Red Box Adventure Too Hard?

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So I had a group together yesterday. It was three of us including the DM as a player and we got slaughtered on the first encounter from the red box. I don't think we did anything wrong. We were all level 1 and could barely scratch the monsters. I don't understand how anyone is supposed to survive when they have a +5 and +6 (or 7) to damage. That makes no sense. 


So I thought I'd ask; did we do something wrong?

What was supposed to be a normal encounter became a hard one because Your First Encounter is 4 standard monsters (which have +5 damage modifier BTW) designed to challenge a party of 4 characters, but you guys were 3 that's why. The DM should have removed at least one monster. Perhaps luck/unlock was also a factor i don't know.


  Your First Encounter    [450 XP]


  2 goblin cutthroats

  2 gray wolves

Three of you including the DM - that means two PCs?

Yeah, you're going to have problems. Every one of those encounters is designed for a larger party. It will take some heavy scaling down to make them feasible for a two-PC team; just cutting the number of creatures in half may not even do it because once you're down to two characters a lot of the synergies that PC parties rely on will be absent.

That makes sense. If it's just the three of us what would you recommend we do in terms of cutting out monsters?  Like how many and which ones?


EDIT: and I mean it was three of us. The DM had a PC too. 

With an encounter of same-level standard monsters it's really easy:  if you're missing a PC, remove a monster.



Are you using pre-gen characters, or did you create them?


One error I've often seen with new characters is to add CON modifier to 1st level hps instead of CON /score/.  Your characters should have over 20 hps.  






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We created them. I created mine on the character builder. We all had over 20 HP and the two other people had around 17 AC and we still go owned lol

The basic calculation is that an at-level encounter has 1 standard monster per PC.  Minions are 1/4 of a standard, elites as 2 standards, solos are 4 standards.  An at-level encounter is fairly easy, level +2 is challenging, level +4 is hard - and it's worth noting that encounter level is the XP budget you have to spend on monsters.  SO with a level +4 budget, you might get 2 standard monsters per PC, rather than 1 per PC of l.evel +4.


The Red Box adventure is probably designed to be easy on 5 PCs, so with only 3 it'll be tough.  And level 1 play is kinda swingy, because the damage values and dice are so big a percentage of the HP.  When a monster's attack for 1d6 +5 could do as little as 1/4 of your HP (6) or as much as half (11) depending solely on how well it rolled for damage, things are inevitably more swingy.

Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
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