4 Players Tomb of The Mud Sorcerer Playtest

I have just finished the secons session on this playtest, and i think i can now give a proper feedback. It's going to be a wall of text, so i'll divide it into chapters for easiness of reading.


Character Creation:


4 Players: Human monk, Dwarf warrior, Elf cleric, Human rogue.


Character creation was overall fast. Surely slower than old playtests, but with lvl 14 chars there were a lot of choices. Naturally the one who took most time was the cleric, having to select 15 spells out of the blue to prepare is not a quick matter.


Since the game is supposed to be balanced regardless of the magic items i took them literally and gave them no magic items. They had good equips, but nothing magical.


The warrior had no issues with char creation, nor any comments. It was after all much the same as the old playtest for him. Standard strenght and heavy armor with big axe. Lots of hp, he had more than 150.


The monk is an old monk player from 3.0, so he already knew most of the abilities. He went for the ki of mercy and was satisfied with it. His stats were balanced with those of the warrior, so i was cool with it. He also took the healer specialization.


The rogue was the most unsatisfied one. He actually hated to have the choice of his rogue talent linked with a fixed choice of trained skills. He wanted slippery target, but didn't like the skills that went with it.


On the other hand the cleric was the most satisfied one. The high versatility of cleric options was greatly appreciated. He made an oriental kind of char, a shinto priestess. Dex and wis based light domain cleric with bow and light armor.



Premises to the game:


1) The group i playtested with is part of the same one i play with ever week. They are not used to dungeons, no one of the 4 masters in our group (me included) uses dungeons. I gave them a bit of warning beforehand about the high letalithy and randomness of this playtest so they were quite vigilant about everything.


2) The cleric had forbidden lore trained, so i made him able to translate Taalese. Without a mage they would have had no way to understand the hints.


3) They are all expert players, and 2 of them are DMs.



Running the module:


The first rooms:


It all started with them acquiring a map of this old mud sorcerer tomb. After a short intro that is not relevant to the playtest they set step into the dungeon. The riddle of the first door takes some minute of thinking by the party but gets resolved quite easily.


The first two rooms also took a bit of time to get through but in the end they made it. Important note: the cleric could have solved most of it with a generous use of spells, which in 3E would have surely happened. With this few spells available he was really stingy and the party was forced to make it though by the hard way. In the end he only had to spend a daylight to close the eyes.


In the room of the statues they immediately figure out how to open doors by turning the elephant, but don't feel like using the key on the black pillar before having explored the other rooms. They access the small room with the dirt pit and the dwarf has fun digging to his hearth content. They then proceed to the mummy area (the rogue picklocks the door, triggers the trap but stops the needle between his fingers thanks to trap sense).


The dwarf opens one of the smaller sarcophagus, and is launching himself on the gem when the cleric tries to stop him from such a blatant trap. Unfortunately the method choosen was to sacred lance the gem, triggering the mummies. Two massive bandaged arms erupt for the 2 larger sacrophagi and an hard fight starts...


The mummy encounter


The rogue failed the fear check and got stunned. The monk placed himself in the damage reducing stance to block the way to the cleric. The always lovely warrior leaped on top of one the mummies pushing it back while it was still emerging and sitting on top of it inside the sarcophagus.


The second mummy emerges and attacks the monk. Critical. The monk takes 89 damage (-21 for the stance and -20 the divine intervention of the cleric) and get's thrown across the room. Also fails the save on the curse.


The rogue makes his second save on fear and can act again. The warrior and the first mummy start a punching match inside the sarcophagus isolating themselves from the fight. The cleric noticing that he can't heal the monk and that the mummies are resistant to weapons damage goes all out with the spears while keeping some heals on the warrior. They are losing the fight. At this point they realize that they need some kind of fire, so the rogue empties all his oil flasks on the first mummy (and on the dwarf) and the cleric lits a torch and throws it in. The dwarf was ready to take fire with him, but "luckily" he took a kick in the stomach from the mummy and got flinged outside. I ruled a mummy wet with oil on fire to be a continous 4d4 fire damage. Taking the vulnerability into consideration they managed to drop it and then destroy the other one thanks to a couple of crits. In the end the cleric was almost out of spells, the monk was at -18 hp and the dwarf needed a beer.


They go back to the room with statues, trying to decide if it is a place safe enough to rest. In the end they the monk uses 10 of his 14 hit dices and they decide to risk a bit more before taking a break. While doing this they decide to finally open the black pillar, waking up the golems.


The golem encounter:


Let me say this again, they had no magic items. The monk started dishing out some damage on the cat statue, but all the other ones were missing one attack after the other. When in the end the rogue swinging his katana used ace in the hole for auto hit they finally discovered that they had no chances to damage the golems. Immediate change of plans. The group hastly retreats in the corridor leading to the mummies, and there they put up a last line of defence, the monk. He stood in the middle of the corridor with the cleric supporting him and single handedly destroyed the 3 golems one by one. The damage reducing stance was crucial to this.


Took all the treasures and the hints, triggered the poison gas trap, they proceed forward since the fight with the golems took almost no resources. They ignore the room with the hidden coffin and proceed until they find the automaton.


The automaton "encounter":


Once noticing that that armor was full of gears inside they decided to cut any risk. They took a big piece of sarcophagus lid and used it to smash the automaton into a pulp (it doesn't activate when attacked). The dwarf got quite happy when he discovered that diamond inside. And so on to the room with all the paintings (room 12).


I was really anticipating this room, the moment when they would have walked on the rug...They did, all 4 of them...and all 4 of them made the save. Way to kill the fun of a poor DM, sigh. After realizing that is was some sort of trap they dispelled it. A detect magic revealed that, among other things, the 2 red candles were magical, so they lit those on the braziers (and took a nice fire bolt). Opened the box with the snake and the ring and then we closed the session (they had quite a fight on who should have the ring).



Players comments:


The rules were good, the adventure was not. As i said, something as constricting as a dungeon is an alienating experience for this group.


The cleric felt too much limited in spells/day. I agree with him. Having the cleric limited on spells is good, but we can afford to give them a bit more.


They agree that spot and search should be one, or at least give sinergy bonuses like the 3E.


Apart from that they had no other negative comments on the rules (except for the rogue issue on char creation).



My comments:


I didn't like the adventure module, and it surely didn't help me understand how things would run on DM side if i had to design one.


You can't give 0 indications about how to equip your party and then throw in an encounter that requires magic weapons.


I like the overall absence of magic items on the other hand, it makes it all feel more special when you find something magical.


The average damage entry on the monsters proved usefull, i used it here and there casually instead of rolling. Improved a bit the speed of fights without the players noticing a difference. Still i'd never use them more than once in a while, D&D is about rolling dices for me.


The cleric's heals were usefull, but by no means necessary. This is good. This is really really good in my book.


The natural healing is still completely off the mark. It makes no sense both if you want a char going to negative hp having some lasting effect, or if you want 4E stile. The chars actually can be all patched up and running is just 10 minutes even from negative hp (requires someone with cure minor, either a cleric or someone with healer spec), but just one time per day since it will take all your hit dices.


Overall i'm liking the direction the game is going, and the players are too. There are a couple of big issues to be taken care of, but the game is starting to shape up, and it's a good one.



Hope someone has the courage to read through all this text.



Sounds like fun. I think you're spot on concerning the golem encounter. While it has been stated that magic items aren't assumed, I think you have to make that assumption if you're putting players up against opponents who can't be hurt by nonmagical weapons.

To be honest, I can't really figure out how they overcame the golems. Iron Root Defense (which is what it sounds like the monk was using) takes your action for the turn, so the monk couldn't attack in the same turn it was used. Did he have some kind of reaction-based opportunity attack feat? I guess that would work, but what a slog...
A good report, and honest.  However I personally would not give zero magic items to 14th level characters.  Unless your games vary drastically you should expect some resistant creatures out there, so at least one magic item should be needed.  Yes it should of been stated like old modules used to.

Still a good read though!  Especially at work ;D 
"The average damage entry on the monsters proved usefull, i used it here and there casually instead of rolling. Improved a bit the speed of fights without the players noticing a difference. Still I'd never use them more than once in a while, D&D is about rolling dices for me."

This choice is my favourite thing in 5e

I also feel like the rouge is a bit dissappointing and needs to be reworked a little. Freedom is a good thing.

On magic weapons, a tough one for sure, cause well silver weapons are required for were stuff and ghosts and the like. But expensive silver weapons or similar ideas (demon/holy weapons)  that can hurt creatures resistant to non-magic could help? But its more likely the mod should explicitly state circumstances that can crash itself.

We completed a third session. Nothing much to say that wasn't already said, they managed to reach the second level after forcing the naga to tell them the truth about the mosaic (the monk was "killed" in it). The monk alone killed the annis while waiting for the rest of the party to reunite.


Oh they managed to have a rest, just used the mud ring on the entrance to get out of there.



This playtest though highlighted some problems with the scaling of the game on higher levels. I'll talk about 1 here, but the other one is big enough to necessitate a thread of its own.



Issue N°1: The monk. I'm not quite sure that the monk is balanced with other classes in combat efficency, but that's not the point here. Let's leave the math outside of the master section. What i want to ask here is if other DM have perceived the high level monks as issues on a campaign design level. He is a char immune to poison, disease, charm, spell resistant, capable of becoming ethereal at will and that has unlimited short range teleportation. Oh and he doesn't add food or water.


I'm finding in a situation similar to the one caused by the old rogue skill mastery. If i want to create an out of combat situation that challenges the group then i need to design it around the fact that they have a monk. 70% of traps will not work on them. Swimming, climbing and stuff like that are trivialized with unlimited teleports. They speak every language and there is nothing that they can't destroy with fists.


What i suggest for the monk is the following:


1) Double or triple the amount Ki/Day.


2) Double or triple the cost of actual Ki based skills.


3) Add a cost to 1 Ki for teleport and when used as a reaction to poison/disease to get the immunity. Same with spell resistance. Charm and fear immunity can be free, they make sense.


At least this way the monk will not be the guy that you always keep in front when facing traps. He will still ignore most of them, but it will at least cost him some resources.


Alternatively place a limit of teleports/day and change the disease and poison immunity into advantage in saving rolls. That would work too.



Edit: No good. Rereading this does not sound like a good solution. Anyone has any suggestion to ease the life of us poor DM with an high level monk in party?

In my Isle of Dread campaign which I posted an overtly detailed campaign log of we have a monk.  He's spectacularly effective when the situation allows, but not so effective if you can shut down his key abilities.  The monk's key abilities are centered around movement and hitting like a truck.

Even though he can teleport, hitting him with things like webs is something you can use to burn up his movement economy.  I would encourage him to isolate himself, to forge ahead foolishly into a trap or challenge he's not well suited to overcoming.  Heck, a moderately difficult constitution based save against a blinding attack would be pretty devestating to a monk in combat.  Heck, look at the Ghost in the Bestiary. 

You might have to tweak it a bit, but a constitution-based save that caused loss of control of character could be pretty frightening--especially if the character is a high level monk (I'd give them a chance to exorcise said monk of course).  What's even better is that vengeful possessive ghosts are thematically suited to Tombs.

Monk teleports across hazard, out of sight of rest of party--finds magical trap thing or shiny magical item that he doesn't have appropriate knowledge skills to assess.  Monk fails save.  Monk is possessed.  Monk reappears within party.  Party suddenly wonders why their ally is flurry of blows-ing them.

also, with the monks teleport remember, they must use their entire movement for the round, and can go no more then 30'
In my Isle of Dread campaign which I posted an overtly detailed campaign log of we have a monk.  He's spectacularly effective when the situation allows, but not so effective if you can shut down his key abilities.  The monk's key abilities are centered around movement and hitting like a truck.

Even though he can teleport, hitting him with things like webs is something you can use to burn up his movement economy.  I would encourage him to isolate himself, to forge ahead foolishly into a trap or challenge he's not well suited to overcoming.  Heck, a moderately difficult constitution based save against a blinding attack would be pretty devestating to a monk in combat.  Heck, look at the Ghost in the Bestiary. 

You might have to tweak it a bit, but a constitution-based save that caused loss of control of character could be pretty frightening--especially if the character is a high level monk (I'd give them a chance to exorcise said monk of course).  What's even better is that vengeful possessive ghosts are thematically suited to Tombs.

Monk teleports across hazard, out of sight of rest of party--finds magical trap thing or shiny magical item that he doesn't have appropriate knowledge skills to assess.  Monk fails save.  Monk is possessed.  Monk reappears within party.  Party suddenly wonders why their ally is flurry of blows-ing them.





That is my problem. I know i can easily shut him down, but to do so i have to purposefully design my situations around it. When a single class forces me to do this then i don't consider that class to have a good design.



That is my problem. I know i can easily shut him down, but to do so i have to purposefully design my situations around it. When a single class forces me to do this then i don't consider that class to have a good design.


Adventures, especially the published ones, might not always be a perfect fit for a particular gaming group's capabilities without some tweaking.  If the Mud Sorcerors' Tomb lacks credible challenges to a party with a monk, then this is a problem with the Adventure as you interpret it--not necessarily one with the class.  Unless you're playing a campaign that is supposed to be notoriously unforgiving and inflexible, like Elder Evils, you really should look into altering the situation to fit your party better.


Perhaps you could try a Rope-a-dope play.  Let them get away with using the same trick over and over.  Make them feel awesome about doing  Then hand them a threat they're not equipped to handle, or give them a situation where their player overconfidence (character overconfidence is more acceptable) works against them to disastrous end.


As long as you do it while sticking to the established themes of a dungeon, no one will object to the monk running into serious problems--especially if you can goad him into splitting from the party.  Lack of line-of-sight, magical darkness, illusions, isolation, and booby traps are great solutions to your monk problem.


Lack of line-of-sight, darkness, illusions, isolation, and traps are the solution.

SebastianJ,

I think you might be missing Spoletta's point.  Having the DM do a bunch of additional work to counteract a single class is very counter productive.  When you have to create a completely different encounter because one of the players has a single class, that's just broken.






Couldn't agree more Siddown.  

As for rogue feeling restrictive, that's definitely the case.  They should keep skills and rogue talent separate, or reduce the skill that comes with it to 2 and give 2 free skill selections.

Can't comment on the monk just yet.