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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    @ CTP: Yeah, I wasn't directing criticism at you. :) And I do intend to talk about the phylactery more in the handbook.

    More updates, including shifting some stuff around and incorporating some commentary into the handbook. I've also changed the overall structure of the handbook to a spoiler-centred document so people can better make their saves against Wall of Text (hyuk, hyuk...) :D

    Biggest addition is probably the guide to adapting RHOD to Faerun.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    One thing for the Ghostlord that came into play with my group when I ran RHoD, make the PCs aware that much of their OOC conversation is actually taking place IC. My players finished off the Bonedrinkers and then began arguing out loud over what to do with the phylactery. I rolled Listen checks for the Ghostlord and he heard what they said, so he came out and intimidated the hell out of them, demanding the phylactery back.

    He's since become a recurring character who has bits of information for them with ulterior motives.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    This seems like a good place to get some critiques. I've been working my way through the book and remaking the enemies to provide some challenge for the party and I'd love some critique. The game is set in Eberron (I've been adjusting things for that too) and the 6-man party is a little over-leveled because the lead-in encounters pumped them up a bit. If this derails the tread too much I can make a separate one instead. Warning: the following has copious use of Tome of Battle.

    Rank and File RHoD Guys:
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    Hobgoblin Regular: I decided two levels of Warblade were fine since at that level all it really added were a few extra hitpoints, a couple strikes, and tumble ranks. They don't seem to bother the party too much since the group has powerful ranged attacks as well and two meaty tanks.

    Hobgoblin Archer: To make up for the lack of ranged options Warblades have, I thought about replacing one or two with Martial Rangers. They use the Sublime Way variant with Fax's Falling Star Discipline.

    Goblin Worg Rider: They use the Mystic Ranger variant from Dragon Magazine #336. It slows down favored enemy and combat style progressions for quick access to spells.

    Warbeast Wolf: Technically, they're not worgs, but a standard wolf with the Warbeast (MM2) template put on. The CR and size come out the same.

    Hobgoblin Sergent & Hobgoblin Veteran: More Warblades.

    Hobgoblin Chain-bearer: Instead of being a blade-bearer I thought it'd be funny to make him a spiked-chain tripper. Alternatively, I could put magic gear on a veteran or use a Super Cheerleader.

    Super Cheerleader: This build uses the Sublime Way Marshal which seems to have disappeared from the web. Here's the full fix in a word doc. I also made a weaker version as an alternative to archers with the Regulars.

    Doom Fist Monk: He's an unarmed Swordsage.

    Kulor Zul Mindbender: I rebuilt him into a telepath Psion. I went with this so the Ardent in my group would have the chance to find some nice psionic items.


    I also have rebuilds of the dragons (they were more for fun than anything) and the Wyrmlords but I think I've flooded this thread enough for now.
    Last edited by InkEyes; 2010-10-11 at 12:57 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by nihilism View Post
    i actually don't think the encounters need that much upgrading if played right.

    i have just started the adventure and i intend to slow advancement a bit and maybe cut the treasure down but other than that i think its all about tactics. the only thing i intend to change is the save dcs
    As has been mentioned, it may become necessary depending on the level of optimization of the party, and also depending on how many PCs you have. I was running the game for five semi-optimized PCs, and I had two ToB characters. I needed to make the Bladebearers Warblades so that they could actually use their offhand weapons.

    Also, Kharn has about 68 HP. For a CR 10 monster, he's like wet paper. My build had him at 87 by default, and about 120 when buffed.


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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Thank you for doing this. I don't know when I'll get around to running RHoD (possibly Christmas, more likely never...), but this will be a terrific resource if I get the opportunity to do so!

    I think a handbook to running the Tomb of Horrors would be another great resource, come to think of it.
    Handbooks: (Hosted on BG)
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    [3.5 Base Class] Healer's Handbook

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    Thanks to Strategos and Jumilk for the awesome Iron Chef trophies!

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by cZak View Post
    Qualifier: DM'd RHoD

    Always bothered me; why would the party not just destroy the Ghostlords phylactery?

    I mean, they have an evil, undead item holding the life force of a min 11th level caster. What party, that should be working against the Evil Horde, would want to converse with such a creature?


    Even made of adamantium, players are creative enough to find some way to accomplish it.

    Trapping the thing just slows the party down, even if it resets. At most you kill the person who hits it, then the wiz stands back throwing orbs o' Force at it.
    The sticking point is how willing the party is to associate with evil characters. In the first RHoD game I DM'ed the small party saw no reason not to negotiate with the Ghostlord. They were more stealth and social-focused than frontline fighters so engaging in an open fight against a high-level caster + undead legions wasn't appealing to them.

    I've just started a second campaign with different people and I'm considering replacing the Ghostlord with the Lord of Blades or something similar instead because I want negotiation to remain an option. The new party contains a CG Undead-hunting Paladin and I don't think it could end any way but a full brawl as it stands.

    Here's my experience with the first run-through:

    Spoiler
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    The Koth fight started in favor of the PCs thanks to two well-built diplomancers, a changeling, a hat of disguise, and two alter-self spells. A few fantastic dice rolls later and they were "delivering a report" to Koth himself and thereby bypassed several encounters. It wasn't a cakewalk, but I don't think any member of the party dropped to negatives.

    The Ozzy fight was a full surprise in favor of the PCs. Entangle disabled the dragon enough to take out the archer hobs plus lay grease and caltrops on the bridge.

    The Regiarax/Saarvith fight was much less successful by comparison. Beforehand, one party member went stupid in the head and decided to attack a contingent of scouts on his own; meanwhile, the other party member subdued and halfheartedly secured Miha Serani before going to negotiate with the Tiri Kitor. The party met stupid-player's new character (a Dread Necromancer) and returned to Drellin's Ferry where they met what appeared to be the old character (hint: it wasn't), then they went up to Rhest and the DN decided to cast Animate Dead on the first corpses he could find.

    That's how he made a small army of 1 HD lizardfolk skeletons. Then they decided the best way to get to the center of the lake was a daytime expedition D-Day style using the lizardfolk's canoes. This alerted pretty much every enemy in the ruins thanks to the watchtower, and Miha took that chance sabotage the canoes the other party members were riding in. In the end they killed Saarvith and routed the spawn of Tiamut, but Regiarax escaped and showed up again in the fight with Tyragun.

    The fights with Varantian and Ulwai were exciting but ultimately could've been more interesting. Ulwai wasn't well supported by the Monks because they couldn't get a stunning fist off to save their lives (literally). They did okay tripping, though.

    The Karn fight was at the end of a very long game and I intentionally made it easier than it should have been. The party was very amused by how easily he went down, so that was a high note for them after a long, long day.

    With two dragons, and frequent use of the wand of fireballs, the Tyragun fight was a fun challenge for the PCs.

    Azarr Kul and the Aspect of Tiamut were also pretty intense.

    Overall, it depends a lot on who gets the surprise round on whom. If the enemy installments were alerted, the fights became much, much harder; for a while I thought there would be a TPK from the Rhest fight. The party (and the DN) learned to be a lot more discrete after that.


    While I'm at it, I should note that a Dread Necromancer is a great character to make for this game. All of the dragons can be made into skeletons, and both Varanthian and the hydra can be turned into zombies as well. It's also a huge pain in the ass to fight against, so it's a good target for banning.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Hmmm. I'm actually contemplating being a nasty sod in my own campaign and, where the heroes don't completely gib the dragons, to have the corpses brought back to the Horde and used as zombie dragons defending the Fane. Hmmm.

    Anyway, good heads-up on the Dread Necromancer; I'll put that in.

    For further modification of the handbook, what I've basically got in mind for the various "level bosses" is to basically give three categories of information per entry: minor tweaks; medium tweaks; and major tweaks, to correspond against unoptimised, semi-powerful, and fully optimised parties, respectively.

    If I can, I'd like to focus discussion on the Battle of Brindol in particular since it's the highlight of the campaign. If people'd like to contribute on that section, it'd be really good. If people are happy with it, I might continue to sort-of direct discussions to different parts of the campaign, too.

    In particular: it again seems almost-universally acknowledged that Kharn in his vanilla form sucks. So, our first vox populi for the RHOD Playgrounders out there:

    How did (or would) you rebuild General Kharn?

    A refluffed Ruby Knight Windicator Vindicator seems to be a pretty common ToB suggestion, but
    (a) would someone like to contribute a generic ToB build for handbook readers;
    (b) what sorts of tactics did you use for this confrontation; and
    (c) if you had no access to ToB, how would you build him instead?

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I am actually contemplating replacing 3 of the wyrmlords with one of each of the elemental magi in MM5. Ideally, they would survive, and make for a (hopefully) climatic final encounter in Brindol. But at EL14, it may be too tough for the PCs, who have to fight several encounters before that.

    My rationale is that classed npcs just plain suck past a certain cr.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by InkEyes View Post
    I also have rebuilds of the dragons (they were more for fun than anything) and the Wyrmlords but I think I've flooded this thread enough for now.
    No way, Josť!
    Keep on flooding!!

    I am DMing the campaign and we're *just* before the Streets of Blood in the Battle of Brindol. And I am *always* looking forward to get input :)

    take care


    P.S.... Concerning the phylactery: In my group, there is a very headstrong cleric of Clanggedin, and his *first* action after finding out what this item is, was to destroy it completely.
    Last edited by rasbadar; 2010-10-12 at 05:14 AM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    How did (or would) you rebuild General Kharn?

    A refluffed Ruby Knight Windicator Vindicator seems to be a pretty common ToB suggestion, but
    (a) would someone like to contribute a generic ToB build for handbook readers;
    (b) what sorts of tactics did you use for this confrontation; and
    (c) if you had no access to ToB, how would you build him instead?
    A: Cleric 3/Crusader 2/Ruby Knight Vindicator 5.
    Domains: Trickery, Domination.
    Feats: Power Attack, Spell Focus (Enchantment)--Bonus from Domination Domain, Divine Defiance, Divine Vigor, Practiced Spellcaster. (Build credit goes to Eldariel) Maneuvers focused on high-damage blasters, like Divine Surge.

    B. Kharn wasn't alone. Due to Eberron fluff, I had to swap out the giants for ogres. I used skullcrusher ogres with fighter and warblade levels---one was a TWF trip build, while the other was meant to smash formations with his halberd. Kharn rode on a Rage Drake, and was accompanied by two Whitespawn Berserkers mounted on Redspawn Firebelchers. Ulwai was also there, although she was invisible at the start.

    (The PCs had the Tiri Kitor Archers, Killiar Arrowswift, Trellara Nightshadow, Tredora Goldenbrow, Immerstal and Cpt. Ulverth on their side.)

    Kharn used Invisibility first and buffed himself to insane levels, revealing himself with Divine Power and the like. He dismounted his rage drake (because sitting there's a great way to make yourself a target) and waded into melee with his greatsword. He ended up trashing the PC tank (a Warforged Warblade) and nearly killing Ulverth, although his lackies died quickly.

    The PC cleric was able to dispel his buffs, after which Kharn succumbed to withering fire from Immerstal. The rage drake tore the cleric apart after that.

    C) That's a tough one. I'm tempted to just recommend straight Clericzilla 10, but Ordained Champion and some levels of fighter (or even blackguard) might make help too, if only for Unholy Grace and Smite good.


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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I actually found an old RHOD thread where the topic of Kharn was briefly discussed, as it turned out, but I'd still love to hear from people as to what their moves were. And yeah, overall discussions bearing in mind Kharn's got four giants with him during that last fight are handy, too!

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    How did (or would) you rebuild General Kharn?

    A refluffed Ruby Knight Windicator Vindicator seems to be a pretty common ToB suggestion, but
    (a) would someone like to contribute a generic ToB build for handbook readers;
    (b) what sorts of tactics did you use for this confrontation; and
    (c) if you had no access to ToB, how would you build him instead?
    (a) Ruby Knight Vindicator is definitely a good ToB route, but it's important to remember that the RKV has to be a worshiper of Wee Jas. If your group plays with religion requirement rules that'll end up being a small bump in the way of RHoD lore. Another good route could be Bloodstorm Blade, but that would require dropping spellcasting for a Master Thrower build.

    (b) As I learned, he definitely needs some light support. The party should be worn down quite a bit from the battle beforehand, but a gang rush on a highly desirable target is something they're still perfectly capable of. If there are any Tome of Battle PCs there is a good chance they'll have time between phases to refresh their move list, and classes that don't run out of juice (like Incarnum characters) will still have more than enough melee power to take on Kharn.

    (c) The funny thing is, he's one of the characters I haven't rebuilt with Tome of Battle; I used the Ordained Champion PrC from Complete Champion. If you're willing to deviate from a divine melee class, I think he'd also be an absolutely fantastic Gish.

    Gish ramblings:
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    Going that route you have to consider if you want to use PrCs or not. At a high Optimization level you can get more bang for your bucks using prestige classes to build off of Wizard and a melee class, but that is a lot of work. Using out-of-the-box gishes is usually fine. The Duskblade is a personal favorite class of mine, but the Hexblade should do well against PCs if you fix the class a bit (token fix link). The only issue is arcane spell failure; both the base gish classes can cast their spells with no problems. However, using spells with the Wizard list requires a combination of armor spells (and Abjurant Champion levels), a prestige class that allows armored casting (like Knight Phantom or Spellsword), the Still Spell feat, or armor with a lot of ASF penalties removed through special materials and enchants like Mithral, Twilight, Fey/Gith craft, etc.


    A psionic gish has a lot of potential, too. The Psychic Warrior is a great class to go that route on. Another option is Ranger 1/ Psion (Egoist) 2/ Ghostbreaker 1/ Slayer 10. Psionics aren't impeded by armor, so you don't have to go through all those stupid ASF hoops. Plus, you'll have a chance to better integrate Psionics into the game.


    Quote Originally Posted by rasbadar View Post
    No way, Josť!
    Keep on flooding!!
    Alrighty, here go! (I still stand by my statement that anyone bothered by it can tell me to pack it up.)

    Dragons:
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    My group is used to playing in Eberron; this means all the dragons are egotistical jerks who don't leave their own continent very often. Eberron also explicitly states that the alignment stuff in MM entries is worthless in the setting. RHoD seemed like a good excuse to have them get attacked by non-standard evil dragons, so I decided to go a bit wild.

    Ozyrrandion is a mercury dragon. He comes out to the same CR as before, but if anyone thinks he needs upgrading I'd love input. I figured that a glittering metallic dragon would throw the party off since most of them probably forgot dragons can be any alignment. It's also very likely they'll mistake him with a Silver dragon and attack him with fire spells (which he's immune to).

    Regiarix is a Topaz Dragon from the Monster Manual 2. He's the same CR as well, according to the 3.5 update of the book.

    Vaaranthian is a dragon now! My first party was confused and disappointed in the end when there was no fifth dragon to fight; facing the draconic servants of Tiamat meant five would show up, right? Feel free to ignore this one if you prefer the Fiendish Behir. I think Fang Dragons are pretty awesome, though. She comes out to the same CR, and gets a bunch of interesting goodies. Due to their nature, fang dragons get larger damage die, Con drain (instead of a breath weapon), and cool SLAs. The source I used was the Draconomicon, but they're in Monsters of Faerun too.

    Abithriax is a half-white brass dragon. I picked a brass as a base creature because the idea of a Beige Dragon always amused me. According to the MM, he actually comes out to a CR 12 with the template on top, but all it really gives him is some stat boosts and a cone of cold 1/day. If anyone thinks he needs downsizing feel free to speak up.

    With Tyragun I'm undecided. I statted up a CR 10 Ethereal Dragon, but I'd only have half a chromatic dragon to fight the party with if I used that. They might also be completely baffled by a dragon that can go ethereal 3/day and hit them with a breath weapon on another plane. I'd also have to rework the five talking heads thing, but that's not hard.


    Wyrmlords:
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    Wyrmlord Koth is a Wizard focused on debuffing. His strategy is to go invisible and cast as many non-direct damage spells as possible before he has to hit anyone. If cornered, he'd try to escape. Like any good batman wizard he has prepared for the possibility of being captured with several escape spells on his Spell Mastery feat.

    Wryrmlord Saarvith is a Martial Ranger with Fax's Falling Star Discipline. He's meant to hop on Regiarix and rain arrows down on the party while airborne.

    I should also note that the last three Wyrmlords each have one flaw. At that level I figured that unique NPCs deserved the extra feat to rival my party. I give PCs 1 flaw and 1 trait.

    Ulwai Stormcaller is a sunscorched Hobgoblin Bard. Her strategy is to go invisible, pump her inspire courage, then belt out Dragonfire Inspriration so her allies hit enemies with +4d6 electrical damage.

    Wyrmlord Hravek Kharn is a Cleric/Ordained Champion. There's not much to his strategy other than buff and smash.

    High Wyrmlord Azarr Kul is a Cleric/Crusader/Ruby Knight Vindicator. He makes liberal use of Divine Meta Magic to pile big buffs on himself and rip and tear in combat. His build could also be adapted for Kharn and vice versa if you prefer. This version of Azarr Kul assumes that his father is an Ethereal Dragon (like above), but the only difference is what energy his cone uses and what he's immune to.
    Last edited by InkEyes; 2010-10-12 at 03:26 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by InkEyes View Post
    (a) Ruby Knight Vindicator is definitely a good ToB route, but it's important to remember that the RKV has to be a worshiper of Wee Jas.
    The very same class entry discusses adaptations for it. The book mentions St. Cuthbert, Vecna, or Hextor as possible deities who could have a similar order.

    Tiamat has Trickery, Destruction and Domination in her portfolios. She would definitely be not above having a similar order. I called Kharn's prestige class "Knight of Five Sorrows."


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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I redid the final fight and turned the easily-killable Aspect of Tiamat into something a lot harder. Azzar Kul is also optimized with surge of fortune. Expect someone to die.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    If the wizard is played even half competently then you stand not a chance in hell.

    If the wizard is well played then he can kill you by punching you to death. Why? Because he is immune to death. As in you flat out do not have the capability to kill him regardless of what you do.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    I redid the final fight and turned the easily-killable Aspect of Tiamat into something a lot harder. Azzar Kul is also optimized with surge of fortune. Expect someone to die.

    Download It Here
    Wow, I wish I'd done that. I forgot to upgrade the Aspect in my campaign, and it was more than a little anticlimactic apart from exploding dramatically.

    I did boost Azarr Kul to CR 15 and gave him fortunate fate (and thus a second life), and a scroll of death dragon. The second time he came back, he used the scroll. A 7' half-blue dragon hobgoblin high priest in full armor is bad enough, but when he dons a power suit of necrotic energy and fossilized dragon bone, you know it's going down and going down bad: inflict critical wounds is really lame if you prepare it, but if you have it as an At-Will and it calls for a save as a 7th-level spell, you're going to see a lot of injury very quickly.


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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    And hurrah, the first entries for the Drellin's Ferry - Skull Gorge section are in, complete with a brief section on restatting Koth.

    Although the way things are going here I'm going to have to get back up to date on the links section of the thread, too.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by AslanCross View Post
    The very same class entry discusses adaptations for it. The book mentions St. Cuthbert, Vecna, or Hextor as possible deities who could have a similar order.

    Tiamat has Trickery, Destruction and Domination in her portfolios. She would definitely be not above having a similar order. I called Kharn's prestige class "Knight of Five Sorrows."
    True enough, I have no problems adapting the class, but I know some DMs do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Endarire View Post
    I redid the final fight and turned the easily-killable Aspect of Tiamat into something a lot harder. Azzar Kul is also optimized with surge of fortune. Expect someone to die.

    Download It Here
    That's pretty awesome and I might consider using it. Thanks a lot!

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Funny how our interpretations can all differ based on how optimized we allow our players to be. In my experience, both as a player and a DM, RHoD, needed no beefing up. The encounters were hard, and failing to prevail had huge consequences later on.

    Even our reasonably optimized party had difficulties with many of the encounters. When I DM'd, I noticed that the acquisition of a new level seemed to lag slightly behind the pace at which it was needed, even where the party encountered an above average number of "wandering monsters".

    The battle at Brindol, for instance, being wave upon wave of battle and no opportunity to replenish magic.

    For those who felt the encounters were too easy, I'd love to see what the parties looked like?

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    This is pretty cool. Thanks for putting it all together! I had designs to do something similar at one point, but sort of lost interest.

    It's a damn shame that the WotC archives are toast - I used them extensively, and only wish I had saved more of them.

    I appreciate the shout-outs, but I want to personally thank Saph for posting his campaign journal that inspired me to run this, and AslanCross and Eldarial for their constant contributions.

    I'll be back to comment in more detail later.
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by ShriekingDrake View Post
    For those who felt the encounters were too easy, I'd love to see what the parties looked like?
    Well, Im not completely through it yet, but the party currently is Dread Necro 6, Cleric 4/Fighter 2, Hexblade 6, Ranger 5/DD 1, Rogue 5/Assassin 1, Warmage 6.

    I should specify that this is E6, they started the campaign at level 4, and they're now up to about 5 bonus feats on the highest chars(only those who show up get xp). We average 4 players per session, as some don't show up all the time

    There is significant optimization on the parts of...well, almost everyone. The warmage is kind of a noob at the game, but he had help building his character, and thus uses arcane thesised fireballs of doom, so he keeps up aright.

    Frankly, the biggest problem is encounters ending in a single round if the party gets surprise, or wins init. Regular hobgoblins, bladebearers, etc quickly ceased to pose any real threat. Even adding more of those to an encounter just results in CR inflation, not significant threat or resource expenditure.

    The encounter at Drellin's ferry was challenging out of the book. However, this includes downing the red dragon, and swearing to shoot any defenders that fell back. This escalated to a conflict as they tried to run, resulting in the party fighting the town and the oncoming army at once. They didn't leave till the final 20 barges were in the water.

    The keep was also perfect on the challenge rating, as they managed to chain-pull the entire keep, and the boss had enough hp to actually put his casting to good use. Low hp is a frequent problem with the casters, who typically get one good round at best.

    The last encounter in area 1 was also good, in part because Miho betrayed them midway through, and in part because the over-confident Dread Necro screwed up the party tactics. They ended up negotiating a surrender, thus allowing the use of the escape scenario.

    So, we've literally hit every single printed scenario up through rhest, and those were the only ones that weren't too easy. Several of the others had significant boosting over book values, yet were still easy. I should note that party conflict is not uncommon, and without this, they would be performing even better. Fatalities have only occurred twice, once to pvp, and once to a character merrily deciding to wander through the woods on his own, and shoot everything in sight.
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  22. - Top - End - #52
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by ShriekingDrake View Post
    Funny how our interpretations can all differ based on how optimized we allow our players to be. In my experience, both as a player and a DM, RHoD, needed no beefing up. The encounters were hard, and failing to prevail had huge consequences later on.

    Even our reasonably optimized party had difficulties with many of the encounters. When I DM'd, I noticed that the acquisition of a new level seemed to lag slightly behind the pace at which it was needed, even where the party encountered an above average number of "wandering monsters".

    The battle at Brindol, for instance, being wave upon wave of battle and no opportunity to replenish magic.

    For those who felt the encounters were too easy, I'd love to see what the parties looked like?
    I had a party of five, so automatically having an extra guy tilted the action economy balance.

    -Dwarf Crusader: Maul, meet face.
    -Longstride Shifter Barbarian/Warblade: Started out as a TWF build, but managed to do awesome with a greatsword even without Power Attack. Ended up killing the most stuff in the campaign even if she came a bit late (start of Chapter 2)
    -Rogue (sniper build): Started out as a warforged scout who was badly built and not played very well. (Ironically his player was a firearms enthusiast, but he couldn't translate fieldcraft well into his character). He was replaced by a Rogue/Swordsage (who died against Abithriax), then finally another Rogue/Swordsage played by a new player who actually knew how to optimize sniping.
    -Cloistered Cleric of Aureon: Magic and Force domains. Buffer, bookworm, and secondary blaster.
    -Psion (Kineticist): Primary blaster.


    Don't get me wrong: Brindol took a huge toll on the party, but I couldn't have done that if I had played it as written. I threw in four waves:
    1. Hobgoblin archers in formation (instead of the scattered ones as written) plus hobgoblin dragoons mounted on advanced manticores

    2. Bugbear Berserkers (advanced), a Hobgoblin Dervish and a Bugbear Bloodstorm Blade.

    3. The Goblin heavy cavalry on stormlizards was run mostly as written.

    4. A fourth wave I introduced had Kharn's concubines: a Kulkor Zhul War Adept and a Doom Hand Confessor (warpriests turned into Ordained Champions instead) riding a warforged titan.

    All of the Lions of Brindol died, but the crusader got fragged by a critical orb of electricity by the War Adept. The Confessor fought just a bit, but the sniper guy was able to smoke her out of her bunker on the Titan's back and kill her.

    EDIT: I just noticed now that I said the Lions died. I meant to say all of them survived. :P
    Last edited by AslanCross; 2010-10-14 at 07:31 AM.


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  23. - Top - End - #53
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    The analysis of parties vs. RHOD challenges is an interesting one. On the face of it, it seems that having greater than 4 in the party contributes significantly to making the encounters easier, and when you've got tier one characters added to that mix it again renders things just that bit easier.

    In other news, I've added a couple of restats for Saarvith - one on the Swift Hunter style build, the other a Ranger/Fighter build that trades off a lot of Saarvith's useless stuff and gets you competently able to spam attacks on Full Attack.

    Speaking for myself, here's the core 8-man party that I've got in mine. I'd describe 'em as medium-strength optimised.

    Beguiler/Mindbender 1
    Cleric (of war. No DMM. She's awesome.)
    Cleric (healbot; vanilla.)
    Avariel Fighter/Duskblade (probably the least effective build of the lot)
    Barbarian (optimised ... hoo boy.)
    Rogue/Swashbuckler.
    Rogue (TWF; vanilla)
    Bard (no DFS, and he opted out of Words of Creation, but this is the most unbalancing part against the campaign. +5 to attack and damage means you seriously have to optimise against it.)

    Having said that, they've gone close to losing PCs in several battles, and did lose 1 sorcerer against a razorfiend.

    More details later, busy...

  24. - Top - End - #54
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Thanks, all, for the details on the parties; that's been quite illuminating.

    I was wondering if we thought it might be prudent to create a storage place somewhere where we could store RHoD materials so they don't disappear again, as they did on the wotc site. Moreover, it could be a centralized place where those who did manage to rescue the wotc stuff could share it more readily.

    I have no idea how we might do this, but thought it was worth raising.

  25. - Top - End - #55
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I have a ridiculous amount of web space and bandwidth available. If a place is needed to host or mirror stuff, I certainly don't mind tossing it up.

    I've already got forum software running as well, should you find that desirable.
    Back from a lengthy vacation from Giantitp. I've been dabbling with 3d printer technology and game design, PM if you're curious.

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  26. - Top - End - #56
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I was looking over Kharn's statblock, and there's actually some mistakes in it. For one, he can't have a DEX score of 8. If he was using the elite array, and put the 8 in DEX, his hobgoblin racial bonus would bring it to at least 10.

    There's other little things that don't quite add up with it, either. I went and restatted him 'correctly,' and also pre-cast some of his buff spells. With his buffs up, he's a better challenge than how he is presented vanilla, although he's still probably too much of a pansy to challenge properly played, let alone mildly optimized, characters.

    I still support giving him new class levels (ToB or Duskblade are my personal favorites), but you can at least make sure his stats are correct before tossing him to the PC meatgrinder.

  27. - Top - End - #57
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Big yes to all of those options!

    I'm going to get on with updating some links, but next vox populi for people:

    How can you better get people heading towards the Blackfens?

    The reason being that the RHOD hook is weak. I've tried a couple of suggestions in the handbook, but would anyone else have any good (or, even, better) suggestions to make about this subject?

  28. - Top - End - #58
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Big yes to all of those options!

    I'm going to get on with updating some links, but next vox populi for people:

    How can you better get people heading towards the Blackfens?

    The reason being that the RHOD hook is weak. I've tried a couple of suggestions in the handbook, but would anyone else have any good (or, even, better) suggestions to make about this subject?
    In my game, the PCs didn't have any particular idea about what to do after the evacuation of Drellin's Ferry, so like true gamers, they found the nearest NPC who looked like he might have a quest marker over his head (in this case, the mayor) and asked him where they should go to kill stuff next. He told them the Blackfens, they went to the Blackfens.

    Either that, or just have several people in Drellin's Ferry mention the elves around Rhest, and how they used to have an alliance with Elsir Vale. The PCs should get the hint.
    I'm the author of the Alex Verus series of urban fantasy novels. Fated is the first, and Book #4 in the series, Chosen, is out as of September 2013. For updates, check my blog!

  29. - Top - End - #59
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Big yes to all of those options!

    I'm going to get on with updating some links, but next vox populi for people:

    How can you better get people heading towards the Blackfens?

    The reason being that the RHOD hook is weak. I've tried a couple of suggestions in the handbook, but would anyone else have any good (or, even, better) suggestions to make about this subject?
    I would agree with this. My players saw nothing at all unusual about the roads north being blocked, despite it being mentioned a specific number of times.

    Oddly enough, my solution involved giving them a quest to go investigate the elvish situation at rest. From one of the wyrmlords.

    The campaign gets significantly more interesting when you have people on the deep end of the alignment pool, and a diplomancer who happens to follow Tiamet.
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  30. - Top - End - #60
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    I was looking over Kharn's statblock, and there's actually some mistakes in it. For one, he can't have a DEX score of 8. If he was using the elite array, and put the 8 in DEX, his hobgoblin racial bonus would bring it to at least 10.

    There's other little things that don't quite add up with it, either. I went and restatted him 'correctly,' and also pre-cast some of his buff spells. With his buffs up, he's a better challenge than how he is presented vanilla, although he's still probably too much of a pansy to challenge properly played, let alone mildly optimized, characters.

    I still support giving him new class levels (ToB or Duskblade are my personal favorites), but you can at least make sure his stats are correct before tossing him to the PC meatgrinder.
    Yeah, there's definitely some errors. I also didn't like how he was supposed to be wielding a greatsword in the fluff text (as well as one in the illustration, albeit that one looked too small to be a greatsword), but his most powerful weapon was his heavy pick. I've always felt that someone copy/pasted Azarr Kul's statblock and forgot to make some changes.

    Saintheart, on the subject of going to the Blackfens: My players spent a lot of time studying Koth's Map, and figured that anyone whose name worth writing down on a map is probably worth checking out. In fact, they seemed more interested about disrupting a possible alliance with the lizardfolk and getting the scalies on the side of the Elsir Vale people.
    Last edited by AslanCross; 2010-10-16 at 12:13 AM.


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