Missed opportunities: Saturday's MiBG intro.

I ran the intro scenario to MiBG this Saturday, using the playtest rules.  I had to run with a small group (three other interested players could only make Wed), but, with a little improvisation and ad libbing, it was still reasonably successful.

But, there were two 'missed opportunities,' that bothered me...

First, one of the awefulterriblehorriblenogoodverybadthings that 5e is trying to fix relative to 3.x & 4e is the need to scale adversaries to PC levels.  (One of) 5e's goal(s) is for monsters to be designed to represent what they are, rather than what they need to be challenge players.  Bounded Accuracy is the premier tool to make that happen.

The intro scenario missed an obvious opportunity to do this:

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The scenario includes a battle between the two remaining 'Bhaalspawn.'  In a Highlander-esque bit of metaphysics, the Bhaalspawn have been killing eachother, concentrating the diffuse power of the eponymous deity in the victor, each time.  These two should be pretty tough cookies.  Instead, they're 2nd & 3rd level monsters - understandable in 3.5/4e stat blocks.  Why couldn't the 5e stat blocks have been much higher level?  They were fighting eachother, and bounded accuracy would have allowed the PCs to interfere in a small but meaningful way.  
 

 
The other missed opportunity was starting 5e characters at 1st level.  1st level in 5e just isn't what 1st level was in 3.x & 4e.  In 5e, 1st & 2nd are the 'apprentice tier' and it's fair to say that "3rd is the new 1st," so why couldn't the 5e characters have started at 3rd?  The 3.5 characters aren't starting at 0.  This would have made the 5e characters more interesting, more on par with the options and customization available to 3.x and 4e characters at 1st.
 

 

 

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I agree with you, though I think their reasoning is that starting at 1st level will make it easier for new players to jump in. That said, I don't think most new players are going to D&D Encounters for their first time playing, so I too would prefer if they started out at 3rd level. I ran the intro and first act of MiBG last night in a home game, and I had my players start off at 2nd level, mainly because it was a group of only 3 and I wanted to compensate them for the small party somehow. I am wishing I had actually started them off at 3rd now, because without specific numbers of enemies, it's easy for me to adjust the difficulty as needed, and it would have been nice to give my players a subclass right out of the gate. Fortuately, they will probably all level up next session.
We've been getting new players at the local encounter's venue the whole time.  But, a /playtest/ is maybe not the best thing for a new player to jump into, so that shouldn't be an issue.  And even if that were the idea, 1st level in 5e is so /not/ the place to start a new player - the low hps and bounded accuracy make 1st a minefield that could very easily lead to a frustrating/dissapointing first play experience.    

If I were running this as a home game, I might up the level - one DM I know is upping the whole module to Paragon for 4e, since he finds the scope of the adventure inapropriate for Heroic (it involves a city, but it also involves the events of the Sundering rather directly...) - but, as a playtest, I want to play it 'straight' as much as possible.  

 

 

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We've been getting new players at the local encounter's venue the whole time.  But, a /playtest/ is maybe not the best thing for a new player to jump into, so that shouldn't be an issue.  And even if that were the idea, 1st level in 5e is so /not/ the place to start a new player - the low hps and bounded accuracy make 1st a minefield that could very easily lead to a frustrating/dissapointing first play experience.


I've got to disagree with you there. Well, not on the playtest part, that does make it kind of an awkward place for a new player to start off, since the rules will constantly be in flux. However, my experience has been that new players enjoy low level play in Next much more than they ever did in 3.5 or 4E. I've tried many times to bring new players into the game in both 3.5 and 4E, and they have always been overwhelmed with all of the options, even at 1st level in 4E. The closest I got was Essentials, which I even convinced a player who was turned off of D&D by the amount of options on her 1st level 4E character, assuring her that Essentials was much simpler. She gave it a shot, and agreed that it made a lot more sense to her than 4E had, but it was still a lot to take in. With next? Every new player I've brought in has had a blast. One guy even said "If I knew this was what D&D was like, I would have started playing a lot sooner." I've had no trouble with this "low level minefield" because the monsters are so weak, even with the low starting HP, my players have had no trouble, even the new ones. Just my personal experience, obviously. It may be that Next's system just suits my DMing style better than 3.5 and 4E did. 

If I were running this as a home game, I might up the level - one DM I know is upping the whole module to Paragon for 4e, since he finds the scope of the adventure inapropriate for Heroic (it involves a city, but it also involves the events of the Sundering rather directly...) - but, as a playtest, I want to play it 'straight' as much as possible.


Understandable.  I have a few house rules I would like to use with Next, but I've been refraining from doing so for the same reason. Trying to do it as by-the-books as possible. Of course, since this adventure doesn't give numbers for monsters, you can easily adjust for a higher level party by just throwing in more of the same monsters, specifically thanks to bounded accuracy. Though that only works if you're running it with the Next rules. And, of course, I wouldn't want to do that if I were running a sanctioned game either. But that's why I don't run sanctioned games, I like the freedom of home games.
I agree that 3rd would have been a better place to start for Next players.


I also like the idea of running it at a much higher level as a home game.  
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