D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 10)

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Down to 7 players from 8, loosing the Warlord.  Having only 1 healer in a party of that size is pretty rough.

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I forgot about the extra runepriest, and that I was down to 7 instead of 8 (most of the people were late so I just added for the usual) So I added 4 minions and one each of the standards.

The Ranger went to the spot he'd last seen Xeres and tracked him to the door from there.   The party bunched up around him and the Rogue snuck in.  I described the mushrooms growing from the rot around the room, and beholders rising up (gas spores).   The rogue got an 8 on his arcana so hadn't any idea what was going on and freaked out at 7 beholders, and ran to the back of the party.  

I asked for initiative and the Ranger entered.  and attacked the "beholder" in the far corner - boom went the "beholder", boom went the alchemical table next to it, boom went the "beholder" farthest opposite edge of the table, boom went the central table, boom went the "beholder" opposite that table, boom went the farthest table.  The Ranger earned his moment of greatness for blowing up half the room.  

No one was too keen on entering after that with 4 "beholders" left, or trying to hit the "beholders" which floated over to the entrance and attacked the cleric.  However the warlock ran toward the opposite side of the room trying to take after Xeres and was quite surprised when the mushrooms split arms, legs and weapons from their trunks and blocked the opposite exit, and laid some serious beatdown on him.  

The paladin earned a "Moment of Infamy" for entering the room and going over to the nearest closet and searching it instead of helping with the fight on the first round.

After most of the pcs were in the room, the rogue regained his composure and went in to help out. 

After the first round I realized I'd added to many monsters and took off the 4 remaining gas spores and one each of the others - none of the ones that had done or taken any damage, so it didn't really matter other than shock value.

The slime tried attacking the swordmage for a couple rounds when he first got near but just couldn't hit him and later switched to the barbarian who was yummy.  The barbarian as usual rolled really bad and kept missing. Fortunately the cleric and the paladin attacked the slime with radient damage so they actually did more to the slime than the barbarian, unfortunately I think they did more to the barbarian than the slime did too.

The warlock spent half the fight just trying to get out of the predicament he'd gotten into by rushing in and everyone reminded him what happened to the last warlock who did that (died).  After he finally got in a (not really) safer position he had some good area attacks which really helped out, but being a clothy being beat up pretty bad was down to 1hp.  Pretty much only got away because I'd been rolling really poor on damage all night, the last attack he got hit by I rolled a 1 (+3) so he was near unconsciousness for awhile.   He also 'saved' a couple potions off the table that hadn't blown up.

The runepriest's taking and regening damage from their guards was pretty effective, most of the party didn't go after them until late in the fight.   Their area attacks were mostly missing the heavies, but really hurting the clothies.  



The cleric went down near the end of the fight, and the paladin used his daily while it missed it allowed him to heal the cleric - I'd thought the paladin had used his daily last game, but wasn't sure so didn't say anything (after checking last week's post just now he did), although it missed it allowed him to heal the cleric.  The cleric is near or out of healing surges after this fight, not sure how he's going to survive another two.

The swordmage did his usual damage prevention pretty well.  

There was a lot of delaying by PCs which is really confusing, causing me to accidentally skip people.

The paladin kept mistaking who was who all night on the board, it got so bad it started to be hilarious.  He also insisted he'd been there with his character at least 8 sessions for the renown for that when I know he hadn't been there more than 5.  (most of the others earned thier 8 sessions no death tonight, but a few have to wait until next game).

Death avoided tonight by knowing both the typo and the mistake, and rolling really really bad on damage all night (more 1s than any other number on dice).  

At one point when it was looking pretty bad for the PCs someone asked me if I enjoyed killing PCs...  I just laughed.

- Justisaur
I found this a challenge battle, but not a deadly one. I'd liked to have seen a TPK table, in order to study the differences between how I DM and how other people are doing it.

I ran a table of six, a mix of experienced and new to 4e players. The experienced guys were very helpful teaching the newer guys. Two characters at 2nd level, the rest at first. I set the monsters for a corrected 5 player party. One character went below 0, two came close. No deaths. Bard used a daily utility to good use, buffing everybody, but no other dailies. Lots of action points, but then this was a milestone.
 
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The group's defender ran into the room, right under the slime -- which missed him. In fact the slime missed its two other chances to attack. On one round it was immobilized with nothing in range. Since it was in front it took most of the initial attacks. If the slime had hit anybody I can see that could of made a big difference.

I scattered the monsters out a little more than suggested. I put the rot priest just within range to share damage, but still in the back. If he was closer he could have hit more folks with his burst, but I saw his role, at the starts, as mainly healing. The party's leader went after him (teleporting across the room) which helped the door congestion, and created two battle fronts in the room. That all went about as I expected: a more interesting, if less deadly, battle situation.

The gas spores drifted around the room, unless they had an obvious tactic, such as flanking, to go for. The players, once they figured out the spores, had to decided when best to "pop" them to minimize the consequences. Again, I wanted to give them something to think about rather than pile on damage.

Pacification only hit one player, so they had luck there again. Players figured out the table and manged to maneuver both guards in the blast.
 


A good, challenging, battle but no TPK. One players is very low on surges, which will be a problem, otherwise things are okay. Looking back on it I can see ways I could have pounded on the players harder -- but I don't think that would have made it more fun. How bloodthirsty are DMs these days?

Overall, no TPK at our table.  However, the DM was nice to us and allowed heal checks to allow allies to spend surges even if we didn't have a second wind available. Without that gift, two characters would have died.

I had my second Moment of Greatness.  Too bad I couldn't get the award twice.

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I've been playing a Thunderborn Minotaur Barbarian named Kowzrck.

He's themed around powers that make noise, so Howling Strike, Howl of Fury, Shout of Terror, and Savage Growl are my main powers.
As a Thunderborn barbarian, I have the Thunderborn Wrath power. Whenever I bloody something all enemies adjacent to me take 8 damage.
As a Minotaur, I also have the Ferocity power, which allows me to make an attack when reduced to zero hit points.
At level two I took a feat to allow me to use Ferocity when bloodied.


We found ourselves facing off against some Myconid freaks. I was just a touch above bloodied and standing on a table in the center of a mess of enemies, I was surrounded by a Myconid Guard (G), Myconid Gas Spore (M), and a Green Ooze(O).
We were arranged so: with Kowzrck (K) in the center.


      O
   K
GM


A Myconid Rotpriest moved in behind me and critted with his melee attack. Total damage was enough to take me to -1 HP.


That event triggered this chain of events:
Both my ferocity attacks triggered and I attacked the Rotpriest.  Hit with the first attack, good damage.  Critted with the second attack and maxed my extra damage die. Total of 42 damage for the pair of attacks. This blows past the Rotpriests bloodied and sets off my Thunderborn Wrath doing 8 more damage to all the adjacent monsters. The Rotpriest dies, and explodes in a cloud of healing spores. I regain 10 HP, making me conscious again and heals the other monsters of the Thunderborn Wrath damage. However, we're not done yet.


Ok, remember the minion I was adjacent to? The Thunderborn wrath kills it and it explodes in a poof of spores. I don't take damage from it. 
Still not done...
Since I hit -1 HP, I collapse onto the table I was standing on. The table was covered in alchemical chemicals and it EXPLODES as it collapses under the weight of a fainting minotaur. The explosion misses me, but burns the surrounding monsters.


I topped it all off with a War Cry to give myself some room to recover and a Savage Growl on the Ooze for the extra d8 damage that Savage Growl gives.


So in one fell swoop,  I passed out, collapsed a table, killed a monster, killed a minion, and made three things explode then yelled really loudly when I woke up.


Then it was my turn...



(Edit speeling.)

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That event triggered this chain of events:
Both my ferocity attacks triggered and I attacked the Rotpriest.  Hit with the first attack and critted with the second and maxed my extra damage die. Total of 42 damage for the pair of attacks. This blew past the Rotpriests bloodied value and sets off my Thuderborn Wrath, doing 8 more damage to all the adjacent monsters. The Rotpriest dies, and explodes in a cloud of healing spores. I regain 10 HP, making me concious again and heals the other monsters of the Thunderborn Wrath damage. However, we're not done yet. The Thunderborn wrath kills the minion, having it explodes in a poof of spores. I don't take damage from it. 
Still not done...
Since I hit -1 HP, I collapse onto the table I was standing on. As the table was covered in alchemical chemicals it explodes as it collapses under the weight of a fainting minotaur. The explosion misses me, but burns the surrounding monsters.

I topped it all off with a War Cry to give myself some room to recover and a Savage Growl on the Ooze for the extra d8 damage that Savage Growl gives.


So in one fell swoop,  I passed out, collapsed a table, killed a monster, killed a minion, and made three things explode then yelled really loudly when I woke up.


Then it was my turn...



That was totally epic!
What makes me sad - no more compiled magazines: http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/27580349/Dungeon_and_Dragon_Magazine_PDFs&post_num=24#495423645
That's the second time I've done some sort of "you knock me out, but I'm going to make you explode" combo.

Triggered free actions are awesome.

Overall, no TPK at our table.  However, the DM was nice to us and allowed heal checks to allow allies to spend surges even if we didn't have a second wind available. Without that gift, two characters would have died.

I had my second Moment of Greatness.  Too bad I couldn't get the award twice.

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I've been playing a Thunderborn Minotaur Barbarian named Kowzrck.

He's themed around powers that make noise, so Howling Strike, Howl of Fury, Shout of Terror, and Savage Growl are my main powers.
As a Thunderborn barbarian, I have the Thunderborn Wrath power. Whenever I bloody something all enemies adjacent to me take 8 damage.
As a Minotaur, I also have the Ferocity power, which allows me to make an attack when reduced to zero hit points.
At level two I took a feat to allow me to use Ferocity when bloodied.


We found ourselves facing off against some Myconid freaks. I was just a touch above bloodied and standing on a table in the center of a mess of enemies, I was surrounded by a Myconid Guard (G), Myconid Gas Spore (M), and a Green Ooze(O).
We were arranged so: with Kowzrck (K) in the center.


      O
   K
GM


A Myconid Rotpriest moved in behind me and critted with his melee attack. Total damage was enough to take me to -1 HP.


That event triggered this chain of events:
Both my ferocity attacks triggered and I attacked the Rotpriest.  Hit with the first attack, good damage.  Critted with the second attack and maxed my extra damage die. Total of 42 damage for the pair of attacks. This blows past the Rotpriests bloodied and sets off my Thunderborn Wrath doing 8 more damage to all the adjacent monsters. The Rotpriest dies, and explodes in a cloud of healing spores. I regain 10 HP, making me conscious again and heals the other monsters of the Thunderborn Wrath damage. However, we're not done yet.


Ok, remember the minion I was adjacent to? The Thunderborn wrath kills it and it explodes in a poof of spores. I don't take damage from it. 
Still not done...
Since I hit -1 HP, I collapse onto the table I was standing on. The table was covered in alchemical chemicals and it EXPLODES as it collapses under the weight of a fainting minotaur. The explosion misses me, but burns the surrounding monsters.


I topped it all off with a War Cry to give myself some room to recover and a Savage Growl on the Ooze for the extra d8 damage that Savage Growl gives.


So in one fell swoop,  I passed out, collapsed a table, killed a monster, killed a minion, and made three things explode then yelled really loudly when I woke up.


Then it was my turn...



(Edit speeling.)



You win teh intarwebs for today. Congrats. Use your power wisely.
Couple of things/questions after reading the thread... 

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Rotpriest ae heal on 0 hp... the other DM was convinced this allows the rotpriest to choose targets for healing, so I didn't have either heal the PCs around it when it died.  How is this supposed to work?  If it just heals everyone I might give all the PCs back a healing surge to compensate.



I know the module calls for starting the PCs in the starting area and seems to be pretty firm about it, but I've always run it a bit more organically leaving them in the previous area and letting them explore as will triggering the encounter when the first one steps beyond the starting area, in several cases this meant several were way back from the starting area.   I'll dump a new character on the starting area, but that's about it.  It's worked out well so far.

I just want to say I agree strongly with Stormcaller that dangerous terrain really ought to be included in the XP budget as hazard/traps.

And one other odd thing that happened at the game.  There was someone who said he'd never played D&D who wanted to watch, before the game had really gotten going he was asking to take pictures of everything.  I didn't mind, but a couple of the players were adamantly opposed.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I just ignored it and let the drama between him and the players play out.
Couple of things/questions after reading the thread... 

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Rotpriest ae heal on 0 hp... the other DM was convinced this allows the rotpriest to choose targets for healing, so I didn't have either heal the PCs around it when it died.  How is this supposed to work?  If it just heals everyone I might give all the PCs back a healing surge to compensate.




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The power as written from the compendium:  "Close burst 1; targets living creatures; the target regains 10 hit points."   Assuming this is the same wording as the module, as I read it, if the PC is next to the rotpriest, then the PC is healed. There is nothing about choosing only allies in there.  I could see it excluding a Warforged or Shardmind, but that's as far as I'd go.



And one other odd thing that happened at the game.  There was someone who said he'd never played D&D who wanted to watch, before the game had really gotten going he was asking to take pictures of everything.  I didn't mind, but a couple of the players were adamantly opposed.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I just ignored it and let the drama between him and the players play out.


That I think is in the "if someone doesn't want their picture taken regardless of what they're doing do not take their picture" category.  If the photographer was being a jerk about it, or it was disrupting play, then I'd have asked the photographer to leave, otherwise, your response was probably fine.  (holy run-on sentance batman!)



And one other odd thing that happened at the game.  There was someone who said he'd never played D&D who wanted to watch, before the game had really gotten going he was asking to take pictures of everything.  I didn't mind, but a couple of the players were adamantly opposed.  I wasn't sure what to do, so I just ignored it and let the drama between him and the players play out.



Their choice. I'd say he has/had to stop. But probably best to stay out of it yourself.

I will say this, my main piece of advice to DMs: DON'T MURDALIZE YOUR PCs!


My advice to encounter writers: Don't write your encounters so that you have to emphasize to DMs to try and not murder their players.
If wizards of the coast new about the typos couldn't they have posted them on the twitters page? so we could of all know about them. I think that our party would have managed to defeat all the monsters, but it would of still been a hard fight instead of a depressing encounter, where all we could do is pray that the pacification spores would miss occansionly so we could use a standard action I might ask if the DM would like to run it again some other time with the typos,  anyway off to eat a mushroom omelette That will learn them (bloody fungi)



For what it's worth, as soon as I saw the error/typo thread, I did send it out over Teh Twitterz, but that happened at about 4PM EST, so it may have been too late.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere

I will say this, my main piece of advice to DMs: DON'T MURDALIZE YOUR PCs!


My advice to encounter writers: Don't write your encounters so that you have to emphasize to DMs to try and not murder their players.



Cartigan, my advice to you is to quit whining.  You have multiple posts regarding encounters of nothing but complaints.  It's amazing you bother to participate when you complain about it so much.

Fact is, it's more fun when it's challenging.  Before I picked up the 4th edition books, I read a number of player reviews from other whiners comparing the new rules to MMORPG's and complaining that the combat was too easy and there's no threat of dying and how all you have to do is rest between encounters and revive your powers, etc., etc.  Turns out combat CAN be challenging.  And when coupled with a series of challenging encounters, you really do need STRATEGY and RESOURCE MANAGEMENT to survive.  If you would prefer to just walk through an encounter with never feeling the threat of DEATH, go play an MMORPG.

I'm brand new to 4th edition and have played every encounter except the first one and I haven't died yet.  I've been very close a couple of times and last encounter I was down to 11 HP's and pacified.  You know what I did...?  I RAN!! 

Try using strategy and group tactics, that's what the little squares are for.  Do you realize the author provided the group the opportunity to bottle neck the entire encounter at the doorway?  All a group had to do was put a defender or two up front and range from the hallway.  Did you read the post about the ranger blowing up the entire room?  Pretty awesome when you have to use your brain to develop creative strategies for overcoming challenges rather than just rushing in without so much as a knowledge check to know what you're up against.

Fact is, it's more fun when it's challenging.


Fact is, challenging does not mean Nintendo hard.

Try using strategy and group tactics,


Try playing in a pickup group EVERY WEEK that you can't be sure to get the 4 basic roles in a group of 6.
These encounters would be absurdly balanced towards killing the players in a balanced, familiar party experienced in the game. They are FAR too "challenging" for unbalanced pick up groups of new players that this is SUPPOSED TO introduce to the game.
Our two tables were again a TPK and a "are we really alive" again.

I was with the table that lived.  Some things that made it a bit tough were:
1) Not having the full "flavor" text that might tell us about the tables or bookshelves
2) We had 4 people, but the encounter was not scaled down (other than the 'errata"
3) The DM for our table (store owner, and hater of 4E) didn't like (or couldn't read) the Rotpriests "Life Burst" effect.  Instead he auto hit the whole party for 10 Necrotic.
(We even wen't "Wow!  Really, no hit and free damage!?"  And he read off a version of the "power" that did necrotic damage to a burst 1.)

Again a fun night, but again the lack of 4E know-how makes it a little less than it should have been.

We were at 4 of our normal 8 players. We had a monk, assassin, cleric and a shaman. I as the assassin went first and took out one of the minions. I don't remember what happened next. But then those 2 came in and did their burst 3 2d10+3. The first one did 22 damage to 3 of the 4 of us, and the second did enough to knock the monk below 0. I would have been with him, except that I had activated my endure pain. By round 2 I had 2 hit points left and had teleported to the back of the party. From there it was pretty much a fighting retreat. We just couldn't overcome 100hp of damage in the first round. Eventually everyone except my assassin fell, although eventually they all rolled natural 20 on the death saving throw, it couldn't save them from being mobbed by 3 enemies before they got a turn to stand up. So they all ended up dieing while the assassin ran away.

Try using strategy and group tactics, that's what the little squares are for.  Do you realize the author provided the group the opportunity to bottle neck the entire encounter at the doorway?  All a group had to do was put a defender or two up front and range from the hallway.



Um, yeah great plan. We were annihilated in the bottle neck.

Did you read the post about the ranger blowing up the entire room?



We weren't told there was anything explosive on the table. And if he did, I didn't have enough range to reach the table, and I and the cleric were the only ones in the party with ranged attacks.

Pretty awesome when you have to use your brain to develop creative strategies for overcoming challenges rather than just rushing in without so much as a knowledge check to know what you're up against. 



Our DM didn't say anything about making knowledge checks. And how convenient it is that the bad guy ran through the room with a body thrown over his shoulder, and never had to deal with the baddies.

 
My notes:
- If there is an intent that players be auto-leveled to 2nd, a critical typo is discovered or whatever else may result in an unpleasant experience, please ensure that DMs *all* know this (push-email, or with the initial kit tell DMs that they must monitor a given thread or follow a certain twitter account or whatever).

- I think hard encounters are great, and particularly as there are point awards for surviving 8 sessions, doing so shouldn't be trivial.  Just please avoid terrible, campaign-breaking typos in future.

- For future use in both Encounters and LFR writing, provide a larger start area.  In 30+ years of playing I've never seen a party voluntarily bunch up; however in Encounters the fragile Psion and sneaky Rogue are deprived of cover and range at the start of every fight and apparently eagerly subject themselves to area fire.  Alternatively, provide the players with a free half-shift before the monsters are placed.  (Of course, then the encounter might be a group of NPCs that have been dogging the party's footsteps and just caught up to them from behind... {grin})





The snark and sniping that is going on needs to stop.

As has been mentioned several times before, this is the first time that WotC has attempted something like this, and there are bound to be oopses and mistakes on all sides. WotC pays very close attention to these threads, and is actively working on improving future sessions.

One of the excellent suggestions that I have seen is a twitter feed or email list or something like that. A way to contact DMs if there is a serious error discovered, as was this week. I know that I sent out the message via twitter using the #dndenc hashtag.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
We were at 4 of our normal 8 players. ... I don't remember what happened next. But then those 2 came in and did their burst 3 2d10+3.


if that's what really happened, then your DM screwed you (and bad).

the rotpriest's melee attack is 2d10+3, but that attack (since it is melee) can only target one person who must be adjacent to the rotpriest.

the rotpriest's close burst 3 attack only does 1d10+3.  also, since you had less than 6 players at your table, there should have only been 1 rotpriest, so you would have only had 1 rotpriest doing 1 of those 2 attacks per round.

the 2 guards' attacks are similar, but they use d6 (instead of d10) and only have a burst of 1 (instead of 3): melee, 2d6+3; close burst 1, 1d6+3.

your DM killed your party.  they weren't killed by the encounter itself.
A few clarifications:

1) Typos and mistakes are not a mark of unprofessionalism or apathy on the part of the publisher. As anyone involved in the publishing business knows, mistakes can enter into any phase of the process and for all number of reasons: writer mistakes, editor mistakes, type-setter mistakes. High end published novels have typos/mistakes as well--they're just not always as ruthless as some of these. For what it's worth, you have my sympathies as regards the typos. I can only suggest you *please* check out the boards before running a session.

2) I love the idea of an email-list send to correct typos and head off problems before they happen. I myself can't do something like that, as I'm just a freelance writer, and not an employee of WotC, much less an actual DDE organizer. (All I'm trying to do on the boards is lend some insight into the process and help make things go more smoothly.) I hope WotC institutes it for next season.

3) I appreciate all the feedback as to warnings that should or should not be in the module--that's great, and I hope WotC looks at those and determines how best to approach future seasons. That said, this module is not written in a vaccuum--it relies on the DMG and (to some extent) the DMG2 and the compendium. I'm not going to reiterate the guidelines on running encounters or preserving player fun that are printed there. On the other hand, I recognize that new DMs would benefit from a rehashing, but perhaps it would be better not to waste the space and instead post on the boards (which is exactly what I and some of the other members of the community have done). I'm just trying to make it work for the most people I can without annoying the ones who are already right there with it.

4) As for challenge rating: I'll repeat, when I wrote this module, I purposefully erred on the side of hard so as to provide a serious challenge that would keep players invested and engaged. I left it to the DMs to scale things appropriately--I've found it's much easier to make things easier on the fly than to make them *harder* on the fly (at least without coming off as a vindictive and arbitrary DM). There are rules in the booklet for scaling the encounters back for players new to 4e, deleveled groups, and for small groups (I would also add "unbalanced groups"); it's solely incumbant on the DM to follow these guidelines. If not, well, your DM killed you, not the encounter itself.

5) This is all an experiment. Of *course* things are going to go wrong. But I myself am still amazed at how smooth it's been, considering.

Cheers,

The Author

Erik Scott de Bie
A few questions/observations:

1) did i get this right: all of them were vulnerable 5 to fire, and hitting the healer guys with radiant turned off their regen for 1 turn.  did i miss any weaknesses?   side note: is the module avail for download?  or no?


2) your group HAD to have 2 people with at wills hitting many targets, or at least someone with an at-will multi target fire or radiant damage effect.   an invoker spamming hand of radiance would have turned off the regen for the most part or a sorceror with burning spray would have roasted the mushrooms fairly quickly.


Overall its great to be challenged, but for this encounter to be balanced too many things needed to go right.  we survived mostly because a shaman daily gave us resist 3 all which let us ignore the slime.

The design of the encounter was to showcase that focus fire isnt always best, and AoE powers doing more total damage is very valuable.  it was a very heavy handed approach to that lesson though.
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We weren't told there was anything explosive on the table. And if he did, I didn't have enough range to reach the table, and I and the cleric were the only ones in the party with ranged attacks.




I am curious: are there any groups who wiped AND used the free fireball sitting in the middle of the room?  our dm didnt really mention this either.
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My understanding is that you aren't aware of it until it gets triggered; by the default arrangement of monsters and their abilities, an arrow or other ranged attack could clue the PCs into it immediately (and quite possibly harm most of the monsters to boot) but otherwise you wouldn't know until something set it off. 

That's how two of our groups discovered it; unfortunately it was a discovery to their detriment. In one group, as I understand it, a dragonborn fighter led the PCs into battle by rushing into the room, leaping onto the main table, and using his breath weapon (acid) once he was up there. That was rather painful for him, as you might expect.

The other group were assisted by the DM, who allowed a Minotaur-backed maul miss cause the tables to shudder and knock over a beaker into a pile of powder, triggering an explosion. Unfortunately there the group decided the chemicals must all be explosive potions, so tried throwing individual vials. Which didn't have the effect they hoped for.  My understanding is that the DM ruled this eventually caused a fire, which due to some questionable tactics, led to a number of PCs on fire. Including the party cleric being unconscious and on fire. 

As has been mentioned several times before, this is the first time that WotC has attempted something like this, and there are bound to be oopses and mistakes on all sides.

Only if you define "something like this" very narrowly.

D&DE is in almost every way equivalent to a three-round RPGA module strung out over multiple sessions, with the only twist being that players jump in and out after each encounter.  WOTC has been producing such modules for well over a decade.

I'm perplexed by those defending mistakes on the basis that D&DE is like nothing WOTC has ever done before, and that basic concepts--for example, the need for a document with rules on how to make a character, the need to actually playtest combats ahead of time, the fact that most DMs will run the combats as written and kill PCs if the dice say they die--are being treated as though there was just no possible way that those in charge could ever have conceived of them in advance.

I'm fine with the idea that D&DE contained certain unique situations that were difficult to prepare fully for (the consequences of players changing after every encounter, for example, or the need for bookkeeping covering a day that stretched over multiple sessions).  However, the idea that D&DE is such a unique snowflake that everyone was working blind and no one had the slightest idea how to prepare for such a thing requires a willful blindness to history.
As has been mentioned several times before, this is the first time that WotC has attempted something like this, and there are bound to be oopses and mistakes on all sides.

Only if you define "something like this" very narrowly.

D&DE is in almost every way equivalent to a three-round RPGA module strung out over multiple sessions, with the only twist being that players jump in and out after each encounter.  WOTC has been producing such modules for well over a decade.



and if you're going down that road, then complaints about the difficulty are frankly whining because I've seen far harder modules come out of WotC.

However, if the suggestion is that this is the first "intro"-draw-new-players-into-organized-play-each-week-with-some-hot-new-game-of-the-season approach, I -do- think that the "first" moniker is apt.


The snark and sniping that is going on needs to stop.




Cartigan, I apologize for my response to your post.  Your opinion is important and I'm sure others value your input with the idea of improving the series. 

I think I popped off without thinking of how critical the DM's role is in each of these encounters.  I've been spoiled to play with three different guys over the course of the season who are very knowledgeable, experienced DM's with "fun" at the epicenter of their intent.  I know last session our DM chose to pull a punch or two and was effective at providing hints and clues for the noobs at the table.  Nobody died, but we were all close which is what made it so awesome!

One thing I have noticed is how even experienced players rush into these with the expectation that because we are L1/L2 the encounter lacks serious threat.  After playing two or three encounters in a row everyone should quickly realize death is a possibility.  With the exception of last week, my groups have learned to be cautious, inching forward 5 feet at a time, rolling checks for everything;  slime on the floor, alchemical covered tables, spiked coffins, glowing runes, crystals, pits, bridges and crenelations.  And it seems imperative to roll a knowledge check against whatever you're fighting.  Our DM's provide clues which lend to strategies for overcoming the enemies.

I've played in groups where we walk through 4 consecutive encounters with no one so much as falling unconcious or having to even use a daily.  BORING!!!  This series preserves the flavor of the original Dungeons and Dragons (thank you Erik).  Remember when your "Elf Class" character was extremely vulnerable and you had to AVOID conflict for fear of getting hit (once) and dying because you only had4 HP's?  When I was a kid, the DM would tear up your character sheet right in front of you.  With 4th edition we have the benefit of heroic level adventurers at first level with awesome powers, abilities and equipment, but without any true threat of DEATH it gets boring fast.
Couple of things/questions after reading the thread... 

Show


Rotpriest ae heal on 0 hp... the other DM was convinced this allows the rotpriest to choose targets for healing, so I didn't have either heal the PCs around it when it died.  How is this supposed to work?  If it just heals everyone I might give all the PCs back a healing surge to compensate.



A power must say something like "enemies only" or "allies only". Otherwise, it includes all targets in the area of effect. Compare the AoE for the minions, which specifies a type of creature.

3) The DM for our table (store owner, and hater of 4E) didn't like (or couldn't read) the spoiler's "spoiler" effect.  Instead he auto hit the whole party for 10 Necrotic.


and
But then those 2 came in and did their burst 3 2d10+3.


Not only is that damage upped by 1d10 over the actual power, but it affects all creatures (including allies of the creature using the power).

See, bottom line, the DMs need to step up and see this program for what it is. It is an introductory program. Scale things back as needed for fun. If you want to abuse your players, check with them and make sure they want that. Unless the party is constantly cake-walking through your sessions, you probably don't need to up the difficulty. If you are a player and feel like you are being abused, and you don't like it, talk to the DM and the store in a polite way and request they weaken the fights.

Sure, it would be grand if the adventure said in big bold letters that DMs should place "fun" as the biggest priority and step the challenge down as needed. It would be great if typos didn't show up. But, the reality is the DM is always responsible for the table result. You don't just run what is there and shrug if it isn't fun. You accept your responsibility and do what needs to be done to give a good time to those involved. This benefits the players (they have fun), the store (the players come back and buy stuff), and you (you have a good relationship with the players).


In 30+ years of playing I've never seen a party voluntarily bunch up


It happens often in 4E, actually. Not necessarily a 2x6 area, but most people want to be within 5 in heroic to be within reach of healing, warlord bonuses, etc. That said, the starting areas in this season are a bit confining. Again, DMs should use their judgment. And, players should make their case. I have a defender that always starts three squares in front of the party. I make this clear to the whole table. Sometimes it bites me, but I can live with that. Either the rest of the PCs are moved back or I am in front of the start box, up to the DM. DMs have been cool with that (and punish me accordingly as I well deserve for that tactic... hence my resistances, etc.).

5) This is all an experiment. Of *course* things are going to go wrong. But I myself am still amazed at how smooth it's been, considering.


Agreed. It has been excellent. You should be really proud. This has been a success, even with the few issues.

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I logged onto this site to see what went wrong with this weeks encounter as it was a complete disaster for us. (Party of 5, L2paladin, L1fighter, 2x L1wizard, L1warlock)

Some creature(s) had a power that robbed players of a standard action. This combined with some low init rolls and some high damage from burst attacks meant that three of us died before doing anything.

The TPK came very shortly afterwards with one minion dead, and damage being dealt to only two others. We all went home very early.

Now I don't oppose TPKs and I don't oppose challenging encounters. But a TPK in the second round of combat... Ouch.

I'm guessing our DM is heavily to blame - he appears to have played it purely as written despite our party lacking our cleric, and that "lose standard action' power got played as an at-will. The range attacks against the bottleneck were devastating.

Anyway, I won't be back for any more of this nonsense. Whether its the adventure or the DM's fault or some combination of both, there's no point playing in a hopeless situation.


 

When not wasting time on the WOTC forums, I waste time on my D&D 4E Campaign website.
Week 10 and my group have there second biggest set back of the season... TPK

This encounter was really really bad for everyone, the combination of the ROTPRIEST being able to decide how much damage it and the Gaurds shared between them
Combined with the no Standard actions if hit power of the Gaurds meant I had to think fast to try not to wipe the party really quick I also let the Wizard make attack rolls against the table to create burst 1 area attacks with his mage hand spell just to give them a chance, the minions healing burst 3 on death didn't help and i purposly forgot to roll the attacks against the heroes when they did die.

But all in all the TPK came down to one reason as far as i am concerned and thats because the monk used his daily the game before

Party consisted of LVL2 Battlerager Dragonborn / LVL 2 Warlord / LVL 2 Gith Monk / LVL 2 Dwarf Ranger / LVL 1 human wizard

<>
To Vox and Skree: You guys got screwed by the two typos, it sounds like: specifically, that the pacification spore is ENCOUNTER, not at-will, and that the encounter as presented is scaled for 6 PCs of 2nd level, not 5 PCs or PCs of 1st level. It sounds like your DMs didn't adjust for either of these.

I'm sorry if you aren't going to be back--I have gone over the following encounters myself, and pointed out typos on these boards. I think you'd have a better time if you checked those out.

Otherwise, thanks for the feedback and for being guinea pigs, even if it was a bad experience! I hope you check out season 2, which has hopefully taken some lessons from the thoughts presented here on the boards.

Cheers,
The Author
Erik Scott de Bie
Six players at Lost Legions games and Comics: The Rifleman. All level two. I offered to let them bring an extra character to balance out what was sure to be a VERY tough encounter, but to their credit, they chose the greater challenge.
spoilerey stuff


The Paladin was the only one to go out into the room and he spent most of the encounter Slimed. His survival was amazing. As the only defender, he did his job well of drawing enemy fire. He took the one Pacification Spore and the Psion took the other.

 The ranger got pounded by exploding minions and dropped early, then killed by a rotpriest's burst attack. The cleric used his daily which contributed to the party's success more than anything else, I think. He did a tremendous amount of healing.

At one point I had everyone bloodied and it looked real bad. I rolled in the open, no fudging, and used all monster abilities to the max, though I may have accidentally forgotten the regeneration a couple of times.

They never caused any explosions, none of the trained in arcane characters got close enough to the doorway to warrent a check and the paladin and ranger flubbed their perception checks, so I never clued them to it.


I really liked this battle, though I credit this forum for helping me to be totally prepared for it. I think it's one we'll all remember.

To Vox and Skree: You guys got screwed by the two typos, it sounds like: specifically, that the pacification spore is ENCOUNTER, not at-will, and that the encounter as presented is scaled for 6 PCs of 2nd level, not 5 PCs or PCs of 1st level. It sounds like your DMs didn't adjust for either of these.

I'm sorry if you aren't going to be back--I have gone over the following encounters myself, and pointed out typos on these boards. I think you'd have a better time if you checked those out.

Otherwise, thanks for the feedback and for being guinea pigs, even if it was a bad experience! I hope you check out season 2, which has hopefully taken some lessons from the thoughts presented here on the boards.

Cheers,
The Author
Erik Scott de Bie


If Vox's party experienced a TPK in round 2, then the difference between Pacification Spore being encounter vs. at-will is relatively moot. We've already had other people express the problem with relying on knowing the existence of a message board to cover important errata information.

Greetings All Gamers~


Well, having looked at the posts throughout the various forums, I saw there was a lot of diversity in experience during the Week Ten session. Since the session is all over, I will share my experience.


We did NOT have a TPK, nor was it really a possibility. Our party consisted of level 2 characters, including a Wildling Shaman, Shardmind Psion, Human (pregen) Paladin, a pair of Rogues –a Halfling and a Drow and my Goliath Battlemind. As you can see, we were well balanced, and we had a full complement of party members. The session begun with us, according to our DM, chasing the Eladrin Swordmage from the previous week’s encounter with our employer slung over his shoulder. He just slips through a door on the other end of this strange and cluttered alchemical laboratory and we roll initiative…


The Battlemind rolls initiative, and with the benefit of Improved Speed of Thought, makes it to the space adjacent to the door through which our quarry, the Eladrin, just passed. The Halfling and Battlemind have pretty high initiative, and while foes become evident in the room, the Paladin yells for us to go forth to grab the Swordmage. We do so, finding a forbidding surprise on the other side of the door. A turn or two go by, and the Drow Rogue and our Psion do major damage to the minion-types-before foes take any damage, thus negating usefulness of their healy bursts. Good for us.


The Shaman and Paladin do their wonders and lock down and, or flank so we have sneaks set up for the rogues, one of whom has Distant Advantage as his 2nd level feat, so that is sweet. Things go well, the only problem being the slime, which only our foes seem to be able to hit at all-23 Fortitude, wow. Long story short, the two defenders do a good job locking foes down and messing their plans up, strikers strike hard and repeatedly, our Shardmind friend displays awesome and timely battlefield control with Forceful Push and Kinetic Trawl, and our friendly neighborhood Shaman keeps our blood flowing, but not TOO freely. We were aware of, but unsuccessful with the flasks-my Battlemind whiffing too often to make use of them worthwhile, and other PCs had other plans for victory. This was just as well, because we clocked the whole encounter in at about 4 or 5 rounds of action.


So there it was, no fuss, no muss, no TPK. Admittedly, each of the players had at least five years of DnD experience, so we brought some skill in strategy and battlefield improvisation to the table (literally), but I don’t remember hearing any other groups (of the five or six that there were) getting angry or displeased in any way for any results of the session. So what is the secret? Communication between players, focus, following the leads of others to work as a machine, and heroism. There you go.


My two coppers and a hangnail for your consideration.


Tyrskald, Player of Vauthea the Masqueless, Goliath Quick Battlemind

In short: Party coordination.

Something you often don't get at a random table of newbies.
In short: Party coordination.

Something you often don't get at a random table of newbies.



Yes, I agree with you, Sithobi, random tables of newbies may not have the experience to coodinate well. Fortunately, my table was able to. Please understand that the purpose of my post was two-fold.

First, I wanted to share that from my experience the session ten encounter was neither impossible, nor was it the *automatic* TPK it feels (to me) like a lot of feedback in these forums expresses. I try to support that it could even have been an easily managable encounter. I certainly recognize there was a lot of potential for trouble with it however, especially with the imfamous encounter power being run as an at-will.

Second, as I mentioned in my post, there were five or six other tables around us with players who appeared generally pleased with their experiences. I could have been wrong, but there appeared to me to be consisted of 60-70% newbies, and they still seemed satisfied--i.e. no one stormed out extolling the virtues of boycotting all things 4E.

Hopefully, my intent is clearer now, but it's kind of early still, so maybe I'm writing in tounges here.  Wink  Thanks for your comment, Sithobi, as you spurred me to expound on my initial comments.

Tyrskald
Still player of Vauthea the Masqueless, Goliath Quick Battlemind

So there it was, no fuss, no muss, no TPK. Admittedly, each of the players had at least five years of DnD experience, so we brought some skill in strategy and battlefield improvisation to the table (literally), but I don’t remember hearing any other groups (of the five or six that there were) getting angry or displeased in any way for any results of the session. So what is the secret? Communication between players, focus, following the leads of others to work as a machine, and heroism. There you go.


My two coppers and a hangnail for your consideration.


Tyrskald, Player of Vauthea the Masqueless, Goliath Quick Battlemind


Tyrskald-

Do you know whether your DM corrected for the typos? The terrible problems we had at our shop were largely a result of not realizing the Encounter was so badly unabalnced before we ran it.

One thing I've noticed about 4e is that encounters do not seem to scale in difficulty in as linear a fashion as the DMG dictates. It's MUCH easier for a group of 6 PCs to take down an Enconter scaled to their level than a group of 4 (or even 5) to do the same. Even with more foes, redundancy of roles (and the assurance that every role is actually filled!) gives the larger group a definite edge, or at least that's been my experience in 2 years of running 4e 4-6 times a month.

I'm curious whether you've also been playing at that table with those same 5 other players all season. That's a HUGE advantage that only a lucky few can enjoy given the format; we're just starting to get some of the coordination that comes with players knowing each others tactics as we manage to string together a few weeks in a row where the same people show up and occupy the same table.

I suspect these sorts of problesm will be much-mitigated by the limited suite of available PCs in Season 2, where the Encounters can be more carefully calibrated to provide the right challenge for the specific PCs the designers know will be facing them.

I do have to say that there was an upside or two to Session 10 even with the TPKs. One was that it motivated me to find this Forum, which I didn't realize was in operation. The other was this awesome cartoon one of our players drew.

Jim Crocker, Managing Partner Modern Myths, LLC Northampton, MA www.modern-myths.com
Hello Jim,

Please find my responses to your comments & questions below, in-line:


Do you know whether your DM corrected for the typos?
~We saw him receive a printed out email or something just as game was being started. I believe it contained info on what typos there were.

It's MUCH easier for a group of 6 PCs to take down an Enconter scaled to their level than a group of 4 (or even 5) to do the same.
~I'm not sure I've noticed the same issue with scaling you mention, Jim.I'm willing to bet it has to do with player experience more than # of PCs present, but who knows? Synergy is a powerful force. The whole Gestalt thing, you know. I'd be curious to read/hear what others have to share about this...

I'm curious whether you've also been playing at that table with those same 5 other players all season.
~My player of the Psion and I have attended each session and played together during each of them, but any given other player has only been in attendance 6 or so of the 10 sessions we've had this season. So yes, we have had the benefit of learning each other's styles and preferences, developed our ability to synergize. It is huge, and the learning curve is less steep for players who've learned to coordinate as party members before. I tried to allude to the experience of the players in my original post, but perhaps it seemed understated. My actual purpose for posting was to say that the Encounter was valid as is, and not an auto TPK. It may have taken a party with player experience, but I don't think that invalidates the point I was trying to make. I guess I just didn't want it to remain unsaid that the encounter wasn't entirely unfair, though for a group of newer players, or of fewer than six PCs, etc. I can see the tough challenges they'd face that we did not need to.

I suspect these sorts of problesm will be much-mitigated by the limited suite of available PCs in Season 2, where the Encounters can be more carefully calibrated to provide the right challenge for the specific PCs the designers know will be facing them.
~You make a good point here. I can understand intentionally playing around with party composition--"Hmm, what would it be like to have all Strikers?...or all Defenders... etc."--but not something that would necessarily be facilitative of the goals I assume exist for the DDE program, i.e. to hook new players and share the love we graybeards (hopefully) have for the game. In fact, I sort of look forward to the challenge of playing something I didn't personally create. It'll be a fun personal challenge, and I'm going to enjoy choosing the PC I least likely would ever play. I can hardly wait--two weeks left!  :-)

I do have to say that there was an upside or two to Session 10 even with the TPKs. One was that it motivated me to find this Forum, which I didn't realize was in operation. The other was this awesome cartoon one of our players drew.
~This was hilarious and I bet a lot of players, judging by the posts in these forums, will get a chuckle from. I like that it serves to connect us all too. Props to your buddy.

Yours in gaming goodness,

Tyrskald
a.k.a. Vauthea the Masqueless, Goliath Quick Battlemind
It's MUCH easier for a group of 6 PCs to take down an Encounter scaled to their level than a group of 4 (or even 5) to do the same.
~I'm not sure I've noticed the same issue with scaling you mention, Jim.I'm willing to bet it has to do with player experience more than # of PCs present, but who knows? Synergy is a powerful force. The whole Gestalt thing, you know. I'd be curious to read/hear what others have to share about this...


It seems to depend on the encounter and monster. I generally find the add/remove monster to be the best scaling and most appropriate scaling mechanism. The typical 5 monsters at the level of the encounter can be altered either by adding/removing a monster or by adding/removing a level from each of the 5 monsters. In general, the extra monster will prove a bigger factor. But, that assumes that the monster is useful.

A big part of scaling DDE is thinking about what to add/remove from each encounter. This isn't always obvious. A controller might be really a big deal, adding lots of AoE damage and conditions that are strong... or it could be a lot of weak damage and redundant conditions. An artillery might be really lethal, or it might mean a monster that dies really quickly. A brute might mean a lot of damage or a slogfest. It is very hard to tell and really the program would be better if the author and WotC made those calls.

From the other side, a larger party means there is more of a chance that the PCs include appropriate roles and that they have the right powers/skills/etc. to deal with a particular threat. This is particularly a problem with a table of 4, but it can be a big advantage for a table of 6. It is also especially true at paragon. Consider two defenders that have different ways to mark and different ways to deal with conditions (prone, daze, etc.) - this is a party with a lot of flexibility for dictating what the important monsters will fight. Take away one defender and this changes... but, that's assuming this is a fight where defenders mater, which is not always the case.

Adding a monster when a PC is added is generally sufficient, however. Depending on the encounter you ideally consider this. Does the encounter need more damage? Range or melee? More beef/defense? There are a lot of factors and almost no way to understand them all.

With this particular fight, it was hard at 6 PCs, no question. Some tables will assuredly do well, but overall the scaling handled a party of 6 very well.

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It's MUCH easier for a group of 6 PCs to take down an Encounter scaled to their level than a group of 4 (or even 5) to do the same.
~I'm not sure I've noticed the same issue with scaling you mention, Jim.I'm willing to bet it has to do with player experience more than # of PCs present, but who knows? Synergy is a powerful force. The whole Gestalt thing, you know. I'd be curious to read/hear what others have to share about this...


It seems to depend on the encounter and monster. I generally find the add/remove monster to be the best scaling and most appropriate scaling mechanism. The typical 5 monsters at the level of the encounter can be altered either by adding/removing a monster or by adding/removing a level from each of the 5 monsters. In general, the extra monster will prove a bigger factor. But, that assumes that the monster is useful.

A big part of scaling DDE is thinking about what to add/remove from each encounter. This isn't always obvious. A controller might be really a big deal, adding lots of AoE damage and conditions that are strong... or it could be a lot of weak damage and redundant conditions. An artillery might be really lethal, or it might mean a monster that dies really quickly. A brute might mean a lot of damage or a slogfest. It is very hard to tell and really the program would be better if the author and WotC made those calls.

From the other side, a larger party means there is more of a chance that the PCs include appropriate roles and that they have the right powers/skills/etc. to deal with a particular threat. This is particularly a problem with a table of 4, but it can be a big advantage for a table of 6. It is also especially true at paragon. Consider two defenders that have different ways to mark and different ways to deal with conditions (prone, daze, etc.) - this is a party with a lot of flexibility for dictating what the important monsters will fight. Take away one defender and this changes... but, that's assuming this is a fight where defenders mater, which is not always the case.

Adding a monster when a PC is added is generally sufficient, however. Depending on the encounter you ideally consider this. Does the encounter need more damage? Range or melee? More beef/defense? There are a lot of factors and almost no way to understand them all.

With this particular fight, it was hard at 6 PCs, no question. Some tables will assuredly do well, but overall the scaling handled a party of 6 very well.

Aheh. So this last week was my turn to play, and not DM. And our DM, in our last LFR adventure, was accused of being 'easy'. And neither of us thought to check for errata.

We had 7 players. 4 strikers, and 3 leaders. One of each was second level. We did not actually suffer a tpk, though only because we had oodles of healing. Stress the 'had' part. Our DM also allowed us to convert a standard to a move. So each time that awful 'no standard' thing took effect, whoever was effected retreated.

That all said, however, because nothing got DONE, our nice little '2' hour encounter took 4 hours. Everyone used dailies. Everyone used the majority of their surges. Everyone used essentially, everything, and the worst? When we finally succeeded in killing everything and went through the room, THEN we set off all the explosions.

Whoever said they'd like to replay it with the errata'ed changes made, has it. We are meeting a couple hours early to do just that. And everyone will also be second level(Taking the suggestion made elsewhere to allow virtual xp). Hopefully it'll go easier this time.
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