Caves of Chaos

Last session, I came in with the idea of improvising some adventures in the Keep near the Caves of Chaos. I spent a long time stalling and trying to come up with stuff, but eventually the party happened upon a wizard looking for monster parts as components to his spells. I was throwing stuff out, and came up with the idea that the wizard needed ogre organs to create a potion.

In a previous session, the PCs had faced the ogre in the caves of chaos, and paid it off to not kill them. They jumped on the wizard's odd request, and hired their usual three mercenaries for assistance. (this put the party at 7 - 2 rogues, 1 monk, 1 cleric, and 3 human warriors from the bestiary) In the caves, they find a group of 5 hobgoblins who'd taken residence in the goblin's old guard room. The hobgoblins lay a not-very effective ambush, as they see the PC's magical light before the PCs even know what's in the room. A 30x40 room is a bad place to have a 5 on 7 battle

With the hobgoblins out of the way, the PCs open the secret door into the Ogre's cave, and find him waiting with his gear ready. I probably should have had him rush out during the fight with the hobgoblins, but it was already too crowded. The halfling rogue used his ability to sneak past the ogre's legs and attack him from the rear. Then, the Dwarven rogue threw a sack of flour at the Ogre's head, blinding him. I wasn't sure how long this improvised blinding would last, but the consensus around the table was until he took an action to clear away the flour in his eyes. The PCs surrounded the ogre and whittled him down to nothing. Each one had advantage, so there were lots of hits. The Ogre only got one turn while blinded, but I chose to have him swing wildly instead of clear the condition. He only had enough to take one more hit, anyway.

So, the PCs made short work of the Ogre by means of cheating, and were the recipients of the Ogre's bearskin mattress full of coins.The also claimed the ogre's organ to return to the wizard back at the keep. However, due to some dealings with a less-then-trustworthy merchant, the PCs are arrested when they arrive back at the keep! I wonder how they'll explain their belongings....

Also, I'd like to thank Rainy Day Games in Aloha Oregon for not throwing us out on the spot. Thanks Guys!

Sounds like a fun session!  How did you and your group like the mechanics of the system?
That's awesome!!!  One of the reasons I love the open-ended modules of old that don't require linear progression and story... you can just make up the story as you go. You have done it beautifully.

I would love to be a player at your table.

One thing I noticed that makes me wonder.... how many are still adhering to the 5' square, grid rules of 4E?  A 30x40 room has 1200 square feet.  Honestly, that's a lot of room if you don't force regulation to the 5' square rule (in which case, it's only 48 squares). 

I still use maps, and even grids, but more the ease of distance measure (for range, reach, threat) than to force characters and creatures into their alloted size.  Not that tossing the ogre in there was necessarily the right thing to do, you clearly know what you are doing as a DM, but when it comes to space to maneuver, go into some 30' by 40' auditorium or basement, whatever, and really get a feel for how big that is.  Honestly, a room that's 15' by 15' is a pretty big room - it's only when you force 5' square rules in that it seems small.

I will always use maps and gridded paper, graphs, mats, and virtual tabletop displays to give scale, but one thing I *love* about Next is the natural feel to combat positioning.  No grid rules means position and play what makes sense - no trying to fit a round peg into a  square hole.
ShadeRaven: We actually had some discussion come up about the 5' squares. We're sticking pretty religiously to 4e's system of 5' = 1 square since it's been ingrained into most of us. I brought up the possibility of using the 10/5 diagonals from 3e to simulate diagonal distance, but it didn't seem worth it. Another thing we might try, is 1 meter  or 3' squares. This might take some math, but it would increase the combat map resolution, as it were. Have you had any experience with that?

Arithezoo: We're liking the rules so far. The best feature we've found is that they don't get in the way. We have a couple pet peeves (dual wielding is a big let-down.) I love Advantage and Disadvantage, but sometimes it seems too swingy. The maneuver-using classes (Rogue and Monk so far, no fighters) often forget the existence of the maneuver die. A big thing is that, at level 1, hit points go quick. Characters and enemies are either OK, almost dead, or on the ground.

I'd like some more DM advice in the books for adjudicating situations like the Ogre fight. Like, general explanations about setting up tactical situations. I mean, I can get a lot of that from4e's DMG, but I hope some of that thinking carries over. Actually, now that I think of it, I might snag some of 4e's encounter templates for planning purposes!

Speaking of which - I'm often flustered while running the Caves of Chaos without a straight path to lead the players. I'd like to print out or buy a book of random adventure seeds that I can use to help improvise. Anyone have anything they'd like to plug?
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I tend to make my games get very dark and emotionally heavy. For that reason, the book Heroes of Horror (3.5) is one of my favorites. This tends to balance out the inevitable silliness that often pervades my games.
Do you want hook ideas from us forumfolks?
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
I am still pretty much using 5' squares, just because it's so common amongst printed material and such.  However, I no longer require characters, creatures, objects, etc., to strictly adhere to staying within those squares perfectly.  I still need the scale to measure how far players can move, ranges, etc., but I allow more fluid movement in combat.  So far, so good as the players have really enjoyed feeling less restricted and chambers (etc) are no longer viewed as a collection of 5' squares but rather spaces filled with objects and details.

I think the 3' square would work great, but there would be some scaling issues and I am probably just too lazy. Tongue Out

I know some have gone as far as to go mapless/gridless entirely, but I am too used to visual aids to take that leap myself.
Sorry, Barrons. I didn't intend any offense. Thank you for removing offensive content.

ShadeRaven: I think I'll try to more freeform movement next session, with the grid there mainly for scale. Since most creatures don't take up a whole 5', do you ever have people try to squeeze together in a square or between two obstacles with less than 5' in between? Maybe small creatures need to have smaller tokens?
ShadeRaven: I think I'll try to more freeform movement next session, with the grid there mainly for scale. Since most creatures don't take up a whole 5', do you ever have people try to squeeze together in a square or between two obstacles with less than 5' in between? Maybe small creatures need to have smaller tokens?

I don't usually have much "squeezing", but there has been the occasion where the Halfling Fighter (for example) will dart in and out of a smaller gap where it would have been impossible in 4E.  Players have been pretty good about sticking to the spirit of the game and not trying to force the issue.

I do, however, have smaller token for smaller creatures when necessary (and since I am often playing on a Virtual Tabletop over the internet, it's quite easy to enable). 

I think giving it a shot is an excellent idea!  Let me know how it goes, what trouble you might run into, and what the overall impression is.  I could certainly learn something from your experiences, too, and am more than willing to suggest where I can offer aid.
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