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Drakevarg
2010-09-24, 11:55 PM
So, everyone died in today's session. (Well, minus two. One was unconcious and his body hidden, the other couldn't make it to the session.) Now, I have nothing wrong with being a brutal DM. In fact, I love it. Problem is, I try to keep my encounters roughly 80% survivable. Going from full strength to dead in one battle is not accurate to this view. So, I come to the Playground to learn what I did wrong so as to avoid similar results in the future.

Here's a rundown of the situation:

PCs:
Level 1 Chaotic Neutral Elf Hexblade
Level 1 Chaotic Good Human Swashbuckler
Level 1 Lawful Neutral Human Samurai
Level 1 True Neutral Elf Ranger

Enemies:
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Scythe
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Heavy Pick
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Hammer
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant

(Note: All zombies also have Destruction Retribution.)

Location:
An Inn. Door locked and blocked with chairs. Windows, on either side of the door, reinforced with tables. Bar in the back, barricaded with tables.

- Two zombies breaking through each barricade. (Two at each window, two at door.)
- Ranger and Swashbuckler, both posessing bows, taking cover behind bar.
- Samurai standing at ready in the middle of the room.
- Hexblade standing halfway up the stairs, only visible to the window directly in front of him.

What Happened:
After several rounds of pounding at the barricades, the zombies break through the door first. After a taking a round to get the chairs out of the way, they charge the Samurai, while the archers take (ultimately futile, given the zombies' damage reduction) pot shots at them.

Next round, zombies break through Hexblade's window, charging him. Hexblade curses pickaxe zombie.

Little progress next several rounds, the zombies at the last window rolling poorly and making little progress. Given PCs high AC and zombies' high DR, little progress is made in either direction.

Hexblade finally gets a good roll and beheads pickaxe zombie. Resulting Destructive Retribution does little, but seems to shatter morale, since things take a turn for the worst at that point.

Final two zombies finally break in and charge across the room at archers. Takes a few rounds to get there, knock down the barricades, and jump over to attack. In the mean time, one of the pitchfok zombies KOs the Samurai, but is distracted by a shot from one of the archers. Unfortunately, the scythe zombie is not and coup de grace's the Samurai in the next round.

Final two zombies reach the Ranger and kill her in a few rounds. Zombies that had been fighting the Samurai turn their attention to the Swashbuckler. Her weapons are all piercing in nature, and do almost nothing to the zombies. With the Ranger dispatched, those zombies move towards the Swashbuckler.

Meanwhile, Hexblade is taken down in a few good hits from the pitchfork zombie. Swashbuckler attempts to escape, but during her overrun attempt is killed during the zombie's AoO. TPK.

-----

Is this sufficient information to determine where the error in judgement was made, or was it just unlucky dice tonight?

*.*.*.*
2010-09-24, 11:57 PM
Ewwwww Samurai!


That's all:smallamused:

Marnath
2010-09-24, 11:59 PM
Where you went wrong is sending six templated undead against four pc's who just happened to not have a single effective means of harming undead between them. Archers face DR, hexblade can't use most of his magic on mindless undead, and well....samurai suck, plain and simple.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:03 AM
Where you went wrong is sending six templated undead against four pc's who just happened to not have a single effective means of harming undead between them. Archers face DR, hexblade can't use most of his magic on mindless undead,

Hard to avoid in a campaign centered around undead... and +2 HP/+4 STR isn't THAT bad...


and well....samurai suck, plain and simple.

Funny then that two of the players are rolling Samurai for their next character. :smalltongue:

Private-Prinny
2010-09-25, 12:04 AM
PCs:
Level 1 Chaotic Neutral Elf Hexblade
Level 1 Chaotic Good Human Swashbuckler
Level 1 Lawful Neutral Human Samurai
Level 1 True Neutral Elf Ranger

Enemies:
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Scythe
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Heavy Pick
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Hammer
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant

(Note: All zombies also have Destruction Retribution.)

I think this is where the encounter broke down. At level 1, being outnumbered by things that likely have more HP than you do, that hurt you when they die, is a tough encounter. For a party consisting of those classes, with no magical support, no way to overcome DR, and six templated monsters, a tough encounter becomes brutal. With a short string of bad luck, a brutal encounter becomes a TPK.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:08 AM
I think this is where the encounter broke down. At level 1, being outnumbered by things that likely have more HP than you do, that hurt you when they die, is a tough encounter. For a party consisting of those classes, with no magical support, no way to overcome DR, and six templated monsters, a tough encounter becomes brutal. With a short string of bad luck, a brutal encounter becomes a TPK.

Fair enough. Though both the Samurai and the Hexblade had katanas, so DR wasn't a problem for them. The Ranger was simply killed before she got a chance to draw her sword and... yeah the Swashbuckler was kind of SOL.

Though I like tough and brutal, TPKs just mean a session wasted on rolling new characters. So I need to figure out where to stop short so that at the most maybe two PCs will die in any given encounter. :smallamused:

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:12 AM
Just because you have a katana doesn't mean you're effective with it. :smallamused:

Lord_Gareth
2010-09-25, 12:12 AM
Honestly? I mean this as no offense, but tell your players to roll better characters. Additionally, Destruction Retribution was a little overdone for first level characters. I mean, seriously. Tone it back. The Corpsecrafting was bad enough.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:16 AM
Honestly? I mean this as no offense, but tell your players to roll better characters. Additionally, Destruction Retribution was a little overdone for first level characters. I mean, seriously. Tone it back. The Corpsecrafting was bad enough.

Well it's also partially because I want to give this campaign survival horror undertones, thus using any means practical to make the PCs want to run like hell at the sight of even bottom-rung mooks.

Could be worse. First session, I stacked the Fast and Unkillable zombie variants on the things. TPK at the hands of the Samurai's reanimated mother. :smalltongue: Obviously I retconned the entire incident and removed the variants.


Just because you have a katana doesn't mean you're effective with it. :smallamused:

No, but it does mean that you don't have 80% of your damage delt going up in smoke.

StreetPizza
2010-09-25, 12:16 AM
Some of the stuff I would have said like DR, although that may have been a mistake on the players' part, has already been said, so I'll add this: Maybe it's the difference in play-styles between the players and the DM. You, as the DM, have confessed to an expected 20% 80% survival rate, meaning players are probably expected to optimize. The players, one of whom picked Samurai and two of whom will be picking Samurai, apparently do not. Therefore, my recommendation would be to either teach the players optimization, or if that's too time-consuming or boring-sounding to the players, especially with four of them, maybe just tone down the campaign's difficulty.

If I may ask, how experienced are the players? How well do they know character optimization and tiers and all that other meta stuff?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:19 AM
Some of the stuff I would have said like DR, although that may have been a mistake on the players' part, has already been said, so I'll add this: Maybe it's the difference in play-styles between the players and the DM. You, as the DM, have confessed to an expected 20% survival rate, meaning players are probably expected to optimize. The players, one of whom picked Samurai and two of whom will be picking Samurai, apparently do not. Therefore, my recommendation would be to either teach the players optimization, or if that's too time-consuming or boring-sounding to the players, especially with four of them, maybe just tone down the campaign's difficulty.

If I may ask, how experienced are the players? How well do they know character optimization and tiers and all that other meta stuff?

80% survival rate, akshully, but not that important.

Not a fan of optimization, myself. I just want my PCs to be smarter about choosing their fights. My problem is that most PCs seem to assume that a martial victory is always an option.

As for the players' experience? Three of them are playing their first campaign with me, and the others have several campaigns under their belt but don't worry too heavily about optimization. They do know who Pun-Pun is, at least.

mucat
2010-09-25, 12:28 AM
Why did I know the first thing anyone said would be a crack at Samurai?

The party didn't lose because they had a samurai; that's totally irrelevant. A level-1 samurai isn't significantly worse than a level-1 fighter.

They lost primarily because they fought stupidly. Secondarily, if you strongly wanted them to survive, you could have been more flexible in changing the encounter on the fly once they started losing.

First point first: they were stupid. Their arrows weren't doing anything? Quit firing arrows and grab a weapon that counts! If they're not carrying slashing weapons, and their friends can't toss them a spare, then this is an inn, right? Let there be a meat cleaver or two, or an axe for chopping firewood. (This is where DM flexibility comes in: once they start acting smart and looking for better weapons, let 'em find something.) Once a zombie falls, grab his weapon.

And -- DM flexibility again -- let 'em get away with Rule of Cool here. In movies and popular culture (though not so much in D&D usually) fighting zombies is a canonical badass moment. So when they quit plinking away with arrows, which they ought to know won't work (not because they've memorized the SRD, but because why the hell would a zombie care if you poke a hole in it?) and do something badass, let it work.

If they light a zombie on fire, have it flail like a living torch (except for the living part), spreading the flame to other zombies before it falls. (Of course, rule of cool works both ways -- if that burning zombie hits the players before it collapses, they'll take a bit of fire damage too. Not enough to be devastating, just enough to remind them that there's a frikkin' burning zombie here!) Come up with a cool improvised weapon (and in an abandoned inn, there should be plenty!) and it works better than the rules might say it does.

Your players didn't do any of this. They used the same tactics they would have used against living opponents. When those tactics didn't work, they kept using 'em anyway. You could be forgiven for using the phrase "too stupid to live" here. But even then, if you wanted to improve their chances, you could still have altered some things on the fly.

You don't want to do a full-blown deus ex machina rescue unless there's truly no other choice. But you can do things that seem like they were part of the encounter to begin with. If the party is having a rough time with the zombies already in the room, then that third barrier could hold out a little longer than the dice say. Or better yet, it could collapse after the zombies breach it ,temporarily pinning them in rubble, giving the players a few rounds of breathing room while they claw their way out, and maybe even injuring the zombies.

And by the way, if you do suddenly decide the zombies are iinjured by falling rubble, don't just say "they take some damage". I mean, that's bland at the best of times, but it's worse when they might be suspecting you're just doing it to make things easier (which you are.) So have the pinned zombie tear off its own arm to escape, and stagger lopsidedly toward them waving the severed arm as a weapon. It won't occur to them that you're going easy on them, because you made the encounter cooler, rather than just easier. (And if one of the melee types tosses the zombie's original weapon to one of the poor archers, all the better.)

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:29 AM
I just want my PCs to be smarter about choosing their fights. My problem is that most PCs seem to assume that a martial victory is always an option.

As for the players' experience? Three of them are playing their first campaign with me,

I've narrowed down the problem. New players should have some sort of guidance making characters, especially if you're sitting watching them make ones you know will be worthless in your campaign. On top of that, their inexperience makes the enemy roster way more unfair than it already was. If you want your players to keep to a low level of optimization, you have to come down from pun-pun killing mode first, or they'll just die a lot.

*edit @ ^: Mucat, they're not too stupid to live. What they were is dead before they got time to do that stuff.

StreetPizza
2010-09-25, 12:29 AM
Whoops, misread. :smallfrown:

In this case, I stand by my belief that the players need to optimize more if the encounter survival rate is around 80%; they probably should know how to at this point unless they're like me and only game with a small group without accessing the interwebs. Also, preparation, like I already said, and maybe a bit of smarts too--how would you have responded if they tried to use some of the inn's furniture as improvised weapons of some sort? The zombies, being unarmored villagers, probably wouldn't have had that much AC even with the natural armor bonus, right?

^Yarg. Ninja'd on the improvised weapon thing.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:34 AM
First point first: they were stupid. Their arrows weren't doing anything? Quit firing arrows and grab a weapon that counts! If they're not carrying slashing weapons, and their friends can't toss them a spare, then this is an inn, right? Let there be a meat cleaver or two, or an axe for chopping firewood. (This is where DM flexibility comes in: once they start acting smart and looking for better weapons, let 'em find something.) Once a zombie falls, grab his weapon.

The Hexblade was carrying no less than four slashing weapons. Giving one to the others never occured to him. :smallannoyed:


If they light a zombie on fire, have it flail like a living torch (except for the living part), spreading the flame to other zombies before it falls. (Of course, rule of cool works both ways -- if that burning zombie hits the players before it collapses, they'll take a bit of fire damage too. Not enough to be devastating, just enough to remind them that there's a frikkin' burning zombie here!) Come up with a cool improvised weapon (and in an abandoned inn, there should be plenty!) and it works better than the rules might say it does.

Molotov cocktails did occur to them, but the Samurai's read the Zombie Survival Guide and repeatedly quoted the mantra "the only thing worse than a zombie is a flaming zombie."


Also, preparation, like I already said, and maybe a bit of smarts too--how would you have responded if they tried to use some of the inn's furniture as improvised weapons of some sort? The zombies, being unarmored villagers, probably wouldn't have had that much AC even with the natural armor bonus, right?

The zombies had an AC of 13. The biggest obstacle was easily the DR.

As for improvised weapons, I definitely would've allowed it. Hell, I gave them an indefinite period of time to prepare for the inevitible siege (over 300 zombies had just invaded the town, with a soon-to-be-zombified population of 1000, so at least a few zombies heading for the inn was a certaintly), so it's not like they didn't have time to think of that...

arrowhen
2010-09-25, 12:35 AM
Did you *tell* them you expected them to choose their battles and that you planned to kill 20% of the party in a given encounter? Cause those aren't exactly standard D&D assumptions.

Even just "prepare a backup character for when you die" would be nice.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:36 AM
If you want to try it again, un-template the zombies, don't send them all in at the same round, and for the love of Goddess help them build appropriate characters for an undead campaign.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:38 AM
Did you *tell* them you expected them to choose their battles and that you planned to kill 20% of the party in a given encounter? Cause those aren't exactly standard D&D assumptions.

Even just "prepare a backup character for when you die" would be nice.

I gave them plenty of time to realize I was an absolutely brutal DM. Hell, I've already given the poor bastards a cow phobia. :smallbiggrin:


If you want to try it again, un-template the zombies, don't send them all in at the same round, and for the love of Goddess help them build appropriate characters for an undead campaign.

Honestly, I was hoping the Libris Mortis featured prominently on my table, with repeated recommendations to check in it for CharGen material would be a sufficient hint.

And just an FYI, from the sounds of it their next characters are going to be:

Samurai -> Samurai
Hexblade -> Samurai
Swashbuckler -> Hexblade
Ranger -> Ranger

mucat
2010-09-25, 12:39 AM
Molotov cocktails did occur to them, but the Samurai's read the Zombie Survival Guide and repeatedly quoted the mantra "the only thing worse than a zombie is a flaming zombie."

Fair enough; at least for that moment they were thinking creatively. They just needed to do a lot more of that.

Again, if you wanted to help 'em a little, after a poor attack roll have the hexblade lose his grip on his weapon, which spins end over end and embeds itself in the bar that the archers are hiding behind. Hexblade doesn't care; he's got more...and might actually think to start arming his friends on purpose.

Of course, you describe the event as if its point was "hexblade nearly took his friends' heads off"...let them realize on their own that it also means "good weapon for the archers", and feel good about themselves because they have turned your mean little fumble ruling back on you! :smallwink:

awa
2010-09-25, 12:42 AM
it seems to me its a combination of a powerful enemy and some poor combat choices. Typicaly i find basic undead very easy to beat because of their -int they are very easy to lead into traps such as say fighting them at the top of the steps where you have a height advantage and can get three melee characters against one zombie at a time (for added fun add marbles to the top step dc 15 balance is hard for a zombie to make even if it is more agile then normal)

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:42 AM
And the archer picks it up in time to see the super zombie eating hexblade's brain as it's 4 nearby comrades rush you! Huzzah!

Thrawn183
2010-09-25, 12:42 AM
Not a fan of optimization, myself. I just want my PCs to be smarter about choosing their fights. My problem is that most PCs seem to assume that a martial victory is always an option.



And what else are they supposed to do, use their skills? You have an entire party of martial characters. Of course they're going to try and solve every problem through violence!

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:42 AM
Fair enough; at least for that moment they were thinking creatively. They just needed to do a lot more of that.

Again, if you wanted to help 'em a little, after a poor attack roll have the hexblade lose his grip on his weapon, which spins end over end and embeds itself in the bar that the archers are hiding behind. Hexblade doesn't care; he's got more...and might actually think to start arming his friends on purpose.

Of course, you describe the event as if its point was "hexblade nearly took his friends' heads off"...let them realize on their own that it also means "good weapon for the archers", and feel good about themselves because they have turned your mean little fumble ruling back on you! :smallwink:

Were that even remotely physically possible, I might have considered it; the archers were behind the Hexblade, on the other side of a wall. That would have to be one hell of a fumble. :smalltongue:


And what else are they supposed to do, use their skills? You have an entire party of martial characters. Of course they're going to try and solve every problem through violence!

To quote that awesome French guy from that god-awful American Godzilla movie:

"Running would be a good idea."

mucat
2010-09-25, 12:45 AM
Sounds like one more thing they could have used is a veteran zombie fighter to show them how it's done (and then Die Horribly once it's clear that they know enough to handle things on their own.)

Again, misdirection is key. Make the guy a gruff, half-crazed curmudgeon whose personality is so quirky and memorable that it will never occur to the players that he's really there to serve as a walking tutorial mode.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:45 AM
To quote that awesome French guy from that god-awful American Godzilla movie:

"Running would be a good idea."

Where the heck were they supposed to run? You sent zombies in every window and the door.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:48 AM
Where the heck were they supposed to run? You sent zombies in every window and the door.

Past the zombies? The inn wasn't exactly all that crowded (except when the Swashbuckler was cornered by two of them) and there was pleny of space to maneuver around the things and out the door.


Sounds like one more thing they could have used is a veteran zombie fighter to show them how it's done (and then Die Horribly once it's clear that they know enough to handle things on their own.)

Again, misdirection is key. Make the guy a gruff, half-crazed curmudgeon whose personality is so quirky and memorable that it will never occur to the players that he's really there to serve as a walking tutorial mode.

Wish I had thought of that. Closest thing I did to that was introduce a Paladin who's only function was to die horribly and inform the party "ZOMBIE COWS WILL KILL YOU," then be reanimated later as The Dragon. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheDragon)

Vangor
2010-09-25, 12:51 AM
Well it's also partially because I want to give this campaign survival horror undertones, thus using any means practical to make the PCs want to run like hell at the sight of even bottom-rung mooks.

Was your party aware of such? Did the party have any cues these were not basic zombies?

I mean, the party is clearly not well informed about composition of a group nor character creation, and you said this is the first campaign with you for a few. You expect them to fight off a group of zombies larger than the party, zombies who live longer and do more damage and also explode doing a sizable amount to first level characters while healing one another? Be the DM and make decisions during the campaign, not simply what you wrote, and remove the template.

Next time you want a party to flee, inspire the need to flee. Six zombies? A first level party would take them while expending a decent amount of resources, probably. Send twenty, say they are seeping negative energy, and more.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:53 AM
So you don't want your player's to treat martial violence as the answer to every problem. You proceed to let them roll a party that can't do much aside from kill things, and thrust them into an un-winnable fight in a nigh-inescapable location, with presumably no knowledge that it is in fact unwinnable due to their limited game experience, coupled with the fact that the players will be assuming fight is the answer, since they can't use magic or skills, and you havent indicated they need to flee. And you come here asking why you TPK'ed?:smallconfused:

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:55 AM
Was your party aware of such? Did the party have any cues these were not basic zombies?

Hopefully the way their asses were handed to them back in their Doomed Hometown (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DoomedHometown) tipped them off to that.


Next time you want a party to flee, inspire the need to flee. Six zombies? A first level party would take them while expending a decent amount of resources, probably. Send twenty, say they are seeping negative energy, and more.

They had just witnessed the No Holds Barred Beatdown (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoHoldsBarredBeatdown) of every single competent NPC in the town by this horde. If they can't figure out that the **** has hit the fan, honestly that's their fault.

mucat
2010-09-25, 12:56 AM
So you don't want your player's to treat martial violence as the answer to every problem. You proceed to let them roll a party that can't do much aside from kill things, and thrust them into an un-winnable fight in a nigh-inescapable location, with presumably no knowledge that it is in fact unwinnable due to their limited game experience, coupled with the fact that the players will be assuming fight is the answer, since they can't use magic or skills, and you havent indicated they need to flee. And you come here asking why you TPK'ed?:smallconfused:
I'm not seeing the "nigh-unwinnable" part, Marnath. It sounds like with intelligent tactics, they could have taken these six zombies down. (It's when they realize that there are hundreds more out there, and they've just seen that even six are pretty tough, that they'll have to learn to run like scared children!)

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:59 AM
I'm not seeing the "nigh-unwinnable" part, Marnath. It sounds like with intelligent tactics, they could have taken these six zombies down. (It's when they realize that there are hundreds more out there, and they've just seen that even six are pretty tough, that they'll have to learn to run like scared children!)

Yeah, if I knew that there was literally no way to win that fight, I wouldn't be asking questions. The fact that they had team-killed the party Sorcerer just before the battle didn't help matters.

I am glad that none of the players are begrudging me for the incident, though. I suppose after a few sessions of me exposing them to brutal horrors, they simply felt it was to be expected.

BobVosh
2010-09-25, 01:06 AM
...What did the sorcerer do?

DragonKnight
2010-09-25, 01:09 AM
"Three of them are playing their first campaign with me, and the others have several campaigns under their belt but don't worry too heavily about optimization"

So, since you said there were six players total, that means half the group is new. And since they're level 1, I can assume if not the first session, we're in the first handful of sessions of a campaign.

Depending on how long your campaign has been running, the idea that running should come up might not have been obvious, especially with new players. New players generally expect a game where you kill the monsters that attack you. Most DMs make complex encounters(Special feats, templates, etc.) to be fought and killed. Sometimes running is a good idea, but generally it's better than forcing a TPK. Which is what it looks like you did, since you read that two of them died very early in the fight(this is addressed next).

This looks like the fight was too overtuned for level 1s, who were probably expecting a fight against a few zombies that would be one shot. Big complaint with this would be that you said two of them died before they could do anything. That is a pretty big problem in itself.

And I just have to add, on a personal note, the "HURR HURR I'm an awesome DM that doesn't care about killing my players cause I'm awesome" thing is kinda annoying.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:10 AM
...What did the sorcerer do?

Well, he was a obnoxious drunken sociopath and... honestly, I can't quite remember exactly what he did. Shortly after reaching the bar, they just cut him down. Maybe he was lipping off?

The party Druid was taken out of the fight in a similar manner. The Sorcerer had knocked him out for being obnoxious, and they wound up hiding the guy in the fireplace. He'd actually been knocked out the day previous as well for attempting to loot a fellow PC who'd fainted from the shock of a particularly nasty revelation.

...yeah, their inter-party skills aren't too good. :smalltongue:


So, since you said there were six players total, that means half the group is new. And since they're level 1, I can assume if not the first session, we're in the first handful of sessions of a campaign.

Seven. One team-killed, one unconcious, and one absent from yesterday's session. We were on the... fourth session.


Depending on how long your campaign has been running, the idea that running should come up might not have been obvious, especially with new players. New players generally expect a game where you kill the monsters that attack you. Most DMs make complex encounters(Special feats, templates, etc.) to be fought and killed. Sometimes running is a good idea, but generally it's better than forcing a TPK. Which is what it looks like you did, since you read that two of them died very early in the fight(this is addressed next).

I'd mentioned the idea of running several times outside of gameplay and had thus far nearly killed at least one member of the party with any given encounter. Plus, I had just put on a big show for them of utterly decimating the town's entire supply of competent NPCs. (5 Level 5s and a Level 7 all Chunky Salsa'd (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ChunkySalsaRule) in two rounds, another Level 5 Offhand Backhanded (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OffhandBackhand) in one round, and 28 Level 3s cut down within about 5 rounds.) If they haven't figured out they can't win in a straight-up fight yet, that's not my fault.


And I just have to add, on a personal note, the "HURR HURR I'm an awesome DM that doesn't care about killing my players cause I'm awesome" thing is kinda annoying.

It's not out of arrogance. It's out of a desire to give my players a nontraditional experience, namely one of survival horror instead of heroic fantasy.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 01:17 AM
Well, he was a obnoxious drunken sociopath and... honestly, I can't quite remember exactly what he did. Shortly after reaching the bar, they just cut him down. Maybe he was lipping off?

The party Druid was taken out of the fight in a similar manner. The Sorcerer had knocked him out for being obnoxious, and they wound up hiding the guy in the fireplace. He'd actually been knocked out the day previous as well for attempting to loot a fellow PC who'd fainted from the shock of a particularly nasty revelation.

...yeah, their inter-party skills aren't too good. :smalltongue:

O.o
...See, it's nonsense like that that would be helpful to have in the OP so people like me don't take things out of context and basically imply you screwed up the encounter. That fight gets a lot more even assuming a sorceror and druid were supposed to be helping. I'm going to have to agree, in light of that, that it should not have been unwinnable. I'm still not sure destructive retribution and corpsecrafted are appropriate for new players though. If they really watched every decent NPC die first before getting trapped in the inn without the casters they killed, I guess they deserved a tpk.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:22 AM
O.o
...See, it's nonsense like that that would be helpful to have in the OP so people like me don't take things out of context and basically imply you screwed up the encounter.

Didn't quite realize that context was important, otherwise I'd have said so off the bat. Sorry.


I'm still not sure destructive retribution and corpsecrafted are appropriate for new players though. If they really watched every decent NPC die first before getting trapped in the inn without the casters they killed, I guess they deserved a tpk.

So today's lesson is for me to have slightly less unstoppable mooks and for the players to stop being idiots. :smallamused:

Marnath
2010-09-25, 01:24 AM
Didn't quite realize that context was important, otherwise I'd have said so off the bat. Sorry.

Context is very important for sound judicating. :smalltongue:


So today's lesson is for me to have slightly less unstoppable mooks and for the players to stop being idiots. :smallamused:

I guess so, yeah.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:30 AM
Hm... care to debate the finer point of the matter, regardless? I was having fun...

Chipp Zanuff
2010-09-25, 01:31 AM
To quote that awesome French guy from that god-awful American Godzilla movie:

"Running would be a good idea."

Some of us did like that movie, you know?



As for learning from mistakes, the problem here is clearly an uncoordinated and underpowered party being put up against a mildly optimized encounter (you did remember that Zombies are not proficient with weapons, right?).


Hand them the following:

Magic of Incarnum
Tome of Battle
Dragon Magic
A like to either here, Brilliant Gameologists, TGD, or WotC's CO boards (at worst).

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:35 AM
Some of us did like that movie, you know?

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."


As for learning from mistakes, the problem here is clearly an uncoordinated and underpowered party being put up against a mildly optimized encounter (you did remember that Zombies are not proficient with weapons, right?).

Last I checked, they retain all their past weapon proficiencies, which for Commoners... isn't much. They all had a -1 to hit AT BEST. It was when they DID hit that was a problem.


Attacks: A zombie retains all the natural weapons, manufactured weapon attacks, and weapon proficiencies of the base creature. A zombie also gains a slam attack.


Hand them the following:

Magic of Incarnum
Tome of Battle
Dragon Magic
A like to either here, Brilliant Gameologists, TGD, or WotC's CO boards (at worst).

Don't own any of them, won't use any book I don't have in meatspace. One of my odd rules, but eh.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 01:40 AM
Hm... care to debate the finer point of the matter, regardless? I was having fun...

Maybe later. I don't know where you are, but here it's 2:30 am. Ima go sleep now. :smalltongue:

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:41 AM
Maybe later. I don't know where you are, but here it's 2:30 am. Ima go sleep now. :smalltongue:

1:40 AM here. Fair enough.

Chipp Zanuff
2010-09-25, 01:45 AM
Last I checked, they retain all their past weapon proficiencies, which for Commoners... isn't much. They all had a -1 to hit AT BEST. It was when they DID hit that was a problem.

Then the problem was entirely the players' fault. -1 to hit, and they couldn't deal with a lucky shot (much less prevent that shot)?


Don't own any of them, won't use any book I don't have in meatspace. One of my odd rules, but eh.

I heavily recommend at least thinking about buying Tome of Battle then. It is the most balanced book WotC printed for 3.5 (and considerably more useful than Complete Warrior, which I see several of your players are using). don't let the controversy deter you.

Incarnum and Dragon Magic are just icing on the cake. Both solid, balanced splats that didn't get enough love.


Maybe later. I don't know where you are, but here it's 2:30 am. Ima go sleep now.

East Coast, huh? 2:45 here. Course, I slept till 1pm today (college is closed on Fridays).

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 01:54 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong as I could be thinking of someone else's recent thread... but Psycho, doesn't your game have some horrifically anti-caster house rules in place that pretty much come close to saying "yea don't make a caster"?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:54 AM
Then the problem was entirely the players' fault. -1 to hit, and they couldn't deal with a lucky shot (much less prevent that shot)?

Worst part is, the 16 AC'd Samurai dropped first... the damn things needed at least a 17 to even hit him.


I heavily recommend at least thinking about buying Tome of Battle then. It is the most balanced book WotC printed for 3.5 (and considerably more useful than Complete Warrior, which I see several of your players are using). don't let the controversy deter you.

My main hesitation with ToB (other than lack of funds) has been my general distaste for highly flashy martial classes. I actually LIKE the Fighter. :smalltongue:


Correct me if I'm wrong as I could be thinking of someone else's recent thread... but Psycho, doesn't your game have some horrifically anti-caster house rules in place that pretty much come close to saying "yea don't make a caster"?

No, I'm the same guy. And while yes, the rules make them think twice about casting spells, those Rifts haven't yet been triggered by any character. (Given that at their levels there's only a 1% chance of anything happening, that's not terribly suprising.)

Lord_Gareth
2010-09-25, 01:56 AM
My main hesitation with ToB (other than lack of funds) has been my general distaste for highly flashy martial classes. I actually LIKE the Fighter. :smalltongue:


........


And you call yourself a brutal DM? It's like saying you like players running scantily-clad female commoners, man! STOP THE MADNESS!

BobVosh
2010-09-25, 01:56 AM
Wait, wait, wait. Someone liked the American Godzilla?

Also yes, with an addition 3 players, with at least 2 being casters (with an AC to boot), then that fight was tough but winnable. I would have knocked 2, maybe 3, zombies off other wise.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:58 AM
Wait, wait, wait. Someone liked the American Godzilla?

Some people actually like Rose Potter. GINO isn't that hard to stomach by comparison.


Also yes, with an addition 3 players, with at least 2 being casters (with an AC to boot), then that fight was tough but winnable. I would have knocked 2, maybe 3, zombies off other wise.

Perhaps I should have done my usual 1d4+2 monsters instead of arbitrarily saying "six."


........


And you call yourself a brutal DM? It's like saying you like players running scantily-clad female commoners, man! STOP THE MADNESS!

What can I say? I'm weird. :smalltongue:

Chipp Zanuff
2010-09-25, 02:01 AM
Wait, wait, wait. Someone liked the American Godzilla?

Yeah. And it wasn't House of the Dead bad. It actually tried to be decent.


My main hesitation with ToB (other than lack of funds) has been my general distaste for highly flashy martial classes. I actually LIKE the Fighter.

Flavor is mutable. You can tone down the flashiness. And your players may well love the flashiness (be honest: having fun is more important than flavor, right?)

Rasman
2010-09-25, 02:02 AM
1.) First off, I don't think I've ever seen a Zombie that's smart enough to coup de grace someone. Zombies tend to finish off what's left alive before they think about "eating" anything or making sure it's fully dead. If it can't move, Zombies tend to not care.

2.) I'm thinking the Destruction Retribution was a little overkill for ALL of them to have, granted it didn't do much to the Hexblade, but still.

3.) All your PCs are level 1 and don't have ANY way to heal or bypass DR. Why you would throw something at them that has DR at level 1 anyway still amazes me.

4.) Brutal Campaign doesn't mean "someone has to die today." It means that the PCs need to be challenged in nearly everything they do.



Not a fan of optimization, myself. I just want my PCs to be smarter about choosing their fights. My problem is that most PCs seem to assume that a martial victory is always an option.

5.) They're in an Inn that is barricaded and being broken into by ZOMBIES and they're level 1. Do they magically have a way to teleport somewhere safe? You're not really giving them a situation to "pick their fights" in this instance, you gave them a situation to "fight or die" against zombies that explode and are templated.

6.) I also support Mucat's "rule of cool" statement.

7.) Help them with composition. It's nice to play characters that you want to play, but at the VERY least, convince them that there are better ways to fight off a zombie invasion.

8.) That context is VERY important. If your party can't get a long, then they're Red Shirts in a Zombie Movie waiting to happen.

9.) My final suggestion. Using Mucat's earlier suggestion, give them a "guide" of sorts, alongside the lines of Bill from Left 4 Dead to sort of give, especially your new players, an idea of what to do. Have him be a Marshall or something along those lines that appears and disappears from time to time. It's never a bad idea to have Batman running around a city with bad **** going down trying to save everyone that he can.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:04 AM
Flavor is mutable. You can tone down the flashiness. And your players may well love the flashiness (be honest: having fun is more important than flavor, right?)

I meant crunch more than flavor. I'm a notoriously lazy player. "Roll Attack, Roll Damage" is really all the thought I like to give to combat. Back to the story, plzkthx.

A'course, doesn't mean I can't let my players have the chance to have fun... AFTER I've looked over it in detail and make sure it doesn't rape my canon in the ear. :smallannoyed:


1.) First off, I don't think I've ever seen a Zombie that's smart enough to coup de grace someone. Zombies tend to finish off what's left alive before they think about "eating" anything or making sure it's fully dead. If it can't move, Zombies tend to not care.

These particular zombies were on corpse-producing duty, specifically for the purpose of making more zombies. Hence, programmed to stop and coup de grace.


2.) I'm thinking the Destruction Retribution was a little overkill for ALL of them to have, granted it didn't do much to the Hexblade, but still.

My thought was that it hadn't yet proven too nasty, so there was no harm in keeping it.


3.) All your PCs are level 1 and don't have ANY way to heal or bypass DR. Why you would throw something at them that has DR at level 1 anyway still amazes me.

They had a large supply of slashing weapons. DR should've been handled. Heal... yeah, they started regretting that pretty quick.


4.) Brutal Campaign doesn't mean "someone has to die today." It means that the PCs need to be challenged in nearly everything they do.

They don't HAVE to die. They just need to know it's always possible.


5.) They're in an Inn that is barricaded and being broken into by ZOMBIES and they're level 1. Do they magically have a way to teleport somewhere safe? You're not really giving them a situation to "pick their fights" in this instance, you gave them a situation to "fight or die" against zombies that explode and are templated.

The inn wasn't the only locale around, either. There were seven warehouses not a hundred feet from that inn they could've hid in.


7.) Help them with composition. It's nice to play characters that you want to play, but at the VERY least, convince them that there are better ways to fight off a zombie invasion.

To be entirely honest, I told them exactly nothing about the campaign prior to it's start, on the grounds that their characters wouldn't know.


8.) That context is VERY important. If your party can't get a long, then they're Red Shirts in a Zombie Movie waiting to happen.

That sounds suspiciously like their problem. :smallamused:


9.) My final suggestion. Using Mucat's earlier suggestion, give them a "guide" of sorts, alongside the lines of Bill from Left 4 Dead to sort of give, especially your new players, an idea of what to do. Have him be a Marshall or something along those lines that appears and disappears from time to time. It's never a bad idea to have Batman running around a city with bad **** going down trying to save everyone that he can.

Well, part of the plot was that nobody had seen this coming. So, Batman wasn't around. There was a group if relatively high-level Paladins in town, who promptly were turned into red mist by the Big Bad to make the PCs crap themselves. :smallamused:

Though as this apocalypse spreads, such characters can be expected to pop up.

Chipp Zanuff
2010-09-25, 02:09 AM
A'course, doesn't mean I can't let my players have the chance to have fun... AFTER I've looked over it in detail and make sure it doesn't rape my canon in the ear. :smallannoyed:

Standard issue Zombie Apocalypse, right? Might be more suited for Incarnum, but that's Ninja Gaiden-hard to understand for first time readers. And third... And twelfth...

I'm exaggerating a little, but most people do need a walkthrough for that book.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:18 AM
Standard issue Zombie Apocalypse, right? Might be more suited for Incarnum, but that's Ninja Gaiden-hard to understand for first time readers. And third... And twelfth...

I'm exaggerating a little, but most people do need a walkthrough for that book.

That's the main plot, yes, though the rest of the setting is much more detailed.

Leon
2010-09-25, 02:50 AM
Given that they were attacking themselves before being zombie swarmed down they got what they deserved.
You don't need any particular classes, you just need what you have to work together and having PvP at such a early stage of a game isn't going to help build a workable team.

Saintheart
2010-09-25, 03:47 AM
This might be a truly obvious and silly observation for me to make, but ... why in the name of Gygax hasn't someone in the party started playing a cleric of evil, neutral or good persuasion? If it's the age-old "I don't wanna play the guy who heals everyone else up!", then surely a soft cough and suggestion they grow up a bit is in order? Or at least a point in the direction of the Cleric 3.5 Handbook to indicate that a level 1 cleric is in fact the germinal form of a Combat God, or God in general?

Surely having someone who even if at level one has a mathematical chance at turning the undead would have been deemed slightly useful in the standard-order Zombie Apocalypse scenario?

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 06:12 AM
Originally Posted by Tetrasodium
Correct me if I'm wrong as I could be thinking of someone else's recent thread... but Psycho, doesn't your game have some horrifically anti-caster house rules in place that pretty much come close to saying "yea don't make a caster"?

No, I'm the same guy. And while yes, the rules make them think twice about casting spells, those Rifts haven't yet been triggered by any character. (Given that at their levels there's only a 1% chance of anything happening, that's not terribly suprising.)

your it's only a 1% chance of anything happening made me want to go find the other thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152614) to see if maybe I really was remembering things incorrectly.

0-Level spells can't summon anything, so they never trigger a Rift. And if you've gotten to the point that you've got enough 1st Level spells left at the end of the day that you can launch them off willy nilly, chances are you've triggered the Rift today anyway (it only takes a handful of high-level spells to get a 1-in-4 chance to trigger a Rift), and if not you'll probably just trigger one tomorrow.

Plus, if I was particularly crabby that day I could just wait until they've burned up all their spells and say "...and then a bear attacks."

Also, this was on page 5 or so. Does this qualify as threadomancy?

You might as well say that having a chance to behead yourself every attack with the chance being a % equal to your BaB is a nonissue because it's only 1% at level 1. You are fairly anti-caster in your stance, and while the thread talks about arcane casting... you keep mentioning how something similar will apply to divine too. I'd say that it's almost as much your fault as the players that they don't have any healer types; the general advice for "my DM hates X and threatens to kill it with fire" type posts amounts to "don't play X".

Jornophelanthas
2010-09-25, 06:41 AM
I believe that two things you did as DM contributed directly to the TPK. Of course, player infighting is also to blame, but that is something you don't have power over.

The first is outnumbering the players at level 1. At level 1, player characters are fragile, and one lucky hit is often sufficient to down one. A group of level 1s with one man down will likely crumble, as their low power levels does not give the group a lot of slack to pick up.

As has been mentioned before, you could have allowed one of the barriers to hold out longer.

The second thing is the Damage Reduction. In my experience, DR is severely undervalued in monster's CR at low levels. Additionally, new players might not even realize that their weapons are useless against the monsters for severel rounds, because they have no idea that something like DR could exist. Even if you say something like "The arrow now sticks out of the zombie's stomach and does not seem to hinder it", an inexperienced player will still assume that the damage was dealt, because "zombies typically don't show pain".

My suggestion here would be to educate the players about DR at the first opportunity you get, so that they may adjust their tactics accordingly.
You can do this by making it perfectly clear when an attack doesn't deal any damage. By this I mean literally saying things like "Your arrow hit, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all", or "Your rapier left a hole in the zombie's torso, alongside the dozen or so similar holes that were already there. Attacking it in this way doesn't appear to do much."
Conversely, when someone uses a slashing weapon, you could say: "The katana leaves a deap cut across its body. The zombie staggers," or "While your arrows appeared useless, the other guy's axe bites deep into its undead flesh."

Cogidubnus
2010-09-25, 06:54 AM
This was a tough encounter. What's been said is all true, and essentially the DR was the deciding factor. So, if the hexblade doesn't think to share his portable armoury, you should've hinted to him that it would help. Lack of initiative by the players made a hard fight unwinnable, so next time, suggest new ideas to them.

Forged Fury
2010-09-25, 07:14 AM
Destructive Retribution is fine when you have:
a) Sufficiently high-level characters who will be more annoyed with hit point loss
b) Magic users who can effectively kill from a distance.
c) Any means of healing

Your party of 1st level characters had none of that.

Considering almost all ranged weapons are piercing or bludgeoning, it can be extremely difficult to kill zombies at range without spell use, particularly for a first level party. In essence, the DR forces the party to deal with the zombies face-to-face, which means they're going to be subjected to Destructive Retribution. The party has no way to heal that damage.

You basically put the party into a fight that was designed to be a TPK unless they figured out they couldn't win. Since D&D generally operates on the principle that most fights are there to be won through combat, TPKs often result when they can't be.

CapnVan
2010-09-25, 07:55 AM
And just an FYI, from the sounds of it their next characters are going to be:

Samurai -> Samurai
Hexblade -> Samurai
Swashbuckler -> Hexblade
Ranger -> Ranger

If, as you wrote earlier, the campaign is going to involve a lot of undead, this might be a good time to encourage them to roll up at least one cleric. It's pretty obvious that they haven't really thought through their party balance at all.

Amphetryon
2010-09-25, 08:06 AM
If, as you wrote earlier, the campaign is going to involve a lot of undead, this might be a good time to encourage them to roll up at least one cleric. It's pretty obvious that they haven't really thought through their party balance at all.

Except that, as noted, his houserules strongly DISCOURAGE anyone from rolling up a Cleric. Getting the group to all buy the golfbag of weapons to deal with DR and cart around a large pile of holy water vials may be the best solution.

That, or switch to a more zombie-centric game like All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

Kerrin
2010-09-25, 08:14 AM
If, as you wrote earlier, the campaign is going to involve a lot of undead, this might be a good time to encourage them to roll up at least one cleric. It's pretty obvious that they haven't really thought through their party balance at all.
In reading the first page of this thread I was going to suggest this too.

If it's a predominantly undead oriented campaign and the players are new to D&D, then you might want to make some suggestions on the classes they pick for their characters so they have at least one cleric who is pretty good at turning/rebuking.

BobVosh
2010-09-25, 08:36 AM
Except that, as noted, his houserules strongly DISCOURAGE anyone from rolling up a Cleric. Getting the group to all buy the golfbag of weapons to deal with DR and cart around a large pile of holy water vials may be the best solution.

That, or switch to a more zombie-centric game like All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

I don't know, a cleric with the sun domain could help. Even just regular turning would have change that fight a lot.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 10:31 AM
Well, you are a party of almost exclusively melee characters, and at least one notoriously weak one. You have no forms of battlefield control. The CR system of D&D assumes you have adequate spellcasting capability, even though it's definitely not perfect.

You need to get a wizard, sorcerer, or cleric in the party.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 10:35 AM
Except that, as noted, his houserules strongly DISCOURAGE anyone from rolling up a Cleric. Getting the group to all buy the golfbag of weapons to deal with DR and cart around a large pile of holy water vials may be the best solution.

That, or switch to a more zombie-centric game like All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

What are the houserules that you mention?

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 11:21 AM
What are the houserules that you mention?

middle down towards near bottom of page2.

Zore
2010-09-25, 11:28 AM
What are the houserules that you mention?

Every spell a caster casts has a percentage chance of summoning either an oppositely aligned planar being (Divine) or a aberration/eldritch horror (Arcane). The chance scales at higher spell levels.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 11:31 AM
middle down towards near bottom of page2.


Every spell a caster casts has a percentage chance of summoning either an oppositely aligned planar being (Divine) or a aberration/eldritch horror (Arcane). The chance scales at higher spell levels.

Oh yeah, that thread, I remember that.

OP, you are forcing players to play gimp mundanes and you're surprised when they can't handle being outnumbered? Seriously?

You pretty much brought it all upon your players single-handedly with that particular rule. It was a bad idea, to say the very least.

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 11:33 AM
It really doesn't matter how optimized they are if they can't take the zombies down at range. Destruction Retribution for 2D6 in an enclosed area means that even if they manage to take one down on the first swipe, there's a very good chance it'll kill or severely wound them by dying. Factor in 1.5x the numbers of zombies to players and the fact that the same boom that deals 2D6 to the players will heal a like amount to the zombies if necessary and you have your tpk.

Frankly, level 1 is rocket-taggy enough without throwing miscellaneous greatsword damage for killing them.

Khatoblepas
2010-09-25, 11:45 AM
Here are the errors I can see:

1) Your party hasn't developed inter-party skills and you haven't helped them. You let them kill off party members when most of them are newbies to the game.

2) You played the zombies far too intelligently. Zombies have Int --. They shouldn't be taking attacks of opportunity or coup-de-gracing people. You can give them simple commands (Attack everyone in this town that isn't wearing my insignia), but you can't make them go through a list of commands that resemble strategy. There is no "Corpse Creating Duty" for a zombie. There is only the target that is in front of them. OR a lever they can pull. Coup-de-gracing requires concentration, and zombies don't have enough brains to do it.

3) You didn't ease them in enough to a survival horror. Survival horror needs a lot of party strategy, and since three of your players are new... it isn't going to be very helpful if you just drop them in there.

4) Your houserules discourage people from playing casters, even though D&D is balanced around magic being available to a 1st level party, at least. Clerics could have helped the party, but due to those draconian houserules, the party has no way of combatting the undead. A good turning could have made the battle run a bit smoother. Also, six optimized zombies are (counting that they are Elves, mitigating the -2 Dex zombies have, corpsecrafting and destruction retribution bringing them up to CR1 for a noncaster group) Encounter Level 5, which is not something you want as your first encounter.

5) You had no obvious exits for the party to take. Due to the fact that they're new, you should at least drop hints about a secret cellar exit or a clearzone they can hide in. Zombies coming through every orafice? It's often interpreted as "Heck, we got nowhere to run. We have to fight!".

6) In survival horror, a single zombie isn't supposed to be better than a human being. Especially a trained one. In all the zombie movies I've seen, a single zombie can be taken out pretty easily. Sure, it menaces the protagonists for a bit, but the whole point is volume. Twinking out individual zombies is not good practice. Having the zombies easily beaten but implying that there's just going to be more of them is far better than a few superzombies that can't be beaten by a party. Sure, you can introduce stronger zombies later, but at the beginning of a narrative/game/anything? Start weak. Then up the ante. When the players get complacent, THEN you bring out the ones that explode into negative energy. Remember this is a ZOMBIE apocalypse, not a monster movie. Save your destruction-retribution-corpsecrafted-elf-zombies for later. Stuck with a couple of regular zombies until your players get used to combat. Let alone "mass" combat. Even in survival horror, the horror needs to creep up, not kill them outright. If the fight is going too badly, have the zombies called off somewhere else (at least, in the first act). And DO NOT LET THEM COUP DE GRACE PLAYERS. That is a bad move, even in horror games.

7) This is D&D. Combat is kind of expected by players. If it isn't, tell them outright. Don't just cutscene-bluff your way around it.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 11:46 AM
It really doesn't matter how optimized they are if they can't take the zombies down at range. Destruction Retribution for 2D6 in an enclosed area means that even if they manage to take one down on the first swipe, there's a very good chance it'll kill or severely wound them by dying. Factor in 1.5x the numbers of zombies to players and the fact that the same boom that deals 2D6 to the players will heal a like amount to the zombies if necessary and you have your tpk.

Frankly, level 1 is rocket-taggy enough without throwing miscellaneous greatsword damage for killing them.

This too. All in all, very, very poor design all around.

jiriku
2010-09-25, 12:19 PM
Psycho, I actually rather like your encounter. I'd have enjoyed a chance to play it. Defending yourselves against a swarm of encroaching zombies is in fact a crowning moment of badass.

As a fellow Killer DM and a fan of survival horror, I appreciate where you're coming from when you talk about creating lethal encounters and nontraditional D&D experiences. I favor a lot of the same stuff in my games (I have a Wall of Death where each player tapes up a skull and crossbones when his character dies; that wall sees a lot of use). Here's where you can improve:

ENCOUNTER DESIGN

1) I'd estimate that with the corpse-crafting added, your zombies were about CR 1 each, so six of them is about an EL 5 or 6 encounter. This is party level +5 for a group of four 1st-level PCs, and is essentially a guaranteed TPK unless that party had either strong teamwork or strong op-fu. Since yours had neither, a good tactic would have been to take a pass on the corpsecrafting and destruction retribution. Six CR 1/2 zombies is EL 3 or 4, which is a difficult encounter but falls in th 80% survival range you're looking for. Destruction retribution is particularly inappropriate for 1st-level play, since it is difficult to avoid and can single-handledly drop several PCs at once. I'd suggest it for 2nd level or higher play as a big gun that you pull out to up the ante, rather than showing all your best toys first.

2) Although AFAIK it didn't impact this encounter, scythes and picks are a no-no for the bad guys in 1st-level play. The x4 crit modifier can take even a stout 1st-level fighter from full hp to dead in one lucky strike. This is especially true when the bad guys outnumber the good guys and are very durable, because that means the bad guys will be rolling more dice and thus have more opportunities to crit. Use simple weapons instead, and save the nasty stuff for 2nd or 3rd level.

PARTY DESIGN

1) They're persisting in using piercing weapons when slashing weapons obviously work better. They're barricading entrances but then standing passively by while those barricades are pounded down. They're fighting in an open room while outnumbered, failing to use the environment to channel or hinder foes. Your players are playing stupid.

They're also failing to think laterally or use creativity, and sabotaging themselves with excessive PvP. As DM you can correct that by flatly forbidding intra-party violence and including nonlethal puzzle encounters that can only be solved through creativity. This will get them focused on the game instead of their own egos and will start to get them into the habit of looking for creative solutions to in-game problems.

2) Your players are noobs. After every TPK, give them some gentle coaching on what they could have done better. After any encounter where a player seems to have been frustrated with his ineffectiveness, offer him some pointers on tactics or mechanical options he can explore to be more effective next time.

3) Your PCs are mostly playing crap classes. You are courting disaster by running tier 1 and tier 2 classes in the same party with tier 5 and tier 6 classes. The druid in particular is a ticking timebomb just waiting to go off if his player ever figures out that turning into a tiger and casting animal growth on yourself is actually pretty neat. You can limit this by allowing only approved characters into the game and vetoing any builds that are likely to be useless. For example, if the campaign is a zombie apocalypse and a player presents you with an TWF rogue using shortswords, or an enchanter wizard with only mind-affecting spells, or an archery-focused ranger with favored enemy: fey and a shortsword as a backup weapon, you can say "No, the zombies would have eaten this character before he could meet up with the party. Make a different character who could plausibly survive for more than 15 minutes on his own in this world."

I'd also suggest you consider some minor houserules to improve the flexibility and usefulness of the low-tier classes, if only to get them thinking about how their characters can do something other than swing a sword to solve problems. Granting 2 extra skill points per level to barbarians, fighters, monks, paladins, hexblades, samurai, swashbucklers, and knights would be a good place to start.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:19 PM
I'm going to have to agree with the people calling you out on the exploding zombies, if the damage figure for that is 2d6, that seems too much for a party that can't range them. I'm not sure what corpsecrafted actually does, since I couldn't find the book it's in, but I imagine that six normal zombies would probably have been good enough.
As far as the houserule on casting and rifts, I'd say that sounds horrible if it wasn't irrelevant to the discussion of this TPK, since your party had already neutralized their casters, rofl. :smallamused:

On the one hand I want to tell you that you need to seriously crank the power level back on your enemies, since you can challenge your players without going that far over, and on the other hand I want to say you need to have a talk with the players and explain(since they don't seem to have it figured out) that this is gonna be a rough campaign where life is cheap and death is easy enough to achieve with a solid group, let alone one that turns on itself before the enemy can. I see your point about not having characters based on killing undead by the rationale that they wouldn't have seen it coming, ok that works. The new party should definately hear stories about what happened to this town and be better prepared to work together though, ya know?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:44 PM
Gonna take a few edits to catch up.


You might as well say that having a chance to behead yourself every attack with the chance being a % equal to your BaB is a nonissue because it's only 1% at level 1. You are fairly anti-caster in your stance, and while the thread talks about arcane casting... you keep mentioning how something similar will apply to divine too. I'd say that it's almost as much your fault as the players that they don't have any healer types; the general advice for "my DM hates X and threatens to kill it with fire" type posts amounts to "don't play X".

Equal to Spell Level, not BAB. And yes, since then I've established an almost identical method for divine casters.

And I know for a fact that it wasn't a fear of that houserule that made them avoid clerics, given that they had two arcane casters and a divine caster in the party to begin with.


As has been mentioned before, you could have allowed one of the barriers to hold out longer.

I did, actually. The third barrier stayed up for half the fight.


The second thing is the Damage Reduction. In my experience, DR is severely undervalued in monster's CR at low levels. Additionally, new players might not even realize that their weapons are useless against the monsters for severel rounds, because they have no idea that something like DR could exist. Even if you say something like "The arrow now sticks out of the zombie's stomach and does not seem to hinder it", an inexperienced player will still assume that the damage was dealt, because "zombies typically don't show pain".

My suggestion here would be to educate the players about DR at the first opportunity you get, so that they may adjust their tactics accordingly.
You can do this by making it perfectly clear when an attack doesn't deal any damage. By this I mean literally saying things like "Your arrow hit, but it didn't seem to make any difference at all", or "Your rapier left a hole in the zombie's torso, alongside the dozen or so similar holes that were already there. Attacking it in this way doesn't appear to do much."
Conversely, when someone uses a slashing weapon, you could say: "The katana leaves a deap cut across its body. The zombie staggers," or "While your arrows appeared useless, the other guy's axe bites deep into its undead flesh."

I did do this, by having the zombies at least jerk back from the force of a blow that actually did damage, but have no reaction whatsoever to an ineffectual blow. The problem was that the two people who weren't bypassing DR couldn't do anything about it, being well out of melee range, and one of them had no slashing weapons whatsoever.


If, as you wrote earlier, the campaign is going to involve a lot of undead, this might be a good time to encourage them to roll up at least one cleric. It's pretty obvious that they haven't really thought through their party balance at all.

The party Rogue (who survived by not showing up) intends to cross-class into Cleric, so that's probably why none of them are rolling Clerics.

Which reminds me, the Sorcerer will be rolling up a Barbarian next.


Except that, as noted, his houserules strongly DISCOURAGE anyone from rolling up a Cleric. Getting the group to all buy the golfbag of weapons to deal with DR and cart around a large pile of holy water vials may be the best solution.

That'd be a valid point if the players were bothered by the houserule in the slightest. At the worst, they just Hold Back The Phlebotinum (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HoldingBackThePhlebotinum) a bit much. (This session marked the first time the Hexblade had ever used his curse.)


OP, you are forcing players to play gimp mundanes and you're surprised when they can't handle being outnumbered? Seriously?

You pretty much brought it all upon your players single-handedly with that particular rule. It was a bad idea, to say the very least.

People keep saying this, despite the fact that THIS RULE HAS YET TO HAVE THE SLIGHTEST DETRIMENTAL EFFECT ON ANY CHARACTER, PC OR NPC. Maybe it looks bad on paper, but so far in the campaign all it's done is make them paranoid. Which is a good thing.


It really doesn't matter how optimized they are if they can't take the zombies down at range. Destruction Retribution for 2D6 in an enclosed area means that even if they manage to take one down on the first swipe, there's a very good chance it'll kill or severely wound them by dying. Factor in 1.5x the numbers of zombies to players and the fact that the same boom that deals 2D6 to the players will heal a like amount to the zombies if necessary and you have your tpk.

Destruction Retribution deals 1d6 damage, half damage on a successful DC 15 Reflex Save.


2) You played the zombies far too intelligently. Zombies have Int --. They shouldn't be taking attacks of opportunity or coup-de-gracing people. You can give them simple commands (Attack everyone in this town that isn't wearing my insignia), but you can't make them go through a list of commands that resemble strategy. There is no "Corpse Creating Duty" for a zombie. There is only the target that is in front of them. OR a lever they can pull. Coup-de-gracing requires concentration, and zombies don't have enough brains to do it.

Fair point. I'll keep that in mind for future sessions.


3) You didn't ease them in enough to a survival horror. Survival horror needs a lot of party strategy, and since three of your players are new... it isn't going to be very helpful if you just drop them in there.

Four sessions in, two of which involved getting their asses handed to them by zombies, another involving watching highly competant soldiers being utterly curbstomped by zombies. You're saying this wasn't sufficient for them to take the hint?


4) Your houserules discourage people from playing casters, even though D&D is balanced around magic being available to a 1st level party, at least. Clerics could have helped the party, but due to those draconian houserules, the party has no way of combatting the undead. A good turning could have made the battle run a bit smoother.

Again, this would be a valid point if there wasn't already three casters in the party.


5) You had no obvious exits for the party to take. Due to the fact that they're new, you should at least drop hints about a secret cellar exit or a clearzone they can hide in. Zombies coming through every orafice? It's often interpreted as "Heck, we got nowhere to run. We have to fight!".

I'll admit I could've made it more obvious that escape was possible, though it wasn't until the Samurai went down that it really occured to me that this was going to be "killer" instead of just "brutal."


6) In survival horror, a single zombie isn't supposed to be better than a human being. Especially a trained one. In all the zombie movies I've seen, a single zombie can be taken out pretty easily.

Go play Dead Space abit, and imagine being anyone EXCEPT Isaac Clarke.


Sure, it menaces the protagonists for a bit, but the whole point is volume. Twinking out individual zombies is not good practice. Having the zombies easily beaten but implying that there's just going to be more of them is far better than a few superzombies that can't be beaten by a party.

And a force of anywhere between 300 and 1300 superzombies is just ludicrous, I'm guessing. :smalltongue:


Sure, you can introduce stronger zombies later, but at the beginning of a narrative/game/anything? Start weak. Then up the ante. When the players get complacent, THEN you bring out the ones that explode into negative energy. Remember this is a ZOMBIE apocalypse, not a monster movie. Save your destruction-retribution-corpsecrafted-elf-zombies for later.

The reason these zombies are altered as they are is because they're the Big Bad's particular brew. So unsuprisingly, quite nasty.


Stuck with a couple of regular zombies until your players get used to combat. Let alone "mass" combat. Even in survival horror, the horror needs to creep up, not kill them outright.

Well, this entire town is sort of the "first act" of the campaign, it's purpose being to drive home that the **** has hit the fan, and hard.


7) This is D&D. Combat is kind of expected by players. If it isn't, tell them outright. Don't just cutscene-bluff your way around it.

That's precisely the behaviour I'm trying to train out of these people. :smallannoyed:


ENCOUNTER DESIGN

1) I'd estimate that with the corpse-crafting added, your zombies were about CR 1 each, so six of them is about an EL 5 or 6 encounter. This is party level +5 for a group of four 1st-level PCs, and is essentially a guaranteed TPK unless that party had either strong teamwork or strong op-fu. Since yours had neither, a good tactic would have been to take a pass on the corpsecrafting and destruction retribution. Six CR 1/2 zombies is EL 3 or 4, which is a difficult encounter but falls in th 80% survival range you're looking for. Destruction retribution is particularly inappropriate for 1st-level play, since it is difficult to avoid and can single-handledly drop several PCs at once. I'd suggest it for 2nd level or higher play as a big gun that you pull out to up the ante, rather than showing all your best toys first.

I think part of the problem is I've never really gotten the hang of encounter tables. I was under the assumption that 4 CR 1 zombies was an appropriate encounter for 4 Level 1 PCs.


2) Although AFAIK it didn't impact this encounter, scythes and picks are a no-no for the bad guys in 1st-level play. The x4 crit modifier can take even a stout 1st-level fighter from full hp to dead in one lucky strike. This is especially true when the bad guys outnumber the good guys and are very durable, because that means the bad guys will be rolling more dice and thus have more opportunities to crit. Use simple weapons instead, and save the nasty stuff for 2nd or 3rd level.

Nobody rolled a crit, but I see your point. The reason they had them at all is that they were mostly farmers and miners, and that's what you could expect them to be carrying.


PARTY DESIGN
1) They're persisting in using piercing weapons when slashing weapons obviously work better. They're barricading entrances but then standing passively by while those barricades are pounded down. They're fighting in an open room while outnumbered, failing to use the environment to channel or hinder foes. Your players are playing stupid.

I was thinking that standing in the middle of an empty room with an unknown count of zombies pounding down your barricades was a bad idea...


They're also failing to think laterally or use creativity, and sabotaging themselves with excessive PvP. As DM you can correct that by flatly forbidding intra-party violence and including nonlethal puzzle encounters that can only be solved through creativity. This will get them focused on the game instead of their own egos and will start to get them into the habit of looking for creative solutions to in-game problems.

Well, I like allowing player freedom, even when it is suicidal.


2) Your players are noobs. After every TPK, give them some gentle coaching on what they could have done better. After any encounter where a player seems to have been frustrated with his ineffectiveness, offer him some pointers on tactics or mechanical options he can explore to be more effective next time.

If they ever seemed frusterated, I might. They mostly just seem resigned to their fate.


3) Your PCs are mostly playing crap classes. You are courting disaster by running tier 1 and tier 2 classes in the same party with tier 5 and tier 6 classes. The druid in particular is a ticking timebomb just waiting to go off if his player ever figures out that turning into a tiger and casting[I] animal growth on yourself is actually pretty neat.

That assumes the poor bastard will live to see 5th Level. Hell, there was a bet going on during this session that he'd be eaten by zombies. Ironically enough, he was one of the only survivors.


You can limit this by allowing only approved characters into the game and vetoing any builds that are likely to be useless.

I intentionally told them nothing about the campaign on the grounds that their players knew nothing about the plot either.


For example, if the campaign is a zombie apocalypse and a player presents you with an TWF rogue using shortswords,

Funnily enough, the Rogue who didn't show up was exactly this.


or an archery-focused ranger with favored enemy: fey and a shortsword as a backup weapon,

Minus the Favored Enemy: Fey, this was the Ranger who died here.


you can say "No, the zombies would have eaten this character before he could meet up with the party. Make a different character who could plausibly survive for more than 15 minutes on his own in this world."

The Zombie Apocalypse happened AFTER the start of the campaign, so any build is theoretically plausible prior to it's start. Though they'll probably be much more selective this time around...


I'm going to have to agree with the people calling you out on the exploding zombies, if the damage figure for that is 2d6, that seems too much for a party that can't range them. I'm not sure what corpsecrafted actually does, since I couldn't find the book it's in, but I imagine that six normal zombies would probably have been good enough.
As far as the houserule on casting and rifts, I'd say that sounds horrible if it wasn't irrelevant to the discussion of this TPK, since your party had already neutralized their casters, rofl. :smallamused:

At the time, the damage was only 1d6. Now I know better. :smallamused:

As for the houserule, again, this has yet to effect any character in the slightest.


On the one hand I want to tell you that you need to seriously crank the power level back on your enemies, since you can challenge your players without going that far over, and on the other hand I want to say you need to have a talk with the players and explain(since they don't seem to have it figured out) that this is gonna be a rough campaign where life is cheap and death is easy enough to achieve with a solid group, let alone one that turns on itself before the enemy can.

Once they aren't hanging around in direct proximity to the Big Bad, the zombies should tone down since they don't use his special brew.


I see your point about not having characters based on killing undead by the rationale that they wouldn't have seen it coming, ok that works. The new party should definately hear stories about what happened to this town and be better prepared to work together though, ya know?

That seems to be the case already.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 12:56 PM
What about My and Jiriku's posts? We both have decent arguements.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 12:58 PM
What about My and Jiriku's posts? We both have decent arguements.

Workin' on it. I'm just going down the line.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 01:00 PM
Oh, I see. Adding to that one post, gotcha.

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 01:03 PM
Destruction Retribution deals 1d6 damage, half damage on a successful DC 15 Reflex Save.Destructive Retribution deals 1D6 + 1D6/2HD. Since zombies have a minimum of 2HD, that's 2D6.


DESTRUCTION RETRIBUTION [GENERAL]
Undead you raise or create harbor a retributive curse that is unleashed if they are destroyed.
Prerequisite: Corpsecrafter.
Benefi t: Each undead you raise or create with any necromancy spell releases a burst of negative energy upon its destruction, dealing 1d6 points of damage plus an additional 1d6 points per 2 Hit Dice to every creature within a 10-foot spread (Reflex DC 15 half). This damage comes from negative energy, and it
therefore heals undead creatures.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 01:09 PM
Solution: every PC take Tomb Tainted soul so they cured by negative energy. :smallbiggrin:

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 01:10 PM
Solution: every PC take Tomb Tainted soul so they cured by negative energy. :smallbiggrin:In context, they'll probably get eaten by eldritch horrors if that happens. :smallamused:

jiriku
2010-09-25, 01:11 PM
What about My and Jiriku's posts? We both have decent arguements.

I wouldn't say I'm arguing. :smalleek: In fact, I was trying to give useful advice.

Again, I'd have loved to play in this encounter. My play group would probably have survived it, perhaps even with no casualties. ("Spartans! What is your profession? HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!")

true_shinken
2010-09-25, 01:12 PM
I think you should have made it more clear to your PCs that the odds were against them. 'Your arrows do nothing. The undead crawl toward you, moaning.'
They should KNOW when to run. Heck, this is survival horror, right? Did you tell your players that? Running from zombies is ridiculously easy, damnit.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:13 PM
Destructive Retribution deals 1D6 + 1D6/2HD. Since zombies have a minimum of 2HD, that's 2D6.

:smallconfused: Since when did they have a 2HD minimum? These don't.

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 01:14 PM
:smallconfused: Since when did they have a 2HD minimum? These don't.Zombies are created by taking the base hit dice of the creature without class levels and doubling them.
[Minimum of] 1*2 = 2.
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/zombie.htm

Hit Dice

Drop any Hit Dice from class levels (to a minimum of 1), double the number of Hit Dice left, and raise them to d12s. If the base creature has more than 10 Hit Dice (not counting those gained with experience), it canít be made into a zombie with the animate dead spell.

jiriku
2010-09-25, 01:17 PM
:smallconfused: Since when did they have a 2HD minimum? These don't.

Zombies do in fact have a 2 HD minimum, because the zombie template doubles the original creature's hit dice. While it's perfectly ok for you to create nerfed zombies that don't have doubled hit dice, since you didn't specify that you did so, I imagine we've all been assuming 2 HD zombies.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:29 PM
Zombies do in fact have a 2 HD minimum, because the zombie template doubles the original creature's hit dice. While it's perfectly ok for you to create nerfed zombies that don't have doubled hit dice, since you didn't specify that you did so, I imagine we've all been assuming 2 HD zombies.

Honestly, I had just overlooked that rule. Never noticed it before. Och.

By the way, that long catchup post is finished. Feel free to retort.

jiriku
2010-09-25, 01:35 PM
Honestly, I had just overlooked that rule. Never noticed it before. Och.

FWIW, I forgot that destruction retribution deals an extra d6 over and above half hit dice, so I was assuming a 1d6 blast all along. Thus, my advice about destruction retribution stands as-is even though we were coming from different places when thinking about zombie hit dice.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 01:35 PM
Honestly, I had just overlooked that rule. Never noticed it before. Och.

Thats part of the reason everyone is telling you that normal zombies would do the job. They're nasty enough just being elves because that negates the dex thing, they don't really need to have +4 strength and more hp either. Seriously though, if you want to use super zombies, maybe you need to start your pc's at a bit higher level so they stand a chance? EL +5 is really not acceptable for people with weak op-fu.

*edit: I see you mention that there will be normal zombies where the new party starts. That and them being ready for it should greatly increase the odds they'll mostly live through the next time, bar any more stupidity and PVP, which you might consider banning since it's hard to keep a campaign going with that kind of B.S. happening.

*edit2: I know the houserule isn't a problem, why do you think I specified it was irrelevant to the discussion?

jiriku
2010-09-25, 01:47 PM
I think part of the problem is I've never really gotten the hang of encounter tables. I was under the assumption that 4 CR 1 zombies was an appropriate encounter for 4 Level 1 PCs.

In a nutshell:
"Appropriate Encounter" = actually not very difficult. PCs expend about 20% of their resources and are ready for more. An "appropriate encounter" for a group of four 1st level PCs is EL 1, e.g. one of your CR 1 zombies.

For every +2 increase in EL, the encounter difficulty doubles, and the amount of resources the PCs must expend doubles as well. At EL 6, four 1st level PCs would be expected to expend 100% of their resources. Hit points are a resource. You see where this is going.


Nobody rolled a crit, but I see your point. The reason they had them at all is that they were mostly farmers and miners, and that's what you could expect them to be carrying.
Well, I like allowing player freedom, even when it is suicidal.
If they ever seemed frusterated, I might. They mostly just seem resigned to their fate.
That assumes the poor bastard will live to see 5th Level. Hell, there was a bet going on during this session that he'd be eaten by zombies. Ironically enough, he was one of the only survivors.
I intentionally told them nothing about the campaign on the grounds that their players knew nothing about the plot either.
Funnily enough, the Rogue who didn't show up was exactly this.
Minus the Favored Enemy: Fey, this was the Ranger who died here.
The Zombie Apocalypse happened AFTER the start of the campaign, so any build is theoretically plausible prior to it's start. Though they'll probably be much more selective this time around...

I'm getting the impression that you've been stressing verisimilitude and player choice over game balance and sustainability of the campaign, and that sacrificing some of the former to get more of the latter is a little outside your comfort zone. How's that working out for you so far?

lsfreak
2010-09-25, 01:47 PM
I think part of the problem is I've never really gotten the hang of encounter tables. I was under the assumption that 4 CR 1 zombies was an appropriate encounter for 4 Level 1 PCs.

1 CR1 monster is an expected encounter for a party of 4 ECL1 characters. Note that CR isn't the best tool, though, really you have to look at what the party is capable of and what the monster is capable of. Sending 1 monster after 4 players is often dooming the encounter to last a single round due to action advantage. On the other hand, there are ridiculously under-CR'd creatures. The creatures of CR1 and less should be carefully looked at especially, as they tend to vary widely. Run-of-the-mill zombies are listed as CR1/2, but should really probably be CR1 (high hit points, DR), and are undoubtedly that the way you've built them (high hit points, high damage, DR, asploding, above-average AC).

See here (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm) for by-the-book encounter building.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 01:50 PM
I'm getting the impression that you've been stressing verisimilitude and player choice over game balance and sustainability, and that sacrificing some of the former to get more of the latter is a little outside your comfort zone. How's that working out for you so far?

Other than the whole "KO'd the Druid, TK'd the Sorcerer, and were promptly eaten by zombies" thing? Pretty well. :smallamused:


*edit2: I know the houserule isn't a problem, why do you think I specified it was irrelevant to the discussion?

I know, I know. I'm just weary from the incessant complaints about a houserule that no one's actually seen in action yet. :smallannoyed:

jiriku
2010-09-25, 02:00 PM
Other than the whole "KO'd the Druid, TK'd the Sorcerer, and were promptly eaten by zombies" thing? Pretty well. :smallamused:

Looks like it's pretty much up to your discretion, then.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 02:17 PM
I think part of the problem is I've never really gotten the hang of encounter tables. I was under the assumption that 4 CR 1 zombies was an appropriate encounter for 4 Level 1 PCs.

....OMG.
I see why you're having trouble keeping the PC's alive now. Yeah, as others have said what you had works out to about ten times the expected challenge level. CR is for a whole party of that numbered level.


Nobody rolled a crit, but I see your point. The reason they had them at all is that they were mostly farmers and miners, and that's what you could expect them to be carrying.


I'm actually on board with this. Sure the high crit range is bad for new pc's, but you are trying to make things hard for them and this is one thing that's an appropriate level of threat for them, and it DOES make sense for peasants to have those implements on hand.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 02:20 PM
....OMG.
I see why you're having trouble keeping the PC's alive now. Yeah, as others have said what you had works out to about ten times the expected challenge level. CR is for a whole party of that numbered level.


If the PCs survived then they would have gained 1/2 level in 1 fight as that seems worth multiple days worth of adventuring.
I mean CR 5 means 1500 XP I think.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:26 PM
If the PCs survived then they would have gained 1/2 level in 1 fight as that seems worth multiple days worth of adventuring.
I mean CR 5 means 1500 XP I think.

1800, or actually 180 in this case. I give out 10% normal XP.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 02:29 PM
1800, or actually 180 in this case. I give out 10% normal XP.

And in return for raping their xp reward, you give them what exactly to reward winning the extremely tough fight?

Chipp Zanuff
2010-09-25, 02:31 PM
1800, or actually 180 in this case. I give out 10% normal XP.

...Why? If them leveling up too fast is your concern, just tell them when you want to level them up.

The way the XP is calculated, it takes about 13 encounters for a party to level up. At the rate of 4 encounters a session, your party should be leveling up once every 3-4 meetings.

Using higher CR'ed enemies makes this faster, while using underleveled encounters makes it slower.

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 02:34 PM
80% survival rate coupled with taking 10x as long to level means the odds of seeing second level are rather slim. While it is realistic for zombie apocalypse, might I suggest playing CoC instead so your players don't actually think they have a fighting chance?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:35 PM
And in return for raping their xp reward, you give them what exactly to reward winning the extremely tough fight?

That's not a particularly valid arguement. If you were playing one game that awarded you, say, 3 gold for killing a Level 1 enemy, and another, different game that awarded you 300 gold for killing a Level 1 enemy, would you claim that the first game is stiffing you? No, because gold is simply worth more in the former game than in the latter.

Same case with this campaign. XP and levels simply mean more.

And can't the fight be its own reward? :smallconfused:


80% survival rate coupled with taking 10x as long to level means the odds of seeing second level are rather slim. While it is realistic for zombie apocalypse, might I suggest playing CoC instead so your players don't actually think they have a fighting chance?

Then I'd need to spend money on new books and spend several weeks memorizing new rules. No thank you.

Besides, if my players still think they have a fighting chance, they have serious problems with their observational skills. :smallannoyed:

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 02:40 PM
If your players are having fun, then all is well I suppose. If they're resigned to dying and rerolling every other session, then it's probably not so well.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 02:41 PM
That's not a particularly valid arguement. If you were playing one game that awarded you, say, 3 gold for killing a Level 1 enemy, and another, different game that awarded you 300 gold for killing a Level 1 enemy, would you claim that the first game is stiffing you? No, because gold is simply worth more in the former game than in the latter.

Same case with this campaign. XP and levels simply mean more.

And can't the fight be its own reward?

It does not work that way. The experience and wealth rules are there to keep your power in line with growing challenges. The CR and EL rules assume that you are the right level and have level-appropriate gear. If you throw challenges like this at them and don't let them advance at the full rate, they WILL die. Maybe not this time, maybe not the second time, but they will die. Why? Because they're expending so much of their resources that they don't have even a slim hope to beat the next encounter. Leveling up and getting gear counteracts that, because they have more resources, and so have enough to maybe keep going after each fight.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:47 PM
It does not work that way. The experience and wealth rules are there to keep your power in line with growing challenges. The CR and EL rules assume that you are the right level and have level-appropriate gear. If you throw challenges like this at them and don't let them advance at the full rate, they WILL die. Maybe not this time, maybe not the second time, but they will die. Why? Because they're expending so much of their resources that they don't have even a slim hope to beat the next encounter. Leveling up and getting gear counteracts that, because they have more resources, and so have enough to maybe keep going after each fight.

Psh. I have never once looked at the treasure rules. If you get yourself a small kingdom's worth of treasure at Level 1, fine. If you don't have a penny to your name at 20, fine.

Resources don't need to be worried about, considering that they have a freshly depopulated city to loot. :smallamused:

You're coming at this with the (presumably normal) assumption that there's any limit to how much treasure I'm willing to give at a given level. Hell, with the Mages Guild wiped out there's probably a couple thousand gp worth of scrolls ready for the taking, should it occur to any of the players.

So, potentially unlimited resources means potentially unlimited encounters.

Khatoblepas
2010-09-25, 02:47 PM
1800, or actually 180 in this case. I give out 10% normal XP.

You know, there is a point where a brutal DM stops being a DM, and starts being AM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_No_Mouth_and_I_Must_Scream)*. I think this is that point. Incredibly tough enemies that you must overcome or run screaming from like a little girl, and even if you managed to beat them, you gain next to nothing from it? And uh, yes, XP awards are kind of standardised because the entire level, CR, and WBL system is based around gaining certain amounts of XP for a certain amount of challenge. If you give 10% of the XP they need, you're just going to make it unrewarding and quite frankly, players don't like to not be rewarded for their efforts. Getting 180xp (equivilant to a couple of goblins) for defeating a CR5 encounter... would cause me to complain. Since D&D is precariously balanced as it is, and all these extra houserules are just going to make it unenjoyable.

In a game where there are no levels, you're going to get a lot less bravado and a lot more paranoia, since there's no progression they're following. In D&D, the characters want to reach the next level to get new toys. Gimping them like this is... sadistic and cruel.

*Though I'd love to run a game based on that story, I doubt anyone but the most diehard Call of Cthulhu players would be willing to do it.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:52 PM
You know, there is a point where a brutal DM stops being a DM, and starts being [AM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_No_Mouth_and_I_Must_Scream)*. I think this is that point. Incredibly tough enemies that you must overcome or run screaming from like a little girl, and even if you managed to beat them, you gain next to nothing from it? And uh, yes, XP awards are kind of standardised because the entire level, CR, and WBL system is based around gaining certain amounts of XP for a certain amount of challenge. If you give 10% of the XP they need, you're just going to make it unrewarding and quite frankly, players don't like to not be rewarded for their efforts. Getting 180xp (equivilant to a couple of goblins) for defeating a CR5 encounter... would cause me to complain. Since D&D is precariously balanced as it is, and all these extra houserules are just going to make it unenjoyable.

Since I don't tell them about the ammount of XP they're getting, they don't have much reason to complain.


In a game where there are no levels, you're going to get a lot less bravado and a lot more paranoia, since there's no progression they're following. In D&D, the characters want to reach the next level to get new toys. Gimping them like this is... sadistic and cruel.

*Though I'd love to run a game based on that story, I doubt anyone but the most diehard Call of Cthulhu players would be willing to do it.

People need to stop thing this from a heroic fantasy perspective. The players should honestly know by now that power, glory and riches are not something to be expected in my campaign. Just a constant series of near-death experiences with your reward being the chance to live to the next near-death experience.

Basically, I AM running a CoC game, with DnD rules.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 02:53 PM
Psh. I have never once looked at the treasure rules. If you get yourself a small kingdom's worth of treasure at Level 1, fine. If you don't have a penny to your name at 20, fine.

Resources don't need to be worried about, considering that they have a freshly depopulated city to loot. :smallamused:

You're coming at this with the (presumably normal) assumption that there's any limit to how much treasure I'm willing to give at a given level. Hell, with the Mages Guild wiped out there's probably a couple thousand gp worth of scrolls ready for the taking, should it occur to any of the players.

So, potentially unlimited resources means potentially unlimited encounters.

Wrong. The most important resources are hit points, attack bonuses and feats. You don't get that much of that from gear, just leveling up. All the gear in the world doesn't help if you die before you can use it.

*edit:

People need to stop thing this from a heroic fantasy perspective. The players should honestly know by now that power, glory and riches are not something to be expected in my campaign. Just a constant series of near-death experiences with your reward being the chance to live to the next near-death experience.

Basically, I AM running a CoC game, with DnD rules.
Then you should use those rules. D&D is not built for that sort of thing. D&D IS a heroic fantasy game.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 02:58 PM
Wrong. The most important resources are hit points, attack bonuses and feats. You don't get that much of that from gear, just leveling up. All the gear in the world doesn't help if you die before you can use it.

It's not like you can run out of attack bonuses and feats. And health... well, either get a healbot or a good place to hide for a few days.


Then you should use those rules. D&D is not built for that sort of thing. D&D IS a heroic fantasy game.

Don't wanna pay for 'em, don't wanna learn 'em. So, I'll just break the DnD rules over my knee until they conform to what I want.

Khatoblepas
2010-09-25, 03:07 PM
Don't wanna pay for 'em, don't wanna learn 'em. So, I'll just break the DnD rules over my knee until they conform to what I want.

Yeah, have fun with the broken mockery of a roleplaying system. While you're at it, you can twist round Bunnies and Burrows to play Warhammer 40k. You don't seem to understand that D&D physically cannot do what you want to do with it without the game becoming unplayable. As seen here. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by brute force is pointless and damaging.

D&D does not do anything but heroic fantasy well. It can't even do Conan fantasy well, which is the heroic version of lovecraft's horror. Trust me, I've been playing it and CoC for going on ten years in several different ways, and Call of Cthulhu is infinitely easier. It's even easier to prepare a session for, easier to run, and has a lot less rules to juggle about. I even linked you to a quickstart pdf of it, which was free. By obstinately refusing to use anything but a warped, frayed version of an already broken system, you're fooling noone but yourself.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:11 PM
Yeah, have fun with the broken mockery of a roleplaying system. While you're at it, you can twist round Bunnies and Burrows to play Warhammer 40k. You don't seem to understand that D&D physically cannot do what you want to do with it without the game becoming unplayable. As seen here. Trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by brute force is pointless and damaging.

D&D does not do anything but heroic fantasy well. It can't even do Conan fantasy well, which is the heroic version of lovecraft's horror. Trust me, I've been playing it and CoC for going on ten years in several different ways, and Call of Cthulhu is infinitely easier. It's even easier to prepare a session for, easier to run, and has a lot less rules to juggle about. I even linked you to a quickstart pdf of it, which was free. By obstinately refusing to use anything but a warped, frayed version of an already broken system, you're fooling noone but yourself.

Turn down the venom a bit, man. And for all your cries of "can't be done," besides a few kinks that I'm still working out, the game is running FINE. Excellently, even. Even with this TPK, my players are actually enjoying themselves.

So yes, I can run Lovecraftian horror on DnD. But it's uncharted territory, so a few stumbles can be expected. This topic is about one I found and how to resolve it. :smallannoyed:

Marnath
2010-09-25, 03:11 PM
It's not like you can run out of attack bonuses and feats. And health... well, either get a healbot or a good place to hide for a few days.

A healbot who has a percent chance of gating in a horrible demon of freak every time they heal? No thanks.


Don't wanna pay for 'em, don't wanna learn 'em. So, I'll just break the DnD rules over my knee until they conform to what I want.

Aaand I think we're done here. Khatoblepas has explained why.

*edit:

This topic is about one I found and how to resolve it.
And the overwhelming response was "the rules don't work this way." Ignoring that leaves us with just challenging your reason to use this ruleset.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:13 PM
A healbot who has a percent chance of gating in a horrible demon of freak every time they heal? No thanks.

Doesn't affect Level 0 or Level 1 spells for Divine Casters, and again, a 1% chance is barely worth contemplating.


And the overwhelming response was "the rules don't work this way." Ignoring that leaves us with just challenging your reason to use this ruleset.

Really? I recall the overwhelming response being "your PCs were idiots and you had too many big monsters." Which is easy enough to fix.

Sewercop
2010-09-25, 03:18 PM
-You have 7 players at lvl 1.
-They need around 220-230 cr1 encounters to level
I was going to say more, but I stopped there...
I mean, seriously

Cr 1 gives 300 exp. 300\7=42.85 and you give them 10%= 4 exp per enconounter.
Perhaps ypu should let them cr 3 encounters. Thats 13 exp and only 70-80 fights beofre leveling.

I mean... Do you want the players to leave you?
Even I, as a real person would learn faster than that. Thats like training for a year and never improve.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 03:20 PM
Doesn't affect Level 0 or Level 1 spells for Divine Casters, and again, a 1% chance is barely worth contemplating.



Really? I recall the overwhelming response being "your PCs were idiots and you had too many big monsters." Which is easy enough to fix.

That was before you let slip that you're not using the encounter, treasure and experience rules properly, or at all. Those are the core of this game system.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:23 PM
I mean... Do you want the players to leave you?

They don't seem to mind.


Even I, as a real person would learn faster than that. Thats like training for a year and never improve.

No, you wouldn't. If you assumed a Level 3 Fighter is a professional, career soldier, it's going to take more than twenty six level-appropriate fights to reach that level of skill. And at the rate my PCs gain XP, they could be expected to level up maybe once every five months or so, in-game.


That was before you let slip that you're not using the encounter, treasure and experience rules properly, or at all. Those are the core of this game system.

All of which may become relevent in the long term, but had nothing whatsoever to do with this particular encounter.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 03:29 PM
All of which may become relevent in the long term, but had nothing whatsoever to do with this particular encounter.

Your players died because the challenge was something like twenty times the power of what it should have been. That absolutely has to do with your grasp on encounter rules.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:30 PM
Your players died because the challenge was something like twenty times the power of what it should have been. That absolutely has to do with your grasp on encounter rules.

Twenty times? Please. If I had thrown say, three zombies at them I'm certain most of them would've lived. It was a minor error in judgement that you're treating like criminal negligence.

Which seems to be a pretty consistant phenomenon when I ask the Playground questions. At first, I'm told that I've made a pretty basic and fairly innocent error in judgement, then I let glean some of the houserules in the background and suddenly everyone recoils in horror and calls me a monster. :smallannoyed: Despite the fact that none of these houserules have EVER negatively affected gameplay.

Sewercop
2010-09-25, 03:40 PM
I hope all your players, and more specificly the players that have never gamed before has been told all your houserules before they started to game with you.

The funniest thing are that I believe your name on this site says it all.
Good luck sir to break dnd to suit your needs.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:44 PM
I hope all your players, and more specificly the players that have never gamed before has been told all your houserules before they started to game with you.

Of course.


The funniest thing are that I believe your name on this site says it all.

I didn't pick it out of a hat. :smalltongue:

Marnath
2010-09-25, 03:47 PM
Twenty times? Please. If I had thrown say, three zombies at them I'm certain most of them would've lived. It was a minor error in judgement that you're treating like criminal negligence.

Which seems to be a pretty consistant phenomenon when I ask the Playground questions. At first, I'm told that I've made a pretty basic and fairly innocent error in judgement, then I let glean some of the houserules in the background and suddenly everyone recoils in horror and calls me a monster. :smallannoyed:

Wanna know why that is? It's because at first blush it looks like a simple error, but after you give us some info on how you DM it becomes clear your only motive is to kill players. You and I have vastly different conceptions of what "ruins" gameplay. I wonder if your PC's truly enjoy this, or if they simply hold their tongues because they don't want to have to find a new DM.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:49 PM
Wanna know why that is? It's because at first blush it looks like a simple error, but after you give us some info on how you DM it becomes clear your only motive is to kill players. You and I have vastly different conceptions of what "ruins" gameplay. I wonder if your PC's truly enjoy this, or if they simply hold their tongues because they don't want to have to find a new DM.

No, they frequently inform me that I am evil, sadistic bastard. They just enjoy the torment. :smallamused: Mainly because most of them are also evil, sadistic bastards.

And no, my motive is not to kill the PCs. It's to make the PCs wet themselves in terror at the sight of anything larger than a cat. :smallbiggrin:

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 03:50 PM
But housecats are scary too. You meant a mouse no?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 03:51 PM
But housecats are scary too. You meant a mouse no?

"Mouse" did occur to me, yes. For some reason I went with cat. *shrug*

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 03:55 PM
They don't seem to mind.

By your own admission... most of them don't know any better and don't have much experience. For all they know, this could be normal and a few sessions later they learn to hate D&D as a stupid & ridiculous game of death and long character generation.


As for the players' experience? Three of them are playing their first campaign with me, and the others have several campaigns under their belt but don't worry too heavily about optimization. They do know who Pun-Pun is, at least.

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 03:56 PM
No, they frequently inform me that I am evil, sadistic bastard. They just enjoy the torment. :smallamused: Mainly because most of them are also evil, sadistic bastards.

Sadism does not imply masochism, nor does masochism imply sadism.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:05 PM
Sadism does not imply masochism, nor does masochism imply sadism.

I never said it did. I'm just saying that as fellow evil, sadistic bastards, they can sympathize.


By your own admission... most of them don't know any better and don't have much experience. For all they know, this could be normal and a few sessions later they learn to hate D&D as a stupid & ridiculous game of death and long character generation.

You people seem absolutely convinced that these people aren't having fun.

Also, only 3 2* out of 7 of them are first time players.

*It occured to me exactly right now that one of the three used to play 2E under the same DM I started under.

Mystic Muse
2010-09-25, 04:10 PM
If you aren't willing to buy the CoC books there are these useful things called "Library cards".

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:11 PM
If you aren't willing to buy the CoC books there are these useful things called "Library cards".

1) The library by my house sucks and has no gaming material whatsoever.

2) I'd still have to memorize an entirely new set of rules. Why bother when the DnD rules have worked just fine so far?

Raistlin1040
2010-09-25, 04:12 PM
When I started DMing (and this is not a commentary on you as a new DM, because I don't know if you are one or not), I made a handful of mistakes in the first few sessions of my campaign that wrecked my group and caused most of them to leave.


I sent a CR Appropriate Werewolf at a party that had little magic and no way of overcoming DR. I sent an NPC to help them when it was clear they would die, but it made them feel useless.
I allowed a player to play a CE character who was "trying to be good", despite my no Evil PC rule, and then flipped out when the character killed innocents (though a lot of it was the player trying to screw with me).
I had no desire to play a Black and White Morality system, but neglected to mention to my players that certain things they might take for granted (like the alignment of fiends and angels) would not necessarily be the same as in the MM.
I was too set on the story I'd created. I didn't allow for party freedom, because I didn't want them wrecking my story, and I didn't have the improv skills to make what they wanted to do work well in the narrative.

They screwed up a lot. Two of them were problem players that I shouldn't have ever played with in the first place. I came to this very forum and talked about the issues, asking for advice, but then I vigorously defended my actions. Someone very wise asked me if I'd come looking for advice, or justification. I wanted justification. I wanted to know that I was right, and that I hadn't made mistakes, and that my players were jerks who didn't deserve my obvious narrative gifts.

That's not how anyone should DM. You should be helping the players tell the story they want to tell. Maybe they would rather be badass. You're giving them a story and saying "do whatever you want", and then punishing them for making their own choices. You send six zombies at them, expecting them to flee, and then when they fight, you let them die. I'm not saying coddle them like babies, but there has to be some middle ground. Ask them about their characters. Find out what they want. Engage them in the collective story, not just your story. They might be having fun now, but if a character or two dies per session, all you're doing is wasting their time.

Imagine you gave me your sandwich and said "I'll be right back, watch this for me". You come back and the sandwich is gone. "Sorry, I was really hungry", I say. You accept my apology. Next week, you ask me to hold another sandwich. I eat it. I apologize. We repeat this for a few more weeks, until you realize that I am being a real jerk by eating your sandwiches. You put time into making that sandwich, but what's the point in making them if I'm just going to eat them? Maybe you'll stop making them entirely. Maybe you'll find a better friend who doesn't eat your sandwich. Maybe you'll keep making sandwiches, but they'll be boring and uninspired, because you don't think you'll have it for more than a few minutes.

Stop eating your players' sandwiches.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 04:15 PM
1) The library by my house sucks and has no gaming material whatsoever.

2) I'd still have to memorize an entirely new set of rules. Why bother when the DnD rules have worked just fine so far?

1) I believe you.

2) You haven't been using the rules, so how can we know?

*edit: The above poster is a wise person. :smallsmile:

Mystic Muse
2010-09-25, 04:15 PM
1) The library by my house sucks and has no gaming material whatsoever. Am I the only one who has a halfway decent library?



2) I'd still have to memorize an entirely new set of rules. Why bother when the DnD rules have worked just fine so far?

Because they aren't the D&D rules and they don't seem like they actually work?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:19 PM
Not going to quote you since there isn't any particular passage to retort to.

Thing is, I did not design the encounter with the explicit intention of "flee or die." The intention was to point out that combat was harsh, unforgiving, and lethal. So if the players choose to fight, it will be brutal and someone very well may die.

I never try to say "you WILL die." It's always "you CAN die," or even "you will LIKELY die." To say that not all fights can be won, and to pick and choose their battles. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of giving them the Ogre's Choice in this instance, and that combined with their own bad decisions was a fatal combination. :smallsigh:

Now I know better, and will kill them slightly less hard in the future. :smalltongue:


Am I the only one who has a halfway decent library?

Evidently.


Because they aren't the D&D rules and they don't seem like they actually work?

No? They seem to work fine for me. The rules aren't what killed my party. It was miscalculation and poor judgement, which has proved to be a learning experience.


2) You haven't been using the rules, so how can we know?

Just because I ignored a handful of rules that you for some reason consider the absolute center of the game doesn't mean that I ignored the other 95% of the rules.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 04:20 PM
Glad this topic has been helpful somewhat :smalltongue:

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:24 PM
Glad this topic has been helpful somewhat :smalltongue:

And it was fun, right up until people started trying to burn me at the cross for the thirteenth time this week. :smallwink:

Sc00by
2010-09-25, 04:43 PM
Unfortunately, the scythe zombie is not and coup de grace's the Samurai in the next round.


Single Actions Only (Ex)

Zombies have poor reflexes and can perform only a single move action or attack action each round. A zombie can move up to its speed and attack in the same round, but only if it attempts a charge.


Coup de Grace

As a full-round action, you can use a melee weapon to deliver a coup de grace to a helpless opponent. You can also use a bow or crossbow, provided you are adjacent to the target.

I'm not sure that a zombie can 'coup de Grace' anything...

Also I think you did what I did early on in my DMing career and failed at balancing the encounter correctly. Good luck in future encounters (and slap your players round the head with a mackerel if they start in-fighting again)

true_shinken
2010-09-25, 04:44 PM
Kids will be kids. 'nuff said.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:47 PM
I'm not sure that a zombie can 'coup de Grace' anything...

Eh, I dropped the "Single Actions Only" thing because it was annoying. Not gonna have them Coup de Grace anything in the future anyway, since it involves too much forethought, which zombies lack.

Zore
2010-09-25, 04:51 PM
Eh, I dropped the "Single Actions Only" thing because it was annoying. Not gonna have them Coup de Grace anything in the future anyway, since it involves too much forethought, which zombies lack.

You know dropping the single actions only thing bumped up the difficulty too right? Zombies are tough at low levels even with single actions, no retribution and no strength or health bonuses. Why not use skeletons if you wanted the actions?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 04:54 PM
You know dropping the single actions only thing bumped up the difficulty too right? Zombies are tough at low levels even with single actions, no retribution and no strength or health bonuses. Why not use skeletons if you wanted the actions?

Because, for fluff reasons, skeletons didn't make much sense. Also, skeletons have DR/Bludgeoning, which would've been even harder to overcome.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 04:57 PM
Because, for fluff reasons, skeletons didn't make much sense. Also, skeletons have DR/Bludgeoning, which would've been even harder to overcome.

DR/bludgeoning is no more difficult to overcome than DR/slashing. Just grab a mace instead of a sword. Problem solved.

Merellis
2010-09-25, 04:59 PM
Long time lurker just jumping out to say this.

I find it funny people are haggling on the rules when one of the main things I see on these boards is that 'DM Fiat' or rather, the DM can cheat, the DM can change/make the rules. I see this all the time yet I then see people saying that he's not following the rules for experience per encounter.

He already admitted that the zombies were probably a little much, and that it was kind of a mistake. And that is the issue here, the zombies, the TPK, and the fact that they managed to keep the Druid and Sorcerer from being able to join in on the action.

If his players are enjoying the game, then awesome. If they can maybe skip the samurai, even better.

Though I do agree, the ones that were new may need a bit to get into the thinking outside the box, and wondering what kinda sharp implements are in the kitchen.

I might even suggest to mention that to your players if you haven't already, if only to get the ball rolling in their heads. :P

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 05:01 PM
DR/bludgeoning is no more difficult to overcome than DR/slashing. Just grab a mace instead of a sword. Problem solved.

The problem being none of them had bludgeoning weapons. They did have slashing weapons. Ergo, DR/Bludgeoning is harder for them to overcome than DR/Slashing.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 05:07 PM
The problem being none of them had bludgeoning weapons. They did have slashing weapons. Ergo, DR/Bludgeoning is harder for them to overcome than DR/Slashing.

they were at an inn, right? they could use a chair leg or table leg as an improvised club. they might not think about it, but it is an option.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 05:10 PM
they were at an inn, right? they could use a chair leg or table leg as an improvised club. they might not think about it, but it is an option.

If they had thought of alot of things, they might've survived and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 05:38 PM
If they had thought of alot of things, they might've survived and we wouldn't be having this discussion.

if you really think that is the case, go explain to them that they need to think, use teamwork to win, and suggest running away in the middle of the fight if it looks bad. there were 2? new players, so you have to remind them of options until they start to pick up the game. how experienced are the other players?

do you give xp for them running away? you are supposed to. if you really insist on giving them 10% of what the xp should be, at least use this (http://www.penpaperpixel.org/tools/d20encountercalculator.htm) to determine how much they should get from every fight instead of guessing at what the cr is. if you don't want anyone to die to a random crit, bump them up to like level 3.

were the zombies blocking the exit so the party couldn't run? it sounds like they couldn't escape without tearing down a barricade.

did you hint at all that piercing damage wasn't working? unless you did, then the ranger and swashbuckler probably thought they were hurting the zombies.

if fighting was really the only option they had, expect more tpks if you don't want to change anything. make 10 or so extra characters so when the group dies, you can continue playing and they have options about what they are going to play.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 05:50 PM
do you give xp for them running away? you are supposed to.

Had they ever actually run away, yes, I would have.


were the zombies blocking the exit so the party couldn't run? it sounds like they couldn't escape without tearing down a barricade.

They put the barricades there in the first place, and the barricades were all destroyed once the zombies got in. There was plenty of room to move around the zombies, provided they could survive the AoOs. (Which, due to this experience, zombies won't get in the future anyway.)


did you hint at all that piercing damage wasn't working? unless you did, then the ranger and swashbuckler probably thought they were hurting the zombies.

I said that the zombies didn't react in the slightest to the arrows, whereas they would usually be knocked backwards a bit by effective attacks.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 06:11 PM
Had they ever actually run away, yes, I would have.

They put the barricades there in the first place, and the barricades were all destroyed once the zombies got in. There was plenty of room to move around the zombies, provided they could survive the AoOs. (Which, due to this experience, zombies won't get in the future anyway.)

i'm guessing the max hp in the group was like 12. did you really expect them to survive more than two hits? you had 6 zombies, if each one gets an attack of opportunity when the group runs by, you could easily kill someone by having them run like they were supposed to.



I said that the zombies didn't react in the slightest to the arrows, whereas they would usually be knocked backwards a bit by effective attacks.

that could be interpreted as a description of the attack if they rolled poorly for damage.

Dingle
2010-09-25, 06:12 PM
The most effective way to show that zombies are not to be trifled with, is to find an injured one shambling the other direction, one-armed, with a sweeping brush or something. The zombie then nearly kills a party member by having the hp/dr to last several rounds.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 06:21 PM
i'm guessing the max hp in the group was like 12. did you really expect them to survive more than two hits? you had 6 zombies, if each one gets an attack of opportunity when the group runs by, you could easily kill someone by having them run like they were supposed to.

The inn wasn't exactly crowded. Nobody would've had to pass more than two zombies in their escape.


that could be interpreted as a description of the attack if they rolled poorly for damage.

Maybe. But given that I said the same thing when they rolled 6's, I don't think that'd be their interpretation.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 06:32 PM
The inn wasn't exactly crowded. Nobody would've had to pass more than two zombies in their escape.


2 attacks after you have already been hurt isn't exactly easy to get past.



Maybe. But given that I said the same thing when they rolled 6's, I don't think that'd be their interpretation.

so they weren't getting the hint. did you tell them that the attacks weren't doing anything?

VirOath
2010-09-25, 06:36 PM
Well it's also partially because I want to give this campaign survival horror undertones, thus using any means practical to make the PCs want to run like hell at the sight of even bottom-rung mooks.



Fine, that's a legitimate way to design something. But you put something that they would want to run from, that even an optimized party of ToBers would have trouble with, outnumbered them, put it to punish them if they fought (One dies, damages PCs, heals friends...) in a situation that they couldn't run from.

High AC is fine and all at 1st, but you admitted yourself that the DR made it hard for PCs to hurt the mobs as well. Just from seeing the writeup of the PCs and the mobs I could tell you it wasn't going to end well. After locking the PCs and surrounding them? TPK, Easy.

What could you have done? Since it was the PCs that barricaded themselves in, and Undead are mindless, you could simply rule it they lost sight of things to attack so they shambled on or milled about and trapped the PCs, forced them to think of something.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 06:40 PM
If you don't even have a firm grasp of designing encounters and simple monster rules yet, what on earth are you doing slapping random house rules on your game? I don't have to see the rule in action to know it's bad because I have experience.

I really suggest you reconsider your campaign rules and try running something standard before trying to do something as complicated as you are trying to do.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 07:02 PM
I don't have to see the rule in action to know it's bad because I have experience.

You know, you can claim something is a bad idea all day, but if using it gives consistantly good results, it isn't a bloody bad idea.


2 attacks after you have already been hurt isn't exactly easy to get past.

It is when the zombies all have -1 to hit and you all have 14 AC at minimum.


so they weren't getting the hint. did you tell them that the attacks weren't doing anything?

Not outright, no.

VirOath
2010-09-25, 07:21 PM
It is when the zombies all have -1 to hit and you all have 14 AC at minimum.


At level two and beyond, where a high con score can get you over 20 hp, I agree. But when 13 HP is a high point, having two attacks that need to roll a 17 on the die to hit (assuming a 16 AC) when you already have been hit is problematic.

You need to realize that the PCs aren't looking at the mobs the way you are. They don't normally know their To Hits, or their HP (Which zombies get a lot of, double HD and all), they don't know if these ones will blow up when they go down. All they know is out of X attacks, they have been hit Y number of times. And based upon their AC, how good you've been rolling, and how close that ratio is, the recorded odds of both attacks missing can be slim (And even in the above, you are facing 20% chance of getting hit per attack, for two that is a 64% chance of escaping, against four players that is only a 17% chance of every single attack of opp missing against the party, odds are someone would die and players don't want to be that person.)

So when faced with the probability of dying trying to run with no way to defend yourself vs standing and fighting with a chance of assumed survival, more so when the visible results are skewed to uneven dice rolls (And I quote, Random) and they don't know that dropping them means sucking up the corpse explosion, standing and fighting wins the mental war more often than not.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 07:30 PM
It is when the zombies all have -1 to hit and you all have 14 AC at minimum.


let's see if i remember how to calculate probabilities. you said there was a guy with 16 ac.anyway, one attack would have an 80% chance of missing him and both attacks would miss 64% of the time. assuming a 14, the zombies would miss 70% of the time for 1 attack, and 49% of the time the zombies would miss both attacks.

assuming i calculated that correctly, the guy with 14 ac takes a hit half the time by running. the guy with 16 ac gets hit a third of the time by running, which isn't much better. if either one was hit one time before then, they could fall into negatives.

so in order to "win" this encounter, win being defined as escaping the threat of the zombies (killing them or running or disabling them somehow) without anyone dying, it looks like the smartest thing to do is to run without even attempting to fight. that might be the effect you are going for, but i don't think it makes for a very interesting game when you run from every encounter.

Kylarra
2010-09-25, 08:01 PM
Not outright, no.Per DR rules, they should know when their attacks are rendered useless. Not that this world uses standard rules, but in the event that you hadn't directly houseruled that out as well.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-25, 08:05 PM
You know, you can claim something is a bad idea all day, but if using it gives consistantly good results, it isn't a bloody bad idea.

It's pretty clear you aren't getting good results. It also seems like you haven't got enough experience behind the screen to tell if what you're doing is giving good results or not.

true_shinken
2010-09-25, 08:15 PM
It's pretty clear you aren't getting good results. It also seems like you haven't got enough experience behind the screen to tell if what you're doing is giving good results or not.

Easy, dude. He says his players are having fun. Then it's fine, I guess. He is doing his job.
I wouldn't play in that game if they paid me, but hey, whatever rocks your boat.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 08:15 PM
It's pretty clear you aren't getting good results. It also seems like you haven't got enough experience behind the screen to tell if what you're doing is giving good results or not.

Exactly. You killed the whole party(that were still alive, at least....you are not to blame for the sorceror) within 8-12 rounds. They took 1 out of 6 zombies down. This does not constitute a good result.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 08:22 PM
Exactly. You killed the whole party(that were still alive, at least....you are not to blame for the sorceror) within 8-12 rounds. They took 1 out of 6 zombies down. This does not constitute a good result.

Which has NOTHING to do with my houserules.


It's pretty clear you aren't getting good results. It also seems like you haven't got enough experience behind the screen to tell if what you're doing is giving good results or not.

Good results = fun. If you're going to argue otherwise, I have no interest in discussing the matter with you.

Amphetryon
2010-09-25, 08:26 PM
Which has NOTHING to do with my houserules.

If your houserules influence the character classes and builds of your players, I'd argue that the aforementioned results are, in fact, influenced by those houserules. If players offing each others' characters is encouraged behavior at your table (or, at a minimum, not discouraged) I'd say the results were influenced by your houserules and the play atmosphere you encourage as DM.

Just my opinion.

EDIT:

If the TPK was the good result, and a good time was had by all, then what lessons are referenced by the thread title? If the TPK was NOT a good result, and a good time was not had by all in getting slaughtered by zombies, then why are you appearing to argue that practically nothing you did as the DM created the TPK or was wrong? In short, what 'lessons' were you hoping to come away with?

Marnath
2010-09-25, 08:30 PM
Which has NOTHING to do with my houserules.



You know, you can claim something is a bad idea all day, but if using it gives consistantly good results, it isn't a bloody bad idea.


You'll notice no mention is made of houserules here. We are refering to the use of excessive zombies.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 08:31 PM
If your houserules influence the character classes and builds of your players, I'd argue that the aforementioned results are, in fact, influenced by those houserules. If players offing each others' characters is encouraged behavior at your table (or, at a minimum, not discouraged) I'd say the results were influenced by your houserules and the play atmosphere you encourage as DM.

Just my opinion.

As I've said before, if my houserules (which put casters at a disadvantage) had the logical result of influencing my players to not play casters, this would be a valid arguement. However, I had three casters in the party, so clearly this wasn't the case.


You'll notice no mention is made of houserules here. We are refering to the use of excessive zombies.


...what on earth are you doing slapping random house rules on your game? I don't have to see the rule in action to know it's bad because I have experience.

I was retorting to this. OBVIOUSLY I had too many zombies. I admitted as much around page 2 or so.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 08:41 PM
I was retorting to this. OBVIOUSLY I had too many zombies. I admitted as much around page 2 or so.

Guess what? Giving high CR encounters and low xp is a houserule.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 08:51 PM
Guess what? Giving high CR encounters and low xp is a houserule.

Whatever. I was assuming he was complaining about the damned Rifts. Again.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 08:54 PM
Whatever. I was assuming he was complaining about the damned Rifts. Again.

What kind of creatures does that even summon anyway? I don't remember even seeing that mentioned?

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 08:56 PM
Whatever. I was assuming he was complaining about the damned Rifts. Again.

I don't think you get it... it's not just the rifts... it's the effect they have on choices combined with all the other house rules that we know of and a bunch we probably aren't even aware of.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 08:58 PM
I don't think you get it... it's not just the rifts... it's the effect they have on choices combined with all the other house rules that we know of and a bunch we probably aren't even aware of.

We actually can't know what effect the rifts thing had on the caster players, since none of them did anything during the TPK. Well the hexblade did, but I don't think they have any useful anti-undead magic anyway.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 09:00 PM
Whatever. I was assuming he was complaining about the damned Rifts. Again.

Wait, can you repeat that I missed this part:
So 1% chance per spell level to summon an imp or something bigger?

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 09:05 PM
Wait, can you repeat that I missed this part:
So 1% chance per spell level to summon an imp or something bigger?

For a 1st Level arcane caster, it would summon a Choker 1% of the time.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 09:10 PM
For a 1st Level arcane caster, it would summon a Choker 1% of the time.

That's actually not too bad. It's even possible to bribe one with food so that it wont hurt you, if you're quick. Heck you can even ask it about its lair. What is on the list for higher levels?

true_shinken
2010-09-25, 09:11 PM
We actually can't know what effect the rifts thing had on the caster players, since none of them did anything during the TPK. Well the hexblade did, but I don't think they have any useful anti-undead magic anyway.

Hexblades don't get any magic at level 1.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 09:13 PM
Hexblades don't get any magic at level 1.

I knew it was something like that.

Dusk Eclipse
2010-09-25, 09:14 PM
IIRC from the other thread, the curse count as a level 1 spell for the purpose of the rifts.

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 09:15 PM
We actually can't know what effect the rifts thing had on the caster players, since none of them did anything during the TPK. Well the hexblade did, but I don't think they have any useful anti-undead magic anyway.

Nor can we know what affect it has on class choices. We do know that he's essentially told the newbies that casters are significantly overpowered and need draconian houserules to reign them into line then redesigned the rules so it takes 90% longer to level and each encounter should have a 20% death rate... Your new to a game and told that classes A B & C are broken overpowered and need draconian houserules... your less likely to play one of them.

As to the continued "it's only 1%"... that's somewhat disingenuous since it scales up to 1 in 4 wth higher level spells (sometime in 2030 or so?) according to his own posts.

Nohwl
2010-09-25, 09:18 PM
IIRC from the other thread, the curse count as a level 1 spell for the purpose of the rifts.

if that is true, i'd have to say that it does affect how he is playing if he used it only once in 4 sessions.

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 09:20 PM
That's actually not too bad. It's even possible to bribe one with food so that it wont hurt you, if you're quick. Heck you can even ask it about its lair. What is on the list for higher levels?

Higher level list is here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152614) if it hasn't changed. Scales up to trivial things like beholder wizards and illithid wizards.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 09:21 PM
Your new to a game and told that classes A B & C are broken overpowered and need draconian houserules... your less likely to play one of them.


He did have a sorceror and a druid players, actually. The other players killed them. Theoretically they would have cast some spells.

Tetrasodium
2010-09-25, 09:22 PM
He did have a sorceror and a druid players, actually. The other players killed them. Theoretically they would have cast some spells.

I didn't get the impression that either of them were the new players though.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 09:24 PM
I didn't get the impression that either of them were the new players though.

Actually, the Druid and the Sorcerer were the newbie players.


IIRC from the other thread, the curse count as a level 1 spell for the purpose of the rifts.

Correct.


As to the continued "it's only 1%"... that's somewhat disingenuous since it scales up to 1 in 4 wth higher level spells (sometime in 2030 or so?) according to his own posts.

By the end of the day, yes. If a Rift isn't triggered, the probability of the next one is (Spell Level + Spell Level of every spell since the last one was triggered). So at higher levels, you could cast three 9th level spells and if none of them triggered a Rift, the fourth would have a 27% chance of doing so.


Higher level list is here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=152614) if it hasn't changed. Scales up to trivial things like beholder wizards and illithid wizards.

No, I've changed it since then. Current list is:

1st Level - Choker
2nd Level - Otyugh
3rd Level - Gibbering Mouther
4th Level - Chaos Beast
5th Level - Yrthak
6th Level - Pseudonatural Yrthak
7th Level - Truly Horrid Umber Hulk
8th Level - Pseudonatural Truly Horrid Umber Hulk
9th Level - Astral Dreadnought

With alternative lists for elemental spells.

Arbane
2010-09-25, 09:28 PM
Obviously, you don't need to do anything differently. Just keep letting the players make new characters, and someday, natural selection will result in characters capable of surviving the original campaign.

Of course, by that point, the sheer number of dead PCs will have doubled the size of the Zombie Horde.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-25, 09:50 PM
Ooh, new plan try to summon a choker with your spell: if successful run and let it fight the undead.

It would be like 2E D&D where you had a chance of summoning a creature under your control either way it would fight the enemy.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 09:55 PM
Ooh, new plan try to summon a choker with your spell: if successful run and let it fight the undead.

It would be like 2E D&D where you had a chance of summoning a creature under your control either way it would fight the enemy.

Wouldn't work, since the Riftspawn prioritize the caster as an enemy. On the other hand, if the caster turned invisible or otherwise hid itself from the Riftspawn, it would attack whatever else was in the area. Simply running would only make it chase you, though.

true_shinken
2010-09-25, 10:04 PM
Wouldn't work, since the Riftspawn prioritize the caster as an enemy. On the other hand, if the caster turned invisible or otherwise hid itself from the Riftspawn, it would attack whatever else was in the area. Simply running would only make it chase you, though.

So just put the zombies between yourself and the Riftspawn. Then run. Zombies will attack whoever is closer. Either way you win.

Amphetryon
2010-09-25, 10:04 PM
Wouldn't work, since the Riftspawn prioritize the caster as an enemy. On the other hand, if the caster turned invisible or otherwise hid itself from the Riftspawn, it would attack whatever else was in the area. Simply running would only make it chase you, though.

Of course, turning invisible could summon another Riftspawn, further increasing the problems the party's having rather than diminishing them. "Whatever else is in the area" seems more likely to be allies than enemies the way I typically see battlefields arranged.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 10:07 PM
Of course, turning invisible could summon another Riftspawn, further increasing the problems the party's having rather than diminishing them. "Whatever else is in the area" seems more likely to be allies than enemies the way I typically see battlefields arranged.

True, but again while possible, not probable. Especially considering that the Rift had just been triggered and the Rift Score returned to 0.


So just put the zombies between yourself and the Riftspawn. Then run. Zombies will attack whoever is closer. Either way you win.

That works.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 10:15 PM
I don't know about the choker and the little elementals, but a Thoqqua would absolutely ruin a casters day at low levels. 1d3 slam attack on an automatic charge attack with 2d6 added fire damage, and you are set on fire? I seriously doubt your average arcane is going to survive long enough to move away.

Drakevarg
2010-09-25, 11:02 PM
Well, in case you lot care, I've decided their next batch of characters will start at Level 2 after a minor timeskip (to setup their introductions and justify the leveling up of the survivors). Should make them moderately less squishy.

Marnath
2010-09-25, 11:41 PM
Thats probably a good idea.

Petrocorus
2010-09-26, 01:12 AM
HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!")

That probably my favourite quote of the movie.

To go back on topic, tell your player to have a look on the tier system (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=1002.0). That will maybe let them understand why the samurai is not a good idea.

Cerlis
2010-09-26, 01:25 AM
Summarized

I just had this imagine of a zombie walking up to a samurai in an inn, and him spinning, slicing off his head, grabbing the zombie's pickaxe from midair before it drops from the headless zombie and tossing it to the ranger underhanded...or maybe it embeds itself in the wood next to her..

much room for badassery here.


I gave them plenty of time to realize I was an absolutely brutal DM. Hell, I've already given the poor bastards a cow phobia.

what your saying is...that. What I'm hearing is "I made a campaign meant to have monsters killing players instead of the other way around and i'm confused as to why it worked"
At lvl one every hit-point matters, having exploding zombies? Are you freaking serious? if you wanted to make em scary go a different tactic. Show them pin down a NPC mook and start eating him before they do any dmg to him. Have them explode into blood, and it infect one of em. Not with "ur a zombie in a few hours" virus, or "Your constitution is 0 in a few hours" virus. use non game mechanics to scare em "You got splotches on your arm" "A strange fungus is growing on your shoulder" it should be cleanable so they know that if they get infected they can just find a clean water source to wash it...but as it goes on they will get infected more before they can find more water and it will freak em out.
Once one of them starts to bleed tears they will be freaked, and you havent done a lick of dmg to them at all. its all story.

Further, remember that though multiple monsters that are low lvl decrease in difficulty exponentially (a lvl 10 fighter can probably kill a infinite number of kobalds with a good AC) that anything of lvl increases it exponentially. They arent facing a zombie 1-on-1 multiple times, they are doing it all at the same time. Any time firing at one zombie others are moving forward. they can get surrounded and pinned down even if they are beating the snot out of them. and if they are one action a turn human zombies of course they arent going to run. and then they explode when they do kill them!
if that disease thing doesnt work there are other things you could do. What if one of the zombies suddenly shot its tongue 10 feet and grappled the samurai's leg? It would take one action to cut the tongue off but the idea of a zombie pulling you in with its tongue to eat you while your still alive? might give them the "maybe we should keep moving" message.


Also, DC's and Encounter creatures are designed off a basic party. A tank, skiled damagers, and a healer. Even if they didnt have a cleric they shoulda had a paladin in plate, or a druid's fire and animal companion. You're group is very mortal, and at lvl 1 their most mortal. Maybe you should at least put em at lvl 5 or something? or change it up, you've started in the middle of the movie before the news reporter has even found a gun! complex zombies are too much!

Awnetu
2010-09-26, 01:27 AM
Just curious, what is this awesome strategy that would have saved them from the exploding zombies?

Bottlenecking wouldn't have done much, if anything to help them.

Petrocorus
2010-09-26, 01:40 AM
DR/bludgeoning is no more difficult to overcome than DR/slashing. Just grab a mace instead of a sword. Problem solved.

I think DR/bludgeoning is a bit more difficult because many players have only few weapon at low lvl and many prefer swords.

Zore
2010-09-26, 01:56 AM
I think DR/bludgeoning is a bit more difficult because many players have only few weapon at low lvl and many prefer swords.

Quarterstaves and clubs are free though and neither weigh that much. Martial characters especially should always have one weapon that overcomes slashing/piercing/bludgeoning.

Leon
2010-09-26, 02:04 AM
Don't wanna pay for 'em, don't wanna learn 'em. So, I'll just break the DnD rules over my knee until they conform to what I want.

Seems to be what the majority do anyway.


That was before you let slip that you're not using the encounter, treasure and experience rules properly, or at all. Those are the core of this game system.

They are a aspect that you can use or choose not to use or medium in between. I have run a number of games that have worked quite well without those 3 except as a rough as a guide for what i think would be appropriate times for PCs to level up and be rewarded.

I find the as given encounter system to rather sluggish and boring so i create encounters on what i have the basis of adventure running as and they are often made on the fly as i seldom prepare much in advance other than an out line of what i'd like to do.
Treasure is general what you would find on the creatures that you fight and maybe a hidden cache of better things from time to time. otherwise its store bought items.
Experience is a moot point - i decide that the group is ready to go up a level when i feel ready or someone asks about after a particularly long time since the last one.

Current campaign has only had 2 PC deaths and both were the player's fault for doing some ill advisable (Lvl one rogue diving purposely into the equivalent of a 20ft deep spiked pit and then the replacement PC picked up a relic that was trapped and quite clearly labeled as being subject to divine retribution if the holder did not meet the exacting criteria and was left blinded in a room to be eaten by some very large and nasty rats that he had stirred up).


T
To go back on topic, tell your player to have a look on the tier system (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=1002.0). That will maybe let them understand why the samurai is not a good idea.

Or you know let him play one if he so wants rather than worrying about whether its "balanced" versus another class.
If they have fun as the class and your happy to have them play said class then let them play the class they chose.
If it so happens that later they decide that "hey this class sucks" its a choice they have made.
Just because its high or low on a list someone created does not make it the best choice / worst choice for anyone else.

ffone
2010-09-26, 05:37 AM
what your saying is...that. What I'm hearing is "I made a campaign meant to have monsters killing players instead of the other way around and i'm confused as to why it worked"

This.

It's quite clear from the OP's tone that he enjoys beating up the PCs. Cerlis has some great suggestions on 'atmospheric' rather than 'uberized' ways to kill them.

A koblod or human (or elf, I presume) zombie is CR 1/2. So 2 are a standard encounter for L1.

OP used 6.

With a template.

Then another template.

Granted, the party used terrible tactics (not sharing slashing weapons, all being 'warrior caste' classes to begin with - the Complete Warrior party, it seems).

VirOath
2010-09-26, 06:06 AM
Well, just a few notes to add on the EXP system you are using Psycho.

At 300 encounters to level (assuming a few below cr, at cr, and rares above cr), assuming an action packed 10 encounters per session, assuming 2 sessions a week, it will take about 15 weeks to level, close to 4 months. And that is fast tracking it. I can really enjoy lower powered games, but even this is a bit much for me.

Something I would suggest that I have used myself for slowing progression that I find works a bit better is to treat the party as a few levels higher than what they really are when calculating EXP. So if they are all level two (Great move btw, really helps get them out of the squish zone, letting them have max rolls for HP would really help too) design the encounters with them as level twos, but reward EXP as if they were level four or five. You'll notice a drastic cut in their gains that scales better than a flat 10%, as the later levels take more to earn.

Edit: Your Rift rule, I do have a question on it. Does the Rift points carry over from day to day, the only way to reset them being to have a rift open?

Ecthelion314
2010-09-26, 07:14 AM
I am not too familiar with all words you people use(not native english speaker), but does that 80% rule mean that every character has 20% chance of dying in each encounter? or just one characher has? if is it the first one and let say that character needs 30 encounters to level up(some calculated 300 but lets use 30 for arguments sake). That would mean odds of surviving 30 encounters is (4/5)^30 = 0,0012 I really don`t want to bother to calculate if it is the latter one, but given the odds and explanations, none of your players will never level up. For 300 encounters it is whopping 8,45 * 10^-30 :D If you plan to play that campaing with 1 level chars, no problems.. but either your 10% is false or those characters never level.

2xMachina
2010-09-26, 10:33 AM
As much as I like to roll dice, 300 encounters per lvl WILL bore me to death. Twice over.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-26, 11:03 AM
As much as I like to roll dice, 300 encounters per lvl WILL bore me to death. Twice over.

I would argue it will bore everyone to death. Without exception.

My prediction for this gaming group is that within a month or two, the players will become frustrated and bored. They will quit. They will also quit D&D forever, because their first and only experience with it was so poorly designed and executed.

Starbuck_II
2010-09-26, 11:17 AM
A month? Nah, I give them a good 6. People can struggle a long time before losing interest.
Heck, they might be masocists and like it.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-26, 11:19 AM
A month? Nah, I give them a good 6. People can struggle a long time before losing interest.
Heck, they might be masocists and like it.

You are assuming some pretty masochistic people. I've never seen a group of people that enjoys failure on a regular basis.

Marnath
2010-09-26, 11:23 AM
I think DR/bludgeoning is a bit more difficult because many players have only few weapon at low lvl and many prefer swords.

This is not a difficulty in the game, this is a player created problem. DR/bludgeoning is exactly as easy to overcome as DR/slashing, you need only have the good sense to bring a mace along as well. It is a good idea to have one weapon of each type anyway.

Drakevarg
2010-09-26, 11:24 AM
At 300 encounters to level (assuming a few below cr, at cr, and rares above cr), assuming an action packed 10 encounters per session, assuming 2 sessions a week, it will take about 15 weeks to level, close to 4 months. And that is fast tracking it. I can really enjoy lower powered games, but even this is a bit much for me.

Sessions are once a week, and at the actual rate of play (about 50xp per week, save the third sessionb where there was no combat at all), it would take... yeah, probably four months.

That's assuming lack of roleplaying or quest xp, which I do hand out.


Edit: Your Rift rule, I do have a question on it. Does the Rift points carry over from day to day, the only way to reset them being to have a rift open?

The Rift Score decreases by your Caster Level each time you sleep* (for arcane casters) or when you pray to regain spells (for divine casters).

A full nights sleep, not twenty cat naps in a row to instantly clear it. :smallannoyed: *smacks anyone who thought of that with a rolled up newspaper*


My prediction for this gaming group is that within a month or two, the players will become frustrated and bored. They will quit. They will also quit D&D forever, because their first and only experience with it was so poorly designed and executed.

Yes, because leveling up is the ONLY way to have fun in DnD.

Awnetu
2010-09-26, 11:28 AM
Sessions are once a week, and at the actual rate of play (about 50xp per week, save the third sessionb where there was no combat at all), it would take... yeah, probably four months.

That's assuming lack of roleplaying or quest xp, which I do hand out.



The Rift Score decreases by your Caster Level each time you sleep* (for arcane casters) or when you pray to regain spells (for divine casters).

A full nights sleep, not twenty cat naps in a row to instantly clear it. :smallannoyed: *smacks anyone who thought of that with a rolled up newspaper*

What if I use Heward's Fortifying Bedroll? :smallbiggrin:

Drakevarg
2010-09-26, 11:32 AM
What if I use Heward's Fortifying Bedroll? :smallbiggrin:

That's not in the PHB, I'm pretty sure, so I'd probably never give it out as treasure in the first place. But that's the one that makes it so you only need four hours of sleep instead of eight, yeah? I think I'd allow that if you actually did have one.

Awnetu
2010-09-26, 11:34 AM
That's not in the PHB, I'm pretty sure, so I'd probably never give it out as treasure in the first place. But that's the one that makes it so you only need four hours of sleep instead of eight, yeah? I think I'd allow that if you actually did have one.

1 Hour actually, though it only works once a day.

Located in complete mage

Petrocorus
2010-09-26, 11:38 AM
Or you know let him play one if he so wants rather than worrying about whether its "balanced" versus another class.
If they have fun as the class and your happy to have them play said class then let them play the class they chose.
If it so happens that later they decide that "hey this class sucks" its a choice they have made.
Just because its high or low on a list someone created does not make it the best choice / worst choice for anyone else.
If they want to play samurai, they don't need to use the samurai class. A fighter or a paladin with a daisho is also a samurai. The samurai of Oriental Adventure is far closer to the fighter than to the samurai of the Complete Warriors.



And just an FYI, from the sounds of it their next characters are going to be:
Samurai -> Samurai
Hexblade -> Samurai
Swashbuckler -> Hexblade
Ranger -> Ranger

So, you have:
Samurai -> Samurai
Hexblade -> Samurai
Swashbuckler -> Hexblade
Ranger -> Ranger
Sorcerer -> ?
Druid: alive
Rogue: alive

They need a cleric, because the rogue is apparently not going to level soon enough.
And a Duskblade would probably be better than an Hexblade for this campaign.
An arcane user would be nice too.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-26, 11:38 AM
1 Hour actually, though it only works once a day.

Located in complete mage

To be pedantic, it has a 48-hour 'cooldown', so technically once every 2 days.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-26, 11:43 AM
Yes, because leveling up is the ONLY way to have fun in DnD.

No, but being restricted to the exact same abilities for four months at a time gets monotonous and boring.

Did your PC's have a lot of fun getting their butts kicked? You haven't made that clear. Why are you looking for advice if you are so insistent that your campaign is going well?

Drakevarg
2010-09-26, 11:44 AM
So, you have:
Samurai -> Samurai
Hexblade -> Samurai
Swashbuckler -> Hexblade
Ranger -> Ranger
Sorcerer -> ?
Druid: alive
Rogue: alive

They need a cleric, because the rogue is apparently not going to level soon enough.
And a Duskblade would probably be better than an Hexblade for this campaign.
An arcane user would be nice too.

Sorcerer -> Barbarian.

Rogue evidently intends to cross-class into Cleric, dunno what the Druid's up to.


No, but being restricted to the exact same abilities for four months at a time gets monotonous and boring.

If you play it videogame style and those abilities are the only thing you can concievably do... as opposed to say, roleplaying.


Did your PC's have a lot of fun getting their butts kicked? You haven't made that clear. Why are you looking for advice if you are so insistent that your campaign is going well?

Because the campaign has been going well with the exception of this one incident. Which, I learned about 5 pages ago, can be resolved by simply using less zombies. :smallannoyed:

Forged Fury
2010-09-26, 11:47 AM
Wait... so on top of the two templates, these zombies could move and attack in the same round? Because you found it annoying otherwise?

In case you're looking for it, that's a houserule that directly impacted the outcome of this battle. The fact that a normal zombie is essentially permanently slowed is one of its only balancing features.

At most, two of these zombies might have been an appropriately difficult fight for a six person party, assuming active spellcasting resources.

I'll echo most: I think you need to learn the rules and try to play by them first before introducing your own rules and choosing to ignore rules that are in place for balance purposes. That is, unless your intent is to basically kill PCs at a rapid clip, which is what it really seems to be.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-26, 11:50 AM
Hey, that's what the original design of the Tomb of Horrors was for. And some people still have fun playing it that way under its original rules with a stack of surplus characters by their elbow. 1st-level 3.5 mundanes don't take much more time to generate than Basic characters did/do.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-26, 12:25 PM
How long has this campaign been going though? Saying it has worked well up till now when a campaign hasn't even gone for a month yet doesn't really say a whole lot.

true_shinken
2010-09-26, 12:36 PM
If you play it videogame style and those abilities are the only thing you can concievably do... as opposed to say, roleplaying.

Well, you did put things in a way that your game looks like a videogame to us.
The simple fact that you encourage in-party fighting and that the players don't get to stick to their characters is videogame-y. If your character won't last more than a single session, why bother with a backstory and hooks that will never see the light of day? Why bother with a personality, even?

CapnVan
2010-09-26, 04:53 PM
Problem is, I try to keep my encounters roughly 80% survivable. Going from full strength to dead in one battle is not accurate to this view. So, I come to the Playground to learn what I did wrong so as to avoid similar results in the future.
*snip*


It might help if you help us out. So far, you've seen a lot of posts. Most of them you've disagreed with.

You've insisted that all of your houserules are appropriate, despite, apparently, not knowing how CR is determined, or how many HD a zombie has. You've resisted urgings to convince your players that they'll need a cleric (perhaps more than one, even), with the statement, "Oh, the rogue will multiclass. In 4 months." You've insisted that the campaign is going well despite having a TPK in the 3rd session with combat.

As an earlier poster asked, did you come here to find out what you did wrong or to feel justified?

VirOath
2010-09-26, 06:46 PM
There is a lot of Doom And Gloom for this campaign, mostly between the increased lethality and claim of a desire to hit an 80% survival rate and that it will take 4 months for a character to see the next level. And the idea behind that is while things can be accomplished, challenges conquered and rewards reaped (even if the reward is just survival), if characters remain stagnant then the joy can rot into boredom. Advancement of some way or another is needed, even if it is slow, but some small step must be given out between those long gaps. I say this because I have been in a campaign where it was low powered and slow progression, and due to a number of issues that cropped up, I never really made an inch of progression for the entire six months even when things were handed out, I just felt punished for even playing. It finally got to the point that my character was faced with another life threatening situation, and I didn't care. I was given a chance to save her, and I didn't bother and told the party to just let her die. That campaign collapsed after that.

With the statements that you have made, it seems like your goal is to never have a character survive long enough to level. And the reason why most playergrounders are getting on your back about it is because the most common measure of advancement in D&D is levels and feats. But as long as you have measured out some form of advancement for each character between those long distance levelups, it can more than make up for it so long as you don't punish your players for that advancement.

A few rules that could help here would be borrowing Pathfinder's rules for "Turn Undead", as it was replaced by Channel Energy, at level 1 it would be a 1d6 burst of positive energy centered on the caster (For good), gaining 1d6 every two levels (Will save for half, DC equals half of caster level + cha mod) . Help guide them away from Samurai (And this is serious, in your setting a Fighter is better off, because the key features of the Samurai are Mind Affecting Fear Staredowns, which all undead are immune to.) or offer custom class features that are more thematically fitting for your campaign (That get rid of the class focused useless ability mentioned before) and make liberal use of the custom magic item rules for creating items that can augment and advance their own class features. And something as simple as saying that certain Spell Like and Supernatural abilities don't trigger rifts because of their origin would work, if a Warlock would be getting his 'magic' from deeper horrors or devils in the first place, I don't think it would make sense that it could backlash on them (Also as they are designed around unlimited usage and actually balanced that way)

Drakevarg
2010-09-26, 09:26 PM
Well, you did put things in a way that your game looks like a videogame to us.
The simple fact that you encourage in-party fighting and that the players don't get to stick to their characters is videogame-y. If your character won't last more than a single session, why bother with a backstory and hooks that will never see the light of day? Why bother with a personality, even?

Actually, the in-fighting was totally in character. The Sorcerer, who was killed, was an obnoxious, drunken sociopath, and the one who killed him (the Hexblade) wasn't all there either. The Samurai stood aside and let it happened because he had bailed the Sorcerer out of jail to help against the invasion, giving the condition that if the Sorcerer misbehaves in anyway he'd cut him down himself.


You've insisted that all of your houserules are appropriate, despite, apparently, not knowing how CR is determined, or how many HD a zombie has.

Both were misinterpretations, and one of them actually helped the PCs. It's better than where I was when I first started DMing, where I thought a party of Level 1 PCs could handle 8 wolves. (P.S., They couldn't.)


You've resisted urgings to convince your players that they'll need a cleric (perhaps more than one, even), with the statement, "Oh, the rogue will multiclass. In 4 months."

Actually, she'll be cross classing in the next session, since I'm using a timeskip to introduce the new characters at Level 2.


You've insisted that the campaign is going well despite having a TPK in the 3rd session with combat.

Because I'm defining "going well" as "players have had fun despite my harsh and unforigiving combat." And since in the previous session with combat they had fended off three bandits and a ghoul without too much difficulty, I felt they could handle the zombies.

I learned better, just as I had with my previous batch of even more powerful zombies. Though while last time I had to nerf the zombies because even one could completely decimate them, this time I'm confident that three zombies or less can be survived. More, even, considering their shiney new levels.


As an earlier poster asked, did you come here to find out what you did wrong or to feel justified?

To find out what I did wrong. WHICH I DID.

Jornophelanthas
2010-09-27, 05:45 AM
It has been pointed out that you have been misinterpreting the CR guidelines for your encounters. However, I have not yet seen anyone provide the correct interpretation (except maybe one off-hand comment).

A single monster has a CR of a certain number. This can be a fraction (such as 1/2). This number means that an average party of 4 adventurers of that level should have a challenging encounter with that single monster. For the record, this average party consists of one melee type (such as fighter), one healer/divine caster type (such as cleric), one arcane caster with damage spells (such as wizard), and one skill-focused character with some combat value (such as rogue).

Since you apparently have 7 players, you can give them slightly higher CR for their levels to be challenging. My guess would be that a 7-man party of lvl 2 PCs is roughly as powerful as a 4-man party of lvl 3-4 PCs. It's closer to 4 if they have access to melee, skills, as well as both arcane and divine casters. If they miss one or more of these, make it 3.

If you give the players multiple monsters (of the same type) to deal with, don't just add up those CR numbers. Instead, consult page 49 of the DMG, where there is a nifty table that shows how many monsters is appropriate for the players' level. As a general guideline, doubling the number of monsters usually means adding +2 to the CR. (So if a monster is CR 1, then two of them are CR 3, and four of them are CR 5.) It works differently if the CR is a fraction, but that is what the table is for.

Also, the CR of certain monsters is generally considered to be way off. There are monsters that are overvalued, and those that are undervalued. Therefore, always look at a monster's HP, AC, attacks and special abilities, and consider if the players have good ways of (1) surviving the monster's most dangerous attack/special ability, and (2) defeating it.

Part of the low CR of zombies is the fact that they are easily turned by a cleric, and that they can't move and attack in the same round. They are a lot harder if the players are without a cleric, or if the zombies no longer stagger. So always judge whether the players could manage a monster beforehand (regardless of CR), and if you decide to change a monster's stats or abilities, don't forget to adjust the CR accordingly.

I hope this helps you. For more specific information, see pages 48-51 of the DMG.

CapnVan
2010-09-27, 07:32 AM
To find out what I did wrong. WHICH I DID.

Responsible people who've understood that they did something wrong don't make excuses, talk about "misinterpretation" and how they actually helped out in creating the conditions for a disaster. They say, "Ah, maybe I should go back and familiarize myself with encounter design."

But let's just check for a second to see if you understand the biggest problem.

Your goal is to have a 20% fatality rate per encounter. Assuming a party of 7, and assuming 3-4 encounters per session (fairly common), that's a minimum of 3 PC deaths per session (that's assuming no more TPKs). You're estimating 16 sessions per level, so what, 50 PC deaths per level? Assuming you somehow let them level even though that particular PC shouldn't have enough experience?

Your campaign plan is to wipe out half the party per session, and you never discussed it with your players?

Noodles2375
2010-09-27, 08:27 AM
I think your XP rules are silly.

In regards to squishy-ness, one way to offset this is to just give them extra hit points. I've DM'd for a group of 2 players in a gritty sort of low-magic setting, and in order to help have battles with a couple foes that didn't totally wipe them out, we started with double or triple max hp at first level. Then I treated them as 1-2 levels higher for the purpose of gaining xp. That combination of stuff led to slow leveling, but characters who were able to endure some exciting battles!

To be honest though, if I were approaching that same gritty realism setting now, I would just use E6.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-27, 09:06 AM
This thread is getting uncomfortably close to attacks on Psycho's playstyle/DMing style. Please don't make me start devouring souls, and by devouring souls, I mean handing out infractions.

*burbles beneath the waves*

true_shinken
2010-09-27, 09:25 AM
Actually, the in-fighting was totally in character. The Sorcerer, who was killed, was an obnoxious, drunken sociopath, and the one who killed him (the Hexblade) wasn't all there either. The Samurai stood aside and let it happened because he had bailed the Sorcerer out of jail to help against the invasion, giving the condition that if the Sorcerer misbehaves in anyway he'd cut him down himself.

And... so what? The thing is, it's still videogame-y. Not caring about the other player's character because 'he can just roll another one', doing anything you want (like being a sociopath) 'becausde it's just a character'... All those things don't really mesh up to the deep immersion storytelling style you claim to practice.
You failed to adress my other points as well:
If your character won't last more than a single session, why bother with a backstory and hooks that will never see the light of day? Why bother with a personality, even?

Drakevarg
2010-09-27, 10:05 AM
And... so what? The thing is, it's still videogame-y. Not caring about the other player's character because 'he can just roll another one', doing anything you want (like being a sociopath) 'becausde it's just a character'... All those things don't really mesh up to the deep immersion storytelling style you claim to practice.

So playing a mentally unstable character is automatically videogame-y? That doesn't make much sense. Most of the characters I roleplay are at least mildly insane. It's just how I like to play. And for some incredibly arbitrary reason you say we're "doin' it wrong."


You failed to adress my other points as well:
If your character won't last more than a single session, why bother with a backstory and hooks that will never see the light of day? Why bother with a personality, even?

They only die if they do something stupid, I do something stupid, or they're just unlucky. If they're smart about it and lucky enough, they have plenty of chances to survive long enough to have a relevent character.

And towards the 80% survivability thing... when I say that I don't mean I expect 20% of them to die in any given encounter. I mean that I expect an 80% probability that any given one of them will survive in the event of a direct martial encounter. And it also takes into account the expectation that they will occasionally make stupid decisions. If I was expecting a 20% fatality rate even when the PCs were being smart about it, that would be a bit harsh, yes.

But as the TKing might have indicated, I've kind of stopped expecting thoroughly competent PCs. :smallsigh:


Responsible people who've understood that they did something wrong don't make excuses, talk about "misinterpretation" and how they actually helped out in creating the conditions for a disaster. They say, "Ah, maybe I should go back and familiarize myself with encounter design."

When did I say I was a reasonable person? And if being "reasonable" means "oh, I should go dry hump RAW a bit more," then I don't want to be. :smallannoyed: Personally, I believe that figuring out a custom solution is always preferable to meshing closer dogmatically to RAW.

2xMachina
2010-09-27, 10:16 AM
You're doing it long! :smallwink:

Psyx
2010-09-27, 10:38 AM
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Pitchfork [Improvised Trident]
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Scythe
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Heavy Pick
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant w/ Hammer
Corpsecrafted Zombie Elf Peasant

(Note: All zombies also have Destruction Retribution.)



<Adam Savage>There's your problem</Adam Savage>

Templates on zombies. And a first level party. And 6 of them.
And how are they moving and attacking in the same round? Zombies very specifically can't do that. If you want them to do that: No problem - you're the GM. However, it makes them harder to deal with and raises the CR.

I once TPKed a first level party with ONE perfectly normal zombie (granted, nobody there had a slashing weapon, but it sounds like half your lot didn't either).

If you don't know how hard a monster is going to be to beat, send ONE in before sending in six, would be my advice.


The second thing that you did wrong was to use 3.5

If you want a low-powered game, then for the love of all that is good don't use 3.5. The level-based system paired with slow advancement means that players spend MONTHS sitting around gaining no advancement or improvement. It's dull. Very dull. And D&D never supports low-level play for an extended period, because it's not what it's built for.
If you want to run a scary campaign where combat is a challenge and players are 'low level', then I strongly recommend... well... any of two dozen better systems... but I'd start with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition.

Tyndmyr
2010-09-27, 11:03 AM
{Scrubbed}
We get better through practice and experience. Every experienced DM looks back at some of their earliest games and can think of many things they'd do better. However, it's important for new DMs to realize and accept this inexperience, if they are to grow.

1. The first thing you need to do, is stop changing the rules of the game. You need to learn them fairly thoroughly first. Once you understand them in depth, you can add house rules. {Scrubbed} I realize that heroic fantasy may not be your preferred gaming style. However, if you buy books for running heroic fantasy, use them to run a few campaigns the way they were meant to be run before modifying them. Your other option is to buy books for the game type you want to play.{Scrubbed}If you want, I can go to great length as to why, but that's not whats important right here.

2. You need to figure out what kind of game you and your players want to play. This should be explicit, and handled OOC before preparation and chargen. This is the fastest and clearest way to get everyone on the same page. At this time, you should also ensure everyone knows of ALL your house rules. I suggest a printed list. This is especially important if you have players that have not played with you before, and will reduce their confusion.

3. Newbies need help. They need to know the rules. They need to learn the conventions. Creating barriers to keep the undead out is not a ridiculous idea, nor is running from them, nor is killing them. Players need a way to understand what is appropriate. Making examples of NPCs is one such way, but it is not sufficient. You should probably also give them additional information about what's appropriate. Nothing wrong with pvp in general, but you want to structure it in such a way that it generally happens when both PCs are seeking it. You probably don't want to encourage the party killing the noobs off at level 1.

4. Read the rules. Lots. I can't emphasize this enough. Yes, as you understand the rules, you will learn when you can deviate from them. You'll learn what mobs are tough for a given CR, and which are weak. You'll learn when template stacking is appropriate, and when classes need to be banned or houseruled. But without this foundation of rules, changing the game makes as little sense as would someone with no training in architecture "reworking" the plans to a skyscraper.

5. The story is secondary. If people were here primarily for the story, they'd read a book instead. They came to participate. Give them interesting choices. "You all die" is not generally an interesting choice. Being a "killer DM" is not sufficient to make the game interesting.

6. Determine what you want. If it is interesting and challenging combat, then yes, making tough, customized fights may be appropriate. However, this does not mesh with pushing your players to pick classes that essentially just roll a d20 on their turns. If it's simplified, quick combat in a more narrative experience, then build monsters to fit that. Right now, your rules are working at cross purposes to what you are doing.

7. Optimize to the same degree as the players. If your players enjoy playing samurais, twf rogue/clerics, and the like, don't bust out corpse-crafted, retributive zombies that get twice as many actions as they should. Play the same game they are playing.

8. Levels are merely a tool. Don't bother associating realism or whatever with them. They are inherently not realistic, and do not model reality. Start at whatever level fits the campaign. Level fast enough so that players have new toys to keep them from being bored, and slow enough so that they are not overwhelmed with new options. That's what levels are for.

Drakevarg
2010-09-27, 11:09 AM
:smallsigh: Y'know what? I'm just done here. I learned what I needed to learn about six pages ago, and since then I've been given little but complaints about how I'm doing in wrong despite the fact that none of you have ever seen me play and my players are still having fun.

If a mod happens by, would you mind closing this thread? It stopped being helpful and turned into a roast a long time ago. :smallannoyed:

Tyndmyr
2010-09-27, 11:13 AM
Ain't a roast, mate. We're discussing additional information that's arisen regarding the scenario. For instance, zombies having additional actions, and giving advice regarding that. As your original topic was about learning from the TPK, this does seem relevant.

So far as I can see, people are still offering advice. Sure, there's some repeats, but even that has value. If everyone's saying the same thing, it's generally more reliable info.

One additional thing I can suggest that you do is tell us what you wished would have happened instead, and have people suggest ways in which you could have acheived that. Might give you a different angle on the topic.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-27, 11:16 AM
To expound on what Tynd said, it's also not a good idea to go on the internet and read about how X class is overpowered and tack arbitrarily designed rules on to a game which only discourage said class. An interesting side effect to discouraging these classes is that the group cannot take-on even leveled encounters, because the CR system assumes access to these classes. Even adding 3 warriors to a group will not balance them against a wizard/wizard/druid/cleric party.

Quite frankly, player-versus-player violence should be discouraged in virtually all circumstances. It does not matter if the character is insane and the player's excuse is that they are crazy. Intra-party violence eventually only results in players gunning for each other as they try to get back at the people that killed their last characters. Unless the campaign is strictly designed to be player-versus-player, do not allow intra-party violence unless you are 100% positive that your players are mature enough. I can honestly admit that my group is not that mature, and they are all grown adults.

I fully understand trying to run a dangerous horror campaign. However, I don't think it's the place to start off a gaming career.

Drakevarg
2010-09-27, 11:16 AM
My point is that I GOT the advice I needed. People keep handing me advice I DON'T need, and then telling me I'm being unreasonable when I decline it. :smallannoyed:

Jornophelanthas
2010-09-27, 11:18 AM
While some of the posts have been antagonistic, and I don't blame you for being not-amused by those, there have also been a number that offer only constructive criticism (such as, hopefully, mine).

Please don't feel offended if someone gives you fixes on things that you don't believe are broken. Constructive criticism is meant to be that: constructive.

There is always room for improvement, and even if you believe something already works OK, it can always be made great.

Also, if the players are having fun, it does not mean that things are as good as they can ever get. The best advice I can give is to never stop looking for new ways to increase everyone's enjoyment. At the very least, things never turn stale that way.

Tyndmyr
2010-09-27, 11:26 AM
Quite frankly, player-versus-player violence should be discouraged in virtually all circumstances. It does not matter if the character is insane and the player's excuse is that they are crazy. Intra-party violence eventually only results in players gunning for each other as they try to get back at the people that killed their last characters. Unless the campaign is strictly designed to be player-versus-player, do not allow intra-party violence unless you are 100% positive that your players are mature enough. I can honestly admit that my group is not that mature, and they are all grown adults.

I play with it allowed...but it is quite problematic. There's the player grudge factor, which can be bad for immersion. There's also the high likelihood of it entirely shattering the party. Even non-lethal encounters lead to a reasonable lack of trust.

It's definitely an area to be approached with caution. I feel that, done well, it can add to the drama, but it's often hard for even an experienced group to do well.

BeholderSlayer
2010-09-27, 11:36 AM
I play with it allowed...but it is quite problematic. There's the player grudge factor, which can be bad for immersion. There's also the high likelihood of it entirely shattering the party. Even non-lethal encounters lead to a reasonable lack of trust.

It's definitely an area to be approached with caution. I feel that, done well, it can add to the drama, but it's often hard for even an experienced group to do well.

I agree on all points. I do not, however, allow players (even with evil or crazy characters) to A.) attack or kill each other or B.) perform selfish actions in-character to benefit themselves over their party (i.e. Sleight of Hand to hide loot they found from the others). You need extremely mature players that are able to see beyond both their personal pride and the importance of a character. I want my players functioning as a team, not a collection of individuals.

If they really want to sate their desire for a duel, they can do it outside the actual campaign in an arena setting just for kicks. A couple of my friends are hooked on betting in-game gold pieces on out-of-game duels. This never leads to problems though, so it's okay.

Lapak
2010-09-27, 12:23 PM
And towards the 80% survivability thing... when I say that I don't mean I expect 20% of them to die in any given encounter. I mean that I expect an 80% probability that any given one of them will survive in the event of a direct martial encounter. And it also takes into account the expectation that they will occasionally make stupid decisions. If I was expecting a 20% fatality rate even when the PCs were being smart about it, that would be a bit harsh, yes.I have no comment on whether your game design is fun or not-fun, as that can't be determined without seeing your group play. But I did want to point this out: if any given PC only has an 80% chance of surviving each combat? That means each PC only has a 64% chance of surviving two (less than 2 in 3) and 51% chance of surviving three, and a 41% chance of surviving four. That's assuming that these chances stay stable even if other party members are eliminated and as resources are used up.

So the LD50 for encounters is 3 and a bit, basically, or one 'standard' adventuring day (which I know you're not using, but just to be clear.) Your game may well be fun for everyone involved, but leveling concerns aside I wouldn't expect significant role-playing investment in characters; they're just not likely to live long enough for it to be worthwhile. And if that's the goal, and everyone enjoys it, good! I just wanted to make sure that you're clear that 80% survival per-encounter becomes really incredibly bad odds pretty quickly.

Leon
2010-09-27, 12:28 PM
My point is that I GOT the advice I needed. People keep handing me advice I DON'T need, and then telling me I'm being unreasonable when I decline it. :smallannoyed:

This board will feed you advice till you explode and then some more for good measure.

Marnath
2010-09-27, 12:41 PM
To expound on what Tynd said, it's also not a good idea to go on the internet and read about how X class is overpowered and tack arbitrarily designed rules on to a game which only discourage said class. An interesting side effect to discouraging these classes *snip*

Stop saying that people. :smallsigh:
The one thing we can all agree on is that he did have casters, and they were gonna be fine with that particular houserule. No one was dissuaded from being a caster. It's the second issue you raise which led to them having no casters, but that has nothing at all to do with the rift rule(which looks like it would be neat, with a little nerfing on the higher level encounter tables.)

Tyndmyr
2010-09-27, 12:50 PM
I have no comment on whether your game design is fun or not-fun, as that can't be determined without seeing your group play. But I did want to point this out: if any given PC only has an 80% chance of surviving each combat? That means each PC only has a 64% chance of surviving two (less than 2 in 3) and 51% chance of surviving three, and a 41% chance of surviving four. That's assuming that these chances stay stable even if other party members are eliminated and as resources are used up.

So the LD50 for encounters is 3 and a bit, basically, or one 'standard' adventuring day (which I know you're not using, but just to be clear.) Your game may well be fun for everyone involved, but leveling concerns aside I wouldn't expect significant role-playing investment in characters; they're just not likely to live long enough for it to be worthwhile. And if that's the goal, and everyone enjoys it, good! I just wanted to make sure that you're clear that 80% survival per-encounter becomes really incredibly bad odds pretty quickly.

Given 10% normal xp, it's basically guaranteed that nobody in the party will level up.

For another fun interaction of these house rules, remember the rifts that appear 1%*spell level of the time? And that they don't provide xp? Yeah. Casters are EXTRA screwed*. Even with a mere two spells cast per encounter, going by the 13.3 encounters/level ratio as default, they would average 266 spells cast by level 2. Even at first level, that means they'd have summoned in a coupla chokers on the party. In combat. Given that they are CR 2, they should easily be capable of soloing the caster in such a situation, and in fact, would be an appropriate encounter for an entire party by themselves. Given that you are already facing CRs high enough to kill you 20% of the time, pulling in one of these basically turns a tough encounter to a nasty one indeed. I would anticipate that at least 1 of the 2-3 incidents at level 1 would lead to a TPK with only a single caster. Thus doubling ensuring that nobody will level, ever. Results with multiple casters result in added hilarity.

Also, with a 6 person party and a 20% mortality rate, you should be averaging a bit over 1 person rerolling per encounter. Not per session, per encounter. Assuming the average encounter lasts four rounds, you'll be having a fatality(and subsequent replacement) roughly every 20 seconds of game time. Presumably, all fights should be staged in front of a conveniently located revolving door.

*where extra consists of killing the dead body repeatedly. It shouldn't matter in any practical sense.

The Glyphstone
2010-09-27, 12:52 PM
Great Modthulhu: Locking for review, locking permanently by request of OP.