The first encounter day consists of three waves of goblins, more or less increasing in power with only a brief (a few rounds) break between the encounters which are spread out over a small town.
First comes 3 goblins, complete surprise, supported by a low level bard who is off scene in the initial encounter
After "a few rounds to recover" the next encounter is 4 goblins and the previously mentioned first level goblin bard.
After a few more rounds to catch your breath, the final encounter is 4 goblins, and a goblin ranger mounter on a goblin dog.
Begin Encounter Day 1
Boghu Khalee the Monk:
- Social: next to no input here, mechanically speaking. The player will be pressed to actually RP out interactions with the civilians, unless trying to Intimidate the populace for some reason. Dispersing the crowd may call for an Intimidate check, and there's always old fashioned thuggery.
- Combat 1: Each goblin has to roll a 13 to even hit our Monk-Tank, which is the same roll he needs to smack a gobbo. Of course, any blow from the falchion will drop a goblin with one hit, while they'd be hard pressed to take Boghu down. Like a lot of 1st level fights, this is likely to result in several rounds of misses, unless he can be buffed up somehow (flanking would help significantly.
- Combat 2: In the same boat here, but with the Warchanter sitting at AC 17, it'll be even tougher to hit her without some assistance. The foes are still unlikely to hit Boghu, though, and he still puts them down in a single blow, even the Warchanter gets staggered from a minimum damage Falchion hit.
- Combat 3: This could prove a bit challenging, especially if any of the gobbos landed attacks earlier (assuming Boghu has not been healed). The Commando is the primary target, especially as the goblin dog is much less dangerous without its rider. AC 15 means we only need a 12 to hit with melee (only 10 if we can get a flanking buddy), while he needs the same 13 as the rest of the goblins to whack Boghu.
Potential tactical maneuvers: Dosing a goblin in oil is a cheap alternative to alch-fire, and they are generally likely to light one another (or themselves) on fire pretty readily.
Fighting Defensively means Boghu hits the little guys on 17s or better, but they need 15s to scratch him.
The Warchanter or Commando eats the 1/day stunning fist. Which one depends on how the first round of battle progreses. Bards usually attract a high level of aggression from my players, for good reason. Fort +1 and Fort +4 mean its a 50/50 shot for the Warchanter, potentially shutting down Inspire Courage for x goblins for a fight.
Teamwork Factors: With the Warchanter re-rolling on the Stunning Fist at a 50% chance anyways, I think the Monk loves his Oracle buddy. If flanking occurs, we're all sitting at quite respectable attack bonuses for 1st level.
The Oracle with No Name:
social: high charisma and diplomacy, with +8 diplomacy any social interaction should be a breeze, see rerolls for clutch rolls.
rerolls: everyone (friend and foe) gets one forced reroll per day, usable as an immediate action by the oracle, for friends it will be clutch saves or skill checks. for foes it will depend on their relative strength, if they are mooks it will just be on sucessful hit rolls, if major foes it will be on clutch saves (SoS spells etc).
casting: bless and cause fear on an as needed basis, prefers to save slots for clw incase and swing with melee if possible. with traits concentration check is +7 so passes about half the time if forced to cast defensively but will attempt to 5 foot step and use other characters as cover to avoid AoO's if required. has loads of orisions, always uses guidance on any PC about to make a skill check (POKE!), stabilise at will just incase anyone drops to negative hp, mending/create water are imo must haves. mage hand from haunted curse gives the ability to retrieve items from a distance and ghost sound can be used to great effect imitating dogs.
combat: as mentioned prefers to use the morningstar rather than waste daily resources so will flank with Boghu and use spells as required. +2 to hit and d8+2 damage with the morningstar, a high AC (17) decent hp (11) and good saves (+2/+1/+2) make a decent frontliner. due to the tongues curse which does not advance the oracle can only ever speak and understand celestial in combat so any instructions must be simple (flank, i'm hurt...) or spoke in that language.
wave 1: just flank and kill, drop a channel or a clw if needed. if we know there will be a second wave use bless straight away, if not use bless in wave 2 as 3 goblins is not exactly a challenge.
wave 2: cast bless, move to flank goblins, will use reroll on monks stunning fist attack vs the bard if he misses or on the bards save if he passes, channel and clw as required.
wave 3: bless should still be up, cast cause fear on goblin dog (reroll if needed) to take it and the ranger out of the fight, flank goblins, channel and clw as required.
teamwork factors: rerolls will be for people who fail saves or skill checks, if its coming to the end of the fight and we have to put down the major npc any remaining rerolls will be used on to hit rolls. if someone has a better SoS than cause fear (like an aoe that will hit both dog and rider) will force rerolls on passes. the oracle will move and accept AoO's so low ac arcanists can avoid attacks from goblins if required. if someone in the party is aware of the goblins fear of dogs and can communicate it to the oracle (in celestial in combat, lol), the oracle can use ghost sound to make a sound like a big dog coming close to scare goblins away.
healing: healing skill +4, not great but can still treat deadly wounds and provide care overnight to save on resources.
analysis: the oracle provides our monk with a steady +3 to hit via bless and flanking and also has +5 to hit itself when flanking and blessed, the rerolls can turn clutch fights into simple matters by forcing rerolls on save or suck spells (eg. vs dog and rider a colour spray dc15 might have 1 pass and 1 fail which the reroll can turn into 2 fails, or vs the bard stunning fist = dead), the monk and other party members should have no fear of taking minor damage from the weak goblins as channels will cover most of the damage and CLW will pick up any focused damage from the major npc's (ranger or bard). i suspect in this encounter the oracle would probably use 1 bless, 1-2 clw and 0-1 cause fear as well as 3-4 channels, this would mean that the oracle could probably go for another encounter before resting or would be easily able to perform if attacked overnight as it has only used about 50% of its daily resources.
social: no thanks, i'll spend that time making scrolls if at all possible
class: uses prediction power to roll dice for clutch knowledge rolls or when he thinks he will be doing something important in a combat round (like tripping), if there is a major npc in combat (not a basic goblin) he will use it each round to see if he can get a good attack roll.
casting: mage armour as soon as it looks scary, grease for tripping or disarming, colour spray for aoe control. only 2 scrolls to start with paid for at full price as thats all he can afford. 0th, presdigitation is a must for any wizard, jolt for ranged touch attack if needed (target already injured npcs), message for whispering at range.
crafting: makes scrolls at 5% off due to hedge wizard, will knock up a few buff scrolls to start off with and expand as the game continues, will spend 4 hours a day while adventuring as noted in item creation making scrolls.
combat: cast mage armour, control situation, use jolt, trip with true strike if necessary to escape. always has a scroll in hand (probably silent image) for scrollblade/shield, good AC (17 with mage armour), good willpower save, weak fort save, safe to take a hit at 10 hp.
wave 1: provide words of encouragement and cast jolt a few times, no point wasting a spell on 3 goblins. move to provide flanking bonuses with scroll blade if required.
wave 2: if possible grease the direction they are coming from to slow them down/make them fall, advise party to draw back into somewhere the goblins can be funnelled to make most use of grease, continue jolting and providing flank bonus. enlarge the monk or the oracle from a scroll if they feel the need to hit harder (probably oracle as it allows them to reach with heals as well).
wave 3: colour spray dog/rider, jolt/flank, CDG dog/rider if no one else can.
uses a scroll of silent image if the party needs a break to make an image of a large dog (knowledge nature +9) which looks very real, appears to be charging the goblins and shouts to the oracle in celestial to make it bark.
teamwork factors: not a weak caster who will die in one hit, only slightly worse at tanking than the oracle or monk so can get mixed up and provide flank bonuses.
analysis: good ac so not a weak link in the party line up, can provide flanking bonuses as required if the oracle needs to step out of position to heal and can also provide cover for the oracle to cast without eating AoO's. colour spray is probably the best 1st level spell available when at first level and grease is a very strong multi use option. due to level restraints all wizards are not very useful at lower levels due to the resources available but even with low spell usage the diviner can still contribute to combat with jolt and scrollblade. over time i would think that this character will become a much more useful party member providing buffs and control as well as crafting items for the party but for the first few levels and for a combat role will need to pick his places to land his spells.
if the party wish to take lookout as their 3rd level feat (the oracle probably will since i'm controlling it as well) the diviners powers of foresight will benefit the party greatly just by him being present.
Basically his early actions are going to amount to Daze when he can to prevent the goblins from attacking. His arcane bolt and acid splash will provide actual damage when it looks likely to end an enemy (which with goblins should be often since the arcane bolt is going to do 1d4+2 with point blank shot). Movement will be to get away from melee as much as possible (generally a five foot step) or to get just into range for his spells.
Vanish will be used to get clear of bad situations and to protect allies/ NPCs that he can reach.
This pattern will probably repeat for the first three encounters. I'm honestly not expecting too much from him at this point unfortunately -- he's got just enough damage to contribute and just enough tricks to help out in a pinch, hopefully without needing too much back up on his own. Quite frankly this isn't going to be his strongest point of contribution. His skills aren't going to be nearly so useful in straight up battle and while he can do 'minimally acceptable' damage with his acid splash and arcane bolt (1d3+1 and 1d4+2 respectively) I think the Daze spell will honestly come in handy a lot more once the bard and ranger move out in the second and third wave.
Salis does get one free reroll a day on a failed save throw but I don't think that's going to be of critical importance in this fight.
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Ok, I'll bite the bullet and go first:
Group Grade for the Day: B
Rationale - If C is average, I think this party does moderately above that. I like the party's overall survivability, but I have concerns about offense. There will be a few too many wasted rounds, in my opinion, to grade this higher (both buffing as well as due to low attack bonuses almost across the board). I don't think the party will ever be in real danger, but not many parties would from these encounters. Due to good healing and fairly high AC across the board (except the sorc, but he can cast vanish bunch as needed), as well as crit negation if needed through rerolls, I see the party as pretty stable, though I have worries about their ability to really end fights. The wizard and oracle can both levy some SoS spells, which is nice and factors into this being above a C+/B- simply for their use against the few "tougher" baddies.
Rationale - With plenty of selective channels to heal, the oracle can use her spells to Cause Fear and remove people from the fight, thus making it safer. With the reroll ability, the oracle also makes sure that the Wizard's color spray lands on the biggest baddy, as well as protect from the only real danger of this fight, which is the "GM" rolling crits a few times. I very rarely rate defense higher than offense, but since there is no real offensive standout in the group at this point, and the Oracle really stabilizes the challenge level of this encounter day by healing and reroll insurance, she is my MVPC.
Rationale - As the group's only real source of damage, the monk almost ends up in the top two by default here. Everyone's going to be trying to get him flanks and make him more effective, and he one hit kills the majority of goblins. Decent defense and some maneuverability to help set those flanks up is solid. While a better chance of hitting on his own would make him more valuable at this point, he's still the one really ending fights, in my opinion, making him more valuable to the team.
Rationale - Other than one shining moment of Color Spraying the biggest baddy (enforced to a degree by the oracle), I don't see him being much use. He's not a hindrance due to high-ish AC, but if he's really running into flanks he's a couple high rolls away from being a hindrance. That's always dangerous. Luckily, these enemies don't hit too hard. Other than the color spray, I don't see him making much of a difference at all in these encounters. He doesn't have the feat support for Jolt to matter, and it's damage is so low that it won't make a difference (the monk is one-hitting things anyhow, so I don't see a lot of goblins hanging around with low enough hp for these cantrip style spells to matter).
Rationale - The low AC and HP concern me. I know vanish is possible, but sometimes it's too late when it gets to that point. That said, I like the ranged capability at this point and the fact he can execute it successfully with the right feats in place. However, in these fights, I see most things dying mainly from being one shotted, so I'm not sure that the lowish damage of the ranged attacks will matter much. When cumulative damage is needed more I can see them being much more useful.
Note: I was torn on the wizard and sorcerer rankings. I like the sorcerers chances to contribute with those ranged attacks, to be honest, but the one good SoS from the wizard AND his ability to try to provide flank was what very slightly gave him the edge. I thought the SoS and the Sorc's better ranged attacks were even, in my mind....so, as strange as it is, just the wizard's ability to get in flank was the difference for this encounter day. The rest of the rankings were clear cut and easy for me.
I hope this was what we're looking for from the judge section. Let me know if I need something more or did something incorrectly.
I'm open for discussion at this point, though attempts at shouting at me to try and get me to change my rankings will be met with derision and scorn :p
Edit: For what it's worth, and I do not mean this in any way as an insult or to be offensive to anyone...I think this actual party would get TPK'd over the course of the actual AP. Just thinking ahead to the encounters later....and it scares me. That said, I can't wait to really see what you guys all come up with, and I hope y'all convince me otherwise. (I'm not saying that as a bias, just looking forward in an abstract sense).
1. uGo (human oracle)
2. Boghu (half-orc monk)
3. iGo (human wizard)
4. Salis (human sorcerer)
Honestly I was rather torn at first on whether Boghu or uGo deserved the top spot more. In my eyes they both would earn it. uGo has channeling and spell support along with a respectable melee attack at level 1, but in the end, it is Boghu who is powering through these encounters. uGo is who is making it work though. She can land some attacks and improve Boghu at the same time (ignoring flanking since they both benefit from it) and help iGo when it really counts. She’s well rounded, has versatility and choice with how to approach each of day 1’s encounters. Boghu has a bit more power, but is a bit more narrow in his approach. The more I think about it, the more I cement my rankings. I’d go a bit more in depth, but since I fully agree with Sylvanite’s assessment, I feel that it is unnecessary.
The choice between iGo and Salis was much easier for me. While iGo only has one shining SoD moment, he is less of a liability throughout the day. Salis’s reliability of doing a steady stream small amounts of damage won’t matter much with how quickly goblins go down, so both are able to provide about the same level of support in their own way, but iGo’s defense of mage armor is superior to Salis’s vanish at this point.
Overall I grade the group a C for day 1 (maybe C+). Solid, passable...but less than outstanding- not that it is required to go above and beyond at this point in the AP.
My rankings mirror those of my fellow judges this round, and for similar reasons. Please note that the ranking is in relation to each other, while the grade is in relation to my idea of a 'typical' character of that level filling that role.
Pros: Melee attacks almost as good as the party's main warrior (both in attack and damage), high AC, decent hp, more than sufficient healing, debuff, and all those wonderful uses for forced rerolls.
Cons: Initiative isn't all that great.
Overall: She is the second best character in a stand-up fight (her attacks are also pretty likely to drop a gobbo in one blow), helps the group crit, keeps the enemies from critting and makes sure they fail their critical saves, and can patch up those few hits that the enemies do land. Yes, resources will be used, but overall I think this character turns an already pretty simple series of fights into a cakewalk.
Pros: Best melee attack in the party (still not spectacular, but gets better when flanking with the Oracle; NOT the Wizard, see his writeup about that), high AC, decent hp, stunning fist could disable any of the tougher enemies not already taken down by color spray, good initiative.
Cons: None really.
Overall: Pretty decent 1st level bruiser, just not quite as good as a high-BAB character at this point. As suggested, he will probably do most of the overall killing, but is still not as much of an overall boost to the team as the Oracle.
Pros: Color spray and grease are great 1st level spells which should stack two of the encounters in the favor of the party, great initiative, high AC, alright hp, emergency enlarge person if the group looks like it is in trouble (highly unlikely).
Cons: Other than the two spells mentioned above, almost no offensive capability, lack of Precise Shot limits use of attack cantrips.
Overall: Not surprisingly, the Wizard's strengths are his spells. With the Oracles help his color spray has a good chance of disabling the 'boss' enemy before the encounter really begins. Other than that though, he is going to be of extremely limited use to the party as he does not have the proper feats for ranged combat and his sole melee weapon will break the very first time he uses it, depriving him of both it and a valuable scroll! The scrollmaster archetype looks nice until you read the bits about the blade taking a point of damage every time it successfully hits, and the shield every time the Wizard is hit. With 1st level scrolls, that's one hit each folks. So while he can technically flank as advertised, he will probably only be giving the Monk +2, while if the Monk and Oracle flanked with each other, they would both be attacking for the benefit. His spells will be useful, but another source of damage would probably be more so.
Pros: Crickets chirping... Alright, he has an attack bonus with his attack spells/powers as good as that of the Oracle with her morningstar, but A) he does much less damage, needing a max roll to down a gobbo in one shot, and B) unlike the Oracle he cannot up his to-hit chances by flanking. So... an unreliable source of minor damage. Which, to get full utility, requires him to be within easy attack distance of the enemies, not where a caster usually wants to be. At least his hp is alright, and he can vanish if he needs to run away...
Cons: Low AC, lack of any real way to contribute meaningfully in this set of encounters. I would mention his poor initiative, but he doesn't have anything useful to do anyway, so it does not really matter. An animal companion would probably be more useful in these fights.
Overall: While the Wizard will only be able to contribute a couple nice spells and then twiddle his thumbs, this guy will have already moved from thumb-twiddling to picking his ear. At least he is not an outright detriment, since he can disappear if the gobbos decide to swarm him.
Party Overall: This will likely be a typical 1st level fight: round after round of swinging and missing, punctuated with an enemy dropping whenever the parties bruisers do connect. The only thing that stands out in the party's favor is the Oracle's reroll ability, for both its defensive uses and its ability to make sure the various SoS abilities stick. Keeping in mind that this encounter set was designed to be really easy anyway, I would not be surprised if the Oracle and Monk could handle it entirely on their own. Which, with a few exceptions, they will have to. I look forward to seeing how the party develops as they level, with each character growing more into their respective niche.
I think all the judges are in (looked really good, by the way) and here are the scores so far. Obviously the scores have been unanimous so far, but best to keep the format for when that changes later.
I’m averaging the scores, lowest score being the best. I am also calculating the grades and averaging them.
1. Ugo (average 1)
2. Boghu (average 2)
3. Igo (average 3)
4. Salis (average 4)
Next encounter day is one of the few “side quest” days in the AP. It is more or less things you can do in town prior to the next major quest day so you are able to level. The book seems to leave this largely to GM discretion (by my reading, judges feel free add your impression in discussion) with the intent to get you wandering around town and meeting people so you will become attached to the town later on in the AP.
All of this occurs over about what seems to be a week, with plenty of time for independent PC activities.
The three “encounters" provided are.
A) “The Shopkeep’s Daughter” – A Player is approached by a local girl to help her clear rats from her farmers shop. She is actually trying to get the player alone to seduce them. If the player fails to sense this (it doesn’t say sense motive, but…), fails a DC 20 local knowledge or Gather info check, or goes along anyway the player finds themselves in the basement of her fathers shop with her removing her bodice just as her father is about to come downstairs (Perception 15 to notice him coming downstairs). Diplomacy for father is DC 20, hiding is certainly an option, etc…
B) “The Boar Hunt” - A local noble takes you out hunting boar, more or less a side story quest, but you are out hunting and most DM go ahead and make this an encounter I suspect.
C) “Monster in the Closet” – A woman runs to tell the PC’s that a gobin is in her house and attacked her child. It is more or less a simple encounter with a single goblin ranger, hiding in a crawlspace under the house with the only exit through the closet in the house.
After this quest, players should go ahead and level themselves for the next encounter day. The only “treasure” outlines in this encounter day I can find is 50 gold from the noble and the goblin’s studded leather.
A: Intimidate is not that useful, but should allow me to get out of a "jam" if it co mes to that. If it comes to blows, well, you don't back a half-orc monk into a corner, if you're wise.
B: Survival skill helps out here. Hang out with Foxglove, make nice-nice, profit. End of the day, eat pig.
C: If the 1 goblin manages to air I've a round of color spray/getting hopped, is be surprised. Might even try a "Ben Kenobi" and frighten him out with some Intimidate, preferably assisted via ghost sound / prestidigitation.
A. If he helps that's all good, but caught in the basement won't be his style -- he's got stealth and vanish to see himself out of it. A decent perception check means he's likely to notice before the father is down the stairs.
B. Daze and readied ranged attacks, stealth would help him set up an ambush and to keep away from the boars he can sit in a tree easily enough.
C. Can provide the prestidigitation and some invisibility for reversing the ambush on the goblin. Daze again (the DC isn't that bad and if the goblin doesn't act he can't hurt someone) with ranged attacks if needed.
Leveling will consist of taking two ranks in sense motive with no ranks going to swim or climb this level otherwise just more of the same, 6 more hit points. Two new cantrips which will be dancing lights and spark. Honestly this is going to be another slow level for Salis since unlike the oracle he doesn't get another spell known until next level (when he'll get 2 more cantrips and 2 more first level spells).
1. uGo (human oracle)
2. Salis (human sorcerer)
3. Boghu (half-orc monk)
4. iGo (human wizard)
A. If I recall correctly, the shopkeeper’s daughter seeks out the human or half-elven male of the party with the highest Charisma (unless the GM changes something), which would mean that Salis, with his 10, would be the one likely picked. His solid Perception and vanish spell also make him the best person to tackle this challenge. uGo can easily provide some Diplomacy to calm the woman’s protective father, making her also very useful in this scenario. iGo, with his 7 Charisma and lack of social skills seems to get to take this encounter off. Boghu, being half-orc, also gets to sit this one out, but at least can provide some Intimidate support as opposed to uGo’s Diplomacy, on the off chance that it is needed. Salis, uGo, Boghu, iGo.
B. Boghu’s Survival and Salis’s Stealth are both good to factor in if the GM runs this scenario as strictly skill based. If it comes to a combat scenario (while not written), all of the PCs are equally apt to aid well. uGo’s Diplomacy could be good for forming a friendship with the nobleman. iGo, not actively participating is actually setting himself up well for later on by scribing a scroll, but doesn’t actually contribute to the encounter (not that there is much to contribute to). Boghu, uGo, Salis, iGo.
C. Honestly, this little guy poses no threat at all, and any party member should be able to solo it unless the little guy gets lucky. Boghu probably has the BEST handle on the situation since he has the highest reliable offensive power without expending resources (however slight that may be). uGo is once again solid support in combat. iGo can end things with a single spell; Salis’s daze is useful, but doesn’t end the encounter on its own, and with the cramped conditions his ranged attacks may not be very useful. Boghu, uGo, iGo, Salis.
Averaging out my order:
Looks like Boghu is ahead, but I feel that uGo, while maybe not standing out in any one area this day, can reliably contribute to each encounter rather than being all in or all out. Salis is only really important in one of the encounters, but he is key to that encounter and has the perfect tools at his disposal to overcome it as well as helping everywhere else this day, so I feel Boghu gets pushed back a bit. iGo really doesn’t contribute very much here, but at least gets the chance to set himself up to be great in the future.
Overall, I’d say the party gets a B for the day. They have the perfect tool for the job (not that I’m calling Salis a tool) for one encounter and are more than passable in the others.
Party's Overall Grade: C
The tavernkeeper's daughter sidequest is strange with this group. I'd guess it ends up being Salis, which is interesting due to his use of Vanish and Stealth to get outta dodge when he hears Pops comin'. Seems like he might be able to get away scott free.
The boar thing is interesting. Ideally the group would have some great ranged attacks and could just put the piggy down as soon as they see it. Salis gets to fire off some Sageness and shine here, as the group is otherwise pretty ineffective at range. I'm not sure if the group has anyone who is "woodsy" either that could really contribute to this encounter in the hunting sense of it.
The lone goblin in the basement is easy. Either he gets color sprayed or whacked by the monk. Either way, I think the group handles this in the same fashion as any other group....which is to say easily and quickly.
Basically, I think things balance out. It's tough to gauge these encounters, but I see the group doing about average overall.
1. Sorcerer - No one is useful in every scenario during this day, so Salis wins by default because he's involved positively in two of the three encounters. I think he does nothing in the actual combat one at the end, but he's the closest thing to a "woodsy" character as well as the only one who is effective at range. This makes him "win" the hunting encounter, and his Vanish, stealth, and perception should help him "win" the tavernkeeper's daughter experience. Overall, a solid day for our rogue-fill-in-sorcerer.
2. Oracle - The diplomacy will help simply for small talk stuff throughout the course of these social encounters. Otherwise, the re-rolls are nice and consistently useful, though I'm not sure they would ever really get used as nothing that happens is so overwhelmingly important seeming that the PCs would want to blow their one reroll per day on it. In this sense, I see the oracle being moderately useful throughout the day without ever being the star of an encounter. That's enough on this day to earn the two-spot. Aldern's probably gonna take a likin' to ya as well : )
3. Monk - Should auto-win the one combat encounter, while being pretty much useless throughout the rest of the day. See the description for the wizard below this for more thoughts.
4. Wizard - Useless socially, and the quarters are so cramped in the one combat that I doubt he even gets color spray off. It was tough for me to pick between the wizard and the monk for these last two spots, but, ultimately, it's the cramped quarters and likeliness that the monk just tanks the one goblin that made my choice for me. Both seem to just tag along all day and hope to be the one who "one shots" the encounter at the end of the day. I simply think the monk has the better chance to be that "one shotter", and that's really the only difference in the ranks at the bottom here.
In the end, no one really shines all day. It's a weird set of encounters that shouldn't give the PCs problems, per se, but also isn't going to highlight their strengths.
Let's level up (the more I judge, the more I wish I was playing along!).
This is a difficult subsection, simply because the three encounters are very much atypical. The first is, by necessity, a solo encounter, which begs the question as to whether it should be graded as if each character handled it in an individual instance, or simply assume the character that fits the criteria set forth by the AP handles it and the others are not involved. The second can be handled in one of three ways, all of which will favor different characters: as a roleplaying encounter, as a skill encounter, or as a combat encounter. I chose the first option when I ran this AP. The third is a standard (though ridiculously easy) combat encounter, though I spiced it up by having it be solo when I ran it. I am not bothering with Grades this time around, only rankings, as it is complicated enough as is... With all this in mind, I did the best I could:
1. Oracle: The Oracle is the most useful character in the second encounter (assuming it is taken as an amalgam, including diplomacy, survival check, and combat), as she is the group's best diplomat, can give the Monk a reroll on his survival check if needed, and is still probably the most useful in battle overall. She is the second most useful character in the first and third encounters, though I weighted the first one less since, according to the AP,she would never take part in it.
2. Sorcerer: I ranked him as most useful in the first encounter, since not only is he the one most likely to actually be involved, but also the one able to handle it with the greatest ease and get away clean. The other two encounters I figured he was useful, but not necessary, coming in third, but I weighted the first encounter higher for him so he came out second overall. In the second encounter he will be useful for keeping the boar dazed (since Mr. Wizard begged off to go scribe a scroll instead and thus no color spray), and in the third he is ranged support if needed (probably not).
3. Monk: This guy came in most useful in the last encounter, since, in the dark, cramped tunnel, he could probably easily solo the gobbo without any difficulty. That is combat prowess plus darkvision gives him the win, for those of you keeping track at home. Second most useful in the second encounter (since he will be of no use diplomacizing Foxglove unless they decide to intimidate him, but is the only character with survival and will be useful fighting the boar), and third in the first encounter since he'll probably not be the one picked and would most likely get himself arrested if he was...
4. Wizard: Worthless in the first encounter (and very unlikely to be part of it anyway), voluntarily skipping the second encounter (where he would not be terribly useful anyway), and of limited use due to tight quarters in the third encounter (unless he does not mind catching his fellows in his color spray. Last place in all categories of this round.
Party Overall: B. Even with the Wizard doing next to nothing, the other three have a solid ability set for these three encounters that I think gives them a good chance for success all around. And the Sorcerer vanishing when the girl's father bursts in reminds me of a scene from Eric the Viking...
Now back to a more standard encounter...
Overall is still a C+, but it is a slightly higher C+
1. Oracle (average 1.17)
2. Monk (average 2.5)
3. Sorcerer (average 2.83)
4. Wizard (average 3.5)
Next encounter day, everyone should be level 2, dividing the loot in the discussion thread.
This day involves finding an NPC who went to a Glasswork/Factory. The factory is locked, windows all covered (except skylights). If you are moderately stealthy on the entry you should get a surprise round against 8 goblins. The goblins are more or less the same as the ones before, with the addition of some minor touch attack/molten glass options.
Once you have eliminated 5 goblins, the remaining 3 will flee to a basement area where the NPC is being held by her evil brother, a Monk 2/Rogue 1 archer.
Judges (and players) feel free to add to the description in the discussion thread. I will post loot there as well.
Not great at stealth but can use the reroll ability if i fluff.
Combat is the same again but with slightly higher numbers, bless > flank > heal as necessary, i think you can guess the oracle tactics by now. with the addition of a new spell ill omen she may find use for this against major NPC's in order to give them a higher chance of failing a save or missing with an attack.
I think with preperation the stealthy portions of the encounter shouldn't be too difficult, even if we need to climb to the roof, but it does not play to uGo's strengths.
I will mage armour then if the Sorcerer will vanish me and accompany me in infiltrating into the warehouse once uGo breaks stealth by clanking into the room i will colour spray as many goblins as possible, then provide flank bonuses if needed or use acid splash if not.
When the goblins look about to break i will craft a stunningly realistic illusion (silent image) of the doorway to the basement closing over itself and bricking itself up from the floor (so the monk can mop up the runners as they try to figure out what happened).
In the last fight i think either a true strike trip or a grease on his bow will be handy, however i expect without the goblins who would be supporting him the monk/rogue will be less than a threat. even with the goblin support i guess the monk and oracle could deal with him in a round or two so fall back on splash and flank.
Getting in and getting the surprise round is going to be easy to set up with Salis providing cover in the form of vanish and is own skills, especially with a little help from the oracle on the clutch skill rolls if needed. Once inside Salis will look for opportunities to cause havoc in the goblin lines by using spark on things in their hands (flammables and their clothing and what not) and daze to help prevent escapes in later rounds (that is if a well placed color spray from the wizard doesn't handle most things first).
In the first part of this encounter Salis is going to primarily be a facilitator for the entire party. Once we get to the monk it's going to be the old stand by of staying back and lobbing arcane bolts at him -- hitting the monk might be a bit more difficult than the goblins since you know, he is a monk -- but with getting the party in and (hopefully) blowing things up in the goblins hands and what not Salis will hope to have provided enough aid above to make up for a more lackluster performance in the second encounter.
In summary I see the start of this day as having Salis's name all over it and because of that the rest of it going much easier with the party having such a tactical advantage as to almost make the first encounter a complete walk in the park.
Provided iGo is willing to help Salis would be interested in scribing a scroll of vanish for him overnight.
Stealthing in is the way to go.
Preferably where I can get into the thick of things with the gobbos, and crack some skulls.
Tactics are generally the same, except that flurry is much more likely to come into play (what with getting swarmed & being significantly more likely to hit after bless).
Will start off wielding the longspear, attacking the further goblins if possible, and setting up AoO whenever feasible.
If I can, will try to fight towards the "escape door", and attempt to hold against any successfully fleeing.
Against Tsuto, its game-on time. Hopefully, he'll shoot at me (deflect arrows helps a lot) and allow the party to set up and squish him good. He will definitely catch a stunning fist, if the opportunity presents itself.
1. uGo (human oracle)
2. iGo (human wizard)
3. Boghu (half-orc monk)
4. Salis (human sorcerer)
Once again, uGo is solid all day long. While not particularly stealthy, she can support in combat, make sure her allies land their most potent abilities (easily accomplished with so few encounters and ill omen now at her disposal), and heal any wounds afterward. Salis falls back a little today. While he does have vanish, the spell’s duration is a tad short to be of any real use to the party as a whole, rather than individuals. Goblins are likely to fail daze, but that only prevents one from attacking at a time, and with their improvised weapon penalties and low damage output, they hardly pose a significant enough threat for that to help much. Returning reliable damage against a singular foe when targeting the monk, does help him make up some ground however, but not nearly enough when I consider what the other characters are packing.
Being on the offensive rather than being surprised iGo gets to have a respectable AC (better than the monk’s, if I’m not mistaken) throughout both encounters, and with the extra hit points and base attack bonus under his belt he can easily support against the goblins (not to mention likely being able to color spray several). A clever use of a figment can even allow the PCs to gang up on Tsuto 4 on 1, definitely helpful (arrow damage can add up fast), and he can wreck a little havoc in that battle as well with another well placed spell.
Finally we come to Boghu. Boghu is fairly helpful all around also. He has the Stealth to get in quietly, a decent enough AC to tackle the encounters and a good enough to hit and damage to easily take on the goblins. His deflect arrows will serve him well against the monk, if he is targeted, and with uGo’s support, he has a fair chance at ending the fight with a stunning fist before any real threat is posed. Honestly, I’m torn between Boghu and iGo for spots 2 and 3. I’d be happy ranking it either way, but since I ultimately need to make a decision, I’m going to give it to iGo. He gets to use every spell he has to solid effect, and can provide combat support to uGo and Boghu when it is needed.
Overall, the group gets a C+ for the day. They handle the situations presented well, but no better than most groups I’ve seen.
Alright, startin' to heat up a little (though still easypeas)!
Off topic: Tsuto gets an F for whoever built him. What a disgrace. A 3rd level character should be so much more dangerous.
1. Oracle - The channeled healing actually comes in handy, as I believe that some goblins will land blows with touch attacks (molten glass for the 1d4). That said, once again the PCs are not in any real danger here. Part of that is thanks to their decent ACs, but part of it is just that these encounters consist of goblins and a poorly designed NPC. The rerolls in this set of encounters mostly matter to me for helping PCs avoid getting Stunning Fisted (awful sounding), while ensuring the Wizard nails the NPC with a SoS. Ill Omen followed by a SoS in addition to the already present re-roll power of the oracle is just silly.
2. Monk - He's going to be the one largely cleaning up and killing a bunch of the goblins. No one else is going to want to use a bunch of limited resources to do so, so the fact that he can do his thing all day long is really a benefit here. Without him, these encounters are a COMPLETE SLOG.
3. Wizard - Backed up by the Oracle, his SoS spells are big. The goblins are in a pretty big room, so I'm not sure how devastating Color Spray will be, but an SoS on Tsuto is essentially game. The Wizard has the matches, but it's the Oracle that provides the fuel by enforcing these spells and making them much more reliable. That said, a pile of wood is no good without a means to start the fire.
4. Sorcerer - The Arcane bolts are nice for dealing some damage to Tsuto, but between the PC monk and the SoS, it's probably not going to matter. He may be helpful for getting into position, though the goblins are really darn easy to sneak up on anyway.
Party's Overall Grade: B-
I think that the party is fantastic for taking down bosses, simply because of the synergy between the Oracle and Wizard (see my forthcoming discussion post for more on how much this is starting to irk me). When not forcing bigbads to reroll multiple times to pass a SoS spell, however, the party struggles to do much of anything except passably stay safe. I see the battle against 8 goblins turning into a total slog. If the monk rolls poorly....ugh. That fight would go on forever. That aside, due to the amount of healing the Oracle has, it's not that the PCs are really in danger, so to speak...they're just not excelling either. To me, this all evens out to being decidedly above average, yet not exceptional.
I recall this being an extremely boring and tedious session when I ran this AP. A mini-dungeon that only has one room that contains anything at all is a waste of time. A fight against a bunch of mooks who can barely hurt the PCs is a waste of time. And a boss fight against a joke of an NPC... well, I think you can guess. This is one encounter group that I am glad I can just read what the characters do instead of having to actually watch them play through it. (Side note: when I ran it I decided to shake things up a bit: the party killed all the goblins, then Tsuto managed to bluff them into thinking that he was there to try to kill the goblins himself and save his family's glassworks. They let him go, and actually left him to go investigate the tunnel, allowing him to escape with Ameiko while they were in the catacombs...)
Oh fine, I guess I should get to actually doing my job...
1. Monk: Quite simply put, I do not consider any of these combats to be in the least bit dangerous, but simply time-consuming. Therefore the MVP is the character who can slog through the tedious fight, and that would be the martial character. With the tactics described and the Oracle's bless spell, I think our Monk should mop up the goblins handily. A martial class with Cleave or TWF would probably do a better job, but he is probably on par with a 2H, S&B, or (considering the fact that he is also tanking) archer build. Against Tsuto he can go toe to toe without breaking a sweat. Of course the Wizard/Oracle combo might make that unnecessary, but this "boss" is so pathetic that taking him out with a SoL is no huge advantage. Oh, and the fact that he can stealth or even climb up on the roof without requiring aid boosts him as he will have an easier time getting into an advantageous position for the initial strike.
2. Wizard: He just barely edges out the Oracle this round. Why? The thing a God Wizard is supposed to be good at: crowd control. And we do indeed have a crowd. A single well-placed color spray could cut this fight in half, and I actually quite like the clever illusion ploy to keep the runners from reinforcing Tsuto. And the room is long, but fairly narrow, so a well-placed grease could help funnel the gobbos into the Monk. Against Tsuto, I believe the appropriate action would be to point and laugh.
3. Oracle: While she has lost nothing in the way of how much she buffs the party, in this encounter group those buffs simply aren't as needed. Her bless and flanking will be nice to help the Monk do his job quicker, though her problems with stealth could hurt the party's chances for a nice ambush. The one thing that puts her ahead of any old cleric or bard here, is the fact that with that many enemies there is a chance that one of them will get lucky enough to roll a crit, which she can then force it to reroll. Then against Tsuto I imagine she casts ill omen, Monk uses stunning fist, cue interrogation scene from The Gamers 2.
4. Sorcerer: Despite the stealth element at the beginning of the encounter group, this character again adds little to the actual combat. He might be able to take out a goblin or two at range, though it is more likely, I think, that the combat will be one big cluster with his compatriots providing cover to the gobbos, and the spark thing would certainly be funny if it works (and what are goblins except sources of comic relief?). When it comes time for Tsuto, as he will likely be a solo boss due to good contingencies for cutting off the retreating goblins, I suppose our Sorcerer could add insult to injury and try to keep him permanently dazed, not that such would be necessary. All that being said, I imagine a rogue or similar stealthy character would not do any better in this scenario.
Party Overall: C+ While stealth is nice here, it is not necessary, it does not allow the party to circumvent any challenges, and whether they get the drop on the gobbos or not, it comes down to a slugfest. The ability to dish out consistent damage or control crowds carries the day here. From what I recall combats start to get a lot more nasty, and frequent, from here on out, and skill checks become more useful; I look forward to seeing how this party fares in the days ahead.
At the end of three round, party overall grade is Right between C+ and B-
1. Oracle (1.3 average)
2. Monk (2.2 average)
3,4.Wizard and Sorcerer tied (3.2 average)
Next encounter day is the first really extended dungeon dive. The group finds an ancient underground ruin sealed for 10,000 years (until recently). The encounter order may change somewhat but what they will find and the likely encounters are as follow. The unique monsters are linked over in discussion.
1. One Sinspawn Guard
2. One Vargouille
3. Two Sinspawn (may or may not be surprise attack, depending on if they hear you coming)
4. Koruvus the mutated goblin fighter, room is full of pits which you can fall into that contain zombies and will make flanking difficult.
5. Erylium and a Sinspawn
Judges feel free to post how they view these encounters playing out over in discussion, I will add the possible loot there, and after this encounter day we will be ready to level up to 3rd.
At the end of three round, party overall grade is Right between C+ and B-
1. Oracle (1.3 average)
2. Monk (2.2 average)
3,4.Wizard and Sorcerer tied (3.2 average)
Sorry, calculation error (I was away from my spreadsheet)
Actual ranking is
1. Oracle (1.33)
2. Monk (2.33)
3. Wizard (3.11)
4. Sorcerer (3.22)
Uh-oh, here come the hard parts...
Regarding the travel down into the Runewell location, Boghu will travel as stealthily as possible, preferably a bit ahead from the Oracle. If he's up for it, having the Sorcerer up ahead with him will help quite a bit as well (both for the get-out-of-dodge vanish trick and his own stealthy/perceptive abilities).
Once it comes to the fighting, it's on like Donkey Kong. Travelling with the longspear at the ready, anything that we get initiative on and looks like it'll charge gets the spear set against the charge. Once the monsters close, it'll be a scrap, flurrying whenever possible (especially once bless goes up).
Against the 'spawn, he's hitting just about 50/50, so any advantage Boghu can squeak out (flank/buffs/etc) will be crucial. Not too much to worry about with the bite DC's, and they're fairly unlikely to land a solid blow.
Against the flying blood sucking head, it looks like another tank-and-spank. It's unlikely to successfully land its curse on Boghu, and is under 50/50 to even land that bite. The save vs. paralyze is potentially very bad, but between the Oracle's re-rolls and Boghu's saves, its unlikely to land (on the Monk, at least).
Against the mutant goblin fighter, Evasion helps with his "breath weapon" attack, and he only hits Boghu on a 13-14, even without fighting defensively. Add to that the longspear and his propensity to charge in, and this might just be a quick fight. If I can get him flat-footed (unlikely due to Init scores, but still), will most happily bull-rush him into a zombie pit and pour on the oil.
And finally, the horrible little flying jerk-face. If able to see her, Boghu will go for the stranglehold ASAP. Flying, tiny, potentially invisible, and with a good AC, our best bet is to grapple, then pound the little creep with everything we have. Any way we slice it, this is gonna be a tough, close fight, and Boghu's attacks just don't have the oomph to reliably hit Erylium.
this is a harder day for the wizard but i am going to try to be as impartial as possible and act as though i were playing the game rather than reacting with foreknowledge of the encounters.
the days spells:
1st – DC16 – true strike, mage armour, colour spray, ray of enfeeblement, grease
0th – DC15 – predigitation, jolt, mending
as soon as we have enough cash to support getting a pearl of power i will quite happily be buffing both myself and the monk (if the sorc wants to get a pearl of power as well i will happily do it for all three), i think i would probably not be using much in the way of spells on the vargouille or sinspawn encounters as they just don't seem that threatening, i might pop a grease on the encounter withh two sinspawn to free up the monk to kill one while the oracle body blocks the other on the grease, i'd also move to flank with the monk if the oracle is needed to tank elsewhere.
vs the goblin mutant i think it would come down to either a colour spray or a true strike bull rush into a pit, i think if i could line it up properly i would aim for the bull rush but that depends on the character knowledge of the pits themselves since i would be loath to use an aoe cc like colour spray on a single target. however the party decide to deal with the zombies is fine by me (fire sounds best Boghu).
there is the potential in any of these first few encounters to drop a ray of enfeeblement, especially if the monk gets a surprise round on the goblin as iGo First will most likely go first so dropping its strength just makes the almost inevitable bull rush all the more sweet.
vs the last encounter i would be pretty much stuck, depending on party tactics i would have to either support a plan to withdraw and come back better prepared, hit a colour spray or a true strike grapple or just tank a summon until it went away (which should be easy with the rest of the party for support), the only real way i see of this encounter ending without us leaving and returning is by enlarging uGo while Boghu holds it down.
as you have seen by my posts in the discussion thread i think the last encounter is very poorly written and i am not at all disappointed with the wizards performance, being capable of ending one of the two hard encounters with little effort and making the only moderate difficulty encounter easy is a good day imo, the last fight is just a freak of ap writing. One key point i would like to mention that i think will become more important as the discussion continues is that iGo knows pretty much everything about every monster we run into unless its drasticly out of our league to fight or he rolls a 1 (and even then he's probably heard of it).
this is a pretty standard day for the oracle, other than being a bit more frugal with spells i don't see much difference in tactics.
the first few encounters are pretty standard, heal/flank/kill encounters using rerolls as normal.
vs the goblin mutant just damage prevention and support as normal, keep the monk up and laugh if the wizard pulls off a true strike bull rush (using a reroll if need be)
if anyone calls out a SoS (stunning fist/colour spray etc) we would be able to hold actions to drop some ill omen first to make the save more likely to fail.
vs the tiny annoying thing that can't really threaten the party while the oracle is alive and that can't really do anything about the oracle i would just do my best to support the party and get it over with, i think once the monk has it pinned down its a case of getting enlarged and two handing that morning star to beat its face in. its damage is so pitiful that it is never going to challenge a life oracles ability to heal and even with its summons lasting for 6 rounds summon i and ii are just not good enough to be threatening, easily handled by the wizard/monk/oracle or even the sorcerer fighting defensively for a few rounds and getting channel healed, the only threat is its nauseate attack which if the save was low would get rerolled so fast the die wouldn't really stop moving.
all in all the oracle is as solid as ever, the only challenge in the day is really the last encounter and that is more about the fact that between dr5 and fh2 with invisibility and flying the bugger is going to be a long boring kill rather than it being a threat of anyone dying.
once again if you read my commentary in the discussion thread i think the last encounter is poorly written and somewhat boring for any well prepared group as its not much of a threat per say just a long drawn out kill.
Salis will probably spend most of his time in this one scouting and hitting things with rays. It sounds awkward but a bit of forewarning by scouting with the monk can change this from a horrible day to a series of easy encounters. I'm reminded again why I like keeping a net on my characters (a net and the imp goes from annoying to dead pretty quickly) -- the imp is probably where the majority of the arcane rays will be going.
Salis has a reroll of his own to spend for the day when it comes to saves which is more likely to see some play in these particular encounters (since there is poison, disease and the like to be had in mulitple encounters) even though he's still hanging back when they go to meet trouble (or falling back once trouble finds him and the monk).
Just for reference how many traps are in this area? That knowledge would be helpful since traps (and locks) are things that Salis is specifically good at.
This day would be interesting.
Group Grade: C-
The sinspawn pose a tough challenge, as they have enough HP that the group is going to take some time to take them down with average rolls. Add in that they are immune to mind-affecting and suddenly they are a slog for the group. Once again, the Rerollacle keeps the party from ever being in any REAL danger due to a good amount of healing/crit negation/saving throw re-rolls. That said, I really do see these encounters being tedious. Also, the more the Sorcerer rains death with his Arcane bolts, the less he'll be able to do so against tougher villains. Due to the length I would anticipate for the sinspawn encounters, I think a fair amount of those Arcane bolts get burned.
The Vargouille should be fairly simple, though poor rolling on the party's part when it first screeches could be a problem. The lack of ranged damage in the party could mean that they win initiative and simply can't kill the Vargouille before it screeches, which puts them at risk (and the oracle can only have one person reroll their save, though the Sorc has his own reroll which may be helpful). The best outcome in this encounter is for the Sorcerer to win initiative and one shot the flying head, though this is far from certain.
The mutant goblin is more straightforward. I think the Monk tanks, the rest of the group does their thing, and they eventually bring him down. Similar to the sinspawn, the group struggles to do flat out damage, which prolongs fights, but the goblin's low overall bonuses to his attacks and relatively low damage shouldn't be a threat with a healer in the party.
Eryllium is a pain. I actually love the encounter as there is very little risk to the PCs. I'm in the camp of "it's nice to humble PCs and make them remember that they're not just going to kick in doors and kill everything" camp. It also makes it much more satisfying if you can kill her. That said, this encounter is long. I don't think this group kills her, though I don't think anyone gets killed by her either. I would see her staying out of range of grapples, exhausting her spells, and then pretty much just being annoying until the group leaves.
Overall, a slightly below average performance from the group. I don't think anyone would die (though it's certainly possible someone could be turning into a vargouille). However, I think the lack of damage in the group starts to really become apparent here. It may not be a huge issue when fighting goblins, but as baddies start to have more HP, it's becoming apparent that this group is really going to be in some long combats.
1 - Monk: The group needs damage in these encounters, and he provides it. Without his damage, the group just doesn't have a reliable way to kill things. His saves are solid, which means that in the few instances saves are needed he is in a good place. His AC is good enough to tank in these combats. Stunning Fist will be useful against the sinspawn and other targets, especially backed up by the Rerollacle if needed. (Note: I think stunning fist still works against things that are immune to mind affecting stuff, correct me if I'm wrong).
2 - Oracle: Provides the safety and security that gets the group through their slog of a day in these tunnels. Really, Misfortune + Healing is enough to get this rank.
3 - Sorcerer: The ranged damage he can deal will matter in these fights. This alone makes his value increase. However, I have worries about his low AC and overall physical weakness. His ability to reroll one of his own saves may be huge in this day. Also, being stealthy with the monk helps the group out more on this day, which factors into him being ranked above the Wizard.
4 - Wizard: With so many creature immune to the beast that is Color Spray, the wizard's effectiveness goes down. Ray of Enfeeblement is only good if he wins initiative, otherwise things are in combat and his attack bonus with the ray is terrible. True Strike is situational at best on this day, and I honestly think he'd be better off memming a second Mage Armor and just casting it on the monk, as that would make get WAY more bang for his buck in with that spell-slot. Grease is the one spell that I think makes a big impact, but even with Grease down, the party still needs to do damage, which comes back to the people above him. I do give the Wizard props for his ability with Knowledge skills to help the group realize what they are fighting on a consistent basis. This is very helpful. (Also, Egoish, I think you could take one more skill, as you have 7 maxed skills, but I believe your character gets 8 skill points per level).
What's the light level in the dungeon we are in? My caster level goes up by 1 in dim light or darkness.
I will be torch bearer by casting light on the head of my morningstar and will be at least 20 feet behind you anyway, assume there are no additional light sources then you will nearly always be in dim light at the start of an encounter but you will lose that caster level as i move up to support Boghu.
You might get away with skirting the edges of encounter area's to stay in dim light 25+ feet away from uGo but avoiding your healer might also prove problematic as i wouldn't be able to move to you and heal you with a spell in one round, however you would still be getting channels.
Since we've mentioned it in the discussion thread i think i should get it down here as well.
iGo will happily burn scrolls on buffing Boghu and Salis armour class with mage armour for a days adventuring, he also doesn't mind going through his stock of silent image or enlarge person scrolls if it means getting out of the dungeon faster or keeping someone alive.
Using the scrolls is going to have to be something of a joint endevour because we have to be able to judge when iGo would actually burn a scroll or when the fight is easy enough that he would just hoard spells for later in the day.
I also forgot to mention the Prescience power 8/day means that in the surprise round iGo has 2 chances to get a decent roll for monster knowledge and identify or if he is going to make an attack or bull rush he can drop a use of his power and get a much higher chance of sucess than other characters.
Please keep discussion of the area to the discussion thread. I'm trying to keep this side clean so we can find the posts and judging for posts quickly.
If you have question, post them over in discussion before you post here. This is where you put your final "this is what I am doing" and the judges put their final "decision".
Feel free to discuss it before you post for as long as you like, but I want to only have the game play here, so that it can be referenced quickly.
Okay, another section of this AP that I did not care for. Let us get down to the brass tacks here:
1. Monk: As Sylvanite mentioned, the party is going to need damage output. The enemies in this section have a lot more hp than the party is used to dealing with, and, if the stats from the AP are used for sinspawn, as opposed to the stats in the PF Bestiary 2, they even have fast healing (only 1, but that can add up over the rounds for a party that has trouble dealing a lot of damage, like this one). The Monk is very well suited for this section, even if his damage output is not as high as an equivalent high-BAB character, because his stealth will come in handy, and because there are a lot of saving throws in these encounters, so his good saves might save the day.
2. Oracle: Bless, flanking, and her own attacks are going to provide the second biggest increases to damage the party has in these fights. Combine that with the aforementioned lots of saving throws, and her misfortune ability used to help if a party member rolls low against, say, the vargouille's shriek (when I ran it half the party failed that one, but the bard came to the rescue with countersong!), and she is pretty solid this time around. Her healing will also like come in handy as the sinspawn slowly plink away at the Monk's hp. Overall, slightly more useful than an equivalent cleric.
3. Sorcerer: His ability to contribute to damage from the relative safety of behind the Monk, and to help the party scout, will be quite useful here. The fights with the two sinspawn ambush and the mutated goblin in particular can be made much easier with proper scouting. I expect he will be about as useful as the rogue was when I ran this AP. That is, not very, but not a detriment either.
4. Wizard: These simply aren't the right set of monsters for his spell allotment. The oh-so-useful color spray is practically worthless against all these immune to mind-affecting beasties. Not to mention that the sinspawn have SR, low though it might be. Grease might help marginally, and hitting the mutant with his ray of enfeeblement during the first round of combat could help with that one. The true strike bullrush idea does not strike me as very feasible, because the party won't know there are pits right away, since they are all covered. It would seem meta-gamey to me for the Wizard to decide to bullrush the enemy onto a piece of wood that he has no way to know is weak and likely to break, let alone covering a pit. I think his best addition to the party will be casting enlarge on the monk in order to deal with that damn quasit at the end. His almost complete lack of any ability to do any damage, combined with most of his control spells being less or not useful, render him a weak link this time around.
Party Overall: C- Again, the fights will be long and slogging due to the party's inability to dish damage out very quickly. They should not really be in terribly much danger at any point, and the Oracle's rerolls will help save them from a couple of poor rolls. They seem well-enough suited for the one effective strategy I have ever seen against Erylium, which is grappling. If the enlarged Monk gets his mitts on her it is game over for her... eventually.
Ringtail appears to be MIA, I will add his scores in if he comes back before the next round, otherwise we may need to recruit a replacement. It's been a full week, so I think it is time to proceed.
In the meantime, everyone go ahead and level to 3rd, sort the loot among yourselves in discussion, you will have a day to sell and buy in town before traveling to the goblin fortress at Thistletop.
Day one of thistletop
I. You enter a kind of thorn maze, going between rooms will be a penalty for medium creatures and require crawling for large creatures. In the thorn maze you will like encounters include.
1. 10 Goblins
2. 4 Goblin dogs (likely tied up, so only a threat to alert others if not released by gogmurt or the goblins)
3. Gogmurt and Tanglefoot. Gogmurt can walk through the maze using his druid ability in a guerrilla fashion, and will alert the fort if he is able. If caught rather than killed he can give you info on the fort.
II. Once you get through the thorn maze...
1.You have to cross a trapped bridge to get to the fort. If you miss the trap and two medium creatures are on the bridge at the same time, you could fall 80 feet into water, and possibly have to deal with a Bunyip. 2. The fort is a stockade (DC 20 climb check) with 4 goblins and 4 goblin dogs, initially that can increase in number quickly (there are 8 more goblins in reserve and 4 more goblin dogs.)
3. You can rescue a starving horse, and there is treasure guarded by a a "slasher" trap.
4. Final battle for the "top" of the fort is with Warchief Ripnugget, riding a giant gecko and three goblin rangers in a throne room.
There is additional dungeon below, so you will need to figure out how you are either securing a camp or if you are leaving and coming back, which should probably be discussed as part of what you can bring to the show.
Ask any questions you wish in discussion, I'll post current rankings when either Ringtail weighs in or we select a replacement if he is gone.
You forgot that there are also two semi-alert goblin rangers in one of the guard towers who may pepper the party with arrows if they are not exceptionally quiet during the fight outside the stockade, and also Chief Ripnugget has a warchanter along with the three rangers, who will buff the combatants and hide behind an illusory curtain.
sorry, didn't realize we were all set and ready to go...
Dealing with the thorn maze, this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
First order of business is making sure I have mage armor running, prior to going in. That'll bump me up to AC 21, so I'm sitting pretty against most of these critters. If we get ambushed in the tunnels themselves, that's not so good, but still doable.
Weapon of choice will be the longspear, allowing for those AoO's and possibly readied attacks against the charge. Flurry just got quite a bit better, as did my CMB. If I can get my hands on the goblin druid, it's a sad, sad day for him. I would absolutely LOVE to be able to stealth up to him and lay a rear-naked-choke on his freakish little green head.
With the baddies cleared out of the thorns (not too hard, actually, by the numbers, unless Gogmurt gets really lucky or some of them bug out), we have a couple of options.
If we know of the monster at the bottom of the "drop shaft," will toss a few gobbo's down and potentially climb down myself to investigate. Fish monster + good climb speed + longspear + darkvision means I'm not to poorly set up to take him on, especially if I'm within reach of the Oracle's channels from up top.
As far as getting across the bridge...if we can determine it's rigged, a vanish fueled dash across should deliver Boghu across easily enough. If it seems safe, a visible but high-speed dash across seems in order. In either case, it may behoove us to operate with speed more than caution, at least until we can get the fort itself secured.
Taking out the "sentries" should prove easy enough also. I have a decent chance of sneaking up on them (especially if they're distracted with kill-gull, pickle-induced-comas, or the like) and either one-shotting them or grabbing them and tossing them into the surf below. Climbing the walls should be within my skill range as well, affording a 2nd-story infiltration if we want.
So, in short: speedy insertion (with stealth) through the thorns, clear that place of all opposition, then race across to Thistletop itself before going all "Metal Gear Solid" on the entrenched goblins. .
If we can, we should definitely free the trapped horse, if only for the chaos & confusion it'll cause.
Against Ripnugget, once again the "boss-fight-tactics" come to play. I'll bounce from him to the rangers, deflecting arrows as they come my way, and eliminating the mooks while trying to keep between Ripnugget and the casters. Hopefully the wizard can land his color spray on the chief, but any of the gobbos he takes out of this fight is good. Warchanter should be the secondary target, but if she stays out of sight it may be tough to get hands on her.
Again, longspear backed up with flurries of kicks and potential grapples (Gogmurt, Ripnugget, and Warchanter are the prime targets for my stunning fists) should afford a decent array of damage output.
Stealth and sniping is what Salis is bringing this time around. Magic missile can take out simple sentries without any problem from a very nice range, expanding his role from simple sneak/trapbreaker to precision sniping as well. The biggest issue is the fact that he can only take one sentry at a time likely and will burn spells fairly quickly in this process. He'll be much more selective with his first level spells this go around hanging back for the most part in the bushes Daze and acid splash being primary here. The fact that Salis can easily stay to the back here and still contribute with daze and acid splash makes it easier for tanking and melee focused party members to do their part without him crowding them.
The bridge is an area that Salis will probably help a lot at -- with the possibility of sniping the archers, finding the trap on the bridge and generally making life easier I see two spells being eaten here (a magic missile for each archer or a magic missile and a vanish).
The Fort itself has lots of angles which will probably limit Salis ability to effectively use ranged so the wand of shocking grasp has a decent chance of seeing charges used up here.
I'm planning on saving at least one slot to hit ripnugget with a ray of enfeeblement. He's looking at about a 55% chance of making the save but even then we are looking at an average of 4 points off his strength dropping his attack bonus by 2 and his damage bonus by 2.
Goblins are no threat at all to uGo's armour class, even if they gang up flank and assist each other she will be able to wade through them and provide a flanking bonus for Boghu. rerolls will still be on the table for each monster and channel/heals are still available as normal. if the fight looks tough she will use either bless or divine favour, if its an easy fight just wade in and tank/dps using healing when neccessary. uGo's heal skill will get used for treat deadly wounds so we can conserve spells again.
I don't think the druid and his pet are much of a threat, i would probably not bother casting spells at either of them until we had them pinned down. Since the druid can quite simply escape through the hedges if required there is no point in wasting spells and uGo would be careful about saving spells for healing if Boghu or anyone else needs it. uGo is also not above using the goblins animal companion as bait if required to force the druid into direct confrontaion.
The traps hold no worries since we have Salis and a reroll if needed however without an alternate way into the stockade the DC20 climb check will prove problematic, as we have had a day to prepare and we know we will be attacking a fort i would normally solve this issue with pre planning and getting the wizard to cast spider climb on me via a scroll i purchased for him, or use a potion if the 75% chance for the scroll failed. If we are planning a stealthy entry uGo will also need a vanish or invisibility from one of our arcane breathen.
Once again in the fort even 12 goblins prove no real challenge to uGo and will be swiftly dealt with via divine favour, power attack and flanking. Since Boghu is much more mobile i think we will get into the habit of uGo moving up and Boghu moving around the side as we have had 3 levels of play together and by now will work like a well oiled team.
At the Warchief boss fight tactics as normal, punk him with rerolls on save or suck spells, prefered kill order is Warchanter > Mount > Rangers > Boss but if we can't get to the warchanter take down the mount first and SoS the boss into oblivion, selective channelling is important here and the party need to avoid spreading their damage to lots of targets. The boss will eat an ill omen for his first set of saves and the reroll will be saved for crit negation until we have less foes to worry about.
Resources consumed: 1 scroll spider climb.
Start of the day use a Mage Armour on myself and then recall it with the pearl of power and recast it on Boghu as requested. If Salis thinks he will be in danger at all i have a scroll of mage armour for him as well(deleted from my character sheet as he might as well use them).
The goblins are of little threat so I'll fall back on providing flank bonuses and casting Jolt to conserve spells, when we get to the druid and his companion they will eat a web spell(hopefully backed up by uGo's rerolls) and Boghu will get an enlarge person(20ft reach with longspear) once we have the druid in one place. His vast knowledge skills will enable him to identify everything the party comes across so we have an in game reason to know not to waste spells on the woodland stride druid.
iGo will also have put some plan in place to help the party over the walls, going so far as to spend some of his money (which he is currently saving until 5th level) on more scrolls or potions of spells to get himself and salis over the wall safely.
Inside the fort mutliple goblins are not really a threat but if the party look like getting overwhelmed by a horde of them another enlarge scroll will get burned on Boghu for 20ft longspear reach.
At the Warchief everything gets glitterdust, then everything that can be hit gets colour spray, then if anything threatening has passed both of those spells its weapon gets greased(doubtful it will be needed to be honest but if the warchief gets lucky it will definately disarm him over a round or two).
Once again iGo can identify any items if Salis fails his check, his knowledges prepare the party for fights and for the hard encounters (druid, horde, warchief) iGo can quite easily end the fights in a round or so with a control or buff spell.
Resources Consumed: 1 scroll mage armour, 2 scrolls enlarge person, 1 scroll spider climb(2 if salis needs help).
Preperation for next day: swapping ray of enfeeblement to enlarge person as salis has str drain covered and Boghu likes reach, crafting another scroll of grease overnight from spells left in memory.
Ah, now we are getting into a section of the adventure I enjoyed running. It is a little odd to judge, however, as we run into two major junctions that will seriously change the way things play out depending on how they go: 1) whether or not any of the goblins in the thorn maze get away to raise the alarm, and b) whether or not the party sets off the bridge trap. The former will mean the difference between being able to sneak up on several small groups of distracted goblins and pick them off a few at a time, and facing a fully alert and ready force of over a dozen goblins with a higher ground and a closed gate on their side. The latter will mean the difference in how easily the party makes it to Thistletop in the first place, and perhaps force them to approach from the water, which would seriously change how things follow. Due to this, I will attempt to address either scenario of the alarm situation, but assume the bridge trap was successfully handled simply because it changes too much if not.
1. Wizard: Finally I see a scenario where the wizard's spells are really changing the battlefield, probably in no small part due to the addition of second level spells. While I would advise against using enlarge person within the bounds of the thistle maze, as it would force the now-large warrior to squeeze in some areas, I doubt that will be necessary. Using web on Gogmurt to neutralize his greatest asset, mobility, and keep him from being able to warn the fortress is a major stroke for the party. Almost as good will be if glitterdust can blind Ripnugget and his commando guards. If so it will make that fight a walk in the park; even if only some of them are affected it will greatly reduce the difficulty. A very good argument for the God wizard all in all: I give him top spot for only two castings, but each one turns a difficult/annoying fight into a simple one. Thought of one other thing of note: because of the Wizard the Monk has a higher AC, always useful for the tank.
2. Monk: Between good AC (even against Gogmurt's touch attacks!), mobility (and high saves in case Gogmurt gets off an entangle spell to cut this down; my group hated that spell because of this encounter), stealth abilities, and reach due to the longspear, the Monk will likely be the driving force of the party this time through. He is, once again, the party's primary source of damage, though against the horde-of-little-things encounters in this section it is probably sheer number of attacks that matter most. If only he had Combat Reflexes! Still, if the alarm is not raised he will be the one able to sneak right up to the enemy groups, charge in, and smash them before they know what hit them. And if it is raised, he will be the one in the middle of the group of mounted goblins, picking them off with his longspear and swatting aside the archers' attacks with Deflect Arrows. Oh, and a Stunning Fist to Ripnugget would likely not go amiss either. I would say that in this section he actually outperforms full martial characters for this roll, with the possible exception of a stealthy twf Ranger.
3. Sorcerer: His major contribution here is going to be dealing with the trap, but that is a pretty big one; as mentioned earlier, if that bridge goes down it will be a major inconvenience for the party. His relatively low damage is not a huge detriment considering the low hp totals of most of the enemies the party will be facing, and so his extra ranged attack each round will help out, probably take out a couple of goblins himself. If the alarm is not raised and the party needs stealth, his ability to cast vanish on the Oracle, the parties weakest link for stealth, will likely prove quite useful. If the alarm is raised, his ability to attack the archers with magic missile will prove useful, and even with a high chance of resistance (less thanks to the Oracle!), a ray of enfeeblement on Ripnugget could help to cut down his damage potential a fair bit.
4. Oracle: I honestly never expected to be putting her in this slot, but here she is. Quite simply put, as much of a boost as she is to the party, in this scenario I felt that the party did not really need the boost as much as they needed the individual strengths of the other members, and her weaknesses (bad stealth and mobility) are more of a detriment than normal. The Monk no longer requires boosts from bless or flanking to regularly hit goblins; unless someone gets mobbed by a bunch of lucky rolls from a pack of goblin dogs, I doubt healing will be a critical factor, thanks to the Wizard making the hard fights easy mode. If the alarm is not sounded her lack of stealth will preclude her from being in the front lines without giving the effort away. If it is sounded she will be of more help, as the party will likely face more damage and need more bonuses, but I still believe her major impact this time around is simply the one extra attack each round; nice, but not as critical as the contributions of the others. Keep in mind I am not saying she is a detriment to the party, except in the specific case of the stealthy approach, merely that she is less integral to their overall success this time around.
Party Overall: B The party is well-suited to today's challenges. Having a stealthy melee-tank is quite useful here, and the Wizard's spell selection, while not out of the ordinary, is just right for the battles faced here. The Sorcerer is able to deal with the trap as well as a Rogue could, and contribute at least as well as (and probably much better than) the throwing-specialist rogue that my party had. The Oracle is not particularly better or worse than most other divine caster/healer characters here, and will be quite handy in the unlikely event that major healing does become necessary. I see this day's adventuring going quite smoothly for the group overall.
As requested I will add in my cold harsh judgments. I have spoilered individual judgments to save space on the page and make them easier to take apart and look at.
For the record I'll be doing this under the method that the others have chosen in terms of letter grades.
Boghu is looking strong going into this one. Plenty of AC, plenty of stealth, plenty of pain to bring to bear.
I think if it was this character alone then he'd have a pretty good chance of succeeding against all the individual goblins including the druid should he manage to grapple him.
Individually the goblins, even the rangers are a joke for this character so he should breeze through goblin encounters with the exception of the chief.
The chief however is a different encounter altogether. The proposed skirmishing tactics by the monky may not work as well as he'd like.
As a mounted character with all the appropriate mounted feats he's actually more dangerous utilizing skirmishing tactics than if he was engaged head on. Worse his gecko has a climb speed and base speed that is as fast as the monk.
And it's still going to get worse. If he drinks his potion of barkskin he easily reaches a 22 AC making him very difficult to handle.
The bright side in all of this is depsite the apparent mobile terror the chieftain is he still doesn't do that much damage (around 12 average even on a spirited charge) so simply tanking him is entirely a viable option for the 21 ac, 24 hp monk to handle as long as he can keep the little bugger from going up the walls. Ignoring him may be a bad idea as he may decide to charge one of the arcane casters and while he certainly will not one shot them he may leave them with few good options on dealing with him.
The brightside is his saves genuinely kind of suck so none of the above may be important if he gets hit with a color spray or is glitterdusted.
Assuming a refinement of tactics to reflect this information the monk can handle the goblins Ripnugget is a minor nuisance that can be handled by the casters with ease.
It's nice to see Salis start coming into their own.
I think Salis's sniping strategy has but one flaw in it. The HP of the sentry. The tower sentries have about 9hp, salis's magic missile deals between 4 and 10 damage with an average of about 6. So unless his rolls are particularly good he's looking at an injured but very much alive and terrified goblin. He'll likely need to burn a vanish each to ensure the surprise round and then pray he rolls enough damage to drop them or pray to roll better initiative than the goblins so they don't call an alarm. This is a risky move. Perhaps if some equally stealthy character simultaneously fired a shot? All that discussion about scrolls and stuff but not one talk of getting a simple crossbow or bow.
Given the party's stealth abilities already it might be more profitable to simply bypass the sentries than use up spells with no guarantee of killing their target in one go.
Overall his stealth will come in handy here as simple scouting can reveal much about the thorn maze and allow the group to take a plan of action that best suits their needs from avoiding the sentry towers to finding the druid and neutralizing him quickly (for the record the druids perception score is +2).
Being as Salis is the msot glass jawed of the group he'll likely have to be more cautious than most as this batch of goblins is the toughest bunch faced yet and while they are of little consequence to the meatier oracle and monk the sorcerer may find himself stuffed with javelins if he is uncautious.
I would ask if Abraham could kindly write the full bonuses on his skills as there are things here that are highly relevant to hsi skills and the way he has writen is misleading to the real numbers. In this he is absolutely correct that his trapfinding skills will be invaluable as he can move in stelathily and examine the bridge catching the trap and allowing the others to know its secrets. I'd say between the monk and the sorcerer the trap should be easily found without alerting the fort.
Overall I think where the sorcerer is lacking is in combat. Unsurprising given his specialties but as far as combat goes this is one of those parts where you can easily stealth through or bypass through most of it (hell my group managed it) so it really doesn't count against him as much as it would normally. I think if salis had invested in a wand of magic missile or grease or similar he might have better in combat ability as shocking grasp puts his small ac and hp dangerously close to the line of fire (he can always miss a touch attack afterall.
I think Ugo's disregard for the druid is amusing and one of those "eat your words" moments. Probably at the point where he's cursing a snd struggling through an entangle spell while Gomurt gleefully burns him alive. Thankfully the highly mobile and stealthy monk already ambushed the not very watchful druid and pinned him to the dirt long before he brought his entangle, his produce flame, and sheer mobility into play. It's a fight the group would still win. But I'd be entertained.
Overall Ugo looks good for a classic crash through the door mash up the bad guys and go home with the loot and women kind of dungeon. Unfortunately this isn't really one of those. Failure in keeping the fort unalert before the bridge crossing can make things rather hectic and some fights much harder then normal. As an example in the thrown room the pc's aren't actually dealing with goblin rangers on the ground but atop pillars firing down. A nuisance, yes, but it's enough of a nuisance that it can factor into ripnugget's favor and make certain described tactics unfeasible.
So really unless the party simply wants to gatecrash the whole thorn maze (which is not the feeling I'm getting Ugo will likely be waiting at various points until the stealth characters go and fetch him. Sadly ironic as he's really one of the best characters the group has nearly any other time.
This being said Ugo is still an mvp. Without stealthing about and ambushing lone goblins he can still hit people with guidance and rerolls. When combat finally does roll around he'll be looking at a pretty solid set up.
As for smacking the warchief with multiple bad rolls he might find it to be a slight waste of an immediate action. His saves are quite frankly terrible and the boss might as well curl up and die once he's hit with the glitter dust.
Overall Ugo will find himself playing twiddle his thumbs and buff bot while the lighter more nimbler characters go out and play. The other combats will either be trivialized by the wizard or irritating due to the enemies superior mobility (there is nothing on the given encounter list not simply faster than Ugo except the bunyips who swim ridiculously fast instead).
Grade: B, he's useful just not in a way that won't make him feel like a heal bot.
Igo is the MvP of this little song and dance.
Without really getting into it several spells at his disposal make the fights rather trivial. I'm sad to see he didn't bother putting invisibility on the memmed list as that spell alone would allow many possibilities to open up to the group.
Still none of the choices made here are bad ones. Even should the group fail the bridge (unlikely) and even if they alert the fort (more likely) than chances are Igo has an answer for it.
The throne room's real challenge is tight quarters and chances are Igo will be forced to decide between laying down aoe's or having a big monk. The goblins are spread fairly well and while this makes flanking easy it makes using things like color spray efficiently difficult. That being said he might not need to use too many as one big monk with twenty foot reach changes the dynamics of the fight immensely. Now not only is ripnuggets mobility advantage nearly nullified (no point in trying to escape up a wall to down his potion) but the goblins clambering up pillars are pretty much boned.
Overall I think the only mistake Igo has made this encounter day is having detect thoughts instead of invisibility. It's difficult to overestimate the value of simple scouting spells like that as demonstrated by salis. Simply memorizing one and scrolling another would have solved Ugo's stealth issues at least for a little while. Still, this doesn't really count against him as he did not have previous knowledge of what the fort entailed. Instead it simply works more in the sorcerer's favor.
Overall I think the general consensus of the group is one half sneaks the fort while the other hand twiddles its thumbs and waits for combat to arrive so they can crush it into a green paste.
Igo and Ugo while useful to the group for their buffs spend a long time twiddling their thumbs while Salis and Boghu go to work ensuring the two don't become Bunyip chow. Even Igo's vaunted knowledge skills don't really mean much if he's not there to tell people about what they're facing. Of course this turns out to mean very little in reality.
Anohther fun thing of note is that while ciretose thoughtfully provides relevant stats to the bosses he never once shows you where the battle takes place. I think this is an important factor and demonstrates why certain tactics don't work. It's incredibly difficult to target the warchanter hiding in a corner of the room right behind the throne and a very mean level 4 goblin fighter. Likewise bouncing around the room trying to stab goblins can be very difficult if they're up the pillars and out of reach (the ap does not quite clarify how high the pillars are). So chances are tactics will evolve to fit the situation (i.e. the monk gets as close to the center of the room while enlarged and punishes all within reach while Ugo plays mopup).
Overall the group does well enough and has a small break from the dungeon crashing for a bit of stealth and potential scouting to find out what's ahead before they get into the real meat and hate of the AP (potential tpk's for everyone! :D).
Overall for this encounter: "B"
Future Concerns: The group overall is still behind in damage. And soon they may pay for that. This is the point where quality starts to replace quantity and worse quality can start adding up in quantity if the group is not careful. They'll suddenly find themselves facing off against AC's that require 14 to 15+ to hit in some cases by the monk. This is while being hacked to pieces by some very beefy melee fighters that may or may not be backed by casters themselves. And those are not even the hardest encounters in the upcoming portion.
Moving to encounter day 6, here are the average scores so far
1. (Tie) Oracle and Monk (2.0)
2. Wizard (2.87)
3. Sorcerer (3.13)
Overall GPA C+/B- (it's right on the edge)
This is all subject to some change if more judges weigh in or if TarkXT wants to weigh in on past encounters. I am averaging the scores from each encounter to be equal, regardless of how many judges weighed in on a given encounter.
Next encounter day.
If you are camping outside of the fortress (either across the bridge or by the monks plan...) I am presuming that Bruthazmus and Orik Vancaskerkin are going to come up and be on guard when you try to retake the fortress.
After you get past them you can move downstairs to the first dungeon level a couple of different ways.
1. You may run into a Tentamort.
2. You will almost certainly run into 2 Yeth Hound.
3. You will definitely run into Lyrie Akenja
Following this is a 2nd dungeon level, where you will find.
1. A Slashing Cage Trap.
2. Nualia and another Yeth Hound.
She is the BBEG of the quest, so at this point you may rest a bit, but likely you'll want to explore the rest of level. When you do you will have encounters with.
1. 3 Shadows
2. A Giant Hermit Crab
I would say it is next to impossible for the PC's to be able to know ahead about the nature of any of these last three encounters prior to running into them.
Judges please feel free to weigh in over in discussion about specifics on each encounter. I will post possible loot, and players should level after this encounter and as I said earlier will have a few weeks of game time to craft/shop prior to the next book starting.
All righty then...
Whichever place we decide to camp, I'm good with it. General plan (for me) is for Boghu to remain on watch as long as he can (sleeping during last watch, if possible) and be ready for "downstairs reinforcements."
If able, I would REALLY like to get my mitts on either Bruthazmus (CMD 20/AC 18) or Vancaskerin with a stealth-driven chokehold. Their perception is only +1 each, but B has scent, so I am not too sure how well that'd go. In any case, if we are aware of their presence, and they don't fall for the re-trapped bridge, I'm confident we can take the two of them without much difficulty.
Each is potential daze bait, and should they try to sit back and launch arrows, they will be sad NPC's.
The doggies will be a problem, to be honest, since if I'm tied up with t the crab-handed lady, I will not be able to hold them off...Salis & iGo staying in the doorway to the chamber with uGo in front and Boghu beating on Big N seems the best solution here.
Rest & Recuperate should definitely happen after that array of enemies (unless we got super lucky & were able to neutralize some of them without resistance...a la Solid Snake).
(edit: wrong username)