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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    XiaoTie's Avatar

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    Default Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

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    So I decided that the last combat encounter of our group first adventure should be a bit more challenging and even more fun than the others. Everyone and their uncles do that but unlike most of them, I'm not that good with coming up with ways to make 'balanced' new unusual stuff.
    With that in mind, I come to you guys to maybe get some help on that. But, before I show you the encounter, let me introduce the PCs:

    Selences, female elven Ranger (archery);
    Kavaki, male goliath Shaman (protector spirit);
    Aria, female human Swordmage (shielding);
    Fisto, 'male' warforged Monk;
    Zafer, male fire genasi Warden (wild warden);

    So far only two of them (Selences and Aria) have some unique items which I made with some help of the homebrewers here on this thread.

    With a generous array (18 16 16 14 12 10) and clever tactics they have walked through some level 3 encounters while they were only level 1. Now they are level 2 (almost 3) and are about to face the evil kobold dude that runs this place they are in.

    In order to make this special and dynamic I decided to use the good ol' "Early Form"-"Final Form" kind of boss. Namely, a kobold that once "killed" will (after being empowered by two statues thing) transform into a dragon.

    Here's what I have:

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    They will fight in a large room (giving the dragon form some room to maneuver)
    Part I Early Form

    [x] 1 kobold War Priest [L5 Controller] {Dragon 364, p. 59}
    [x] 2 goblin Bodyguard [L1 Elite Soldier] (goblin warriors with the template Bodyguard and some changes)



    ([x] Trap-Idol)

    The kobold will fight until it is killed, when he will transform into the Young Red dragon from Part II of the combat; that will happen in a cinematic sequence where the kobold will perform a large explosion around him.

    The bodyguards will focus their attention on the front liners of the group, preventing them from reaching the Kobold. Trap-Idol.

    Part II Master Form

    [x] 1 young red dragon [L4 Solo Soldier]:



    So, what should I do? Make it a bit harder, or maybe a bit easier?
    Last edited by XiaoTie; 2009-06-07 at 11:40 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    This is essentially two encounters one after another, which is quite dangerous, especially if they've already spent the high-damage powers that are needed to take down a Solo easily. I'd let them have at least a short rest before each half of the encounter. Probably have the kobold run away as it's defeated, and have the next encounter start in an adjoining room.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Thajocoth's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    As Mando said, the two encounters in a row thing would pretty much suck for the party... But you can't really pause the action. That'd be anticlimactic.

    Here's what you can do. The statues' power that invigorates this Kobold into a Dragon... Don't make it a single target thing. Have it be an area effect. The effect for the PCs would simply be that they recharge their used encounter powers and gain an action point. Maybe let any PC that hadn't already spent their Second Wind spend a surge too. It helps the Kobold more than the players, but it puts the Dragon's defeat within the players grasp. It's not quite as good as a real rest, because the players aren't getting to stop to spend surges, so it's not a total reset either, which should help keep the tension going.
    Last edited by Thajocoth; 2009-06-05 at 08:28 PM.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Decoy Lockbox's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    Alternatively, you could just have them count as if they had taken a short rest, to avoid having a break in the combat.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    In another way of putting it, at this level, lacking the high-damage powers (especially the decent bank of Daily powers that comes with high levels) becomes dangerous... especially since the Shaman's also probably used up his healing powers in the first encounter. The idea's a good one--might even steal it for my own campaigns--but to make the second fight fair you may want to have the villain swipe a page out of Rubicante's (Final Fantasy IV) book and let the heroes heal before trying to obliterate them. This should be used especially if the kobold is arrogant. Which it should be, since it just turned into its most favorite thing ever.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    XiaoTie's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    Quote Originally Posted by Thajocoth View Post
    As Mando said, the two encounters in a row thing would pretty much suck for the party... But you can't really pause the action. That'd be anticlimactic.

    Here's what you can do. The statues' power that invigorates this Kobold into a Dragon... Don't make it a single target thing. Have it be an area effect. The effect for the PCs would simply be that they recharge their used encounter powers and gain an action point. Maybe let any PC that hadn't already spent their Second Wind spend a surge too. It helps the Kobold more than the players, but it puts the Dragon's defeat within the players grasp. It's not quite as good as a real rest, because the players aren't getting to stop to spend surges, so it's not a total reset either, which should help keep the tension going.
    Ooh, pretty cool idea, I'll set a range on the statues and give them maybe a 2d6+4 heal for whoever is inside the range, or maybe let them surge once for half the value. Thanks for the help

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    In another way of putting it, at this level, lacking the high-damage powers (especially the decent bank of Daily powers that comes with high levels) becomes dangerous... especially since the Shaman's also probably used up his healing powers in the first encounter. The idea's a good one--might even steal it for my own campaigns--but to make the second fight fair you may want to have the villain swipe a page out of Rubicante's (Final Fantasy IV) book and let the heroes heal before trying to obliterate them. This should be used especially if the kobold is arrogant. Which it should be, since it just turned into its most favorite thing ever.
    RUBICANTE! Awesome idea, now I'm torn between using this idea or the other one... Thanks Mando Knight.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    You could have the dragon "reset" the encounter as part of his transformation. Instead of just turning into a dragon, he'd basically (and not in these words, of course) yell "DO-OVER!" and use some sort of magic to return everybody to how they were at the start of the fight...except that he decides he shouldn't screw around this time and instead fight as a dragon.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    XiaoTie's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    You could have the dragon "reset" the encounter as part of his transformation. Instead of just turning into a dragon, he'd basically (and not in these words, of course) yell "DO-OVER!" and use some sort of magic to return everybody to how they were at the start of the fight...except that he decides he shouldn't screw around this time and instead fight as a dragon.
    Hum, I think this would be usable if I were throwing a full normal solo young dragon at them, but this isn't the case

    This is what I'm throwing at them:
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    The idea is that it is a single encounter (a hard one at that), but not a TPK one. Doing-over would make things too easy (I think)
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    First, is the Solo soldier balanced? It should be doing about 3.5 times the damge output of a standard level 4 solo over the course of an encounter. This is a completely orthogonal question to "is the encounter balanced".

    Next, add up the encounter's XP budget. It is all one encounter.

    Level 5 controller -- 200 XP
    Level 1 elite -- 200 XP x 2
    = 600 XP.

    Level 4 solo -- 875 XP

    Total = 1475. Without a trap.

    5 group members = ~300 XP per character = Level 6 encounter.

    That means if you threw this at an entire party of level 2 characters, at once, they would be in danger of a TPK.

    You are doing two waves. And two waves can make things easier, or it could fool the players into wasting resources on less important things.

    I'd be tempted to "down level" the controller's early form.

    Instead of 2 idols, I'd go with 3 idols. Two in the background, and one nearby. The nearby one you turn into an immobile trap/opponent.

    As the players attack, the kobold priest finishes a spell, and tendrils of fire flow into the priest and his guards from the idols.

    Say a level 1 double-HP trap (~60 HP, 17 AC 15 Reflex (fire tendrils block attacks) 16 Fortitude immune Will, +5 vs Reflex for 1d10 fire damage attack. Immune to push/pull/slide/stun/daze/prone/etc, and other attacks that don't make much sense against a pillar. A successful standard action skill check (Arcana, Thievery, Athletics -- so long as the PC is being creative) against DC 20 deals 10+1 point per point you beat the DC by damage to it) in the middle of the room.

    Destroying the first idol triggers a small explosion (dealing 1d10 fire damage in close burst 4), and makes the war priest start to transform. Tongues of fire shoot out from the broken and functional idols (they gain 15 points of resist all during this), and the bodyguards are left alone to fight the PCs.

    The tendrils of fire stop also flowing into the bodyguards. They lose half of their current HP.

    1 turn later the priest turns into the dragon form -- except the form is mishappen, because the PCs destroyed one of the idols. The priest is pissed about this.

    Trails of fire continue to link this new Dragon form to the idols (hint hint). If they don't get it, you could describe the tendril of fire "searing a wound shut on the Dragon".

    Instead of close burst attacks, have the idols do the above ranged fire attack. It represents one of the tendrils of fire that are whipping around the room possibly hitting a PC. (it doesn't provoke OAs).

    This reduces the fight to mostly being about the Dragon.

    Killing the wormpriest results in one of the idols cracking open, and the same thing happening. However, the Dragon then starts 1/4 of max HP down (this helps prevent the PCs from being overwealmed), still wounded from the blows you struck the priest.

    The bodyguards may attempt to defend the idols in the early part of the fight.

    The bodyguards are not, however, immune to the frightful presence of the Dragon when it arrives. If things are going poorly, the bodyguards can break and flee, or the Dragon can swallow a bodyguard (he is hungry after the transformation!).

    Give the Dragon full HP. When you break an idol, the Dragon takes 60 points of damage (not including the one that is broken by plot in order to cause the Dragon to come into existence). This simplifies bookkeeping.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    XiaoTie's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    Quote Originally Posted by Yakk View Post
    [snip]Huge awesome advice[/snip]
    Hum, like this?
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    Still didn't add the single idol trap, but I wonder if I understood correctly what you said about the other two Idols' attacks.

    About the damage average, I gave the dragon's by going over the other young dragons', solo soldiers of that level, and using (not much tho) the tables on the DMG that have that damage thing
    Last edited by XiaoTie; 2009-06-07 at 08:34 AM.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    That generous array has made your PCs at least 2 levels higher than they would be normally (besides their HP and heavy armor AC). I don't have much to say on this special battle but if you want regular fights to be harder just adjust up with that in mind.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    XiaoTie's Avatar

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    Default Re: Encounter building/balance advice [4E]

    Quote Originally Posted by Kletian999 View Post
    That generous array has made your PCs at least 2 levels higher than they would be normally (besides their HP and heavy armor AC). I don't have much to say on this special battle but if you want regular fights to be harder just adjust up with that in mind.
    That would explain why they were able to treat level 3 battles like it was nothing. Thanks for the headsup Kletian, it will indeed help on the building (making it a bit harder if need be) of this encounter.
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