This thread is for discussion of SPEC4-4 Mischief in Memnon.
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I DMed this adventure twice. It was a fun adventure.
I appreciated that the combats were structured in waves, so that they could be harder without overwhelming the PCs.
One of the tables complained about the fact that the other team was already there doing stuff, but the PCs are still responsible for finding useful targets. "So, we're going to go there, and do their job for them?"
It could have used a bit more justification for why the other team, which is already there, isn't able to find out about the two big targets.
Played this twice at AL 12 and AL 18.
At AL12, we did the encounter in the desert. It would have been TPK, if the DM hadn't started pulling punches in a major (and sadly obvious) way. Even with 2 leaders, we could not keep up with the damage that was being delt out. Trying to keep the camels in line, and spending actions to appease the elemental spirit just made things worse. I'm thinking the difficulty didn't scale down very well to AL 12 and 5 players. The second wave just would have obliterated us, if it was run as is (our DM started provoking opportunity attacks right and left to let us kill stuff faster, and had the camels stay on the map).
At AL18 we had 6 players, we played the arena. Fighting wave after wave of enemies was loads of fun. There were a few moments where we got beat up a bit, but we recovered. Playing to the crowd was very enjoyable. I felt the difficulty of this encounter was just right.
The difficulty of the last encounter was moderate to easy at both AL's. But that was welcome for most of us, since the previous encounter was pretty grueling.
I liked the skill challenges in this mod, they were meaningful, and didn't feel like a challenge for the sake of a challenge. Particularly enjoyed describing my actions, and listening to others' descriptions in the arena skill challenge. The DM was fairly liberal at letting us use whatever skills we wanted to use as long as we came up with viable descriptions.
We ran this two days ago, and I just wanted to say that it was by far one of the most enjoyable LFR non-epic adventures I've ever played.
We played at AL 14 with a balanced group of a shielding swordmage, an action denial wizard, a warlord/runepriest hybrid, a pixie fey warlock and a chaos sorceror (me). The warlock was a last-minute new addition, while the other members had played together numerous times. The group was fairly optimized, but not excessively.
We liked the inclusion of all the NPC's you can meet directly upon arriving in Memnon, and I believe everyone had some fun with the ones we visited. We probably could have RP'd for 90 minutes loonger than we did there, but since we had been busy for quite a while, we had to jump to the major decision. We chose the arena.
The skill challenge with the Arena was really well done; everyone had some really funny ways to appear as though they were losing. The first part of it, however, in which you have to persuade Marinius to assist you, felt off. Why does he heavily wear you down if you pass standard DC checks, even if you don't have any failures? I mean, why would he actively work against you if he is supposedly increasingly warming up to you?
Anyway, the fight in the Arena itself was probably the coolest fight I've ever seen in D&D, only rivalled by some homebrew ones and Epic-level ones. You are told from the very beginning that it will be a really tough and long fight and to expect waves of enemy reinforcements. Combined with the atmosphere and the map layout, you are almost emphatically made clear to waste no time in activating your awesome dailies right away.
And we needed them. The enemies were no jokes with overlapping unresistable damage aura's, 5d10 attacks with possibly expanded crit ranges, blaster artillery with huge bursts of fire and a massive wurm at the end to top it off. Luckily, our wizard managed to trap 2 out of 4 monsters with the damage aura between two of his forced movement dailies and the wall of fire for the entire fight, and we managed to accumulate JUST enough successes to allow me to use my AP to nova away the entire round 2 of enemies in one turn. The leader then put down a zone of resistance against ranged attacks while we finished the wurm.
We were allowed by the DM to use any skill if it was applicable instead of only diplomacy and intimidate, which greatly increased the amount of freedom you had to describe how you tried to win the crowd over. I wished the module itself had incorporated this freedom.
After the second group (made up entirely of paragon characters of some of our other friends) blew up the guardhouse, we were off to kill the traitor and the guard captain, along with anyone happening to be nearby. This was... well, a bit of a letdown after the epicness that was the first fight. Since we started right next to them from playing the cards and had regained our action points, it stared with an AOE nova by me with heavy focus fire of everyone else on the traitor. Even though we lost initiative and the archers did manage to deal quite a lot of damage to our defender, the fight was fairly easy to complete.
Based on the arena alone, I'd give the adventure a top rating. However, I think the last encounter was a bit of a wasted opportunity; a fight in the streets with the people you rescued against the crimson guard would have felt a lot more in place and worthyer as a follow-up.
Anyway, looking forward to more
Thinking back on the encounter, I agree the arena was very well put together. It reminded me a bit of Ashes of Athas 2-3, which is certainly the most epic fight I've ever had!
The arena fight wasn't too bad, but the desert fight is a practically guaranteed TPK unless the players metagame and/or the DM softballs.
When I played it, we never had a clue that there was a second wave. So we used up most of our encounter powers (and some of our healing) fighting the first wave (which was a non-trivial encounter's worth of monsters on its own). When the second wave showed up (a full encounter's worth of monsters going on the same initiative), one of our party got killed (knocked down to negative bloodied) and another got dropped to 0 after being caught in three blasts. At that point, the DM held back a bit on the focus fire, which gave us a chance to regroup, and we managed to win...barely. If the DM was more ruthless, we could have easily been TPKed.
So how does a party deal with an encounter like this? If they know the second wave is coming, they can hold back on their encounter novas, get further on the skill challenge while using mostly at-wills on the first wave, and spread out to avoid being in blast formation. This would make the second wave easier to deal with, but it requires either Perception monkeys in the party...or metagaming. If the party gets caught by surprise, they're hosed unless the DM holds back on the focus fire and/or misses a lot on the second wave's nova round.
We had no idea about the second wave either, but one of our PCs dedicated all of his standard actions to the skill challenge (plus everyone else was doing what they could here and there. I'm pretty sure it was complete (or almost so) when the others showed up.
One main difference I see is that our DM rolled separate inits for the new guys. So they were spread out not only around the battlefield (and no more than 2 of us were in any burst/blast by that point either - our teleporting assassin and swordmage had spread out fast ) but also amongst a couple other actions.
And not insignificant was the Wall of Fire / Visions of Avarice combo that were running at one of the battle. A couple newcomers had issues with that, I recall.
When I replayed and did the arena, we actually had a lot more trouble with it, funny enough.
Tactics, powers and luck make all the difference between a cakewalk and a near lethal fight and of course in LFR the difference between an AL 2 and an AL 10 party can be huge (even though the encounter has been properly modified). I have seens "guaranteed" TPKs be real easy and easy fights be near death events. It is one reason why designing a perfect fight is so hard, and even more so when designing one for LFR. It is one reason why DMs do have leeway in adjusting an encounter.
Well I guess it makes for a good illustration of the limits of choosing to be dependent on encounter nova's for one. And hy would you ever assume there is no second wave coming?
Running into trouble because you make the wrong assumptions and/or because you focus on novas is, to me at least, a part of D&D. I think it speaks heavily in favor of the encounter that that possibility exists.
The desert encounter was very challenging, our dice being against us and the enemies being very harsh. However, even though the skill challenge itself was going pretty bad as well and our healing surges were going down the drain ("I accept your blood apologies for your previous offense, puny mortal!"), we still managed to come up on top! So kudo's for the very challenging and incredibly fun encounter!
The final encounter was a lot easier, considering we won initiative and controlled the heck out of it. Roleplay-wise the adventure was great as well. It was awesome to see old NPC's come back and to be able to interact with them.
We even used the dancer to place our explosives in the parade wagon and detonated it right next to the balcony with Memnon higherups! Our angelic avenger only barely escaping the blast, but using her flaming tail to stream 'CALIMPORT' in the sky was icing on the cake
There are other tough things in this setup. When the 3 lords showed up, one person was already down, and there was only 4 of us standing. They piled on the damage with Rain of Ruin on 3 of us. Then one of us got a crit, I think it was the warlord, and he got nailed by 4 things with tattoos, and went down. We decided maybe we should focus on the lords, then they became insubstantial, so we stayed on the chargers.
I'm not sure how a group managed to do "early novas" in this encounter, as we were quite action starved trying to keep the camels in check so they didn't stray off the map (move and minor from 3 PC's), and trying to appease the spirit (we could only succeed one or two checks a round).
Maybe the DM needs to gauge how things are going, and possibly put out one less lord. That would be my first inclination with DME.
The other tweak I might make is to tie the camels together, and one check on the lead camel would ensure they don't leave the map.
The raiders striking a deal when half their numbers are dead, seems like a pretty cheezy end too. At the end, we had like 2 people standing (and a stiff wind could knock us over), against 2 healthy raiders, and it would have been quite trivial for them to finish us off and walk away with their loot.
Clarification of the treasure for this one please: in the conclusion it says:
Ala’Ammar gives the PCs 500 / 900 / 1800 / 3500 /
5000 gp each and offers to obtain for each PC any
Common or Uncommon magic item of the PC’s level +
2 or less. He also makes available all Treasures listed in
this adventure, even if the PCs did not find them, with
the exception of Treasure A (which is reserved for his
Is this item intended to be a bundle and use a bundle slot, or is it in addition to everything else from the mod, i.e. completely free? If so, shouldn't it be in one of the SAs?
It's a better version of Bundle X, but it's still a bundle.
The money pools with what they got in other encounters (if any) and becomes the 'base gold' for the mod.
The Conclusion explains the source of treasure for the adventure. The PCs are still limited to the rewards listed in the Rewards section.
It's that it lists it as 'also' that confused me. I'm one level too low to pick up the item I wanted D:
E: fun adventure, by the way,a lthough I found myself slightly disappointed thatSpoiler: Show
the blowing up of the HQwas completed in a skill challenge without much remark, and we had to be poked quite hard to avoid us, at that point, just saying 'job done' and leaving.
Played this again, went the arena route at AL12, with a group that just hit level 11. It was a bit of a struggle for survival, but great fun.
We had a party of 6 with varying degrees of optimization, Deva Pacifist Cleric, Halfling Daggermaster Rogue, Human Spiked Chain Scout, Storm Genasi Blaster Wizard, Longtooth Fighter|Blackguard, and Gnome Voice of Thunder Cosmic Sorcerer (me).
We really ran into some surge issues. During the initial talk with Meridius and his companions, a few people lost a surge due to the hazing. In the initial two rounds of the arena fight, we gave some surges to please the crowd, and lost some surges during the skill checks. Didn't really have any big surge people.
The fight against the Horde started out well. Not too surprisingly, everyone except our leader used an action point in the first round. We killed two things in no time, inviting the second wave. The second wave came in did a bunch of damage, slid us into walls, and went insubstantial, and this is where our troubles started. Our DM figured out, despite being weakened, the second wave did enough damage sliding people into walls, that he never had them come out of being insubstantial. We managed to get the crowd to friendly, did some healing, and slowly continued to take them down. After another round, we got the crowd to helpful to recover some encounter powers.
When the third wave came in and found a good drop point for their nukes, the Blackguard went down for good, at zero surges. We didn't bother wasting heal checks to stabilize him, knowing raise dead would be more efficient (which he died after failing 3 death saves in 4 rounds). The cleric went down too, but he had one surge left, which I triggered with a majestic word, but that didn't last long. I would have gone down to the barrage, but became insubstantial with an interrupt and survived with some luck.
When the Sandworm came out, the cleric went down at zero surges. We took out the remaining wave three artillery, while the rogue was tanking the worm (yes, strange concept, but he had the most HP's at the time), but shortly after that, the rogue went down, and the scout's fey displacer beast went down. Three of us were standing against the now bloodied worm on round seven. Our wizard kept missing it. After acid orbing it one more time, (I was down to at-will's), I walked up to engage the worm and hurl insults at it (I was at 9 hit points). Our scout charged into the flank, and ended it with a well timed crit.
Total tally, dead Blackguard, dead Fey Pet, unconscious cleric, unconscious rogue, three bloodied PC's, and fewer surges left in the party than party members. Damage dealt to enemy, over 2100.
Despite the difficulties we had, it was still an extremely entertaining encounter. The auto self-correcting nature of the encounter is brilliant. If we're having trouble taking monsters down, more monsters don't show up, until things are better under control, at which point we get overwhelmed again. The way monsters jump into the initiative order works fairly well spreading their initiatives around, though the tripple barrage from the spewers on an already wounded bunch is pretty lethal (also discovered their burst attack bonus at all AL's except 14 is wrong, oops). Regardless, Dan/Claire, whoever designed this encounter, my hat off to you.
We were out of time (too much fun with the preliminary rounds of fighting), and the DM had to turn the last fight into a skill challenge, which was fine, since I know it's an easy fight anyway that lasted 2 rounds, both previous times I played it.
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