Is this encounter too hard(or too easy)

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Hey what do you think of this encounter(3 out of 3 Enounters)

3 x Lvl 5 Beholder Guath - 400 XP each

Its designed for a final encounter for 4 4th Level players.   Theres plot reasons for the encounter being 3 beholders  
According to the rules, 1 player = 1 Standard monster, and 1 Elite = 2 Standards. Also, monsters with stats of level+1 or considered to be a reasonably hard encounter. 

So basically, there's 1 Beholder Gauth too many. Your players also have only 1 daily power which they have probably used by now, so I'd be hesitant to throw this at them. 

You could level them down to level 4 (-1 to initiative, defensesm, attack rolls and damage, and -20 HP). It's still gonna be nasty, but more survivable. 
Well, a pair would fit better anyway.  Will make it a pair rather than a 3some. 

Back in the day when I DM'd I would calculate the average damage per round each player could generate, do the same for the monsters and then given each groups hit points figure out who would drop first.


Once it was evened up you can look at the spells and special abilities to see how that would affect it.  e.g. if one of 4 players is likely to be incapacitated then reduce their avg dmg.


Of course over time the players got better and better with more options and I had to stack the odds more and more against them !

If there's a plot reason for having that encounter, take the next step and come up with a plot reason why the monsters aren't interested in grinding the party into the dust. Give the monsters some goal that is vital to them that they can achieve even if the PCs still draw breath. The nice thing about aberrations is that their motivations might be utterly alien, so you have a pretty free rein. They could do something utterly nonsensical like reaching a point on the map and rotating around their horizontal axis three times, with the result that all later aberrations the party encounters have resist 5 fire. Then they leave, not particularly caring if the PCs still live, and not particularly interested in risking their own lives to try to kill them. They'll fight back to achieve their goal, but their non-lethal eye rays might be more than adequate to keep the PCs off their backs long enough for them to achieve their goals.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

If the players are smart, they shouldn't have to fight them. 

But we all know that is not going to happen. 
If the players are smart, they shouldn't have to fight them. 

But we all know that is not going to happen. 

Right, but there's the other side of the coin: the monsters shouldn't have to fight the PCs either. Why risk it? Well, there are plausible reasons for them risking it, but I'm saying there are also plausible reasons for them to keep the engagement to a short skirmish rather than a deathmatch. Find one and then the power of the monsters doesn't matter. The need for monster balance is predicated on the idea that if the PCs don't win then they die. Dismiss that idea.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

1200 XP encounter results in a level 7 encounter, which is a level +3 encounter.

Technically, it will be one very hard encounter. 

Depending on your players, they might die, barely survive or have some difficulty.
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1200 XP encounter results in a level 7 encounter, which is a level +3 encounter.

Technically, it will be one very hard encounter. 

Depending on your players, they might die, barely survive or have some difficulty.

Which is why it should be used as something other than a straight-up slugfest.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Not that I play forth but from what I heard it can be as bad as any other game. Some players are so stacked or so lucky with dice rolls (or just cheat roll =p ) that they can easily nuke stuff that should be impossable for their level. While other players with average bilds or bad rolls are brought to their knees by stuff they should easily defeat. And when you got a mix of the two like I do in my group its a pain in the @$$!

Minus the advice above all I can say is use your best judgement, you know your players built and how well they do more then we do. At worst if its to much for the PCs and they are near death have an accident happen to one or two of them.
The monsters are elslaved Guardians, so they have to fight to the death, but if the PC's can bypass them(and there is a way, which they will be preyty much told earlier on if they pay attention) then there is no need to fight.
The monsters are elslaved Guardians, so they have to fight to the death,

Only if you want them to. You could also give them the primary goal of escaping, in which case they might focus on immobilizing and weakening the party so they can talk to them and get the PCs' help.

but if the PC's can bypass them(and there is a way, which they will be preyty much told earlier on if they pay attention) then there is no need to fight.

Okay. Is there a way to escape if the fight goes bad?

The bottom line is that I don't think there's such a think as an encounter that's too hard, unless it's an encounter that can only be dealt with via combat and for which the only possible failure is death.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The PC's have the item they are supposed to be guarding, so they will persue them to the ends of the earth if need be. 

There is both a way to escape, and a way to avoid combat entirely, as long as the PC's actually pay attention to what they are told by the archeologist. 

The PC's have the item they are supposed to be guarding, so they will persue them to the ends of the earth if need be.

But what do the creatures themselves want? Do they enjoy being enslaved?

There is both a way to escape, and a way to avoid combat entirely, as long as the PC's actually pay attention to what they are told by the archeologist.

And if they don't and the fight goes badly for them, you're only really giving yourself one way for this to play out.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Well, being dead and all, they don't want anything, except to fulfill the task they have been given. 

There are 3 ways this can play out.  Its not my fault that all players are habitully stupid and will probably fight rather than try the alternatives. 
If you give them three options, two of which don't involve combat AND properly introduce these options, then by all means throw the level +3 encounter at them. 3 Guaths should be fine. Consider it a type of wake-up call that they should start being less habitually stupid. And dieing and TPKs are a part of D&D, which are offset to the grandeur and glory for when they survive the fight.

The only thing that I'm concerned about that you have four players (and thus characters). I have learned that 4-hero parties are particulary vulnerable to Controllers, especially at low levels. So, to balance the fight a bit, one of the Guaths might enter the combat a few rounds later (three most probably).

Summary:
The encounter of three Guaths is perfect, since it's designed as a hard fight for when the party ignores all the clues for safer options. Enter one of the Guaths later, since you have a four person party.
Heroic Dungeon Master
Well, being dead and all, they don't want anything, except to fulfill the task they have been given.

Look, whatever. Just recognize that you're the one arranging the circumstances. Nothing says dead creatures can't have personal motivations and be trying to free their forms from servitude, or something else.

There are 3 ways this can play out.  Its not my fault that all players are habitully stupid and will probably fight rather than try the alternatives.

Maybe not, but it is your fault if the penalty for their "stupidity" is that they die and the game grinds to a halt.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

You can't force a player not to be stupid. 

Or in the game tonight - No matter how much you guide them, you can't stop the players from destroying the Necromantic focus, attacking the guardians who are currently ignoring them and attempting to confine the amulet back in its base, or stop them sitting in the Glowing Throne and being turned into a guardian. 

And Mindless Automotons don't generally have any will, due to lacking a soul. 
You can't force a player not to be stupid.

No, but you can arrange the game so that the results of the stupidity is more interesting that just their deaths.

And Mindless Automotons don't generally have any will, due to lacking a soul.

What you just wrote there is entirely made up and arbitrary. You decide their nature. If you want to decide that they still have a will, then they do.

But that's beside the point. If they're mindless, then something is controlling them or has given them a will. That something can have a goal other than the deaths of the characters at any cost.

You said you don't want to kill them. I'm offering an approach for you not to kill them. What do you want?

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Again like I said you know your players better then us. Some are not bright, others are smart, and others still want to just roll some dice and kick ass. If you know your players are not bright, or want to fight crap, then as DM you kinda have to lean towards that way.

And other times, which I have experienced myself, The dm thinks of something extremely clever or at least he thinks it is, and makes some complex way of doing something which the players will simply never figure out. PCs: "Wow this fight is mega hard we are all dying."  DM: "I said it was an old temple of a moon goddess not my fault you didnt pray at the hidden shrine that only appears at midnight which weakens these golems defenses." PCs: "Wha......."

But again, if their is a way to escape from the ass kickin, it becomes players fault for not running and trying again later on.
If the players are overwhelmed they can always flee - and as a DM you can always rationalize how they succeed at that - maybe there is a price to messing up - loss of an item etc.
GAHHHHHHH.

I WANT them to be midless guardians.  How is that so hard to understand.  I know I am the DM and can do whatever I want.  I also know that no matter how much prep and how many options you give them, players will mess things up. 

This discussion is getting a bit off-track, but if worse comes to worse, and your mindless guardians slaughter the players despite the fight being balanced according to the rules (you roll an abnormal amount of critical hits, for example), just invoke a bit of creative liberty.

- Their master enters, tells the creatures to stop, and captures the players while gloating over his minions' victory.
- An earthquake suddenly rips through the cavern, shaking the ceiling loose and making big rocks fall on the guardians (basically rocks fall, monsters die). The players miraculously survive the cave-in and manage to reach the surface after days of digging. Cue new claustrophobic tendencies
- The guardians kill the players, but they rise as part of the same necromantic ritual that turned the gauths into undead. They're all revenants now, with a free Past Soul feat attached. They break their master's hold through some attachment to their former lives and escape from an unlifetime of slavery.
- Just before the guardians kill the players, another adventuring party comes in and saves them. They were also hired by the player's employer, who didn't trust them to bring the quest to a succesful end. Turns out (s)he was right.

God knows I had to invoke several of them in the last year only.

GAHHHHHHH.

I WANT them to be midless guardians.  How is that so hard to understand.  I know I am the DM and can do whatever I want.  I also know that no matter how much prep and how many options you give them, players will mess things up. 

The simple suggestion of entering one gauth later is a solution for your problem. I understand that the problem is  that you have 3 gauth for plot reasons, and you want a survivable but tough encounter if it goes that far.

Few scenarions:

One gauth pops in - party wails on it quite a bit (1-2 rounds) and then 2 more appear to aswer the first one's call for help or attracted by the sound of fighting.

Two gauth appear, attack the party, and a third one will join in later, after checking for intruders in other rooms (perfectly logical for guardians).

You might even make it a pre-encounter test for the players to try to split the gauth into two waves by stealth or trickery. This kind of skill challenges or skill checks are usually fun, because they don't bypass a challenge, or avoid it, but they help quite a bit and the result should be obvious if they succeed.
First, a question to Centauri:
Do your players ever die from something else than bad luck? You keep giving the OP the suggestion that the mindless, undead, automaton guardians could have reasons for not killing the PCs, which is a rather boring suggestion for a hard fight that only comes about if they keep doing stupid things they could've avoided. Sometimes, stupidity kills and games do not grind to a halt because of that.
Also, I don't think the OP ever stated he doesn't want to kill the players. He just asked if the encounter was definately too hard (read: grossly unfair and a guaranteed TPK).
Sorry for that, I get a bit frustrated at keeping players alive no matter how. I mean no disrespect.

Second, I still believe this encounter is good as stated in the beginning. Three Guanths should amount to a level 7 encounter, which is still feasible for a 4-player lv. 4 party. It'll be hard, but your players might deserve it. Consider popping one of them two rounds later.
Also, if you make clear that there are a couple of extremely strong guardians waiting beforehand, they might take the opportunity to make preperations, which is also a way to make the combat work in their favor. Finding defensible terrain and/or casting 'Undead Ward' are examples for this. Also, skill challenges to seperate them is also interesting.

Still, don't be afraid to kill them if the dice says so. Your encounter is not too hard.
Heroic Dungeon Master
Also, I don't think the OP ever stated he doesn't want to kill the players.

I really thought he did, but I must have confused him with another poster.

First, a question to Centauri:
Do your players ever die from something else than bad luck?

My players' characters never die, because I'm not trying to kill them. I'm trying to make them fail.

You keep giving the OP the suggestion that the mindless, undead, automaton guardians could have reasons for not killing the PCs, which is a rather boring suggestion for a hard fight that only comes about if they keep doing stupid things they could've avoided. Sometimes, stupidity kills and games do not grind to a halt because of that.

Why does it not grind to a halt? Sure you can make new characters, but the game has to stop for that, and any continuity you had built up with those characters is lost.

Sorry for that, I get a bit frustrated at keeping players alive no matter how. I mean no disrespect.

The issue here is that "death" is the only kind of failure anyone seems to be considering. Death is usually boring, unless it's a sacrifice or something. There are other kinds of failure that are interesting, however. If the OP wanted, if the PCs were unable to defeat the gauth, the gauth could demand a service from the PCs, something that will release them, or destroy the device that enslaved them, or get back at their master. That's interesting. That keeps the game and story moving.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Hey what do you think of this encounter(3 out of 3 Enounters)

3 x Lvl 5 Beholder Guath - 400 XP each

Its designed for a final encounter for 4 4th Level players.   Theres plot reasons for the encounter being 3 beholders  



This is a hard question to answer.  The raw numbers say yes, but there are other considerations.  These are elite artillery with weak melee attacks and no controller-type powers, so if the PCs can get in their faces, and immobilise/prone/daze and otherwise keep them in melee reach, then they may do OK. 

On the other hand, since the monsters can fly and have powerful ranged attacks, then this in combination with terrain can effectively make this a fight the players can't win.  For example, the beholders hover 5-8 squares above the party the entire combat.  With monsters with 18 INT you might feel pressure to use this tactic (do however see this thread
community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/758....

Ideas: 
♦ have the Gauth enter and fight one at a time, either in timed 'waves' or arbitrarily (using your best judgement)
♦ to reduce the difficulty, don't have a gauth use the smartest tactics (like Centauri says, you're in charge!), so it stays on the ground say

Good luck    
  

  


I am going to use the DnDCombat program I'm working on for this as a test - stay tuned.


 


 

You can't force a player not to be stupid.

No, but you can arrange the game so that the results of the stupidity is more interesting that just their deaths.

And Mindless Automotons don't generally have any will, due to lacking a soul.

What you just wrote there is entirely made up and arbitrary. You decide their nature. If you want to decide that they still have a will, then they do.

But that's beside the point. If they're mindless, then something is controlling them or has given them a will. That something can have a goal other than the deaths of the characters at any cost.

You said you don't want to kill them. I'm offering an approach for you not to kill them. What do you want?



A +3 encounter at the end of a 3 encounter day is truly not that challenging. Hell, the designers threw a +3 and a +4 in the same 5 encounter day for a level 1 noob party...