D&D Encounters, Season 3 - Ask the Author

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Question for 4-16 Im going to make this all spoilery so watch out if you dont want to find out stuff players

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I have a group that I would consider very strong, 6 players the strikers (two slayers and a thief) have basic attack bonuses of 9 and 10 for the slayers(can go up to 10 for slayer one with poised or 11 for slayer two with poised or 12  with the charge stance and a charge) and the Thief's attack bonus is an 11 , the wizard has an attack bonus of 8 (and usually attacks will) the clerics bonus is  7 and the druids bonus is 7 but his wolf's bonus is 9. 

My question to you Chris is how would you scale up the encounter without making it unwinnable for the group? My thoughts were these possibilities.

1st choice increase all the dragon's defenses by 1(or on the outside 2)
Pros reduces damage by thoretically 5% or 10% with the party's high hit chance they still hit pretty darn well.
Cons lets the dragon focus fire on one toon more effectively and if the majority of the attackers are subject to Shroud of Gloom they may not be hitting enough to avoid a TPK.

2nd increase the number of acid breath echoes from one per crystal to two for a total of eight.
Pros spreads the party damage a bit off the dragon.
cons they are minions and could be removed without effectively making the encounter any more difficulty or if most of the party is under shroud of gloom there is a high chance of TPK if the party dont weed them out quickly as thats 5 extra damage for each one that hits and 13 acid adds up quickly.

3rd dont change the encounter as its pretty tough already.
Pros The dragon played well as a lurker in that lair is going to need to be pinned in place or it will as is be able to attack one party member on instinctive devouring and then claw one or two characters on its turn then jump back down a bolt hole...and woe unto a character that decides to follow the aquatic dragon down there by himself.
Cons I should be playing the dragon intellegently anyway and if the party is smart and blocks the dragon in with concious characters its lair bonus will be canceled out and the fight becomes a tough but boring beat down.

Im interested in what Chris (and my fellow DMs) have in your devious Laughing minds. One of my ideas or something completly different.
I want this to be an encounter that really challenges my players but not a auto or even high percentage TPK. Dont get me wrong if the players split up or play dumb in another way they deserve to get "kilt real good" and Ill do it, but I dont want them to trivialize the encounter with such and iconic monster.


I'm second from the left in the picture.


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@Kedrith: Perhaps you could use the stats for her sister (at full health)?  See Encounter 5-19.
Oops I wont get chapter 5 till weds night so I wouldnt have those stats before hand DML if you wouldnt mind would you send me a message with the 5-19 stat block?
@Kedrith: Perhaps you could use the stats for her sister (at full health)?  See Encounter 5-19.



I'm second from the left in the picture.


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Yulbraxis' stats

Yulbraxis: level 4 solo lurker
HP: 208  (?)
Initiative: +11, Perception: +9 (Darkvision)
AC: 18, Fort: 16, Ref: 18, Will: 15
Speed: 7 (swamp walk), fly 7, swim 7
Resist 10 Acid
Saving Throws +5; Action Points: 2


Traits
(same as Vermastyx)


Standard Actions
(only differences listed)

Bite
+9 vs AC
Hit: 2d8+4 and ongoing 5 Acid damage (save ends)
Miss: 5 Acid damage

Claw
+9 vs AC
Hit: 2d6+5 damage

Breathe
+7 vs Reflex
2d8+3 Acid damage and ongoing 5 Acid damage (save ends)
Miss: Half damage

Shroud of Gloom
(same)


Triggered Actions

Tail Sweep
+7 vs Reflex
Hit: 1d6+2 damage and target falls Prone. In addition, each of the target's allies adjacent to the target take 5 damage

Bloodied Breath
(same)


Skills

Stealth +12


Ability Scores

STR: 16 (+5), DEX: 20 (+7), WIS: 15 (+4)
CON: 12 (+3), INT 12 (+3), CHA: 10 (+2)


Thanks very much DML Im going to consider using that
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or converting her to level three as a comprimise
I'm second from the left in the picture.


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Ok here is what I have decided to do for a Strong and weak party.

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For a weak party (not very likely as I have a group of 6 pretty much every week) I'll pul the acid breath echos.

For a strong party I've made a level 3 version (with some fudgeing on the hit points the monster editor want them to be higher and raising the will def by 2 instead of one). I thought I'd include the stat block noting only the differences from the level 2 version for anyone wanting to do this themselves.

Hit points 176, Bloodied 88  AC 17 Fort 15 Reflex 17 Will 15

Bite +8 vs ac 2d6+4 damage and ongoing 5 acid save ends
Claw +8 vs ac 2d6+3 damage
Breath Weapon +6 vs reflex 2d6+3 damage and ongoing 5 acid save ends
Tail Slash +6 vs reflex 1d6=3 damage


I'm second from the left in the picture.


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Ok here is what I have decided to do for a Strong and weak party.

I think you have it right in both cases.

[spoiler]Levelling the dragon to 3 is a good compromise. This fight was brutal in playtest if the dragon stays mobile, which she should be able to do.


Does this look about right? We had some fun playing "draco-peek-a-boo" last night!



If the link doesn't work (due to my technical failings) its in my gallery under "DnD enc Keep chap 4."
Inconsistency and procrastination...in practice.
Does this look about right? We had some fun playing "draco-peek-a-boo" last night!



If the link doesn't work (due to my technical failings) its in my gallery under "DnD enc Keep chap 4."

OMG!  Great job!  That's awesome!  I look like a slouch now Wink
Does this look about right? We had some fun playing "draco-peek-a-boo" last night!



If the link doesn't work (due to my technical failings) its in my gallery under "DnD enc Keep chap 4."

Nice!
Does this look about right? We had some fun playing "draco-peek-a-boo" last night!



If the link doesn't work (due to my technical failings) its in my gallery under "DnD enc Keep chap 4."



Nice props.

I have made many a prop out of foamcore with the colour map copied and pasted on the side. I did that alot for the Dark Sun sandstone pillars and coloums.

I have a gatehouse made up and it will add alot more fun to tonight's fight. Next week I will have to make up some mock up for houses.

Maybe I will remember to actually take photos.

James Playing D&D since the Red Box of '83.
I had the same idea for 5-1. Here is how my 2 hour project turned out.

IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/dokomo55/large/bd9c904285fbfbcfa1e82d97778a94b7.jpg?v=151650)IMAGE(http://images.community.wizards.com/community.wizards.com/user/dokomo55/large/a54c668eb4543f3d77040c30d33e00d3.jpg?v=151650)

I Love it!
Inconsistency and procrastination...in practice.
I had the same idea for 5-1. Here is how my 2 hour project turned out.

Cool!

 Thanks Chris for a well written module and the insight you provided us on this thread.
I'm second from the left in the picture.


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Howdy, folks!

I thought I should post an update. Our group got a late start on Keep on the Borderlands because the GM didn't show up the first few times, so I took over running it. Then, because we're all family-types, we've missed several weeks here and there due to kids being sick, holidays, and inclement weather. When one family can't make it, we loose two or three players, so we just postpone the game. As a result, the players recently completed Chapter 2.

Here's how they blew Benwick's cover, and other mayhem:
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After encounter 1-3, being unsatisfied with the available loot, Quinn started poking through Ronnik's business documents. The only thing he found was an innocuous bank ledger, in which Ronnik recorded credits and debits and loans in his graceful script. They also found the map, which got them rushing out to the "Well Hideout", and Quinn decided to surreptitiously slip the ledger in his backpack for later. It struck me as useless at the time, but it turned out to be key.

Later, when they had routed their enemies in Dragontooth Hill, they found documents planted there by Sal to implicate Ronnik. As Berrian was examining them, Quinn took out the ledger and gave it to Berrian, saying "Oh yeah, I found this at the bank." Berrian decided to examine it as well, and the player asked if the it was the same hand as the documents. He aced his Perception check, and so I told him it was clearly a very different hand.

When the ran into Ronnik in the clearing and heard Benwick bellowing at him, they still assumed Benwick's good faith and rushed to protect him, but at the end of the encounter, they let Ronnik live, later handing him over to the guards at Restwell Keep. Sola noticed the alchemical effect on Ronnik, but at the time they were kind of in the middle of a fight.

The past three sessions have focused on a tangled web of drama they instigated in their return to Restwell Keep. They were regaled as heroes and they split up to look around and shake the rumor vines to find out about lizardfolk, dragons, Drysdale, and other stuff. One local printmaker made a woodcut codex depicting Ronnik leading a bunch of hooded figures in human sacrifices and stuff, and they picked up a pretty sanguine mood in the keep town concerning Ronnik's coming trial. They also picked up rumors circulated by Benwick that Drysdale would be imposing Erathis worship, which got Sola riled up, and she asked for an audience with the castellan.

This dovetailed into Drysdale's attempt to collect testimonies from the party on Ronnik's case, and some of his advisors were calling for Ronnik's death by nightfall. I gave Drysdale a somewhat dark, aloof, and moody persona to complement Benwick's caricature of him, but he flatly denied wanting to impose any religion other than Law on the keep and it's citizens. Knowing about his ambitions to cleanse the Chaos Scar, Sola brazenly asked for funding and military support; the castellan gave her and her companions permission to purge the scar of lizardfolk, but refused to offer military support since they barely have enough men-at-arms to defend the keep, and there wasn't enough political will to mount an expedition. Sola and Eldeth decided to start raising their own army.

Later that day, Quinn and Berrian went before the castellan to give their testimony, and Berrian asked Drysdale if he noticed the disparity between the handwriting in the documents they turned over. Drysdale hadn't, and he called for a servant to bring him the folio of evidence. Upon looking at it together, Berrian asked permission to visit the prisoner and collect a handwriting sample. Using the Skill Challenge mechanics, permission was granted.

When Ronnik was hauled up out of the oubliette, they barely recognized him, but they identified him by the burns that their previous battle had left on him (Fountain of Flame). Since then, Ronnik had suffered terrible beatings, and his face and hands were so swollen that he couldn't see, talk, or write. "Don't worry," said the attending guard. "He's confessed. Night shift got it all out of him."

Berrian and Quinn knew they needed Sola's help to find out anything from Ronnik, but they were supposed to go meet Benwick for dinner. They decided to split up again, with Eldeth, Quinn, and Reed attending the dinner while Sola and Berrian  went back to the dungeon to heal Ronnik.

We did the scene with Benwick first. He introduced Gorn Hammerfall over a jovial feast, and everyone ate heartily before Benwick started talking business. Speaking on behalf of those present, Quinn enthusiastically agreed to the three-way split.

Cut to Berrian and Sola. The guard hauled Ronnik out of the oubliette again, and Sola used both a Heal check to treat his injuries and a Healing Word, using two healing surges to bring Ronnik up to his Bloodied value. Ronnik thanked them, denying everything and mumbling confusingly. Berrian and Sola put it together, and Berrian used his Jedi Mind Trick to persuade the guards to dismiss Ronnik into their custody. Disguising him in Berrian's old cloak and a few Bluff checks to prevent him from being recognized by the vicious crowd, they hustled Ronnik back to their room at the inn, where Berrian guarded him while Sola went to collect the others from dinner.

As she burst into Benwick's apartment, Benwick was raising his glass, about to give a toast. Smiling as he saw Sola enter, he said: "To joint ventures!" and quaffed his wine. Sola asked for a doggy bag and surreptitiously suggested to the others that they better leave (more Bluffing, DC = Benwick's Will, and it worked). "Then we'll meet you all tomorrow morning outside the Stumbling Giant-- be there just before dawn. And don't tell anyone about this business: Drysdale has his spies."

Back at their suite at the inn, the reunited party kibitzed for a while over their next steps, each contributing pieces to the puzzle, and most of what they've figured out is right. Ronnik couldn't believe that Benwick would betray him, but he knew he had to lay low until his name was cleared. And the party went back and forth about what they should do next: Quinn favored taking on Benwick's mission for the treasure, which they could use to fund Sola's campaign against the lizardfolk and black dragons that have been sighted. Sola argued to begin recruiting mercenaries for a Chaos Scar expedition right away. Reed suggested going and confronting Benwick directly, to see how he responds.

That's where we ended our last session, and I'm not sure if any of them realize that Drysdale might be a a bit put out by their decision to set his most reviled prisoner free.


So, it hasn't exactly unfolded according to your plan, Chris, but we're having a lot of fun. What will happen next?! Thanks for the great adventure fodder, and for your willingness to troubleshoot it with us here!
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