Are you ready?

This is for any RPG related out-of-character stuff like rules discussions, character ideas, loot wishlists, etc. If it's about game mechanics in any way, it goes here.

Postby Cailin » August 17th, 2011, 9:23 am

Goood morning everyone! Are we all ready to do our best and seize the day? Are you brimming with confidence and a huge smile that says "I'm going to give it my all!"? Wednesdays always leave me feeling this way, because it means Thursday is right around the corner!

I AM SO EXCITED!

Image
Swagga!
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » August 17th, 2011, 4:40 pm

Ready
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » August 18th, 2011, 9:37 am

I'm not going to merely bring the pain tonight, I'm bringing a six pack of it
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » August 18th, 2011, 10:41 am

Image
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » August 18th, 2011, 12:20 pm

brandeorath.jpg
Adventure FTW
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » August 18th, 2011, 12:48 pm

I always did like Trine's art.

I kicked the hell out of a Spellplagued White Dragon solo last night, and I have hot & sour soup ready to be delivered to my place on speed-dial. Ready? I've already started!
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby MikeD » August 18th, 2011, 2:39 pm

Now I expect a hell of a session for me to catch up on when I get home, and I do hope you have a quiet night Thoth, but I do have to admit, that when I first saw the title of this thread I was tempted to post a video of Degeneration-X's intro. :ugeek:
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby countingku » August 18th, 2011, 6:09 pm

http://youtu.be/FX-JOkNFOOI

Kind of like that?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby MikeD » August 20th, 2011, 8:29 pm

Actually was thinking more HHH and Shawn Michaels in ring bit but the intro works
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » September 1st, 2011, 10:00 am

Thuuuuuursday Kniiights!!!

Image

also Mind Flayer + Deomin = Love Forever

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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » September 15th, 2011, 1:16 pm

I love it when Wednesday/Thursday rolls around and we get back on everyone's radar. I also love sitting here with all the equipment set up, just waiting for the fun to start! How do you guys spend your Pre-Game Thursdays?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » September 15th, 2011, 2:04 pm

Trolling the TK forums at work then tell Addy all about the adventures of Wrenn and Xargeth while I wait for 5:00 to roll around...
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » September 15th, 2011, 3:20 pm

Future generations will think Thursday is the sabbath.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » September 15th, 2011, 4:17 pm

Eric Holland wrote:Future generations will think Thursday is the sabbath.


Isn't it? ;)
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » September 22nd, 2011, 4:44 pm

It's almost time! Work can't be over with soon enough! *kermit flail*
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Harsgault » September 23rd, 2011, 9:03 am

You asked for it, you have it... Good show last night btw.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » October 6th, 2011, 10:00 am

Trying to decide the level of epicness of tonight's session... one or two rockstars...
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Kowal » October 6th, 2011, 11:31 am

Two rockstars and a burrito.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » October 6th, 2011, 12:47 pm

You tell me.

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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » October 11th, 2011, 7:05 am

Ok, after last session, the latest Hugh's History, and the new artwork Cailin put up I am getting pretty stoked for some in-depth Hugh action tomorrow night!

/crossfingers
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » October 11th, 2011, 10:55 am

DO YOU LIKE YOUR OSTRICH?!?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » October 11th, 2011, 11:03 am

Cailin wrote:DO YOU LIKE YOUR OSTRICH?!?

DUH, WHEN DO I DISLIKE ANY WRENN PIC?!?
AND WHY ARE WE TALKING SO LOUDLY?!?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » October 12th, 2011, 11:24 am

There will be delicious treats tonight (baked by yours truly), therefore tonight will undoubtedly be awesome!
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » December 22nd, 2011, 9:13 am

Due to the unforseen turn of events last week, when Eric rolls out a new character I expect no less than this...
Brutalitops the Magician
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » December 29th, 2011, 10:22 am

I have leveled to 24 and am chalk full of delicious screams and shrieks for when Wrenn sees his imaginary spiders. Huzzah for insanity!

Also, there may or may not be chocolate chip cookies
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » January 26th, 2012, 9:36 am

*****Episode 99 Spoiler Alert*****




OMG WRENN IS UNCONSCIOUS WTF!

So pumped for tonight. Let's just hope we didn't jump directly into a combat situation that would necessitate death-saving throws :lol:
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby countingku » January 26th, 2012, 1:16 pm

At least he's not dead.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thor The Crusher » January 26th, 2012, 1:27 pm

^I'm surprised he's not considering he got part of his soul peeled off by Arora, AND then had parts of his hand and forearm burned off to remove the dark pact. I mean with the damage he took I wouldn't be surprised if all he had left of his arm was charred skeletal bones. Hmm I should ask Cailin to draw Arora exorcising Wrenn, it'd make for an awesome Desktop background.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Jonin » January 26th, 2012, 1:58 pm

I'm excited as well about tonight's session. Will Deomin be saved? Will Wrenn survive? Who moves into Brandis' boarded up ship quarters? Tune into tonight to find out!
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » January 26th, 2012, 2:03 pm

Image
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thor The Crusher » January 26th, 2012, 2:18 pm

I wonder if Greg will ever buy that Magicka Robe?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » January 26th, 2012, 3:25 pm

Thor The Crusher wrote:I mean with the damage he took I wouldn't be surprised if all he had left of his arm was charred skeletal bones.


Hrm... a power-hungry, slightly evil PC is envious of another party members' new eyes, and may have one arm damaged beyond repair. Anyone else seeing a classic opportunity here?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thor The Crusher » January 26th, 2012, 3:28 pm

^Iseewhatyoudidthere
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » February 1st, 2012, 10:48 am

I don't want to alarm anyone but are you aware that Thursday Knights is TOMORROW?

:D
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Jakedog » February 1st, 2012, 3:47 pm

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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » February 9th, 2012, 5:12 pm

So, last night we closed out the final session of this Encounters season. The DM went completely batshit crazy adding 'this power totally screws your cool thing' abilities to the encounter, but thanks to great teamwork and a rock-solid plan, we overcame the BS encounter with style and flair.

Tonight it's Thursday once again.

Yeah, it's a good day.

P.S. Sun Warpriests are completely fucking awesome, and I love them.

### warning: incoming horn-tooting ###

I can't accurately count how many effective HP (including missed hits from buffed defenses and reduced damage from resists) and temps I doled out over the course of the fight, but for a level 6 party... it was beyond insane. Without counting resists or surges triggered, I know I was responsible for ~400-500 effective HP (regained + temps) just off the top of my head. Add in the fact that I had resist 5/all up for all but 1 party member (and his honey badger) out of 6 party members and 2 pets for 12 of the 13 rounds of the fight (as well as +2 to all defenses for everyone), and the damage prevented has to take that effective HP up likely over 750.

At level 6.
In a single fight.

Next time someone asks if Sun Warpriests are any good, feel free to direct them to me :)
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thor The Crusher » February 9th, 2012, 5:28 pm

^what the hell where you fighting at level 6?
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Postby lincoln » February 9th, 2012, 5:40 pm

I have a re-skinned sun war priest version of Wrenn, and yes, they are amazing. Now you are making me want to try it out so bad >.<
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » February 9th, 2012, 5:54 pm

Thor The Crusher wrote:^what the hell where you fighting at level 6?


The short answer: adversarial DM bullshit.

Slightly longer answer: overleveled unique Hag with a half-dozen extra powers - including but not limited to automatically shaking any 'save ends' effects, and turning into a full HP huge (3x3) dragon of some sort with a burst 6 damage zone and a blast 6 breath; 2 skirmishers who caused dazed+prone+ongoing damage (which ignored all resistances) on hit; and an infinite number of minions (summoned 4-6 at a time by the hag any time there were none left).
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby ADashOfRainbow » February 9th, 2012, 6:14 pm

You're also forgetting the part where he summoned a collective shit ton of extra minions [without the power or resources to do so] just to knock out the wizard so she couldn't sustain her fun and hilarious power. And that as a Dragon she crushed anyone in her space [While in a ten by ten room and she was a huge mini]

Also, Lincoln, that sound like an awesome idea. Seeing an epic level sun Priest would be awesome. After playing next to Thoth and seeing what they could do in heroic, it can only get sweeter from there.

On the same note, I'm super excited to see the level 24 Knight tonight. For much the same reason [AKA I've seen them be sweet at lower levels]
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » February 11th, 2012, 2:35 pm

Wait Thoth. Im really curious about this fight? How many people were in the party? Did people fall unconscious? Did anyone die?

The fight reminds me of fights that we fought early on in our campaign. These encounters were designed using a 3e campaign style so they ended up being much larger, tougher, and LONGER. It sounds like the your biggest complaint about the fight was regarding status effects. How did it all play out?
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » February 11th, 2012, 4:52 pm

6 people in the party total, plus two pets from the Fey Beast Tamer theme - 1 blink dog named 'Bamf' and one young owlbear reskinned as a honey badger who had developed into the party mascot. Over the course of the fight, the blink dog was unsommoned after it got hit with an effect that caused it to do damage at the start of adjacent allies' turns, the honey badger was killed, resummoned, and killed, and one party member was dropped from 30-something hp to - 10 in a single turn when the DM decided to summon 6 minions surrounding her, hitting 4 times and doing ~40 damage *after* resisting a total of 20 (5 from each hit). Yes, that means that the DM had summonable minions against an L6 party dealing over 15 damage each.

No party members died, and the one PC that went down to the minions was picked up right away by me.

Status effects weren't really the worst of it, though not for lack of the DM trying.

I'll try to summarize as best I can, going purely off of memory.

Turn 1
The party was forced to start packed in like sardines. BBEG gets first turn, and proceeds to drop area damage + immobilize (save ends) on the entire party, missing only one person (half damage and slowed save ends), then she action points and uses a multi-attacking ranged attack to slide both the defenders to opposite corners of the room. Minions are summoned and hit a couple of times. Skirmishers throw some kind of crazy area attack that hits a few party members, causing targets hit to damage adjacent allies at the start of those allies' turns (and somehow this damage ignores all resistance), and in addition causes the targets to take damage each time they attack without targeting the creature that caused this effect (the only end condition for this effect is to kill the creature that caused it).

Party spends most of their time doing nothing, shooting if they can, and making saves. I drop Beacon of Hope, an item daily for 10thp to all party members, Shield of Faith, and begin Stream of Life. Most of the party makes their saves (critically, one defender does not). Our Eldarin Knight uses his racial teleport to get in the BBEGs face.

Turns 2-6
Turns out the BBEG has an Aura 3 that causes PCs staring in the area to be slid up to 3 (or 4, when the DM felt like it), then make a basic attack against their nearest ally (dealing damage as normal if they hit, or taking 5 damage if they miss). Her go-to at-will standard action attack is to make two attacks (ranged or melee) that deal damage, slide the target, and force them to attack an ally (just like her aura, dealing damage to the original target if they miss their attack).

Our wizard drops Visions of Avarice to keep pulling the BBEG and the Skirmishers away from our shooters and to (try) to minimize the effect of the BBEGs aura - a small gesture, since the main encounter areas was 10x10 with two large 2x2 statues and 4 smaller 1-square statues in it, as well as the party + pets + 3-7 baddies. I start throwing out my Stream of Life healing (21 hp per turn), and put up Moment of Glory, finishing off my original plan for 'how to survive the really, really hard encounter of the adventure'. Defenders continue to jam the baddies as best they can (Aura-based defenders + Visions of Avarice is a good combo here), our Skald / Ranger backs out of the group and plays as ranged as he can.

Eventually we drop one of the skirmishers, and manage to (sort of) shut down the minion summoning, after figuring out that the power only recharged when all minions were dead.

At long last, we bloody the BBEG. We expect the classic BBEG solo reaction of 'something really bad happens now' after bloodying her, and we get it in spades.

Turns 7-9
Turns out the BBEGs bloodied trigger was to shed all effects on her, and replace herself with a full-health, full HP, new set of action points Dragon, which got to immediately roll a new initiative and take another turn (the BBEG had already take her turn for the round). This new 'first turn' involved dropping a 13x13 zone of difficult terrain on the field, causing 10 damage + daze for being hit by the initial attack (with a 'first failed save' effect of "you fall unconscious, save ends"), and 10 damage for starting in the zone, then using a blast 6 breath weapon that caused between 6 and 16 damage and the effect "on your turn, you must either move twice your speed away from the nearest enemy, or attack your nearest ally" (save ends), and an aftereffect of weakened (save ends). All of the Dragon's melee attacks targeted will, and had some kind of additional effect added on, but I can't recall what it was. Also, the DM just decided to arbitrarily declare that the dragon could occupy spaces with blocking terrain, and that it could destroy those terrain features freely. I think that it's worth noting that he only informed us of this 'neat ability' after we had to call him out for trying to cut corners and reminding him that we got cover for being attacked across corners twice in the same round.

We maul the Dragon as best we can, expecting that it was just a fancy way of expressing that the BBEG did something really crazy when bloodied, only to find out after bloodying the dragon that it suddenly recharged its breath weapon (and fired it immediately, as per the standard 'bloodied breath' ability). After dropping a few more hits on the bloodied dragon, the BBEG reappeared, at the same HP total she had when she was first replaced by the dragon. Then she immediately took her turn again (this is where the DM suddenly had her minion summon power pull in 6 instead of 4 minions, just because he felt like it), dropping our wizard.

Turns 10-13
At this point, the entire party was on at-wills only (and had been for a couple of turns), the pets had been killed too many times to be summoned again, and we were down to our last couple of healing potions.

After dealing with the effectively DM-fiat dropping of our wizard, we finish off the last skirmisher, and proceed to finally grind out the last of the BBEGs hp. This part of the fight was pure grind, and a giant waste of time in the opinion of all the players present.

###

Knowing the rules as well as I do (pretty darned well), and knowing how brutally the DM re-wrote the previous encounter, my problem wasn't actually at all about the fight being long just because it was long, nor was it about nasty effects that we got caught in. My issue with the fight was that it was a prime example of a DM getting caught in 'adversarial' mode, and literally writing in new abilities and effects on the fly with the sole purpose of (a) shutting down known PC abilities and teamwork plays, and (b) wanting to 'win' by killing the PCs.

Minions (summonable) used in an encounter for an L6 party that cause the damage of minions from mid epic? multiple damage abilities that flat out ignore all resistances (I know for a fact that this modification was penned in by the DM solely to screw the power "Moment of Glory")? an Area Blast 6 zone that dazes (or knocks unconscious), causes damage each turn, AND doesn't require an action to sustain?

Like I said: DM Bullshit.

Well, perhaps more accurately - a bullshit DM.

Needless to say, I don't plan on playing at this person's table ever again.

I don't have a problem with hard encounters, and I don't have a problem with long encounters (provided they're long for a reason, and not because they get forced into being a grind). But an encounter that long, filled with such a massive ream of things the DM threw in not to make it more challenging, but specifically to screw the players and their chosen PC abilities is simply the worst kind of adversarial DMing, and I just don't enjoy that kind of game.

Take away a PCs schtick when story appropriate, and when it becomes a part of the narrative or provides a unique challenge? yeah, I can buy that. Do it just to be a dick or because you're pissed that the players kicked the ass off an earlier solo fight with clever use of abilities and good teamwork? no thanks, I'm out.

Now, all that aside, I still had a blast with my character (whom I originally started right after the Warpriest build was released, then brought him back for this season of Encounters), and with my fellow players. And for as much crap as we all put up with from the DMs end of the table, I do still get the gaming anecdote of managing to 'beat the adversarial DM at his own game' with a truly ridiculous amount of effective healing over the course of a single L6 encounter.

For the curious, I'll attach my build here. Aroghast was re-created as a new L3 character for this season, so that's how he got his armor, neck, weapon, and boots. The +1 holy symbol and a Preservation Shield (not present in file because the CB still has a lot of broken item database links) were acquired through adventuring. The Belt of Vigor was on loan from the party wizard for the final fight because I knew I'd be getting excellent use out of the extra surge value due to using Stream of Life.

The summary of all the effective healing I was throwing out:
(and yes, for those counting along at home, that's a total of 7 daily utility / attack / item powers used in this fight)

Healer's Brooch: +1 hp to all healing powers
Beacon of Hope: heals self and all nearby allies for 5. all heals you throw for the rest of the encounter heal 5 additional hp
Healing Word (x3 thanks to my Sentinel Druid MC feat) for: surge +2d6 +6 +3 temp hp +2 hp to another target in burst 5
Dwarven Armor: heal self for surge value
Belt of Vigor: +1 to surge value
Sun Burst: you and each ally within 5 gain 5 temp hp
Resurgent Sun: you or an ally can spend a surge
Amoth's Grace: allow ally to spend a surge as a reaction to being crit or bloodied
Preservation Shield: you and all allies in burst 10 gain temp hp equal to the number of surges you have remaining (10 when used)
Shield of Faith: you and all allies in burst 5 gain +2 power bonus to all defenses until end of encounter
Moment of Glory: you and all allies in blast 5 gain resist 5/all, sustain minor (once up, I never let it drop)
Stream of Life: take ongoing 5 that cannot be resisted / prevented in any way, heal an ally for 15 (21) each turn as a free action
Attachments
Aroghast_L6.dnd4e
Aroghast
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Eric Holland » February 14th, 2012, 5:42 pm

Wow. That sounded like a truly epic fight Thoth. First, I want to heap credit on you for getting through a marathon of nasty tricks and coming out on top. That has to feel good. Additionally, I wanted to talk about different aspects of such an extreme experience.

Since you didn't mention much about dice rolling, I'm going to assume that rolling of hit dice and damage dice was neither exceptionally high or low. If this is the case than the ability for you guys to pull through hinged on either(or likely a combination of)
A) Great tactics and planning
B) Amazingly built characters.

I asked you to write a little about the encounter partly because from your previous post I had an inkling that no one in your party died and I wasn't even sure that anyone had dropped(the other part obviously was to hear the tale). It seems very clear from your recap that the DM was taking all sorts of license in order to crush the PCs and often things were directly targeting specific PC abilities. Despite all of this, only 1 person went unconscious?! and NO ONE DIED?!

The amount of xp budget abuse and unbalanced doctoring of monster mechanics that went on sounds incredible, so how was survival even an option? I would bet that your character's mechanics well exceed the strength of most encounters of your level. In my experience, the strength of well built characters versus averagely built characters is very significant. While dynamically altering monsters to seize the advantage from PCs in the middle of combat is loathsome, some adjustments must be made to account for the exceptional performance of a maximized crew. Preferably these decisions are made BEFORE combat.

Given the strength of your crew, what kind of experience are you looking for in an encounter? Is it important for you to feel that death is a possibility? How should a DM go about presenting those challenges? Should a DM be responsible for keeping up to date on the PCs tricks? Should he/she acknowledge that sometimes PCs will unexpectedly blow through a challenge or does he stick to his planned material and dynamically impose barriers to keep the story going withing the scope of his session?

Tricky questions for me. Many possible answers
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby MikeD » February 14th, 2012, 10:07 pm

If you're really curious about what Thoth can do with a character Eric, you really should listen to last weeks episode and see what Rowena accomplished after Thoth tweeked her build
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby ADashOfRainbow » February 14th, 2012, 11:14 pm

And just to highlight what Thoth said about the DM just trying to shut down powers so he could win. He scrawlled Pierce into the margin of his characters only after Thoth threw out his everyone resists 5. Pierce was his bullshit term for his ignores any resistance damage.

And also to mention Thoth's healing. I went from -12 to 30 something in one turn. Dude handled his shit.
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Thoth » February 16th, 2012, 7:41 pm

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply, Eric - I wanted to really take a few days to think over my answers and really give them a serious amount of thought.

Eric Holland wrote:Since you didn't mention much about dice rolling, I'm going to assume that rolling of hit dice and damage dice was neither exceptionally high or low. If this is the case than the ability for you guys to pull through hinged on either(or likely a combination of)
A) Great tactics and planning
B) Amazingly built characters.


Dice were very average over the course of the fight. Tactics and planning were on the high end as we knew a week in advance that we'd be having a one-encounter work day, and we expected the BBEG to be very, very tough. Most of the group besides myself wasn't running highly optimized - overall, the 6 players were about as optimized as the TK cast (above the mid-point with some standouts, but still far from the CharOp board monsters).

In my experience, the strength of well built characters versus averagely built characters is very significant. While dynamically altering monsters to seize the advantage from PCs in the middle of combat is loathsome, some adjustments must be made to account for the exceptional performance of a maximized crew. Preferably these decisions are made BEFORE combat.


I agree whole-heartedly. The module as written was actually remarkably savage in its encounter design (shockingly so for an organized play product designed to be an intro for new players with little system knowledge or tactical acumen, and likely playing pregens), so the party really had to step up their game in order to make it through the 13-session adventure.

Given the strength of your crew, what kind of experience are you looking for in an encounter?

As a general rule, I like to have a good mix of encounter experiences, from easy to hard, puzzley to straightforward, and everything in between.
Variety is the spice of D&D :)

This entire season was too prone to falling into the realm of 'brutal slog'. The encounters were almost all on the 'hard' to 'very hard' side of things, often mixing in enemy power/damage and terrain combinations that were not able to be countered, prepared for, or overcome, leaving the party with no option but to grit their teeth and pray that the surges don't run out. In the end, this particular adventure suffered from D&D 'combat fatigue', piling on difficult encounter after difficult encounter with no change of pace.

Is it important for you to feel that death is a possibility?

That it's a possibility? yes. That it's a near-inevitability because of overtuned encounter design? no.

D&D4 is a pitch-perfect system for heroic fantasy, and that makes it perfect for a kind of narrative that supports the party being big damn heroes. In a great heroic saga, there will be setbacks, failures, and deaths, but as a general trend, the party overcomes the darkest of times by being awesome and heroic. Death can be very tricky for a narrative. I generally welcome PC (or important NPC) death when it occurs organically as I think it can create good dramatic narrative and test - and encourage exploration of - the emotional and motivational sides of the cast.

How should a DM go about presenting those challenges? Should a DM be responsible for keeping up to date on the PCs tricks? Should he/she acknowledge that sometimes PCs will unexpectedly blow through a challenge or does he stick to his planned material and dynamically impose barriers to keep the story going withing the scope of his session?

Forcing the party to make interesting or difficult choices about how much they can / must press on despite the obstacles in their path is one of my favorite ways of presenting challenges. Take Greg's (ever-evolving) skill challenge mechanic: the party knows what's at stake and the challenge can have varying degrees of difficulty. The key factor that allows the challenge to be compelling is that the party has to make choices based on how desperate they are to achieve certain goals within the challenge, and balancing that desire against their available resources (time, surges, powers, etc.).

A fight that you run away from because things go irrevocably tits-up, or because something happens that causes the party to feel that flight is more important than immediate victory is interesting. A choice has to be made, and there are consequences appropriate to those choices.
A fight that you run away from because it was intended to be impossible to win from the start is not interesting. No real choice was made - only the illusion of one.

Keeping up with notable PC tricks can be something of a sticky wicket. I think that a DM should try to remain aware of their cast's 'signature moves', but they need to be careful to not try to counter those moves with their encounter design (barring specific narrative reasons for doing so). The most important thing right off the bat is to be very, very careful with difficulty switches that are based on denying a PC one of their 'cool things'. Those Ifrits that nailed Wrenn with 'you lose all fire resistance for the rest of the encounter' are a prime example of denying a PCs 'cool thing'. Over time, Lincoln has built up a firey theme for Wrenn, and through choices he's made has earned his way into a massive amount of resistance to fire, allowing him to feel cool (pun not intended) and rewarded for his choices when some schmuck tosses a fireball at him. Lincoln being rewarded in this way is a very good thing, and it emphasizes a key RP-based aspect of Wrenn's development.

In certain circumstances, as encouraged by the narrative or actions of the PCs and NPCs, effectively countering such a signature ability can be a very compelling challenge to throw at the party. An encounter built around this kind of concept where some (or all) of the party needs to find a way to 'counter the countermeasure', or where tactical play can overcome the challenge can be a lot of fun, but it still must be used sparingly. For example, Mephistopheles has an aura that negates fire resistance, and Wrenn must find a way to maintain distance from the aura (likely with the help of the rest of the party using forced movement and conditions like Immobilize, Prone, and Daze on Meph) to keep his resistance active.

I feel that a DM should be ready to accept that sometimes the PCs will pull together with planning, tactics, and luck and utterly blow through a challenge (or end it in a totally unexpected way) that may have been planned to be very difficult. Again, this comes down as a kind of reward to the players - they pulled through something that looked like it was going to be very hard, but did it with style and grace, and they feel awesome for having done so.

This is an area where many DMs can struggle, and it takes some experience to really learn how to roll with it. A common stumbling block for new DMs is to plan the outcome of a challenge, and build a large amount of the follow-up narrative or situation based on that expected outcome. When the party resolves (or attempts to resolve) the challenge in a way that disconnects with the DMs anticipated outcome, it can be very tempting for the DM to try to find a way to 'bend' things back to what they expected. The DM wrote / planned everything that came after the challenge based on a certain outcome, which means they're both invested in that outcome and may not have anything prepared for where the party is suddenly trying to take things - if they don't bring the players back 'in line', the DM is suddenly working without a net... and for someone who's already juggling the narrative equivalent of a half-dozen flaming chainsaws, the easy way out can seem like the only way out.

Fudging a die roll or two behind the DM screen, or quietly adding a chunk of HP or a new ability to a monster mid-encounter is certainly easier than having to re-think what happens now that the PCs prevented the prince from being kidnapped rather than being sent on a mission to save the boy from his kidnappers, right?

Well, yes, it's easier, but it removes agency from the party. Throwing barriers up to 'force' the game to continue along the DMs expected path is really, really bad, in my opinion... if you're going to do that, you're not really participating in a collaborative narrative with the players - you're just writing a novel and having them roll dice while you do it.

Also, no matter how clever you think you are, it is usually pretty easy for savvy players (particularly if they know the DM well) to spot when there's been a 'glitch in the Matrix'.

The best fix for a case like this (in my experience) is for the DM to finish the scene, then call a break. During the break, they can take a few minutes to figure out where things might go now, and determine if they can keep running things for the rest of the afternoon / evening / whatever, or if they'll need some time to get the story arc back on track. If the DM needs more time, one of the best things they can do is to let the players guide what happens next - let them start making plans (investigating the scene, setting new a new schedule and guards for the prince, contacting their underworld connections and master arcanists for help with investigation / scrying / spying, etc.) and facilitate that.

Nine times out of ten where you give the players the freedom to explore these things, they'll give you the perfect hook you need to move the story forward again. This not only gets you 'back on track', but also allows the players and the group as a whole to explore their characters and the world they inhabit, but also helps guide the narrative organically.

Too much babbling from me for now. It's now 20 minutes until 7 pacific, and I am really excited to see how the war is going to work! Go kick some ass, Knights!
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » February 28th, 2012, 2:16 pm

Dude, TK is almost here... yes, I know today is only Tuesday but I am still pumped
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lincoln
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Cailin » February 29th, 2012, 9:59 am

lincoln wrote:Dude, TK is almost here... yes, I know today is only Tuesday but I am still pumped


You know that guy is close enough in appearance to you that I think you should make your own gif doing that.
Cailin
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby lincoln » February 29th, 2012, 10:05 am

Cailin wrote:You know that guy is close enough in appearance to you that I think you should make your own gif doing that.

Hahaha, Yes! The first time I saw that one I actually sat back in my chair and imitated it! Now we just have to get it on camera...
lincoln
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Re: Are you ready?

Postby Sam » April 12th, 2012, 9:10 am

Don't know about the rest of you folks, but I'm rather looking forward to tonight.
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