Questions for the author of the season

63 posts / 0 new
Last post
I have been Dming the past three sessions of this encounters. In the video on the main site it says DMs and Players will both receive rewards for participating. I know the players rewards are tied to the fortune cards they earn from renown points but it makes not mention of what a DM can expect to recieve out of it (other than all the fun of running the game).
I believe the DM gets to keep the materials for the encounter session i.e. the module and maps.

Joe
I believe the DM gets to keep the materials for the encounter session i.e. the module and maps.


And a pack of condition cards. But the adventure is the main DM reward.
Hi Rodney,

Quick question about your intent for Session 4:

Show
The intent of the encounter seems to be to keep Brother Splintershield and the other ritualists safe while they perform the sanctifying ritual.  I was expecting there to be some consequences if a certain number of bad guys got past the PCs and into the interior of the ruins: more rounds the PCs need to defend, less XP, etc.  There doesn't seem to be anything like that in the adventure.  Is there anything you had in mind when designing the adventure that would make this really interesting encounter a little more focused on the task the PCs are supposed to perform, rather than just survive for x number of rounds.


Thanks!  

Last season, DMs received a 2011 Calendar with all the new Essentials artstyle throughout and dates for all the forthcoming Encounters and Cons listed in addition to a special edition of some Gale Force Nine DM Tokens.

DM Rewards vary from season to season and may be based upon participation- I can't say for sure.  They're a nice surprise at the end of a season.

Hi Rodney,

Quick question about your intent for Session 4:

Show
The intent of the encounter seems to be to keep Brother Splintershield and the other ritualists safe while they perform the sanctifying ritual.  I was expecting there to be some consequences if a certain number of bad guys got past the PCs and into the interior of the ruins: more rounds the PCs need to defend, less XP, etc.  There doesn't seem to be anything like that in the adventure.  Is there anything you had in mind when designing the adventure that would make this really interesting encounter a little more focused on the task the PCs are supposed to perform, rather than just survive for x number of rounds.


Thanks!  

I think the big point of this encounter is not the combat but the story development that happens aftewards.  The challenge this week will be to keep everyone's attention.  I see it happen too often once the last monster dies peoples start packing their stuff up and making their final purchases for the evening or cracking open the Magic cards.  This will be a break from that and I've already warned my players via email - expect this encounter session to be a little different. 

I definitely agree the point of this week is

 


Show

the introduction of Vladistone, but I feel this is a golden opportunity to challenge the party and give some consequences to their actions.  Here is what I plan on doing.


 


I am slapping down an outdoors tile behind the PC start area putting down a token for Splintershield at its center.


Since Splintershield is able to raise an alarm when the undead first approach I figure things are okay for him to be interrupted and then continue the ritual again at least for the beginning.


If a creature gets adjacent to Aldus that will cause the ritual to pause and Aldus will have to reposition himself and continue the ritual.


Aldus can not reposition himself more than 3 squares from the origin of the ritual.


Everyone knows the end of the ritual is the most important/ easiest to screw up so the final two rounds of it must be uninterrupted. If it is, then he still has to do both over again. If they are able to interrupt the end of the ritual three times, the ritual is ruined.


 


I am going to play it by ear how many more, if any, skeletons rise if the ritual is slowed and more than 6 rounds go by. I am almost certainly adding at two more zombies at the beginning of the encounter. My players have been running roughshod over the encounters so far.


 


If the ritual is ruined Splintershield will join in the fight since he knows the opportunity has passed them by. With the ritual over no more creatures will rise so they should be able to kill off whatever remains. I admit what happens from there will get hairy, but I fully believe that the group can handle it and will enjoy the challenge. Personally as a player, if I was told to defend a character not on the board and we let a creature get past us in the direction of that character and there was no impact the encounter would feel pointless.





Last season, DMs received a 2011 Calendar with all the new Essentials artstyle throughout and dates for all the forthcoming Encounters and Cons listed in addition to a special edition of some Gale Force Nine DM Tokens.

DM Rewards vary from season to season and may be based upon participation- I can't say for sure.  They're a nice surprise at the end of a season.




Actually those wernt the rewards for last season they were the 2010 rewards for the 900 DM's that had done the most public play sessions including game days and encounters.

 On the upside you are off to an early start for the 2011 rewards.
I'm second from the left in the picture.


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

Regarding Session 4, I like what Smerwin is thinking. It is nice to have an impact for success or failure.

Some ideas on the battle, contains spoilers:

I like the idea of placing down a tile for the rear of the fight, with Brother Splintershield there. If you have extra minis, place some allies there (even just a few representative minis) and describe how they are shooting at the undead coming from that direction. Any PC can automatically see that this is a stalemate and they are ok... the problem is the road where the PCs must concentrate.

For the road, the key here is to keep the PCs engaged with the fun of the recurring foes. You can deviate from the amount prescribed based on whether they are having too easy or too tough a time. You can even have some rise behind the PCs to mess with rear ranks or even go for Splintershield. That can be fun. Battles with many minions work really well when you stress the RP side of things. Describe how each and every one of those foes crawls out of the ground, staggers to life with unholy glowing eyes, fights with one of their own broken arms, etc. Recreate a classic zombie/undead movie with the descriptions and leave no certainty that the battle will end.

Challenge-wise, keep in mind they are about to get an extended rest. This ends the chapter. You have some latitude to throw some over-the-top stuff if things get too easy. Maybe two undead flank a PC and drag that ally into the ground, immobilizing him/her. Maybe an undead that dies explodes in a shard of bone, doing auto-damage to PCs. Maybe one of the non-minions rasps a strange word of power, and for one round the minions can only die at the end of their next turn (see the Dark Sun Creature Catalog human slave minion power, but make it clear to PCs that the creature is slowly falling apart and no additional damage is needed. This way they don't waste attacks, but each minion that round gets to attack whether hit or not).

I like what rpgadamd wrote. Another possible mechanic is to give splintershield a maximum of being hit three times without the ritual being weakened. RP his being hit, with blood pouring down his robes as he continues to try to keep the ritual going. If he is hit a third time, he keeps chanting, but the voice is weak and wavers. If a player expresses a desire to help the priest, consider allowing religion skill checks or letting him be healed as erasing one hit. The more you describe what is happening, the more you will see players respond to this.

A possible consequence is in Session 6. There, the weakened ritual can play a role and be a nice reminder of consequences - the priest can talk about it as the battle rages.


I also agree with what bongbobenny writes. The fun isn't just in the combat. This seems to me a good encounter for the question game.
Show

Consider having Vladistone assess the worth of the PCs by asking each one a question. The idea here is to get the players to RP and to think about what their PCs are like. Ideas for the questions:


  • What was your greatest exploit?

  • Tell me of your past. What has made you what you are today?

  • Which of your companions do you value most and why?

  • What is life's greatest gift?

  • If you had all the time in the world, what goal would you seek to accomplish?

  • Tell me of something you have lost and what it meant to you.

  • If you had sworn to protect someone but found their morals were opposed to yours, would you protect them still?

  • Why do you fight for people that are not your kin? 


There is no right answer and the answers do not sway Vladistone. He does not react to any answers. This is just for the benefit of players getting to know their own PCs a bit better. If a player has trouble answering, give them time and go on to someone else while they think of an answer. You can even ask a different question. If you sense something that would be fun to explore, Vladistone can ask a follow-up or for more detail.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).


Last season, DMs received a 2011 Calendar with all the new Essentials artstyle throughout and dates for all the forthcoming Encounters and Cons listed in addition to a special edition of some Gale Force Nine DM Tokens.

DM Rewards vary from season to season and may be based upon participation- I can't say for sure.  They're a nice surprise at the end of a season.




Actually those wernt the rewards for last season they were the 2010 rewards for the 900 DM's that had done the most public play sessions including game days and encounters.

 On the upside you are off to an early start for the 2011 rewards.

Ahh, well that's good to know.  Where was that communicated?  I didn't know how that came about.  Was there a letter or something my store withheld from me that explained that?
Inside the Package sent to Store Owners/Organizers it mentioned that this was a Thank You Gift for your DMs pertaining to DMing Public Events (Not just encounters), however I saw no reference to the 'Top 900', but this is not the first time I have hear that.

As always, DM Rewards for Public Events are included in the Base Package Mailed Out.  For both of the last 2 Seasons it has been the Adventures and a pack of Ongoing Condition Cards.

The 2010 Calendar and Token mailout did not particularly pertain to Encounters or any specific Public Event, but was more of a general thank you to the DMs who ran 'Public Events' in general. 
Advanced Level TO

Last season, DMs received a 2011 Calendar with all the new Essentials artstyle throughout and dates for all the forthcoming Encounters and Cons listed in addition to a special edition of some Gale Force Nine DM Tokens.

DM Rewards vary from season to season and may be based upon participation- I can't say for sure.  They're a nice surprise at the end of a season.




Actually those wernt the rewards for last season they were the 2010 rewards for the 900 DM's that had done the most public play sessions including game days and encounters.

 On the upside you are off to an early start for the 2011 rewards.

Ahh, well that's good to know.  Where was that communicated?  I didn't know how that came about.  Was there a letter or something my store withheld from me that explained that?



It was talked about in the general forums a bit. I got the word straight from Chris Tulach though.

I'm second from the left in the picture.


D&D Home Page - What Class Are You? - Build A Character - D&D Compendium

This is so stupid (it is stupid that it bugs me) but I was looking at the pregens again as I prepared to run today (I'm a night shift security guard) and the Eladrin Warpriest (Valenae) bugs me. While everyone I expect to be at my table is using characters that they created, I really feel that this character should be packing a longsword and daggers instead of a mace and javelins. I mean, the character even has a +1 Dexerity modifier as opposed to a + 0 strength (for basic ranged attack).

hold the line! DMs only

On a brighter note, I liked some of the advice in the encounter specific thread but quick question, when it says slope does that include the sides of the walls at the top of the incline or only the cleft in the hill around the undead spawn point?
This is so stupid (it is stupid that it bugs me) but I was looking at the pregens again as I prepared to run today (I'm a night shift security guard) and the Eladrin Warpriest (Valenae) bugs me. While everyone I expect to be at my table is using characters that they created, I really feel that this character should be packing a longsword and daggers instead of a mace and javelins. I mean, the character even has a +1 Dexerity modifier as opposed to a + 0 strength (for basic ranged attack).

hold the line! DMs only

On a brighter note, I liked some of the advice in the encounter specific thread but quick question, when it says slope does that include the sides of the walls at the top of the incline or only the cleft in the hill around the undead spawn point?

Show

sides of the walls too
This question applies to the next couple sessions at least...

Certain npcs

Do you think we should allow a player to run Brother Splintershield (or any other allied NPCs later in the session) or should we just handle the NPC ally ourselves? Unlike last season, we aren't getting NPC minions for everyone so I can see where if there is constant reshuffling at a table (and only a limited amount of opportunity) that it might be best to just run him myself but last season, running the Sister and Reginald (my minion guard, the rest of the party really appreciated his contributions to the last chapters success).
spoilerey stuff

I prefer to run the NPCs myself as it allows for a bit of control in the encounter.  With the Goblins in Session 2, I found the Wizards magic missiles where a handy method to balance the fights a bit. I could continue to roleplaying elements during the fight. Each of the characters had definate opinions of her and there was much lively blander during the battle itself.
Hey Rodney!

Great adventure so far! I only recently managed to get Wednesday nights off from work so I am new to Encounters this season. Had a blast as a player for chapter 1, and I will be opening a new table as DM this week, as my FLGS has seen several interested newcomers in recent weeks.

Some quick questions for you...

1. Do you play in the Encounters program, and if so have you been playing or DMing your own adventure this season?

2. Do you keep up with the field reports/blogs, and what do you think about them now that chapter 1 has wrapped up?

3. What do you think about the Fortune cards?

4. Any sage advice for those of us running the adventure as we plunge head-long into chapter 2?

5. Not really related to encounters, but do have a favorite race or class in 4e?
1. I don't play in the Encounters program (unfortunately it falls on the same night as one of my two weekly D&D campaigns), but I have run the adventure.

2. I try and read what people are saying, just to keep up with the general mood about an adventure. Obviously, there's a lot that can still be learned. So far, Chapter 1 seems to be well-received, but there's always more that can be done to make it better.

3. I think they're a fine option to have out there, as some players want the complexity they add. For those who don't and choose not to use them, I think that's fine too.

4. Well, you've already started Chapter 2 by this point, but I will say that I think that the plot gets a bit trickier heading into Chapter 3, so I hope DMs will make a point to reinforce story points when possible.

5. Not really. My current characters are a halfling rogue and a deva avenger, but I wouldn't call them my favorites. I also tend to like simpler characters, so I picked all at-will utility powers for my rogue, and tried to pick only high damage dealing powers for my avenger. I also enjoy the slayer and the mage quite a bit, and am partial to the warlord but haven't played one in a while.

Rodney Thompson

Advanced Designer

Dungeons & Dragons R&D

Wizards of the Coast

Follow me on Twitter: wotc_rodney

Hi Rodney,

Quick question, what does it take to infect a player with the plague?

Namely would eating the raw infected bear meat from session 6 guarante infection and how long does it take to have effect. Also what effects would it have?

thank you.
I am under the impression that as soon as the creature is dead, the infection dies with it.  When the first infected foresters were brought into Inverness, as soon as they died the crystaline growth went inert.  Still, not a fan on tainted bear meat, so a healing potion and some Pepto are probably still in order.
Um, Rodney

question about shadowattack

Is that really supposed to be 4d6? At level 4?


*Edit*
Never mind, it appears to be correct per the compendium. Wow. That's gonna hurt.
If the damage seems to high to you, lower it! The printed page should never force you to give players a bad time.

Some thoughts as I take a quick look:

Show

Lurkers are tricky. Many of them are designed to work like this:
- first round, hide
- second round, attack for massive damage
- third round, hide. Etc.

Under that scenario, you need higher damage than a monster normally does. This is because the PCs may have ways to reduce the threat.

For the scouts, they should use their quills up front (since it deals ongoing) and then hide. Next round they unleash the brutal attack.

As a DM I would generally use that on PCs that are not yet bloodied, as a great way to soften up PCs and escalate the threat level. The Guards can focus fire on two foes they mark. The scouts spread damage, raising the pressure instead of focusing fire.

If your table usually struggles, try reducing the bonus damage from 4d6 (4-24, avg 14) to 4d4+2 (6-18, avg 12) or even just 4d4 (4-16, avg 10). But, I suspect 4d4 is too low and that it will work fine if you spread out the scouts' attacks. 

I like to use the monsters being bloodied as a good way to adjust the encounter. If the PCs are having a tough time, when they bloody a scout I might say "The creature tries to dodge your blow and fails. It struggles to regain its footing, looking tired. You suspect it can no longer strike as hard as it did before." Mechanically, I might take the bonus damage down to 2d6.

Conversely, if the PCs are having too easy a time, when a scout is bloodied I might describe their eyes flaring with hatred and adjust them to be harder (appropriate with this and upcoming encounters). For the scouts, they don't need more damage. Recharging their quill or having them go invisible when bloodied would both be strong enhancements for a very capable table.

Follow my blog and Twitter feed with Dark Sun campaign design and DM tips!
Dark Sun's Ashes of Athas Campaign is now available for home play (PM me with your e-mail to order the campaign adventures).