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I'm looking to start a new Heroic teir game and I want to feature gnolls as a threat throughout all 1-10 levels. I also want to capture a sense of the PCs gaining strength over the gnolls, yet the gnolls should remain a threat. The idea i'm kicking around is making the Gnolls 'secondary role' relative to the PCs level. I'd like some feedback on what people think of the relative power levels I've defined, or if you've seen or done anything like this in the past, any pitfalls, etc? Does it make more sense to use a standard level 3 gnoll throughout levels 1-6 and just turn him into a minion at level 7?
PC Level 1 - Gnoll is Elite
(HPs 54, Action Point, extra bite attack if basic melee attack misses, special charge power, pack attack power)
PC Level 3 - Gnoll is Standard (loses bite attack)
(HPs 44, basic attack, special charge power, pack attack power)
PC Level 5 - Gnoll is Grunt (loses special charge power)
(custom role, 1/2 HP of Standard, low damage but higher than minion, 2 Grunts = 1 Standard)
(HPs 30, basic attack w/ low damage, pack attack power)
PC Level 7 - Gnoll is Minion
(HPs 1, basic attack w/ minion damage, pack attack power)
PC Level 9 - Gnolls are a huge sized Swarm (gain swarm powers)
(HPs 95, basic attack, swarm aura, swarm traits, special swarm power if you move away)
My thought is to use these gnolls to design encounters as my PCs level (in between levels I'll use the lower level gnoll). I'll add in 'special' gnoll NPCs to add more flavor (Shamans, Leaders, Tribal leaders). I'll also use Hyenas, fiends, and other monsters for additional variety and flavor. The sweet spot to battle these gnolls I think will be levels 2-6. Before that, the main gnoll threat will not be introduced, and after that, they'll show up in other villains plots, but not as the main threat.
As i said, the goal is to have a consistant enemy for the PCs battle, and have the PCs feel like they are advancing in strength over these enemies.
I wouldn't do the swarm thing. Gnolls don't exactly move together enough to be a swarm.
Go as high as level 8. I'm not sure why you are taking powers away at all. Don't have them uberstrong at the beginning and then reduce their power. Start them off low and build them up. Keep the gnolls at a level under the players. If you weaken the gnolls, the players will notice they don't use their stronger abilities. This sin't the character gaining strength, but the gnolls losing it.
As the pcs gain rep in killing gnolls, they gain the attention of stronger gnoll tribes and such.
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