Battle Report

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Here is the Battle Report from my group i DM - has pics.

www.meetup.com/pasadena-dnd/messages/boa...

Session 4 Field Report

Field report for D&D Encounters: Web of the Spider Queen (Week 4) 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.

Another very tough encounter that decimated the party. Fortunately one of my groups was all Drow so they were not subjected to the Goblin's blast attack. The other non-Drow table was not as fortunate and lost 5 of the 8 party members in a near-TPK. 

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This was the first disappointment of the season.  The encounters so far have been challenging, but this one dipped in to Dark Sun territory.  

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If the Llothtouched Goblins win initiative over most of the adventurers and the DM is being at all pragmatic, this could be a round-one TPK.  One of our tables instituted the "conveyor belt of death" as replacement characters descended the stairs to take over for their fallen comrades.


Don't create scenarios where the probable outcome from the encounter as-written is a party wipe.
Whoever created this encounter needs to be thwapped with a rolled-up newspaper.  In the words of one of my players, "Not even fair."

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With a +6 to Initiative, the Lolthtouched Goblins easily won initiative over the rest of the party. I had all three come up, use their area attack, and by the time it was all over, two members of the party were outright dead (inlcuding one of the NPCs brought in to balance the encounter -- Tharinel was dead, outright) and the only two still on their feet (out of six players and two NPCs) were the paladin (bllodied), the dwarven sun cleric (I think he had 4 h.p. remaining), and Khara -- who lucked out; I had forgotten to roll initiative for Khara and Tharinel so I inserted them randomly into the initiative order, with the result that Khara got to move way before she should have. ... The inclusion of two NPCs -- much higher level than the party! -- is just plain bad GMing. The PCs are the heroes, not NPCs. The action needs to revolve around them. It would have been better for Khara and Tharinel to have been split from the party beforehand, or a secondary threat added to keep those two busy. Instead it's requested that the players handle the two -- as extra PCs, basically. But wait, this is supposed to be for beginners, isn't it? I had three beginners at my table. One of them was the rogue that died outright. Another, it was his first time playing D&D 4E /ever/ and he was not impressed with an encounter so poorly written as to emphasize a TPK in the first round of combat. ... In the end I had Elminster interfere -- restoring the entire party to their Bloodied value and raising the two dead party members. That's right, the GM had to pull a Deus Ex Machina because the module writer made the encounter too hard.


When playtesting encounters such as these, make sure you run the encounter with an eye out for Murphy.  Don't assume everything will go the party's way.  If the GM gets even a few lucky rolls, this encounter turns into a TPK before the first round is even over -- like it did for my table.
The inclusion of two NPCs -- much higher level than the party! -- is just plain bad GMing. The PCs are the heroes, not NPCs. The action needs to revolve around them. It would have been better for Khara and Tharinel to have been split from the party beforehand, or a secondary threat added to keep those two busy. Instead it's requested that the players handle the two -- as extra PCs, basically. But wait, this is supposed to be for beginners, isn't it?

Yeeeeah, that, too.  It's not bad GMing - it's poor design.  We're doing the stuff that Elminster can't be bothered to do, but thankfully we have his apprentice and her pal that are bigger and nastier than the PCs to help!  Thanks, author!

i am really enjoying dming this season of encounters - i think they are designed freaking rad!  i am glad it is not a repeat of last season which was very whimpy by comparison - generally i think these have been very challenging in a good way... and genuinely threatened the players

One thing which blows is using the npcs because i already run 6 players and 8 is just too unwieldy - slows down the game too much.  still finished in 2 hours but barely.

Yay!  the Underdark!


Drow Totemist:  "Greetings, Updweller! Die like a dog!"
I agree, this was a tough encounter, but it was survivable with a little bit of work.

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I had 7 players last night, so I added a goblin. I've also buffed every enemy in this season (over-optimized PCs), and I gave the drow archers some poisoned bolts.

Only two of the goblins used their shrieks. One goblin stayed back with the drow archers until the second half of the encounter, which is what he's kind of supposed to do, right?

The scouts were brutal, but went toe-to-toe with Tharinel pretty well.

The PCs were frustrated by my monsters, but they survived the encounter, largely by using some healing on their allies, and by spreading themselves out enough that I spread the damage liberally. They were displeased by the poisoned bolts from the archers, but one of them killed an archer early enough that they recovered two of the bolts! So they have those for later.

When you have seven PCs at a table, plus two DMPCs, bloodying even  ONE of them is a challenge. Last night, everyone was bloodied at one point in the encounter. There are PCs limping into the next fight with 1 or 2 surges left. There are PCs with nearly-all their surges. Most of the PCs have saved their daily powers for this last fight.

I agree that two DMPC-ish characters is annoying and poor design. But what do you expect from a campaign that has Elminster interfering in the very first session of the adventure? I've let my players know that Khara and Tharinel do not have plot immunity, and they can feel free to kill them at any time (I'm hoping Tharinel goes first... I have plans for Khara's demise).
I just picked up playing this season last week. I think had I started from the beginning I would have quit by now. As it stands we are going into the last week with a battered and bruised party.

We have:

Dragonborn Cavalier
Drow Fighter
Half Orc Slayer
Deva Warlord
Drow Hunter (me)

Part of our issues is that our party is not built well. Our Paladin is rocking 16 str and is wielding a +2 prof weapon that does a d8. So at max he is dealing 11!

Our Warlord is also dealing with dismal to tohit bonus and refuses to use Direct the strike when we have a very heavy hitter in the form of our slayer and tactical flexability with my Hunter.

Our party failed the surprise round as our dice simply hated us with the stealth check.

Upon rolling int our Warlord Battlefield shifted the scout out into the fray. The drow scouts went next who flanked him and turned him into mush dropping him to -10.

Our slayer ran down the long hallway towards the two archers and goblin along with our drow fighter and my Panther. My hunter filled the sky with arrows and critted one of the archers. The goblin using some power stepped in and took the arrow for his master. I action pointed again, filled the sky and by the end of my first turn had bloodied both archers and the goblin. The goblin went screamed and rolled max damage he missed our Slayer, bloodied our drow fighter, and obliteraed my cat.

We retconned it latter turns that he took no damage as the power does not hurt Drow.

Our Warlord tried to paint the bullseye and rolled a 5 missing. He healed the NPC scout.

The dragonborn moved up and allowed himself to get surrounded so he could in his words "hit better with Vallaint Stirke." He was bloodied by his next turn, and almost killed by screams from the goblins.

The Drow Fighter and Slayer missed both their attacks on the Goblin while the archers shot them from the stage.

My hunter made it rain again and again cirtted the drow only to have the shot be soaked by the goblin who droped from that hit and the 2nd hit agaisnt him. The other drow took abysmal damage and survived.

The slayer critted one of the drow on his last legs with an attack that the Hound would have been proud of.

Our drow seeing there was a lone slayer vs. a bloodied archer in melee took off to help the party.

To tie up the combat the elf scout popped her cloud of smoke making combat difficult for our elf knight who was unable to use her aura due to the blindness. The combined might of the globlins dropped our Paladin.

Our knight mangaged to hit a hail marry crit on the scout only to have a Goblin run up and take the hit, which failed to kill him.

Over the course of 4 turns our Warlord rolled nothing highter than a 5 on attacks, and used his heal on the NPC while our Paladin bled out.

After imbolizing the goblin hoping he would not join the fray the goblin turned to the prone and bleading out Paladin and tired to coup-de-gras but missed thankfully.

The Slayer constantly missed the drow while the drow lucked out in his rolls and brought the slayer down down to 3 hitpoints. My hunter fired a trick shot killing the drow commenting "stop taking so long."

We played clean up with the goblin and for our troubles we found a suit of +1 plate.

Going into the last week Our paladin has no surges, but because he hit level 2 he took Durability so he could have two surges.

Our slayer has 1 but is at full HP, our drow will not be here due to work, and my hunter is at full hp with 5 surges.

This was just a brutal encounter and depressing all around. Not looking forward to next week.



When my group playtested this encounter (I DMed it) I wiped the floor with a party of 5. The encounter basically ends up either splitting the party or forcing them to fight on two fronts. The only thing that was a saving grace was the Amulet of Lathander that kept the Drow from using there darkfire or darkness abilities.

We all felt that was the main encounter in need of reworking, and as far as I can tell, nothing was changed in it.

Our table fared well. We had two leaders (warpriest and a protector druid) and the rest of us were strikers (thief, vampire, executioner, and hexblade). With the addition of the NPCs we had another striker and a defender.

We got surprise and a few of use won iniative. We obliterated the 2 archers and the lothbound goblin protecting them in 2 and half rounds. The other bad guys ate our parties lunch. We were battered and bruised but we managed to take them out.

We got lucky.

Bryan Blumklotz

Part of our issues is that our party is not built well. Our Paladin is rocking 16 str and is wielding a +2 prof weapon that does a d8. So at max he is dealing 11!

Learn your roles.  It's not the Paladin's job to do damage.  It's his job to stand there, be an obstacle for the enemies and take hits so that the weaker strikers can do the damage.

That's one of the biggest complaints I hear from new D&D players -- "But I don't do enough daaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaage!"  D&D 4E is not about rolling the big numbers.  It's about teamwork.  If you want to roll the big numbers, go back to Pathfinder.
Our Warlord is also dealing with dismal to tohit bonus and refuses to use Direct the strike when we have a very heavy hitter in the form of our slayer and tactical flexability with my Hunter.

The character I was going to use in this Season's encounters (before I realized I was going to be a GM) was going to be a Human Warlord with a Strength of 14 that used a Quarterstaff.  An Intelligence of 18 combined with Commander's Strike means his weapon wasn't the keep-away-from-me staff in his hands -- his weapon was the rest of the party.

Still, you might want to discuss tactics with the Warlord's player before the next session.
Our party failed the surprise round as our dice simply hated us with the stealth check.

I think that's one of the things the party's expected to do to equal out the roughness of the encounter.  Unfortunately my group had three heavy armor wearers, and a mage with no Stealth bonus.  The group failed the group Stealth check and that was it for that tactic.
Upon rolling int our Warlord Battlefield shifted the scout out into the fray. The drow scouts went next who flanked him and turned him into mush dropping him to -10.

You really want to have a talk with your Warlord player, because it sounds to me like he's trying to get the party killed, now.
The dragonborn moved up and allowed himself to get surrounded so he could in his words "hit better with Vallaint Stirke." He was bloodied by his next turn, and almost killed by screams from the goblins.

*Sigh* I hope he learned his lesson.
Over the course of 4 turns our Warlord rolled nothing highter than a 5 on attacks, and used his heal on the NPC while our Paladin bled out.

The bad rolls, well, there's not a lot about that you can do.  But when the player made the decision to heal the NPC and not the party member -- at this point I, as the GM, would have kicked the Warlord's player from the table, with an admonishment to "come back later when you've figured out how to work WITH the party!"  Again, D&D 4E is about teamwork.  If a player cannot work with the team, there is no reason for that player to be included in the game.

And before anyone says "You can't do that!", I've done it before.  If you're a member of the RPGA, look up the Expulsion From Play form.  I had to kick a player who just couldn't work with the party.  He enjoyed a three-month suspension from RPGA activities at the store, and hasn't come back since, and our parties have been much improved for his absence.
We played clean up with the goblin and for our troubles we found a suit of +1 plate.

No, you found a suit of +1 magic armor.  This can go to anyone at the table.  (My suggestion would be the Cavalier, as he needs higher defenses, it sounds like.  It definitely should not go to the foolish Warlord.)
at this point I, as the GM, would have kicked the Warlord's player from the table, with an admonishment to "come back later when you've figured out how to work WITH the party!"  Again, D&D 4E is about 
teamwork.  If a player cannot work with the team, there is no reason for that player to be included in the game.

And before anyone says "You can't do that!", I've done it before.  If you're a member of the RPGA, look up the Expulsion From Play form.  I had to kick a player who just couldn't work with the party.  He enjoyed a three-month suspension from RPGA activities at the store, and hasn't come back since, and our parties have been much improved for his absence.


Ok, that's extremely harsh for Encounters. This is a lighthearted, casual game with no commitment from the players. If the warlord is screwing up, he'll learn. He might be a new player. He might just not "get" the role very well. He might have felt pressured to be a warlord because the party "needed a leader."

I am surprised that you were able to successfully file an expulsion from play against someone for just playing badly, considering I went through multiple phone calls, documentation, and attempts to kick someone for blatant cheating in my RPGA games, to no effect. This was against a player who had been banned at least twice from RPGA play before. Ultimately, he was told unofficially (and not by RPGA/WotC) that he wasn't welcome at the game if he couldn't resist cheating. That made him stop coming.

Suspension from public games should be reserved for players who harass and bully, players who cheat, and players who actively try to sabotage the fun of the game. This warlord doesn't sound like he's any of those-- he just sounds like he's learning the game. We **all** make mistakes, especially when learning a new game, a new role, or a new class. Not everyone comes to this game even knowing what these roles are-- I didn't, and I've played D&D for over 30 years. The roles in 4e are a direct descendent from WoW and similar MMOs; if you haven't played those, you don't know what "DPS" means or why a warlord shouldn't worry about it.
Interestingly, a warlord *can* be built as an off-tank or even an off-striker, if that's what the player *wants* to do. It's best in the off-tank role, but there are options out there, and not every PC has to be perfectly optimized for its job. Not even in 4th edition.

I do think that the warlord could have made better choices. But, honestly, if the encounter went that badly, it's partly the DM's responsibility for not knowing their players, not realizing they're new to the game. This is an encounter where you have to adjust the tactics to be *less* advantageous for the monsters. It's a 1st level party, after all, coming into a fight after 3 tough encounters already. The DM has to be willing to adjust when it's clear that the players don't play as tactically sound. You do that by not bringing all the shrieks out in the first round, for example (three shrieks can TPK. One shriek means everyone is hurt, but has a chance to heal before the next shriek goes off).
Err... perhaps I exaggerated.

The expulsion incident was handled by the store, not by me; I was simply the guy who complained about said player.  (And this was during Living Forgotten Realms, not Encounters.)  I did fill out an Expulsion from Play form, and the player was barred from RPGA events at the store for three months.  I have no idea if that means he was suspended from the RPGA during that time; I have a feeling he wasn't, and he simply found a different location to play at.

The warlord player sounds like he has the experience to try different things with the character -- but honestly, I was never happy with the Warlord as a class.  Here you have a leader that needs Strength (to hit with their weapon attacks), Constitution (as the class is a melee class and is going to be taking hits, the warlord needs hit points), Intelligence (for party buffs) and Charisma (for healing).  Whereas the Cleric needs Strength (if a battle cleric), Constitution, and Wisdom.  Four attributes to emphasize generally means the Warlord is going to lose out somewhere.  The archer-warlord combination from Martial Power 2 is a little... different, but still the same four attribute emphasis applies (well, maybe not so much Constitution; the archer-warlord isn't going to be heading into combat).  

This is an advanced option which only should apply for experienced characters -- and, by the way, is actually against the rules for Encounters.  It says quote plainly in the character creation rules in Session 0 for  Web of the Spider Queen that the only allowable classes are those from D&D Essentials: Heroes of the Fallen Lands and Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.  I personally feel that if a player has certain books available to them, they should be able to use said books and not be required to buy one of the D&D Essentials books in order to build a character for Encounters, so at the store we also allow said 'advanced' characters.  But still -- a PHB1 class using a MP2 class option with a PHB2 race tells me that the player is somewhat experienced at the game.

And truly, the NPC ranger is, in a roleplaying sense, a member of the party -- and, simply mechanics-wise, another meatshield for the squishy members of the party.  And as had already been stated, the dragonborn paladin was not one of the effective damage-dealers.  The warlord may have decided it was more important to keep the strikers active so as to end the battle quicker, than get the defender back into play and merely prolong the combat.  This might have been a wise decision on his part.

Still, a lot about this party tells me that while they might be experienced with the rules, they are inexperienced with gameplay.  Again, this is a game about teamwork, and parties that don't work as a team get chewed up and spat back out.  And from what the OP said, this is a party for whom teamwork is a foreign word.

My recommendations, at this point, would be to have the five players get together beforehand and work together to form a party -- not just a random collection of characters thrown together haphazardly.  That's what Session 0 is supposed to engender.  Point out to your players certain facts of the game -- D&D is a numbers game, and while the odd 5% less chance to hit doesn't sound like a big number, it really adds up.
Fair points, I am not wanting to see anyone kicked out though.

The warlord player is not malicious, just clueless. Also we lifted the book limit on Encounters since...why not 4e is on its last legs might as well get as much use out of it as possible. He also has issues with making characters as he wants to be "fluffy" and not effective.


The dragonborn player has a loose understanding of the rules thinking he can "holy smite" after he hits. I have tired to explain he is wrong, but have been told to mind my own business.

The GM does not get involved in powers being used incorrectly, he just runs the monsters and tells the story.

Is it just me or has this season of encounters so far been especially rough on the PC's?  I've been playing at encounters since the March of the Phantom Brigade and while there have been some challenging encounters, they were never back to back to back...  And for some of the most challenging, for a savvy group there have been ways to make them easier - items, information, or boons that might have been picked up along the way.


This one has been particular tough - we haven't been able to get much info, loot has been poor to middling (gp rewards in encounters are like **** on a bull).  


In this last encounter if the DM had wanted to, he could have TPK'd before any PC go to act - the goblins won initiative (there were 4 of them - 6 pc's, 2 npc's).  They rushed to party at the starting blocks.  2 used the scream and bloodied a bunch of pc's, low damage rolls.  If he had use the scream from the other 2...  Fortunately for us we had a low showing and consolidate 2 table to one and had a veteran DM.  The newbie DM played the NPC's.


The newbie DM has the misguided impression that it is the DM's job to kill the PC's.  The other DM and I tried to explain otherwise - that the DM's job was the make sure it was fun before anything else and that killing the entire party was no fun for the players.  His reply was the the DM's has to have fun too.  *sigh* Since my kids and I are playing at his table, I have a feeling that I will be forcing the adventure train off the tracks before the end.  My sverfneblin warden took around 40 dmg the first encounter and over 50 in each of the next 2.  If we hadn't combined tables last encounter and used comrades succor to give him more surges he would have died last encounter or at best be head to the next with no surges and nearly bloodied already.  (Maybe its because I'm really getting good at getting as many marks as possible and drawing all the fire... and we don't have much DPS)


What happened to Encounters being casual play?  What happened to it being appropriate to brand new players?  For people who are trying to figure out a new role or a new class that they haven't played?


We have had alot of new players lately.  We had one young lady who has been playing the pregen thief to very little effect.  In the last round last time, we kinda walked her through some options using her class features.  She one-shotted a drow archer.  You could see the lights go on.  It was a real Encounters moment.  That's the stuff I play Encounter for, not to see the whole party pounded to near death each session.  If I wanted that I'd play Lair Assault.  Which I don't.  I just want to have a little fun with my kids.  They aren't enjoying the session as much as past ones.  My daughter even skipped one because she did feel like playing (a first, but she did miss school the next day with pinkeye, but she had started eyedrops and could have gone).   


TjD

As for the previous point about a tank not being the damage dealer I agree, but they should at least be a threat. When I as a monster am seeing a guy only being able to do 6 dmg to me if I hit someone else or not being able to hit me when I walk away (I mean +5 vs. AC 21 in the form of the Goblins means you are missing 75% of the time).
As for the previous point about a tank not being the damage dealer I agree, but they should at least be a threat. When I as a monster am seeing a guy only being able to do 6 dmg to me if I hit someone else or not being able to hit me when I walk away (I mean +5 vs. AC 21 in the form of the Goblins means you are missing 75% of the time).

The goblins didn't have a 21 AC, unless your DM bumped them up. 

What happened to Encounters being casual play?  What happened to it being appropriate to brand new players?  For people who are trying to figure out a new role or a new class that they haven't played?



This is my problem with this season, as well. I think it will get better in chapter 2, which is simply easier, but it's been a tough season. Not just at my table, where I'm running it like Lair Assault for a reason. But at other tables as well.

It's a bloody, bloodthirsty campaign. But, perhaps that's appropriate to its theme?

I don't know.  I just know that Neverwinter remains my favorite season of Encounters so far.

The goblins have the trait "Drow Inspiration" which provided +2 to all attack rolls and defenses if a drow ally was within 5 squares. So as long as the goblins didn't stray too far from the drow their AC was indeed 21 (normally 19). This also brought their melee attacks from +8 to +10 vs. AC. If they got combat advantage (which they did almost every round at my tables) that added another +2 making their attack rolls +12 vs. AC. Needless to say it was a bloodbath for the two tables I ran.

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The warlord player is not malicious, just clueless. Also we lifted the book limit on Encounters since...why not 4e is on its last legs might as well get as much use out of it as possible. He also has issues with making characters as he wants to be "fluffy" and not effective.


There are ways of making characters who are "fluffy" and still effective.  If he wants to be ineffective in battle, he is not only harming himself, he is harming the rest of the party.  Again, this is a team game, and if one member of the team is useless, the play experience for the other players will suffer.  

Explain to the warlord player that he needs to consider the other party members when making characters, as well.  If he truly wishes to make completely ineffectual, "fluffy" characters, he has chosen the wrong hobby and needs to take up writing.
The dragonborn player has a loose understanding of the rules thinking he can "holy smite" after he hits. I have tired to explain he is wrong, but have been told to mind my own business.


Ignore that.  Rules are there for a reason.  If the rules were not there, this would not be a game, it would be anarchy.  The rules provide a common basis for understanding of the game world.  Impress upon the GM and players that the rules cannot be changed at the table.

Rules can be changed if all Encounters GMs at a location, are willing to make said rule changes -- which is how we get away with allowing all class/race combinations: Both GMs agreed to this rule change.  However we also made this rule change known beforehand so that players would know beforehand.

 If your GM is the only person running Encounters at your location and he is wants to make that change, he is welcome to do so -- provided he lets all players know beforehand of this rule change.  This is only fair.
As for the previous point about a tank not being the damage dealer I agree, but they should at least be a threat. When I as a monster am seeing a guy only being able to do 6 dmg to me if I hit someone else or not being able to hit me when I walk away (I mean +5 vs. AC 21 in the form of the Goblins means you are missing 75% of the time).


Most defenders, as written, will be Knights or Cavaliers wearing plate armor and shields and carrying longswords for 1d8+Strength damage.  A 16 Strength is still a viable attribute for a primary attribute -- to say otherwise stifles player creativity beyond what, I think, the original designers of D&D Essentials intended.  If it were otherwise they would have simply said that characters require at least an 18 in their primary attribute.

A Cavalier may choose to have a lower strength for any number of reasons.  A higher Constitution for hit points and healing surges.  A higher Charisma for better auto-damage from their Righteous Radiance.

I'd like to know why the Cavalier player chose a weapon far worse than a longsword for his main weapon, but such is the choice of the player in question.

The Lolthtouched Goblins were much too powerful for a party of 1st level characters, as has been stated.  Even optimized defenders (Str 18, longswords, heavy blade expertise) would still have been missing them 65% of the time.  Far too powerful for a bunch of 1st level characters who might, in fact, be completely new to the game.
Is it just me or has this season of encounters so far been especially rough on the PC's?  I've been playing at encounters since the March of the Phantom Brigade and while there have been some challenging encounters, they were never back to back to back...  And for some of the most challenging, for a savvy group there have been ways to make them easier - items, information, or boons that might have been picked up along the way.


You missed the second season, the Dark Sun campaign, that had a first encounter notorious for killing entire parties and driving people away from Encounters.  The main game store in town was running four tables for Encounters up until that season.  Second session, no one showed up to play.  Way to go WotC, your first encounter drove 25 people away from D&D!

And don't forget -- the party got the addition of two additional, higher-level NPCs! 

...Except that said NPCs were just as vulnerable to the Lolthtouched Goblins' shrieks.  At my table, the elven ranger scout died outright.  The only thing that saved the 3rd level knight was that I accidentally placed her higher in the Initiative order than she could have rolled in the first place.  The human Cavalier in our party got nailed with one attack -- had it been two, he'd have been down the same as most everyone else.  
The newbie DM has the misguided impression that it is the DM's job to kill the PC's.  The other DM and I tried to explain otherwise - that the DM's job was the make sure it was fun before anything else and that killing the entire party was no fun for the players.  His reply was the the DM's has to have fun too.


The new DM needs to understand that he is not an adversary -- he is a creator.  It is his job, and must be his enjoyment, to create and adjudicate the world.  If he truly sees himself as an adversary to the party -- if he truly sees that his enjoyment comes from killing off the party -- he needs to be removed as GM.  Someone else will have to step up to take his place.  
 My sverfneblin warden took around 40 dmg the first encounter and over 50 in each of the next 2.


During Session 3, the human slayer in our group took over 100 points in damage.  He had both of the cleric's healing words dropped on him.  Used his second wind.  Got a lot of temporary hit points.  And had damage resistance most of the time.  I dropped him below 0 twice, and it was mainly because he kept running ahead of the party to confront the drow totemist and the archers.  (He still survived, though.)
What happened to Encounters being casual play?  What happened to it being appropriate to brand new players?  For people who are trying to figure out a new role or a new class that they haven't played?


I think the writers at WotC heard a lot of complaints about the previous seasons being too easy, and ramped up the difficulty on us.  And didn't playtest the modules thoroughly.


Explain to the warlord player that he needs to consider the other party members when making characters, as well.  If he truly wishes to make completely ineffectual, "fluffy" characters, he has chosen the wrong hobby and needs to take up writing.



This is not to say that there is no place for fluffy, ineffective characters.  That place, however, is in a home game where the GM can plan encounters around the fact that he actually has one less player than he seems to.  D&D Encounters is not designed like this.  It is assumed that all characters are striving to be effective in combat.  The actual encounters are designed around X number of characters (usually five), not X - 1 characters and the ineffective twit character.  

This is why allowing a player to build an ineffictive twit character is hurting the party -- the ineffective twit isn't holding up his end of the battle, and is likely going to get someone killed.  (And when the ineffective twit is the party's Leader, this means that the someone likely to be killed is probably going to end up being the defender -- you know, the guy whse job it is to keep other people from being attacked?)

A home game where all  of the characters are silly, ineffectual twits, can actually be quite fun.  But Encounters isn't the place for such silliness.
Our session 4 battle reports:-


Cast of players and their characters for early group:-



  • Bryce Palmer, playing Human Mage

  • Glenn Waters, playing Eladrin Thief

  • Daniel Creedy, playing Elf Mage

  • Me, playing Kobold Scout


I scurried to Shadowdale as quick as I could, the nice pink-skin lady at the Temple of the sun god had asked me to go and help other heroes fend of drow raiders. When I got there they had already descended into tunnels under the weird shaped tower (how does that stay up?) but once I was underground I had the advantage and caught up quickly, just as two more people arrived by magic to help. Just in time too as we found the gates to the lower tunnels guarded by drow and their hateful goblin slave-soldiers.


The elf warrior spent much of the battle on the floor, but the mages called magically fire down on the ones in front of the gates while the nice warrior lady started pounding on the goblin protecting the drow crossbowmen.


The lady mage with the pointy ears foolishly rushed too close and got skewered by the crossbows, but her fallen body gave me a good hiding place while I got closer. (honestly I would have helped her if I could be i not know magics).


Warrior lady finally pinned last drow in corner but couldnt hit the wriggly thing, so I sneaked round and plunged my wicked blades into its sides while it not looking, the look of surprise on its face was worth it.


The lady then pulled lever and opened the gates but it looks like someone was listening and now they know we is coming. Good, Skrit wants vengeance for family, and drow gonna pay in blood!


 Cast of players and their characters for later group:-



  • Robert Cleale, playing Human Knight

  • Chris North, playing Dwarf Knight

  • Tom Wright, playing Dwarf Sentinel

  • Simon Hunter, playing Human Mage

  • Phill Norman, playing Elf Thief

  • John Gray, playing Drow Hexblade

  • Matt Mawdsley, playing Dwarf Knight


The heroes knew with the arrival of Elminster’s reinforcements that things were gonna get tough, they weren’t wrong.


Descending into the deeper tunnels the heroes come to a fork, both sides have drow and strange purple goblins which the Hexblade recognises as Lolthbound goblins, one side protecting huge iron doors, the other protecting a large iron lever. New arrival Khara says the lever opens the doors to the lower tunnels.


The battle was brutal with the heroes taking heavy damage and a couple actually falling unconscious at one point. The highlight of the latter stages was while the human knight fought a crossbowman at the top of the stairs, the lithe form of the elf rogue somersaulted over them and attacked the drow from behind.


As the heroes pulled the lever, the dust was still stirring as if recently disturbed and Tharinel confirmed that someone had only recently left the area, what or whoever lay ahead, knew the heroes were coming!


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"Well that encounter was easy....er, guys, why is the DM grinning?" (party members last words)

It's not a party till the screaming starts!

Follow me on Twitter @Vobeskhan or check out my blog http://vobeskhan.wordpress.com/

The inclusion of two NPCs -- much higher level than the party! -- is just plain bad GMing. The PCs are the heroes, not NPCs. The action needs to revolve around them. It would have been better for Khara and Tharinel to have been split from the party beforehand, or a secondary threat added to keep those two busy. Instead it's requested that the players handle the two -- as extra PCs, basically. But wait, this is supposed to be for beginners, isn't it?

Yeeeeah, that, too.  It's not bad GMing - it's poor design.  We're doing the stuff that Elminster can't be bothered to do, but thankfully we have his apprentice and her pal that are bigger and nastier than the PCs to help!  Thanks, author!



Speaking of bad design, there is another example of it in Session 8.

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In the features of the area, it states that the rope bridge leading from the bottom tip of the stalactite to the far side of the cavern can be destroyed (and it gives the stats for the bridge). It then states that if the bridge is destroyed, the only way for the players to reach the other end of the chamber (which they need to do in order to continue the adventure) is via the web that spans the floor.

However, that would potentially lead to an extra encounter in the session -- with the giant spider (assuming it is still alive at that point) -- for which there is no time budgeted. I suppose a DM could just decide that the spider knows better than to attack a whole party, but an inexperienced DM might not think of that. There should be some guidelines given to DMs on how to handle it if the party takes that course of action. It's like having a map that allows the PCs to go off in a direction other than that which the adventure requires (via stairs or a corridor, etc.).

I know it's railroady, but honestly, in something like Encounters, where for the sake of the story, the party needs to get to a particular location, you really need to make sure in your encounter design that the party can and will go there and only there. 
- Rico
Solution: 
Show
Destroying the bridge means the spider auto-kills the whole party.

No? C'mon. I like my suggestion....
 
Solution: 
Show
Destroying the bridge means the spider auto-kills the whole party.

No? C'mon. I like my suggestion....
 


Knowing the party you have and the situation, I can understand the appeal of that solution to you.

- Rico
Solution: 
Show
Destroying the bridge means the spider auto-kills the whole party.

No? C'mon. I like my suggestion....
 


Knowing the party you have and the situation, I can understand the appeal of that solution to you.


LOL!

Thanks.

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Tonight, I set them up for inevitable betrayal. I'm leaving Khara and Tharinel in the party during the fight, but the NPCs will be distracted by the drow coming out of the center room on the map (I know there's no center room. There is now.)

I want these NPCs to be there during the extended rest so the PCs can test the "no plot immunity for NPCs" ruling I told them about last week.

I'm seriously hoping they kill the DMPCs. That would be so much fun.