Session 7 questions... SPOILERS

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Thought I'd get in early...

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In my opinion Encounter 7 can be summed up easily in one  word- dangerous, possibly with "very" placed in front of it. Smile That said, it should be fun to run.

What I'd like to know though, is whether anybody has any ideas about scaling the encounter? Beyond the bonuses/penalties to attacks and defences system.
I will likely miss this session (as a judge) and I find myself really curious how my table would fare.

First, your question about scaling for weak or strong parties:
Spoiler for scaling:

A level 2 encounter for 5 PCs is 625XP, which is exactly what we have. Thus, the encounter is exactly as specified on p56 of the DMG. So, we can simply lower or increase the level of the creature to make it a level 1 or level 3 encounter. (The guidelines on p7 of the adventure are basically doing this - if you have a combat with 5 level 2 monsters, removing one makes it a level one encounter). Conclusion: to scale this solo encounter we want to either remove or add a level to the creature.

Leveling a solo is more or less detailed in the DMG (p174/185). Here is how to do it.
  • Add or subtract 1 from all attack rolls

  • Add or subtract 1 from all defenses (AC, Ref, Will, Fort)

  • Add or subtract HPs


FYI, on HPs, the normal rule for normal non-solo creatures is to add or subtract HPs by role. For Controllers, the amount is 8. This is very easy to do on a standard monster... just add or subtract 8 for each level up or down.

For solos, the math is a bit more complex. Total solo HPs are 8*(level+1), plus con score. You then multiply that result by 4. This is hard to approximate as a simple level adjustment, though in a pinch I like using  LEVEL_CHANGE * (8 + CON_BONUS) * 4. This is not accurate, but is a decent rule of thumb. So, here we are modifying by 1 level and the con bonus is +6.  The formula becomes: 1*(8+6)*4 = 1*14*4 = 56Hps. Scaling down is a new total of 108 (bloodied 54). Scaling up is a new total of 220 (bloodied 110). (See below, but if we instead use a +4 con bonus, we get +/- 46 HPs, for a quick calculation of 118(59) / 210(105).)

Now, the more appropriate way to do it is to just re-do the HPs, which we can do with a bit of time but is harder to do on the fly.

Incidentally, this creature has incorrect HPs. By my calculation, HPs should be ((8 * 3) +20)*4 = 176, though I would not increase them since the monster seems plenty strong.

If we backwards figure out the logic, the 164 would work if the monster had a con of 17. ((8*4)+17)*4 = 164. So, we could instead re-do the math and the HPs end as follows:

HPs at level 1: (8*(1+1)+17)*4 =132
HPs at level 3: (8*(3+1)+17)*4 =196

Level 1: 132 HPs (bloodied 66)
Level 3: 196 HPs (bloodied 98)

My guess is that those in bold are the better (kinder) numbers to use. Given that the monster's con score and HPs are not correct, I'm not entirely sure.


Beyond the calculation, there are a lot of tactics that can shape the encounter.

Spoiler for 2-3 tactics and threats - DMs only:

Solos can be really challenging at low levels. This isn't the hardest in level (level 2 isn't a hugely difficult challenge), but she seems much harder than an average level 2 solo. Solos often have real trouble harming enough PCs to produce a threat... this one can attack two targets twice a round every round... that is pretty strong. The rechargable power is a pretty darn strong power, and then the post-bloodied teleport (only usable once, though) is strong autodamage... and then you have the aura, which is vicious... you can easily do the following:
Melee PCs take 5 from aura (and penalty to hit). On creature's turn, lash and arc for possible strong dmg, prone, slow. Now teleport 3-6 squares to squishy targets (autodamage on both sets of targets), action point to do attack and prone on 2 adjacent targets. Now the melee PCs can't get to it (they can stand with a move, if slowed can't charge to it... but can get close enough to be in aura...), the squishies take aura dmg and must stand and will provoke if they attack or move due to threatening reach...

I expect this to be a hard fight unless the dice really favor the PCs. This solo is truly capable of threatening on its own right.

Of great importance is understanding the change at bloodied. The PCs should feel they are fighting some strange orb thing, and thus may decide to use skill checks (which can be a really strong option if you have a few with the right skill). I think it is important not to use a mini at this stage. When bloodied, then the mini should be there and the teleporting begins - this can be used to good effect if there are 2-3 melee types, plus to travel anywhere in the room (note that the wall of force is not the same as the design on the floor) and land where it will threaten ranged combatants (reach 2 means they can shift back from you and you can still attack them next round, plus drop them prone, then again move next to them - setting up inevitable teleport damage). This should force movement by the players/PCs. Teleport can also be used to set up subsequent bursts. 

The DM really has some nice tactical flexibility, which hopefully allows you to pull punches or play it harder as needed. Just as I described a tough tactical move previously, you can easily teleport to where the aura does not affect a lot of PCs, not use Burning Fey Step efficiently, and prompt out knowledge checks so they might learn about power such as Spellfire Absorption. Action Points should be used, but you can choose whether to use them effectively and efficiently (Spellplague Burst to push a bunch of PCs around one spot, then AP, teleport into the center with Burning Fey Step, Spellplague Lash and Lightning Arc to keep PCs from leaving...) or inefficiently (such as out of "anger" when you roll poorly on an attack).

The room also has a real catch-22. The yellow circle provides a +1 to all defenses. This is great for the creature, but arguable for the PCs, since they don't necessarily want to clump up.


In general, the golden rule - the table should have fun!

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Personally, I would rarely use a. . .

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. . .solo by itself. That can easily lead to a dice contest/grind if the environment is not a critically important component of the encounter. I expect to have 6 players at my table so will add creatures instead of scaling the solo though I might have to scale *down* the solo to fit the XP budget.

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Silly isn't it. Wizards create a creatures type explicitly to face a group by itself, and then even in their own examples team them up with other monsters. Maybe they should rename them.
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Silly isn't it. Wizards create a creatures type explicitly to face a group by itself, and then even in their own examples team them up with other monsters. Maybe they should rename them.



Agreed. I usually call them "Boss" monsters since it implies they are more powerful than Elites; which serve the "Boss."
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Silly isn't it. Wizards create a creatures type explicitly to face a group by itself, and then even in their own examples team them up with other monsters. Maybe they should rename them.



Spoliers for the encounter plus general discussion:

At the general level, the main problem is that most solos are not threatening enough, especially at high levels. A single level 10 solo dragon is unable to produce the damage and threat of 5 level 10 creatures (even poorly picked creatures). This is very sad. In response, DMG2 introduced a few changes and MM2 did as well. And, I think this is just the start of things. I expect MM3 will show some much improved solos. If you look at DMG2, the suggestions mirror what this solo has very closely. This is a solo fully capable of standing on its own right. It can easily provide the threat of other same level encounters, if not surpass it.

Teaming this solo up with another creature is a bit dangerous. The key issue will be what the other creature brings to the table. If you increase the level by one you get enough XP to bring a level 2 monster, and that could be much harder if you choose something like the rat swarm... or not be a very big deal if you bring a few minions in over time and the party has some AoE or two-target powers. I just don't like changing the balance that way. Further, as far as D&DE is about providing new players with experiences, an all-solo encounter is a nice iconic and new experience. It doesn't have to be really hard to please (and it should already be plenty hard).

Lastly, in most cases it is less challenging to level the creature(s) in an encounter than to add a new one. Put in a strong-damage level 2 and you gain essentially one more attack roll, mitigating low die rolls, and maybe more effects... even without synergies between the creatures. Level up the solo and you are just increasing the hits by 1 and defenses by 1 and adding a couple of blows worth of HPs... that works pretty well in this encounter.

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I have a couple of questions:

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The aura ability (before bloodied) is only an area 2; the basic attack is also only 2.  This means that if the players stand against the wall for the first half of the encounter, the only two things that can harm the PCs are the burst abilities.  That just seems too easy for this type of encounter.  Is there a correction or two?

Secondly, the recharge power doesn't tell us whats being targetted; if it targets everyone it could be to powerful (although, flavor-wise it fits best and if thats really how it works then aura makes a bit of sense) but if it targets only one or two PCs thens it's just far too weak.  Was it intentionally written like that, or does someone know how the ability works?  (There's also a typo, but I know what it says.)

Question about reach:

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Before the eladrin/orb is bloodied, is it a Large creature? (For the purposes of calculating reach.)


And a note about minis:
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I've learned that a shot glass is just the right size for fitting in a 2x2(Large) space. I think I've found the Orb's mini!
Spoilers with my thoughts to the last two posts:

Nothing official, of course, but my guesses:

  • Aura: I think you are right that players along the outside are going to be fine. I suspect it is ok unless you have a party that is heavily (4 out of 5, 5 out of 6) ranged. If more than half of the PCs are ranged, you might give it the ability to "chain" the aura to one random PC? It all depends on how strong or weak your table is and how low on resources they might be. My gut feeling is to run it as is and reward PCs for the tactical move. After all, for half the battle they won't enjoy that benefit... And, really, the aura hits all melee, the minor hits any 2, the standard can hit melee... it is still decently strong. And then there is the recharge burst:

  • I assume the recharge should target everyone (a power should always have a target line, so it is a typo regardless). It would be pretty weak if it did not work as a true burst (target: each creature in burst). I agree with you that this mitigates the aura issue fairly well. Basically, for the first part the aura is punishing the melee guys. For the second part you can apply some strong pressure to ranged PCs, plus the melee take it if they close... pretty strong combination.

  • The map on page 34 suggests that it is a large creature. Any melee guys closing with it suffer the consequences.

  • The right shot glass could look very cool! And, if you had a dark one you could hide a mini inside...


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Folks, I wouldn't worry about the range of certain abilities, trust me... see in the spoiler block below:

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First off, you don't need to have the sphere move or extend the range of the other abilites, here is why:

Ranged Lightning Arc (minor; at-will) • Lightning
Close Burst 10; targets one or two creatures in burst; +6 vs Reflex; 1d6 + 4 lightning damage and target is slowed until the end of the plaguechanged eladrin's next turn.

The sphere/eladrin maiden has three actions (Standard, Move, Minor) a round like any other Monster/NPC/PC.

Since the sphere/eladrin maiden cannot move until its bloodied you can use the Lightning Arc twice a round and attack with the ranged 2 abilities if anyone comes close.

If all the PCs hang out against the walls or on the stairs or even the sigils you can blast them 3 times a round with this one power. Concentrate on the ranged attackers and watch the melee folks move in to do something...


My two coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz
Organizer of the Guardians of the Gameday
It isn't clear what a monster's author intends.
Spoiler for the session regarding a specific power:

Minor actions are often meant to be used once a round. Sometimes we see specific wording to that effect, but it just seems to be something that slips past most authors and editors. I would be curious to see what Erik says if he weighs in.

In this specific case, the burst is as damaging as the standard (prone is often meaningless in phase 1) and is generally more accurate (-1 atk, but vs. Ref). If you use the burst twice, you are basically performing three regular standard actions... and they are double attacks. You could attack every PC once, which seems beyond what a solo should do every single round.

For this encounter I would not advocate using the move action for the minor attack because it will be too strong. Even in the second part, the ability to do aura plus three attacks on melee guys would pretty much guarantee those PCs are taken out... and then it can close on other PCs... TPK. Let's say 2 out of 3 hits and the aura... that's avg of 20 dmg per round to two PCs w/in 2. It is more if you hit with all three and also more if your standard is the rechargable.


I think it is a swell option if you are judging an expert LFR crowd that needs a greater challenge, especially since you can do it or not as desired.

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I don't think the following was mentioned


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IIRC The eladrin also has threatening reach with it's Spellplague Lash power. Which means after it starts to teleport the eladrin will get an OA against every character that re-enters melee with it. Add in the double attack minor action and Burning Fey Step and that is alot of damage coming at a 1st level party . . . it should be an interesting balancing act keeping the fight challenging but not completely lethal. Especially considering that the party has to face the spectre, corruption corpse and friends without an extended rest the week after - another challenging fight   


Just my two coppers worth
The Alphadork



I think I spotted a problem ...

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This is about the actions that occur when bloodied.

All of the "Break Free", the "Spellfire Absorption" and the "Spellplague Burst" powers are immediate reactions or have an immediate reaction portion to their powers. Two of them, "Break Free" and "Spellplague Burst" have similar triggers, ie. when bloodied. I'm fairly certain that you can't trigger two immediates in one round, thus you're left to choose which occurs? And if you choose the Burst, does this mean that the Eladrin never breaks free?

Further, if "Spellfire Absorption" has already been used in a round, can neither of the other two be triggered? (edit to correct this bit: normally, no, they can't) Doesn't this also trap the Eladrin?

If I was writing this creature the Burst would be "recharge when bloodied" not "immediate reaction when bloodied" and the Break Free would be a free action, but that's not the way they are written.
I think I spotted a problem ...

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This is about the actions that occur when bloodied.

All of the "Break Free", the "Spellfire Absorption" and the "Spellplague Burst" powers are immediate reactions or have an immediate reaction portion to their powers. Two of them, "Break Free" and "Spellplague Burst" have similar triggers, ie. when bloodied. I'm fairly certain that you can't trigger two immediates in one round, thus you're left to choose which occurs? And if you choose the Burst, does this mean that the Eladrin never breaks free?

Further, if "Spellfire Absorption" has already been used in a round, can neither of the other two be triggered? (edit to correct this bit: normally, no, they can't) Doesn't this also trap the Eladrin?

If I was writing this creature the Burst would be "recharge when bloodied" not "immediate reaction when bloodied" and the Break Free would be a free action, but that's not the way they are written.



Good catch, here will be my solution for my tables in PDX:

My Solution

The immediate reaction designation for Break Free doesn't make any sense. When the Eladrin maiden breaks free she doesn't get to teleport, she just gains the ability to teleport 6.

I will be removing the immediate reaction designation and replacing it with none (or you could make it a free action). However you slice it she will only teleport on her turn.

As for the Spellfire Absorption issue, I would rule that it would delay the Break Free until the eladrin recharges her immediate action (interrupt/reaction) at the start of her turn.

Thus, if the Sphere has burned an immediate action already this round and becomes bloodied the sphere does not Break Free until the start of her initiative turn. When her initiative turn starts the sphere immediately opens before she can do anything else and now she cannot use Spellfire Absorption until her next turn.


My Two Coppers,

Bryan Blumklotz
Oraganizing Guardians of the Gameday


Good catch, here will be my solution for my tables in PDX:

My Solution

The immediate reaction designation for Break Free doesn't make any sense. When the Eladrin maiden breaks free she doesn't get to teleport, she just gains the ability to teleport 6.

I will be removing the immediate reaction designation and replacing it with none (or you could make it a free action). However you slice it she will only teleport on her turn.

As for the Spellfire Absorption issue, I would rule that it would delay the Break Free until the eladrin recharges her immediate action (interrupt/reaction) at the start of her turn.

Thus, if the Sphere has burned an immediate action already this round and becomes bloodied the sphere does not Break Free until the start of her initiative turn. When her initiative turn starts the sphere immediately opens before she can do anything else and now she cannot use Spellfire Absorption until her next turn.





I think there's a slight issue with your order of events:

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In the event that the Sphere doesn't have an immediate left when it becomes bloodied and "Break Free" can't trigger, it can't trigger on the beginning of the creature's turn either. I copied this from the Compendium because I don't have the PHB on me ... "you can’t take an immediate action on your own turn."

So, in the event that this situation comes up, the "Break Free" can't happen until after it's next initiative turn comes -and- ends.
My thoughts on the recent posts:

Break Free should be "No action". There is no reason for it to take up an immediate... it isn't like being dazed (no immediates) would prevent the creature from breaking out of the orb. Just make it a No Action and this serves its role... once bloodied, you gain the movement.

For Spellplague Burst and Spellfire Absorption, I don't see an issue if we did what Bryan and I wrote. You will not have a reason to use Absorption before you are bloodied, so you won't have used your immediate. So long as you can take immediates when you become bloodied (not dazed), you do the Burst as a free. This is a great cinematic piece to go with cracking out of the orb. The orb explodes, burst of power, and then when it next goes it can teleport and now starts using Spellfire Absorption when needed.

This means you could have the following happen: Before bloodied, a PC uses a fire power on the critter. Critter does not use Absorption. Another PC bloodied the critter, it explodes and now has the teleport move speed. A PC uses a fire power on it - critter does not have its immediate, so it can't do anything (used it for the burst, which is fine). Critter gets to go, starts teleporting and uses Burning Fey Step. PC uses fire power - recharges Burning Fey Step as immediate.

That all seems good to me.

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It's entirely my own fault with a few wording confusions, and I did basically create this creature myself. Here's some notes on how things should be:

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Aura 2: Yes, it has an aura 2. PCs who want to stand on the edges of the chamber are safe from this aura (at least in the first half of the fight). Which is pretty important, since it's going to start unleashing a boat-load of damage in the second half.

Spellplague Lash: This ability is always reach 2 (before bloodied and after), and always has threatening reach (before and after). I do think the knock prone effect should not apply on opportunity attacks, since basically that means no one's ever going to close with her in melee.

Lightning Arc: It should probably say (limit 1/round), but use your best DM judgment when utilizing this ability. A party that slinks against the walls might warrant having it do 2/round until bloodied. Once it can move, it has better options to hit anyone it wants, and will naturally limit this ability to 1/round.

Spellplague Burst: Use this whenever possible (unless it's a big fire attack, in which case use Spellfire Absorption) and when first bloodied.

Break Free: This should indeed say "no action"--"immediate reaction" is a typo. The only reason I listed it here was for clarity that the creature changes and gains a movement speed.

Burning Fey Step: This was not an activated ability in my original notes (where it was just "while bloodied"), but I can see how R&D could determine it was too powerful that way. Use your own DM's judgement. If it's a constant ability, then between this and her aura she's going to be unleashing about 10 autodamage every round to about half the party, because we assume she teleports every round. If you prefer to run it as an activated ability, it is a "no action" "encounter" ability that can be recharged with Spellfire Absorption. If you run with it this way, limit Spellfire Absorption so that she only uses it once freed of the orb.

Arcana checks to open: Pay close attention to this part of the writeup. If the PCs can pull this off, it's basically 82 damage with three hits.

One analogy for what the eladrin looks like when she's teleporting/dancing around swiping people with her lash: picture Zero Suit Samus except bathed in constant flame and a lot more insane and deadly!


This one is going to take a lot of teamwork and some good tactics to beat (or at least a bard). Best of luck to all your tables!

Cheers
I'll most likely be running a party of 8... so that will make this extremely nasty if I follow DMG scaling.  I wouldn't be surprised at a TPK in such a case.

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So I'm thinking I'll do scaling on the fly, as the PCs die the creature will loose levels to match the remaining number of PCs.  She seems like she doesn't want to be hurting anyone and I can reflect her anguish in her difficulty dropping as she kills PCs.

Of course I could be surprised.  Both of the last two encounters seemed pretty dangerous on paper, but no one even went unconscious. So it's possible they will defeat her without any deaths.  
I'll most likely be running a party of 8... so that will make this extremely nasty if I follow DMG scaling.  I wouldn't be surprised at a TPK in such a case.



8 is an awful lot. Why not two tables of four?
I'll most likely be running a party of 8... so that will make this extremely nasty if I follow DMG scaling.  I wouldn't be surprised at a TPK in such a case.



8 is an awful lot. Why not two tables of four?



They probably have 9 people total (1 DM, 8 players) and this would not divide into two tables of 4 which would require 10 people.