Playtest Report #2: With Summation and Number Crunching

(Playtest #1: is here)
(Post #2 will have combat numbers)

The principles tonight: 


  • Drunkey – Dwarven Sun Priest (real name is unknown to the group)

  • Aly – Halfling Rogue with Cute Smile but Nasty Reputation (Thug)

  • Rickard – Human Wizard, slightly insane, talks to a skull (Necromancer, Noble)

  • Dunkin – Dwarven Honor Guard (Protector Fighter, Guardian)

  • Orion – Human Knight (Protector Fighter, Guardian)


Synopsis:
First, you will not not a lot of combat tonight... and not just because of a lot of RP... no, it was just one of those nights where we didn't have a lot of time (90 minutes) and most of it was used just goofing around, telling jokes, and typical banter.  Focus on D&D was low as we were all a bit punchy.

Having just returned from a bit of a tussle with Kobolds, the group was ready to try their luck again in the Caves of Chaos.  There were still rumors of a merchant being held there and something about “Bree-Yark” meaning surrender.

Arriving at the ravine, they didn’t have any real clues as to where to go next, so they arbitrarily chose to investigate one north and west of where they found the kobold lair (ignoring caves both nearer and/or lower).  A quick search of the slope up to and around the mouth revealed booted prints of some very active humanoids.  Once within, they found more signs of activity… and trouble.  Nine orcs were a bit into their cups (beer) and not overly alert at so docile a time (mid morning).  Rarely did they see trouble from the other clans of the ravine except very early or at night.  The were alert enough, though, to hear the loud approach of the party (well, most the party actually rolled quite well on DEX or Stealth, even with disadvantage, except the Sun Cleric who also seemed to be into his cups quite early… he was too loud and unsteady to be anything close to quiet – DEX check result -> 3).


Combat ensued as Orcs don’t like intruders, Orion didn’t like reports of orc raids on farms, and Dunkin simply hated orcs with blind passion.


Encounter Summation: The group had a natural choke point where they could keep Orcs at bay, offering them no possible escape.  An intersection near the choke point offered quick cover for the three in back and the two up front held the focus, in fact dominated the proceedings

Two critical points to be made here.  One, our rogue was very distracted with a fussy baby, so her attention was divided to say the least.  She never remembered to use her Sneak Attack despite having Thug Tactics make it constantly available (and I would have reminded her had I remembered myself that she had it.) Two, man, did I goof up the orcs. This encounter was created during the first packet using the original CoC as a basis, but with Next details.  Problem is, I forgot to switch it over from packet #1 to packet #2, so the Orcs were different than what they should have been.  They had same AC and HPs (13 & 11), but the orc I used was +3 with 1d8+1 damage and +2 with 1d6 ranged, instead of the +2 with 1d12+2 and +0 with 1d6 ranged.  They only granted 125 XP each, instead of 460 XPs each.  Honestly, the old ones were tougher for the XP rates, so maybe I didn’t cut them much of a break.  They did less damage, but with Furious Charge and a better to-hit, their overall output was probably close.  Especially since many went to ranged attacks due to combat layout.


Anyway, to sum up combat I will say just this: Two Protection Fighters working together is simply overpowered.  Protect and Guardian’s Defender should both include clauses that say they can’t be used to protect or defend someone who also has this trait.

The two fighters were attacked repeatedly, but Defender and Parry negated the vast majority of damage or potential damage (in fact, one critical hit was turned into a miss because of the disadvantage from defender).  I took one shot through cover at the Wizard when he tried hocus pocus, but Defender turned away the attack.  The rest of the combat details can be seen numerically below.

[Edit:] Just noticed that the battle lasted 6 rounds... fairly long in comparison to many before this.  Orcs being tougher, but I also think Aly not using Sneak Attack on at least 4 of her 6 hits made a difference on how fast they would have dropped.

































































































































































































































Defensive Numbers
Character Wounds     WPB      Hit %       Hit     Atkd   Crits   Dying Healing         HPB Battles
Aly0.001
Drunkey0.0022.001
Dunkin55.0016.67%1644.001
Rickard0.000.00%11
Orion66.0016.67%21222.001
Offensive Numbers
CharacterDamage      DPR      Hit % Effects      Kills      Hits     Atks     Crits      Crt %    Rnds Battles
Aly467.67100.00%2660.00%61
Drunkey153.0040.00%1250.00%51
Dunkin275.4060.00%1350.00%51
Rickard112.20100.00%13550.00%51
Orion265.2080.00%2450.00%51
Oh, one interesting tidbit that offered some humor to the encounter...

Rickard really enjoyed the power of Sleep from previous encounters so he thought to use it here to great effect.  He rolled a 9 on his 3d8.  Managing just to put to sleep one injured one, who was kicked awake by another orc that was grabbing his bow off a weapons rack.

Ironically, a magic missile would have killed the creature who had 2 HPs remaining at the time. 
Rickard really enjoyed the power of Sleep from previous encounters so he thought to use it here to great effect.  He rolled a 9 on his 3d8.  Managing just to put to sleep one injured one, who was kicked awake by another orc that was grabbing his bow off a weapons rack.
 


Interesting take all together, as far as Sleep goes though, in one of the FAQ podcasts a couple of years back the DND guys said that Sleep was a Magical Sleep and as such an action would have to be used to try and wake up the victim.

Edit: Re read the Rules for Sleep, requires an action by another ally to slap them awake. Seems they codified their FAQ. 
Ant Farm
Interesting take all together, as far as Sleep goes though, in one of the FAQ podcasts a couple of years back the DND guys said that Sleep was a Magical Sleep and as such an action would have to be used to try and wake up the victim.

Edit: Re read the Rules for Sleep, requires an action by another ally to slap them awake. Seems they codified their FAQ. 

Yeah.  Actually, that was his action....  technically speaking, he already had his bow and could have shot but it just seemed, I don't know, appropriately humorous to have sleep fail so spectacularly where a magic missile would have sufficed from the start.  So I had the orc take no action that round to wake up the sleeper.

[Edit:] The extra description was for effect.  Kicking the orc on the ground just seemed more "orc" than having him slap or shake him awake, and I just rubbed it in a little with John by saying he was grabbing his bow and kicking the guy awake because I knew he'd see the irony and humor in the whole situation. 
How is this even a valid play test?

I mean you used the wrong numbers for the Orcs, you had a choke point so the party was effectively fighting 2-3 at a time, everyone but the front line people had total cover every round. You had the optimal defenders up front.

That's just insane...
"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.
How is this even a valid play test?

I mean you used the wrong numbers for the Orcs, you had a choke point so the party was effectively fighting 2-3 at a time, everyone but the front line people had total cover every round. You had the optimal defenders up front.

That's just insane...

Actually, Melee being +3 for 1d8+1 and ranged being +2 at 1d6 for 125 XPs isn't really all that unreasonable.  That's a 1125 XP encounter.

In fact, I'd argue that it would be HARDER that usual.  In the new playtest packet, I would use 3 orcs for the same encounter (rounding up, because three orcs would be worth more than 1125 but two wouldn't be worth quite enough).

So... 9 Orcs attack AC 17. +3 for 1d8+1.  Average Damage: 17.325 (9*0.35*5.5)
Let's say with chokepoint, it's 2 melee, 7 ranged.  Average Damage: 3.85 + 7.35 for 11.2

So 3 second packet Orcs vs AC 13, +2 for 1d12+2. Damage: 7.65
Chokepiont, 2 melee, 1 ranged.  Damage:  5.1 + 0.7 for 5.8

No... for what's tougher than average encounter, the one I gave them was significantly more challenging.

And dude... seriously?  Seriously?!?  You've never run an encounter in a Caves of Chaos like setting?  Never a narrow hallway?  Tunnels? Chokepoint at all?  I guess it's possible, but I just played one of the more famous published adventures ever written as is.

Blame Gygax for daring to set a Dungeons and Dragons adventure in, well, a dungeon.

I suppose for you, the orcs had some clever contraption that made the walls fall out, opening up everything?  Oh, and it scrambled group order so Defenders weren't up front? 

Trying to understand what you are suggesting here...
Oh, and before you suggest I used 10 Goblins for the same encounter difficulty level...

Goblins have 3 HPs.  Orcs have 11.  Goblins do 1d6-1 or 1d6+1.  Orcs, 1d8+1 or 1d6.  Orcs are much tougher.

Granted, the "insane" chokepoint would actually help goblins, but chokepoints are illegal in your campaigns, yes? 
Yeah, but how did you get it set up where your back row could move out attack and then move back into total cover? I mean did you have any ranged attackers ready an action to shoot an arrow at those guys when they popped out or did you go easy after the Wizard started popping spells off?

I have to say that again you managed the perfect encounter with no negatives for the party (except for the wrong Orc stats)...
"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.
Yeah, but how did you get it set up where your back row could move out attack and then move back into total cover? I mean did you have any ranged attackers ready an action to shoot an arrow at those guys when they popped out or did you go easy after the Wizard started popping spells off?

I have to say that again you managed the perfect encounter with no negatives for the party (except for the wrong Orc stats)...

Okay, for the sake of argument, let's say I had orcs ready attacks to attack backrow guys because, well, I have patient, tactically saavy orcs who aren't just reacting to the dwarf, etc., that just started smacking their people.

And lets say that despite the wizard doing almost nothing to them, they just hate anyone wearing cloth (attacking cleric or rogue with cover would be worse than attacking fighter out front).

So I let the backrow guys (4 actually went to melee) attack.  5 Attacks vs AC 13 with the fighters now using Defender and/or Protect on the Wizard.

Yeah.  I probably drop the Wizard.  Cleric Heal goes on Wizard instead of Fighter.

Maybe Wizard just decides its not worth being there so stays around the corner.  Obviously, my goal is to kill him.  He wasn't contributing much anyway.

Fighters have even easier time of it, since they don't get attacked and Wizard player wonders if I am going to go out of my way to kill him every encounter.

Let me ask you this in return... have you never seen a dungeon with intersection or bends in hallways?

Or if a Wizard does 2 HPs of damage and a Fighter does 9, do you make the 2 more noticable because wizards "sparkle" or is there some referendum in your world that says Wizards must be killed first regardless? 
Yeah, but how did you get it set up where your back row could move out attack and then move back into total cover? I mean did you have any ranged attackers ready an action to shoot an arrow at those guys when they popped out or did you go easy after the Wizard started popping spells off?

I have to say that again you managed the perfect encounter with no negatives for the party (except for the wrong Orc stats)...

Okay, for the sake of argument, let's say I had orcs ready attacks to attack backrow guys because, well, I have patient, tactically saavy orcs who aren't just reacting to the dwarf, etc., that just started smacking their people.

And lets say that despite the wizard doing almost nothing to them, they just hate anyone wearing cloth (attacking cleric or rogue with cover would be worse than attacking fighter out front).

So I let the backrow guys (4 actually went to melee) attack.  5 Attacks vs AC 13 with the fighters now using Defender and/or Protect on the Wizard.

Yeah.  I probably drop the Wizard.  Cleric Heal goes on Wizard instead of Fighter.

Maybe Wizard just decides its not worth being there so stays around the corner.  Obviously, my goal is to kill him.  He wasn't contributing much anyway.

Fighters have even easier time of it, since they don't get attacked and Wizard player wonders if I am going to go out of my way to kill him every encounter.

Let me ask you this in return... have you never seen a dungeon with intersection or bends in hallways?

Or if a Wizard does 2 HPs of damage and a Fighter does 9, do you make the 2 more noticable because wizards "sparkle" or is there some referendum in your world that says Wizards must be killed first regardless? 



So in that combat the Wizard did nothing but magic missile? Well if that's the case sure maybe they wouldn't, but if the guys were in the back row (Orcs) then how are they even threatened at all? I mean maybe the Wizard and Rogue are taking pot shots at the Orcs in the back row, but other than that?

The main problem I keep seeing is you post these perfect battles where the party is not in any danger or relatively little danger and then say things like "The hit points are fine". Put your players in a little bit of trouble and see what happens...

Do an ambush in the open between two fronts of enemies or something.
"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.
How many times a turn are you letting the guardian use his defender ability? In our play test it wasn't very useful against multiple attackers at all.
So in that combat the Wizard did nothing but magic missile? Well if that's the case sure maybe they wouldn't, but if the guys were in the back row (Orcs) then how are they even threatened at all? I mean maybe the Wizard and Rogue are taking pot shots at the Orcs in the back row, but other than that?

The main problem I keep seeing is you post these perfect battles where the party is not in any danger or relatively little danger and then say things like "The hit points are fine". Put your players in a little bit of trouble and see what happens...

Do an ambush in the open between two fronts of enemies or something.

If you read the synopsis you'd see the wizard did only 2 things... cast a sleep spell that had really no effect and cast magic missile.

I played the encounter as it was written.  I didn't tweak it to make sure players were at risk of dying.

Yes, you are right, I could certainly challenge them more, even stack the deck against them.  Ambushing them with a tough encounter, enemies on all flanks, and no cover or escape would certainly put them to the test.

I am guessing the real problem is that I usually don't go out of my way to try to set characters up for failure.  Certainly, they could walk into it of their own volition, but I am not going to rewrite the Caves of Chaos to make sure that every orc encounter is to their disadvantage.

But, as some have suggested, maybe I am a "nice" DM.  I could be called worse.
 
How many times a turn are you letting the guardian use his defender ability? In our play test it wasn't very useful against multiple attackers at all.

Each Fighter got to use it once.  So twice a round.

Here's the thing... couple it with Parry and you have the following:

4 Melee attacks against 2 Front Line Fighters.  2 are at disadvantage vs AC 17.  Unlikely to hit. Two are normal but facing Parry as a response to a hit.

I dd have the archers gang up on one fighter, but +2 vs AC 17 is still relatively hard to hit.  So in 5 attacks, typically only 1 hit.  On top of that, there's a better than average chance no melee hit that character, so Parry was still available reducing the ranged damage. 

So with one character even taking 7 attacks in a round, with someone Defending them from the worst attack and Parry, coupled with High AC and HPs, the front line warriors were pretty tough.  They still took 11 damage (not to be sneezed at), but without being able to Defend or Protect on each other, it would have been much more challenging (more in line with the 1175 XPs the encounter was worth).

In the end, I kind of doubt my players are going to "game" the system that much... create a whole bunch of Fighters with Guardian to make penetrating defenses extraordinarily difficult... they just play what they want and most don't want the same thing.  Just pointing out that it seems too good a synergy especially when you see Hobgoblins with the same feature but unable to use it on others with it.

Kind of reminds me of when 4E first released the Invigorating rules... we kind of laughed about how minions couldn't ever possibly damage the one Fighter who had it.... but the player in question didn't want to make a mockery of the game so we houseruled it to what it ended up being changed to through errata at a later date. 
Are you letting them use defender and parry in the same turn? Because they both use a reaction.
Are you letting them use defender and parry in the same turn? Because they both use a reaction.



Not according to the parry rules text.
How is this even a valid play test?

I mean you used the wrong numbers for the Orcs, you had a choke point so the party was effectively fighting 2-3 at a time, everyone but the front line people had total cover every round. You had the optimal defenders up front.

That's just insane...



*Zorak blink*

Dude.  "How is this even a valid play test" is a little adversarial, in my opinion.  It's especially so, given your own playtest threads, where you assume that attacking all 41 orcs at once is somehow a valid way to evaluate the system.  There's your ridiculous playtest, right there.

The OP ran the playtest well within reason, by any measure, and is definitely a capable DM.   I learned something from it, did you?

 
heh, I guess we must have confused the rules for protect with the rules for parry. I don't think it mattered in our playtest because those were the only two things he used a reaction for.
Your damage output this time around was dramatically lower than your last go. You said your rogue didn't get to use SA and the fighters were tanking rather than dealing extra damage.

I think you are right, double-tank has some issues that need to be fixed, maybe even being unable to protect/parry ranged attacks (forcing tanks to advance). Still, if this encounter had been in an open eviroment then your melee characters would have adjusted their focus to damage, and the rogue could have gained some SA. From comparing notes I think (think) that the encounter would have been shorter and overall just as 'easy'.

My opinion is this: PC Hit Points are fine, Monsters hit/damage are fine. I think PC damage is too high. I think PC AC (at level 1) can be too high. These are conclutions I had after my first round of play, and i think they are applicable here.

Do an ambush in the open between two fronts of enemies or something.



......

......

(deep breath)

Why yes, such an engineered-to-be-deadly encounter might just result in the players being in a deadly situation, which is the exact point of an ambush encounter.  It would be tougher for characters to overcome an average encounter (by xp budget) in this situation, and perhaps VERY tough for characters to overcame a hard encounter (by xp budget) in this situation.

The DM has to adjust for that.  The DM always does, even an average one. (So don't start with the 'Good DM' fallacy.)


Your damage output this time around was dramatically lower than your last go. You said your rogue didn't get to use SA and the fighters were tanking rather than dealing extra damage.

Actually, the Rogue could have use SA because of Thug Tactics, but she simply forgot (mostly due to distraction).

Reminds me of something I tell my players going into a campaign:
Don't worry about playing perfect because I won't play the enemies perfect either.

In essence, I don't tactically play every encounter and conflict to the best of my ability.  I account for "humanoid" error.

Orcs don't always go for the most logical target.  Sometimes they just kill what they see obvious.  Sometimes they hate dwarves so much they attack them.  Sometimes they just aren't aware of everything.  Sometimes, they just do something stupid... just like humans. Etc.

I do that for 3 reasons:
1) Takes the pressure off the Players... every action isn't a life-or-death decision point.
2) It speeds up the game... a lot.  If you don't have to be tactically perfect, you don't have to pause, pondering every action and possible reaction to your first instinct.
3) It promotes roleplaying.  Do what your character would do, not what is tactically superior.

Works for me.  It's not for everyone, obviously, but it really does allow my campaigns to flow better and with a general relaxed atmosphere that is much more fun to be in.
 
Your damage output this time around was dramatically lower than your last go. You said your rogue didn't get to use SA and the fighters were tanking rather than dealing extra damage.

Actually, the Rogue could have use SA because of Thug Tactics, but she simply forgot (mostly due to distraction).

Reminds me of something I tell my players going into a campaign:
Don't worry about playing perfect because I won't play the enemies perfect either.

In essence, I don't tactically play every encounter and conflict to the best of my ability.  I account for "humanoid" error.

Orcs don't always go for the most logical target.  Sometimes they just kill what they see obvious.  Sometimes they hate dwarves so much they attack them.  Sometimes they just aren't aware of everything.  Sometimes, they just do something stupid... just like humans. Etc.

I do that for 3 reasons:
1) Takes the pressure off the Players... every action isn't a life-or-death decision point.
2) It speeds up the game... a lot.  If you don't have to be tactically perfect, you don't have to pause, pondering every action and possible reaction to your first instinct.
3) It promotes roleplaying.  Do what your character would do, not what is tactically superior.

Works for me.  It's not for everyone, obviously, but it really does allow my campaigns to flow better and with a general relaxed atmosphere that is much more fun to be in.
 



To me, one super rewarding aspect of DMs running monsters suboptimally is when the players start doing the same: the barbarian running past an enemy, drawing attacks of opportunity even when he didn't HAVE to, just because his character "wouldn't care," a sorcerer (who was once eaten by a bear and resurrected) lashing out randomly in a panic when a bear is summoned in an encounter, any sort of adventurer focusing on their hated enemy (racial enemy, backstory enemy, in-game nemesis, whatever) even though it's not the best move in combat, just because it makes sense to their character.

Good things (or what I perceive as good things in my campaigns) always seem to happen when DMs and players stop playing chess and start roleplaying within combat.  One of my favorite moments in the first ever game I played in was, during a particularly spooky encounter, when the rogue used his entire turn to "run around screaming like a little girl."

Definitely a hindrance in battle, but definitely added some fun

So yeah, your #3! 
I agree. I'm certin that 90% of players/dm's/forum posters agree that the Game should be Fun. Role Playing is fun. Combat can be fun, but so can PvP in any MMO... if you hate yourself and enjoy stress.

But I think we can find a balance. Both "nice" DM's and "mean" DM's should be able to use the same set of rules... even if they use a different modual from the same rules. Think on this: Players should be rewarded for smart play, not punished for average play. When the rogue remembers to use their tools, they should be rewarded. If the wizard prepares the wrong spell they should still feel like they have a place in the story.

If a DM wants a long, tough encounter, they should be able to do that without fudging rules and stat-blocks. If a DM wants to try and kill the party every week, they should be able to do that too.

Short Answer: Both styles are 'right.' If Damage were lower, they would be right-er.



Your damage output this time around was dramatically lower than your last go. You said your rogue didn't get to use SA and the fighters were tanking rather than dealing extra damage.

Actually, the Rogue could have use SA because of Thug Tactics, but she simply forgot (mostly due to distraction).

Reminds me of something I tell my players going into a campaign:
Don't worry about playing perfect because I won't play the enemies perfect either.

In essence, I don't tactically play every encounter and conflict to the best of my ability.  I account for "humanoid" error.

Orcs don't always go for the most logical target.  Sometimes they just kill what they see obvious.  Sometimes they hate dwarves so much they attack them.  Sometimes they just aren't aware of everything.  Sometimes, they just do something stupid... just like humans. Etc.

I do that for 3 reasons:
1) Takes the pressure off the Players... every action isn't a life-or-death decision point.
2) It speeds up the game... a lot.  If you don't have to be tactically perfect, you don't have to pause, pondering every action and possible reaction to your first instinct.
3) It promotes roleplaying.  Do what your character would do, not what is tactically superior.

Works for me.  It's not for everyone, obviously, but it really does allow my campaigns to flow better and with a general relaxed atmosphere that is much more fun to be in.
 



To me, one super rewarding aspect of DMs running monsters suboptimally is when the players start doing the same: the barbarian running past an enemy, drawing attacks of opportunity even when he didn't HAVE to, just because his character "wouldn't care," a sorcerer (who was once eaten by a bear and resurrected) lashing out randomly in a panic when a bear is summoned in an encounter, any sort of adventurer focusing on their hated enemy (racial enemy, backstory enemy, in-game nemesis, whatever) even though it's not the best move in combat, just because it makes sense to their character.

Good things (or what I perceive as good things in my campaigns) always seem to happen when DMs and players stop playing chess and start roleplaying within combat.  One of my favorite moments in the first ever game I played in was, during a particularly spooky encounter, when the rogue used his entire turn to "run around screaming like a little girl."

Definitely a hindrance in battle, but definitely added some fun

So yeah, your #3! 



I agree.  In my game the other night, the wizard decided to run past a stirge to get into a position so that he could use his burning hands to burn 5 stirges instead of just 3.   It was great fun.   I guess this was not really a suboptimal decision, considering the stirge only did 1 point of damage on a hit, and the more he could take out, the more damage he could save in the long run.   I get what you mean though, and I agree with what you say.

Too many times (especially with the grid in 4e), my players always tried to optimize their moves/tactics.  It slowed down the game, and turned every PC into a master tactician.   Not as much roleplaying as I would like.   I'm finding that they are already roleplaying less by tactics more by character feel, personality, background, specialty.  

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

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

 

 

Why yes, such an engineered-to-be-deadly encounter might just result in the players being in a deadly situation, which is the exact point of an ambush encounter.

It's interesting that you're annoyed with this suggestion because the way I read the original post, the OP had several characters in an amazingly optimized, extremely good tactical position that took advantage of their specific abliities in a perfect way and then complained that the ability is overpowered.

It's basically the same situation; they had exactly one situation in which the OP allowed the players to set up a perfect storm.  My advice to the OP would be to take this person's advice and let them play a few more (varied) battles before claiming something is overpowered.

Nah, I don't see them as the same situation at all, really.  The PCs found what may or may not be a glitch; the DM purposely designed a deadly encounter.

As for the particular protection ability in question, I'm pretty agnostic as to whether or not it's balanced. Instead, I'm speaking to the greater point that, in my opinion, you shouldn't draw conclusions like 'hp is too low' based on encounters in which the party is set up for failure, like "ambushed! you're surprised! enemies are all around you" and "your level 1 party rushes headlong into forty orcs."  That's what irritated me.

 I see those as fringe cases, not average cases.  For what it's worth, a choke point in a dungeon is, in my experience, a common issue to design encounters around.  Hallways and tunnels are often small; the prior denizens may have designed the place with defending it in mind, if it's a built/intelligently-modified environment (versus a natural cavern.)
It's interesting that you're annoyed with this suggestion because the way I read the original post, the OP had several characters in an amazingly optimized, extremely good tactical position that took advantage of their specific abliities in a perfect way and then complained that the ability is overpowered.

It's basically the same situation; they had exactly one situation in which the OP allowed the players to set up a perfect storm.  My advice to the OP would be to take this person's advice and let them play a few more (varied) battles before claiming something is overpowered.


I agree, which is why I keep running more numbers with different encounters, etc.

At some point, the scenario will definitely not be in their favor.  However, being the type of DM I am, I wouldn't throw 9 third level creatures at them in a very unfavorably scenario.  I could give them an average encounter with poor conditions to make it tough... or even an easy encounter in a distadvantaged setting to have an average encounter.

Sending players into a tough encounter with conditions that are also tough is purposefully setting them up for failure.  I don't do that.

Anyway, as I addressed before... even without the bottleneck, 2 Fighters could maintain their pairing pretty easily.  5 Archers could sit in the middle of a field, surrounded, and still be able to Defend, Protect, Parry themselves and others around them at-will.

However, 5 kobld dragonshields couldn't do the same despite having Protect as well.  Why?

Protector: While the kobold can take actions, it can impose disadvantage on attack rolls against any creature within its reach, unless that creature also has this trait.

Because when they created kobold dragonshield, they realized that if you were to throw 5 at a party, and they stayed within reach of each other, players would be WTF.  We tried attacking that dragonshield 3 times, and every time one of the other dragonshield put us at disadvantage.  It wouldn't seem very well balanced or fair.

I believe the same holds true in reverse.

I really like Protect, Parry, Defend, etc.  And two characters with it still have great advantage in combat as they deflect damage on the more defenseless or themselves.

By the rules as they exist now, both Fighters could Parry/Protect on the same attack.  So at 5th level, that could mean 4d8 parried on an attack that had to roll twice to hit in the first place.

By the rules as they exist now, both Fighters could Parry/Protect on the same attack.  So at 5th level, that could mean 4d8 parried on an attack that had to roll twice to hit in the first place.

 

I thought the Fighter only had so many dice to use per round. Meaning 4d8 would mean they could spend 2d8 on Protect to keep the Wizard safe and Parry 2 attacks for 1d8 each. I was under the impression CS dice were meant as a resource to be managed. Otherwise that would be overpowered to the point of broken.

Like the threads so far, by the way. And as one "nice DM" to another, your doing just fine with the way you ran the Orcs.
I thought the Fighter only had so many dice to use per round. Meaning 4d8 would mean they could spend 2d8 on Protect to keep the Wizard safe and Parry 2 attacks for 1d8 each. I was under the impression CS dice were meant as a resource to be managed. Otherwise that would be overpowered to the point of broken.

Like the threads so far, by the way. And as one "nice DM" to another, your doing just fine with the way you ran the Orcs.

Yeah.  2 Fighters both with Protect.  Both with 2d8 Expertise Dice.  Both with Guardian.

Each fighter has 2d8 to use for parry, protect, etc., as they see fit.  So they could, combined, deflect up to 4d8 in any single attack or across multiple attacks, using the dice as the wish.  Beyond that, they can both, also, apply Disadvantage to any attacks against anyone within their reach.

So imagine that a couple of tough Dragon coming at them capable of 4d6+5 damage per round each! With a +8 attack roll!  Yikes!

One on each, well, because dragons don't like to share meals.

Easy meat, huh?

Not so fast.  Each defends the other and parries attacks that go through.  They have 20 AC, so the dragon's chance of hitting is 20.25%, dragon's damage would be 4d6+5-2d8 or 10 average.

Each dragon will average about 2 damage per round.

Doesn't sound so hard to manage, does it?

BTW: Thanks for the tip of the hat.  It does make a difference  
I thought the Fighter only had so many dice to use per round. Meaning 4d8 would mean they could spend 2d8 on Protect to keep the Wizard safe and Parry 2 attacks for 1d8 each. I was under the impression CS dice were meant as a resource to be managed. Otherwise that would be overpowered to the point of broken.

Like the threads so far, by the way. And as one "nice DM" to another, your doing just fine with the way you ran the Orcs.

Yeah.  2 Fighters both with Protect.  Both with 2d8 Expertise Dice.  Both with Guardian.

Each fighter has 2d8 to use for parry, protect, etc., as they see fit.  So they could, combined, deflect up to 4d8 in any single attack or across multiple attacks, using the dice as the wish.  Beyond that, they can both, also, apply Disadvantage to any attacks against anyone within their reach.

So imagine that a couple of tough Dragon coming at them capable of 4d6+5 damage per round each! With a +8 attack roll!  Yikes!

One on each, well, because dragons don't like to share meals.

Easy meat, huh?

Not so fast.  Each defends the other and parries attacks that go through.  They have 20 AC, so the dragon's chance of hitting is 20.25%, dragon's damage would be 4d6+5-2d8 or 10 average.

Each dragon will average about 2 damage per round.

Doesn't sound so hard to manage, does it?

BTW: Thanks for the tip of the hat.  It does make a difference  



It was starting to sound like the CS dice got used whole with both Ptotect & Parry. Need to stop reading these things for a while I think.

BTW: Your welcome. It's nice to know I'm not the only DM that thinks this way.

It was starting to sound like the CS dice got used whole with both Ptotect & Parry. Need to stop reading these things for a while I think.

BTW: Your welcome. It's nice to know I'm not the only DM that thinks this way.

hehe.  Nope.  Just the ability to use them (E-Dice) as you see fit combined with Guardian Specialty really makes for a toubling duo.

Let's put it this way, it was the two fighters that were complaining that it seemed too easy.  When do players ever want to admit that? :P  They thought I should nerf it then and there, but I said we needed to playtest rules as is to really see how it plays out in continuing encounters going forward.

But honestly, there are a smattering of people who think Expertise Dice are already too powerful, and that's without having multiple fighters using it to have a wall of none-shall-pass.

If I was in a campaign where DMs simply killed off Wizards, I'd switch to Archer and laugh as I still did big damage (kill 2 a round?  probably) while using my high AC, high HPs, and Parry to snicker when the kobolds tried to gang up on me.

We are the Knights who say Ni!  We want a shrubbery or we shall parry and protect you to deaaaath.... nowwwwww... go!

We are the Knights who say Ni!  We want a shrubbery or we shall parry and protect you to deaaaath.... nowwwwww... go!


I have only one thing to say, "It."
Parry may not require a reaction as currently written, but both Protect and Guardian/ Defender do.


So they cannot both use Guardian and Protect in the same round.



On the other hand, I think that this should be changed and that Protect should not tie up the character's reaction - it is an already restricted resource that the player has chosen not to use earlier in the round to make it available at this time - it should not tie up other use-restricted resources.


No - what i see as the real problem is the abysmally low (Ok, 2 or 3 points low) attack bonuses of the monsters.   Those Orcs ought to have attack bonuses that are three points higher, and thus be hitting more often and threatening the players just a bit more.


Carl       
So in that combat the Wizard did nothing but magic missile? Well if that's the case sure maybe they wouldn't, but if the guys were in the back row (Orcs) then how are they even threatened at all? I mean maybe the Wizard and Rogue are taking pot shots at the Orcs in the back row, but other than that?

The main problem I keep seeing is you post these perfect battles where the party is not in any danger or relatively little danger and then say things like "The hit points are fine". Put your players in a little bit of trouble and see what happens...

Do an ambush in the open between two fronts of enemies or something.

If you read the synopsis you'd see the wizard did only 2 things... cast a sleep spell that had really no effect and cast magic missile.

I played the encounter as it was written.  I didn't tweak it to make sure players were at risk of dying.

Yes, you are right, I could certainly challenge them more, even stack the deck against them.  Ambushing them with a tough encounter, enemies on all flanks, and no cover or escape would certainly put them to the test.

I am guessing the real problem is that I usually don't go out of my way to try to set characters up for failure.  Certainly, they could walk into it of their own volition, but I am not going to rewrite the Caves of Chaos to make sure that every orc encounter is to their disadvantage.

But, as some have suggested, maybe I am a "nice" DM.  I could be called worse.
 



The problem is the encounters are set up in a way that allows the back row to not be in any danger at all and to keep the front row in only a small amount of danger. That's the real problem...
"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.
How is this even a valid play test?

I mean you used the wrong numbers for the Orcs, you had a choke point so the party was effectively fighting 2-3 at a time, everyone but the front line people had total cover every round. You had the optimal defenders up front.

That's just insane...



*Zorak blink*

Dude.  "How is this even a valid play test" is a little adversarial, in my opinion.  It's especially so, given your own playtest threads, where you assume that attacking all 41 orcs at once is somehow a valid way to evaluate the system.  There's your ridiculous playtest, right there.

The OP ran the playtest well within reason, by any measure, and is definitely a capable DM.   I learned something from it, did you?

 



that's pretty funny since we have agreed on 3+ as a reasonable number on average for AoE spells. But go ahead and levy personal attacks against me that are straw mans... It just makes your arguments hold less water each time you do it...
"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.

Do an ambush in the open between two fronts of enemies or something.



......

......

(deep breath)

Why yes, such an engineered-to-be-deadly encounter might just result in the players being in a deadly situation, which is the exact point of an ambush encounter.  It would be tougher for characters to overcome an average encounter (by xp budget) in this situation, and perhaps VERY tough for characters to overcame a hard encounter (by xp budget) in this situation.

The DM has to adjust for that.  The DM always does, even an average one. (So don't start with the 'Good DM' fallacy.)





It doesn't even have to be an ambush, just a battle that doesn't overly favor the players... You know like even ground or something...
"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.
Your damage output this time around was dramatically lower than your last go. You said your rogue didn't get to use SA and the fighters were tanking rather than dealing extra damage.

Actually, the Rogue could have use SA because of Thug Tactics, but she simply forgot (mostly due to distraction).

Reminds me of something I tell my players going into a campaign:
Don't worry about playing perfect because I won't play the enemies perfect either.

In essence, I don't tactically play every encounter and conflict to the best of my ability.  I account for "humanoid" error.

Orcs don't always go for the most logical target.  Sometimes they just kill what they see obvious.  Sometimes they hate dwarves so much they attack them.  Sometimes they just aren't aware of everything.  Sometimes, they just do something stupid... just like humans. Etc.

I do that for 3 reasons:
1) Takes the pressure off the Players... every action isn't a life-or-death decision point.
2) It speeds up the game... a lot.  If you don't have to be tactically perfect, you don't have to pause, pondering every action and possible reaction to your first instinct.
3) It promotes roleplaying.  Do what your character would do, not what is tactically superior.

Works for me.  It's not for everyone, obviously, but it really does allow my campaigns to flow better and with a general relaxed atmosphere that is much more fun to be in.
 



Except being in a life or death situation, the character's themselves are going to make tactically superior decisions. That's just role playing the character...
"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 agree that this isn't necessarily a complete measure of the game as a playtest.  But neither is an ambush or a grand melee with 41 orcs.  A complete measure of the game as a playtest requries all of these. 


And each of these is going to reveal different strengths and weaknesses and no one of these is sufficient to determien whether any aspect of the game is working as intended (Ok, except for the too-low monster attack values.  That shows up no matter what the scenario.)

If some types of encounters are cake-walks because they play into the character's strengths, that does not mean that any part of the game is in need of a fix - only that sometimes the situation favors the PCs.  And if some types of encounters result in party wipes because they overwhelm the parties ability to handle them - that also does not mean that any part of the game is in need of a fix - only that sometimes players can bite off more than they can chew.  But if an abity consistantly over- or under-performs in all types of encounter, then you have an element of the game that needs to be reviewed and its mechanics re-evaluated. 


But part of the problem is the Caves of Chaos.   Despite being these monster's homes - they are not particularly well set up to favor the monster.  So much for the 'home advantage'.    If you want a playtest that is a bit more realistic, you need to look at the caves and the creatures and ask the question "how would they really defend their home.  Especially in the context of 
Learning from Experience:  Intelligent monsters adapt their strategy and tactics to observed behavior. For example, if the party uses flaming oil in battle, surviving tribal members might use oil later in a similar way. If adventurers consistently sneak up on the monsters, their targets could respond by setting alarms and traps. If they observe that characters flee from overwhelming numbers, the monsters might shout and make noise to seem more numerous. Monsters that have been attacked before are likely to be on high alert, posting extra guards in entrances or sending out scouts to watch for enemy approach.  




By the third time the players head out to the caves, they are going to be on high alert.  They will have found the long stretchs of corridor where they can intercept the party and give their own archers the ability to stay back and devastate the party with missile fire from cover while their 'tanks' (or what passes for them) bottleneck the PCs and keep them from advancing.  They will have made plans for groups moving through the tunnels (which they know so well) and coming up on the party from behind while they keep them busy with hit and run attacks from the front, etc.  The shorter races (goblins and kobolds) may have strung their tunnels with wires or other obstacles at 5' off the ground to slow and inconvenienece the taller races, etc.

They are not going to be still found, six goblins to a room, waiting for the PCs to dodge back and forth out of cover while the guardians keep the front rank from getting hurt.


So yes, encounters such as are described in this thread are a necessary part of the playtest, but they are not the whole of the playtest.  The ability of the playtest to handle encounters which don't so obviously play to the PCs strengths are needed as well.  Don't let the room by room discription of the Caves of Chaos blind you to the fact that it is not intended to be a static and unchanging place.

Make those players earn every square of those caverns.

Carl

that's pretty funny since we have agreed on 3+ as a reasonable number on average for AoE spells. But go ahead and levy personal attacks against me that are straw mans... It just makes your arguments hold less water each time you do it...



Quit hiding behind the 'personal attack' excuse and explain how his playtest is any less valid than yours.  And how is me calling your playtest 'ridiculous' -- and I think most people here would agree it was -- any different than you questioning his playtest's validity and calling it 'insane'?
@lokaire: You might be a great guy and a wonderful DM, but you have some faulty perceptions, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way, I think maybe you just don't have a lot of experience.

For starters... being in a Life and Death struggles absolutely does NOT make people "tactically superior."  In fact, it's what makes various extraordinary people what they are, level headed under the most extreme stresses.  No, the vast majority of people do not think logically under immediate duress, they react with the most basic of instincts.... fight or flight typically. 

It's why even highly trained professionals can often be differentiated between each other, because even amongst them, there are still only a select few that process information switftly and at high efficiency when faced with an instant of crisis.

Orcs in a cave, their lair.  Their natural setting.  Yet you keep trying to find ways to criticize Gary Gygax for putting them in there where a group of adventurers might just happen to encounter them.  I played it and the world as it lived.  I can't apologize for just doing what seemed natural for the setting.  I don't "set up" encounters specifically in Next to put players at a disadvantage or challenge them.  I "set up" a world and let the players explore it.  Sometimes to their favor, sometimes to their detriment.  I wouldn't change that encounter because I don't think like you.  I wouldn't go, "No!  Can't have the players at an advantage just because it occurred naturally, I need to make sure the Orcs have a way to turn the tables on the players and put them at a disadvantage."

@CarlT: At no point did I let them Guardian-Defend and Protector-Protect in the same round.  They just got to Defend and Parry. So there was no breaking, or even bending, of the rules.

But, I think Protect has to have Reaction eliminated from it's description.  It's the only Expertise Dice feature that requires it and it seems out of place.

BTW: I have to disgree slightly with you.  3 1st-level Characters against 41 3rd-level enemies is not going to be any sort of useful data to use for game balance (scratch that, if the 3 characters could defeat the 41, then you'd have something to point at as a problem).

Caves of Chaos: I agree, but I don't consider Adventurers to be a common threat... they have suitable guards in place to watch for intrusion against the much, much more likely threat - the other humanoid "monsters" of the area.

I know I *could* have had some scouting party orcs notice the party approach their cave then sneak up behind and trap the party in that hallway.  I could have had an alarm system that would alert the entire complex of the intrusion.  All of that would have been sensible RP and DMing.

And I would easily be able to TPK the group doing so. 

Again... accuse me of being a "nice DM" for just giving them a level appropriate encounter with out much embellishment.

What doing just, and only, that did for me is give me a good feel for how monsters and characters are balanced against each other in an average, fair fight. 

I came away with some conclusions, at least. 
Havin read that "rant" or rather negative comments on a playtest I felt was extremly well done, I am not sure I will dare to post my own experiences :-S

But again, I must say appreciate your reports ShadeRaven!

I will make a go myself but it wont be number crunching, rather extremly experience based. 
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