View Full Version : (4e) Critique This Encounter

2010-09-20, 03:17 PM
So, I’m planning out an encounter for my party…it’s sort of a sidequest that will push them to level 10, so they can complete the final stage of their journey to paragon path with the next extended main plot finishing section. It’s basically a clockwork dungeon…they’re going to be sent into this necromantic device entitled a “Soul Clock”, where the spirits of the dead are trapped and used to constantly power rituals of high-end magic. The party’s goal will be to venture into the clock with the help of the magic of a highly powerful dragon and a high priest of Bahamut to strike at the core of the clock.

The clock’s innards will involve a bit of a maze like puzzle, with a number of traps and time-based situations, with a few easy and hard combat encounters mixed in. Many of the enemies I plan on using inside are refluffed to be clockwork creatures. I’m not worried about the general gist of the dungeon…it’s basically a gimmick dungeon crawl.

What I am worried about is the final encounter, which I feel might be too frustrating for the party. I want it to be hard, unique, and memorable…a bit of a “That One Boss” situation. I want them to simultaneously hate the fight, love the challenge, and feel serious victory when its over. Here’s the basic set of the fight. The party is level 9, on the high end of power due to me giving them higher than WBL and some extra powers for the sake of storyline that up their general effectiveness, so call their effective level roughly low-end 10.

The Line-Up

Chaladin of Bahamut
Swordmage of Shielding
Chaos Sorceror
Valorous Bard
Brutal Rogue

2x Runic Gargoyles (Soldier)
3x Dread Guards (Soldier)
1x Wailing Ghost (Controller)
1x Eidolon (Leader)
6x Ogre Thugs (minions)

Fight Tactics/Environmental Challenges:
This fight will take place on a massive gear, giving the party limited mobility (the circle of the gear will most likely have a circumference of 15-20 squares, haven’t worked that out yet). Every d4 turns, the clock will spin, sliding the PCs and the minions around the gear…PCs will get to make an Ath/Acro check, Minions are slid automatically.

Eidolon Tactics:

The Eidolon will start the battle in Hallowed Stance, knowing that the party is coming. Refluffed as the Clock Core, all radiant damage has been refluffed into necrotic/lightning damage. He will play exactly like the Eidolon in the book…sticking to hallowed stance to soak damaging attacks and buff his allies, using his opportunity actions to hurt the party. He will not leave his stance until all his allies are destroyed.

Dread Guard Tactics:

The Dread Guards will start the fight slightly spread out around the Eidolon, moving forward to intercept any targets that start moving towards their “master”. Most likely they will end up bunched around the Eidolon to protect it from damage. I expect the paladin to tie them up and enter a slugfest with all three of them, as I am keeping them ‘undead’…they are basically amalgamations of bones and gears, animated by spirits.

Runic Gargoyle Tactics:

These guys are super-mobile soldiers and I intend to use them as such. They will be using their fly speed to maul the sorc and warlock whenever possible, teleporting back to the Eidolon to defend it if things look ugly. They can also choose to soak damage for their master, giving the Eidolon incredible additional staying power. I have not really refluffed these…they seemed an appropriate defense mechanism for a necrotic-powered clock for some reason.

Wailing Ghost Tactics:

The Controller. She will do her best to delay opponents getting to the defensive structure of the Eidolon and his guardians and keep the party tied up with the minions.

Ogre Thugs:

Refluffed as “Gear Brutes”, they will be your standard ‘get in the way’ minions. Their job is to tie the battle field up with their bodies. In addition, their deaths will activate the Eidolon’s punishing Opportunity Action, spreading damage around the party. I am debating having them “reassemble”…either periodically during the fight or when the Eidolon is first bloodied.

What do you think? Will this be too frustrating for a group? The general idea is that dropping the Eidolon will severely weaken the defense system, but it is extremely challenging to kill. There are a few ways to take apart this strategy, but they aren’t easy. I want to see how the party reacts to this, but I don’t want to give them a situation they get severely frustrated with. They will have a few combat encounters and skill challenges prior to this, but nothing very challenging…there will be a sort of ‘mini-boss’ encounter with a refluffed Bone Golem and some other gear-bots, but they should be able to stomp it, as its very straightforward.

Modifications I am currently thinking of:

Reducing the number of Brute minions and adding in a handful of ranged minions instead (potentially on gear platforms away from the main platform).

Environmental Damage as the fight goes on (gears falling, souls exploding, etc)

NPC Ally for the final fight (They freed the ghost of a follower of Bahamut earlier, if things go badly, I thought I might “add him in” as their own version of an Eidolon…not actively participating in the battle, but plunging into the clock to save them with 5-6 turns of powerful buffs, added damage, and temp HP)

Overdrive Spin – When the Eidolon is bloodied, rapidly do the gear spin mentioned in fight tactics/environment four times to disrupt party positioning and add an element of chaos to the fight.

Comments and ideas most appreciated.

Side note: I intend to play the Magitek Factory theme song from Final Fantasy VI throughout this dungeon. Possibly humming along.

2010-09-20, 04:40 PM
How are you gonna roleplay the Eidolon? :smallsmile:

This is awesome, by the way!

2010-09-20, 07:04 PM
How are you gonna roleplay the Eidolon? :smallsmile:

This is awesome, by the way!

Thanks for the compliment. Feel free to steal the encounter structure.

Since the Eidolon is being refluffed to being a mechanical/necromantic artifact, he's not going to be roleplayed much...I'll probably intone things like "SECURITY SYSTEM NOW ACTIVE" and "SOUL CONTAINMENT - 85%" in a mechanical voice. This is a bit of a break for my group from the complex plot that I've crafted for them...sometimes you just want to take out a dungeon. I try to keep things interesting with a fun, complex encounter, but this particular adventure for them will be less about RP and more about a rollicking good time smashing up a clock.

2010-09-20, 07:42 PM
Looks pretty cool to me :smallsmile: If anything, I think adding a bit of artillery (as you suggested yourself) might be a good idea. Let us know how it all worked out.

Fuzzie Fuzz
2010-09-20, 07:46 PM
This looks awesome. I would have the gear interact with other, smaller gears, so that there's more than one big circle. When the big one turns, it turns the little ones too. It doesn't make much sense to have a gear in the center of the clock that isn't connected to anything else. (If you decide to use ranged minions, stick them on these. It would create choke points without making it impossible for the meleers to get to them.) The overdrive mode when the boss is bloodied is a cool idea too. I'd have the clock rotate evenly at first (since that is the point of a clock) but once the PCs bloody the Eidolon, it starts getting erratic and suddenly starting and stopping, moving quickly, etc.

2010-09-20, 07:48 PM
SOunds like a lot of fun for them. What kind of dragon do you plan on using? Because I am not sure of the actual levels but there are some elemental dragons in Monster Manual 3 that are really cool to play as the DM. My party realy loved fighting it because it was a challenge but nothing rediculous.

Fuzzie Fuzz
2010-09-20, 07:57 PM
Yeah, the catastrophic dragons (earthquake, blizzard, volcano) are fun. There are different age categories, so one will probably fit.

I'm definitely stealing this idea, by the way. I'm actually going to be sending my players through a (flying) clockwork/steampunk dungeon soon, so this'll be a super cool battle to throw in there.

2010-09-20, 08:29 PM
This looks like an awesome encounter. So let me unleash a barrage of ideas for how I'd do it.

I'm with the people who like more, smaller gears. I wouldn't want too many, but enough that someone could be bullrushed in between some, and face being crushed if they can't get out in time.

Also, smaller gears break up party tactics when the party is on more than one gear. You could cut some fake gears out of poster paper, brad them to another piece of poster paper.

The DM in me wouldn't want to deal with moving all of the pieces every time the clock ticked, so that'd be my compromise.

Maybe make a vertical gear that acts as a wall between the main area and the eidolon, that requires ducking between a pattern in the gear or else taking massive damage.

Give the Eidolon a set of power conduits, and if he's in contact with one, then the squares adjacent to the conduits count as line of sight for his healing/buff effects. Party can destroy them by dealing massive damage while he's adjacent, or by dealing massive lightning damage to one of the ends.

Put ranged minions on catwalks that hang to the side/6+ squares above the action, so they require planning/luck to get onto, but then provide a way around the vertical gear. Maybe one sq. outside of the Feylock's teleport range, but with easy pipes to hold onto - just make this relatively low but fatal to fail DC athletics check to grab on!

Rather than damage from environmental effects, play up the pushing/sliding/proning. You have gears, swinging arms that do things, stuff to duck, etc. put people in positions that suck. Let environmental damage come from stuff the party can see from the outset/once triggered.

2010-09-21, 10:46 AM
Hrmm…A lot of great ideas here.

First off…which dragon are we talking about? I’m confused. Was the dragon comment in reference to a follower of Bahamut? In which case, that isn’t a dragon, but a human ghost they rescued from being consumed by the clock. If he becomes necessary, he will most likely enter with encouraging words and provide them with a heal (like, half a surge worth or something, a flat 10 hp to get the unconscious moving, maybe a little regen), some temp HPs, and some offensive might (bonus 1d6 radiant damage). Catastrophic dragons are fun, but I already have plan for them (it involves twin Earthquake Dragons, alternating their auras on the players…I like instilling a little hate).

Dragon aside, one of the reasons I’m using one big gear for this battle instead of a number of little ones is because to get here, they’ll be traversing a number of gear puzzles. Perhaps the most difficult challenge they will have is a pathway made entirely of gears that they have to cross. The plan is to make them roll athletics or acrobatics of a varying DC depending on how far they want to move…failures mean they are turned and their movement goes the wrong way. Of course, the gear system can be turned off with handy switches, but they’ll be harassed by flying enemies who will be striking them, slowing them, and flicking switches back on.

There’s going to be a lot of that in this dungeon, so giving them a final boss fight that deceptively does away with that but remains a bit of a puzzle is the goal here. Still, the small gear ideas are great and that’s why I’ll probably be adapting them to other encounters.

Another reason not to divide the battlefield is that it will work against the enemy party rather than for it…the fight hinges on the Eidolon being able to see his allies to enact his retributive strikes when they die and the Dread Guards and Gargoyles need to be close to play their defensive roles. Isolated, the Eidolon could be torn apart in one turn of focus fire if the warlock plays smart and fires off his “Remove your resistances” power at the right time…he has a reputation for being uncannily clever and I wouldn’t put it past him to delay until the Eidolon goes, then try and get his party an entire round with its defenses down. Battlefield division will just give the party a huge advantage and negate the main strategy of the enemy group.

I may use the idea of swinging arms and other hazards that could knock players down. I’ll have to see what I can come up with for that.

I may have to replace the controller. While the Wailing Ghost (Banshee) is decent, I think I want something with more push/pull/sliding powers. Anyone have any ideas?

Additionally, I think with the way I’m envisioning the fight, there’s no point to having ranged minions. The melee minions are large-sized and all that ranged minions will do is provide a mild slowdown of damage on things on the field since the warlock and sorc will take potshots and then move on to the main targets. I think I will simply make the Large Clockwork Brutes (Ogre Thugs) constantly reassemble themselves and clog the area up, forcing the ranged characters to be constantly on the move as they are chased. I may stick one or two ranged combatants on gears that are rotating around the main platform for shiggles, though…maybe call them in once some of the Soldiers on the field are down.