly, a bit silly.) If you still like the concept, nerf it to a luring strike: “1d10+4 damage (crit 1d12+14), Xeres shifts one square and slides the target into the square he just left.”

Lightning Binding: Damage die is wrong, should be 1d6+4 damage, crit: 1d12+10 damage. Also, you should probably not let him pull PCs into the water unless he himself is in the water.

Sword Burst: Damage die is wrong; should be 1d6+4 damage, crit: 1d12+10 damage.

Hellfire Spiral: Add (crit 1d12+15 damage). For additional flavor, you can have him grasp his sword in both hands, increasing the damage by +1d6 at the cost of -2 to AC until the start of his next turn (to reflect a diminished Swordmage Warding).

(At the DM’s option, you may remove the crit effects from everything but the basic attack—the vicious weapon property might be overkill.)

Languages: Xeres speaks Abyssal, not Infernal (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t actually exist as a language in 4e).

Tactics: You don't want to have Xeres rush the party, as they will quickly overwhelm him. Better to have him stay on the bridge and pull them to him, one by one. If the party *does* manage to surround him, that's what hellfire spiral is for--it's particularly effective for knocking PCs off the bridge and into the water.

Bloodied Change Shape: I found one thing very effective when running this encounter. Xeres is a fey'ri (he is to an eladrin what tieflings are to humans), and he's cloaked his true form in illusion (as fey'ri can do). When he gets bloodied, this illusion drops and he reveals his true appearance, which is considerably more demonic. Read this when he gets bloodied:

"As Xeres staggers from the blow, rage suffuses his features, which begin to swim and darken into those of something far darker. His skin becomes deep red, almost black, and his eyes burn with abyssal fire. His antlers grow to a fearsome length and become jet-black. No longer does Xeres resemble a handsome, fiendish eladrin, but rather a demon with faint elven features."

End of the Encounter: In Xeres’s death text, at the beginning, add the line: “His sword tumbles from his hand to clatter to the stone.”
This is so that the PCs actually get the sword, rather than let it sweep down the river.


Also, thanks to everybody--DM and player alike--for sticking with DDE Season 1. I know there were ups and downs, but I hope there were more of the former than the latter, and that folks had fun amongst the bloody mayhem!

Cheers
Thanks for all this Erik, this is the first question that comes to mind, probably because I've been waiting for this thread so that I could ask it, I'm sure that more will come to me before Wednesday...

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In the alternate ending stuff, Fayne says something along the lines of "so I'll double your money". This doesn't appear to be accounted for anywhere in the treasure lists. Should it be? BTW I know that a number of my players are intending to port their characters over to LFR, so I'm loath to get the treasure "wrong". That said, the conversion rules haven't been published yet...
I am curious what you think proper scaling is for a strong table. I'm on the fence as to what to add. I see plusses and minuses to any of the at-level options.

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Thanks for all this Erik, this is the first question that comes to mind, probably because I've been waiting for this thread so that I could ask it, I'm sure that more will come to me before Wednesday...

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In the alternate ending stuff, Fayne says something along the lines of "so I'll double your money". This doesn't appear to be accounted for anywhere in the treasure lists. Should it be? BTW I know that a number of my players are intending to port their characters over to LFR, so I'm loath to get the treasure "wrong". That said, the conversion rules haven't been published yet...

In this case . . .

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If that dialogue is triggered, then let me clarify that Fayne is bluffing. She gives them 50 gp each regardless, and if they protest saying that she promised them more, then she wheedles and says, "well, seeing as 50 pieces of gold each is double what I *meant* to pay you all along, then clearly my generosity has no bounds." If they protest again, she says "my my, I'm running late to ruin someone else's life--ta, my heroes! I hope we meet again." and, with a sly wink, she teleports away.

If that dialogue is not triggered, well, Fayne just gives them the 50 gp each.

The long and short of it is, the PCs get 50 gp each, regardless of what they say or do to Fayne at this point in the adventure. And remember that full stats are printed for her at the beginning of the book--with her powers, she should be able to get away without too much difficulty. Even if they kill her, that's all the gold she has on her: 50 times the number of PCs.


Cheers
I am curious what you think proper scaling is for a strong table. I'm on the fence as to what to add. I see plusses and minuses to any of the at-level options.

The playtest I ran was with a 4 PC group, so I scaled it down by removing just one of the artillery gals, which actually worked fine (but then, this particular set of PCs is a powerful team of experienced players, and n00bs to 4e will appreciate a more substantial depowering).

As I see it, for scaling up, which monster you add depends on party composition and possible tactics. Check it:

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Reasons to add a spider: Party has 2+ defenders or 2+ leaders.

If the party has two defenders, consider adding a second spider--the defenders can lock down the spiders, leaving the rest of the group relatively free to take out Xeres and the choker. (Though it will be tough without a defender to occupy the BBEG.

Also, the spider can unload a LOT of damage, so another healer can help make up the difference.

Be very careful about adding a second spider. They will screw over your party considerably more than a second choker will. My PCs triumphed over the spider mostly because the druid started by summoning a giant toad to draw its fire (the spider killed it in one attack), then locked it down with a shield fighter, who ended up pushing it into the river with his shield. A series of bad saves kept it from attacking anyone until they finally killed it.


Reasons to add a choker: Party has 2+ controllers or 2+ strikers, at least one of whom leans toward controller.

If the party is heavy on people who can do forced movement and such, they can negate the chokers' chokes, which is extremely helpful.

If, on the other hand, the party is heavy on defenders or strikers, adding a second choker will probably screw them over a little. Because it just stands there and attacks one person, a choker choking a defender messes up the defender's ability to do its job, or a choker might restrain a striker where it can be beat up something fierce.

If you do add a second choker, don't put it in that initial room where the first choker is. Have this one be fresh and ready for the PCs in the final battle.


Ultimately, a second choker is probably a better bet than adding a second spider, purely on the basis of the spider being a lot more powerful for its level.


Cheers
Some thoughts on the monsters:

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Deathjump Spider: This monster is widely thought to be pretty overpowered, so consider making its “Death from Above” an encounter power or at least recharge 5 6, rather than an at-will.

Seriously? I hate DMing these because they always miss. They hit most 1st-level characters on a 12-13+. The monk in my encounters group has a 21 AC—might as well not even bother with him. They roll a lot of dice, but their DPR is only about 4 – 6 against 2nd-level characters, even with combat advantage most turns.

Sword Burst: Damage die is wrong; should be 1d6+4 damage, crit: 1d12+10 damage.

Shouldn't it also say, "targets enemies"? The PC version is ally-friendly.

Some thoughts on the monsters:

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Deathjump Spider: This monster is widely thought to be pretty overpowered, so consider making its “Death from Above” an encounter power or at least recharge 5 6, rather than an at-will.

Seriously? I hate DMing these because they always miss. They hit most 1st-level characters on a 12-13+. The monk in my encounters group has a 21 AC—might as well not even bother with him. They roll a lot of dice, but their DPR is only about 4 – 6 against 2nd-level characters, even with combat advantage most turns.

Well, if that's been your experience, you're probably fine then.
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I suppose I consider death-from-above to be a charging attack which offers an edge (+1), but you probably don't do it that way. If you have pretty powerful/optimized PCs, then the spider isn't really that much of an issue. They're more like skirmisher brutes than full on skirmishers, but can be swingy with good rolls.

Sometimes it's a matter of tactics as well. I for one have always sent them against low AC people (like controllers, for instance), while the rest of the party has been busy with the soldiers up at the front. This particular battle is conducive to that as well, as the spider can just scuttle along the ceiling until it gets in death-from-above range. (This is basically one turn.)

21 AC on a monk is also pretty awesome at 2nd level. If players want to optimize to pull off cool stuff like that, then they no doubt deserve the edge they get out of it in battle.


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Sword Burst: Damage die is wrong; should be 1d6+4 damage, crit: 1d12+10 damage.

Shouldn't it also say, "targets enemies"? The PC version is ally-friendly.
Good catch. If you want to make it ally-friendly, that's cool. Odds are, Xeres won't be adjacent to all that many of his allies.

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I'm on the fence about making Hellfire spiral ally-friendly. It's pretty cool to watch him decimate some of his allies with that power.


Cheers
Thanks for this! The inconsistencies in Fayne's and Xeres' expositions were driving me bonkers.

The only reason I knew to check this forum was finding a printout of eriksdb's post re: Pacifying Spore errata on the floor of my FLGS AFTER the 2.5 hour Encounter! Someone committed the horrible sin of printing this information out, bringing it to the event, and then NOT share it with any of the five DMs!

Does Wizards need another editor? I wouldn't mind pouring over the PDFs for free before stuff hits the street XD 
I can't say how typos got into the adventure, but when you work in the publishing industry, you know it's just something that happens. It's no one's fault, and it's not a mark of unprofessionalism--it's just the way of things.

And I want to note that the edits I'm mentioning here in the thread aren't major things--they're just clarifications. As far as I can tell, the only major typos that have been in the adventure so far were in the myconid encounter, making this a surprisingly error-low, smooth sailing module.

Cheers
I just wish I would have tapped the resources of this forums earlier in the Season; you have been super-helpful, eriksdb, with your errata and clarifications. Thanks for that!
As I'm prepping this encounter, I'm worried that the surfeit of ranged characters (my usual table is more than 50% ranged). This usually leads to boring combats where the PCs barricade themselves behind their defenders, and no one moves for the entire combat. To prevent this, I'm going to try the following:

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Instead of being prone at his feet, I'll put her, unconscious, in a traditional hostage stance (grabbed, giving Xeres the usual -2 to AC). If the ranged PCs attempt to attack him, I'll let them know that it will be incredibly difficult not to hit their employer. She gives him cover, and if they attack and miss by the usual -2 for cover, they have to re-roll the attack again the unconscious fayne (combat advantage, helpless).

Once the PCs enter the room enough for the other monsters to engage, Xeres will cast her aside and join the fight.

Even better, if the PCs are very optimized, he'll probably cast her into the river, forcing one of the PCs to fish her out, lest she gets washed away. Doing this will provide a little extra RP and challenge to parties that might otherwise walk over it.


Also, two things I noticed are missing in the terrain: the height of the cavern ceiling and the Athletics DC to swim through the river current.

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If the cavern is 10-feet tall, the cavern choker cannot climb above the reach of melee PCs. If it's 15 feet tall, the choker can stand on the ceiling and fight with impunity. If it's taller, the choker can climb farther out of reach to safety.
RCanine,

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I went with 10' ceilings and that worked well to give PCs the ability to reach if needed.

I wasn't clear on climb DCs for getting up/down to where the one archer starts.

The idea of casting her into the river could work well if they need the incentive. Keep in mind that the encounter has a lot of control. You can grab, you can jump and knock prone, you can pull into the river... I really shut down the party and it was a bit much. I struggled between being effective with the monsters and not being too controlling. If you dump her in the river you should probably also then just dish out damage with the other monsters instead of being control-heavy that round.

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This is another encounter that gives you sufficient tools to really challenge your party as you need to. Use your own best DM's judgment.

Q&A:
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The cavern ceiling, as envisioned, is about 30 feet, actually, which gives plenty of opportunity to have critters climb and skitter. You can go with 10 feet to make things easier, if needs be.

The climb DCs for those rocks shouldn't be very difficult--DC 10 or so. Getting to the archer is supposed to be annoying but not particularly difficult.

As designed, there isn't a DC to swim against the current--if you start your turn in the water, you are caught in the current. If you'd prefer to go with a DC, however, I suggest 10 x # of squares moved (like a jump without a running start). I.e., if a PC wants to move two squares through the water, he needs a DC 20 athletics check. It's probably easier just to jump across the river, but that might not always be possible. This also makes it more tense--a PC might try to get across the river but not succeed on the necessary swimming check, thus ending his/her turn in the water and being swept in the current on the next turn.

If you need to do more control, alter the mechanics of the river to catch PCs immediately in the current when they enter the river. (I probably should have written it that way in the first place, but I guess I was trying to be less evil. Use my powers for good and all that.)


Cheers
Thanks for a fun Season 1, Erik!
Concerning the
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choker, which I'll designate X henceforth.


I don't have my module and maps with me, but I don't recall any place between the last two encounters for the players to interact with this X and not either still be in the last encounter or trigger the second encounter. Also the placement of the X on the map puts a solid wall between the party and the X's position, how could they see or attack it? With the X firmly attached to the second encounter, how the heck could the party deal with X in isolation?
I don't have the module with me either, but read the actual room descriptions (not just the two enc 3-3 and 3-4)--there is a room between the two, which has . . .

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a pool of super cold water, which I recommended making a healing font for PCs who are really beat up at this point, as well as being the choker's initial hiding place. This is sort of a "take a breather before the main event" room, as well as giving the PCs an opportunity to make things a little easier by wounding the choker before the fight actively starts.

The starting location for the choker in 3-4 is noted for if the PCs find the choker before the encounter, in which case it runs in and hides there.


Cheers
Going to be running this in a couple hours. It's been quite some fun.

I'm wondering though ... (not sure how to spoiler the text so I changed it to white - so highlight it to read)

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How far above the water is the bridge? Is it level with the water, just a foot or so above, or 5ft above? The text says if they make a save against getting knocked off the bridge they grab the bridge. So I assume they’re partly in the water at this time and start taking the 2dmg from the cold?

The choker: From the PCs starting position they can’t see it. It’s located around the corner and therefore not spotable until they move forward. I was going to have the first PC who moves up roll a perception, so on and so forth. Maybe it’s starting position could be moved to the clump of rocks near the beginning of the bridge oppoasite of where he is initially in the encounter. Then again, it might just get removed. 


I put your text inside sploiler blocks for you. Just use [ sblock] and [ /sblock] (remove the spaces).

mudbunny
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Why would you make them roll perception.  Just make sure you know their passive perceptions before you start. Thats what its there for.
Bridge x River:
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As visualized, the height difference between the bridge and the river is negligible--a couple feet. If it makes more sense to you to have PCs hanging in the water (and taking cold damage) that's up to you. Basically, the saving throw off the bridge is to save the PC from being affected by the river.


Checks:
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The PCs aren't supposed to make perception checks unless they say they're going to look for something. Refer to passive perception checks.


Cheers
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Why would you make them roll perception.  Just make sure you know their passive perceptions before you start. Thats what its there for.


Yeah, I realized that after I wrote it. Thanks for the clarifications guys.

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