DALE1-6 The Vesperin Initiative

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Is it?


Could it be?



 


 


-karma

LFR Characters: Lady Tiana Elinden Kobori Silverwane - Drow Control Wizard Kro'tak Warscream - Orc Bard Fulcrum of Gond - Warforged Laser Cleric

The file was posted last nigh to all the admins so I figure it will be up by now in the database. If not blame the webgnomes.


LFR Dalelands PoC

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.


 


Thanks,


 


Mickey Tan


DALE1-6 Author

DALE1-6 The Vesperin Initiative (P1) (author) LURU2-2 Shadows of the Knights (H3) (author) DALE2-4 Illsyldra (P1) (author) IMPI2-4 Goblins Strike Back (P3) (co-author) NETH4-3 Purifying the Profit (paragon) (co-author) ABER4-1 The Price of Freedom (paragon) (co-author) EPIC4-2 Age of Ruin (Epic) (co-author) NEVE4-3 Spider's Web (heroic) (co-author) ADCP5-1 Home's Last Light (co-author) ADCP5-2 The Best Defense (co-author) MYTH6-2 Ambassador, General, Herald Spy (paragon) (co-author)

Mickey,


 


First off, a very good mod. Overall score - 4.4/5 from our group. (And we're not shy about giving 1's!) ;)


Details below . . .


 


>>>>> SPOILER ALERT <<<<<


 


>>>>>If you stumbled into this thread and do NOT want to read spoilers - stop reading now!<<<<<


 


 


 


We loved the tie-ins to all of the various NPCs and story awards from around the Realms. With a home group, I was able to get story awards ahead of time to prep and have players make all of the relevant checks on the NPCs so that they could read most of the backgrounds before the game. I think the mod will lose something in a time-sensitive environment, but that can be said about just about every mod.


 


Couple with that the references to "other events" happening around the realms. This mod had a STRONG feel of being tied to the "bigger story," and bonus points to you for going above-and-beyond to include NPC, Story Award, and Adventure references to both older and newer mods. This made us VERY happy in our 6-and-a-half hour role-playing marathon! (And yet, so well done, that the adventure never "dragged.")


 


This mod definitely helped develop many NPCs that have appeared in other mods, so not only did this help us enjoy YOUR mod, but as we see these characters again (as I'm sure we will!), it gives them more depth and gives us experiences to draw upon when role-play-interacting with them. Very cool.


 


While the encounters ran long (yes, we played every scene!), the "Timing Tips" were appropriate and appreciated. Having seen the "grey box" tips in a couple of mods now, I hope the editors continue to use this style to help with pacing, etc. Very helpful feature!


 


The first combat encounter was very good. Well balanced, but a lot of minor auras to keep track of. Overall, this was a very good encounter. (Not iconic or particularly memorable, but I don't have any expectation that every combat should be iconic!)


 


Loved the skill challenges at the festival. Specifically, I liked how PCs were "forced" to use multiple skills to complete a scene. 3-Dragon-Ante and Turkey Leg are good examples where a PC with a good primary skill might enter, get a head-start on successes, then need a good roll or two (in 3 tries) with a secondary skill to win the challenge. These two were good "challenges" in players could predict which primary skill they might need, but there was an extra (possibly unexpected) skill needed to pull out the win. This worked especially well in that "winning" resulted in auto-successes later, which meant there was no "penalty" for trying (and having fun!). The Stage and Disturbances were great for engaging everyone. The only drawback I found was that the Shot in the Dark DCs seemed very high - especially since 2 PCs needed to make 3 consecutive, likely difficult, checks. (May have been improved by having one PC make the balance/dark checks while the other took the shot - - or just lowering the DCs.) Overall, a GREAT skill challenge.


 


Everything else played out pretty well, except the final encounter. Our group was pretty overwhelmed with the combination of nastiness. (I toned down the tactics just enough during Round 2 so they could get their bearings and get back in the fight.) This combination is pretty brutal - Foul Insight Aura, Shadow Boon (x2), Hole in the Sky, Wave of Fear, Swarm Attack Aura 2, Windrage Aura. That's a lot of damage/status effects that can hit a party in the first 2 rounds of combat! Ultimately, I think this encounter needed a "tactics scaling tips" section, or other tactical limitations, from getting the party TPK'd in the first two rounds. Don't get me wrong - this is a well-designed synergy situation for the bad guys. However, in the hands of a judge who can keep track of all the synnergy, there are not many groups that will survive the onslaught. (Even spread out, in the first round it is highly likely that one PC will be stunned and one - the leader - will be removed from the encounter for at least a round, giving the bad guys a chance to focus on the remaining PCs.)


 


What I did like was that, for each encounter, there was a "save the day" clause for PCs who are over matched. Also, the free raise for those on the major quest path was a very generous use of a story reward. (- that also made sense.)


 


Overall, we all felt that this was a very fun mod! (Fortunately, we did not encounter the disappointment of a TPK!) Other than the last encounter feeling too challenging for 11-14, there was lots of good support for a DM to present a very good LFR paragon story. (BTW, the "partipants rather than mercenaries" attitude throughout gave this a "paragon" rather than "heroic" feel, and that level of story felt appropriate - spot-on - for an 11-14 mod.)


 

Dan Anderson @EpicUthrac
Total Confusion www.totalcon.com
LFR Calimshan Writing Director
LFR Epic Writing Director

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

The final combat in DALE1-6 is pretty tough. We scaled it down from the original combat (which had a lot more conditions, which we felt were too frustrating), but it stays a pretty tough fight. I would recommend not playing up unless you know what you are doing, and for DMs to take note on how well their PCs work and decide their tactics from there.


A DM advice box migth have been a good idea. I generally prefer to leave it up to a DM to decide on how to run a combat, but additional advice may have been useful here.


I hope though that people will remember the adventure not for the one tough fight, but for the story and its impact.


We worked with several other regions on this adventure, and you'll find hints and hooks to other adventures. We even had a rumor that tied to Monuments of the Ancients, but it was edited out by mistake. You can add the rumor to the list in Encounter 2:



The city of Phlan, near the Moonsea, is overrun by refugees from the north fleeing raiding barbarians.




One thing we wanted to avoid is to have the PCs be mere bodyguards. The PCs have a deciding impact at some point inthe regional politics - though the toughest part may be to get the PCs to care for the outcome.


I'm interested to hear what parties decided and why, I'll make a separate thread for it.


Gomez


Dalelands Writing Director


>>>>> SPOILER ALERT <<<<<


Everything else played out pretty well, except the final encounter. Our group was pretty overwhelmed with the combination of nastiness. (I toned down the tactics just enough during Round 2 so they could get their bearings and get back in the fight.) This combination is pretty brutal - Foul Insight Aura, Shadow Boon (x2), Hole in the Sky, Wave of Fear, Swarm Attack Aura 2, Windrage Aura. That's a lot of damage/status effects that can hit a party in the first 2 rounds of combat! Ultimately, I think this encounter needed a "tactics scaling tips" section, or other tactical limitations, from getting the party TPK'd in the first two rounds. Don't get me wrong - this is a well-designed synergy situation for the bad guys. However, in the hands of a judge who can keep track of all the synnergy, there are not many groups that will survive the onslaught. (Even spread out, in the first round it is highly likely that one PC will be stunned and one - the leader - will be removed from the encounter for at least a round, giving the bad guys a chance to focus on the remaining PCs.)



 


>>>>> SPOILER ALERT <<<<<


I played this mod and enjoyed it very much.  


However, I will agree that the final encounter seemed overly difficult.  It was a challenging encounter by itself, but adding in a bunch of NPCs that needed saving/protecting made it perhaps too difficult.  I was playing a healing cleric and I ended up spending a lot of valuable resources in the first few rounds of combat trying to heal and protect the NPCs, which meant my allies weren't getting as much healing.  Also, since several party members were not in the room at any given time, all of my "everyone in burst X heals Y" powers became a lot less useful.  (I had a lot of "Darn it!  Everyone was set up so well for my healing a second ago!" moments.)  All of that combined with an attack and/or automatic damage at the start of your turn and healing being less effective made the encounter very deadly.  During the second half of the encounter I just kept thinking "Wow, if I hadn't healed those NPCs in the first few rounds we wouldn't be this close to a TPK!"  It was pretty brutal having a very difficult combat combined with the "save the NPCs" scenario combined with the "where'd all my friends just go?" effect. 


Our group did a lot of work to try to get the NPCs out of the room before the encounter started so they wouldn't be in danger.  I have not read the mod (so I don't know if it was the mod or just our group), but it seemed like there wasn't really any way to get the NPCs out of harm's way before combat started.  Our group managed to discretely inform all of the NPCs of the danger and delayed the start of combat for several rounds by acting casually, but in the end we only managed to get one of the NPCs out of the room before combat started.  (The NPC ran screaming out of the room - which started combat and left all the other NPCs in danger.)  I think if there was a way to get the majority of the NPCs out of the room before combat started that the fight would have been manageable (though still very challenging).  Perhaps there could have been a mini-skill challenge to discreetly get as many of the NPCs out of the room before the fight as possible. 


I have seen many encounters that are toned down a bit because there is the added challenge of trying to save innocent bystanders.  Having NPCs to save made this final battle extremely challenging/deadly.


Fortunately, no one died in the making of this feedback.    (All NPCs and PCs miraculously made it out alive!) 

Lori Anderson

WotC Freelancer, LFR author

@LittleLorika

 

Dragon Magazine #412: Unearthed Arcana: Ships in Your Campaign

Calimshan Adventures (LFR): CALI3-3, CALI4-1, and QUES4-1

Epic Adventures (LFR): EPIC5-1 and EPIC5-3

Other LFR Adventures: NETH4-1, ADCP5-2, and MYTH6-3

 

 

 

 

The encounter countains various notes on the use of the NPCs, including luring them out or how they act during the combat. How much trouble the NPCs form is depending on the situation and I expect it will differ much by table.


They are definitely not intended to just stand around and die though. A DM could probably give some free insight checks to have PCs notice things, such that the harpy doesn't attack the NPCs, or that Lin-Woh is powerful enough to withstand a few attacks without the PCs' aid. That may help PCs to determine their actions.


Gomez

Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.



This mod is great. The encounters are tough, and a DM rolling hot dice could drop a party pretty easily in both encounter 1 and the final encounter.  
The roleplaying is pretty basic, but the ability to use favors is very well done overall making this an excellent RP experience. This mod (and the excellent What Storms May Come) had the scope that made me feel like my paragon character was influencing the greater world. 

The treasure is the best in a non core special LFR module. The treasure is so good that I will brave the danger and play this with every paragon character I get. Very smart fighting to get good treasure in the mod- it turns this module from a "great module" to one of the "must play" modules.

Put it all together, the challenge, the roleplay, the scope,  the laughs, and the treasure and I feel this is the best LFR module written to date.

Cool 
DALE 1-6 is a great mod and Mickey spent a lot of time working the kinks out to get it right.


It's funny, though, that the official release is the NERFED version of the mod.
Will be running this mod on Sunday for our local group.

Any tips other than those listed here from folks who have run it?

Hope to have an "after-action report" in this thread next week.

--
Pauper 
My only problem with the module was the fact that NPC names kept changing (e.g. is the lamia's name Joella or Yoella?  It goes back and forth, in at least one place within two contiguous sentences on page 26).  Additionally, on page 13 the first paragraph after the setup states that it is the last day before the meeting, however in the first bullet point on that same page it states that the meeting is tonight and not tomorrow.  Which is correct?

Editing problems aside I really liked it and thought it was a good capstone to the major quest.
I played this today. FANTASTIC! I liked the clever use of previous adventures, the links to plots in the future, and the use of many NPCs but in a way that they could register. The RP was really high and the potential for players to feel that their decisions mattered was really there. The adventure also did an excellent job of telling us about the region and create a memorable event that we would care about. I went from "DALE is cool but my PC doesn't identify" to having an actual stake and wanting to play out future events.

The combats were great. The first one with the trees frustrated our one melee non-flying PC, but the rest of us had fun and the tactics were interesting.

The last encounter was (finally) an excellent challenge for our group. I can certainly see the potential for some horrid pain at some tables, but for our group it was a perfect challenge. Finally the cleric had a reason to drop some serious healing, our PCs had reasons to pull out the offensive stops, and for each PC to think about how to counter the various threats. It requires an expert hand to run, in that you have many conditions/triggers/auras. We had three players stunned (one of them our ranger) and then the ranger taken away for a round in the next round. Luckily we had two strong leaders and a strong mobile/versatile defender, plus my AoE-inflicting warlock. It was serious A-game gaming and that was a nice change.

One minor tactical complaint. The P guy cannot use that immediate reaction during their turn, which is what the tactics seem to suggest.

Mickey, I would appreciate hearing how you went about the construction and what may have changed from playtesting. You should be really proud of this effort. Top-notch!

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My only problem with the module was the fact that NPC names kept changing (e.g. is the lamia's name Joella or Yoella?  It goes back and forth, in at least one place within two contiguous sentences on page 26).  Additionally, on page 13 the first paragraph after the setup states that it is the last day before the meeting, however in the first bullet point on that same page it states that the meeting is tonight and not tomorrow.  Which is correct?



- The correct name is Joella.
- Since the meeting takes place that night, technically the day (the time that there is daylight) is the one (directly) before the meeting. The 'last day before the meeting' was likely better phrased as 'the day of the meeting'.

Gomez

I liked DALE1-6 a lot.  Great paragon adventure, I thought.
Matt James Freelance Game Designer Loremaster.org

Follow me on Twitter!
- Since the meeting takes place that night, technically the day (the time that there is daylight) is the one (directly) before the meeting. The 'last day before the meeting' was likely better phrased as 'the day of the meeting'.



This actually made a difference at our tables this past weekend, as I read 'the day before the meeting' to the PCs and then had no reason to deny them the chance to take an extended rest after it became clear there were no more encounters that day.

The final encounter was challenging enough, and our paragon characters have a number of items that power-up based on having passed a milestone, that I concluded that the opportunity, even if not spelled out, was probably intentional.

--
Pauper 
Just played this last night.  Fun mod, we liked all the tie-ins, but...

TPK in last fight.

We had tried to pull both the Eladrin ambassador and Paelias aside, out of the room.  Paelias sensed what was up, and he started combat.

We all started bunched up (pretty standard for LFR), so the Fear-Moth swarm won initiative (+17 to init) did his Close Blast 3 (with a minor) and stunned all of us except 1 person.

By the time that the sole unaffected PC went we already had one PC dying.

Moth-Swarm goes again, recharges his stun on a 5 (!), which he promptly did of course, and that's the TPK.

A recharge power that stuns in an AoE, especially as a minor on a higher-level monster, might have been too much.  This makes the last fight very "swingy".

Some tables might come out okay, some like ours will get slightly unlucky and find it very frustrating (seriously, most of us didn't even get a chance to go before we all died).

Recommendations for Judges:
1. Do not start the PCs together, even if it makes sense based on their actions.  Just spread them out.
2. Get rid of the recharge on the stun, or at least don't use it in back-to-back rounds.
3. Tweak the Fear-Moth's init so that he doesn't go first.

Recommendations for future Authors:
1. Stun might be uber-powerful, so I understand the urge to mix-max it.  I wouldn't though.
2. If you are going to include a monster that stuns, don't put it on a monster that is average PC level +2.  Or more specifically, don't select a monster who's to-hit is sky-high.  The Fear-Moth (level 15) had +19 vs Will with that stun attack.  That will hit the majority of PCs.
Corwynn,

I found your points all valid.  I will stack onto your points:

Recommendations for Judges:
1. In general, when possible, let the PCs spread out at start of combat.
2. In general, just because a monster's power recharges, does not mean you have to use it at first opportunity.  This is a perfect example of when to use "DME" to enhance the fun of the encounter.  (Auto-stun no-turn-TPK doesn't sound fun to me.)   

Recommendations for PCs:
1. Being stunned sucks. Consider items like the Steadfast Amulet.
2. Being in an AOE death-start-box sucks. Consider taking immediate interrupt powers that let you teleport/move out of AoE effects, apply a penalty to monster's attacks, etc.

 

Dan Anderson @EpicUthrac
Total Confusion www.totalcon.com
LFR Calimshan Writing Director
LFR Epic Writing Director

LFR Myth Drannor Writing Director

Where was your Battlefront Leader?
Where was your Battlefront Leader?

Was this a serious comment, or did I just miss the Sarcasm tag?

Corwynn, I think this happened only because you said paragon was easy on another thread.  This is the way my life works, at least. The D&D gods are always listening, or maybe your dice. (In the BI, all of the dice correctly sensed we were taking them for granted in one encounter and promptly shut down. We sweet-talked them back into serving us once more).

This is a hard fight. For me, feeling as you often do about difficulty, this was a breath of fresh air. Our group had a great test and a lot of fun. This is an encounter that (hopefully like the ones I write) can be difficult but is not meant to be unfair or un-fun.

As was said, the recharge does not have to be used immediately. And you don't want to perma-stun everyone. Instead, what the encounter is likely thinking is that you need something serious to threaten most paragon tables. So, you take a confusing setup (NPC-wise), a serious monster threat that can shut down some PCs, and you add some decent beef and some auto-damage. This is pretty sound thinking. I know the author and suspect this was his train of thought, not to try for a TPK. If I could fault one thing it is that either the Tactics or Scaling section should address the desired level of difficulty - the tactics all suggest the logical (stun as many as possible, etc.) but it isn't clear if th author would like DMs to pull punches in such situations. I mean, the expectation would be that in most cases the power would not be recharged back-to-back, but you never know.

Normal DME would still let a DM back off, with the recharged power and other capabilities in reserve. I try to make it clear what I am aiming for so DMs can see that my intention is for challenge but fun (and I list ways to reduce or increase the pain level).

For PCs, around paragon level you can count on some encounters shutting you or other allies down for a round or two. Having ways to mitigate this or to get back into things when it happens is important. Our ranger was stunned, then taken away. When he came back he came back with a vengeance, making up for that time away. Rangers are good at that, but other classes can have some tricks as well. Forced movement of allies is also key. Leaders that can figure out the radius of things can make a big difference. Voidcrystal on a heavy thrown weapon is nice for must-have near-TPK situations (but usually lame in just plain hard fights... too powerful and ruins the fun of the challenge). Ways to end auras and zones and ways to move PCs or yourself out of them are all key. What will you do if immobilized? Paragon tends to teach us the importance of this, sometimes with a big stick instead of a carrot.

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Corwynn, I think this happened only because you said paragon was easy on another thread.  This is the way my life works, at least.

No doubt. Wink 

I appreciate the suggestions for how our group can do better.  Yes, certain things (like specific items or certain powers) can help mitigate "I stun everyone 2 rounds in a row".

But an author really should not assume their existence.  If a fairly powerful group like my own gets TPK'ed (with some bad luck on our part), then perhaps it's an indication that this fight is really swingy.  Or that it's crafted for optimizers, but not for regular LFR groups.

So I suggested some stuff for DMs to help make sure their players have fun (using legal DME stuff).  And I made some suggestions for future authors.

It's easy to see why authors would want to min-max Stun, and I think the author did a great job in that regard (AoE stun as a minor on a high-level monster).  But I sort of question if that is needed?

For instance, the rest of the fight was still challenging.  After the TPK, we kind of "rewound 1 round" and just had the Fear-Moth not stun twice.  Still a very fun fight, as you have the aura from the harpy, plus 3 of us got sent to another pocket-plane, the Fear-Moth still has the Gloaming effect that reduces healing and does rattling, etc...

I'm actually okay with monsters shutting down some PCs for a round or two.  As long as it's not essentially everyone, and as long as it can't happen multiple times.  Once is okay, but more than that and you kind of just sit there twiddling your thumbs.  Boring...

As an aside, if you and I thought this fight was challenging, then it's probably an indication that it's too hard.   Looking at this thread, I see some others have already commented on that.
I'm generally ok with some fights being a bit too hard. Ideally, those would be confined to specials, interactives, and the ends of major quests (which this was). I think a too hard encounter does a number of good things, such as rewarding PCs for defensive/escape/healing/survival choices. It is easy to play a number of paragon mods and wonder why you bothered to take some of those things... then you hit a fight like this and go "right, that's why".

We had a good challenge. While having that challenge, we fully realized that some tables would have had a difficult time. I can say that about several adventures (my own included). I'm really ok with that in paragon. Now, maybe we should put something like "a challenging adventure" on the blurb. But, in the end, I'm not sure that it does much. Bottom line, I want some unexpectedly hard punches. This mod had some nice interesting combats and then it really had the capacity to hit hard at the end. I like that. I don't want it every time, and I do favor some escape clauses to lessen the pain on weaker tables or those having a bad day.

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This is a good mod...

It is unfortunate that the DM forced you into a penalty box in the last encounter.  The mod itself clearly states that the PCs can start anywhere in the room.  This in of itself makes the combat much more manageable even with all the gripes above.

I do agree starting in the penalty box, can make things dicey even for the best of parties but such is life.

I will add the first time I played this mod, I had the unfortunate experience of the DMing demeaning the mod as we were playing it.  This had a great affect upon the other players at the table giving the appearance that the mod is totally overpowered.

It is not that at all... having played it several times and DM'd it as well.
When we were going through the playtesting phase the module was much more difficult.

And the module does state that PCs can start anywhere in the final encounter. If the DM put you in the penalty box then I have to say it sucked to be your group. The reason you're suppose to start anywhere on the board would indicate NPC interaction.
It's easy to see why authors would want to min-max Stun, and I think the author did a great job in that regard (AoE stun as a minor on a high-level monster).  But I sort of question if that is needed?




Just a note: We don't design the monsters (not this one, anyway), so the author is the wrong person to ask not to give it those powers. You can try to make WotC aware of the issue. Maybe they hear you and will issue an errata.
The suggestion not to level it too high is useful, though note that the expected EL at the tier is 15, so most monsters will be around that level.

Gomez
The suggestion not to level it too high is useful, though note that the expected EL at the tier is 15, so most monsters will be around that level.

Right, I know that authors can't change monsters (much).

Regarding EL, shouldn't it be 13?  Why would a high-tier 11-14 scenario have 5 monsters with an EL above 13, or 14 at most?  The math of D&D sort of assumes you're fighting same-level monsters, if I'm not mistaken.

Finally, there is something more that authors can do: and that is not select monsters which are OP.  I'm not sure I'll be able to convince people of this, especially when I see comments like Alphastream1's "I'm really ok with that in paragon" comment above (why is it okay in Paragon that only mix-maxed PCs should survive?).  But I'll give it a shot anyways:

It's a surprising coincidence that many of the monsters that got nerfed in the errata just happened to be in a lot of LFR scenarios.  And it's a surprising coincidence that often times when a race substitution occurs (ex.: a human you're fighting has the stats for a Bugbear Strangler) it just happens to be a very good monster for his level with no thought as to whether it makes sense (the grounds keeper just happened to be trained in strangling?).

I realize this is an unpopular sentiment, when authors feel like they need to make their scenarios challenging.  It's the "vocal minority" of min-maxers that make scenario authors feel defensive about this.  But in my opinion normal scenarios should always be designed with the casual gamer in mind.  Let min-maxers feel bored in normal scenarios -- there's no need to cater to them.

It's called designing for the 80% use-case in computer-speak.

ADDENDUM: I just checked the LFR Writer's Guidelines.  Average EL for a high-tier 11-14 scenario is level 14 (on page 9).  If a monster has a stun, I'd recommend to authors that the monster be no higher than level 14, and would actually suggest level 13 if the stun is an AoE.

It's a surprising coincidence that many of the monsters that got nerfed in the errata just happened to be in a lot of LFR scenarios.  And it's a surprising coincidence that often times when a race substitution occurs (ex.: a human you're fighting has the stats for a Bugbear Strangler) it just happens to be a very good monster for his level with no thought as to whether it makes sense (the grounds keeper just happened to be trained in strangling?).

I realize this is an unpopular sentiment, when authors feel like they need to make their scenarios challenging.  It's the "vocal minority" of min-maxers that make scenario authors feel defensive about this.  But in my opinion normal scenarios should always be designed with the casual gamer in mind.  Let min-maxers feel bored in normal scenarios -- there's no need to cater to them.

It's called designing for the 80% use-case in computer-speak.


I would attribute the errata being due to their being strong monsters and authors looking for strong monsters because otherwise they hear what you wrote on other threads - that LFR is too easy. You can't have it both ways with 4E being as swingy as it is. Either mods are aimed to be really easy, with some swinginess bringing them to being somewhat challenging, or you write for a mix, with challenging adventures being sometimes really difficult.

Just as a new DM judging H1 has to think through issues like attacking a downed player, when a monster might surrender, and how to adjudicate when a player comes up with an idea the rules don't cover, a paragon judge needs to consider how to best employ the sometimes very strong powers paragon monsters provide. If you stun the whole party two rounds in a row, and in the first they were all bloodied... um... the result is pretty much known, right? Now, some tables will like a TPK. They will feel it finally gave them a feeling of risk in 4E/LFR. Every table is different.

(I'm deliberately avoiding spoilers here) In writing my recent P2 adventure I had to consider a monster swap carefully. I was mainly doing it to cut down on nerf/control aspects, but I found a very strong monster. As compared to others of its type (let alone the one I swapped out), it is downright broken. It probably will be changed. And yet, most people I talk to would like more of the creatures of that type to be like that one. They want that level of challenge. So, I made the swap. I also added text to make it clear that this isn't supposed to be about killing PCs. When I ran it I had a table I could have TPKd. They put themselves (unknowingly) in the perfect situation for the creature to use a power that would almost certainly have taken them out. So, I asked if they wanted me to bring the pain. One of them made a pretty good deer-in-headlights impression and said "I think you already brought it!", and then I explained I could do something really rough. They said they would rather not, so I didn't. It ended up still being a real tough fight and they scraped out a win. Everyone was happier for it - I'm never happy TPKing a table (though I will if appropriate).

Now, I know that the call I made is a tough one and imperfect. In the end, the call was made based on extensive playtesting, the overall adventure threat, and additional playtests. I am happy with the call, even knowing some tables out there may really have a bad time. I did not write to challenge the most optimal tables. I don't see the encounter as requiring a particular level of optimization, outside of being a Special. A special, to me, should always give you a bit of excitement because you know it will be harder.


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In my opinion Alphastream hit the nail squarely on the head. I feel no need to echo his words except to further enforce the idea that a monster's powers are a DM's options. Not their script. 

As a DM it is never ever my goal to kill a PC (although I will of course deny this statement vehemently should any player confront me with it ), but I generally try to make them think "OMG we are all gonna dieeee!" at least for a small moment. As an LFR DM you can rarely increase the raw power of monsters for players would rightfully cry foul and DME has limits for a reason. But, if you have the options you can always choose not to use them to their full potential. Its all about reading the situation and making a call. As a DM you are not required to collect PC souls, there is no scorecard. 

Which is not to say that it cant be fun to pretend there is mind you (I am falling behind badly in the kill chart). A certain level of pretend antagonism between players and DM can definitely be a good thing at times. As long as it stays in the pretend realm.

I realize that not all DMs will see it this way and that there is a chance you will run in to one that insist on smashing the PCs into submission with what the adventure provides. If that is wrong for the table, the fault does not lie with the Adventure...


I have not run this particular adventure yet, but I played it and liked it a lot. That darn traitor really got me good, and had we not gotten lucky and got hit by his time out.. I shudder to think. 
 
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
Regarding EL, shouldn't it be 13?  Why would a high-tier 11-14 scenario have 5 monsters with an EL above 13, or 14 at most?  The math of D&D sort of assumes you're fighting same-level monsters, if I'm not mistaken.



Sorry, I ment that 15 was an acceptable level, but teh average are different: average for low tier is 12, average for high tier is 14 (for a level 11-14 adventure).
Individual monsters can be up to 4 levels higher than the avarage (eilte's up to 3, solo's up to 2).
So a monster at low tier can be up to level 16.
Level 15 at high tier is not really overpowered.

Finally, there is something more that authors can do: and that is not select monsters which are OP.



When is a monster overpowered? In general, I believe most WotC monster are set up to be appropriate for their level. This emans some people will do fine, some will do less, but in general, it should be teh rigth power for its level.
There may be exceptions, but we can't always tell until play - evn playtests do not always giev definite results. We knew the last encounter was tough (after playtests), and we reduced it (for one, we removed one fearmoth). We also included comments so PCs could start spaced out in the room.

It's a surprising coincidence that many of the monsters that got nerfed in the errata just happened to be in a lot of LFR scenarios.



I dont think that impression is due to authors picking overpowered monsters, as you seem to suggest, but because those monsters actually saw a lot of play (and feedback).
And sometimes, when you need humans as monsters, you sometimes have to substitute, both fdor varioety and to get an appropriate level/role combo. Bugbears are pretty close to humans, and are easily reflavored (better than, say, illithids).
Does it make sense that a human knows how to use a garotte? As much sense, if not more, than that they know how to wield a sword.

If a monster has a stun, I'd recommend to authors that the monster be no higher than level 14, and would actually suggest level 13 if the stun is an AoE.



If you underlevel a monster, it may actually risk never hitting, and becoming no threat at all. That can't be the solution - a power that never hits is useless. A monster that stuns should be able to stun.
I think the answer lies more in DMs taking care when using rechargeable powers (since we can't change the recharge).

Gomez

I would attribute the errata being due to their being strong monsters and authors looking for strong monsters because otherwise they hear what you wrote on other threads - that LFR is too easy. You can't have it both ways with 4E being as swingy as it is.

You have to realize that when I say that LFR is easy, I'm not complaining.  Our group builds OP characters because we like to trounce the monsters

Either way, please don't set the challenge difficulty to satisfy the 20% who create OP characters.  That doesn't make sense in my opinion, no matter how it's phrased.

If you underlevel a monster, it may actually risk never hitting, and becoming no threat at all. That can't be the solution - a power that never hits is useless. A monster that stuns should be able to stun.

Agreed.  But a level 13 monster at a high-tier P1 scenario will still hit, especially with an AoE... let's not state extremes here.

Fact is, a TPK should not have occurred.  There are Dragon magazine articles on how as a DM you can avoid creating TPKs.  When I judge home games, if I'm getting close to a TPK then I blame myself as the author, and I try to figure out what I did wrong.  I'm sort of making the assumption here that we're on the same page: that we all agree we want to avoid TPKs.

Especially when they occur in 2 rounds before the PCs even get a chance to take an action...

If we don't agree on this, or we say "let DMs take care of it with DME", then I think we have a large disconnect.
You acknowledge that LFR is too easy and you like it that way?

DALE1-6 is one of the few modules out there that I feel is an appropriate challenge.

Perhaps you just need to rethink your game.
Or perhaps he doesn't?  Different strokes for different folks and all that?

It's a Role Playing game, not a competitive challenge.  Or at least, it can be.

"Nice assumptions. Completely wrong assumptions, but by jove if being incorrect stopped people from making idiotic statements, we wouldn't have modern internet subculture." Kerrus
Practical gameplay runs by neither RAW or RAI, but rather "A Compromise Between The Gist Of The Rule As I Recall Getting The Impression Of It That One Time I Read It And What Jerry Says He Remembers, Whatever, We'll Look It Up Later If Any Of Us Still Give A Damn." Erachima

You acknowledge that LFR is too easy and you like it that way?

DALE1-6 is one of the few modules out there that I feel is an appropriate challenge.

Perhaps you just need to rethink your game.

Actually, if we look at the poll that Alphastream1 created, you'll see that the majority of people though that Paragon was well-balanced overall.

You apparently don't feel that way.

So that would put you in the minority if you feel that DALE1-6 is only of the few scenarios that has an appropriate challenge.

I'm able to recognize that our group creates OP characters, and I don't fault LFR for that.  That wouldn't make sense.  Why would I create OP characters and then complain that I find LFR too easy?

Instead, what I see are people that acknowledge they create OP characters and then are only happy when they see scenarios that cater to them.  It's human nature, I get it, but that doesn't make it right.
You misunderstand my meaning. When I said that you should reconsider your game I meant that you should reconsider the direction you are taking your optimization. If your overpowered (OP as you put it) characters were having trouble with the final encounter you only have yourself to blame. Perhaps if your characters were a little less min/maxed and little more well rounded things would have been easier.

My characters are as mediocre as they come. The character I'm leveling currently is a full-blooded orc druid. Some of the people in my area are fairly cheesy but my regular play group is pretty low on the power scale. This mod is easy for us. This is especially true when compared to the playtested version. Try fighting two fear moth swarms and then you can complain.
You misunderstand my meaning. When I said that you should reconsider your game I meant that you should reconsider the direction you are taking your optimization. If your overpowered (OP as you put it) characters were having trouble with the final encounter you only have yourself to blame. Perhaps if your characters were a little less min/maxed and little more well rounded things would have been easier.

My characters are as mediocre as they come. The character I'm leveling currently is a full-blooded orc druid. Some of the people in my area are fairly cheesy but my regular play group is pretty low on the power scale. This mod is easy for us. This is especially true when compared to the playtested version. Try fighting two fear moth swarms and then you can complain.



I don't agree with this, to be honest. Did you start by having the entire party stunned for two rounds in a row?

As I see it, that was the problem. Two rounds of being stunned while everything attacked them was pretty rough. This isn't a dragon that stuns everyone and attacks one guy for decent damage. This is a room full of stuff that could attack during both of those rounds. That is a pretty easy scenario with which to drop several party members... plus, that stun comes with a bunch of damage... it isn't a standard...

To me, the feedback is well received, but I think the situation was what made it unfair. The mod is more conducive to the party being spread out, but they were not. Then the 1/3 chance of the power recharging came up, leading to serious roughness. Even if they went past the two rounds, you had some other capabilities for foes to remove at least one PC. The encounter is very winnable, but the situation was not.

In our run, half the party was stunned for one round, then the stunned striker was removed. It was a pretty serious blow. But, we had a very flexible party. My warlock (not stunned) AoEd the entire room twice and AoEd most of the foes two more times in two rounds, plus dropped ongoing 10 on more than half the foes (ongoing 15 on one of them). The swordmage had ways to attack even when kept away from his target. We had some re-arranging the battle movement capabilities. Our leader went into over-drive once un-stunned. Our second striker, once back, did their rangerness. We turned the battle around. The same would not have been true if we had all been stunned twice, or if the two strikers had both been stunned. Things would have been pretty brutal in that case.

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Yes, the other fighter and I were stunned for the first four rounds of combat. The only characters not in the perma-stun was the artificer and one of the rangers. It was hard. The mod in it's current form is easy, it's just not as easy as your typical LFR mod.

In your experience did anyone die? Did anyone even go down? Aside from the scariness of stun what part of the encounter felt so threatening to you?
This mod is easy for us.

Yeah... no.  Now you're saying this was easy, instead of "appropriate"?  We just entered the Twilight Zone, faster than you can change your replies Tongue out

Look, maybe the DM soft-balled your group after he stunned the 2 defenders for the first four rounds and only 2 people were left.

Sorry if I'm not taking this as typical feedback.  You're trying to tell us that a mediocre group found this easy, when both defenders were stunned for four rounds and only 2 people were left standing?  When everyone else in this thread has said "Phew, that was a really tough fight"?  Do you see the disconnect here?

Without the back-to-back stun, our group did very similar's to Alphastream1's.
Try fighting two fear moth swarms and then you can complain.



Please don't remind me of that.

You both are actually talking two different things...

One is talking about the actual production mod in service and the other is talking about the playtest mod.

Two entirely different things... apples and oranges

The mod currently in my opinion should be the benchmark of all paragon mods, unfortunately it isnt.  Players should not feel entitled to anything and should constantly earn their title of hero.

The fact of the matter is that if nobody died, then there is no reason why anybody should whine how "rough" a time they had.  Something I, myself forgot when I played at Neoncon and was reminded by a fellow player.


On another note:  Ferol you are much too humble by claiming that your characters are mediocre... Did you get that from me?
Then the 1/3 chance of the power recharging came up, leading to serious roughness. 



Sometimes recharge on a 5-6 means recharge at will.


My characters are as mediocre as they come. The character I'm leveling currently is a full-blooded orc druid. Some of the people in my area are fairly cheesy but my regular play group is pretty low on the power scale.



1. This is a testament to the power of the old bloodclaw. 2. Your druid is not truly mediocre unless they possess the wild sage feat. 

Corwynn, maybe play the mod twice and see what you think. It could be some bad dice rolls influenced your opinions on the module a little too much.
Corwynn, maybe play the mod twice and see what you think. It could be some bad dice rolls influenced your opinions on the module a little too much.

Yep.  To be clear, I like the scenario.  It's just that if I DM it I will make the suggestions I posted earlier, and if I play it again then I'll suggest them to the DM.

I'm sort of assuming that we're all on the same page regarding "we should avoid TPKs", especially when they can occur before the PCs even get to act.  IMO, this is just an example of where a TPK can (easily) occur, given the monster's recharge power, his really high Init, and his to-hit.  Hence the suggestions I posted.