Sunday, March 8, 2009

Down the Beholder goes...

Well, today was the last day of our current adventure. Our party technically has 5 people in it, but with 2 of them never coming to the games, it has meant that we have been 3 manning the dungeons, which has been chalenging and fun, but also limited what we could go up against. The guy we have been playing with from Germany is leaving the day after tomorrow; tomorrow is a big party day, so no chance for any roleplaying action, so we wanted to go out with a bang.

The current adventure path we are running set the PC's into an underground goblin castle only to find that nothing was what it seems. The first time around, we had encounters with every single goblin from the Monster Manual, but also had a fight with a ochre jelly, an enraged cave bear, a pack on angry crocodiles, a prison full of hobgoblins, 2 cambions caught in the act of bdsm, 3 hilarious, but stupid gargoyles, and to top it all of an Oni-Mage. The Players went into the castle at level one, came out at level 6. There were other more mundane encounters in between to boost there levels and allow them a chance at defeating the oni mage, which i found was truly fun to play. His tactics are especially hard to deal with when you fail all your knowledge checks and then insult him by calling him an ogre... so he got pissed and whiped the floor with them before they finally burnt all of their action points and used all their dailies to taking him down figuring out that he was basically the boss monster.

Because of the way the new system works, we wanted to play a little with the paragon tier, so we sent them back to the dungeon, five game years and five levels later, to wrangle with the new dungeon inhabitants. We found that at level 11 things get busted really fast. The attack scores are pretty high and because of the significant ammount of damage they are dishing out, low level encounters mean almost nothing to them. My fighter, the one that should be taking damage and burning healing surges didn't take damage the entire adventure accept from an ongoing damage trap which neither needed to roll to hit or to deal damage (5 damage every turn from a Chain devil torture chamber trap which worked as long as one of the kytons was alive); his armor class was simply to high. He's sporting a defensive longsword +3 and some decent armor, so his AC hit 29 before i decide to take total defense and then it pops way up, so the enemies, which should be going for him now find that he's to tough to deal with....

Tonight, we really wanted to fight a beholder, so i sent the party of three level 11 martial characters into the fight against an Eye of Flame; this was a good idea in theory, until i made the mistake of saying, "i wonder if you can kill the beholder before he even gets an attack off." Sure enough, he rolled last on initiative and they started outside of his aura of eye beam attacks. It had been getting late and they guessed that i wouldn't send anything else against them tonight, and as it was really the last night of play, they busted out all of their action points in one round. This wouldn't have been terrible had we not just went through 6 previous combats and were on the verge of death, but the cost of losing all the action points and wasting our dailies was too great to go ahead and rest, so we fought the beholder with no healing surges on the ranger, one on the rogue and the tank, thanfully near max. However, it didn't really matter. The ranger used hail of arrows, spent 4 action points and did 210 damage to the beholder. The rogue then charged in popping behind it, spent his 4 action points and used four daily attacks and his sly flourish (which has now become somewhat of a character defining attack {we insist that as the rogue has never succeeded on a stealth check that mattered as well as the fact that his main attack is flashy riposte with a sly flourish backup, that in fact this vampiric eladrin is so loudly gay that his opponents can see his fabulousness coming from a mile away... pardon being politically incorrect}) busted out 137 damage. Now, with this ammount, the beholder has taken 347 damage, over 100 points more than his maximum, from two characters which are 2 levels lower than his is, just because they plowed through several encounters of flunkies without going to bed for the day. The fighter didn't even get to act, out of frustration he sauntered over to the beholder and ripped its eye out of its skull, which turned out to be easy considering how mutilated the corpse had become.

What i have taken from this:
  1. Never let them know who the boss is. If they know which one is the boss, they are going to burn everything all at once to get rid of him.
  2. Make the flunkies nearly as awesome as the boss is so they don't quite know if this is the big finale.
  3. Make the encounters longer and put more in them so the action points don't build up. Alternatively limit the number of action points that can be spent in a round. I may have gotten this wrong in hindsight and that might be already a rule, but hell, i don't know i've been dming 4th edition for like a week. If it is, that rule needs to be in Bold Font on Every CHARACTER SHEET!
  4. Make sure your dm at least knows the rules. Right now, i'm learning 4th edition for the first time and my computer is too slow to look up rules with any ammount of speed that matters. My friends usually are using my books and stopping to make them look a rule up for me kind of kills the sense of suprise if i'm trying to look it up before a fight and borrowing the books from them slows down gameplay.
  5. Never let a beholder fight a ranger one on one. The ranger always wins. With increased attack range from a feat, the ranger can literally outrange the beholder and never take a hit. If they fight solo and in a moderately open environment, the beholder loses every time.
That's all for now. I'll be keeping in touch with more to come, including the web coming we're working on as well as a few fiction pieces and adventures to kick start that portion of our blog.

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