Gen Con Tournament Recap

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We recently returned from another great Gen Con trip. Most of us have been going for the last 5 years or so. Each year we try to take part in any tournaments we can. We love the competition and the razor keen focus required to do well.


The best we have done in the past is 3rd in the D&D Championship and 1st in the Goodman Dungeon Crawl Classic. The Goodman Dungeon Crawl Classic has to be our favorite. 3 rounds of 4 hours each with points scored and posted for each round (www.goodman-games.com/tourney-results-DC...) . It had a rich backstory which actually came into play in the tournament for those who studied it. We were sorry that the first year we played was the last year they offered it. I hope it is back again some day (in whatever the latest D&D version is, we don’t have time to get our game up to snuff in editions we are not playing regularly).


This year we played in two tournament style events -- the fourthcore deathmatch (big thanks to C. Steven Ross for setting this up) and the DND Championship. I will describe them in the order we played.


Championship Entry Round
The entry round consisted of 5 encounters. 45 minutes to complete each encounter. If you ran out of time in an encounter you were scored at that point (and If it was round 1 or 2, you were not likely to advance). (begin rant: I really hope WotC changes this. The people playing in this tournament have paid hundreds of dollars to get to Gen Con. Please at least give them a 4 hour tournament, not one that can be over in 45 minutes. End rant).


The Championship was set in Neverwinter at the time of the eruption of mount Hotenow. The PCs were elite crewmembers of the Northwind II. They had with them their crew (30 strong!).


Overall premise: Get out of Neverwinter as Mount Hotenow erupts and back to ship (the Northwind II). Bring at least some of the crew with us. Start with 30 crew plus 5 PCs. Need at least 1 PC and total of 11 PC’s and crew to sail the ship away.


Encounter 1: We wake up to the destruction of Neverwinter with our inn on fire. Fire elementals rise up and attack. A tiefling crew member of ours turns on us and opens an arcane gate through which devils start stepping.


Doors (except back door) all blocked by fire


Erik changed his battleaxe into a greataxe and spent a daily power to attack one of the windows (which was secured with metal grating). Erik bashed it in and we had another escape route.


Unfortunately for us, the crew picked this time to be complete klutzes. There was an athletics check to get out the window. They failed again and again. Eventully 10 were killed and the rest got out. If I could have rolled half way decently only about 5 should have died. We got out with only 5 minutes to spare.


Lost 10 crew (down to 20)


2. The second area was some sort of collapsing bell tower or clock tower.  It was divided into multiple areas separated by doors. Areas of it were on fire and each area contained a gargoyle (or at least it seemed that way). There was no way to avoid fighting the gargoyles except the last one. We had to brute force our way through and kill each as quickly as we could. We got out with only 5 minutes to spare but only lost 3 crew (down to 17)


3: The third area consisted of crossing a city square choked with members of the Eight Finger gang (our enemies). There were also some neutral city folk that we could recruit to join us (and we did). It turned out to be an easy encounter for us due to some great initiative rolls. Our crew went first (and got halfway through the area). They were followed by our area casters who knocked down many of our enemy which included lots of minions. There was a slight wrinkle when we got to the far side of the square and realized that was not the way out. But just after that happened, a land shark erupted from under the cobblestones. The thing left a tunnel down into the sewers beneath the city. We all ran for the opening and got out with 20 minutes to spare and a gain of 3 crew. (back up to 20 crew)


So now we are feeling pretty good. We look around and we are the only group in our session that is still playing.


4: The fourth area was a buzz saw. We honestly did not think we would make it out and in fact only 3 PCs and 10 crew did. Between us and the exit were a war troll, a snake swarm, and a hydra. There was no way to get by them without provoking. We tried running by and provoking anyway, but when 5 crew dropped in one round we thought better of that. We had to fight. The Hydra dropped Valna the druid and Erik the fighter before we were able to daze it. We killed the troll and dazed the hydra for a round. That was our chance and we ran for it. We got out with only 5 minutes left. We lost 2 PC’s and 10 crew (leaving 3PCs and 10 crew remaining)


5: Finally the Northwind II (our boat) was in sight. Unfortunately there were 6 members of the Eight Fingers Gang between us and the boat and they wanted revenge. We had to get at least 11 people on that boat and we had 13. There were also some city folk standing around that we could try and recruit. We had little hope of doing any serious damage to our enemies but we did try to kill one that was blocking a bridge we needed to cross. Luckily, of the 3 PCs left, two were strikers and we were able to kill that one opponent quickly. This gave our crew a short lived opening before more enemies rushed the bridge. We finally had to resort to jumping over and/or swimming across the channel. Luckily I rolled lights out on the crew making their athletics checks and we got most on board the ship. In fact we even recruited some. In the end my PC (Blackwood) had to act as a decoy to open up some running room for the crew. The other 2 PCs got on the ship with 13 crew. Blackwood went down.


We had done it! Round 1 complete! We were told we were one of only two teams that accomplished that.


Fourthcore Deathmatch


Between our DND Championship rounds we had entered a small tournament run by C. Steven Ross. The tournament consisted of party on party combat with 4 PCs per party. Here is some more info on it: dmg42.blogspot.com/p/fourthcore-team-dea... We had a great time.


We did ok in our first round. Winning by 5 kills (PCs respawned if they were killed so it was possible to get more than 4). The second round was very tight. We won by just 1 kill. The map definitely favored us. It was a wide open area and we specialized in ranged attacks.


The final round we lost by just 1 kill (and I died 2 times in my last round so I take most of the blame). It was a battle between ranged elves and short ranged dwarves. Dwarves was a great choice. Very resilient with their minor action second winds.


Everyone had a great time and the sportsmanship was excellent despite the extreme tension.


I also want to thank the Benoit of www.rovingbandofmisfits.com/ who made the excellent terrain we used and thank him for the cool dice tower that he raffled off (and I won). He also judged in the first round of the tournament and did a great job.


DnD Championship Final Round


In the final round we had all our PCs back. The round started with our ship running aground on an island near Neverwinter. There was a hag on the island burying treasure. She was afraid we would take it from her and attacked without provocation. She had 2 displacer beasts. Just after she attacked, 4 manticores and an adult volcano dragon (level 15 elite) swooped down out of the volcanic cloud overcast and attacked at the same time.


Here are the monsters we fought (all at the same time)
Green Hag (L12 Controller) 700xp
Adult Volcanic Dragon (L15 Elite Brute) 2400xp
2x Savage Displacer Beast (L11 Brute) 600xp ea
4x Manticore Striker (L10 Skirmisher) 500xp ea
That makes for 6,300xp or Encounter Level 15!


We started the fight huddled around the sentinel’s bear (+2 to all defenses). We had potions of vigor and regeneration at the ready to down first round.


Valna cast goodberry and started handing those out. Then all the monsters went.


They converged on Erik and tore him up. He was down to 15 hp (even with his 29 AC).


All the enemies were on us including the Volcanic Dragon. Blackwood used her Daze poison on the Dragon to keep it from using all its varied powers. That worked great for us. The dragon was dazed for the first three rounds. We focused all firepower on the superstar destroyer (dragon) expecting it to be a 10th level Volcanic Dragon and go down relatively easily. It did not. It retreated into the overcast and recovered from the daze only to return more powerful than we could possibly imagine.


While it was away, we finished off a manticore and both displacer beasts (they had been getting splash damage from our attacks on the dragon so they were slightly injured when we started on them).


Then the dragon returned. The monsters that were left first killed Valna (and I mean killed. If they had anyone down, they were going for coup d’grace). Then Rolan fell.


Things were looking bad. Blackwood, Erik, and Crina left to fight a dragon, hag, and 3 manticores. Luckily the dragon fell soon after Rolan. I cannot remember if Erik died just before the dragon or just after, things were such a blur.


With just Blackwood and Crina left, Blackwood threw up her darkness power (Crina could not see in the darkness but had plenty of area attacks so was not too badly affected).


A cat and mouse battle ensued. The monsters retreated, trying to lure us out of the darkness. But that just gave us time to second wind and pick up potions of healing off our dead comrades and drink them. Seeing our tactics, the monsters returned.  The fight went back and forth and right down to the wire. First 2 manticores fell, then Crina died, then the hag.


We were down to just Blackwood against 1 manticore. On the next to last round the manticore had 13 hp and it was Blackwood’s attack. Blackwood rolled a 1! Argh! She died on the Manticores next action…


We took 2nd place.


Thank You's
I hope some of the other teams can chime in and let us know how the tournaments went for them.


We had a great time and want to extend a huge thank you to the organizers, writers, and judges (ours were fantastic).


Overhearing some of the judges talking I got these stats (they may not be entirely accurate).
64 teams entered
2 teams completed all encounters of entry round
4 teams completed 4 encounters of entry round
90% of teams did not complete encounter 2 in the entry round


6 teams played in the final round
1 team completed the final round
1 team killed the volcano dragon (and all other monsters except 1) (that was us)
1 team bloodied the volcano dragon


Here are some personal requests of mine for the organizers of the DnD Championship


1) Please run a winter championship at DDXP
2) Please return to the previous format of 3 rounds of 4 hours each
3) Please keep using pregenerated characters (and consider letting us choose 5 out of 6 or 7)
4) Please include rich background that matters in the tournament
5) Please post the scores post tournament
6) Please release the tournament adventures after the tournament


Thank you so much for providing this fun


Tom
Congratulations guys you do the KoSW proud
Nice job! Your judge for the Deathmatch must have been Benoit of the Roving Band of Misfits blog and Level Up podcast. Beyond being nice guys and great DMs, they are really good terrain and minis guys.

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).

Great report, this is much appreciated. I'll be at gen con next year and this tournament is tops on my list. You'd better watch out cause there'll be a LOT more competition next year (my best campaign group is attending and frankly they are very good) Cool

Thanks for the report!
Glad to hear Team Deathmatch went well. I play occassionally with C. Steven Ross and got to do some playtesting but wasn't able to get to Gen Con to see how things turned out.
Hey thanks for the shout out! I was so absorbed in the mod I was running that when I gave you the dice tower, I didn't realize you were one of the Deathmatch guys; I do remember you now though. :-) Hope you enjoy it. 

We'll be mentioning the Deathmatch in our next podcast as well - #16.  Be sure to check it out. (And I'm glad to see I remembered correctly that you were a team of elven archers)
Check out my blog over at Roving Band of Misfits, or follow me on Twitter
Finally, time to respond to this. I judged the DDC - 6 tables of the first round, and then we doubled up judges for the final round. Having 2 judges per table made that go a lot smoother.

This first time judging DDC confirmed what I expected to learn, and that is that I don't enjoy it nearly as much as the normal LFR scenarios. There's no roleplaying and very little flavor or story in the championship. The assignment is to be mechanically a good judge. On the up side, we had this scenario in our hands long before most of the LFR scenarios were ready, so we all knew it well.

These encounters were designed not to be won by brute force in 45 minutes. Most of them contained some shortcut or were won by engaging the monsters as little as possible while pushing toward the exit. Also, of course, get your turn over in a few seconds, which was understandably a problem for those who hadn't seen the characters before the convention.

Some of the players weren't really suited to the DDC and didn't know quite what it was. I might classify 20% of them as such, since I'm not begrudging the vast majority of average players their opportunity. I don't know what more can be done about that, though. The catalog entry says Experience Required: Extensive, and John Stanford is there as marshal to field questions.

Expert tricks I did not see: Only one of my players ever made a monster knowledge roll. No one readied crew member actions so they could dash past a monster at the cost of only 1 opportunity attack.

Good things I did see: Players from time to time asked about enemy motivations, or whether they could use Thievery on such-and-such, or what was the deal with X phenomenon over there. That's the right mindset for this event.

Encounter 1:
Unfortunately for us, the crew picked this time to be complete klutzes. There was an athletics check to get out the window. They failed again and again. Eventully 10 were killed and the rest got out. If I could have rolled half way decently only about 5 should have died. We got out with only 5 minutes to spare.


You need to roll a 13. Note that someone can assist, or (even better) the sentinel can grant +2 to everyone by demonstrating the climb. I believe that running the sentinel and the assassin properly were key to the whole thing. In your favor, though, having too many crew to manipulate really bogged down some teams. And using the window was correct. Going for the door at the far end of the room was a trap.

Encounter 2 wasn't liked by the judges either. It was too repetitive. I'm still not sure of the best way to approach getting through that chain of doors and small rooms. If you can get everyone past a couple of monsters, then the same bottleneck protects you as they give chase. The fighter and druid have enough slide and daze powers that they should be able to open the path forward.

Oh, yes, more bad player decisions - if the last thing you do on your turn is a minor action to open the next door, you're just setting yourself up for major hurt.

Most tables, and all the ones I judged, washed out in Encounter 1 or 2. At that point, we offered to run the rest of the adventure for fun, since they'd paid their $8. They usually decided to continue.

The people playing in this tournament have paid hundreds of dollars to get to Gen Con. Please at least give them a 4 hour tournament, not one that can be over in 45 minutes. End rant.


I usually spent the whole slot running this anyway, so it might as well be for points. I.e., I agree.

Encounter 3 was fun and encounter 5 was fun. Both of those are very open. In Encounter 3, you didn't mention that the characters are fleeing from a poisonous cloud right behind them moving at speed 4. Even the worst tables focused nicely on the objective when pursued by pyroclastic death.

4: The fourth area was a buzz saw.


Encounter 4 was indeed a buzzsaw. There are left and right branches heading to the exit, so the crew and most of the PCs can go around that nasty hydra. But, someone has to eat its attacks, and it's not much affected by daze.

Moving on to the final round, the team I co-judged bloodied the dragon and took third. It's important to spread out very early (as they did), since the hag and the dragon both have unpleasant area attacks.

There was a hag on the island burying treasure. She was afraid we would take it from her and attacked without provocation.


Actually, it's important to listen to the hag's opening dialog. "Are you here after my treasure?" You can realize she won't fight unless attacked. Maybe you didn't answer her question or answered it ambiguously? That would trigger her attack.

The team I judged answered her correctly. ("No!") However, they picked her as their first target and dropped the hag in a round. That's nice, but it's damage that could have gone elsewhere.

That team also dropped one manticore. Erik did a fine job of tying up the dragon for several rounds (8?), but they only got it to 300 of 350 hitpoints. Towards the end, the sentinel and assassin were hiding in that darknesss cloud, so I was flinging manticore bolts blindly.

At the very end (the player running Blackwood took a picture), I surrounded the last lonely assassin with 3 manticora and a displacer beast. The other displacer beast was way off where Erik had fallen and couldn't even get there in a double move.

Here are the monsters we fought (all at the same time)


One quibble - the displacer beasts were level 9. I find it interesting that the major terrain feature (opaque cloud 15 ft up) helped the monsters only somewhat. Tactics required that 2 manticora engage in melee, and none of the monsters had enough stealth to beat everyone's passive perception while in the cloud.

Here are some personal requests of mine for the organizers of the DnD Championship

1) Please run a winter championship at DDXP
2) Please return to the previous format of 3 rounds of 4 hours each
3) Please keep using pregenerated characters (and consider letting us choose 5 out of 6 or 7)
4) Please include rich background that matters in the tournament
5) Please post the scores post tournament
6) Please release the tournament adventures after the tournament


I really, really want pregen characters also. I don't want to have to dive into the rulebook to see how the druid's obscure daily power works when we're on the clock. I want to read up on that power in July before the con.
Logan Bonner wrote the adventure, and it's nicely formatted like any of their published work. It even contains house ads, which are pointless if they dont' publish the thing.

Thank you so much for providing this fun
Tom


You're welcome. Kill you again next year.

Hey Nutation. Thank you for posting. I would love to hear more judge/organizer/team accounts.

I am glad to hear there was a way to not fight the Hag. I love that sort of thing in an adventure. I think we were too focused on the fight and did not even respond to the hag.
I was also a player on Arksorn's team -- and we had a blast with both the Deathmatch and the Championship. 

I'm amused at the revelation that we could have avoided the fight with the hag -- I did at one point, waaaay too late in the fight, try to talk to her and get her to back down if we agreed to leave her treasure alone, but she wasn't in a talking mood at that point.  ;)

-j 
The reason for the set-up (which was the same as last year) is that the rules for proceeding to the next round is clear. The players know exactly what they need to do to get to the next round. The previous set-up lead to a lot of arguments about how you scored points. Mind you, some of us proposed that next year (a) players can pick in what order to do the encounters (as last year) since that makes it more fun for the DM and/or (b) the players run all 5 encounters and see which ones they make and which not as the form of scoring. We will see how people in charge react to the suggestions...
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