Session 7 Report

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We are a week ahead, because the 0 session is dumb and a waste. Our group this week consisted of the following:

Bullywug Bard
Tiefling Hexblade
Elf Thief
Eladrin Cavalier
Halfling Vampire
Human Scout

After having dispatched the Dwarves our players returned to Greyhawking the rooms. Our Bard and Thief went down the hall to search through the study while the tiefling and the halfling searched the alter. The scout looked through the water while the Paladin surveyed the area. Upon pushing the alter back (seeing that it had been moved before) we reeled back in horror as the alter turned into this cold blob and tenticles of ice formed from the water.

It rolled over my Tiefling who managed to strike it dealing a few points of damage but took more in return. Wosham Chopslap reeled around and set the beast aflame and we saw that it did not like this as the tiefling proceded to use every firey trick he knew over the course of the next turn. The tenticles played crowd surfing as our scout was passed from tenticle to tenticle, but most could not hit him and he was not deposited into the pit.
The ooze became bloodied and exploded on most of our melee combatants who went close to death. From around the corner our thief came running firing arrows which seemed to only make the oozze mad.  The Paladin ran up and attempted to daze the creature, but reeled back in horror as his attack had no effect. A pseudopod cracked him in the skull and he dropped.

The Vampire and Bard took care of the tenticles and with no surges and one HP the Tiefling put the last of his energy into a bolt at the ooze that dropped it and one of the tenticles next to it for good mesure. He then dropped from exhaustion. With the creatures dead we rested before going deeper into the pit.
Setting up to run tonight.  Looks pretty good for a low heroic BBEG, especially because it directly involves hazards and terrain (which are all too often lacking in Epic and Paragon solo fights).

I especially dig the easter egg at the start of the encounter.  Kudos to the writing team for attention to detail!  

Heck, it's so cool I will probably play the sound bite I searched out even if nobody shows up able to understand Deep Speech.  Hopefully, the players will recognize it and keep me from feeling (overly) old.

INSIDE SCOOP, GAMERS: In the new version of D&D, it will no longer be "Edition Wars." It will be "Edition Lair Assault." - dungeonbastard

Setting up to run tonight.  Looks pretty good for a low heroic BBEG, especially because it directly involves hazards and terrain (which are all too often lacking in Epic and Paragon solo fights).

I especially dig the easter egg at the start of the encounter.  Kudos to the writing team for attention to detail!  

Heck, it's so cool I will probably play the sound bite I searched out even if nobody shows up able to understand Deep Speech.  Hopefully, the players will recognize it and keep me from feeling (overly) old.



I'd like to think that I have pretty serious nerd credentials, but I have no idea what "Easter Egg" you're referring to. However, given your follow-up sentence I assume the deep speech is the item in question? Where is it from? I need closure!

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The ooze says, "I hunger!"

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinistar
yeah, probably not the biggest deal ever, but I spent whole allowances in the Sinistar machine, 25 cents at a time.  It did give a little personality to the BBEG, as I got to chase a couple PC's around and add in a few other appropriate quotes, which was particularly refreshing for a monster type that I have trouble visualizing as more than a big bag of hp.  The enemies were well constructed:  we got through 5 rounds of combat in about 45 minutes, it was dangerous enough that every character got at least bloodied, there was a lot of movement beyond even the ooze and the slides, and everyone used up pretty much every power or ability they had.

All in all, a fine encounter.  The party did a lot of investigating;  nobody wanted to mess with the altar because they thought it was too obvious to be important, and nobody was playing a strong athletic type to get defaulted into trying the heavy lifting.  This made the fight start later than I thought it would, but the time was filled with good exploration and RP. 

My group has been consistent this season, so they have grown tactically savvy to each others tricks and handled the tough fight like a well oiled machine.  The appearance of the Amorphous One intitially scattered them as they ran for saftey, but they regrouped quickly.  Some dealt with the water hazards while the rest occupied the Amorphous One (highlight of the fight - elementalist tanking!) until the whole party could focus on it.  In the end, a round of APs culminated with the fire sorcerer announcing she was tired of it getting blue gunk on her leathers and finished it off. 

INSIDE SCOOP, GAMERS: In the new version of D&D, it will no longer be "Edition Wars." It will be "Edition Lair Assault." - dungeonbastard

Good to know your fight was dynamic with a lot of movement. It is what I aimed for, knowing full well the inherent risks of a solo fight in this regards (at least at these levels the risk of "stun"-lock is not that high). It certainly was one of the more risky fights from a design perspective.

As for the Easter egg, that wasn't me. That game is before my time ;) That is likely all Chris.

Field report for D&D Encounters: The Elder Elemental Eye (Week 7) now available at Dungeon's Master.com. Check out our D&D Encounters Archive for weekly write-ups, actual play podcasts and new pre-generated characters.


A really great encounter made for two very fun and exciting sessions. Both parties I ran had PCs die (dead-dead) and had others fall unconscious. But in the end the PCs defeated the Ooze.

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Good to know your fight was dynamic with a lot of movement. It is what I aimed for, knowing full well the inherent risks of a solo fight in this regards (at least at these levels the risk of "stun"-lock is not that high). It certainly was one of the more risky fights from a design perspective.

As for the Easter egg, that wasn't me. That game is before my time ;)

It ended up being a close fight, at my table.  In round 4 I had three characters all fail their first death save, but the lone cleric saved the party.  Every PC was bloodied when the fire Genasi finally finished off the last of the ooze.
My group of DMs now plays the chapter a few weeks before we run it so we can figure out tactics and modifications.

In our DM group, we had a TPK in this fight. Discussing it, we determined that not having enough information about the minions, plus having the minions be more-than-2-hit-minions was lethal. It didn't help that my PC had 0 surges left, and that we played the "strong party" version, despite only having 4 players.

As a group, we decided that the "can be dispelled with successful arcana/religion checks" should be knowable by PCs making a fairly easy monster lore check. And the ability where the minions can save vs. death is an encounter ability, not something they do every single time they're hit.

Last night, we had a tough fight, made tougher by very, very bad dice rolls on the parts of both controllers. The DM misread the rampage and had the ooze do all of its actions at the same initiative. That kind of screwed things for one PC, but he was the one who never once actually hit, so it was of minimal hinderance.

We had no leader in the party, so at one time, 4 of our 6 PCs were unconscious. The ranger went down in round 1, and nobody had quite enough actions to get a healing potion into him. We gave him the Moment of Greatness renown reward as a consolation prize.

I honestly worried that this was going to end in another TPK. But the hybrid warlock/vampire had a couple of reroll fortune cards/and powers that let him do just enough hit point damage to finally bring it down.

Frustrating game this week. I can't tell what's wrong with our group, because we have a very difficult time with many of these encounters. About half of it is dice luck. Our tactics aren't that bad. I sometimes wonder if we're fostering too much of an adversarial relationship between the DM and players-- our non-kid table is markedly more "us vs. him," in my opinion.
Quote from article: "I adjusted the cold aura deal damage when a PC entered the zone and at the beginning of its turn. It seemed silly that you could go right up to it and not take any damage until the beginning of your next turn."

The reason is that with the official rules the PC takes damage of the aura only once per round as opposed to at least twice, if not more since the ooze moves around a lot, with your rulling. It also gives the PCs who can move the ooze or PCs around the tactical ability to avoid the aura, rewarding the players who picked those options (although with all the grabbing attacks rewarding forced movement is not necessary). Of course, since the PCs have a reason to move away from the ooze, it also helps the ooze in minimizing the chance of being surrounded by the PCs at its turn, since PCs have a reason to move away. On the other hand, if the PCs take damage when they move next to it, they have good reasons to stay next to it, triggering the AoO you mentioned. In short, assuming your players are tactical savvy and have the right builds, changing the way the aura works can have a big impact on how the fight goes ;)

Obviously, if your group can deal with the additional damage there is nothing wrong with making the change, just remember that the fight might become more lethal as a result ;) Then again, more AoOs (especially with a striker heavy group) might also hasten its demise.
It also gives the PCs who can move the ooze or PCs around the tactical ability to avoid the aura, rewarding the players who picked those options (although with all the grabbing attacks rewarding forced movement is not necessary). Of course, since the PCs have a reason to move away from the ooze, it also helps the ooze in minimizing the chance of being surrounded by the PCs at its turn, since PCs have a reason to move away. On the other hand, if the PCs take damage when they move next to it, they have good reasons to stay next to it, triggering the AoO you mentioned. In short, assuming your players are tactical savvy and have the right builds, changing the way the aura works can have a big impact on how the fight goes ;)


Pieter is an expert at adventure design and I hope since he regularly playtests for stuff our organized play campaign does (and helps make our stuff immensely better) he doesn't mind my sharing some of my experiences as an Encounters playtester.

With my group's level of experience with 4E and with Encounters in particular, we share Pieter's perspective and tested for how well auras and zones work. They can have a significant tactical impact on combat and can be the difference between super-fun and unfair/frustrating. This encounter was a TPK for our playtest group by a narrow margin. One of the considerations we had was to perhaps change the aura, since Instinctive Rampage can be used to ensure the aura does damage on hurt PCs. But, we did like that tactical angle... and we love how DMs can use that when needed to add auto-damage. We were really torn on the best adjustments and offered several options. We did feel strongly that advice was needed for a party of 4 (which our playtest was) and 6. In the end, Chris Sims (the Developer) added advice on scaling and kept the creature exactly as Pieter had it but lowered the hit points and reduced the damage dice sizes. It seems to have been a good call on his end, and speaks to the strength of Pieter's initial design. From my end, as playtester, a sigh of relief, because as a playtester you want your feedback to underscore possible issues but not gimp everything.

I can't tell what's wrong with our group, because we have a very difficult time with many of these encounters. About half of it is dice luck. Our tactics aren't that bad. I sometimes wonder if we're fostering too much of an adversarial relationship between the DM and players-- our non-kid table is markedly more "us vs. him," in my opinion.


If your DM is part of that initial DMs' table you run (great idea, by the way), consider everyone coming up with a "how to keep this fun" checklist that includes some "if things are too hard then we will do this" ideas. This might help underscore that you don't want that adversarial relationship. A good DM enjoys a bit of that challenge but doesn't truly make it adversarial - this isn't Lair Assault. One of the things with some of the encounters in this season is that they are very capable monsters - and especially in the hands of experienced DMs. Maneuvering a group of PCs into a certain location (either by ooze placement or tentacle grabs can create massive autodamage with the aura after the use of Instinctive Rampage. That alone can be the equivalent of the creature attacking four times a round instead of two. An experienced tactical DM should note this and recall the purpose of fun - you want it to be a challenge but not frustrating (which it was in your case). A good way to avoid that as DM is to not be too optimal with forced movement (for example, don't use the tentacles to set up the aura damage unless the fight is too easy) and to not use Action Points unless they are actually needed - surprise the overconfident table rather than beating down the table that has barely made it this far.

Another consideration is to offer resets so a party doesn't get so worn down that they can't face big fights. If the party made it through the last encounter but only did so with 0 surges and no dailies, give them a way to regain some of that back (such as a potion they find, a ritual scroll they can activate, an altar they can restore, etc.). This lets you have a final battle that they can truly face properly.

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I had my first TPK for encounters with this session.  Most of the party started next to the altar.  Most players had very few surges and one had no surges.  The tentacles did not play much into the encounter but the jelly killed them all.  Which brings me to a question.  If the players come back with the same characters and there has been an extended rest there really is no impact to coming back from the dead correct?  Normally you come back with 4 fewer healing surges but since they would have an extended rest those would be restored. 
That's right, though they don't get the treasure for the encounter.
I had my first TPK for encounters with this session.  Most of the party started next to the altar.  Most players had very few surges and one had no surges.  The tentacles did not play much into the encounter but the jelly killed them all.  Which brings me to a question.  If the players come back with the same characters and there has been an extended rest there really is no impact to coming back from the dead correct?  Normally you come back with 4 fewer healing surges but since they would have an extended rest those would be restored. 


I would play it by ear. If the group is having trouble (either the PCs with the challenge or the players with real-world morale), and the treasure could help, you could introduce it early in the next session (such as at a time when one of them investigates/searches).

In general, combat can be swingy. When I get close to a hard combat (usually the ones to end a section are) I try to review their resources and help them regain some if they need them. For example, the altar could have a name of an old good god on it, but defaced with mud. A minor action cleans it and each PC regains either 2 surges or a daily power (or some other benefit they could use). The bottom line is that Encounters allows you to change things to increase the fun of the game.

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).