View Full Version : Difficulty of high level elites (4.0)

2009-06-01, 06:33 PM
Hey all, have a quick question on how difficult it is for a party to fight higher level elites. The party is level 3, a Fighter, Druid, Bard, Avenger and Warlock, none of which are terribly optimized, but hardly weak either. Their next adventure will be to investigate a recently abandoned temple of Bane. It was built by Hobgoblins, and was a nearly impenetrable fortress at a key location, so the fact that it's just been abandoned is a major concern. The reason it has been abandoned is that Bane is creating an avatar for himself there, which has caused various side effects, the dead rising and attacking randomly, various dark creatures gathering ect.

At the end of the adventure, I'm going to give them (mostly the Avenger) a chance to clense the temple, severing its connection from Bane, and preventing the avatar from being created. They probably won't realize that's what is happening, but knowing the party, they're pretty likely to try. I started it as a skill challenge, but seeing as how religion seemed the only real useful skill, with perhaps Arcana and Nature being able to provide a bonus to religion checks, I wanted something for the other party members to do.

I decided the Avatar, in its incomplete form, could rise and attack them, and a Hobgoblin Hand of Bane seemed like a good creature to use for that. However, even though exp wise it doesn't add up to a full encounter for them, it would clearly wipe them out. At the very least, its defenses need to be lowered, and I think I will allow successes in the skill challenge to sap his HP as well. While the rules for lowering and raising a monsters level in the DMG have worked well, I don't know how much I should lower him, or how much it would really help.

I think I may just lower all his defenses by 4. Does that seem reasonable? Or do you have a recomendation on a solo monster of about their level that could easily be refluffed? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance for suggestions, and for reading my wall of text, probably added more details than I needed to.

2009-06-01, 06:52 PM
Normally, elite and solo monsters are somewhat easier than twice (or five times) their number of normal monsters, due to the simple fact that the player party gets to act twice (or five times) for every monster action. However, in this case, I'd call the Hand of Bane simply too high-level to be an appropriate encounter; its defenses are too high to hit, its attacks nigh-unavoidable, and its attacks deal too much damage when they do hit.

Even lowering its defenses by 4, you still have to deal with the fact that it can relatively easily take one PC out every 2-3 turns.

However, if you were to reduce it to level 6, which would involve reducing its attacks and defenses by 2 points, its damage by 1, and its hit points by 32, then giving it a couple of allies to make a level 6 encounter, you'd have a very strong, but not insurmountable, foe to deal with. That's what I would recommend; altering monster levels in 4e is actually fairly easy, so it's a good way to get monsters that you otherwise wouldn't have.

2009-06-01, 06:58 PM
Another possibility is taking the Hobgoblin Commander (same page in the MM) and adding the Battle Champion template from the DMG. You'll end up with a level 5 elite who can rally his allies - something you'd think would happen if an avatar of your god suddenly showed up to fight off the invaders.

2009-06-01, 06:59 PM
That seems like good advice, but even with its defenses down by two, I think it would be hard to hit. Perhaps if I did that, and incorperated more into the skill challenge? Perhaps each success deals 1/8 of its HP total automatically, and a failure would spawn some zombie minions?

2009-06-01, 09:42 PM
That seems like good advice, but even with its defenses down by two, I think it would be hard to hit. Perhaps if I did that, and incorperated more into the skill challenge? Perhaps each success deals 1/8 of its HP total automatically, and a failure would spawn some zombie minions?

Down by 2 it takes roughly a 15 or better to hit, relative to 17 before. It depends on your characters and their optimization, as you could sneak in another 3 or 4 attack if you really work at it, but that's the rough level that's expected. That's actually a pretty big change, though; 25% to hit relative to 15% is a 66% increase, which works out to roughly the same improvement in the party's ability to damage the thing.

The more important thing is the reduction in the Hobgoblin's to-hit and to a lesser extent damage; it would probably hit your characters roughly as often as they miss it, so it would be easily slaughtering things. The attack reduction helps reduce the damage it can do dramatically, which is what you want.

I wouldn't really like it if disrupting the ritual or performing a counterritual just damaged the BBEG. I think it would be cooler if you made the ritual the bad guys were performing slowly strengthed the Avatar (say, by +1 attack/defense each round and +1 damage every other round) and disrupting the ritual with the "wrong" magics (Religion, Arcana, Nature, even Heal if you want) reverses this, even beyond the point where the battle started. It would mean slowly reducing the Avatar's ability to hurt the party without randomly causing it to become bloodied; in other words, it actually weakens it instead of hurting it somehow.

Do be sure you drop hints about the power of the ritual, though. I know many parties would simply miss the opportunity.

2009-06-01, 09:59 PM
That's why I wanted it to deal damage to him, so there's a good incentive to continue with the challenge. My players would probably find weakening it not to be worthwhile, and fluff wise, my idea was that the Avatar was slowly appearing. The ritual would cut off Bane's connections to it, which would cause damage. Also, there won't be any enemies left there by the time they're taking it on, though I'll probably still that idea for another fight down the road.