Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sometimes the DM makes bad decisions

Such was the case last night, when faced with some monsters on an adventure that we had never seen before, collectively. The first encounter of the night went well, and the group had a difficult time but won and got to look cool doing it. Everyone had a moment to shine in the fight, which was good.

However, I was apparently trying to murder people all night as I rolled a collective 14 20's on the evening. It was absurd. For such instances of ridiculousness I have given all players the following power.

Oh Crit
Immediate Reaction Personal
Trigger: You are hit with a critical hit or take your bloodied value in damage in a single hit
Effect: You are able to make a skill check to describe how you are increasing your defenses. Some examples include making an insight check to get a bead on how they are attacking, using bluff or intimidate to show you have thrown off the effects of a mighty blow, stealth to use their own attacks as cover now that you know them, arcana to weave a quick cantrip that is easily diffused, but protects you, etc. The possibilities are up to the player and it is considered a success by meeting or exceeding DC 10 + CL. If successful, you gain a +2 skill bonus to all defenses until the end of your opponent's next turn.

No one decided to use it, maybe because they think it might be a crutch I am giving them. Really though, all this does is let you add some mid-fight roleplay and improv to temporarily give yourself a hand after a bad round. I think it's cool.

The second fight of the night was the bad decision fight on my part. I saw two things that might possible need to be changed. To my credit, I feel, I did say that they might possibly need to be changed and we'd see how this went. The thing I changed was the phase spiders having the attack "first failed save: stunned, save ends". At third level. Third level! Ridiculous! The thing I did not change, but in hindsight should have changed, as it frustrated everyone it seems, was the spiders had an ability that allowed them to teleport people away if they moved near as an immediate interrupt. There were 13 phase spiders in the fight, 10 minions, 3 regular, and a higher level controller that caused some havoc and damage but they dispatched of him pretty easily.

One of the melee decided to be the combat medic for the fight because he couldn't get near the monsters really, not going for the controller because he assumed the controller was even more horrible. This was pretty awesome and he saved a lot of people, but he was still frustrated. This is entirely my fault. Always running the chance of not being able to attack the monster you are trying to attack is not that fun. Even though I said we might need to drop it, I didn't for the fight, and I should have. Especially since the spiders could teleport as movement, never provoking opportunity attacks.

The water was a big obstacle for the group as well, and the water dealt 2d6 damage and slowed you if you were a non-aberrant and started your turn there. The spiders kept trying to web and drop the people in the water. Even though this, I believe, is what they spiders would want to do, it was frustrating to the party. Again, I understand why.

Though it was tough, the party did eventually win and were rewarded nicely for it. The first combat was a ton of fun for everyone involved, and the second one was cool at times and frustrating at others. The set up was awesome and it felt nice to really utilize the entire map. It was a good change.

So what did I learn?

1) Interrupt teleports should not be on every creature.
2) Trust my gut when I see something like that in the future.
3) Swapping stunned save ends for ongoing damage is the right call at this level.
4) Monsters behaving as monsters is a good thing.
5) Soldiers are still mostly bullshit.


  1. The immediate-interrupt teleportation would have been pretty much okay if we hadn't been on narrow web-bridges. As narrow as the webs were, even the minions' one-square teleport was enough to put us in the drink, which meant we had to start our whole attack approach again.

    Because the monsters had reasonably long-range pulls and could themselves teleport freely, they could completely choose the ground of the fight, or so it seemed.

    Having said all of this, I think the changes you made were smart ones, and as long as every fight isn't that fight, we'll be fine.

    Also, we could really use a good controller. =)

  2. As a side note, as far as I can tell, the young phase spiders appear only in that adventure. They aren't in the adventure toolkit.