D&D Encounters Field Reports (Week 4)

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Use this thread to discuss your experiences with week 4 of D&D Encounters Dark Sun. 

Please realise that both players and DMs read these threads, so do not put spoilers in your posts. If your post   goes into enough details, then you absolutely must use spoilers. Enclose the spoilery bit in [*sblock=spoiler stuff][*/sblock]  (just   remove the *) spoiler block tags so that players who haven't played yet don't have the surprise ruined for them. 

[*sblock=spoilerey stuff]

blahblahblah

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will produce

spoilerey stuff


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once you remove the *.
Mudbunny SVCL for DDI Before you post, think of the Monkeysphere
Portland, OR had another great preliminary evening at Guardian Games. We again ran 4 tables and look forward to the expansion so we can have more tables and shift fully to Wednesdays. I could talk about how cool it was to see the Orcus fig, but let's get on to the DDE gaming!

Having read the forums and in light of previous weeks, we were of course concerned and wanted to make sure this was a fun session. Before showing up I went through a few options and when on-site we had our usual pre-game DM meeting to share ideas.

Here is what we ended up suggesting:

Spoilers on our encounter 1-4 Skill challenge changes:

  • I proposed using the idea of finding a series of mud structures as they approach the rocky badlands terrain. Nature allowed them to know it was a type of giant Athasian Wasp. One wasp in each mud structure, with a hole at the top. A successful check also told them that hunters, when desperate and brave, have learned to use smoke to make one go out, then they run to draw it away while the rest of the tribe raids it for the food within.  Failure would have either meant another roll or they have to brave it to see what it is.

  • Running away was the Athletics check. Even on a failed nature, a PC could draw it away with this skill. On a failure, lose a surge or have the sting give you some penalty (-1 speed for encounter, etc.). The thing is huge, with PCs automatically knowing not to fight it.

  • While the wasp is distracted, the others can go in to raid it for supplies. Within were a bunch of dead/paralyzed giant Athasian spiders (their ichor all mingling) and feeding on that were a bunch of wasp grubs (hand-sized, super-slimy).

  • The PCs (other than the one busy running/distracting the wasp) can make Heal checks to see what is worth taking. With a success, they realize that the not-so-delicious wasp grub treat can replenish 1-2 surges (adjust based on table need). Regardless of success/failure, the PCs get some nourishment from whatever they choose to eat ("Hey, can I have some of that chitonous rock-spider leg?"), they replenish supplies but not enough to change the number of survival days (unless you need that for table balance).

  • The PCs can then make their third check to see if they recognize that the grubI shared some ideas on the preceding skill challenge scene with the   option to restore 1-2 healing surges.


Now, a lot of these ideas came because I happened to notice that the "A Little Knowledge" flip-book adventure found in the first Dark Sun boxed set is loaded with cool pictures of the Athasian landscape. I used the scrub plains and rocky badlands ones to show terrain changes as they traveled. And, then I used the wasp mud structure to show this part of the skill challenge (skipping the other images, except for the one of adventurers sweating, which I always love). Players really liked the images.

At the end of the SC we all ran the same Silt Storm skill check, because most tables had not seen that. While random rolls sound fun, it is hard to track if players shift tables and repetitive hazards are less fun.


After that fun with the skill challenge, I had them approach the next part for some RP.
Spoiler for the RP:

I had them place themselves on the map (they actually bunched up a bit) as they spotted a box canyon with a hut at the far end. As they approached, a dwarf atop the structure (apparently had been meditating in the sun) stood up and asked them what they were doing.

I then ran the RP bit, with some good times as they learned he was a preserver, of his take on the storm, etc. One of the PCs actually asked him if the enemies were approaching, which caused him to concentrate and then announce that they were! This bit of RP was pretty useful for the conclusion, as will be seen.


Spoilers on our encounter 1-4 Combat changes:

  • I warned the other DMs that this seemed to be a pretty challenging encounter. We have tracking sheets showing surges and HPs and dailies that each PC has and the DMs are used to scanning them before play to see how hurt or not hurt the table may be.

  • As was mentioned by Flintlocke (awesome idea, by the way), anyone scaling up  was encouraged to use one mini for two monsters, splitting apart when  bloodied. This had the effect of fewer attacks, but staying power. It also served as a nice reservoir for the DM. If the fight was a bit too hard, don't have it split. If it was too easy, have it split. (While making it a sort of elite, I did not improve defenses, which are plenty high. I just doubled HPs).

  • DMs were urged to roll init first, and based on that gauge how rough  to play it. If the DM saw the PCs were mostly going last (and could not  escape the kill zone), then they could start a bit softer so players  could get away. If the PCs were likely to be able to get away or started spread out, then there was latitude to be a bit stronger during surprise.

  • Suggestion was to have the surprise round consist of one DD monster  going after the dwarf, one charging, and one doing the shift (with  limited effect). This minimized initial damage and control. The Ssuran  does not go in the surprise round, of course.

  • I urged DMs to use the rest of the poster map, ignoring the black line and allowing the PCs to move back on the map as needed to spread out.

  • I gave DMs the option of running the dwarf with the stats of the  Ardent, using healing powers on himself or others and even other powers,  converted to ranged as needed.


I've DMd a fair bit and I trust myself to undo any trouble I might get myself into, so I often play it a bit looser and try to  experiment a bit. Part of my fun with DDE is trying things I might not  try in an RPGA living campaign where (for good reason) there is lower  tolerance for DMs making modifications. This sometimes means I ignore my own good advice...

I decided to do a few more things.
  • I did scale up for 6 players, knowing this might be folly, but just doubled the HPs of one of the DDs and planned on splitting when bloodied if needed. It was not needed, and to be honest I would recommend DMs not scale up and that DMs with tables of 5 have two dust devils with one of them having double HPs (3 monsters worth of HPs, but two monsters on the board). A table of 4 should remove a DD and then also have the other two be a single one that splits when bloodied. 

  • In my run I used a large mini for the double-HP monster, but this wasn't really any better.

  • I encouraged knowledge checks so they would have a chance to realize that the powers included dangerous AoE.

  • I changed the DDs main attack to be D6-based instead of D10. This worked well. D10 was too much.

  • I played them as chaotic creatures. They did not use their bursts or shifts to full extent (I never overlapped the blasts to get more than one PC twice) and I did not use the skirmish power on all the targets I could have reached.

  • I toyed with giving them an actual perception roll or to encourage them to spread out more. In retrospect, this is a good idea. Despite my above changes, the PCs were still bunched up and thus the combat was not as mobile as I would like. The alternative is to have the PCs spread out before surprise/init just because they are talking.

  • I made Ralo a high con Artificer (I happen to play a Con Artificer). I used level 1 powers, including Scouring Weapon to lower AC, Aggravating Force to give the next ally +2, Resistive/Curative heals, and Punishing Eye. Because this ran on Tuesday, these were basically Twitter buffs. You may want to consider using Wednesday's Twitter Buffs as coming from him.

  • I changed the map to be a little different, moving the tiles around and adding the hut from the Dark Sun tile set. The hut added more 3-D terrain, looked awesome, and gave players some interesting thoughts about how to reach Ralo (if they wanted to) while making it unlikely they would try too early on. It also allowed me to basically place one DD on Ralo and not on the PCs.


You can see the setup I used here:8cf543f9cc8f21256c63db554096895c.jpg?v=151650
Ralo is atop the hut. To the right of the hut is a table, which represents a cistern of sorts that PCs could jump over (though there is a spot of deep silt there). Monsters start near silt and may move back there if hurt.  The poisonscale is shown in the bottom left, but actually does not begin on the map.

I thought Ralo worked great! I used his powers to keep him alive (Dwarven Second Wind, baby!) and to help PCs. The Punishing Eye's +4 damage was huge! When I used that daily I also RPd that they felt defiling magic... that's right, Ralo was once VA but had turned to defiling! (I made the burst 20 not affect anyone, since they weren't truly allies, but they felt the corrupting nature and saw the cacti wither). Now they knew his secret, setting the stage for the conclusion...

Combat started pretty rough. Despite my adjustments, the party did end up more prone and more beat-up than I intended. As I said before, I really should have let them have a better chance to spread out by letting them roll perception or encouraging them to spread out more.

68811d78403348820fe48c0fe4334b4f.jpg?v=270000
You can see the PCs, which (other than the tiefling) are original Dark Sun minis painted most expertly by a friend of mine. He brought them to the store and made my day.

The PCs bounced back (despite horrid rolls) by being smart about concentrating fire. They slowly took out one DD, then the double-DD, then the last one, then the Ssuran. It was overall pretty fun, with 2-3 PCs going down and lots of bloodied. This table came in with a good number of surges and had done well in previous sessions, so it was ok for them to have this hard fight. Enjoyment seemed pretty high, especially once combat opened up.

Finally the last foe dropped and they could face the preserver become, Ralo.


Combat was pretty fun, so it was now time to wrap things up.

Final RP:

Ralo was brought back with healing and he was shamed. He admitted he had strayed from the path. The VA members wanted to string him up and much discussion was had over his fate. Phye recommended he seek out the fire spirit and try to find answers and a new path. In the end, this was the verdict and Ralo, in thanks, gifted the VA members with his knowledge. (They would have received it either way, but it was a nice story this way). I was pretty happy with how it played out.


I shared a handout on Athasian weapons at the start of the session, so players could see what some of their PCs were wielding. I have included the pdf link here and written about Athasian weapons in my weekly blog.

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).

Thanx Alphastream!!! great suggestions!

Question though


Which images did you show to the players? Do you have page numbers?

Edit: found which u meant. They look awesome, indeed!




The other DM TPKed for the second time this season. Either he's better at tactics than I am or I'm better at gauging what my players can take.


This week a new player and one of the old players missing. Barcan, Castri, Shikirr, Jarvix and finally Yuka gets used.


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The skill challenge was beaten today.


I played Ralo straight. I also made him a Bard halfway through the fight when the leaderless party really needed heals. It was the first Leader that sprang to mind. I may also have developed a fondness for Dwarven Bards when I read Elaine Cunningham's novel Elfsong a while back. PCs failed init bad. This probably saved them as I said screw it and made the surprise round the first round because two turns in a row was going to pwn them straight out of the gate, especially with no real leader and a player who'd never played before. The PCs missed a lot and got beaten around a bit but won through in the end, partly thanks to the musical stylings of Ralo.


I'm going to go harder on them week after next since it'll be the last fight of this chapter, I think. Beat the frak out of them. >D



The store we play at is closed this coming wednesday so we'll be a week behind for a bit. We're probably going to either skip or combine a session to get back on track.

It's spelled Corellon Larethian, not Correlon, Correllon, Correlllon, Corellion, Correlian or any other way of getting it wrong. I'm a total grognard and I still play 4E.
Our group ran two tables tonight at Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA. Sadly we've had to move here from our old site, as Your Move Games has closed. :-(

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So, both tables had it rough. One table was entirely bloodied and struggling from the get go. Ralo sadly died at that table in the surprise round and the party fought valiantly, losing one adventurer and nearly several more. But it seems like they had fun pulling their fat out of the fire.

The table I ran, likewise had some rough spots, also at the beginning. Using some ideas from this forum, for a full table of six, I scaled the encounter by making the Ssuran an Elite using the Devastor template. I never got to use all his near Elite powerz sadly, as early on he earned the ire of the Psion Jarvis and ...

... well, let me start from the beginning. So the party meets Ralo and begins to learn about him. But as they are questioning him, the Dust Devils attack with the lizardfolk shouting about him being a "dirty Defiler!". The party, mostly surprised, both by the revelation and by the attack finds themselves on the defensive almost immediately. Figuring that sneak attacks by all four of the enemy would clearly just annihilate Ralo, I had them split up in order to give the party at least a chance to save him. The Ssuran tried to kill the dwarf and sent the elementals to play interference.

This resulted, early on, in the dwarf bloodied and suffering from ongoing poison damage and the party shuttled around by dust devils making their melee basic attacks. The tight defensive pod of the party was suddenly scattered all over the map and the surprise round is just ending. The first real round of combat begins and early on, the Ssuran uses his burst attack on the party, bloodying several of them, action points and tries to take out Jarvix since he's suffering from the poison vulnerability. Jarvix has taken on the order of 23 points of damage at this point and is almost unconscious from the second attack. Well, Jarvix goes next. "You picked on the wrong adventurer!" and we learn that anything the Ssuran can do, Jarvix can do better. Jarvix crits on his Daily power, attacking the SSuran and inducing vulnerability to psychic damage.

And you can see where this train is going. Action point, Distract, and attack with power with the psychic damage type ... ouch, even as an elite with 58 HP, the Ssuran is now bloodied and with 11 hp left. He never makes it to the next round.

Which is just as well, because the Dust Devils, with their burst powers, were more than a challenge for the party. It was a struggle, and with the Battlemind and Sorceror unable to hit for a couple of rounds (dice were cold) it was veeeery touch and go. But in the end, the party saves Ralo and defeated the elementals without losing anyone. Though I think Phye might have liked to leave her brother to die ...

All told, I think a very successful, if hair-raising encounter.
I think we're all done as of this week.

After four weeks of unfun characters, unfun encounters and unfun story, it looks like the 2 regulars and one or two part-timers are dropping.

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Once again the encounter starts with an NPC encounter we have no reason to talk to, no reason to approach and had no useful information to give us, other than the Wasterwalker or whatever is a primal lizard that hates magic. Meh, we all hate magic I thought?

Then we're attacked by a primal-looking lizard that seems to hate magic. As he and his insane wind-friends were beating our ****, we offered to turn over the two evil arcanists to him (the dwarf and the PC sorcerer) if he let us go, but he said somthing about guilt by association... even though we swore we didn't know the dwarf and didn't know the sorcerer was an arcanist.

Oh, it did seem like the Wastewander guy hated our sorcerer and this whole storm was to kill him... which kind of failed in any kind of sense making.

Anyways, the party split at the end, 2 running off into the wild and 2 staying behind and finishing the fight thanks to some extreme luck. So arguably our group isn't even together anymore if we actually play next week. Not sure what to do about that.

Since no one may show up to play, it may not be an issue though.


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As he was beating our ass, we offered to turn over the two evil arcanists to him (the dwarf and the PC sorcerer) if he let us go, but he said somthing about guilt by association... even though we swore we didn't know the dwarf and didn't know the sorcerer was an arcanist.




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Soooo... if you didn't know the sorceror was an arcanist, how can you offer him up to the Ssuran lizardman? Seems to me that the Ssuran would be well in his logical mind to reject your offer as a lie.

But that's just me.


Sorry you have had a round time of it, I can totally relate, here's hoping your players will give next season a try.



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Soooo... if you didn't know the sorceror was an arcanist, how can you offer him up to the Ssuran lizardman? Seems to me that the Ssuran would be well in his logical mind to reject your offer as a lie.

But that's just me.


Sorry you have had a round time of it, I can totally relate, here's hoping your players will give next season a try.






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He admitted being a sorcerer/arcanist while talking to the dwarf who admitted the same, so it just happened.

It may be worth adding I wasn't playing Phye, as I would figure she would know, and the Sorcerer only joined last session. Being a dumb bug, I figured I couldn't tell arcane magic outside of defiling from anything else.


Oh, and yeah, I don't see any reason to not try Season 3. We enjoyed Season 1 well enough, in fact we may ask the GM to re-run it :P
Well, where do I start.  I DM'ed season one and I am now DM'ing season two.  Season one wasnt bad, but the story week to week was, well...weak.  The continuity of an encounter at a time just isnt flowing for the players.  Jump to season two.  OMG!!  What were you thinking.

spoilerey stuff


Week 1 was a TPK in the making if the community had not adjusted the stats.  Week two the group was able to bounce back and hold their own.  Week three burned off most of the groups healing surges setting them up for two weeks of hell. 

This week was a joke.  If I had not modified the stats and rules on the Dust Devils the TPK would have happened in the first round.  Seriously 3d6+3 dmg from three monsters in one round?  None of them would have survived.  Oh the +8 to hit fort powers are just what a level one players wants to see.  It was instant death. 

As stated before the random NPCs standing in the desert waiving down the party so they can be ambushed by monsters and get no real information is a bit much too.  I mean think about it.  You are on a desert planet being chased by an obsidian storm, but wait, there is a random dwarf.  Lets stop and talk to him.  WHY??

Sorry, this season is just a bit silly the powers and skills dont match up to help the players have fun.  Looking at the powers in the level 2 additions, it is just more of the same poor choices for powers.

TPK... Players' didn't get to do anything after the Skill Chalenge and Initiative rolls...

Players didn't belive the Attack/Damage on the Dust Devils, I showed them the module...

Not sure I will be making table minimums next week...
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Spoilers
I was lucky enough to have been warned of the lethality of the encounter beforehand from the Portland group, so I toned down the encounter by combining 2 of the dust devils into an elite (and splitting when the normal one died), and dropping their at-will's to d6's and removing a d6 from their encounter powers.

I probably soft-balled it a bit too much

 The party seemed threatened but only one guy ended up bloodied... I don't really regret this because some characters are at the end of their healing surge supply (those that didn't die in encounter 2 and get reset).

I also told them that the fruit with healing powers from 1-3 gave them all 2 surges back each.

Oh, and I let them spread out at the beginning of the encounter, giving them a 7x7 area to occupy rather than the standard.

What I heard from other tables was a 2/3 TPK ratio... and the one non-TPK guy also reads the forums and makes modifications. It's a shame this module is so deadly when it's supposed to be geared towards introductory players.
DMing is a fine art and it takes either a lot of experience or a lot of BSing to turn an "impossible" encounter into the high flying death defying experience that this adventure is supposed to bring.  I am normally not a DM for encounters but I volunteered when 4 new people showed up bring the total number of people to 10 (2 parties of 4 plus a DM for each).  Now normally being a player I stay away from knowing anything about the encounter and had no idea what was in store.  Asked the other DM if there was anything I needed to know and away we went on our merry way.

Behold DM Magic!


Party: Phye, Yuka, Skikkkkkkkkk(he has lots of Ks and I forget how to spell it/lazy), and Barcan

The group barely made it past the skill challenge as the first two failed their checks putting a lot of pressure on the last two, but they made it with flying colors and on they went eventually running into Ralo.  The questioned him, Barcan tried to show off his awesome abilities to impress him, and then the ambush.

Now I had just quickly skimmed over the encounter saw the ridiculous requirement to join in the suprise round and neglected to read the tactics section.  I had 2 of the Devils use their recharge attack (one hit one miss) and the other charge the Battlemind.  The Battlemind was hit by both the recharge and the attack and was quickly in a bad position on the ground.  I had the Magus attempt to climb up and get himself position on higher ground which he failed miserably and fell on his ass.  The came the first round of combat, Phye attempted to get one of the Devils and found it as difficult as hold a handfull of sand which was followed by each of the Dust Devils attacked the party member they were adjecent to and all of them hit.  Sending the Battlemind to a bloodied value and dealing a poor mans crit on Phye and Yuka.  The Battlemind stood up took a second wind. Yuka grabbed himself a Dust Devil, the Magus threw blood on the sand, and Barcan might as well had been somwhere else as he failed to do anything.  When I had gotten to Barcan's turn I had just gotten to the tactics portion and realized I had made a grave mistake attacking the players on the surprise round, which I think ended up helping them more than anything. 

To compensate for my egreggious mistake I had Ralo heal the party for 10 with some crazy ability I made up on the fly and had the Magus finally yell out to go after the "Defiler".  They broke off from their targets and blindly charged towards Ralo, provoking a many AoO, resultiing in very little dmg being dealt.  However Yuka's target could not pull himself away from the hold and decided that since he was close enough to Ralo he might as well try to kill him with the only power that could reach him, regardless of the fact that his allies would be caught in the blast.  He hit everyone but Yuka for a whopping 11 dmg and criticaled an ally bring him to bloodied.  His allies, now blinded, tried their best to hit Ralo but could not find him in the sandstorm their partner had made.  The Blind PCs struck the air with all their might not knowing if they even accomplished anything, and Yuka maintained his hold on the Devil while getting pelted with some poisonous blood.  Phye then managed to hit with her daily on the bloodied Devil bring him to 2 and when it got a chance to try and swing blindly again at Ralo it managed to hit him at the cost of his own life (he was simply following orders and I ignored the fact that he was marked by the Battlemind as he could not see where the attacks were coming from so he attacked the thing directly in front).  With Ralo out of the way the Devils could now concentrate on the PCs which had a dry spell on the dice rolls.  The continually grappled Devil fell quickly at the hands of Yuka and Barcan managed to bloody the Magus in one hit (his only hit of the encounter).  The magus hit all but Phye with his AOE and the last Devil blinded the whole party before meeting his end, granted he took out half the party leaving a lot of work for Phye.  The Magus took out Barcan but that gave enough time for Phye to bring back the two Defenders and they quickly swarmed on him, each landing a blow to finish him off.  The Battle ended with Phye at 6, Barcan at 0, Yuka at 7, and Shikikar at 3 with 5 ongoing damage still effecting him. 

It was a tough battle, but I think they all had fun as there were brief moments of death but they were able to pull through as the heroes should.    

My session 1-4, 6/30/10


This session was my turn to DM. I had all characters except Jarvix. Players completed the skill challenge with a final 12 successes and 0 failures (that Arcana check for removing failures is aces). Players passed the desert setback.

I followed my predecided plan for 5 players: link - 1 magus, 1 dust devil, 1 elite dust devil that split into 2 regular dust devil when bloodied. Monsters init rolled individually, all of them 21+. Players had an even spread of init from 20 to 9; all monsters had turn before players. I rolled the surprise round into the first round and with how it went from there, I'm glad I did.

Plan was to zerg Ralo, who I positioned on the east side of the players; all enemies were deployed on the west side. The opening attack on Ralo was a nat 20, 3d6+3 which he deftly blocked with his face. NPC on the ground with -3. I did not roll his init as I would move him at bottom/top of init. He got 10-19 on his first 2 death saves, was later healed, then incapped, then failed 3 consecutive death saves, the last one on the last round...RIP Ralo.

When Ralo was down, monsters attacked players, when Ralo was back up, they attacked him. I hate fudging dice rolls and I'm glad to say I did none of that with 1-4. However, I had a string of 10+ rolls, all hits with these mobs, which really put the hurt on the players. The karma gods did take notice and gave the mobs a consecutive 2-2-1, so in all, it balanced out.

Dust devils are small size, so I made the elite dust devil one size class larger; I made this distinction clear to the players and let them interpret and act accordingly. Tanks flanked, healer healed, Barcan was occasionally useful. The Castri player was new and went semi kamikaze, but it worked; he was pleased to score a beautiful nat 20 on a elven accuracy reroll.


Concessions I made, since I hate roll fudging but I like giving out "sure let's just do that"s:

1. Yuka was slowed, moved 2, moved 2 more, action pointed and attacked a mob, and missed. I gave him half dmg (5 dmg). It just sucks to action point and get nothing, so I threw him a bone.

2. Magus went down in round 3, round 4 passed, and during top init round 5 I asked the party to select 1 person to make an arcana, secret DC was high (15). Barcan rolls 15+ and I tell him to select 1 dust devil; he selects the only one that wasn't bloodied. I explain that without their controller, the dust devils are a little disoriented and with a little focus can be dissapaited. I removed the selected dust devil from the board. This is then repeated in the next 2 rounds. Those last 3 rounds I have the surviving dust devils take only one action as if dazed, but without the other dazed effects.

3. I discharged all the good powers over the course of the first 2 rounds instead of just in the first round. I've learned to restrain myself a little and things would have been much worse otherwise.


Ending: Players took a significant amount of damage, 1 player incapped, 1 NPC dead, 3 others very close to incapacitation. I saw plenty of jaw drops during those first 2 rounds, but things turned in their favor and I hope they felt a degree of fun in the accomplishment. Pretty sure I'll see them next week judging by their reactions.



DM Review of 1-4, and a little of S2: I love the characters; I love that they aren't optimized; there is a degree of imperfection to them that makes them more believable. Their backstories as a group are intertwined enough that it works for me and I appreciate it. They honor the concept of roleplaying in "RPG".

I love the "crappy styled character sheets". I'd never use them for a non-encounters/gameday campaign but I think they are keen in the venue that they are being used.

After S1, my group thought it prudent to meet to playtest the encounters. In S2, we are glad we did cause we are minimizing "unfun" and increasing player retention/fun/good game. This comes at the expense of our time, which I'd rather not be spending, but the fact that we are doing what we are doing reveals our final preference in the matter - we playtest for our players.

To those able to do this who are not yet doing so: do this.

To those not able to do this: keep your eyes peeled on the forums and keep adaptive, on-their-feet thinking DM's behind the screen.

To WotC and maybe a little bit to the authors of past, present, future seasons: from here:

"Want to DM?
With D&D Encounters, DMing is easy. Your store  organizer will have everything you need——the adventure, maps, tokens  (for PCs & monsters), as well as all the other game elements you and  your players will need."

I feel this implies "right out of the box" playability; I feel this implies that play testing isn't a necessity. Sure a little read through is a given, but a playthrough? Nah. And yet, playtesting has been very beneficial for some of these encounters (yes S1, I'm talking about you, too!). The level of mastery that a DM has to have to play this "right out of the box" is almost superhuman imo (hence the playtesting), and assuming everyone will have/make time to playtest is asking a lot.

I'm glad this laptop has Windows Vista RC1, but I'd really rather have Windows Vista SP1 - know what I mean?

In other words: to assure highest quality of Shiitake mushrooms, an eat test should be performed prior to shipping. Shiitake mushroom enthusiasts rejoice that after a brief visual inspection they can partake of your company's delectable fungi.

*Eat test your Shiitake mushrooms*
Achievements: 06/28/10 - MODERAT0WND!!11 06/30/10 - A Friendly Nod 07/04/10 - Troll Infiltrators 11/16/10 - RIP CB (What you are paying for should work; is it?) 12/20/10 - "No Way! That's Great...*chuckle*...WE'VE RERELEASED GAMMA WORLD!" Scapegoat of the Month for November: Pirates
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It sounds like there were some DM's out there that didnt read that the Dust Devils focus on the Dwarf in the Surprise round.  And the SSauran doesnt act in the surprise round at all either.

We had 4 people at the table I ran.  The Dust Devils (2 instead of 3 since it was 4 people) unloaded their encounters on the Dwarf almost killing him outright.  But Castri moved up to him and forced him to use his healing surge all monsters have 1 of.  The other 3 characters went prior to the Ssauran did. They all survived and no one dropped but 2 of them were close a couple of times.
TPK... Players' didn't get to do anything after the Skill Chalenge and Initiative rolls...

Players didn't belive the Attack/Damage on the Dust Devils, I showed them the module...

Not sure I will be making table minimums next week...



Did you read the tactics section prior to running?

See my post just above this.

Its the DM's responsibility to prepare before hand and modify the encounter as needed.  I have a feeling a lot of DM's went in cold or just didnt read the tactics and went all out against the players from the get go.

None of these encounters should end in a TPK barring a bunch of hot rolls by the DM and a bunch of crappy rolls by the players.  And then its not the encounters fault its just the luck or lack of luck of the rolls. 
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We had a table of 6 experienced players, and the DM did not scale up the encounter at all.  In the surprise round, 2 of the dust devils charged the dwarf, and the third did its shift/knock prone power on half the party.  Then the monsters won initiative;  the lizard did its poison burst, bloodying half the party, and one of the dust devils did its sand blast, knocking out the dwarf, Castri, Javrix, and Barcan.

The DM decided the other dust devils would save their encounter powers for later, but it still wasn't enough to make a difference.  Jarvix and Barcan never got to take a turn the entire fight, and the group TPK'd.


I would be very surprised to hear about any party surviving this encounter without either miraculous rolls or the DM severly gimping the encounter.  This is terrible encounter design for a game experience that is supposed to be "ready to play."
Treasure Chest- Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Only 5 players tonight; Phye, Barcan, Morg, the Thrikreen Shaman and a new player with a Bard/Sorc Hybrid (he was the DM last time, so I gotta cut him some slack!)

Spoiler type thingers


Since the PC's had totally succeeded in the skill challenge and we had a new PC to introduce, we had a lot of fun  RP'ing yet another survivor from the caravan who has managed to catch up to the caravan. They met with Ralo the Dwarf and 2 of the PC's were able to act in the surprise round albeit after the Dust Devils. Since I had done some research here, I chose to have only one of the DD's use the big blast in the surprise round while the other 2 knocked the PC's to the ground. I suppose I took it too easy on them as no one this week went unconscious other than the Bard. The Magus appeared on the second round and by the time he acted again All but one PC had succeeded in making the save vs poison vulnerability 5 (the bard!) and being an elf was on the run off the map to be outside the expected 10 range. "HAHAHA 10/20 range!" the Magus hissed as he cast a poison bolt at the Bard. Ralo aslo spent the encounter running away but the PCs did a great job of recovering from what they thought was certain defeat (although to me they were never ever in any real danger of that after I had softened that opening blow.) Just being in that vulnerable position so early in the fight gave the feeling of desperation without them being in danger this encounter. Ralo was impressed that the PC's had moved to save him thinking that he was the target of the attack and gave a reward to Barcan and 4 healing friuts to the rest of the PC's.

A decent encounter but probably my second least favorite (after the first one). We had GREAT weeks over the last 2 with moments of greatness both weeks. Still, good times were professed by all.

The other table looked nearly full (either 5 or 6, not sure.) I was told as we were leaving that they had survived but with only 2 conscious pc's by the end of the fight!
 
Bouncing In and Out of Nowhere The Watchmen- In the Trees
Did you read the tactics section prior to running?

See my post just above this.

Its the DM's responsibility to prepare before hand and modify the encounter as needed.  I have a feeling a lot of DM's went in cold or just didnt read the tactics and went all out against the players from the get go.

None of these encounters should end in a TPK barring a bunch of hot rolls by the DM and a bunch of crappy rolls by the players.  And then its not the encounters fault its just the luck or lack of luck of the rolls. 




The situation you describe depends on where the dwarf is standing at the start of the encounter. If he's grouped in with the PC's, then everyone's (or at least many PCs) going to get blasted with the encounter powers along with Ralo.

Even with my players spread out, I still managed to trip all those I shifted past in the surprise round with one elemental. Two would almost guarantee it. Follow that up with a high initiative triple blast and you've got a lot of dead PC's (especially if you run it as written and use the DC 20 passive perception check).


As an aside, that's gotta make the players feel better...  you didn't get wiped out because they were after you... you were just next to the wrong dwarf at the wrong time.
Her is how it went for us.   Bear in mind I am not a DM so I don't really know how the encounter is "Supposed to go"     also this is all from memory.

spoilerey stuff



Round 1

Elementals move it knock down everyone except for shikker AE like mad, phy drops a 1 hps barken is down.

Shikker bloodies the lizard guy, party members get up from prone, stab, move a little bit and get ready to die, shikker takes a huge hit and ongoing poison damage.

(Honestly after the beating we took the first round I thought we had 3 rounds tops before we where all dead)

Round 2 ish

 Elementals move across the board to gang up on the dwarf provoking a number of op attacks and clustering up, one gets bloodied during the process they murder the dwarf in the most horrific way possible.   One elemental moves to barken to finish him off but misses.

Phy gets barken up, the tiefling lands a double powered up AE hit on the clustered elementals, Shikker spends an action point and 2 power points blinds and bloodies the lizard guy and spends a healing surge (bringing him to 11hps) fails his save against the ongoing damage.  Lizard guy runs away and uses some AE, misses but still hits Shikker for 2 and gives him vunerable 5 poison.

The mul and the ranger beat on some elementals bloody 1 or 2 but don't kill anything.


Round 3 ish

Elementals fly across the board to engage barken provoking lots of opp attacks.  One of them drops barken drops down into the negs again and just misses dying because of a 1 on a damage roll.

Phy brings barken back up again and swings her halberd around innefectually.  Shikker takes 10 damage from the poison and goes down.  Mul,ranger,teifling bring down another elemental.  

Round 4

Phy uses some ability that gets shikker back up, shikker uses his range attack and finishes off the lizard guy this does not (as we were hoping) dispel the elementals remaining.

Elementals pound on barken some more bringing him down again rest of the party closes but misses a lot.  Tiefling bloodies 1 of the 2 remaining elementals

Round 5, 5 uses a heal check to get barken up again and uses an action point to cool the elemental with a fanning of her halberd.  Shikker, Mul and Ranger bring down one elemental and bloody the other, tiefling finishes off the last elemental.


------- Thoughts


We had been doing better by sticking together so thats what we tried to do this encounter and paid for it dearly.     We still can't get an extended rest.   Tiefling is out of healing surges, phy is out of surges, barken is out of surges, the ranger is out of surges,   Mul has 2 left shikker has 3 left 

Nobody can heal after combat and lots of people have single digit hps left.    We found 4 healing fruits but you can't use the without a surge.   I don't know what the next encounter is but unless its easy we are just going to die from attrition.       We got lucky, we had some phenomenal rolls, shikker critted twice in the encounter, healing surges gave +5 and +6 hps respectively and the tiefling hit every single time and for high damage each time.

--------

I feel like these encounters were created in a vacuum world were at the begining of each encounter they assume the PC's have all their hps' / healing surges left.   Our ranger started the last encounter bloodied, next week 4 people will start bloodied.
 
I feel like the DM let us have an inordinate amount of opp attacks because we were getting our **** handed to us so badly and unless he decides to be nice to us again I feel a TPK in our future. 

Did you read the tactics section prior to running?

See my post just above this.

Its the DM's responsibility to prepare before hand and modify the encounter as needed.  I have a feeling a lot of DM's went in cold or just didnt read the tactics and went all out against the players from the get go.

None of these encounters should end in a TPK barring a bunch of hot rolls by the DM and a bunch of crappy rolls by the players.  And then its not the encounters fault its just the luck or lack of luck of the rolls. 




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It sounds like there were some DM's out there that didnt read that the Dust Devils focus on the Dwarf in the Surprise round.  And the SSauran doesnt act in the surprise round at all either.

We had 4 people at the table I ran.  The Dust Devils (2 instead of 3 since it was 4 people) unloaded their encounters on the Dwarf almost killing him outright.  But Castri moved up to him and forced him to use his healing surge all monsters have 1 of.  The other 3 characters went prior to the Ssauran did. They all survived and no one dropped but 2 of them were close a couple of times.




So once again, it comes back to "a GM has to revise the encounters before/during playing them". You realize this just confirms the point the people speaking against the season are making, that this season is probably too harsh out of the box?

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I know in my group and it sounds like many others that the dwarf defiler was the first to die.
I adjusted the encounter somewhat, and I forgot to read the tactics. Oops.

I can't truly be bothered to keep track of everyone's HP, healing surges, or Action Points, so i tend to "reset" them each session. It's needed!

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The adjustments I made were these: Rather than relying on a passive perception check, I allowed everyone to roll for Active perception when the dwarf warned them. Only two people didn't make the 20 check, which was great.
I altered the weakness for immobilized/restrained to being a -4 to defenses, and tactically placed the devils beside the silt pits.
Finally, I polled the people and asked if a -2 to defenses or attacks was preferred; they all said attacks, so instead of the blinded condition, I gave them the -2 to attacks, aka Concealment. They were blinking sand from their eyes.

it was a tough encounter, but pretty fun. In contrast to my multitudes of crits I rolled a couple of weeks back, I rolled at least 6 1s which probably saved a lot of the party. Also, I didn't unleash the Dust Devil's encounter attacks all at once; it was essentially one a round. Fortunately for me, the PCs ended upkilling the dustdevil that used it's encounter ability each time, so I could blast them with the encounter each round. First time I did it, I rolled 3 6s on the die; I rerolled and got a much nicer number. I then didn't roll higher than a 3 on those die so it was pretty minimal damage. Good thing, too; that poor man's crit would've killed one person outright.

I forgot to do the whole "defiler evil dude" thing, but there was some pretty good RP when they first met the dwarf, and Barcan's player said that there was a secret handshake that only the veiled alliance knew, so the dwarf and Barcan ended up identifying each other as VA :D
Did you read the tactics section prior to running?

See my post just above this.

Its the DM's responsibility to prepare before hand and modify the encounter as needed.  I have a feeling a lot of DM's went in cold or just didnt read the tactics and went all out against the players from the get go.

None of these encounters should end in a TPK barring a bunch of hot rolls by the DM and a bunch of crappy rolls by the players.  And then its not the encounters fault its just the luck or lack of luck of the rolls. 


Yes I did read the tactics, they say to do the imposible... You get 1 action in the Surprise Round, it takes a minimum of two to attack anyone from the Dust Devil start positions...

Also, your lack of math is disturbing... If you are using uncorrected PCs the highest needed roll to hit is an 8 (65% probability)...

If you correct things like Brawler style (it grants Fort not Ref), Yuka drops to a 55% probability...

It does not take any hot rolls from the DM... to not TPK takes a bunch of Crappy rolls by the DM... Not the other way around... It is simple math...



DDE is meant to be playable out of the box with little to no prep. It is meant to be a fun experiance. It is meant to entice new players and DMs.

This season fails to meet any of the three basic goals of the program.



We have lost 4 new players to them just not liking DDE... I hope to see a couple at the monthly RPGA/LFR game day so they can see what 4e is really like...
I think we're all done as of this week.

After four weeks of unfun characters, unfun encounters and unfun story, it looks like the 2 regulars and one or two part-timers are dropping.

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Once again the encounter starts with an NPC encounter we have no reason to talk to, no reason to approach and had no useful information to give us, other than the Wasterwalker or whatever is a primal lizard that hates magic. Meh, we all hate magic I thought?





spoilerey stuff
This week was a joke.  If I had not modified the stats and rules on the Dust Devils the TPK would have happened in the first round.  Seriously 3d6+3 dmg from three monsters in one round?  None of them would have survived.  Oh the +8 to hit fort powers are just what a level one players wants to see.  It was instant death. 

As stated before the random NPCs standing in the desert waiving down the party so they can be ambushed by monsters and get no real information is a bit much too.  I mean think about it.  You are on a desert planet being chased by an obsidian storm, but wait, there is a random dwarf.  Lets stop and talk to him.  WHY??



NPC communication is really about two things. The first is the setup, which in an adventure hopefully provides enough information for the DM to gain an understanding of the personality and the information to convey. More can be provided, but those are the basics. While the information in the adventure is a bit thin (probably due to space), I would consider it adequate to run with.

The second part is about DM prep. Capability matters, but at a basic level the DM should spend some time thinking about what to say to the types of questions that are likely to be asked. The DM should jot down some ideas and think through how to breathe life into the NPC. This is no different than the type of prep a DM should do for a combat or a skill challenge. If you read over my report, that NPC was pretty fun for the table. He provided useful information, could have been an ally, but was interrupted (and in my case, had a dark secret). The encounter was much more fun for Ralo being there.

An e-mail came out to all WPN stores this week. It was a pretty good communication, making it pretty clear that DMs should pull punches and alter what is given as needed for the game to be fun. With that instruction, DMs should really be able to avoid the constant stream of TPKs reported on these boards. Of course, that assumes someone will get the DM the information (either a store owner, another DM, or a player).

I think the monster difficulty may be due to MM3 and may be an attempt to be "forward-thinking" with regards to the synergies PCs enjoy. MM1 monsters are a bit too easy, given XP guidelines, for most PCs these days. MM2 steps the challenge up significantly. MM3 takes it to a wholy different level. We may just be catching these changes at the worst time. But, really, a little DM modification and the encounters should be fine. If you are a player, ask your DM to step the challenge down. The easiest way to do that is to remove one monster. Lowering dice one die type (d8 to d6, etc.) is also a good way to lower the challenge level.

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DDE is meant to be playable out of the box with little to no prep. It is meant to be a fun experience. It is meant to entice new players and DMs.




From what has been said, it is designed to entice new players, but was not designed to attract new DMs. The idea was (apparently) that good DMs would step up, knowing how to pull punches. In both seasons the authors wrote hard encounters thinking that (obviously, in their minds) DMs would adjust to a proper challenge level. Unfortunately, this season is both supposed to be harder and is written with MM3 changes. The combination (and that it was written before feedback from season 1 was available) takes the challenge to often ludicrous levels.

The current state is this: Each DM needs to make adjustments. Players, store owners, and fellow DMs need to get that message out. If you are a DM at a store that has more than one table, meet with the other judges beforehand to plan changes. If your tables are overly hurt (low on surges, dailies, etc.) make sure to provide ways to replenish resources. Finally, the Twitter buffs are pretty huge. Either use them or extrapolate from the thread or previous sessions to create your own. Those buffs are pretty critical!

I do agree that the program should also be for attracting new DMs. Future seasons really should lower the challenge level and provide clearer instructions. Many of us said this at the end of season 1, and it is all the more true with season 2. However, this adventure is cool and with adjustment to the challenge level should be a blast. In Portland we have more players than ever, sometimes turn players away, and are preparing to expand our number of tables.

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).

Report from Game Kastle in Santa Clara, CA

We had the two brand new to RPGs players from last week, so that was cool.

[spoiler=how it went down]
After leaving the goblin renegades corpses to dry to dust in the dunes, the party pressed on. After some time, they came across a colony of GIANT wasps. Seizing the opportuniy, they located a small hive that had only 1 adult in it. They smoked it out, using Yuka as bait to draw it away while the party dove in, picking out the most succulent of the larvae thanks to Phye's expert nutritional skills. (1 success away from finishing the skill challenge)

With belly's full, they proceeded into a rocky canyon. Spotting smoke from a cooking fire, and knowing of an "evil canniballistic dwarf" from the goblins, the party proceeds with caution towards the smoke. None of them were deterred by the trecherous terrain on the way, navigating it with ease (avoiding the setback). That is when they discover the hut, with a half naked dwarf basking/baking in the sun. That is when Jarvix recognived him as Ralo, a member of the Veilled Alliance, confirming his previous speculations when the goblins were talking about him previously.

Ralo informed them that apparently they have riled the Wastewalker. Ralo has been hiding out, not using his arcane powers, in order to avoid the Wastewakers notice. After some friendly chatting, the party recruits Ralo to travel with them, since they accidently lead the Wastewalker right to Ralo. Agreeing, he begins performing the Artificer ritual of shrinking his hut into a traveling cube, when all of a sudden the wind picked up...something foul was in the air.

With the party talking and semi-spread out, the dust devils arive. The first one forming right near Ralo. Shikirr, being as quick as thought, placed himself in front of that one. This proved foolish however, as it whipped up a massive dust storm, bloodying Ralo, Shikirr, and Phye. Siezing this opportuniy, a surprised Phye called out when she was bloodied, psionically urging her comrades to spread out (thank god that was a 'no action' power). This prevented the second Dust Devil from unleashing a simillar cloud, so instead he whipped around the field, buffetting the party and knocking them to the ground.

After the haze of surprise wore off, the party was ready to react. Unfortunetely, the Dust Devils took advantage of the confusion, almost dropping Ralo. That was when the Lizard Magus showed up, looking agrily at the "defilers" and raising the poisoned memories of the charred land around the party, making them more susceptable to his poisoned attacks. Finaly, many in the party then spread out further, and began pelting the Devils with attacks.

In the chaos of the fight, many memorable instances came to pass. Barcan went toe-to-toe with the magus, which resulted in Barcan having poison coursing through his veins, allowing the magus to direct his actions like a marrionette, dancing him into the silt pool, where his remains would have surely stayed if he wasn't brought back to consciousness after falling to the ongoing poison in his system. Also, Castri was also picked up by a mighty whirlwind and tossed into the deep silt as well, again, where his remains would have stayed if he wasn't eventually healed. Both Phye and Shikirr were also on death's door at one point.

Eventually however, the party was triumphant. It was a difficult, long, and devestating fight, but no true casaulties besides pride. However, the damage done may prove fatal later in the day...

Most PCs have 1 surge left, only thanks to the twitter buff. All are down about 1-4hp or so (phye is down 8).  A few still have dailies however, and they just got a new shiny Action Point. So with the skill challenge, potentially healing a little between that and the fight, I think they should be...not completely destroyed in the next session...
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I know in my group and it sounds like many others that the dwarf defiler was the first to die.



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I know ... except for the part where he's not a defiler ...

Season 1 was a challenge, the players enjoyed themselves.

If was not a cake walk and although a couple did die it was never a TPK and those that did die, died from lack of healer and bad choices...


Season 2; Chaper 1: is simple murder.

Encounter 1 is designed to Kill Castri, then the monsters can try to kill the rest of the party.

Encounter 2 can kill any of the non-defenders... if the Defenders don't feed themselves to the Big Bugs...

Encounter 3 is a TPK... Unless the DM plays the monsters Dumb... the Archers fly and have range 15/30...they get to elevation 12 on thier first turn or the surprise round...

Encounter 4 another TPK... the most direct method to get to Ralo is to Burst on the party... 3 Bursts needing 8+ (as per the Cards) for 3d6+3 each. Then the Magus to sweep up the peices...

Encounter 5 the only interesting, potentionally fair, fight.

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I know in my group and it sounds like many others that the dwarf defiler was the first to die.




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I know ... except for the part where he's not a defiler ...




right but...
the magus believed all arcane users are defilers

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Because of the conversation I also want to say we had a new player who came from a different location she said that she wanted to try someplace else because of a TPK of her party in all 3 preceding weeks.
Last night was the best DDE session so far this season. The DM was still as bad as ever, but I'm just gonna roll with it and try my best to survive.

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The encounter seemed like it was designed for a TPK. not possible to act during the surprise round, minimum of 8 to hit anyone's fort defense with 3d6+3 damage for each of 3 attacks, plus blinded.

2 dust devils and the caster were on one side of us, and the other dust devil came from the other side. half the party was unconscious before getting to act and the battlemind flat out died before his turn. once I (Castri) got to act, I stood up from prone, used my action point to second wind, then used throw and stab so i could charge over to the issolated dust devil and get some cover from the other baddies.

by the time my turn came up again, Yuka and I were the only ones left standing. I ran to the unconscious dwarf, picked him up, and ran out of there and the fighter followed. It was a short session, but it was pretty fun cause I survived what should have been a TPK. Got my moment of greatness for grabbing the dwarf on my way out. pissed the DM off too cause he really wanted that TPK. guess he's gonna be gunning for me next week. Laughing

that magic item we got was garbage. I know. lets have the party find a magic item that is only useful for 1 person. no one was even running the sorceror last night. guess i have something to sell once we finally get to Tyr.
I'm running the show at the shop, where I work, in Omaha, NE. Up until I started working at Krypton Comics, the store has been pretty low on the totem pole when it comes to gaming, compared to other area stores. I am happy to say the Encounters program has changed this somewhat. We are getting regular attendance each week and I'm constaly surprised by those that show up. I've had one player who's been attending since the first season with a couple others who make it almost every week and a steady influx of new people every Wednesday. We've only had to break into two seperate tables a few times and only once or twice did I not have a full table. Anyways, onto my first report.

Full table of six. I have allowed players to use the pre-gens from the PVP/Penny Arcade podcast as  well as the characters from the Free RPG game: Bloodsand Arena. So  there were a couple new PCs on the table.

[spoiler]The group failed the skill challenge and had dust in their eyes. All but two of the PCs used survival kits to negate the -2.

The PCs were quick to chat up Ralo. After some brief RP, the dust devils kicked in. I had two of the Dust Devils move to knock everyone down while one did the sand blast.

First full round found the Magus bloodied and Ralo knocked unconscious by the Dust Devils. The DDevils had also blinded and bloodied the majority of PCs. I flubbed a roll for one of  the new players. I never kill a new player on their first night. I figure if they have a good time and succeed on their first sit down they have a better chance of returning for the next session. Flubbed a second roll for the guy playing Barccan. He had 7 hit points and no  surges left. He's gonna have a hard enough time next week, figured I would give him a pass.

The Magus went down fast. The players saw him as the real threat since the DDevils were mainly focusing on knocking PCs on their kiesters, with only one of them actually  attacking. The DDevils used regular attacks until the party had become mostly unbloodied. Then one of the DDevils would use the area attack, sending them right back to bloodied. This made the encounter pretty  tense and I avoided a TPK (which is how my table ended season 1). The PCs were even able to heal Ralo after he had failed two saves.[spoiler]
My biggest complaint about D&D Encounters has been that WOTC prints the modules just like they do their printed for sale modules in stores.  If the module was printed and organized like the LFR modules are it would make things a lot easier for newer DM's etc.

Outside of that this Season has been fine.

Also I dont think the PC's are taking advantage of using Knowledge checks to get info on the monsters as much either. Knowing certain things about the monsters in this encounter could have gone a long way in deciding their tactics.

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And for the DM's that attacked anyone other than Ralo in the surprise round...... please prepare a little more.  The monsters arent even interested in the PC's unless they prove themselves a threat they are there for Ralo.  Once the PC's intervene, and especially when one uses magic or psionics, the monsters take notice of them and then attack them.
. Got my moment of greatness for grabbing the dwarf on my way out. pissed the DM off too cause he really wanted that TPK. guess he's gonna be gunning for me next week.



This always sends shivers down my spine.... I have got one or two of those in my community and while it might be ok to run such a game for a group of powergamers (yes there are groups that would actually enjoy that...I mean you are playing a powefful battlehardy adventurer, and not some runofthemill farmboy), it normally is not (certainly not with something that attracts new players!!! or should atleast).

Every experienced DM knows that with (almost) every encounter you could wipe a party. Sometimes, though, it's just not what the party is looking for!!!

I consider myself a tactical DM, and I always try to walk the thin line between wiping and not wiping the party (as I think this is a huge part of DnD, if you want intrigue and all that kind of thing play something like Vampire or so). Sometimes this means that party must run from a fight (there are always bigger fish) or negiotiate (sword and magicks are not your only weapons).

The PCs are on their way to become heroes (thats why they have paragon paths and epic DESTINIES , silly :D) Make it feel that way.

I fully agree with Imnotjesus that DMing should never be withouh experience, certainly not something like Dark Sun. At least give make them read some parts of the DMG. How? Give them half off on the book or something, or give them the thing for free after taking a test (giving them a pdf version beforehand).

My opinion about all these people complaining is (and sorry guys it just is) just bad DM handling. Now I fully believe its not the DM's fault, nor the store owners or organisers, and certainly not the writers. I think it's WotC that should take this in consideration (aswell as the LFR campaign staff btw, especially the part of DM tests)

Now for all those complainers: instead of wasting the time here, make ur DM pick up a DMG, (although it does not have all the answers) or do it yourself. Take the time to listen to the suggestions of others (eg read this forum) and make the reast of the season epic.

as for my own session:
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I used all of the suggestions of Alphastream and actually made the dwarf a lvl 1 con based artificer.

Tweaked up the combat by using to large DD, which both split. The party was with 5 (not having the Mul) but because of the artificer being a full class, I used the encounter as for 6 PC's.

No one went really down (as a played the DD as choatic creatures, rushing all over the battlefield, certainly after the Ssauran died) and the didn't focus fire.

Shikkr was the only one not standing in the blast in the suprise round (because he was the only one that made the surprise round perception check), but it the rest of them in it, blooding all except the ranger, who was missed. This kinda sent the whole party gasping, so the where very careful from that point onward.

The survived (with the whole party bloodied at the end) and in the aftermath the convinced the the Dwarf to stay with them (prolly to keep on eye on him, as he showed some defiling when he use his artificer daily). They made a geroup diplomacy and they succeeded
He will prolly end up at the other side when the enemies seal the group inside in the next encounter.


instead of wasting the time here, make ur DM pick up a DMG



The DM for this game is pretty experienced. He knows the rules and knows how to run games. He just looks at DDE as an excuse for tactical combat where its his monsters against the players. In that type of situation, there really isn't much hope for the party to survive because no punches are pulled, moster tactics are thrown out the window, and metagaming runs rampant so that the DM can always have a chance at winning.

I have no other option for DDE right now, so i'm just gonna live with it. perhaps next season, if I have the time, i'll try running it myself.


The DM for this game is pretty experienced. He knows the rules and knows how to run games. He just looks at DDE as an excuse for tactical combat where its his monsters against the players.




Well, don't get me wrong, I could be ok, if that's what you guys are looking for.

It seems to me that you guys are not, however. In that case your DM is doing it wrong and just being a prick. I could be wrong, since I am making assumptions, so forgive me if I am.

. Got my moment of greatness for grabbing the dwarf on my way out. pissed the DM off too cause he really wanted that TPK. guess he's gonna be gunning for me next week.





This always sends shivers down my spine.... I have got one or two of those in my community and while it might be ok to run such a game for a group of powergamers (yes there are groups that would actually enjoy that...I mean you are playing a powefful battlehardy adventurer, and not some runofthemill farmboy), it normally is not (certainly not with something that attracts new players!!! or should atleast).

Every experienced DM knows that with (almost) every encounter you could wipe a party. Sometimes, though, it's just not what the party is looking for!!!

I consider myself a tactical DM, and I always try to walk the thin line between wiping and not wiping the party (as I think this is a huge part of DnD, if you want intrigue and all that kind of thing play something like Vampire or so). Sometimes this means that party must run from a fight (there are always bigger fish) or negiotiate (sword and magicks are not your only weapons).

The PCs are on their way to become heroes (thats why they have paragon paths and epic DESTINIES , silly :D) Make it feel that way.

I fully agree with Imnotjesus that DMing should never be withouh experience, certainly not something like Dark Sun. At least give make them read some parts of the DMG. How? Give them half off on the book or something, or give them the thing for free after taking a test (giving them a pdf version beforehand).

My opinion about all these people complaining is (and sorry guys it just is) just bad DM handling. Now I fully believe its not the DM's fault, nor the store owners or organisers, and certainly not the writers. I think it's WotC that should take this in consideration (aswell as the LFR campaign staff btw, especially the part of DM tests)

Now for all those complainers: instead of wasting the time here, make ur DM pick up a DMG, (although it does not have all the answers) or do it yourself. Take the time to listen to the suggestions of others (eg read this forum) and make the reast of the season epic.

-stuff snipped-




I do not get the mindset needed to truly hunt a TPK as a DM if the players are not asking for that style of play. I get playing up the "I will kill you all" DM spiel. I even get fostering some Players vs DM spirit as it can really add to the tension. But why in the name of all that is holy (and in D&D there is a lot of holy to go around ) would someone actually want to go out of their way to wipe a party? Is it simply not enough to know you can?

I admit to being a little scared at finding myself on the same side of this argument as Brightbane  (yes I know him, yes I am kidding ;) ), but when he is right.. he is right. 

I am hardly a "hug it out" DM. Making people think they will all die a horrible death is fine, it provides for the pulling victory from the claws of defeat feeling which is usually pretty cool. Punishing blatant stupidity from people that should know better (i.e. experienced players), I see no problem with that. Even someone less experienced sometimes needs to be shown their errors, its part of learning. PCs die. But if it turns into a slaughterhouse where players are dead before they even get a chance to act... My simple feeling is, you are doing it wrong and it is not the encounters fault. Its the lack of flexibility.

The DM is there as a filter between the encounter and the players to ensure the elusive fun(tm) factor. You wont always get it right, and sure you can be a bit of a bastard at times (hey they still let me run and I KNOW i can be a PITA at times). But a big part of sitting behind that screen is the willingness to take responsibility and be that filter and apply change where it is needed.

So as many have already said, get informed, alter, polish, change and do what is needed. With places like this forum it is hardly as if you have to reinvent the wheel. D&D Encounters, through these forums, is one of the best supported DM experiences available. Provided a DM makes use of the wealth of advice and other helpful posts here (and if your DM is not, point them here, they may just not know).

That said, the difficulty of the encounters is such that a LOT of filtering is needed. I think that is fine, but does need to be more clearly addressed in the actual adventure.  If you write the adventures for experienced DMs, make that crystal clear. Communicate intentions in the package, provide the links to these forums, etc. etc. There is room for improvements that could really help.
To DME, or not to DME: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous powergaming, Or to take arms against a sea of Munchkins, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;No more;
A lot of the killer mentality I think comes from players being pressed into service as DM's.  They are playing the monsters with the same mentality that they would play their PC.
At Game Empire, San Diego.


Had several newer players and only through fudged rolls and kind DM-ship that I avoided a TPK. Crits on the bursts, followed by the blinding condition... it was brutal. They are all hungry for next week.
Shaman: "Why doesn't the squirrel shoot the wizard?" DM: "Because the last squirrel who tried to shoot the wizard missed, then was pulled out of his tree and incinerated." Wizard: "He has a point."
At Game Empire, San Diego (the other table):


Four players showed up, but I gave them the option of playing only 4 characters or having two players play two characters. They decided to use all 6 characters, so I didn't adjust the number of opponents. I made the modifications to the encounter that I have mentioned in other posts, plus I did not have the players all start in the Player's Start area.

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1) Speed of Thought allowed Shikirr to block one of the Dust Devils, and Yuka was the only one who managed the Perception check and he locked down another, so they managed to prevent them from concentrating the bursts. 
2) All of the players got hit once or twice, but making the attack against AC, reducing the damage by one die, and having the blindness be a secondary attack against Fort made certain I didn't have a whole table of helpless/unconscious players. As it was, I did have one round where Phye and Castri were both blind, but that didn't stop Castri from stumbling blindly toward one of the Dust Devils, lashing out with a Twin Strike against it, and actually hitting with his dagger for one point of damage... the one point that bloddied it!
3) Didn't actually change the damage of the Magus' ranged burst, but did make the Vulnerable 5 Poison a secondary attack. However, Yuka moved in and engaged the Magus before he could start making ranged attacks so no one picked up ongoing damage.
4) One of the Dust Devils tried to use Gale Blast to get around Skirkirr by going up over one of the rocks (since it was surrounded by difficult terrain) and rolled a 2 on the Acrobatics check to go over the boulder and so it lost the ability to move and wasn't able to affect any of the players. The other two used there Gale Blast but only effected Ralo between them.


All in all, the players had a really good time, although they thought the monsters abilities were pretty extreme against first level characters. They were pretty shocked when I told them I had scaled the back.
as a player, I'm probably going to skip the rest of the season.  I'm just not having fun.  I doubt I'll sign up for another season of encounters, back to LFR and maybe squeeze in some different rule set 3.5 games.
. Now<--------------Very Soon--------Soon--------------->End of Time
as a player, I'm probably going to skip the rest of the season.  I'm just not having fun.  I doubt I'll sign up for another season of encounters, back to LFR and maybe squeeze in some different rule set 3.5 games.

Can you share your reasons for not having fun?