(DM only) Running Session 10

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So a couple things for next week, from experience running session 10:

1. Setting the Mood:

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If you have a copy of the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, read the section on the Kraken Labyrinth (in Underground Neverwinter). There is NOT very much description in the adventure, and the map doesn't reflect the area all that well. Basically, it's a maze shaped like a kraken, in which the heroes find themselves in one of the legs. A ten-foot wide channel of water (not unlike a sewer) runs through the leg, and underneath is a wide open body of water--the kraken swims in that underground lake and reaches up through the channels. The walls are carved with symbols of tentacles, which PCs shouldn't note right away--you kinda have to see the whole thing to get the whole effect. Let them realize gradually where they are, what the dungeon is like, and then have the kraken attack right then.


2. Capitalizing on PC weaknesses:

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The slimes will make short work of reflex-weak PCs, in particular leaders and defenders. I melted a warpriest into green goo pretty efficiently. The tentacles are pretty good at grabbing everyone, and their defenses are sufficiently high that the only reliable way to drive them off is auto-damage. Keep this in mind, as the fight can quickly turn against your PCs.


3. Tell them about the amulets:

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It's not terribly clear in the module about how the PCs see the amulets and get to use them, so make it really obvious. The corpses show no evidence of having been attacked by the kraken, only by the slimes. You might consider placing an amulet close by the entrance, so the PCs know how effective they are at repelling the kraken.


4. Leave time for the RP at the end of the session:

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This is a harrowing fight, and the encounter backloads a lot of RP at the end. Leave time for this, but also be sensitive to your PCs' needs. If they're tired out and don't want to negotiate, you might be able to gloss over this a lot and just move on to the extended rest part. It probably would have been better to put all this at the beginning of chapter 4, so you might just do it then if you have a consistent table.


Cheers
I hope to really scare my players with the XXX by:

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* before it attacks, telling the Spellscarred Harbringer that she can sense either a massive spellchanged creature or a large number of smaller creatures nearby and getting closer -- but she is not sure from which direction
* it opens its assault with tentacles bursting through the "cracks", seizing the wererat and pulling it down to its doom; note this will not happen to any of the PCs but I do not tell them that!
* when hit, the tentacles just drop what they are grabbing and briefly retreat so they are not actually "killed" -- unless someone scores a critical hit in which case the tentacle is severed; note that the Kraken has only 10 tentacles and, probably, only 8 that are used for grabbing its prey
* the tentacles are limited in their mobility so the kraken tries to "break through" the ground occassionally and I want the players to believe it might actually do it


I plan to use the XXX in my continuation of the Neverwinter campaign so I want the players to appreciate how powerful and potentially dangerous it can be.
Everyone should read DML's post, because he is right on the bullseye.

Cheers
Heh. That's sweet.

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I was planning on doing something very similar to DML's third point. I like the addition of a tentacle only being "killed" if someone scores a crit against it. Otherwise it will come back.

I really like DML's other points, though... especially the Kracken getting mad and trying to smash through the floor.

Currently, two (possibly three) of the PCs have been washed into the holes in the floor by the current that dropped them here. I randomly dropped their miniatures into the Start area on the map, and those that fell onto squares with the holes had to make saving throws to avoid going over the edge. So, they will need to make swim checks, but as soon as I read Erik's notes about the lake under the dungeon, I thought it would be perfect if someone sank a bit and saw the expansive lake, and possibly some movement to herald the approach of the Kracken.

I have to say, I am very tempted to make the Kracken the major opponent of the encounter, getting rid of the slimes and create non-minion versions of the tentacles for the PCs to face, so that they are not just a nuisance to deal with. I would keep the tentacles within the scope of the "Level 3 Encounter", of course.

I believe my PCs are anticipating a "Big Boss Fight" since it will be the end of the chapter (one used that exact phrase, but I'm not sure if EVERYONE is expecting it). So, I'm wondering if they will be slightly disappointed if the tentacles are just a minion nuisance and the slimes are the actual badguys.



Well, this IS a pretty tough encounter as written.

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With such high defenses, the kraken tentacles are probably going to be a serious threat. The respawning idea will definitely help with that, though you'll want an end-point other than 8-10 critical hits. I find that killing the slimes marks a pretty good endpoint for the encounter, unless the PCs focus on them straight-away, in which case you should drag it on a little.


Cheers
Perhaps.

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I've just been seeing a lot of 20+ results on the attack rolls from some of my players, so I've been wondering exactly how long the tentacles would last. Having them respawn regularly will help, of course.

Who knows, they may start to roll really poorly in the encounter. heh.

Keeping them as minions, I'd have the end point be when they kill the second slime and the residual slime sprays onto the tentacles, causing the kracken to recoil and flee.

Maybe it will become a slime-kracken after that. ha ha. :D
If the XXX is giving the PCs too hard a time I plan on. . .

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bringing in the Sons of Alagondar early or giving more clues to help them realize the amulets on the corpses would be beneficial in defending against it. This is actually easy for my party since they have one of Oghma's Faithful, with a high History and Religion skill, that she could suddenly have an epiphany.

I expect that my party will find the slimes to be a minor annoyance even though I plan to let them retain their hidden status until they drop on the first unsuspecting character that walks underneath them. This means the first attack will be a "Eeep!" moment followed by "Careful, there might be more!" paranoia -- which contrasts perfectly with the "What the hell is down there?! Let's get out of here NOW!" sense of urgency. Mwuahaha.


On the other hand, it is the final encounter of the chapter so, imo, anything less than TPK is an acceptable result.
Well, this IS a pretty tough encounter as written.

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With such high defenses, the kraken tentacles are probably going to be a serious threat. The respawning idea will definitely help with that, though you'll want an end-point other than 8-10 critical hits. I find that killing the slimes marks a pretty good endpoint for the encounter, unless the PCs focus on them straight-away, in which case you should drag it on a little.


Cheers



Eh, it's a high AC for most of the party, but I've also got a Scout with a +12 attack that could do it. 

What I wouldn't give for some monsters with will attacks.
Thanks for the tips! I was wondering how to make this better. The amulet found as an afterthought seems a little unfair. Will definitely use it this week.
Eh, it's a high AC for most of the party, but I've also got a Scout with a +12 attack that could do it.

True, but your scout probably doesn't have a Targets AC control ability that hits more than 1-2 targets a round, so odds are the scout's going to be able to take them out gradually, allowing plenty of time for constriction love. (And no, that was not intended to be quite as dirty as it came out!)  

What I wouldn't give for some monsters with will attacks.

Seriously! Monster attacks vs. Will aren't super common at low levels, I've noticed. One reason I'm hoping Encounters goes to higher levels.

Thanks for the tips! I was wondering how to make this better. The amulet found as an afterthought seems a little unfair. Will definitely use it this week.

It was never my intention to have them be an afterthought. My original conception had the PCs fighting some of the rebels, who were wearing the necklaces and being miraculously invulnerable to the tentacles' attacks.

Then again, this provided for an awkward story situation--one that could make total sense with some good DMing, but was a little too contrived. Hence, the revision to what it is now, where the guards show up only afterward. The slimes provide that neutral third party aspect that was needed.

Cheers
It was never my intention to have them be an afterthought. My original conception had the PCs fighting some of the rebels, who were wearing the necklaces and being miraculously invulnerable to the tentacles' attacks.

Then again, this provided for an awkward story situation--one that could make total sense with some good DMing, but was a little too contrived. Hence, the revision to what it is now, where the guards show up only afterward. The slimes provide that neutral third party aspect that was needed.



I figured that wasn't the intent, just the flow of it seemed to accidentally put it there. Then again, I'm still a relatively new DM, so I still am trying to read sessions accurately and portray them well. I might put one amulet near the entrance for one PC, so they can find out what they are, look for more, and just have the slimes tend to remove them as they ooze all over them.
Don't sell yourself short, Sior. That's a good impulse you have there.

For all DMs, you might consider having the amulets on the slimes, rather than on the bodies, in sort of a gelatinous cube sort of situation.

And that gives me a great idea for a future adventure.

Cheers