View Full Version : Need opinion/advice/help with a campaign.

2008-03-30, 02:00 PM
Now, SoD, and anyone else of my group, avert your eyes.

I DM one of the games that we have been having lately. It features three gestalt goblins: see the spoiler for what has happened so far, told by one of the players:

Well, let's see, an update on how we went...

Presession: At the last moment, I decided, on a whim, to go a swashbuckler//warmage instead of ninja//soulknife, which meant we had an arcanist (I also put ranks into UMD, for a few feats I want to pick up later). It was going to be a suprise for the others about my change in class...but someone grabbed my character sheet to peek at my wisdom score. We also breifly went around and gave a breif discription of our characters.

Rogue//Monk: a wandering goblin monk, who joined up with us. LN (I personally hold the lawful alignment under question).
Cleric (Kord)//Fighter: NG goblin. Out because he like to kill. Upon questioning (from me) about the fact he was neuatral good, that changed to: enjoys overcoming challenges and is out for that reason.
Swashbuckler//Warmage: LG goblin, and wants to become a paladin (there are no paladin goblins in the village), and has to learn from an existing paladin. His name is Thudruk, but upon gaining a level in paladin, he will take on the name 'Prator' after one of the most powerful paladins who ever lived. He, someday, wants to recover the Sheild of Prator (major artifact, DMG). If able to reach paladinhood, he will go up in Paladin instead of Swashbuckler (I want to at least hit Swashbuckler 3 for the int to damage). Oh, it'll be non-spell casting paladin (can you say 6 wisdom?!).

Begining: We were playing 'A Dark and Stormy Knight' (slightly modified). After going in and setting up, and failing to opon the doors, our cleric bull rushed one...and it fell in on him. The 8 rats swarmed out at us, I ran up to them, but didn't have enough to attack or cast a spell, 2 went for the cleric, 2 went for the monk, I got the first kill. Burning Hands scorched three of them at once (all killed), then a forth provoked an AoO when going for the monk, which I killed it with. The cleric dealt with his two, and the monk managed to flurry the other two in one round, up until that, he hadn't hit a single one!

The first doorway: The other two enter, and the vargoulle (whatever) screams and attacks. I hear the scream, and rush up. Cleric casts 'cause fear' and it fails its save. Then I ran in and magic missled it to death in one shot (total of 8 damage [4 on d4, +1 for magic missle damage, +3 int for warmage edge]). We grab the loot and XP.

The second doorway: I see the chest, run up, opon it, and get hit in the face with a dart fullisade. We grab loot and leave.

The third doorway: We enter, and see an elf standing there. He says 'storm peace' and then fires at us. We deal with him easily, but I refuse to let the monk kill him. There is a rope tied to the top of a chute, leading to the surface. I start climbing it. Conversation: 'Where are you going?' 'I'm getting the rope for us!' 'What?' 'Simple, I climb up, cut the rope with my handaxe, then climb down.' '...seriously?' 'Yup.' 'How are you going to climb back down?' 'Down the rope.' '...' '...oh.' Luckily, Mr. Drow had his own rope, so I tied him up with that. They continue on, I stay to tie up Mr. Drow.

The final encounter: They find a bugbear zombie, which knocks out the monk with a javelin, then a hit from its morningstar (I know zombies can't move and attack in one round...does that include five foot steps?). The cleric ran down a small passageway, and it follows him. Then I get there, and block the zombies exit. Cleric turns undead, it runs away...but I'm in the way, so it cowers in front of me. I then start throwing disrupt undeads at it, then, when I was out of spells, hack away with my handaxe. After the turning wears off, it gets up, the cleric aproaches and we flank and hack away at it. It knocks me unconcious, the cleric runs away...fails his spot checks, both to see the spider, and to see the spiders web...and gets stuck. The spider comes down, and bites him (bad roll, thank god). Zombie aproaches and takes a swing at the spider. Spider, seeing it as more of a threat, then tries to bite it instead...scores a critical hit...bypasses the DR...and kills it. The zombie that nearly TPK'd us, knocked two of us out, and made the third run off was killed by a spider. Cleric escapes and kills the spider. Heals the pair of us, I take off the spider to give it a decent burial.

Afterwards: The drow has a map! I interogate him, convince him to help us (although he's leading us into a trap, but I don't know that), and bribe the monk into not killing him (I had to give away my headband! I needed that +1 to will saves! and it ends as we lead off to the drows stronghold.

Oh, and the cleric leveled up...and we didn't...grr.

It contains pretty much what happened.

Here's what going to happen next. The three goblins are lead by their drow guide - surprise, surprise - into an ambush. There will be a cleric, sorceror, barbarian and rapier-dual-wielding fighter, alongside with their class-less comrade Fulin, their supposed scout. He'll make a run for it in the beginning of the fight.

I have some questions here:

Is this a fair fight?

What's the CR of this encounter (I'm still new to Dm'ing, so please forgive me)?

How much/what treasure should I give them? Again, sorry for ignorance, but the last adventure was pre-made so I didn't do much preparing.

What tactics should I use?

I expect the two others to catch up in levels in this fight. After the fight, or even during it, it depends, the adventurers will discover that the drow had a prisoner: a young hobgoblin paladin. After releasing him (I hope) he will leave for his own underground city through a portal - the very same that the drow came through. I'm hoping that the PCs will follow, since one of them - the most experience one - has expressed that his character wants to become a paladin. This should hook him, and maybe a couple of promises of rewards will take the rest.

After a few days of travel, they arrive at the goblin/hobgoblin town. It is relatively small, with only a few hundred inhabitants living in a large cave, but it is well-structured due to its paladin chief. They live off a mushroom farm and a small, dammed lake of fresh-water with trouts in it. The dam merely holds the river enough for a lake to form, before it runs into the great underground sea nearby.

There'll be a few possible quests for them. I expect them to stay there for at least a little while, until the to-be-paladin is initiated. Meet quest number one. I am going to adapt the pre-made adventure from the wizards of the coast website "Windswept" into underground conditions.

Basically this means that there is a 10th level human wizard living nearby - underground - that hires the goblins for mining and construction purposes. But something goes wrong, of course. There's a cave-in, and the PCs are needed. The high-level paladin NPC can't participate in this or other quests, becouse he is investigating the possible drow threat.

After that, I'll introduce another pre-made adventure: "Bad light," that takes place near the sea.

Well, this about what I have thought out so far. Any thoughts? Opinions? Would you play this campaign?

2008-03-30, 02:11 PM
A single zombie nearly killed 3 gestalt characters??? o.O

What kind of zombie were you using??

2008-03-30, 02:34 PM
A regular bugbear zombie with a morningstar from monster manual. The damned bastard got pretty lucky with his rolls, had to fudge couple of the damage rolls to prevent deaths.

They even had several rounds time with the turn effect, but 42 hitpoints is a lot.

2008-03-30, 05:30 PM
Define 'fair fight'. And remember, D&D defines an even fight as tough. At a glance, you're setting up a potential TPK. Your stated plan starts with an ambush by what appears to be an evenly matched set of opponents. So you've taken a 50/50 fight and given the bad guys an advantage.

Can't tell CR without more info but I'd suggest using this site (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm) for a rough estimate. Remember, it's set for a standard four person party.

On tactics - unless you're just trying for a TPK, give your opponents some disadvantages. Poor spell selection, no offensive magic items, poorly made weapons & armor, bad choice of ambush location, etc. Give the NPCs some hindrances and relate the disadvantages back to them. If they're not terribly smart they may make a poor choice of ambush location and get spotted. If they're poor they'll have substandard equipment. So on and so forth...

Catch up in levels? If you're playing standard 3.5, experience should be group based with everyone who played that session getting nearly the same experience. Don't go down the road of playing favorites, it's fraught with out of game social conflict. :)

Also watch out for how many higher level NPCs you use. The PCs should be the 'stars' and it's easy to overshadow them with any NPC but especially with more powerful NPCs.

Would I play 'this campaign'? Probably not. Which isn't the same as saying I wouldn't start the campaign...just that differing choices may well send the PCs off on other tangents. Right now I see very little about the PCs' goals. The only potential goal is the paladin wannabe and that won't last long.

What do the player's characters plan on doing? Are they even willing to go in presumably human towns? What do they want to do in character? What type of game do the players want to play out of character?

There are several threads with suggestions for GMs if you're looking for more general advice. There's also this blog (http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/) and this article on running games (http://www.gregstolze.com/HowtoRun.zip). There's a plethora of advice out there if you want it. Good luck and good gaming!

2008-03-30, 07:56 PM
1. Experience should be given to all characters if they make it through an encounter. Even if the cleric killed the spider on his own, the rest of you should still get XP. (Because there will be encounters where someone won't even get to take their turn before the enemy dies---or they die.)

2. As for the CR of the next encounter, I can't say.
For humanoids, it's generally CR = PC class level. If they use NPC classes, it's class level-1. If they're going up against drow at the level they're at, just use the vanilla Drow from the Monster manual (it has 1 level of Warrior). Drow get CR = class level if they use NPC classes, or CR = class level+1 if using PC classes.

CR X means that "this monster is a challenge (tough, but not fatal) for a group of four PCs of level X."

Challenge rating is not always accurate (a Level 13 Wizard is not the same as a Level 13 Monk is not the same as a CR 13 dragon). You'll have to eyeball it a bit.

Encounter Level is calculated based on the individual monsters included in the encounter. I find this encounter calculator (http://legionofgeeks.com/encounter_calc.php) to be a lot quicker than looking up the EL table in the DM guide, which unfortunately tends to assume you only fight one monster at a time.
Factor into this the situation (ie, if the PCs are standing on a narrow platform surrounded by lava and the enemies are immune to fire, it's a lot more challenging than the enemy's individual CR.) and adjust the EL accordingly.

As a rule, EL should be equal to the average party level. If the EL is 1-4 more above the party level, it will be a "very difficult" encounter. If the EL is 5 over the party level, that should generally be the maximum encounter level the party can take, and they should theoretically only take on such encounters if they're fresh (full HP, all spells prepared). EL 6 or more over the party's level is deadly.

If the party is more than four characters or is gestalt, they should be able to take on higher-level encounters than usual. My party of 5 (paladin, ranger, rogue, cleric, wizard) was able to take out an EL 11 boss at level 6. Of course, this was an extreme case and was due to a lot of luck on their party.

The same party is currently fighting another EL 5 over the party's level (party level 8, EL 13), and they're getting owned.

2008-03-31, 02:25 AM
First off, I'd like to thank you for posting. I really appreciate this.

The four drow with class levels originally wasn't my idea. I was suggested it in this thread. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=75143) And the xp thing... Well, I wasn't trying to play favorites. My own DM usually gives half the xp of the encounter for those that fall unconcious during it. And since the one who leveled up DID defeat the spider alone, I thought it was fair.

I stand corrected. How should I fix this? Just explain this during the next session and give the two others enough xp to level up?

What do the player's characters plan on doing? Are they even willing to go in presumably human towns? What do they want to do in character? What type of game do the players want to play out of character?

To be perfectly honest, I don't know. I kinda originally half assumed that this would be a one-shot, so I didn't demand much background information from them. When I asked them after the game if they wanted it to go on, they said yes, so, well, here I am

Only the paladin-wannabe did provide some character goals, and he is the one who introduced us to DnD, so yeah.

EDIT: Oh, and I'm running this mainly on sandbox basis. If they plan on doing something other than I had in mind, I'm just going to ask them to give me five minutes to whip something up.