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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonaynay View Post
    I think 2 PCs at once would be good enough to justify it. The randomness of PC placement will certainly impact the overall efficacy.

    I was actually pretty curious about that so I ran some numbers to cover a few different possibilities.

    D 12 10 8 6
    Con 3 3 2 2
    Lvl 9 95 85 66 56
    Total Party HP = 302

    Abandoning table format now...

    Fireballx2| Avg Save: 14 | Avg Fail: 28 |
    Heat Metalx4 | Avg: 9 |

    So a single character could be hit with both fireballs and 1 heat metal and they make both fireball saves = 37 damage or 12% of the example party's HP or they fail both saves and take 65 damage or 22% of the party's HP.

    If 2 characters can be hit with both fireballs and 2 heat metals
    ->Best case: 37 damage each, 74 total or 25% of party HP
    ->Worst case: 65 damage each, 130 total or 43% of party HP

    Don't read too hard into my use of "best case" and "worst case" as they are just how I labeled making all saves and failing all saves for the average damage roll. Obviously the worst possible case is failing both saves on two maximum damage fireballs but I thought using averages would be more instructive.
    This is valid analysis, but IMO taking out 30-40% of party HP in one round is far from the worst thing that can happen to a party, considering that this encounter costs about 30% of your XP budget IIRC and that the party can rest and break between encounters (so it's only 15-20% of total party HP counting HD healing). Of course more damage will be inflicted, on both sides, before the encounter is over, but getting paralyzed and critted by Star Spawn Manglers would take out closer to 100% of party HP (i.e. anyone who failed their save and was paralyzed is down, and maybe even some PCs who made their saves); getting hit by multiple banshees or intellect devourers could potentially be even worse.

    It's a good encounter but it remains to be seen whether it will be one of the deadliest/most efficient. :) Keep 'em coming!
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-10-18 at 03:33 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Hmmm, okay, good point. Unlimited-duration stuff like going ethereal is probably fair. Phase spider is a go--PCs still won't be surprised but you can start off ethereal.
    If you want to be mean make precasted spells less effective, you could have the phase spider wait with attacking from the ethereal. Though I would not recommend it.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    A coven of sea hags: 1,350 xp = 2,700 adjusted, an easy encounter and ~9% of the total XP budget

    That's 3 potential reactions to counterspell the party and 3 potential lightning bolts, up to 24d6 or 84 average damage on 3 failed saves or 42 average damage on 3 successful saves to at least 1 party member.

    If anyone starts within 30 ft of the hag, they could potentially become frightened at the beginning of the fight. If anyone is frightened, a hag could try to Death Glare it to 0 hit points. However, this is an easy save to make as a DC 11 wisdom save.

    They also have option of casting hold person at a higher spell level to catch multiple PCs if they happen to be within 30 ft of each other on later rounds.

    This encounter could easily be overcome if 1 hag is killed immediately, breaking the coven. Due to the cheapness of the XP and the yolo nature of their potentially massive damage and/or death glare, I think it could be worthy of inclusion.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonaynay View Post
    A coven of sea hags: 1,350 xp = 2,700 adjusted, an easy encounter and ~9% of the total XP budget
    Hags in a coven have higher cr than hags not in a coven, so it is 6,600 adjusted xp. But covens are still a solid idea.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Waar View Post
    Hags in a coven have higher cr than hags not in a coven, so it is 6,600 adjusted xp. But covens are still a solid idea.
    I can't seem to find where the CR adjustment is for a coven. Is that in the monster manual?

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonaynay View Post
    I can't seem to find where the CR adjustment is for a coven. Is that in the monster manual?
    Yes, in the rules for Covens for each hag type. E.g. MM page 179 says under Covens, "A Sea Hag that is part of a coven (see the 'Hag Covens' sidebar) has a challenge rating of 4 (1,100 XP)."
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-10-20 at 06:55 PM.

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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    I'm not promising to do any of these playtests, mind you, but full disclosure: I kind of want to. Or maybe someone will beat me to it and will post the results here for us to look at.
    Let us know how it goes, if you do this!
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  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Let us know how it goes, if you do this!
    Thinking about this more: the simplest (not necessarily best) version of this test would probably be something like two Samurai and two Beastmasters with wolf companions, all with CE + Sharpshooter, using Healing Spirit + Goodberry between fights to heal. Samurai close and tank, Rangers hang back and cast Spike Growth or Conjure Animals in tough fights.

    A second version should have more spellcasters, e.g. a Hexblade 2/Divine Soul 7 with Polymorph, a Battlemaster Sharpshooter, a Shepherd Druid, and an Enchanter 8/Forge Cleric 1.

    What kind of stats would be interesting to see? Maybe resources lost on average in each fight, and how far the party made it before dying?

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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Thinking about this more: the simplest (not necessarily best) version of this test would probably be something like two Samurai and two Beastmasters with wolf companions, all with CE + Sharpshooter, using Healing Spirit + Goodberry between fights to heal. Samurai close and tank, Rangers hang back and cast Spike Growth or Conjure Animals in tough fights.
    That's close to optimized for the environment, as there's no cover, outranging, or ambush that the arena critters could do. Honestly, I think a good litmus test is Samurai, Arcane Trickster, Life Cleric, and Evocation Wizard. Core rules, iconic party, leans into the class's strengths, good mix of short and long rest recharge abilities.

    Interesting stats, I think, would be length of combat; total rounds each character was standing; resources remaining at character death (HD, slots, etc), and number of resources expended per fight. If we see casters die with a lot of resources still intact, we learn something very different than if they were killed for being out of slots. I'd also be interested in resources lost per fight, but primarily to see resources burned over XP budget burned. See what's deadliest for CR, and all that.
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    That's close to optimized for the environment, as there's no cover, outranging, or ambush that the arena critters could do.
    Hmmm. I don't really agree (optimal would be lots of Skulker and Mobile, and ranged combat is close to globally optimal for 5E; the arena is also small enough that it's hard to hold the range open against large numbers of enemies; and Beastmasters are never really optimal) but in the interest of reaching a rough consensus: what if we then swap the Sharpshooter Samurais for GWM/PAM Barbearians while leaving the Beastmasters unchanged? I don't want to gimp the simple party too hard, I just want to make them simple to referee: pick a monster and hammer it until dead.

    Honestly, I think a good litmus test is Samurai, Arcane Trickster, Life Cleric, and Evocation Wizard. Core rules, iconic party, leans into the class's strengths, good mix of short and long rest recharge abilities.
    Hmmm. My concern there is that I only want to run one complex party, because playing chess against one's self isn't all that much fun and I want to focus on the monsters' tactics instead of the PCs. How about a compromise: you build PCs in whatever detail you like and specify a strategy (three or four main tactics for each PC and when to use them) and I'll restrict them mainly to those preplanned strategies in order to keep this "simple". "Mainly" = unless there is an obviously better option available, like Disengaging away when low on HP instead of dying.

    Interesting stats, I think, would be length of combat; total rounds each character was standing; resources remaining at character death (HD, slots, etc), and number of resources expended per fight. If we see casters die with a lot of resources still intact, we learn something very different than if they were killed for being out of slots. I'd also be interested in resources lost per fight, but primarily to see resources burned over XP budget burned. See what's deadliest for CR, and all that.
    Okay, sounds good.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post

    What kind of stats would be interesting to see? Maybe resources lost on average in each fight, and how far the party made it before dying?
    I think party composition, how far they get/what state they are in at the end, total number of short rests, would be interesting stats.
    And perhaps a sentence or two for each room/encounter to show the highlights of the arena run.

    The idea of resources remaining at character death is also very interesting.
    Last edited by Waar; 2019-10-23 at 01:04 PM.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Hmmm. I don't really agree (optimal would be lots of Skulker and Mobile, and ranged combat is close to globally optimal for 5E; the arena is also small enough that it's hard to hold the range open against large numbers of enemies; and Beastmasters are never really optimal) but in the interest of reaching a rough consensus: what if we then swap the Sharpshooter Samurais for GWM/PAM Barbearians while leaving the Beastmasters unchanged? I don't want to gimp the simple party too hard, I just want to make them simple to referee: pick a monster and hammer it until dead.
    Sounds good!

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Hmmm. My concern there is that I only want to run one complex party, because playing chess against one's self isn't all that much fun and I want to focus on the monsters' tactics instead of the PCs. How about a compromise: you build PCs in whatever detail you like and specify a strategy (three or four main tactics for each PC and when to use them) and I'll restrict them mainly to those preplanned strategies in order to keep this "simple". "Mainly" = unless there is an obviously better option available, like Disengaging away when low on HP instead of dying.
    Sure.

    Evoker: Defensive Spells Known: Find Familiar, Shield, Absorb Elements, Mage Armor, Misty Step, Counterspell
    Offensive: Thunderwave, Dragon's Breath, Fireball, Banishment, Wall of Force.
    Cantrips: Firebolt, Toll the Dead
    Int 20/Con, Dex 16/ other stats 10
    Tactics:
    If there is one enemy much stronger than the others, use Wall of Force or Banishment.
    if there's a group of 3+ enemies to Fireball, do so.
    If an enemy is cutting off a bloodied ally's retreat, Thunderwave them out.
    Otherwise, Dragon Breath + cantrips

    Life Cleric: Spells Known: Bless, Aid, Lesser Restoration, Spirit Weapons, Mass Healing Word, Spirit Guardians, Banishment
    Wis 20/Str, Con 16/ others 10
    Pre combat: use Aid on all party members other than Samurai. Use Spirit Guardians at level

    Combat: If 2+ party members are around or below 1/3rd health, Channel Divinity or MHW as appropriate.
    If 3+ targets are susceptible, use turn/destroy undead.
    If 1-2 enemies are notably stronger than others, Banishment.
    Otherwise, cast appropriate Spirit Guardians or Bless.
    If it's already up, make attack and Spiritual Weapon attack.

    Arcane Trickster:
    Knows Absorb Elements, Web, Mirror Image
    Cantrips: Booming, Greenflame Blades.
    Dex 20/Int, Cha 16/others 10
    If there's a group of 3+ enemies, Web
    If not in sneak attack range, Mirror Image or Hideous Laughter
    Otherwise, cantrip and SA.

    Samurai: kill things with Sharpshooter or rapier.
    Dex 20/Con, Wis 16/others 10
    Last edited by Fable Wright; 2019-10-23 at 02:49 PM.
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  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Hey Fable Wright, a couple of clarifying questions:

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Pre combat: use Aid on all party members other than Samurai. Use Spirit Guardians at level
    What does "at level" mean here? Highest-available level, or minimum level?

    Arcane Trickster:
    Knows Absorb Elements, Web, Mirror Image
    Cantrips: Booming, Greenflame Blades.
    Dex 20/Int, Cha 16/others 10
    If there's a group of 3+ enemies, Web
    If not in sneak attack range, Mirror Image or Hideous Laughter
    Otherwise, cantrip and SA.
    Does the Arcane Trickster have any restrictions on how tough the opposition needs to be before pulling out his Web? I'm just concerned that he might run dry after only two combats.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Samurai: kill things with Sharpshooter or rapier.
    Dex 20/Con, Wis 16/others 10
    What equipment configuration does he have? Plate armor + hand crossbow? Studded leather + hand crossbow? I presume he'll never switch to rapier + shield configuration because that costs a round, only rapier + hand crossbow (as bonus action attack, if pre-loaded last round). Also, does he have Crossbow Expert or only Sharpshooter? Does he even move at all in an attempt to tank for the Evoker or Arcane Trickster, or just stand there and calmly shoot things?
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-10-23 at 05:10 PM.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    What does "at level" mean here? Highest-available level, or minimum level?
    I intended it to be "at a level commensurate to circumstances". It's one of those spells that scales remarkably well with level, so you neither want to waste a high level casting vs low HP mooks, nor a low level casting when it would do the most damage

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Does the Arcane Trickster have any restrictions on how tough the opposition needs to be before pulling out his Web? I'm just concerned that he might run dry after only two combats.
    It's to ensure Sneak Attack, primarily. Most enemies will be too scattered to Web round 1, and there will likely be SOME in melee in round 2, which allows shortbow/rapier sneak attack.


    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    hat equipment configuration does he have? Plate armor + hand crossbow? Studded leather + hand crossbow? I presume he'll never switch to rapier + shield configuration because that costs a round, only rapier + hand crossbow (as bonus action attack, if pre-loaded last round). Also, does he have Crossbow Expert or only Sharpshooter? Does he even move at all in an attempt to tank for the Evoker or Arcane Trickster, or just stand there and calmly shoot things?
    Let's go Studded Leather/Longbow/Bracers of Archery and use object interaction to swap longbow/rapier. Tanking is irrelevant in 5e as it's more about peel, and Samurai peels hard for allies with its damage.
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Fable Wright View Post
    Let's go Studded Leather/Longbow/Bracers of Archery and use object interaction to swap longbow/rapier. Tanking is irrelevant in 5e as it's more about peel, and Samurai peels hard for allies with its damage.
    Okay, sounds good. No Crossbow Expert apparently, just Sharpshooter. Are there any other items you want the party to have, besides Bracers of Archery? If not I will just give them all the best-possible nonmagical equipment, e.g. plate armor for the cleric, studded leather + rapier for the Arcane Trickster

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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Okay, sounds good. No Crossbow Expert apparently, just Sharpshooter. Are there any other items you want the party to have, besides Bracers of Archery? If not I will just give them all the best-possible nonmagical equipment, e.g. plate armor for the cleric, studded leather + rapier for the Arcane Trickster
    Nonmagical is probably best; I want to keep it as simple as possible.
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  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    I will post results here Saturday. Just posting this now to make sure that post won't violate the anti-thread necromancy rules.

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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    In the spirit of the challenge, this gauntlet is genuinely designed to kill PCs. Wouldn't suggest anyone actually run it.

    Round 1: 10x Quickling Exp: 2000

    They are likely to win initiative, get three attacks with a decent modifier each. They are super, super fast so at the start one picks a target and they all mob that target with as many attacks as possible.

    Round 2: 2x Young Remorhaz, Ankheg Exp: 4050

    Softening round. Decent bruisers and an aoe attack. They are unlikely to kill anyone, but might sap some resources.

    Round 3: 4x Flameskull Exp: 4400

    Flameskulls pile fireballs on as many targets as they can. Boom. If they're still alive after this, they are at least a little crispy, and are getting softer.

    Round 4: 8x Intellect Devourer Exp: 3600

    If any of the party members are exceptionally stupid, this is just a delightful choice.

    Round 5: 10x Shadow Exp: 1000

    Unlikely to be deadly, but if any target looks especially weak, shadows ganging up on them could spell the end.

    Round 6: 4x Hobgoblin Devastator Exp: 4400

    And now we are arriving at the killer rounds. Like the flameskulls, these guys spam fireball on the party. It's a very effective tactic. By this point, even if they have healing spirit, they should be feeling drained and hurting.

    Round 7: 2x Catoblepas, 4x Giant Poisonous Snake Exp: 3800

    These goddamned murder cows. If a PC is currently at low hp, sorry PC, these are aiming death rays at you. Goodbye, PC. The snakes are just a little collection of surprisingly dangerous low cr minions.

    Total XP: 23,250. Didn't use all of the xp, could have made another round, but honestly I think what I have here should murder your average group of level 9 characters consistently.

  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Those numbers seem off. Corrections according to Kobold.club made inline.

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Panda View Post
    In the spirit of the challenge, this gauntlet is genuinely designed to kill PCs. Wouldn't suggest anyone actually run it.

    Round 1: 10x Quickling Exp: 2000 5000

    They are likely to win initiative, get three attacks with a decent modifier each. They are super, super fast so at the start one picks a target and they all mob that target with as many attacks as possible.

    Round 2: 2x Young Remorhaz, Ankheg Exp: 4050 8100

    Softening round. Decent bruisers and an aoe attack. They are unlikely to kill anyone, but might sap some resources.

    Round 3: 4x Flameskull Exp: 4400 8800

    Flameskulls pile fireballs on as many targets as they can. Boom. If they're still alive after this, they are at least a little crispy, and are getting softer.

    Round 4: 8x Intellect Devourer Exp: 3600 9000

    If any of the party members are exceptionally stupid, this is just a delightful choice.

    Round 5: 10x Shadow Exp: 1000 2500

    Unlikely to be deadly, but if any target looks especially weak, shadows ganging up on them could spell the end.

    Round 6: 4x Hobgoblin Devastator Exp: 4400 8800

    And now we are arriving at the killer rounds. Like the flameskulls, these guys spam fireball on the party. It's a very effective tactic. By this point, even if they have healing spirit, they should be feeling drained and hurting.

    Round 7: 2x Catoblepas, 4x Giant Poisonous Snake Exp: 3800 7600

    These ----- murder cows. If a PC is currently at low hp, sorry PC, these are aiming death rays at you. Goodbye, PC. The snakes are just a little collection of surprisingly dangerous low cr minions.

    Total XP: 23,250 49,800. Didn't use all of the xp, could have made another round, but honestly I think what I have here should murder your average group of level 9 characters consistently.
    Total corrected XP is 5000+8100+8800+9000+2500+8800+7600 = 49,800 XP, so you're over budget. Can you please recalculate and resubmit?
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-11-12 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Corrected strikeout spacing for readability

  20. - Top - End - #50
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
    Those numbers seem off. Corrections according to Kobold.club made inline.



    Total corrected XP is 5000+8100+8800+9000+2500+8800+7600 = 49,800 XP, so you're over budget. Can you please recalculate and resubmit?
    The xp used was the xp that the players would get, not the adjusted xp, which only gives an assessment of difficulty for encounters with higher numbers. Didn't see that you were using adjusted xp for the final total, my bad for not reading thoroughly.
    Last edited by Captain Panda; 2019-11-12 at 03:11 PM.

  21. - Top - End - #51
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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Panda View Post
    The xp used was the xp that the players would get, not the adjusted xp, which only gives an assessment of difficulty for encounters with higher numbers. Didn't see that you were using adjusted xp for the final total, my bad for not reading thoroughly.
    Yeah, I'm going off DMG standards in this thread: the goal is to make something that will fit within the Adjusted XP Per Day Per Character budget, as listed on the DMG charts, also here: https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/ba...bat-encounters

    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-11-12 at 03:23 PM.

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    Default Re: [DM challenge] What is the nastiest arena-style adventuring day you can create? L

    wraith and shadows
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