A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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    Default Take down that sentry! (4E)

    So we were playing our 4E age of worms campaign and we had some foulspawn sentries to take down before rescuing some elves (stuck up on a cross on top of a wall). But the game does not have a good mechanic for one shotting a sentry. We managed to take out two before the full battle started but we should have at least had a chance of one person taking one sentry. Allowing us to do the rescue before attacking the baddies. I am thinking sneaking up and with a cut of a blade bringing down the guard in silence.

    I proposed in the future we use the coup de grace rules for striking from the darkness against an unprepared foe, but I wondered what the playgrounders thought. Does anyone have a good easily workable 4E mechanic for taking that dang sentry out?
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Were the foulspawn aware that you were coming? If so, it should have been resolved like any other battle.

    Otherwise, it seems like the perfect scenario for a skill challenge.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    I'm AFB at the moment, but isn't coup de grace still in there? Alternatively, yes this would be a great idea for a skill challenge. Acrobatics/Athletics to climb over walls or obstacles or whatever, Stealth of course with more than a few failures meaning you're detected and you roll initiative, Bluff/Intimidate if you'd rather pretend you're supposed to be there than sneak by them, etc. Then with enough successes, you succeed in completely fooling them and catching them off guard, and you take them out.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    The problem with this is that 4e doesn't have much variety of monster types. A mook monster is either a regular (in which case it's almost impossible to kill with one hit) or a minion (in which case it's almost impossible not to kill with one hit).

    So the obvious solution is to get the DM to make sentries minions. If you can't get that to work, the other options would be:

    a) Coup-de-grace; unreliable, unless you have someone in the party who can reliably deal over half the HP of a standard monster by critting them.

    b) Skill challenge; this is basically the same as asking the DM for a workaround, so if you can get him to agree, just go for the minion thing. It would also get very boring to do over and over again.

    c) Uh, drawing a blank here.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-04 at 05:31 PM.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    a) Coup-de-grace; unreliable, unless you have someone in the party who can reliably deal over half the HP of a standard monster by critting them.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    b) Skill challenge; this is basically the same as asking the DM for a workaround, so if you can get him to agree, just go for the minion thing. It would also get very boring to do over and over again.
    I was looking at this scenario as being very situational: as opposed to just getting an advantage in a fight, the party was trying to sneak over, take out a sentry, free some captives and then sneak out again. It wouldn't come up too often.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    I remember being quite frustrated that at 1st level, my best daily power, on a critical hit with max damage couldn't take down a level one enemy in one shot.

    Your best bet is to make the Sentries minions.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    a) Coup-de-grace; unreliable, unless you have someone in the party who can reliably deal over half the HP of a standard monster by critting them.

    Pretty reliable actually, assuming your sentry disabling PC is a striker. For examples sake, a level 4 soldier type seems to have a likely HP of a little less than 60. That means hitting 30+. My Assassin could do this with as little as 3 rounds as an absolute guarentee using only an at-will. 2 rounds is a possibility even, if we rely on the extra hit-dice from being a +1 magic item not rolling a 1.

    A sample Rogue I had sitting around could pull off the same with Sly Flourish and Combat Advantage on a roll of 5 on his +1 magic dagger. If he's using anything more dangerous than a +1 magic dagger, he's going to have an easier time.

    Sample Warlock (an unoptimised PC I built and never used, hastily leveled) manages to hit 23 with eldrich blast easily enough, meaning that he needs to roll a 7 on his 1d10 critical dice (Vicious Rod) Or simply use an encounter power and/or his Tiefling racial power.

    I doubt this is something a Barbarian would struggle to do. :)

    Of the Strikers I have on-hand, only really the Sorcerer struggles to hit 30 at all with an at-will, and he can get pretty close with a good roll on his crit dice and he's still in with a solid, 50/50 chance with Encounters even with no optimising at all, really.

    So, yeah, I'd say on balance that allowing completely unaware opponants to be coup-de-grace'd would certainly allow for 1 shotting, if that's desired, without necessarily turning all sentries into minions.

    Course, if the Cleric and the fighter want to 1-shot sentries too, best to just hope they are minions really.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Tiki, there are two problems with this. First, the PC in a position to coup-de-grace someone isn't always going to be the one who's optimised for critical hits.

    Second, to deliver a coup-de-grace an opponent has to be adjacent and helpless. This raises an obvious question: if they're helpless, why do you even need to CdG them in the first place? Can't you just walk past?

    To be honest, this is one of the things I find very frustrating about 4e. It reminds me of playing the more annoying kind of FPS games, where you can walk up to a sleeping enemy, put your gun to their unprotected head, shoot them, and watch them jump to their feet and raise the alarm while shooting you back.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Because opponents eventually stop being helpless when they wake up/escape from their bonds/overcome the magical spell rooting them in place/put down that really enthralling Jane Austen novel?

    I don't understand your point. If an opponent was at your mercy and you had no reason to keep them alive, why wouldn't you kill them?
    Last edited by FoE; 2010-01-04 at 06:56 PM.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    Tiki, there are two problems with this. First, the PC in a position to coup-de-grace someone isn't always going to be the one who's optimised for critical hits.

    Second, to deliver a coup-de-grace an opponent has to be adjacent and helpless. This raises an obvious question: if they're helpless, why do you even need to CdG them in the first place? Can't you just walk past?

    To be honest, this is one of the things I find very frustrating about 4e. It reminds me of playing the more annoying kind of FPS games, where you can walk up to a sleeping enemy, put your gun to their unprotected head, shoot them, and watch them jump to their feet and raise the alarm while shooting you back.
    Well, the above was under the premise of allowing critical hits against unaware enemies. (As I've obsessively thrashed my way through Batman; Arkham Asylum three or four times in a row, I feel this is fair enough.)

    Also, the scenario proposed by the OP was along the lines of finding a way to take out sentries before detection. This says to me that if you're sending your Defender, it damn well better be that crazy type of Paladin with the [4W] attack at level 1 and a big pointy thing.

    So, basically, under the specific outlines that I derived from the OP, Strikers are quite capable of getting the benefit from allowing their unexpected strikes to count as Coup-De-Grace's.

    In general, and without such homebrewing, yes. I agree, it's pretty unlikely you'll be dropping Sentries or other villains in 1 hit, without a lot of luck, or some insanely crafty planning. (Such as pushing them over a wall and off a 100ft drop).
    The idea, as I see it, is that if the DM wants you to be able to take the sentries out with a decent hit, this is what Minions are for and if he wants them to take the hit and still have a chance at raising the alarm, then they will have said chance by being a normal enemies. (Or if he wants to screw you over, they'll be Elites, laugh off your attack, and kick you off the wall themselves).

    The Coup-de-grace on completely unaware opponants is a nice middle-ground between the two.

    And yes, I detest FPS games like that.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Face Of Evil View Post
    Because opponents eventually stop being helpless?

    I don't understand your point.
    My point is that I think that a coup-de-grace should be lethal. It's annoying in the extreme that you need to play a specialist class to be able to one-shot helpless enemies.

    IRL, killing a helpless opponent is so easy that a child with a knife can do it. In 4e, you get ridiculous situations where the big beefy fighter CdGs a helpless sleeping enemy, and the sleeping enemy jumps to his feet and hits him back.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    The Coup-de-grace on completely unaware opponants is a nice middle-ground between the two.
    Yeah, I think your solution is probably the best one on the grounds of requiring the smallest amount of extra ruling for the DM.

    Of course, then you get into the issue that the players will start asking the DM whether the sentry's a minion, standard, or elite, since the answer makes a huge difference to how viable the "take out the sentry" tactic is going to be.
    Last edited by Saph; 2010-01-04 at 07:10 PM.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    IRL, killing a helpless opponent is so easy that a child with a knife can do it.
    Killing someone is not as easy as it seems in the movies. You'd be surprised what horrible injuries humans can survive, and unless your attack is instantly lethal, people generally take a long time to die. There have been cases where a sleeping person was stabbed and woke up to fight with their attacker, just as there have been situations where people survived after getting shot in the head.

    And that's not getting into the fact that a lot of your opponents in Dungeons and Dragons aren't human. Are goblins more or less durable than humans? What about orcs? Foulspawn? Drow? Demons? Giants?
    Last edited by FoE; 2010-01-04 at 07:14 PM.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    My point is that I think that a coup-de-grace should be lethal. It's annoying in the extreme that you need to play a specialist class to be able to one-shot helpless enemies.

    IRL, killing a helpless opponent is so easy that a child with a knife can do it. In 4e, you get ridiculous situations where the big beefy fighter CdGs a helpless sleeping enemy, and the sleeping enemy jumps to his feet and hits him back.
    There is a time and place for saying; "No, don't bother rolling damage, you just cut his head off.", admittedly.

    You have to admit though, that if a child with a butterknife stabs you in your sleep, you are less likely to die than if Jason Vorhees and his machete popped in.

    Oh, and with the same level and HP targets, a Dwarven Great-Weapon Fighter, weilding his Vicious Execution Axe, can be doing 22 damage with 2d12 yet to roll, I understand, so it's possible for non-strikers too, depending on things. (via Brash Strike).

    If you've got your opponant helpless, then it's worth putting a good shot in to make them stay down. This could mean going for as little as an encounter power to do that little extra, (Same dwarf does 31 before crit dice using a standard 2w + str power, still with 2d12 yet to add, meaning he could be taking out up to a 100+hp creature if the dice are kind enough) or if it's the big bad, maybe pop a daily (and have the axedwarf hit 43 before crit dice, leaving him being able to comfortably drop said 100+ critter, and possibly take out anything up to 134 hp without it even getting to fight back.)

    Of course, personally, I'd be inclined simply to hand-waive any such situation unless there is a special reason otherwise, but then I'm sure most DM's have been doing that since the dawn of DnD.


    [edit] - Oh, and Re; asking if it's a minion - If they can phrase it roughly in-character terms, then depending on their perceptiveness, I'll give them a fair description and let them draw their own conclusions, naturally. It's not my fault if they forget the BBEG is an insane genius who is likely to outfit his most elite troops in cheap leather and arm them with dull swords...(It's not like anyone's good enough to hit them, so why bother buying decent armour? ;) )
    Last edited by Tiki Snakes; 2010-01-04 at 07:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    Of course, personally, I'd be inclined simply to hand-waive any such situation unless there is a special reason otherwise, but then I'm sure most DM's have been doing that since the dawn of DnD.
    Yeah, I think 2e had the right idea with CdGs on sleeping enemies. I never got the chance to play it tabletop, but in computer versions such as Pool of Radiance, attacking a helpless target gave the message "X slays helpless orc with one cruel blow" and an insta-kill. Which made it a lot scarier when enemies started using things like Hold Person against you . . .
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    If I were a DM, I'd put up gongs, or bells or something, and say that the backup is too far away to hear the shouts and scuffles of battle, so if the PCs grab, hold, push, slide and control their movement away from the gongs, the PCs are successful in preventing them from gathering reinforcements.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Galdor Miriel View Post
    I proposed in the future we use the coup de grace rules for striking from the darkness against an unprepared foe, but I wondered what the playgrounders thought. Does anyone have a good easily workable 4E mechanic for taking that dang sentry out?
    I think making it a rule will be dangerous for PCs unless it's stated so that it specifically excludes them. Monsters can be stealthy and set up ambushes, too. I think this should be handled either by a skill challenge or by the DM setting some arbitrary number of HP damage required to kill this sentry on the first strike or in the first round.

    I don't own the DMG, but the PHB doesn't seem to say that ambush targets aren't helpless ... so as far as I know, the sentries actually were subject to coup de grace, and you could run the encounter without the DM having to make up skill DCs or eyeball HP benchmarks. But, yeah, dangerous to use as a rule that applies to your own characters.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    They aren't helpless. They are flat-footed.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Until alerted the sentries are minions, after being alerted they are regular monsters. Seems like a simple fix.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Asbestos View Post
    Until alerted the sentries are minions, after being alerted they are regular monsters. Seems like a simple fix.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Galdor Miriel View Post
    I proposed in the future we use the coup de grace rules for striking from the darkness against an unprepared foe, but I wondered what the playgrounders thought. Does anyone have a good easily workable 4E mechanic for taking that dang sentry out?
    Well, if your characters are OK at getting one-shotted when they fail a Perception check, then sure

    Seriously though, minions for sentries. Or use a Knockout power (like Knockout) to disable the sentry. There's more than one way to skin a cat

    EDIT: Note that I'm talking about using minions for sentries. Now why would someone do that, in game?

    (1) Minions are, usually, pretty low on the totem pole of any organization. Sentry is not a fun job to do and crap tends to flow downhill.

    (2) Sentries aren't expected to drive off intruders - they're supposed to alert the watch. So you don't need a particularly tough guy for the job - better to have the tough guys well-rested for all the pillaging in the morning.

    Personally, I fill my villainous organizations with minions and usually set them out on sentry duty. Aside from making it reasonable to do the "sneaking-by-killing" entry, this "feels" more realistic for me; what kind of organization can afford to use its elite troops in such a fashion?

    Besides, there's an easy way for the baddie to make this a secure system.
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    (1) Don't have lone sentries - either put a squad to watch a particular point, or position them at intervals so that if one drops, the others can raise the alarm.

    (2) Have a Captain of the Watch (non-minion) to make sure the sentries are alert and to help organize the defense if needed.
    Last edited by Oracle_Hunter; 2010-01-05 at 02:26 PM.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Asbestos View Post
    Until alerted the sentries are minions, after being alerted they are regular monsters. Seems like a simple fix.
    Brilliant! I love it!
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Face Of Evil View Post
    You'd be surprised what horrible injuries humans can survive, and unless your attack is instantly lethal, people generally take a long time to die.
    Yes, but you've forgotten something. Without medical attention, a wound to any vital organ will be lethal eventually. And even with medical attention, the resultant surgery and scarring dramatically shortens one's lifespan if the organ was exceedingly necessary(say, a liver).

    Either way, people can survive lots of things these days because immediate medical attention combined with advanced knowledge of human anatomy keeps people alive. However, D&D is rarely set in the modern day and you'd be dealing with medieval(or dark age) medical techniques. So with that in mind, I'd say Saph is indeed correct that a child with a knife could kill a helpless foe with ease were he/she so inclined.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    I was going to offer a couple other choices in there

    1) Grapple to grab and silence the sentry
    2) stun moves
    3) Something similar to the Minion-til-aware rule. (the one point is a bit too easy, but I'd make a 1 or 2 hp/lvl threshhold) make a sneak skill check/challenge to deliver the KO hit but you still have to deliver a reasonable damage)

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroNumerous View Post
    Yes, but you've forgotten something. Without medical attention, a wound to any vital organ will be lethal eventually. And even with medical attention, the resultant surgery and scarring dramatically shortens one's lifespan if the organ was exceedingly necessary(say, a liver).

    Either way, people can survive lots of things these days because immediate medical attention combined with advanced knowledge of human anatomy keeps people alive. However, D&D is rarely set in the modern day and you'd be dealing with medieval(or dark age) medical techniques. So with that in mind, I'd say Saph is indeed correct that a child with a knife could kill a helpless foe with ease were he/she so inclined.
    The thing is, we aren't talking about long-term survival here. We're talking about immediate ability to react. You only need to survive the eventually-lethal blow with a blade for the 30 seconds (5 rounds) that D&D combat typically takes - and, unless you get the heart or brain on your first stab, both of which are protected by thick walls of bone, or a major artery, that's well within the real of human possibility.

    It takes a surprisingly long time for people to die. What puts wounded people out of a fight is pain, shock, and weakness - veteran warriors, and those who otherwise have the toughness and pain tolerance represented by large amounts of hit points, are better at continuing to function despite those disabilities.

    (edit: for clarity)
    Last edited by Talyn; 2010-01-05 at 02:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    DM fiat. If a long, drawn-out fight would stretch credibility for the players or make it less fun, let them one-shot the sentry. I mean, if the sentry wasn't part of an encounter, and being counted for XP, he shouldn't be taxing PC resources anyhow.

    If the DM wants to make it a fun story point, though, he could manage a skill challenge, as long as he stays creative.
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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talyn View Post
    The thing is, we aren't talking about long-term survival here. We're talking about immediate ability to react. You only need to survive the eventually-lethal blow with a blade for the 30 seconds (5 rounds) that D&D combat typically takes - and, unless you get the heart or brain on your first stab, both of which are protected by thick walls of bone, or a major artery, that's well within the real of human possibility.
    Actually, there are several wounds which are not immediately lethal but will, 100% of the time, put you out of combat. All of which could be administered very easily to a helpless opponent without any trouble whatsoever. That's my core point of contention. You propose that survival is possible for a period of time, and I agree.

    However, I disagree that combat viability is maintained. The human body shuts itself down bit by bit in order to preserve the brain as long as possible, and what most often gets shut down first are the things you need in a fight. Even a seasoned warrior can't do much if blood loss has made him light-headed, weakened his muscles and he's started losing his vision. Fighting will only accelerate the loss of finer motor functions and hasten his uselessness.

    In particular, a mortal blow from an adventurer who lives his/her life by the strength of his/her sword arm would not be something one could take and survive for long enough to put up any sort of meaningful resistance. After all, it's not just the target that is a seasoned warrior in our D&D scenario. As such, I find it entirely reasonable that being caught unaware would constitute lethal CdGs.

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    Default Re: Take down that sentry! (4E)

    Quote Originally Posted by ZeroNumerous View Post
    Yes, but you've forgotten something. Without medical attention, a wound to any vital organ will be lethal eventually.
    How many rounds does "eventually" take? I think you're bound for disappointment if you're waiting for your enemy to bleed to death in a combat that takes one or two minutes at most.
    Last edited by FoE; 2010-01-05 at 03:23 PM.

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