How many TPK's since Packet 2?

How many TPK's (Total Party Kills) have you had since DMing the play test packet 2?

I've had 2 but only play tested for around 3 hours.
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I have about 6.5 hours over two campaigns with not even a death yet, much less a TPK.  I have a mix of some fairly new to veteran players, from early teens to late 40s (if I had to guess).

There's been a lot of roleplaying, though, and not nearly as much focus on rushing into combat, so that might slant the numbers a bit. More than half their time has been roleplaying with NPCs & each other, exploring, and interacting with the world.
One thing I applaud in D&DNext so far is that players feel vulnerable again.   As a result, I'm finding that my players look for ways to avoid combat if possible, or make sure that if they do enter a combat, they can have an advantage of numbers or positioning.   

Many encounters in the playtest adventures are not meant to be balanced.  I like that the players have to assess the situation and decide when to cut and run.

The vulnerability of the PCs helps balance the game so that combat does not take over.  Exploration and interaction are now more valuable phases of the overall system because combat is de-emphasized.

If DMs and players don't like the vulnerability of the core, they can easily change beginning hit points by granting Survivor or just flat out adding +5, +10 to each PC.

I'll be running a session this weekend with playtest #2 and I look forward to having my players feel vulnerable. 

Question:   I have created a mini-adventure of my own that I think the players can finish in 2-3 hours.   Do you think I should run that with them, or do you think I should use the playtest #2 adventure?   I'm on the fence.   I think I'm going to use my own adventure...but any suggestions will be helpful. 

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

How many TPK's (Total Party Kills) have you had since DMing the play test packet 2?


I've had 2 but only play tested for around 3 hours.



Actual DMing? 0


But I don't run combat focused adventures that often, so it is natural.


Combat simulations, etc. suggest that some encounters well within XP budget can be too dangerous. 

Question:   I have created a mini-adventure of my own that I think the players can finish in 2-3 hours.   Do you think I should run that with them, or do you think I should use the playtest #2 adventure?   I'm on the fence.   I think I'm going to use my own adventure...but any suggestions will be helpful. 

I would think that, as long as you are using the creatures and rules as presented, whether or not it's their adventure or yours doesn't really mean all that much.  You'll still be giving valuable input based off of your playtest experiences using the material they gave you.
One thing I applaud in D&DNext so far is that players feel vulnerable again....

I'll be running a session this weekend with playtest #2 and I look forward to having my players feel vulnerable. 

Question:   I have created a mini-adventure of my own that I think the players can finish in 2-3 hours.   Do you think I should run that with them, or do you think I should use the playtest #2 adventure?   I'm on the fence.   I think I'm going to use my own adventure...but any suggestions will be helpful. 


I would have to say, go for it!  You may well uncover an unforseen problem when testing your own material.  Just please post the outcome of testing here for all of us to enjoy and discuss.  It has been really enjoyable reading some of the results from the first, & now in part second packet.

 
Question:   I have created a mini-adventure of my own that I think the players can finish in 2-3 hours.   Do you think I should run that with them, or do you think I should use the playtest #2 adventure?   I'm on the fence.   I think I'm going to use my own adventure...but any suggestions will be helpful. 



We have XP budget, encounter design rules, etc to test them, so you should run your own adventures and encounters. It would be more interesting, if you would post how you felt about creating he adventure, what you came up with, what happened. If in this report you share the adventure then we can even run it  
Thanks for the advice guys.  I will run my own mini-adventure.  It is a rough hodge podge of notes, but after I run it, I'll write up the playtest report to give you some narrative and comments as usual.  

Since the designers seem to have just eyeballed the xp points for monsters, and I suspect they have not really thought about and tested their numbers too well, I kind of eyeballed the encounters.   I'm banking on the fact that since the monsters have such low to hit bonueses, even if I throw in a Goblin Leader, and a Bugbear taskmaster into a couple of encounters, it won't end in total ruin for 3-4 1st level PCs.  


  

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Not only did my group not have any TPKs, my 1st-level characters barely took damage in the part of the adventure we ran. They just rolled over the opposition.

I ran the House Center adventure with a human fighter (protector, survivor), a human sorcerer (survivor), the pregen human cleric (swapping in the healer specialty), and a wood elf rogue (thug scheme, thief background).

As far as I can tell, we played by the book. I'm an experienced DM, so I'm pretty sure I didn't make any glaring errors in role-playing monsters, etc.

The rogue scouted ahead all the time. The party only gained surprise once, but they were never surprised either. We hit all the encounters in that adventure (although we had technically ended without the stirges, so we just ran through that part of the adventure anyway for fun, and only lost about 5 more hit points). They seemed to down most of the monsters in their first turn--often before the monsters had a chance to act. Maybe they were extraordinarily lucky with initiative. I could tell, however, from glancing over the rest of the adventure that this was by no means the hardest one in the packet.

Did anyone else find their players pwning the opposition like that?
Status: Mid-point of Caves of Chaos.

Deaths: One party member killed.

Total Party Kills: None.

Close Shaves: More than a few, but these occurred early on.

General Impression: After the players started to gel and began to realize how dangerous the monsters could be, they started using careful planning and were more disciplined with regard to the management of their available resources. Utilization of environment has been a huge factor. The players are thinking, that much is for sure.

Edit: For those interested, the band consists of a rotating cast of seven PCs. Only four players are permitted to take part in the playtest at any one time, so I just rotate them out on a sessional basis.

The available roster contains two fighters, two clerics, one rogue, one sorceror, and one wizard. I have split their rotation so that there is usually a cleric present at all times, but this hasn't always been the case. The party composition does make a difference, but the players (all new to D&D save for three) have managed to adapt quite well. I'm not pulling any punches, either, so that says something. Honestly, I've been quite impressed by the way they've handled themselves.

Now, I must say that the tone of the game has become more gritty and expedition-oriented than 4E, but once the players realized that they weren't going to be able to clear the whole cavern in one evening, they started behaving in a more cautious manner. The fact that the caves are constantly adapting and being restocked has made them respect the environment as much as they do the critters that lurk there.

All in all... I think they're enjoying themselves. I still have misgivings about the system, but the fact that I've got a bunch of players whooping it up is enough to make me forget about them (my misgivings)... most of the time.

Cheers all.

Did anyone else find their players pwning the opposition like that?

Ironically, I did.

When I took players through CoC with the first packet, they were living on the edge.

With the second packet, they've actually had an easier time of it (despite the lower HPs).  I attribute this to a few things:

1) They learned from CoC/1st Packet.  Charge and chop isn't the only way to play.  They explore and scout more.

2) New powers brought more power.  Parry worked wonderfully.  The guy playing the "Paladin" got to the forefront and parry to his heart's content.  I think we totalled, at game's end, his deflected damage at 19 over the course of 2 battles.  Only 2 heals were tossed his way and he took, by far, the brunt of the attacks.  Etc.

3) HPs are lower, CLW is better, and there's an extra heal with Channel Divinity.  Sounds funky, but with lower Hit Points and better heals, you end up with more impactful heals.  Tossing a D8+4 on a dying Rogue not only revives them, it suddenly has them healthy and ready for action.  In a strange way, it created more confidence.  Being at 3 HPs out of 15 felt dangerously close to death.  Being at 7 out of 9 felt like you were pretty darn health and ready to rock-n-roll.  This led to more offense and less "I use my turn to go hide."

4) Finally, reduced AC and HPs on monsters meant less attacks in return.

So, yeah, strange as it sounds, I actually saw players having an easier time of it after Packet #2.
I have found the new rules to be VERY Deadly for 1st level characters. I have run five games with different scenarioes. I ran adventures that had a lot of places where new characters could come in when one character died. And a LOT of characters died. But, only one was a TPK. But, Three would have been TPKs if new characters could not come in so easy. One players lost two wizards in one encounter before he picked a Wizard with Survivor Speciality. It was like Dungeon Crawl Classics - you start with 2 to 4 characters and assume that most will die. One was a typical Dungeon Delve - TPK in 2 hours and two encounters. The Dwarfs almost made it out. One was a Prison Break - 2/3 of the characters died. One was a Raid on a Town by Goblins - 2/3 of the characters died. One was a Caravan Owned by the Party that was attacked by bandits - 1/2 of the characters died. The last one had already gotten to 2nd level before I used the new rules. 2nd level characters are a lot more survivable than 1st level characters.
The more roleplaying and less combat, naturally more characters will survive. The troubled was one shots. With 4 hit points in a wizard just about any hit was a dying result. When the Clerics ran out of healing - it got ugly. Many 1st level characters didn't survive to take a short rest. 
For games that have a good amount of combat and want continuity of characters, I would suggest not starting at 1st level. Or have the 1st level combats be cake walks or have some kind of safety net. Because 1st level characters are so fragile that they are dead before you can do anything about it. 
Yikes, Ramses.  What a rough patch it sounds like you are going through! Oof.

Did you run into problems with Fighters not using protect or parry at all?  The sturdy types not getting to point?

It might just be that about, hm, 70% of the players in the 5 sessions I've run have 4E experience, so knowing how to defend and knowing how to take cover, stay in protected ranks, etc., came more naturally.

In 12-15 odd combats so far, it's actually been the rogue at risk (dying multiple times), the fighters that have taken the most damage (a bunch of it mitigated), and the clerics as somewhere in the middle (the War taking more hits than the Sun).  Niether of the two wizards have been dying yet, much less dead.
The problem for wizards is the same problem from basic D&D and 1e.   When intelligent foes see a spellcaster, they realize that the next spell he casts could mean their demise, so they take out their bows and fire at the wizard, knocking him down in 1 round.  

If no defender is with the wizard, the wizard will be down for the count.  Since the wizard needs to avoid combat, chances are that a defender will not be back with the wizard. 

Wizards need some kind of protection from missles.   Maybe they can get some "at will" spell that gives them shielding.   What if "Missle Shield" spell was "at will" but it could be used as a reaction to block 1d6 damage?   "With a wave of the wizard's hand, he produces a small magical field that deflects the incoming arrow.

Either that, or Shield spell should give better bonuses especially since it only lasts for 1 min.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Wizards need continuous mage armor (say equivalent to leather), or more hit points.  They get the dirty end of the stick on both accounts and lack any kind of sustainable defence at low levels from their class.  Relying on shield alone would mean not casting any other spells other than at-wills, and there still wouldn't be enough for each encounter in a standard day.
Yeah, I've said this all over... make Shield a reaction spell with 3d4 damage deflected.  It will diminish in power at higher levels where damage will be higher, scales fairly well against offensive spells, can only be used once a round (so the unwise Wizard who charged out in the open only stops 1 attack), must be taken at the expense of offense or utilty (uses a spell slot), and still has a chance to not be enough (bad rolls, elite damage, or swarming attacks)... but for that one unlucky or unfortunate attack, it'll be there.

It really reflects what Wizard should be about... choices and spellcasting.  They don't need HPs to be "tank" like to start because they need to be able to tank things.  They need to do what they do best - cast spells.

I also advocated for a Mage Armor that's +4 AC (but doesn't stack with shields/armor) that lasts for at least 1 hour. 

Beyond that....

Rhenny, you are giving enemies a lot of credit.... just how many "Intelligent" monsters are there?  Certainly not kobolds, goblins, and orcs.   Not ogres and trolls, either.  They'll react to visible confirmation of threat, but in the heat and chaos of battle, very few creatures should be intelligent enough and aware enough to be able to take in all that's happening, understand all the subtle details involved, and collectively react so ruthlessly.

A half-hidden Wizard who hasn't done anything spectacular, hasn't stepped to the forefront with big, visual confirmation of his threat, and isn't particularly noticable to begin with, shouldn't be the primary target right away for enemies - in my opinion.

A say, give the skinny kid a chance!  Sometimes, bullies want to prove their toughness by punching the big guy in the nose... it shows more to the other bullies than pushing around the little girl in ponytails.

Rhenny, you are giving enemies a lot of credit.... just how many "Intelligent" monsters are there?  Certainly not kobolds, goblins, and orcs.   Not ogres and trolls, either.  They'll react to visible confirmation of threat, but in the heat and chaos of battle, very few creatures should be intelligent enough and aware enough to be able to take in all that's happening, understand all the subtle details involved, and collectively react so ruthlessly.

A half-hidden Wizard who hasn't done anything spectacular, hasn't stepped to the forefront with big, visual confirmation of his threat, and isn't particularly noticable to begin with, shouldn't be the primary target right away for enemies - in my opinion.

A say, give the skinny kid a chance!  Sometimes, bullies want to prove their toughness by punching the big guy in the nose... it shows more to the other bullies than pushing around the little girl in ponytails.



That's really what I meant.  If the enemy can tell that the skinny kid casts spells that mess them up, then they will target the skinny kid. In my old campaigns often humanoid NPCs would become foes, sometimes leading groups of monsters and sometimes alone.  Those were the ones that would often spot the threat of the wizard.  I certainly would not just target the one in the robe in a more usual encounter.  But, after one burning hands or fireball...survivors know they don't want to get burnt again, so wizard becomes target.  

I agree with the Mage Armor spell, a must have.



A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

That's really what I meant.  If the enemy can tell that the skinny kid casts spells that mess them up, then they will target the skinny kid. In my old campaigns often humanoid NPCs would become foes, sometimes leading groups of monsters and sometimes alone.  Those were the ones that would often spot the threat of the wizard.  I certainly would not just target the one in the robe in a more usual encounter.  But, after one burning hands or fireball...survivors know they don't want to get burnt again, so wizard becomes target.  

I agree with the Mage Armor spell, a must have.

Oh, yeah.. agreed.

I know it's dangerous to bring up MMOs, but I am going to tread into those dangerous waters for an analogy.

Most encounters are a bit like MOB encounters.  Not overly intelligent or observant creatures, they just react to what the environment presents.  If the wizard spikes the DPS meters, she's going to pull threat and find herself in the graveyard.  If played intelligent, she should be able to do what she does best, using the big splashes at safe distances or when the defenders have firmly established a front line, and she'll shine and survive.

However, sometimes you run into more intelligent, preemtive creatures that see threats ahead of time and try to strike first in a logical manner.  That's like stepping into PvP (Arena or BGs).  Note, though, that even in those settings, sometimes teams ignore the mage or healer for various reasons (maybe distance, fear of CC, or powerful heals and defense), so they still try to hit the non-clothies hard in hopes to burning them down fast, leaving the clothies more vulnerable... but in general, they know to jump on the glass cannon or healers because they often decide battles.

D&D, though, isn't about winning.  A DM doesn't have to play his or her smartest to prove that their clever, intelligent mobs can beat the players.  Because, you know what, DMs can ALWAYS "win" if they want to.  I just play for fun and not for blood because there's enough danger in the game even with that.  Even with Defenders defending and Healers healing, characters die.  Eventually, that mage will pop her head out and I'll have a chance to cut it off.... I don't have to go out of my way to kill her specifically even when she's trying to lay low.  And maybe the Cleric or Fighter comes to the rescue... or maybe she gets lucky or has some trick up her sleeves to pull the fat out of the fire.  Either way, it's all good.
I think one of the major issues especially in open environments is the wizard's spell range. Archer character receive several rounds of pot shots before a wizard can get into range to cast fireball. Even magic missle is outdistanced by archers.