Young Blue Dragon never lands.

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So our party wound up in a solo fight with a young blue dragon earlier, and... it never landed.  Most of the time it kept too high for our cleric to laser it, and that left the warlock pinging his at-wills every time it came in for a strafe. (A rogue (me!), a melee ranger,, and a warden, plus the aforementioned cleric and warlock).

Basically, it kept blasting us with lightning burst, and occasionally strafed from ten squares above with its breath weapon (when it recharged).  Note that 10 squares is further than the 5 range of lance of faith, and equal to Eldritch Blast, and whatever the other one our warlock had.  As the DM noticed later in the battle, the chain lightning effect meant he could just ping the outlier, whoever was farthest away.

Once he did that, the battle was entirely one-sided.  The Warlock with his readied at-will could not be everywhere, and I really don't think his damage was making much of a difference.  The dragon sat 12+ or so squares above us and rained down lightning burst, and occasionally did a move action to fly down, a standard action to shoot whoever he could reach without the Warlock hitting him, and a move action to move back up.


Eventually, the battle ended because the dragon had pressing business elsewhere, which wasn't very plot-related (It had ambushed us on the road for killing some of his minons earlier, and him leaving while having the entire advantage seemed a bit... odd.)  Later the DM said that he really didn't really know what to do - he couldn't find a good (non-blatant?) reason for the dragon to expose itself when it had such an advantage.

But if the dragon had kept it up, what would a party with a max range of 10 do?  It seems like our only option would be to hustle as fast as we could to some sort of cave or something, but we were out in the farms, so the closest would be... some barn or something?  But that's not exactly beating the dragon, you know.

So what's a player to do? 
I'd have taken the barn option. Hide inside: either the dragon comes closer, abandoning his advantage, or he leaves and returns later.

Also, crossbows and slings have a long range of 20, longbows of 20/40, shortbows of 15/30. I'd get some of those so you have at least one option of doing something.
Warden throws the rogue at the dragon.
^ i second that, brotha
You are Red/Blue!
You are Red/Blue!
If the dragon's dominating the group from the sky, there's no reason why it should land.  Dragons are intelligent, after all; likely more intelligent even than members of your adventuring party.  If the group doesn't have a way to deal with flying enemies, that's really not the DM's fault.  Having said that, dragons are known for their arrogance, too.  In the past, I've had wyrms on the wing land just to finish off wounded PCs personally.  It's not the most tactical decision, but it fits thematically, and it gives the rest of the group a chance to strike back and maybe establish some control.
I second Milkducks opinion... Dragons are exceedingly arrogant, especially when they are young enough to not be overly cautious. As DM, I would have pelted you for a few rounds, then had the Dragon drop down, spouting something like "Weaklings! I shall cover the countryside in your blood! You are not worth my lightning!"

As a player though... ample encouragement to load UP on your bows and crossbows!! Even if you never use them again, having them that one time would have been clutch!

edit: And then when the Dragon took off to flee, after dropping down and getting kicked in his teeth, you could have peppered him with arrows until he died or got out of range, swearing eternal vengeance.. very cinematic!
So many PCs, so little time...

As a player though... ample encouragement to load UP on your bows and crossbows!! Even if you never use them again, having them that one time would have been clutch!



Really kind of not.  The Melee Ranger, Warden, Cleric, and Warlock all have sweet **** all for Dex scores, which means they have basically no chance to hit and will do next to no damage when they do hit using those ranged weapons and their Ranged Basic Attacks.  All having bows and crossbows would do is give you more things to fail at while the dragon picks you apart in pretty much exactly the same way.  EDIT:  especially since those bows and crossbows?  Not magical enough, pretty much by definition.  You simply can't afford to keep a "spare" weapon up to the standards of your real weapons, especially not one that keys off a dump stat anyway.

My solution would be a pile of Potions Of Resistance (Lightning) and *run*.  You're in a fight you can't win, so get your **** to a cave, a barn, a rapidly-flowing river, a culvert passing under the road, a thick forest with an opaque canopy, *something*.  This is D&D - since terrain is by definition "interesting" and impossible encounters are boring, *something* is there that you can use to hide from this dragon.  And if it wasn't there before, it should be once you suggest it to the DM.

Worst case?  Surrender.  No, seriously, good old-fashioned honest throw-down-your-weapons and surrender.  And don't just attack the dragon when it lands - that'll piss it off, and it will eat a round or two of OAs as it double-moves back into the sky, and resumes killing you.  No, I mean you should genuinely, truly surrender.  Remember, this dragon is attacking because it's mad about them killing it's minions - so apologise and promise to replace 'em!  Pay it off.  Promise it a herd of cattle, or a contract of "tribute" from a nearby town in exchange for it eating the tribute, not the farmers.  Treat this as a story hook!

(And if you can't escape and you can't surrender, it's a DM-induced TPK and there's nothing you can do about that.  Sometimes DMs *do* that, and once in a rare long while they sometimes even have a good reason for it.)
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
I'll file this in the 'The DM should not use encounters that the PCs have no realistic chance of succeeding' category, myself.  If your options are a monster being tactical or the encounter being fun, err on the side of fun. 
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Agreed. Plus Blue Dragons are so vain it should have landed to dispense with the hurt under the notion hat the PCs couldn't harm it at all. A Red would have made more sense in this instance based on the attitude the Dragon seemed to take.
I'll file this in the 'The DM should not use encounters that the PCs have no realistic chance of succeeding' category, myself.  If your options are a monster being tactical or the encounter being fun, err on the side of fun. 



In this case, I'd have a length-wise map with a TON of cover... each a LITTLE to far to reach in a single move.  And a metric ton of L -3 monsters.

And there would be a terrain feature, on Recharge 4, of "the blue dragon makes another pass, attacking everyone who is not currently in cover"

The victory condition?  Reach the far side of the map, ~40 squares away, with all PCs alive.  Try to stand and fight?  The blue dragon "terrain feature" will kill you eventually if you're in the open, and if you stay in cover the Infinite Horde Of Low-Level Kobolds will get you.

That's how I'd run that Encounter.  And if the Warlock readied his action to attack the dragon when it came down, I'd let him make an attack roll, and if he hit the dragon it would "abort" and not attack that round, even though it had recharged.

And reaching the end of the map would let the PCs retreat, and they would have a chance to attack the dragon *in enclosed terrain* later.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.

As a player though... ample encouragement to load UP on your bows and crossbows!! Even if you never use them again, having them that one time would have been clutch!



Really kind of not.  The Melee Ranger, Warden, Cleric, and Warlock all have sweet **** all for Dex scores, which means they have basically no chance to hit and will do next to no damage when they do hit using those ranged weapons and their Ranged Basic Attacks.  All having bows and crossbows would do is give you more things to fail at while the dragon picks you apart in pretty much exactly the same way.  EDIT:  especially since those bows and crossbows?  Not magical enough, pretty much by definition.  You simply can't afford to keep a "spare" weapon up to the standards of your real weapons, especially not one that keys off a dump stat anyway.


I will point out that having a SLIM chance to hit and doing a TINY bit of damage is significantly better than NO chance to hit and NO damage.

This is why, as a DM, I typically give 20-50% more treasure per level, just so players can have contingency equipment.  I mean, having a stack of Resist Lightning Potions is just as niche as having ranged weapons, if not even more so.

I will admit that this is a bit lop-sided for the party, but after two or three rounds of arial bombardment, they should have started making for a cave or something that would force the dragon to land. 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
Agree with the dragon would use its smarts here. Just as if a player had flying and range attacks your sure as crap not going to see that player land in front of a pile of orcs with great axes for "fair play".

As others said, head for cover to get it down to your level or load up on ranged gear.  Or better option fly potions.

As a player though... ample encouragement to load UP on your bows and crossbows!! Even if you never use them again, having them that one time would have been clutch!



Really kind of not.  The Melee Ranger, Warden, Cleric, and Warlock all have sweet **** all for Dex scores, which means they have basically no chance to hit and will do next to no damage when they do hit using those ranged weapons and their Ranged Basic Attacks.  All having bows and crossbows would do is give you more things to fail at while the dragon picks you apart in pretty much exactly the same way.  EDIT:  especially since those bows and crossbows?  Not magical enough, pretty much by definition.  You simply can't afford to keep a "spare" weapon up to the standards of your real weapons, especially not one that keys off a dump stat anyway.



Well, you know what?  I'd rather have the option of plinking at the thing with even a non-optimized ranged weapon - however ineffectually - than just sitting there with my thumb up my arse doing a guaranteed nothing round after round.

Of course while I'm not phazing the beast much with such basic attacks I'll also be trying to answer one (or both) of the following questions;
1) How can I escape/evade this monster?
2) How can I bring my more effective attacks to bear on it?
It's not coming to me, so obviously I've got to take the fight to it somehow.....


But then too many of our game playing brethern are just plain stupid.
They won't try a less-than-optimal option.  They won't take a chance.  They won't invest in situational equipment (magical or mundane) or in 4e powers.
Instead they'll sit there & take round after round of these flyby attacks.  Then they'll come here posting about how they didn't have any fun/couldn't beat the encounter/etc etc etc.
But what did they actually do?
Most likely?  Nothing.
   

As a player, makes sure any group you adventure with has at least one reliable way to knock prone at range 20 for precisely this occasion.  World Serpent's Grasp is a particularly useful feat in this case.  Having everyone pack a Javelin is also a pretty good idea.

As a DM, don't do this stuff, it's not fun.  Making your PCs' most logical option 'run away' should be very, very carefully-applied.  As a DM in this situation, I'd either make the breath weapon a recharge 5/6, or make it unusable when the dragon is bloodied (flavoured either as injury or annoyance).
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.

Well, you know what?  I'd rather have the option of plinking at the thing with even a non-optimized ranged weapon - however ineffectually - than just sitting there with my thumb up my arse doing a guaranteed nothing round after round.



I'm just saying, you're not going to be doing any good with a crossbow and hoping for a natural 19 to hit.  You're actually better off with Total Defense and a move, or with two Moves, as you work towards the answer to your next two questions.

Of course while I'm not phazing the beast much with such basic attacks I'll also be trying to answer one (or both) of the following questions;
1) How can I escape/evade this monster?
2) How can I bring my more effective attacks to bear on it?
It's not coming to me, so obviously I've got to take the fight to it somehow.....



Yup.  And it's *possible* that the encounter really will be completely unwinnable, and the solution you're looking for is outside the box completely - like surrendering.

But in the OP, just fighting it obviously isn't working, and having a crossbow isn't going to help unless the Dragon that's pounding you is 4 levels below you.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
LordOfWeasels - Even that's not okay. Have to Surrender? Do you think that would work in luring a creature with a brain the size and strength of a Wizard's from a few moments after birth? Aside from that, it's the same problem of the "No Rogue" issue. Which to the answer is *yes*, you *are* supposed to not use traps than punish players because someone decided not to pick up a really **** delving trope out of necessity for some fake realism-emulation that never has a place in Dungeons and Dragons.  (never has, never will)

Ranged attacks from normal weapons will *never* be effective, no matter what kind of bonus or planning, not that they'd ever have a chance to be effective in previous editions either. As an entire party you don't have the kind of HP to tank and survive encounters later on plinking away at a Dragon like that.
LordOfWeasels - Even that's not okay. Have to Surrender? Do you think that would work in luring a creature with a brain the size and strength of a Wizard's from a few moments after birth?



What do you mean, "lure"?  Fake surrender is not what I'm talking about, as you can see if you go back up a few posts.  I'm talking about a very real, very serious "we give up!".

Is that going to "fool" a dragon?  Probably not, but you're not trying to fool it - and the dragon is smart, which means it can do the same math you can in the same time:  Fake surrenders are horribly bad for your future health if anyone finds out you've done 'em, and even if you attack it immediately when it lands it can get back into the sky in a few rounds and you're not eating through all of it's HP before then - which means that this *isn't* a fake surrender.  And accepting a real surrender is generally good for your own future health, as well.

We're talking about an encounter that is literally unwinnable using standard tactics, which means that realising it and swapping to nonstandard tactics is required, and the question then becomes *which* nonstandard tactic is going to work.  And surrendering is one of them that could.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
This a situation where status effects come into play heavily. Timing is going to be troublesome though. But any power with a stun effect is bring that dragon crashing down.
Big trees and grappling hooks are another good option for locking down a flying dragon. Now you can play teather ball with it, or buy some time get to higher ground or lower which ever.
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I don't have a perfect memory, thus I don't always recall the rules and mechanics perfectly. I also don't usually peruse the book before opening my "mouth", so cut me some slack if I'm little off every now and again. When logic fails to be present, the rational must inject logic into the situation.
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Groveborn: Mesinock, I have been complimented on my ability to convey a message, but I think you are my superior. I haven't noticed you posting much, except when things get very convoluted, but when you do post, it's worth reading.
The scenario reminds me of a situation my co-DM got our group into in a recent adventure.  We had a couple fights in the dungeon that included a nabassu gargoyle, which has an at-will that gives it DR 30 to all damage and regen 5.  Our group for that run was two defenders, two leaders, and a "striker" (a feylock, about as controller-y as a striker gets).  The only real source of damage was one of the defenders (an assault swordmage), and even then he wasn't able to consistantly break 35 damage every hit.

My co-DM and I just stared at each other (over Skype) for several seconds as we realized that, if we were actually playing this monster intelligently, the fight would literally never end, because it would just be able to stone itself and wait for all its hitpoints to come back.  Coupled with the fact that there was no escape for our characters from the fight (they occurred in demiplane like "trap rooms", the exit of which didn't appear until the party defeated all the monsters), the party was as good as dead.

We ended up just having the monster "forget" to use that tactic (and admitted as such to the players), because it seemed like kind of a stupid thing to TPK a party over.

We actually did have another situation that was almost exactly like your scenario: The party (same party composition, but in 3rd edition this time -- we switched editions halfway through the campaign) ran across a warlock enemy that was built for long-range combat; he had the warlock invocation that granted unlimited flight, the blast shape one that made eldritch blast long range, and a magic item that further increased the blast's range.  With one or two exceptions, the party's attacks were all short/medium range, meaning that all he had to do was just keep flying outside their maximum range and he could take all the potshots (with very little chance of missing) that he wanted.

We planned in advance to cheese that encounter, since we knew just looking at it on paper that the party wasn't going to stand a chance.  So when the battle began, an ally who had been warned by a seeress (whom the party had aided a couple adventures previously) showed up to deliver a scroll containing a spell that negated flight.


And yet I turn around and complain when my players take down my other encounters too easily...
In regard to non optimized secondary weapons, those are one of the reasons i've taken to using inherent bonuses even if I am still giving out magical weapons and armor.  I was never a big fan of the idea that these bada** adventuerers suddenly become obviously less effective if they didn't have a magic weapon in their hands.  They may not be as flashy as they would be if they were using their Magic sword of awesome but they could pick up another regular sword and still do well.

The DM definitely should have made the encounter in a way that the players had a chance to do something unless they were meant to be outmatched.  Not being able to do anything isn't fun. 

Are all encounters required to be defeatable on terms dictated by the PC's?  All other things being equal I'd far rather play in a game where there are times that my character may face situations where he CANNOT be victorious by his usual tactics and must either resolve the encounter by some other means or face his doom.

However, this does seem to be a case of the DM not having worked through the practical implications of the opponents abilities, and once realizing them in the actual encounter choosing NOT to alter the tactics.  As unsatisfying as it may have been for the DM to have the dragon choose to act sub-optimally to allow the PC's a chance to defeat it, it can't have been any worse than invoking deus ex machina and having it just fly away for no particularly good reason.

Now that the PC's know THEY have a weakness I suggest they take steps to at least minimize it, if not eliminate it.  Fool me once... 

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."


Are all encounters required to be defeatable on terms dictated by the PC's?




Terms dictated by the PCs?  No.
Defeatable somehow?  Yes.  Otherwise, it's not a combat encounter.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I'd like to add that in such a case, asking the DM if there's some cover around and planning out how to get the dragon down might just inspire the DM on how to solve the boring encounter problem. ;)

Are all encounters required to be defeatable on terms dictated by the PC's?




Terms dictated by the PCs?  No.
Defeatable somehow?  Yes.  Otherwise, it's not a combat encounter.


Kobayashi Maru.  Sometimes there is no correct resolution - it's a test of character. 

Old School: It ain't what you play - it's how you play it.

My 1E Project: http://home.earthlink.net/~duanevp/dnd/Building%20D&D/buildingdnd.htm

"Who says I can't?" "The man in the funny hat..."

I'll file this in the 'The DM should not use encounters that the PCs have no realistic chance of succeeding' category, myself.  If your options are a monster being tactical or the encounter being fun, err on the side of fun. 



In this case, I'd have a length-wise map with a TON of cover... each a LITTLE to far to reach in a single move.  And a metric ton of L -3 monsters.

And there would be a terrain feature, on Recharge 4, of "the blue dragon makes another pass, attacking everyone who is not currently in cover"

The victory condition?  Reach the far side of the map, ~40 squares away, with all PCs alive.  Try to stand and fight?  The blue dragon "terrain feature" will kill you eventually if you're in the open, and if you stay in cover the Infinite Horde Of Low-Level Kobolds will get you.

That's how I'd run that Encounter.  And if the Warlock readied his action to attack the dragon when it came down, I'd let him make an attack roll, and if he hit the dragon it would "abort" and not attack that round, even though it had recharged.

And reaching the end of the map would let the PCs retreat, and they would have a chance to attack the dragon *in enclosed terrain* later.



Love it so much I am going to steal it :p
So our party wound up in a solo fight with a young blue dragon earlier, and... it never landed.  Most of the time it kept too high for our cleric to laser it, and that left the warlock pinging his at-wills every time it came in for a strafe. (A rogue (me!), a melee ranger,, and a warden, plus the aforementioned cleric and warlock).

Basically, it kept blasting us with lightning burst, and occasionally strafed from ten squares above with its breath weapon (when it recharged).  Note that 10 squares is further than the 5 range of lance of faith, and equal to Eldritch Blast, and whatever the other one our warlock had.  As the DM noticed later in the battle, the chain lightning effect meant he could just ping the outlier, whoever was farthest away.

Once he did that, the battle was entirely one-sided.  The Warlock with his readied at-will could not be everywhere, and I really don't think his damage was making much of a difference.  The dragon sat 12+ or so squares above us and rained down lightning burst, and occasionally did a move action to fly down, a standard action to shoot whoever he could reach without the Warlock hitting him, and a move action to move back up.


Eventually, the battle ended because the dragon had pressing business elsewhere, which wasn't very plot-related (It had ambushed us on the road for killing some of his minons earlier, and him leaving while having the entire advantage seemed a bit... odd.)  Later the DM said that he really didn't really know what to do - he couldn't find a good (non-blatant?) reason for the dragon to expose itself when it had such an advantage.

But if the dragon had kept it up, what would a party with a max range of 10 do?  It seems like our only option would be to hustle as fast as we could to some sort of cave or something, but we were out in the farms, so the closest would be... some barn or something?  But that's not exactly beating the dragon, you know.

So what's a player to do? 



Buy missile weapons like long bows. Never know when you will need them as you retreat to a shelter.

As a player though... ample encouragement to load UP on your bows and crossbows!! Even if you never use them again, having them that one time would have been clutch!



Really kind of not.  The Melee Ranger, Warden, Cleric, and Warlock all have sweet **** all for Dex scores, which means they have basically no chance to hit and will do next to no damage when they do hit using those ranged weapons and their Ranged Basic Attacks.  All having bows and crossbows would do is give you more things to fail at while the dragon picks you apart in pretty much exactly the same way.  EDIT:  especially since those bows and crossbows?  Not magical enough, pretty much by definition.  You simply can't afford to keep a "spare" weapon up to the standards of your real weapons, especially not one that keys off a dump stat anyway.



Well, you know what?  I'd rather have the option of plinking at the thing with even a non-optimized ranged weapon - however ineffectually - than just sitting there with my thumb up my arse doing a guaranteed nothing round after round.

Of course while I'm not phazing the beast much with such basic attacks I'll also be trying to answer one (or both) of the following questions;
1) How can I escape/evade this monster?
2) How can I bring my more effective attacks to bear on it?
It's not coming to me, so obviously I've got to take the fight to it somehow.....


But then too many of our game playing brethern are just plain stupid.
They won't try a less-than-optimal option.  They won't take a chance.  They won't invest in situational equipment (magical or mundane) or in 4e powers.
Instead they'll sit there & take round after round of these flyby attacks.  Then they'll come here posting about how they didn't have any fun/couldn't beat the encounter/etc etc etc.
But what did they actually do?
Most likely?  Nothing.
   




This post I am in complete agreement with. The char op disease much like in other games of optimising for a particular situation then sitting back and rubbing hands in mad glee over the accomplishment while ignoring all the other possible situations makes me sad.

Buy missile weapons like long bows. Never know when you will need them as you retreat to a shelter.



Unless you're DEX primary-or-secondary and you've kept your missile weapon reasonably close to your real weapon in plusses, you're not going to do any good with a ranged weapon against anything *close* to an of-level opponent.

You're better off using those Standard Actions as extra Moves, or as Total Defense, while you retreat to a shelter.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
Buy missile weapons like long bows. Never know when you will need them as you retreat to a shelter.



Unless you're DEX primary-or-secondary and you've kept your missile weapon reasonably close to your real weapon in plusses, you're not going to do any good with a ranged weapon against anything *close* to an of-level opponent.

You're better off using those Standard Actions as extra Moves, or as Total Defense, while you retreat to a shelter.



And, again, the DM should take the party capabilities (both strengths and weaknesses) into account when designing encounters to create battles that are fun and fair.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Hmm.. I suppose if the dragon's defense are that high relative it would be futile. However, against other mobile ranged enemies that you have a reasonable chance to damage non-optimized options can be of some benefit.

Monsters should play to their strengths, especially intelligent monsters.  If it makes the most tactical sense to stay in the air, then that's what it should do.  If the party doesn't have some reliable way to deal damage to flying enemies, that's their fault, not the DM's.  If you have a low dexterity, and can't fire a bow, then do you have a high strength?  Because if you do, you can use heavy throwing weapons.  If you have a low dexterity and a low strength, odds are you're a caster, and you can already deal damage at range.

The encounter isn't "unbeatable" just because it doesn't conform to the group's optimal strategy.  Sometimes you face enemies who slow and immobilize, which can wreak havoc on a melee-heavy group (fighter can't get into position to mark properly, barbarian can't set up his charges, rogues can't break in to a flank, all while artillery's raining hell down on the whole group), but that's when it pays to be versatile and prepared.

Seriously, I don't see what the big problem here is.

For the OP - have you played since then? Your DM may be trying to make you run for cover, or is otherwise using the Dragon's threat to drive the story forwards. If he's not, then I'd say that he's being a little unfair, but when you see a challenge that seems impossible, think about what your DM's motivation is for that.
So our party wound up in a solo fight with a young blue dragon earlier, and... it never landed. Most of the time it kept too high for our cleric to laser it, and that left the warlock pinging his at-wills every time it came in for a strafe. (A rogue (me!), a melee ranger,, and a warden, plus the aforementioned cleric and warlock).

Basically, it kept blasting us with lightning burst, and occasionally strafed from ten squares above with its breath weapon (when it recharged). Note that 10 squares is further than the 5 range of lance of faith, and equal to Eldritch Blast, and whatever the other one our warlock had. As the DM noticed later in the battle, the chain lightning effect meant he could just ping the outlier, whoever was farthest away.

Once he did that, the battle was entirely one-sided. The Warlock with his readied at-will could not be everywhere, and I really don't think his damage was making much of a difference. The dragon sat 12+ or so squares above us and rained down lightning burst, and occasionally did a move action to fly down, a standard action to shoot whoever he could reach without the Warlock hitting him, and a move action to move back up.


Eventually, the battle ended because the dragon had pressing business elsewhere, which wasn't very plot-related (It had ambushed us on the road for killing some of his minons earlier, and him leaving while having the entire advantage seemed a bit... odd.) Later the DM said that he really didn't really know what to do - he couldn't find a good (non-blatant?) reason for the dragon to expose itself when it had such an advantage.

But if the dragon had kept it up, what would a party with a max range of 10 do? It seems like our only option would be to hustle as fast as we could to some sort of cave or something, but we were out in the farms, so the closest would be... some barn or something? But that's not exactly beating the dragon, you know.

So what's a player to do?

I guess the lesson is- sucks to fight a dragon in the open.

As a dm I probably would have provided some cover that you could have made a run for (like a barn, farmhouse, cave etc.), but I don't think I would have had the dragon land unless you went and hid in the barn. Then I might have it try to tear through the roof to get at the party, which might give the players a better chance to engage in melee with it.

I wouldn't have it land just because it's kicking the party's ass and somehow that seemed "unfair". It's using sensible tactics, and it's a dragon afterall. It's supposed to be smart and dangerous.

It sounded like as players you were clearly in a losing battle, and from the sound of it the party was just standing around in the open trying to fight something that they clearly couldn't beat. As a player I would have asked the dm if my character could see any cover nearby (probably off the battlemap), and then I would have made a run for the cover.

Sometimes you get in a fight with something that you are at an obvious disadvantage against and you have to find a way to deal with it. When you can't use your usual tactics and powers you have to think of an alternative, and sometimes the alternative is run.

I'm not trying to take a shot at the OP. But it seems like there's a bit of a trend in the game these days where players feel like they are entitled to be able to beat every encounter the dm throws their way, and if they can't they cry "foul".
For the OP - have you played since then? Your DM may be trying to make you run for cover, or is otherwise using the Dragon's threat to drive the story forwards. If he's not, then I'd say that he's being a little unfair, but when you see a challenge that seems impossible, think about what your DM's motivation is for that.

From the sounds of it the dm's motivation was to provide a logical consquence to actions the players had previously taken in the story. In the story they had killed a bunch of the dragon's minions and the dragon wanted to get revenge, so it came after them.

Clearly the dm was thinking more about the story than the metagame issues around whether the encounter with the dragon would be "fair" or "balanced."

Giving the players an out in a fight they can't win is good dming, but there should be some ownous on the players to look for that out when they are losing, and it doesn't sound like the party was trying to do that.

If I were that dm, and my players weren't bothering to try to find a way to escape or retreat when they were having their **** handed to them. I would have taken them out, but maybe I'm a cruel dm (though I would have given them a means of retreating and perhaps made the suggestion to do so if they were newbies).
Buy missile weapons like long bows. Never know when you will need them as you retreat to a shelter.

 

Unless you're DEX primary-or-secondary and you've kept your missile weapon reasonably close to your real weapon in plusses, you're not going to do any good with a ranged weapon against anything *close* to an of-level opponent.

You're better off using those Standard Actions as extra Moves, or as Total Defense, while you retreat to a shelter.

 

And, again, the DM should take the party capabilities (both strengths and weaknesses) into account when designing encounters to create battles that are fun and fair.


This is true, but I've had DMs who simply didn't have the experience to take their PCs into account. I was one of those DMs at one time, and I'm sure most of us go thru that phase at least briefly.

Having a spare bow or javelin is better than nothing, if the players are hel bent on somebody dying. But it can also be a trap for players and DMs both. Movies and other fiction might lead a whole group to assume that plinking away with mundane bows is a boring but winning strategy. And it might be, at low low levels and with the right PCs. But because of D&D's quirky power escalation, a newer DM might be honestly surprised when that long boring fight ends in a TPK.
And, again, the DM should take the party capabilities (both strengths and weaknesses) into account when designing encounters to create battles that are fun and fair.

Unless the PCs are the kind of people that enjoy D&D more this way. Sometimes it helps people with their sense of immersion if their environment isn't cropped to their level, because it gives the sense that these creatures vary in a natural way (this dragon happened to be stronger than the PCs, in this case, as dragons in literature often are). As such, it may not be the kind of event that makes the PCs smile, but it is the kind of event that allows them to smile when something does go their way -- because for these example PCs, the reward is carving one's own path. Some people don't feel like they've done that if they know the DM is making sure that the fights are always fair.

This is certainly true for much of the folks I DM for. It's entirely plausible it is true of others, such as the people described in the opening post.
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I think that Blue Dragons are just poorly designed monsters. The basic assumption in D&D 4E is that a party should have a fair shot at defeating any encounter of their level. This may become more or less complicated depending on party composition (role representation, melee/range balance), but having a near-guaranteed TPK unless you have a certain type of character (i.e. one capable of proning enemies 20 squares away, or a whole party with a decent attack at a range of 20) is NOT what this game is about. 

Note that this is not merely a 'PCs unable to handle flying enemies' issue. A flying Solo can be fair game, even if it has ranged attacks. But  giving it a range of 20 (or rather, 22, since Lightning Burst can be aimed above the groun and still hit PCs) is just obnoxious. That goes beyond asking players to have ranged PCs and secondary weapons for their melee guys: the majority of ranged classes are casters, which are typically capped to a range of 10 squares except for very specific (and unimpressive) attacks, and the secondary weapons of choice for most melee characters are thrown, and don't have that much range. 

Consider changing this dragon so that Lightning Burst has a range of just 5. This way, it can still blast PCs from the air, but it has to get much closer, within the range of most casters, thrown weapons and -most importantly- close enough for just about any controller to bring it to the ground. The dragon will still try to play like an artillery, but in most encounters, it will be forced to land and risk taking a hit or two in melee. And it would be far from screwed in that scenario, since it has powers like Wing Backblast that let it fly away with ease, as long as it's not stunned or immobilized.
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Guys, aren't there immurements or items that force a creature that's flying to land?

Also, any items that have a ranged stun would work, as well, no?  Couldn't somebody just be carrying a wand?

[Edit] Okay, here's a few options:

If NOBODY has DEX, there HAS to be somebody who has STR, so you could use a Skyrender Weapon, which causes enemies to be slowed for flying purposes, and has a daily power of making things fall from the sky.

Your warlock could have had an Orb of Undisputable Gravity (Which I would obviously recommend, if nobody else has any ranged attacks)

Heck, I would even say that the party should invest in flying mounts.

If the party's plan on dealing with flying monsters is "sit there and let the warlock ping at it," then, I'm sorry to be possibly rude, but then they lost.  It's not like you're doing something dirty and underhanded; the party configured themselves with no contingency plans for dealing with flying things, and they should either 1.  Run away and fix that or 2.  Get the dragon to come to them (find a cave.  heavy tree cover.  inside a house.  Taunt the dragon into coming down by calling it a coward.  Something.) 

I do agree that every challenge should be surmountable in D&D.  You shouldn't just send a level 25 Balrog at them when they're still rocking +1 armor.

However, in this case, there were multiple "outs".  If they can't co-operate, plan, and adapt to avoid a TPK, well, I'd TPK them. 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
Under the current rules, all magic items of uncommon or higher rating are to be given out by the DM.  So the only way they can have items tailored to stopping flying creatures is if the DM chooses to give them to the party.  And the cheapest flying mount is equal to a 9th level item, which I believe was well abouve the price range of characters fighting a level 6 dragon.  Not trying to pick on your suggestions, but they are not within the control of party.
Under the current rules, all magic items of uncommon or higher rating are to be given out by the DM.  So the only way they can have items tailored to stopping flying creatures is if the DM chooses to give them to the party.  And the cheapest flying mount is equal to a 9th level item, which I believe was well abouve the price range of characters fighting a level 6 dragon.  Not trying to pick on your suggestions, but they are not within the control of party.


I thought they were of a higher level, and I was also under the impression that uncommons could be bought if the DM allowed.

The RP suggestions I gave, however, are still valid.  They had more than one choice of "let the warlock ping it" 
Salla, on minions: I typically use them as encounter filler. 'I didn't quite fill out the XP budget, not enough room left for a decent near-level monster ... sprinkle in a few minions'. Kind of like monster styrofoam packing peanuts.
Guys, aren't there immurements or items that force a creature that's flying to land?



Young blue dragon:  Level 6.
The lowest-level immurement:  Level 24.

Also, any items that have a ranged stun would work, as well, no?  Couldn't somebody just be carrying a wand?



A "wand of ranged stun"?  *STUNS* mostly start showing up early Paragon, and very few of them have Range 12.  So you need an Arcane Encounter Power (to go in the wand) with a Range longer than 10, that Stuns, available mid-heroic.

Yeah, no.  Doesn't work.

If NOBODY has DEX, there HAS to be somebody who has STR, so you could use a Skyrender Weapon, which causes enemies to be slowed for flying purposes, and has a daily power of making things fall from the sky.



Skyrender:  Level 9.  Not something this party *could* choose to have, even if they're using the old-style make-your-own.  And they have no Ranged-weapon users, and as a Heavy Thrown backup weapon for a Strength-user it probably doesn't have the range to reach the dragon - and if it does, it still can't make it crash, not even with the daily.

So you've got a weapon that's only an affordable backup plan for level 12+ characters, that still wouldn't help in this situation.  And at L12, it's got an effective -2 to hit.

Your warlock could have had an Orb of Undisputable Gravity (Which I would obviously recommend, if nobody else has any ranged attacks)



Higher-level implement, of a type he can't use.  Once again, a completely financially unworkable backup plan unless you're level 11+ *and* have a spare Feat to spend.  Oh, and only works if the dragon gets within 10.  The problem is the dragon sitting *at 12* and catch you with the edge of a burst, remember?

Heck, I would even say that the party should invest in flying mounts.



Cheapest flying mount:  L9, and VERY expensive.  Completely unaffordable, in fact, at their level, especially because the Dragon will simply kill it *and then* go back to pinging them to death.

If the party's plan on dealing with flying monsters is "sit there and let the warlock ping at it," then, I'm sorry to be possibly rude, but then they lost. 



It was an unwinnable encounter, yes.  Even the Warlock could only hit it when it let him get a shot at it.

It's not like you're doing something dirty and underhanded; the party configured themselves with no contingency plans for dealing with flying things,



All your suggestions for "configuration" require a hell of a lot more levels and resources than they can possibly have at their level.

and they should either 1.  Run away and fix that or 2.  Get the dragon to come to them (find a cave.  heavy tree cover.  inside a house.  Taunt the dragon into coming down by calling it a coward.  Something.)



These are good advice.  However, in the traditional example of "bad DMing" of this sort(which this may or may not be) the fight is basically on a featureless plain.  No cover, no trees, no caves, no houses.

However, in this case, there were multiple "outs".  If they can't co-operate, plan, and adapt to avoid a TPK, well, I'd TPK them. 



There really *were* no outs to this situation, without the DM specifically putting them it.  It was, flatly, impossible for them to prepare for this fight, and there is nothing they could have done to win it.  The only *workable* solutions to that encounter rely on the DM putting in terrain features to hide in, places to run to, or having the dragon respond to speech, NONE of which are at all, in any way, under player control.
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