Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grinding out a 4e Battle

Moving right along with post number 8 for the DBloC Challenge.

Yep, I missed a day. I chose to check out the new Conan (the Late Night Talk Show Host, not the Barbarian) show last night instead of making a blog post. Part of that was based on an interest in the new show and part of it was procrastination.

Revenge of the Giants: A 4th Edition D&D Super Adventure (D&D Adventure)You see, gentle readers, we got into a real grind situation in our 4e game last night. I'm running Revenge of the Giants as part of my campaign. I've been inserting hints and clues for months and months now, and even managed to loosely link two of the characters back stories into the story line. Everything was going pretty well, but, as you know if you've been following the blog, I've been getting a little burned out on 4e. We're planning a break in the action to try out some other games which should let me get back to the 4e action feeling rejuvenated, hopefully.

Anyway, our party of stalwart defenders have made it to Argent. They have met with Obanar. They have done a bunch of research and fended off some invasions....then the walls of Argent are attacked at two points. The first combat encounter took hours. There were a bunch of giants and a roc. The roc seemed totally over-powered for the party for some reason, even though the PCs are in the appropriate level range for the adventure. All of it's defenses, except for Will are 30. They never even managed to hit the thing. Eventually, I just had if fly away once they killed all the other giants. The party wanted to try to stay on the wall, which provided protection (and because they were terrified of being dropped off the 300 ft cliff), but they don't really have any big-time ranged damage hogs, so they were just kind of plinking away. Eventually, they got on ground, but not after having to expend a good deal of their dailies just to get through the fight.

The "Freaking" Behir (wish I would have had the right mini).
Immediately, another wall across the city is under attack. We decided to wait for the next game to even get into this fight, which was a great plan. It was the only thing we managed to do last night. About 3 hours for a single encounter and the players had almost no control on what happened. This encounter contained an Earth Archon, another Hill Giant and a (freaking) Behir. The Behir was a level 12 Solo with 500 hit points, and three actions per round. I should have dug out the rule changes for solos and updated the thing, but I figured I'd just roll with it. I admit it. I was being lazy. There was a 1 in 10 chance that every round after the 3rd, that 4 giant minions would enter the fray (fortunately, it only happened once). There was also a 1 in 10 chance that a protective barrier would snap into place, blocking any further additions to the fray.

The combat started out great. They giant lobbed a bomb at the gates and caught a character in the blast. The behir swallowed an adventurer and he managed to escape after a round or two. The archon knocked some dudes on their butts. The adventurers were getting their asses kicked, but everyone was laughing and having fun. Unfortunately, since the previous fight was also pretty freaking brutal, they had expended a lot of their big damage powers, so things slowed down very quickly. Eight or so rounds in and most of the characters are bloodied and everyone is bored. The giant is down, the minions are gone, the Behir isn't even bloodied and they hadn't even hit the archon yet. I hand wave the random roll to get the protective wall up. I could have been there all night trying to roll a 19 or 20. If they players actually could have effected it, it would have been an interesting mechanic, but they didn't even know what was going on. Two rounds later, I had Obanar show up on the wall to help out. Yep. I threw in the over-powered NPC to save the players asses, mostly because I just wanted the thing to end. Even that wasn't enough. They all ended up climbing the wall to get out of harms reach, so I just ended the combat. I was bored. They were bored. Blah.

The PCs were then supposed to immediately follow the supply line back to the hill giant encampment, but there was no way the players were going without resting. They had expended everything just to get through those two fights. So I let them rest then we quit for the night. It was such an ordeal, that I didn't want to even get started into the next session. 

Things I would change about these encounters if I were to run them again:
  • The players can effect the closing of the protective barrier.
  • The closing of the barrier ends the combat encounter
  • More invaders of a lower level, so the players are more likely to be overwhelmed than over-matched.
  • Opportunity to capture/force information out of the enemies
  • Opportunity to escape if necessary.
D&D Gamma World Roleplaying Game: A D&D Genre Setting (4th Edition D&D)Fortunately, this seemed like as good as any point to break from the campaign for a while. I was expecting to do another session or two, but I don't think the PCs will be able to get into and out of the encampment in that time-frame, so we're just going to stop now. In two weeks, Dave will be running Gamma World (new edition with 4e rule set). Color me very excited.

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