Question for Author or others on Encounter 1-4 (definite spoilers)

31 posts / 0 new
Last post
On of my GMs asked me about encounter 1-4 ... this is what I replied with. Any thoughts?

Show

As far as I can tell ... this a writer/editor error. In encounter 1-3 you are in a room and you're supposed to be manipulating things in that room, and it is the room drawn in encounter 1-4. Then, in encounter 1-4 you're told ... oh wait, you can't be in the room anymore, you're in the "start position" and if you enter(ed) the room, you start fighting. The spiral stair case on the other side of the room from the rockslide is not drawn (described in encounter 1-3) and if you read encounter 2-1 and squint a little bit, I think you're supposed to assume that the room in 1-4 leads via a door to the room in 2-1. which makes no sense given the description at the end of 1-3. I could be wrong.

So I'm gonna suggest throwing that out and saying, the PCs go down the spiral stair case, find themselves in the room/cavern with the rockslide as the staircase (and the rooms they were in above) continue to collapse, and as thing settle down a bit, they begin encounter 1-4 looking through the doorway into the room that is lit with the thing in the center and things in the corners.
Agreed. I suspect editing. My best guess for an easy fix is "forceful explosion". The author's comments suggest this as well.

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).

This thread has the author's intention in it, 9th post down in spoilers on page 2:

community.wizards.com/dungeonsanddragons...(Halasters_Lost_Apprentice)?pg=2

 
I'm not entirely sure I've got it right from that, but I'll post my visualization of it:  

Show


As I understand it the spiral staircase opens where the glowing glyph is on the provided battle-mat going down.  The "door" wasn't so much of a door as it was a stone block or seal which was covering the staircase.  The bodies were apparently blown out of the room by the wards on the "door" in the center of the room.

Since this is where the imp is hovering over you'll have to make especially sure to get across to the PCs that they could be dropping as much as much as 10-20 feet (depending how steep) if they step onto the glyph (depending where).  It'd probably best to at least pop a tile down there covering the glyph... 

maybe print the spiral stair off of this and use it:
www.wizards.com/dnd/images/T7.jpg

I'm also not sure how high the ceiling is, if the imp could retreat / use air superiority tactically etc.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of the skill challenge is, since the monsters attack either if they succeed or fail (I don't understand their motivation to attack if succeeded, other than you wouldn't have much of an encounter, which doesn't make me happy).   The only down side to failing is not learning some information, oh and loosing out on some xp.

 
  Since I saw this coming up (I haven't looked at the author's post yet), I described the unsealing as blindingly bright to the point of forcing the group to back out with their eyes shielded/turned away. The new start point is where they ended up after doing this.
Or you can be a jerk and start the (potential) combat while the PCs are surrounded by monsters. At least it'll keep them on the right side of the trap...

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Just a note: Sorry I haven't got back to you sooner! The quickest way to get in touch with me for any reason is my email (erikscottdebie AT yahoo.com), and the second quickest way is to drop a post in the Ask the Author thread, to which I am subscribed.

Onto the answer:

There's no map for most of encounter 1-3, and there's no Skill Challenge rule for the characters having minis on the board during a skill challenge. Facing and positioning doesn't matter (at least as I set it up). There are no instructions for this in the skill challenge, one way or another.

When designing the adventure (or any adventure, for that matter) the PCs have to have a starting location. For encounter 1-4, that's the one that made the most sense. To get from session 1-3 to 1-4, you're probably best off describing the burning bright light as driving the PCs back and out of the room. Mostly, this is to help *them* avoid getting trapped by the appearance of the staircase (which they shouldn't be able to walk over).

That said, I've done it both ways (had the PCs start in the start area, or amongst the monsters) and it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, tactically. The PCs aren't going to *know* what's going to happen in the encounter, and the ironfist defenders have great tumbling abilities to get out from flanking positions (if you do this, as a DM, I suggest you consider ruling that they can move through enemy squares).

Cheers
I just had some glowing green gas billow out of the just-revealed staircase and hinted that it might be dangerous. . .  They cleared out of the room quick enough and stood exactly where I wanted them for the beginning of the next encounter, without prompting.
Found the answer to one of my questions in the module

However I cam up with another point of interest...

Show


The ceiling is 10'

Imps have reach 0... (I forgot to check when I was looking at the module if this particular imp does, I'll check later.)... Hopefully I'm not stuck in 3.x with this, but I think that means the Imp has to enter a PCs space to attack, however I think it also means it can't provide flanking as suggested in the module.  I'm not sure if you provide flanking if you are invisible either...

You are stuck in 3.x
The issue with Reach 0 is a 4e thing too. Reach 0 means you have to enter the same square as the target -- which normally triggers an OA. You can only take an OA against a creature you can see -- even if you know what square it is in. The best way to get around it to turn invisible first, enter the target's square then attack. Note that to escape, the creature should turn invisible first then leave otherwise it might trigger another OA. Dazing, Blinding or Stunning the enemy is another good way to avoid OAs.

From the MM1 p.6:
"A Tiny creature has 0 reach -- it cannot attack outside its own space."

From the PH1 p.281:
"You don't provoke opportunity attacks from enemies that can't see you."
DML, how about the flanking part?  Can the imp still provide flanking while invisible?
Does the imp have an attack that it can use as a basic attack?  If yes doesnt that qualify it for flanking?

And didnt realize it was tiny.  Have not seen many tiny creatures. 
DML, how about the flanking part?  Can the imp still provide flanking while invisible?



Though not explicitly stated I do not believe a creature with Reach 0 can Flank or grant Flank. The problem is that the Tiny creature must be in a square adjacent to an enemy and directly opposite its ally implying it cannot be in the same square as the enemy. If it is in an adjacent square then it cannot attack the enemy, due to it being out of reach, which is a requirement of Flanking.

Some more little rules to note:

A creature that cannot be seen by an enemy attacks that enemy with Combat Advantage.

You can only gain Combat Advantage against creatures you can see.

Medium size, or larger, creatures can enter the space of a Tiny creature but doing so may provoke an OA due to movement.

Here's a wierd one: Tiny creatures cannot enter the same space as a Small creature, like a Halfling or Gnome, so they are effectively immune to their (melee) attacks!

PH1 p.283:
"You normally can't move through an enemy's space unless that enemy is helpless or two size categories larger or smaller than you."



As a side note, I have seen Tiny Minions (like Tomb Motes) with only melee attacks. They are nearly useless because they cannot flank, grant flank and are subject to an OA whenever they enter their enemies square to attack. As a DM, if you use these beasties be sure to pair them something that can Daze, Blind or Stun so they have a chance to inflict damage.
I'm stilling wondering where to put the treasure that encounter 4 puts on the corpses on the map. The players already searched those bodies in encounter 3, and the adventure didn't list any treasure there then...  Wink
Thanks, DML

I'm stilling wondering where to put the treasure that encounter 4 puts on the corpses on the map. The players already searched those bodies in encounter 3, and the adventure didn't list any treasure there then... 


I was just going to tell everyone, at the beginning of tomorrow's session, to add it to their characters and that it was an oversight.
DML, how about the flanking part?  Can the imp still provide flanking while invisible?



spoiler for 1-4

The adventure specifically suggests that it can. I would chalk it up to an encounter/room feature that increases the difficulty. They are acting with some sort of hive mind. Check the tactics where it says "helping the stonefist defender acquire their guard flanking bonus" and then for the SDs and IG it says about the imp "which they can perceive regardless of its invisibility".

It is arguable beyond core rules, but I'm ok with it based on the premise. As DMs we should keep this in mind regarding encounter difficulty and be ready to cut PCs breaks if needed.


I'm stilling wondering where to put the treasure that encounter 4 puts on the corpses on the map. The players already searched those bodies in encounter 3, and the adventure didn't list any treasure there then... 


How about the falling rocks reveals a cache in a wall, and inside is some treasure?

In other news, I'm updating my NPC tents (folded paper with images of all NPCs/foes so players get some idea of what they are facing)... I need one image for the next session.
DMs only for 1-4 and 2-1:

Anyone know of a good image for a giant rat? I am using the MM one for Dire Rat, and need one for Giant Rat. Preferable fantasy and non-comedic. I thought about the one on the cover of Sprawl Sites by Shadowrun, but could not find a high enough resolution / large enough version. If anyone finds it I will include it as I am working on both this and the next session's tents.


I posted here about minis that can be used. I tried to be vague, but this is still a spoiler.

Finally, some DM-only notes:
Show

For the Skill Challenge, allowing Insight can be a good way to help a table avert a disastrous use of Intimidate at the wrong time. Also, I will probably allow the players to discuss things (preferably IC) so they can formulate a plan and then speak up so the NPC can hear them. This allows a bit of coordination and encourages them to think as a team.

The trap contermeasures are not very clear. I would guess this is a free action (knowledge checks are free actions) they can take on their turn to avoid future damage, but if PCs are getting pummeled it could be granted when attacked.

Finally, scaling is interesting. For four PCs, I would remove one of the defenders. For six PCs, it is a bit of a good question what is best. Adding another SD is the fairest per their recommendations (level is equal to that of the encounter), but might be a bit boring. One option is to have the SD crawl out of the wall or floor when the first creature is killed. Another option is to add one level to each creature (total XP is 100 vs 125 for another SD). if you also level the hazard, you get to 125 xp. Leveling a creature means +1 to attacks and defenses and add HPs by role (adding 6 to the lurker and 8 to everything else). The downside of the later is that it increases defenses by 1, which may make the combat take longer and be less rewarding for players. I think I will likely play it by ear. If the combat is going well, I might just add the +1 level at some point as the room activates some ward that boosts them. If a single creature drops too quickly, I will add in the stonefist. I will ask the players before combat how they are doing on surges and dailies, which should let me know how fit they are for a challenging fight.




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).

AlphaStream, I know what the encounter says, that's why I was asking DML if they actually could or not (since Justisaur brought up the point that it might not be possible for them to).

Last week I had a rules guru playing with us (someone who's been playing 4E weekly since it was released), and I don't want to get into an argument right there in the middle of the encounter over whether or not imps can provide flanking.
AlphaStream, I know what the encounter says, that's why I was asking DML if they actually could or not (since Justisaur brought up the point that it might not be possible for them to).

Last week I had a rules guru playing with us (someone who's been playing 4E weekly since it was released), and I don't want to get into an argument right there in the middle of the encounter over whether or not imps can provide flanking.



Are you DMing?  If so - should the player disagree about your interpretation of flanking, just smile and say "and normally you'd be right. . . " then keep going.

It's the DMs prerogative to bend the rules a little here and there - so long as they're fair about it. 
WolfStar76 Community Advocate (SVCL) for D&D Organized Play, Avalon Hill, and the DCI/WPN LFR Community Manager DDi Guide

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Yeah, I agree with WolfStar. Acknowledge the player if they correct you, then let them know that this encounter's room specifically has magic allowing this. If they don't like it, just let them know you will be fair. "Hey, I fully understand what you are saying. There is magic in this room that changes the normal rule and allows the creatures an extra level of cunning. He can flank from one square as if he were in it. They can see him when invis. Don't worry, I'll be fair and it isn't meant to cause your demise."

Then kill the PCs. (Just kidding)

(I will have trouble DMing without renaming everything after the NCAA Champion Duke Blue Devils, so regardless your table will surely be happier than mine :-)

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).

Alpha, see if this works for you, it isn't really art unless you consider a real picture of a rat as art.

media.giantbomb.com/uploads/0/1176/26432...
I see they removed the reach 0 from the statblock in the module, but it's still tiny which has reach 0 anyway...

I think as the previous encounters have been significantly difficult I'll err on the side of the PCs and not allow it to flank.  

Also might be a good idea to review invisibility on pg 281 of the PHB as there's several things I hadn't realized about it.  
Mm, I think the imp situation arose from my own ignoring of the tiny space/reach 0 rules. Totally my bad!

I usually run tiny creatures using the same rules as small creatures--it would certainly make everything straight-forward in your encounter. But utilize your own judgment.

Also, I got this question in my personal thread, and I thought I'd repost it here in case anyone else is curious about this:

A note about running Session 4—specifically about the transition between 4 and 5:

I know it's a minor thing, but can someone justify to me where the PC are meant to take an extended rest between encounters 4 and 5 please?

Show
E4 ends with them heading down a narrow spiral staircase as the caves system collapses behind them. E5 starts in the room at the bottom of that staircase.

I initially thought that I could just say that they are in a safe place to rest there, but that room has three doors in it (one of which is open). And there's no way that a sensible group of people would just flake out in the entrance way without looking into the rooms, and kicking off Encounter 5.

And here’s my response:

Show
The room/hallway at the base of the stairs has no creatures in it, and the party would have to walk quite a ways before they find the room where they fight the tactical encounter in session 5. None of the monsters in Session 5 are the investigative type, nor will they attack unless the PCs go in the room and disturb the stuff (to set off the encounter)--the rats stay in their nest, and the homonculus is set to guard something that is in the room. (I chose them specifically for that characteristic.) Just going close won't do it.

Perception checks and whatever else the PCs do should give them the impression that they would be perfectly fine to rest and regroup before they start exploring.

If the PCs really don't want to rest, that's fine, and you should feel free to reward them in some way for their totally impractical boldness.

Lastly, to go behind the screen here, extended rests are a mechanical necessity of the game--PCs have to take an extended rest every few encounters, just to keep their healing surge count up, if nothing else. I had to put in an opportunity for them to do that, and this was the only convenient way I could. If you're really big on keeping the story intact, you should feel free to declare your extended rest to be shorter than 8 hours (that's how I do extended rests).


Cheers
thanks alphastream and wolfstar for your great suggestions on how to handle the situation i was trying to avoid!
one thing i noticed about encounter 4 that i think is worth mentioning, to prevent a "gotcha" moment at the beginning of encounter 5:

definite spoilers
encounter 4 ends with the characters going down the stairs and then taking an extended rest.  however, the portion of text that you are supposed to read aloud to your players at the beginning of session 5 (found on page 26) has the characters walking down the stairs and then being greeting by a magical "recording" of sorts as they're descending the stairs.


the encounter 4 details are in chapter 1 and this thing you're told to read at the beginning of session 5 is in chapter 2, so it could easily be missed until it is too late.  i thought it was a good idea to give everyone who hasn't noticed it a heads-up.
Yeah, that was an awkward judgment call moment--whether to put it at the end of session 4 (where it would make the most sense, story-wise, but everyone would forget it between sessions 4 and 5) or at the beginning of session 5 (where it makes sense from a story-telling perspective). I erred on the side of story.

In the course of a long-running game that isn't played week-by-week, it would be a non-issue, but such as it is . . . also, the PCs have to have the opportunity to rest, or things go really badly for them.

If you're really having issues with it, I suggest:

Show
Rule that the recording is triggered by the adventurers taking a certain action (like going down the hall, or coming up to one of the doors) that they don't do until session 5 starts.


Cheers
excellent suggestions.  you could also read that text at the end of encounter 4, but that might pique the player's curiosity too much (causing them to want to go exploring instead of resting) or perhaps make them feel it is unsafe to rest here.
re: Resting  between encounter 4 & 5

Show

I added a small "mud room" halfway down the spiral staircase to give the party a safe place to rest as well as an opportunity to find the Mantle of the Apprentice. I moved the Mantle so chapter 1 could have a special magic item plus it made sense as a reward at the end of a chapter and to foreshadow the living/research area they are about to enter. A "mud room" is a place where you put your wet, muddy boots -- and jackets/cloaks -- after coming inside from the rain or snow so you do not get the rest of the house dirty or wet.

I like that idea, DeathMutantLives. - stolen.

also one other 'story' note...

Show


In the beginning of the module it says Xeres causes the collapse at the end of 1-4 and seems to indicate the PCs would notice/encounter him.  However, I don't see any indication of this anywhere between 1-3 and 2-5.  

I'll probably have him show and start it, run off or tp away or something to further the story.

I'll likely have 6 or more players, I'm thinking I'll add minions with Xeres to help him get away, and help with the flanking issue, since I'm not letting the imp flank.

  


Alpha, see if this works for you, it isn't really art unless you consider a real picture of a rat as art.

media.giantbomb.com/uploads/0/1176/26432...


Thanks, I used that. I am a bit late, but have uploaded it and posted to the thread.

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).

I have got stop replying while I'm trying to fix phone systems.  Glad you found the pic even though I replied to the wrong thread.

Joe
also one other 'story' note...

Show


In the beginning of the module it says Xeres causes the collapse at the end of 1-4 and seems to indicate the PCs would notice/encounter him.  However, I don't see any indication of this anywhere between 1-3 and 2-5.  

I'll probably have him show and start it, run off or tp away or something to further the story.

I'll likely have 6 or more players, I'm thinking I'll add minions with Xeres to help him get away, and help with the flanking issue, since I'm not letting the imp flank.

 

Well, clearly you can do what you want, but my *intention* was that . . .
Show
Xeres doesn't necessarily trigger the collapse directly, but rather it collapses as a consequence of what he's doing (which is trying to breach the chamber through the warding spells set up around it). The partial cave-in is just a side-effect. He doesn't even necessarily know about the PCs at that point.

Lots of ways you could play it--I just put that note in there to stimulate ideas.

Everyone's experience of D&D Encounters should be different, after all!

Cheers
Sign In to post comments