questions on running 1-3 (spoilers)

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I can't figure out how to make one of those fancy spoiler hider things so if you aren't a DM turn back now.

1) The setup for 1-3 talks about the PCs needing to break into the bank building either through the
front doors or a window, but once the encounter starts then everyone is supposed to be lined up 2
squares out from the front door.  So does the breaking in happen before the map gets set up or
after?  If they go in through a window to start the encounter wouldn't they start inside?


2) I think from the description that the skills part of the encounter and the fight part of the encounter
happen concurrently but that isn't spelled out in the description.  Do they run at the same time?

Thanks
I can't figure out how to make one of those fancy spoiler hider things so if you aren't a DM turn back now.



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1) The setup for 1-3 talks about the PCs needing to break into the bank building either through the
front doors or a window, but once the encounter starts then everyone is supposed to be lined up 2
squares out from the front door.  So does the breaking in happen before the map gets set up or
after?  If they go in through a window to start the encounter wouldn't they start inside?



You can change the PC start positions if it makes more sense for the circumstances.


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2) I think from the description that the skills part of the encounter and the fight part of the encounter
happen concurrently but that isn't spelled out in the description.  Do they run at the same time?



Yes, at the same time. If they don't try to put out the fires during the combat, they end when the monsters are defeated anyway.

Something like this happened in season one as well.  The characters were participating in a skill challenge to open a magically sealed door.  You needed to be at the door and various points in the room to open it.  That weeks encounter ended at the end of the skill challenge.  The next week started with the party just outside the room the door was in.

I'd start the players outside the door and let them go from there.  Where they end up after someone manages to break in is where they start the combat.
I reread the setup section last night which specifically says that the PCs start on the map and then need to break in.  On my first read I missed the part where the setup of the situation was actually after the initiative rolls.
I'm trying to concoct a way to make this encounter a bit more dramatic and try to enforce the skill challenge as part of the effort; my party is strong enough that I feel they would likely just ignore the environmental threat and kill the targets outright (especially with just 4/5 of them).

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The narrative errata for the setup describes the magic circle pulsing in time with the elementals themselves, as if it's powering them.  So why not give the elementals something like regeneration 5 until the circle is destroyed?  Still require 4 successful skill checks to fully destroy it, but no penalties for failures (other than the wasted combat round).  The braziers can be used to perform 2 of the 4 skill checks instead of requiring the primary skills, and once two more successful skill checks are made from within the circle the fires are extinguished and the elementals lose their regeneration, allowing combat to proceed.


Thoughts?
https://twitter.com/#!/Nullzone42
I'm trying to concoct a way to make this encounter a bit more dramatic and try to enforce the skill challenge as part of the effort; my party is strong enough that I feel they would likely just ignore the environmental threat and kill the targets outright (especially with just 4/5 of them).

Show
The narrative errata for the setup describes the magic circle pulsing in time with the elementals themselves, as if it's powering them.  So why not give the elementals something like regeneration 5 until the circle is destroyed?  Still require 4 successful skill checks to fully destroy it, but no penalties for failures (other than the wasted combat round).  The braziers can be used to perform 2 of the 4 skill checks instead of requiring the primary skills, and once two more successful skill checks are made from within the circle the fires are extinguished and the elementals lose their regeneration, allowing combat to proceed.


Thoughts?

I like it, wish I had seen that idea before I ran that encounter last week.
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I almost want to push it up to regeneration 10 just to really make it clear that no, you can't beat these guys until the circle goes away.  But at some point I wonder if it doesn't just artificially add 'grind' to the fight instead of making it interesting.
https://twitter.com/#!/Nullzone42
Just thought I'd post a follow up here and note that the regeneration 10 effect worked really well!  I was a little worried about how it might tax the players' resources but they caught on quick and moved to finish the skill checks ASAP.

Food for thought for anyone who may not have run this yet or plans to retain the material to run the adventure with a private group later down the road
https://twitter.com/#!/Nullzone42
thanks, nullzone.  i really dig the twist you put on this encounter.
Maybe it was just my party, but this fight ended up being really interesting for me, even without buffing the elementals.

Our Thief had a 27 for his initiative, but everyone else in the party had 10 or less. all the elementals got above ten. 1st round the thief unlocks the door and shoots his bow at one of the fire elementals, the fire elementals respond by setting fires in the doorway blocking the entrance. Half the party stayed outside for the first couple rounds of the encounter because of that, allowing me to burn a bunch of squares inside the building. The party only killed one fire elemental before they completed the skill challenge, and they took a lot of damage from the burning squares. Of course, several missed attacks certainly helped too. Huzzah for bad rolls!

All in all, this is my favorite encounter in the first chapter!