Session 10 Notes (DM Only)

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Hey Crystal Cavers,

Not too much to talk about this week. The maze is pretty, er, straightforward.

In the UK1 module, the players mapped the maze out on graph paper. To make things interesting, the maze changed configurations every time the characters entered it. For the purposes of D&D Encounters, the maze is instead represented by a series of choices about which the characters can gain further insight via skill checks.

Reading over the maze as presented in the D&D Encounters book, there may be a few places where it's not 100% clear what the "good" choice is. For instance, looking at the Three Paths, it's conceivable that the PCs might think that following the intense scent of the red roses is a good thing, when it's actually the worst. It's up to you whether you want to help them out. In situations like these, I try to get inside the character's skin and describe just how cloying the red rose smell is (but only to a character who makes a DC 21 Nature check). As a player, it frustrates me to make a decision my character wouldn't have made because I don't understand the situation in a way my character would.

The tactical encounter is a textbook 4e type combat. Our 2-page encounter spread packs in an artillery, some skirmishers, a lurker, and a hazard. There's tons of cover, lots of blocked sightlines. Depending on how difficult you want to make it, you might want to try to lure the PCs into the maze, away from their starting area. The monsters have a number of tricky powers, so be sure to read them over before the session.

The complexity of running the tactical encounter also depends on how well the PCs succeeded in pursuing the boggles--which may depend on how well they did navigating the maze (they'll do worse on those skill checks to pursue the boggles if the maze has addled their senses and given them skill penalties). It could be a tough fight for them. It could be a walk in the park. 

Good luck.

(If you're at D&D XP, I'll see you there.)
Last week at my FLGS we ran two encounters, including this one. In order to make the encounter a little bit more interesting (deadly) I ruled that all corners in the hedge maze were hard corners. If PCs wanted to cut the corner they could, but they would automatically take the 1d6 damage for entering the thorns. It made tactical movement incredibly important and made the Boggle’s Foot-Snare Trick even more of a hindrance. I also allowed the PCs to spend a move action to free themselves from the Foot-Snare Trick. The PCs managed to keep up with the Boggles so they didn’t end up facing the full troupe. Even with the reduced number of opponents they took a lot of damage but they had a lot of fun.

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Hey Crystal Cavers,

Not too much to talk about this week. The maze is pretty, er, straightforward.

In the UK1 module, the players mapped the maze out on graph paper. To make things interesting, the maze changed configurations every time the characters entered it. For the purposes of D&D Encounters, the maze is instead represented by a series of choices about which the characters can gain further insight via skill checks.

Reading over the maze as presented in the D&D Encounters book, there may be a few places where it's not 100% clear what the "good" choice is. For instance, looking at the Three Paths, it's conceivable that the PCs might think that following the intense scent of the red roses is a good thing, when it's actually the worst. It's up to you whether you want to help them out. In situations like these, I try to get inside the character's skin and describe just how cloying the red rose smell is (but only to a character who makes a DC 21 Nature check). As a player, it frustrates me to make a decision my character wouldn't have made because I don't understand the situation in a way my character would.

The tactical encounter is a textbook 4e type combat. Our 2-page encounter spread packs in an artillery, some skirmishers, a lurker, and a hazard. There's tons of cover, lots of blocked sightlines. Depending on how difficult you want to make it, you might want to try to lure the PCs into the maze, away from their starting area. The monsters have a number of tricky powers, so be sure to read them over before the session.

The complexity of running the tactical encounter also depends on how well the PCs succeeded in pursuing the boggles--which may depend on how well they did navigating the maze (they'll do worse on those skill checks to pursue the boggles if the maze has addled their senses and given them skill penalties). It could be a tough fight for them. It could be a walk in the park. 

Good luck.

(If you're at D&D XP, I'll see you there.)

I ran this encounter tonight and I wasn't really happy with the non-combat parts of the session. I found the "which color of rose?" part to be overly hard on my characters, costing a total of 8 healing surges from a party of 4 for no real reason -- the clues given just aren't enough to know that the white rose is the way to go, so it seemed like arbitrary punishment.

I ended up refunding everyone a healing surge at the end of the session when they got the keys to work, because it was just too harsh -- the party's psion was down to 1 healing surge and this was the first encounter of the day!

I'd really like to see an end to arbitrary choices which cost valuable player resources like that.

Caoimhe Ora Snow

Game Designer, The Queen's Cavaliers

5e D&D Stuff: Birthright Conversion

My table's players are in a similar situation - the healing surges lost to the maze along with the Boggles' brutal damage (4d6 at-will, yikes!) were quite severe.

I'm planning to enhance the next session's "Magical Healing" benefit to give back some healing surges in addition to the extra healing that it grants during a short rest.  Hopefully that helps replenish some strength for the next two encounters after it.

Another idea could be to reflavor Hamish or Argus as a Runepriest if you're short Leaders at the table, or even have them tag along and help a party that's already used a good number of their daily/item resources. 
Cave - You mentioned using hard corners in the encounter.

The text also states to place ONLY creatures the PCs can see. Did you have those walls become blocking for line-of-sight? And how did that effect the teleports for the boggles?

I'm thinking, based on your description, line-of-sight but grants full cover for both parties? That way, line of sight and effect are preserved, but still forces non-teleporters to march around corners, even if they're not blind. I get the sensation that, because it's a maze you can't see over, PCs are supposed to stumble around corners and into the boggles, who teleport and pull away as opportunity presents itself.

58286228 wrote:
As a DM, I find it easier to just punish the players no matter what they pick, as I assume they will pick stuff that is broken. I mean, fight after fight they kill all the monsters without getting killed themselves! What sort of a game is this, anyway?

 

An insightful observation about the nature of 4e, and why it hasn't succeeded as well as other editions. (from the DDN General Discussions, 2014-05-07)

Rundell wrote:

   

Emerikol wrote:

       

Foxface wrote:

        4e was the "modern" D&D, right?  The one that had design notes that drew from more modern games, and generally appealed to those who preferred the design priorities of modern games.  I'm only speculating, but I'd hazard a guess that those same 4e players are the ones running the wide gamut of other games at Origins.

       
        D&D 4e players are pretty much by definition the players who didn't mind, and often embraced, D&D being "different".  That willingness to embrace the different might also mean they are less attached to 4e itself, and are willing to go elsewhere.

    This is a brilliant insight.  I was thinking along those lines myself.  

 

    There are so many tiny indie games that if you added them all together they would definitely rival Pathfinder.   If there were a dominant game for those people it would do better but there is no dominant game.  Until 4e, the indie people were ignored by the makers of D&D.

 

Yep. 4E was embraced by the 'system matters' crowd who love analyzing and innovating systems. That crowd had turned its back on D&D as a clunky anachronism. But with 4E, their design values were embraced and validated. 4E was D&D for system-wonks. And with support for 4E pulled, the system-wonks have moved on to other systems. The tropes and traditions of D&D never had much appeal for them anyway. Now there are other systems to learn and study. It's like boardgamegeeks - always a new system on the horizon. Why play an ancient games that's seven years old?

 

Of course, not all people who play and enjoy 4E fit that mould. I'm running a 4E campaign right now, and my long-time D&D players are enjoying it fine. But with the system-wonks decamping, the 4E players-base lost the wind in its sails.

I found the "which color of rose?" part to be overly hard on my characters, costing a total of 8 healing surges from a party of 4 for no real reason -- the clues given just aren't enough to know that the white rose is the way to go, so it seemed like arbitrary punishment.



I didn't have time this week to go back through the initial draft for alternate takes. If anyone still has yet to run it, and you want to make the path choices clearer, here's that section from my version.

Show


Choice 1: The Three Arbors


Here the characters can choose whether to enter the northern (white), eastern (yellow), or southern (red) arbor. 


Characters examining the rose arbors come to the following conclusions.


    Nature DC 14 or lower: The path of the red roses seems the safest and most direct route through the maze.


    Nature DC 15: The red and white roses both seem to give off a potent soporific toxin that induces drowsiness. The path of the yellow roses seems the safest and most direct route through the maze.


    Nature DC 20: Despite the overwhelming floral perfume in the air, you can tell that the white roses give off virtually no scent whatsoever, and the path of the white roses seem the safest route through the maze.


Fey Pact Spotlight: The Unseelie Fey


If there is a fey pact warlock in the party, that character sees multiple signs of unseelie fey in the labyrinth. The warlock knows that the southern passage is especially perilous, with evidence of deadly dew fronds amongst the foliage, and ripples in the air through which boggles watch from hidden places in the labyrinth. The northern passage seems to display no sign of deadly dew fronds, though the boggles seem to populate every part of the labyrinth.