Support the GITP forums on Patreon
Help support GITP's forums (and ongoing server maintenance) via Patreon
Results 1 to 12 of 12
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location

    Default Dealing with high AC

    So I'm running for a 3 person party right now, (Ranger, Warlord, Fighter), and as a group they collectively have very solid defenses, with AC all being between 23 and 25 at level 6. This means at level monsters are generally hitting on 35-45% of the time. Since with a 3 person party, encounter budgets are fairly tight meaning fewer monsters (fewer opportunities for flanking) and less opportunity to use higher level monsters (who would bring the math back towards 50-50), does anyone have thoughts on ways to keep encounters fun and challenging while still letting the player feel cool for their investment into defensive resources?

    My concern right now is that combat can be extremely swingy - as monsters spend a lot of time missing, but a small string of lucky hits (and particularly crits), can take what is otherwise a mundane encounter into VERY dangerous at a moment's notice.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Are their non-AC defenses on par with their AC?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Dimers's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Boston, MA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Great minds think alike. High AC isn't too unusual, but having all defenses high is. Spend more of the budget on critters that target NADs.

    I'm assuming the ranger is an archer, not TWF? That's the most likely way she'd get high AC. The fighter and warlord are almost certainly melee, of course. If only a third of the party can operate well at range, try some artillery monsters that hang back and throw Reflex attacks.

    [boilerplate]If you and the players are having a good time despite what you perceive as a lack of challenge, it ain't broke: don't fix it.[/boilerplate]
    Avatar by Meltheim: Eveve, dwarven battlemind, 4e Dark Sun

    Current games list

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Quote Originally Posted by Dimers View Post
    [boilerplate]If you and the players are having a good time despite what you perceive as a lack of challenge, it ain't broke: don't fix it.[/boilerplate]
    This. Also, encounters with fail conditions other than PC death. Preventing team monster from pushing a button, or blowing up a bridge, or sending for reinforcements, or finishing a ritual within a certain time. Keeping someone else alive. Avoiding capture - team monster doesn't have to kill the party when it defeats them. That sort of thing.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Excession's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Minions may also be something this party struggles with. They let you put a lot of enemies on the map, and against a party with only minor area of effect attacks they can be quite nasty. Use minion artillery if you hate your players and want them to suffer. On the up side they don't do a huge amount of damage individually, so can be less swingy.
    Last edited by Excession; 2020-04-30 at 03:40 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Quote Originally Posted by Diego View Post
    So I'm running for a 3 person party right now, (Ranger, Warlord, Fighter), and as a group they collectively have very solid defenses, with AC all being between 23 and 25 at level 6. This means at level monsters are generally hitting on 35-45% of the time. Since with a 3 person party, encounter budgets are fairly tight meaning fewer monsters (fewer opportunities for flanking) and less opportunity to use higher level monsters (who would bring the math back towards 50-50), does anyone have thoughts on ways to keep encounters fun and challenging while still letting the player feel cool for their investment into defensive resources?

    My concern right now is that combat can be extremely swingy - as monsters spend a lot of time missing, but a small string of lucky hits (and particularly crits), can take what is otherwise a mundane encounter into VERY dangerous at a moment's notice.
    Use more "casting" NPCs to target non-AC defenses. Use more monsters that can inflict combat advantage without flanking (such as monsters that daze opponents). I recall a nasty fight I read involving several monsters with ranged attacks with the combat advantage ability, and a "caster" who could daze (with very low damage) at-will from range (fighting from a balcony). Needless to say, PCs would go all out to get the caster, and once the caster is down, their high ACs become more relevant again. In your case, I'd probably drop the "ranged" from the opponents with combat advantage, though.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    I have to say, I generally disagree with the advice that you, as god-DM, should nerf the players' design choices by having the fates decree that the PCs should disproportionately be attacked by NAD-attacking monsters. Intelligent enemies who have the opportunity to observe the PCs and assess their strengths and weaknesses, maybe. But its pretty adversarial to change the way the universe works in order to negate your players' choices.

    In addition to my earlier advice, I would add this. Let the players pick their challenge level. Find a way to give them an option between standard at-level challenges and treasure, and tougher monsters with better treasure. The traditional way is via the convention in a megadungeon is that the lower levels are tougher with better treasure, but you can also make swamps, forests hills and mountains more dangerous than plains and cultivation, and you can telegraph challenge with rumours.

    Then you will know if they are happy with the current challenge level, or if they are willing to have it be a little harder, because it will be their decision.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PirateGuy

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    I think thereís middle room between playing to the party strengths and playing to their weaknesses. Donít suddenly switch up your opponents for little to no in-game reason, but you can keep the game fresh by adding in new challenges. A controller with some nasty attacks vs a weak Will defense will quickly become a prime target even interspersed with the normal bad guys.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    High optimization characters can get some insanely high values in certain areas. I once had a warlord/swordmage hybrid character that required (same level) monsters to roll an 18+ on the dice to hit his weakest stat.

    Being a DM can be hard. For a player like that, throwing down harder challenge monsters sometimes isn't the solution. They put a lot of effort into making that character hard to hurt, they should be able to enjoythe fruits or their labor. Also, a threat to them would be a nightmare for the other characters.

    I suggest (instead) you take some ideas from the writers of superman stories. Superman is effectively unstoppable, his physical conflicts revolve more about being a shield for others and preventing collateral damage. Challenge this player with a strategic fight rather than a tactical one. The enemies he faces are not a threat to him (persay), but they can bring harm to others around him if he cant either eliminate or restrain them quick enough.
    Last edited by windgate; 2020-06-08 at 11:19 AM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    Quote Originally Posted by windgate View Post
    Challenge this player with a strategic fight rather than a tactical one. The enemies he faces are not a threat to him (persay), but they can bring harm to others around him if he cant either eliminate or restrain them quick enough.
    If the price of optimization was that every fight became and "escort mission", that would certainly encourage me not to optimize.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2015

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    I wouldn't recommend making every fight an escort mission, but I do recommend keeping vanilla fights to a minimum. Heck, I recommend that even for non-optimized parties, but it becomes more important when the party can roflstomp a typical on-level fight. Most fights should have at least one sub-objective and/or some sort of structuring that keeps them from being straight-up brawls. This is inline with the cinematic nature of 4e; in a movie, an occasional fight against mooks for the sake of fighting is ok but most of the time the protagonists are a) outclassed, b) dealing with some sort of unfavorable terrain, c) trying to get to somewhere/at something as fast as possible, d) trying to protect someone(s), e) trying to stop something or someone from doing a thing, or f) most or all of the above at the same time.

    Recent fights in my campaign have included: trying to take over an airship fast enough to use it against another airship, taking down a troop of enemy soldiers without allowing them to alert other soldiers to the group's presence, trying to get to a portal through a group of defenders before reinforcements arrived through the portal, and fighting off a wave of attackers while trying to shut down said portal before the portal got blown up by the entity on the other side. The most recent fight that was just a brawl had the gimmick of fighting two solos at once (not quite as unbalanced as it might seem since my group has 7 players). I also narrated a planned combat (enemy soldiers trying to flee through the portal from the army the pc's had opened the way for) instead of playing it out when it became clear the pc's had set up so much tactical advantage that it was going to be more turkey shoot than fight.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default Re: Dealing with high AC

    As one of my fellow players would say "Kick 'em in the NADs"
    He was playing a goblin at the time so it seemed justified

    More helpfully, swingyness is always going to be a sharper issue in a smaller party (one goes down and there's only 2 left. 1 down and one caring for them leaves one PC free to act). That's a reason not to increase the level of their opponents - the extra damage which comes with that makes it all the more swingy. Using minions and encounters where loss does not mean death are also your friends here. Don't use all minions, and don't take death off the table, but those are more attractive than normal. Also recognise that for this party, a few minions can go a long way

    Could be helpful if the party are willing to cut and run if things turn against them? If so, try and make sure your harder battles (boss fights etc) allow the PCs to withdraw.

    You could give them an NPC meat shield. Bonus points if you make the meatshield entertaining enough that the players are sad when he inevitably dies.
    Last edited by Duff; 2020-06-16 at 11:50 PM.
    I love playing in a party with a couple of power-gamers, it frees me up to be Elan!


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •