Input for New DM for Caves of Chaos

Good morning everyone!

I am excited to venture into my first attempt of DMing and am starting with D&D Next Caves of Chaos adventure. My encounters group decided to check out D&DN during the downtime between the current season and the next season.

I spent the better part of yesterday reviewing and outling the Kobold Lair for the group (including make a few alterations since most of the group has the play test material) and I feel that I am pretty satisfied with my set up. However, I do have a few concerns.

1. My group consists normally consists of 3-6 players and 1 DM, does anyone know the amount of players that the base Caves of Chaos calls for? I feel that it is probably 4 but wanted to confirm. And, is it better to adjust the number of monsters or adjust their HP when making adjustments for the group?

2. I don't want to be a iron fist DM but also don't want it to be a cake walk so I made it that any kobolds that have HP of 4 or 5 the sling users (yes I rolled for every kobold). I figure this would be a good way to minimize damage while still giving the overwhelming numbers that this adventure should have (once again, can be adjusted based on party size).

3. Traps. I like players to think and take their time, not just rush from 1 combat to another. At the start I have just the basic pitfall trap, however if any kobolds escape then they arm addition traps and I changed it so that if the fighting in the Elite Guard room lasts more than 3 rounds than the Trap Lord arms traps within his room. I wasn't playing on going over board with traps but I planned on 3 traps (2 snares & 1 flashbang) in the caves if a kobold escapes and 5 (2 snares, 2 flashbangs & 1 low arrow) in the Trap Lords room to make it feel more like an challenging fight rather than a run of the mill kobold fight. I figure this is a nice way to add some challenge that could be avoided if the group doesn't blindly rush but wasn't sure if I was being to overwhelming for a level 1 group.
Good luck!  It is a pretty fun quest, but also a bit more demanding on the DM than other adventures.  This is due mainly to the non-linear nature of the adventure and the fact that it isn't balanced around the heroes at all.

1) I'm not sure if it is really balanced around any number of players.  It seems more like an old-school adventure that is balanced around what the authors thought would make sense for the enemies.  If they felt that there would be a group of 3 minotaurs living in a cave, then there would be 3 minotaurs living in the cave.
In other words: don't expect encounters to be winable by the heroes.  Make sure your players know this, because it might be a different philosophy than what they are used to.  If they simply barge into every area expecting to win they are in for a surprise. 
If you or your players don't like this, I suggest using the encounter guidelines in the DM Guidelines file to adjust each encounter accordingly.
As for your specific question, I would adjust the number of monsters up to a certain point, and then just make them tougher.  PCs can only kill a certain number of monsters each turn, so once you get too many monsters in a fight the chance of killing one or more PCs starts to increase quite quickly.

I suggest playing it by ear, and remember that it is just a playtest.  Err on the side of too easy fights, and you can always add more monsters.  And if everyone dies you have learned something, which is also valuable.

2.  Should be fine.

3. I like it.

There are elements in the Caves that enable an interesting transition if the players get overwhelmed.  I wouldn't worry much about them getting defeated.  A party defeated could essentially find themselves in the cages.  YMMV.

I typically slide Hit Points up first if they are doing too well.  Then on one or two I add a plus to AC.  And so forth.

Most importantly, make sure the group is having fun!

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Since my group liked to parlay with the Goblins and other creatures, we were able to make the entire adventure more political in nature.   If your group likes that sort of roleplaying, you can give the Kobolds a chance to surrender if they are getting beaten (or if the party is defeated and captured, the foes can offer them an ultimatum that binds them to their side in a war vs. one or more of the other races).  They can try to make a deal with the party perhaps helping them get closer to the real threat (the cultists up yonder, or the Orcs or Gnolls, Goblins or Hobgoblins).  In our game, the roleplaying grew organically from the situations and success/failure of the party.  That's what is so interesting about the open ended nature of the adventure.   There is really no way to railroad the PCs. 

Another important feature to the adventure is that if the party gets into a situation they can't handle (like getting overwhelmed by numbers or taking some unlucky hits from the Ogre or Owlbear), they can always retreat.  Make sure the group knows that not all encounters are balanced for a 1st level party, so they can try to retreat if things go south.

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

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

 

 

Beware of Area 6. Kobold Common Chamber as there may be from 8-20 Kobolds in there at any given time, which can be really brutal for a 1st level party.

The large patch of red stains on the walls and ceilings in the room and tunnel ? That's me. My first TPK in D&D Next was in this room Tongue Out

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

1) It seems more like an old-school adventure that is balanced around what the authors thought would make sense for the enemies.  If they felt that there would be a group of 3 minotaurs living in a cave, then there would be 3 minotaurs living in the cave.



It seems like that because.... IT IS!

Something you shoul keep in mind when prepping to run this adventure?  That's already been mentioned?  Its' non-linear nature.
So don't just prep for the kobold lair - unless you intend to railroad the party into that cave - review ALL of the areas.
Because if you don't?  The party will almost certainly decide "Hey, let's check out cave _."  And it's off to fight gnolls instead of kobolds....

Don't be afraid to defeat the party.  If you pull punches you aren't fairly playtesting the stuff.
Also consider:  How do neighboring rooms of monsters react when a fight starts?  Virtually every #d place on the map is within a move action of several others.
So do you really think monster _____ will just convieniantly sit there as it hears you hacking its' tribe-mates apart??

You, the DM MUST decide upon some reason that all these factions are living together in the same tiny vally.  And you must allow the PCs to learn it/figure it out.  Otherwise?  All you have is a series of fights. 
In earlier versions of the playtest I ran CoC a few different times. One kindness I gave them was at the pit trap. A dead adventurer was in the pit (which included a few healing potions). Please post about your experience over in the DM discussion forum. I dig reading about others' playtests.
Oh yeah. Rats. I don't know if they ever changed it, but the rats can be annoying to DM. I grouped some together into a 4e-style swarm (w/ saves against the biting aura jazz).
"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

Dec 24, 2012 -- 10:09AM, Arithezoo wrote:

1) It seems more like an old-school adventure that is balanced around what the authors thought would make sense for the enemies.  If they felt that there would be a group of 3 minotaurs living in a cave, then there would be 3 minotaurs living in the cave.




It seems like that because.... IT IS!

Something you shoul keep in mind when prepping to run this adventure?  That's already been mentioned?  Its' non-linear nature.
So don't just prep for the kobold lair - unless you intend to railroad the party into that cave - review ALL of the areas.
Because if you don't?  The party will almost certainly decide "Hey, let's check out cave _."  And it's off to fight gnolls instead of kobolds....

Don't be afraid to defeat the party.  If you pull punches you aren't fairly playtesting the stuff.
Also consider:  How do neighboring rooms of monsters react when a fight starts?  Virtually every #d place on the map is within a move action of several others.
So do you really think monster _____ will just convieniantly sit there as it hears you hacking its' tribe-mates apart??

You, the DM MUST decide upon some reason that all these factions are living together in the same tiny vally.  And you must allow the PCs to learn it/figure it out.  Otherwise?  All you have is a series of fights. 


I was only planning on stream lining them to the first cave (Kobold Lair). I set it up as a group of fledgeling adventurers are seeking to make a small name for themselves by ousting a group of kobolds who have started laying more traps than usual. While exploring the lair they were going to find signs of the cult (tattered robes and maybe an insignia or 2) amongst the trash heap and in the Trap Lord's loot. Wanting to further investigate these items they would then free form venture into the canyons as a whole since nobody in the town recognizes the items (or will admit to recognizing them).

Also, thanks everyone for the input. I really appreciate all the input. I am really excited for my first time DMing.