Help with an encounter. Those pesky undead!

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Two of my players reads this forum, so I have to put in this bit first -

PHIL and STEVIE from NORWICH - STOP READING NOW. 

SERIOUSLY

I MEAN IT

GO READ ANOTHER POST.

Anyway....

Hey there, I am designing an encounter and am looking for some advice.  I am still new to running 4th Ed, and its all a little confusing, but I am getting there.  This will be the first dungeon I have run, and the characters are continuing characters from the last season of Encounter(which I joined in halfway, but did not run). 

Essentially its an encounter of skeletons.  However, due to the prescence of a magical item(yet to be designed, feel free to help with stats, the players can nab it if they are good enough) after they have died, they have a chance of re-combining and getting back up. 

Its a standard encounter for 4 4th level adventurers, and I think the XP budget is about 800(if I did my maths right).  Theres a 400Xp  monster, and then 2 level 3 soldier skeletons and 6 lvl 1 minion skeletons.  Slightly over budget, but the numbers dont seem too hard.  I was thinking of having the skeletons get back up on a 11-20 roll on their initiative. 

Does this seem too harsh? 
Not really. In fact, you're thinking too hard on this. Make the item in question a trap that has its own initiative count and can raise the skeletons for you. That way, the players have something to zero in on after the first scare of a revived skelly, and characters with trap disabling skills can feel important and awesome. Two birds with one stone, and you can boost the encounter level a bit to make it seem a big battle with a big reward.

Happy Gaming

Essentially its an encounter of skeletons. However, due to the prescence of a magical item(yet to be designed, feel free to help with stats, the players can nab it if they are good enough) after they have died, they have a chance of re-combining and getting back up.

Its a standard encounter for 4 4th level adventurers, and I think the XP budget is about 800(if I did my maths right). Theres a 400Xp monster, and then 2 level 3 soldier skeletons [150xp] and 6 lvl 1 minion skeletons [25xp]. Slightly over budget, but the numbers dont seem too hard. I was thinking of having the skeletons get back up on a 11-20 roll on their initiative.




From the Encounter Builder, does require DDI Subscription to access, yet it provides the math for encounters.

































Level



Difficulty/Level Range



Difficulty/XP Range



Next Level



PCx4



Easy



Standard



Hard



Easy



Standard



Hard



XP Total



04



02-03



04-05



06-08



500-699



700-999



1000-1599



7,000




850xp is a standard fight, is neither terribly difficult nor too harsh. 


The easiest thing for the magic item is to give it the power like a Deathlock Wight’s Reanimate power (MM262 - level 4 creature)



  • Reanimate (minor, encounter) Healing, Necrotic

  • Ranged 10; affects a destroyed undead creature of a level no higher than the deathlock wight’s level + 2; the target stands as a free action with a number of hit points equal to one-half its bloodied value.  This power does not effect minions.


Given the presence of a magical item I also would add 2-4 more soldier skeletons to make this encounter Hard. 


Not knowing why the PCs might want the item makes it kind of hard to work with, but you could treat it like a minor artifact or a regular item that works on both the undead and the living, once it is attuned.  Making it a magical item (Level 8) will allow its use to 10th, plus count as a treasure parcel of this level.

Besides the obvious benefits to the PCs, they will now incur the wrath of various others such as, Orcus, Vecna, the Raven Queen, who may want to retrieve this item from the PCs.

Easy pointer; a Complexity 1 skill challenge (4 success before 3 failure) that generates a Minion of level N at the start of every turn and then an extra burst of 2-4 Minions if the challenge is failed is about comparable to a level N monster.

So if you have the level 1 Skeleton Minions you can add a trap that revives one every turn and takes 4 skill checks to disable and count that as roughly a level 1 Standard monster.

It's a trick I use often and works pretty well. Shouldn't be much of a difference if the encounter starts with 3 or 4 skeletons already for the purpose of the trap.

The big difference with reviving one per round and reviving on a 11-20 by the way is that with the latter case it's hardly worth it to kill the Skeletons as they'll revive really fast and all the time; it's easier to just let them be until the item is secured, rather then actually keeping them surpressed. 
Epic Dungeon Master

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Well, im giving away the plot point if my players are reading this, but oh well.

There is a Gelatinous Cube in the middle(the 400Xp monster) and the Item is a pendant that was on a temple guardian the cube ate   Thats is what is causing the revives, the skeletons are all remains from revious victims. 

If the cube is doing it, I'd just add a revive power to the cube that makes it revive the skeletons (as a minor action probably, or a 1/round free action) and be done with it Wink

That's not an issue at all. Or at least, shouldn't be. Just give your players a chance to realise what's happening.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Well, im giving away the plot point if my players are reading this, but oh well.

There is a Gelatinous Cube in the middle(the 400Xp monster) and the Item is a pendant that was on a temple guardian the cube ate   Thats is what is causing the revives, the skeletons are all remains from revious victims. 




That would work with my previous suggestion fo the item's power and again I'd add more warriors.

It needs to be an item, as its what they are searching for.  It needs to be returned to stop the undead attacks.  I like the power idea, it seems better than random regens. 

The Raven queen is the God of the Dead(or ensuring they stay dead) right?  What creatures would serve as guardians of items she wants kept under lock and key? 

Encounter wise, if I am having 3 encounters, according to your math above, i should probably have 2 encounters at about 950 XP and the third one should be about 1250 or so? 

Would it be better just to take the minions out and put in proper skeletons? 

It needs to be an item, as its what they are searching for.  It needs to be returned to stop the undead attacks.  I like the power idea, it seems better than random regens. 

The Raven queen is the God of the Dead (or ensuring they stay dead) right?  What creatures would serve as guardians of items she wants kept under lock and key? 


Encounter wise, if I am having 3 encounters, according to your math above, i should probably have 2 encounters at about 950 XP and the third one should be about 1250 or so? 


Would it be better just to take the minions out and put in proper skeletons? 



I’d go with one easy, one standard and one hard.


Example:



  1. One trap or sentries to be bypassed at the entrance

  2. One group of servants of the Raven Queen to be defeated (see below)

  3. The final Cube encounter.


Remember if you plan for the PCs to be able to use the pendant for theirselves I’d switch the foe to human cultist working for Orcus who are trying to obtain the pendant for evil reasons. 

The pendant working to revive players of heroic tier falls within the guidelines of Raise Dead (death is less inclined to return paragon and epic heroes) so unless it is abused by the PCs I’d refrain from using the RQ at this time. [and yes the RQ is the Goddess of the Dead]



  • Example for Orcus: One Human Mage (175xp), Two Crimson Acolytes (300xp/each), and three Human Rabble (31xp/each) = Total 868xp


1 Cube (400xp) + 6 warriors (900xp) + 6 minions (150xp) is a very hard encounter (1500xp).  You could also use 4 warriors (600xp) and add 400xp for the pendant's effect on the undead for a total of 1550xp. 


Remember the total xp for an encounter is divided between the PC, so this will only grant them 375 or 387 towards their level goal of 7,000 (it takes a few encouters to make level)


Again working with the premise that the PCs will be able to use the pendant theirselves, the encounter should be hard testing their ability to obtain this item.


The later has less fighting, but graciously gives xp for the reanimated undead affect and essentially counts the Cube as an elite.  Unless the are going to try to snag the pendant out of the cube they will have to defeat both the cube and the skeletons to obtain it.