Session 8: Encounter Support (DM Only)

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Hello All,

Session 8 is going to bring us back to a Solo fight. The solo in question is a good one, but can be tricky to modulate for weaker and stronger parties.

There are a ton of dials you can turn up or down to make Basal an interesting and fun opponent. On either side of the sweet spot is "Whoa, he was supposed be a big bad? Phhht! My granny fights better and she's dead" or "That's it man, game over man, game over! What the frack are we gonna do now? What are we gonna do? "

I have put Basal into my online Monster Builder (he needs an edit pass before I will post the export file) and I am going to build a Weak and Strong party version that I am going to print out for my DMs. However, running a good solo fight is more than just tweeking a statblock, its on-the-fly adjustments based upon party composition, luck of the die (for the monster and the party) and pacing.

My intent with this thread is to talk about how to make Basal a memorable NPC (in the negociations leading up to the fight and when the it gets real and folks throw down with him).

If you have run a ton of solo fights, speak up, we all need your experience. If you haven't also speak up, we need your questions.

Solos are hard to run well, but ultimately they are the coolest DM tool because they are super dynamic and you can put a lot of character and focus on one thing instead of splitting yor focus on a lot of bad guys at once.

Thanks,

Bryan Blumklotz


ACTION POINTS:

Let's talk about these first. Basal has two. DMs tend to forget these bad boys or use them harshly. These are some of your best threat dials for your Solo.

First off, unless you are facing super-damage output party that has not faced a serious threat in all 7 encounters DO NOT use your action points with Hunter's Momentum, period. 6 basic attacks in a single round plus your minor lunging Sweep will obliterate your PCs. You could do this for two rounds and you will have player's screaming like Hudson in Aliens, "Game over!"

How to use them effectively? They should ramp up the threat at an appropriate time in the combat or help Basal deal with being shut down by conditions like Dazed.

Example 1: Players get the jump on Basal and hit him with Daze and Slow. He is going to shrug off the Daze at the end of his turn no mater what (and if the slow is a save ends, he will likely end that as well). However for this turn he is taking a pounding and only has one action. Action point to Bound (his move action power) to get away and then use an appropriate attack power to dish out his damage. Say have him scuttle under the table, hide (Verbeeg Stealth) and then blast everyone with 3 basic attacks with combat advantage. He is squeezing (disadvantage) but he has cover against PC attacks in return (advantage).

This shows his trickster nature and that he won't stand and take it like a normal opponent.

Example 2: Basal makes his attack combo and misses a target who then taunts him. Basal says something about counting fey chickens before they hatch and action points to basic attack the target again.

This is a great story reason to action point vs. just piling it on.

More to come,

Bryan Blumklotz

Good thoughts, Bryan. I'm out of town for the weekend and don't have the mod so I can't check out Basal's stats.

On Monday, I'll compare him with the undeveloped "Basalt, Son of Cat Lord" solo from my draft.

If Basalt looks weaker, I'll post him here as an option for anyone who wants to tweak. The ideas you're presenting in this thread will probably be better all around for the most DMs, however. 
Basal Files

This page is a repository for various files supporting a discussion of how to run Basal in Session 8.


Basal, as written in the adventure:


I am confused about sweeping reposte. All it says is a triggered action, once per round. Which means its an immediate action. But is it an interrupt or reaction? I am tempted to say interrupt, because it says "enemy hits basal with an attack" not "enemy damages basal with an attack". What do you all say?

Also the shift from lunging sweep: a total of shift 1, or is it shift 1 for each enemy hit after the attack is resolved? 
81259321 wrote:
My new rule for people who are obtuse is to just assume they're purposefully trolling. It makes me less sad for humanity that way.
I am confused about sweeping riposte. All it says is a triggered action, once per round. Which means its an immediate action. But is it an interrupt or reaction? I am tempted to say interrupt, because it says "enemy hits basal with an attack" not "enemy damages basal with an attack". What do you all say?



Sweeping Riposte





If you look under the effect line you will see that the triggered action is a free action. It is neither a interrupt nor reaction (See Rules Compendium, page 195 for more details on this). That means he can use this triggered action in addition to a triggered immediate action each round.

When Basal is hit with an attack, but before he takes damage he can use his Spear Attack (resolve the attack including any shifting) and if you hit the target you knock it prone. Only then Basal takes the damage from the original attack. This prevents him from being knocked out or killed before his responsive attack goes off.

Also the shift from lunging sweep: a total of shift 1, or is it shift 1 for each enemy hit after the attack is resolved? 



Lunging Sweep

This one is a bit harder to figure. As its written each hit should allow him to shift.
If he is only supposed to shift after making one or more hits, then the shift 1 square should be an effect that says: If Basal hits one or more targets with this attack he can shift 1 square.

Anyway, that is my take.

Bryan Blumklotz

*Post Edited:
When Basal is hit with an attack, but before he takes damage he can use his Spear Attack (resolve the attack including shifting) and know the target prone if it has been hit. Then Basal takes the damge from the attacker. This prevents him from being knocked out or killed before his responsive attack goes off.

If he is shifting away after being hit, but before damage, isnt he out of melee range, and thus an invalid target for damage, correct? That would mean this could nullify an attack once per round?
81259321 wrote:
My new rule for people who are obtuse is to just assume they're purposefully trolling. It makes me less sad for humanity that way.
*Edit: May not work:
 

The only thing i can say, is my table better watch out ;)
They have been skating through most of the battle encounters thanks to their foul-tempered pixie thief.
rambling
He almost never misses, and deals 3d6+10 damage every turn, 4d6+10 if he backstabs. Only thanks to him have they been reducing most enemies to putty. Only saving grace is his HP so low that hes almost made of glass. The skald does everything he can to keep him up. Temp hp every hit, and healing song. Its been grating on me how easy the thief makes everything
 So now with this verbeeg mercinary, I can keep swatting the pixie down onto the ground [prone from hit] and shift away before taking the damage.
don't worry
I won't do it every time, but probably more often than not on the pixie. I don't want to irritate my table too much either, as this is story campaign, not lair assault, but I'll ask them where they want the difficulty dial set to.
81259321 wrote:
My new rule for people who are obtuse is to just assume they're purposefully trolling. It makes me less sad for humanity that way.
jacobrh

You are over thinking it. Take a deep breath. Relax. I stand by what I posted in the previous answer. Read pg. 195 of the Rules Compendium for the first answer. Don't go by your memory, look it up. In fact reviewing Chapter 3 Understanding Powers (pg. 85-115) in the rules compendium will clear up a lot of stuff.

I am going to work on the larger issue of how to use this solo effectively in combat in my next several posts. Thank you for asking your question, it helped me clarify those two powers in my mind (I hadn't come to a conclusion, until I researched it for you).
Thanks,

Bryan Blumklotz
So now with this verbeeg mercinary, I can keep swatting the pixie down onto the ground [prone from hit] and shift away before taking the damage.



It doesn't work that way. You need to get out your compendium and read the rules on falling and flying, so open the book to the following pages:

Page 210: Flying: Falling Prone paragraph:
Falling Prone: If a creature falls prone while it is flying, it falls. This means a flying creature falls when it becomes unconscious or suffers any other effect that knocks it prone. The creature isn't actually prone until it lands and takes falling damage.

Page 209, Falling:
Falling while Flying: If a creature falls while it is flying, it descends the full distance of the fall but is likely to take less damage than a creature that can’t fly. Subtract the creature’s fly speed (in feet) from the distance of the fall, then figure out falling damage. If the difference is 0 or less, the creature lands without taking damage from the fall. For example, if a red dragon falls when it is 40 feet in the air, subtract its fly speed of 8 (8 squares = 40 feet) from its altitude. The difference is 0, so the dragon lands safely and is not prone.

Your Pixie Rogue has an altitude of 1, a fly speed of 6. Knocking it prone grounds it, but it is still standing. You will need to hit the pixie when its on the ground to knock it prone.

Thank you,

Bryan Blumklotz
Ok, back on topic.

Let's talk about what this solo is built to do.

Basal is meant to stick and move. As a skirmisher he doesn't have beefy hp for a solo but its good enough.

Sticking:
The main thing to remember is Basal is built to take on 5 PCs and to make 4 attacks a round (Hunter's Momentum & Sweeping Riposte).

There is an irregular 5th attack that attacks multiple targets, but unless you hit 3 separate opponents with Hunter's Momentum it doesn't recharge. This makes it situational. This can be good and bad.

Remember as a solo, Basal has attacks that hit AC, Reflex, and Will.

Sticking is where you can adjust for a change in the number of PCs. If you have 4 2nd level PCs reduce Hunter's Momentum to two basic attacks.

If you have 6 2nd level PCs but they are not strong use the standard Basal. I am not sure I would use a 4th attack for Hunter's Momentum unless the party is defender/leader heavy.

NOTE: STRONG and WEAK Parties will be addressed with modified statblocks.

If the party is really low on healing surges and doesn't have a lot of HP to begin with, consider reducing damage die down one type (e.g. d10 to d8, etc.).

Moving:
Basal moves either normally 8, shift 4 and smaller shifts with various attacks. As a solo he also shrugs off Daze, Stun, and Dominate.

NOTE: Remember that Bound is a shift 4 and it ignores difficult terrain and Basal can move through enemny squares.

Slow, restrained, grabbed, and immobilize will mess him up. Remember that his saves are at +5 and 2 Action Points.

Prone will remove the minor action attack if its available.

There is not really much to adjust here for party size and ability.

Tactics:
OK, how do we make these work together?

First round Example:

  1. Bound or move up to a group of PCs (Move) and then hit them with Lunging Sweep (Minor).

  2. Use Hunter's Momentum (Standard) on 3 separate PCs, concentrate on prone opponents because that will make it more likely you can hit them with combat advantage. Remember to use shift if you need to get closer to someone. You have reach 2 with Spear. Also remember you can use your Bewildering Bolt to range 10.

  3. Remember to sack down a PC with Sweeping Riposte when they connect.


Remember to use your Action Points, but I rarely start with them in round 1 unless my monster has been hit with conditions.


If the PCs get the jump on Basal and light him up, then use the suggestion of running for cover under the table in the adventure.


Keep Basal moving if at all possible, he can move through PC squares to get at back row folks or Orlando if he is a valid target.


More later,


Bryan Blumklotz

I had a small question about one of Basal's attacks. On page 43 of the module It states "Skewer is also useful for sliding a troublesome enemy away"

I am not seeing that particular attack is it somewhere else in the book?

its from the Level 9 Verbeeg Rowdy

here is the original attack Level 9 skirmisher

Skewering Strike (weapon) Encounter

Attack: Melee 2 (one creature); +12 vs. Reflex




Hit: 2d12 + 8 damage, and the rowdy slides the target 5 squares to a square within 2 squares of the rowdy.




Here is the attack scaled for the encounter.

Skewering Strike (weapon) Encounter

Attack: Melee 2 (one creature); +7 vs. Reflex




Hit: 2d10 + 6 damage, and the rowdy slides the target 5 squares to a square within 2 squares of the Basal.



Basal is tough enough without it, but if your group can handle it - go for it.

Good thoughts, Bryan. I'm out of town for the weekend and don't have the mod so I can't check out Basal's stats.

On Monday, I'll compare him with the undeveloped "Basalt, Son of Cat Lord" solo from my draft.

If Basalt looks weaker, I'll post him here as an option for anyone who wants to tweak. The ideas you're presenting in this thread will probably be better all around for the most DMs, however. 



Checked my notes. "Basalt, Son of Cat Lord" looks slightly tougher than the Basal encounter in the module. However, Basalt had about 100 fewer hit points. Perhaps a miscalculation on my part. In playtesting, our group mopped the floor with him. Those extra hp should help him stay afloat. More on this later. 
Basal Files

This page is a repository for various files supporting a discussion of how to run Basal in Session 8.


Basal, as written in the adventure:





Does anyone happen to have a stat block available for Orlando? I'd like to print him out for tonight for a player to use in case he joins the melee.
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