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3 Character Party for AoW, Input Please


Age of Worms Adventure Path

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

So, without any game damaging spoilers, I would like to get some AoW experienced opinions about how well a 3 character group could face the challenges of the AoW AP. Note though, that I am not asking how to build a three party group that will absolutely trounce the challenges as written.

So what about 3 PCs that are straight 3.5 core? 3.5 Core plus splatbooks? 3 Gestalt characters? What about 3 PFRPG characters? I know that the PFRPG isn't out yet and it will hard to make that call, but the character previews and beta characters do seem decently more powerful than their 3.5 counterparts.

I will be a player in this AP and with the DMs blessing am posting this query to try to gauge how many hurdles we will have to overcome to make a 3 character party viable.

Tam


Tambryn wrote:

So, without any game damaging spoilers, I would like to get some AoW experienced opinions about how well a 3 character group could face the challenges of the AoW AP. Note though, that I am not asking how to build a three party group that will absolutely trounce the challenges as written.

So what about 3 PCs that are straight 3.5 core? 3.5 Core plus splatbooks? 3 Gestalt characters? What about 3 PFRPG characters? I know that the PFRPG isn't out yet and it will hard to make that call, but the character previews and beta characters do seem decently more powerful than their 3.5 counterparts.

I will be a player in this AP and with the DMs blessing am posting this query to try to gauge how many hurdles we will have to overcome to make a 3 character party viable.

Tam

I ran complete AoW for three players. I gave them 32 point buy and allowed every splatbook WotC has ever published. There were hard times, but they pulled it off with three or four character deaths only. AoW is hard though, so with 3 players only it will require experienced players who know how to min/max their characters.

Osirion

I would agree with Salama's statement. Give them access to pretty much anything, a huge point buy or generous stats. I had a 6 person party and we TPK'd twice before giving up. My group was half min-maxers and half completely munchkined players. IT was fun, but be careful it is BRUTAL.

Andoran

Everything posted thusfar is absolutely correct. I am currently DMing the AoW, and even allowing 32-point buy, I have managed to kill dozens of characters without even trying.

If I hadn't nerfed certain encounters, there would most certainly have been one or more TPKs by now.

I have allowed my players to use pretty much every splatbook out there, too.

If you're running a three player game, gestalt may be a really good idea.


Everything said above is true. Some encounters in AoW are sure-fire TPK's. I too have nerfed a few encounters just to allow my party of 7 (with splatbooks!) just a chance to survive.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Cuchulainn wrote:

Everything posted thusfar is absolutely correct. I am currently DMing the AoW, and even allowing 32-point buy, I have managed to kill dozens of characters without even trying.

If I hadn't nerfed certain encounters, there would most certainly have been one or more TPKs by now.

I have allowed my players to use pretty much every splatbook out there, too.

If you're running a three player game, gestalt may be a really good idea.

The DM for this game is leaning toward gestalt I think. I will of course point him to this thread, though as a somtimes lurker on the boards, he may already be auditing it. It is great to have the takes of other DMs. I look forward to the challenge that AoW seems to present. But I would hate to do everything right as players and suffer consistant TPKs. But fortunately for us we have an intelligent and pretty flexable DM for this AP so it should be a blast. Thanks for the advice, and please keep it coming.

Tam

I must also focus on encouraging him to use the PFRPG rules.


The true currency of the D&D game is actions per round, and what you can do with them. PCs can do a lot with their actions, so loosing 1 PC from the standard 4 means a significant loss of resources. Its one less person to aid another, to heal, to attack, to run for help, etc, etc.

To put it in perspective, add an extra third to each monster. Give solo monsters 30% more attacks, more hp, etc. Add 30% more monsters to groups. A 4 person party will be dramatically challenged by that. Thats what the 3 person party is going to be dealing with straight out of the AP.

Age of Worms is brutal. Many say Shackled City was a meatgrinder, and it was, but Age of Worms is worse. In Shackled City, you could see your death approaching, and bail out if you had any sense, regroup and try again later. Age of Worms has many "stealthy" tpks in its pages, and not like hide/move silently stealthy. I mean the sort of encounters you just don't see happening until they are on top of you.

I run Age of Worms with all WotC splatbooks allowed, and I do mean ALL. I run a 30 point buy, and I allow PCs to roll for ability ups at all the levels besides the automatic ones at every 4th. By rolling, I mean when they hit level 2,3,5,6,7,9, etc, they pick a score and roll a d20. If they roll above their origional score (pre-racial modifiers) they raise it by one point. If they fail, they get a +1 bonus on their next attempt on that score.

Even with all this, I have repeated close calls and multiple deaths.


The Black Bard wrote:
The true currency of the D&D game is actions per round, and what you can do with them. PCs can do a lot with their actions, so loosing 1 PC from the standard 4 means a significant loss of resources. Its one less person to aid another, to heal, to attack, to run for help, etc, etc...

An excellent point. Also, with just 3 PC's you are missing not only a quarter of the actions a 'standard' party would get as TBB points out, but you're also short at least one of the classic archetypal character roles (ie. ftr, rog, clr, sor/wiz). This will hurt just as much at times.

With just 3, I'd recommend not going core-only - you're going to have a tough enough time as it is. Gestalt rules might work to help fill that missing role; splatbooks will certainly help if allowed. I can't comment about Pathfinder, as I haven't read or played it yet.

My group has 4 players* with access to all my splat books, all using an insanely high point-buy value of 35 - not recommended BTW - for ability score generation, but no dedicated arcanist, and IMO that lack has been a major contributing factor in the fact we've averaged more than one very-near-TPK per adventure so far (we just finished part 5). Several PC deaths have occurred, to the point where all those 5000gp diamonds for Raise Dead components (or equally expensive but life-threatening solo side-quest, in one case where an interested agent of the cleric's deity (plucked from the Wormfood article in Dragon #343 - thank you F. Wesley Schneider) gave him a once-only chance to come back to life 'on credit'... for a price) have pretty much eaten up all the group's savings. Most of those near-TPK's have seen only one PC still standing at the end of the encounter, with the rest either dead or dying... though IIRC we haven't yet seen more than one actual PC death in any given battle. Several close calls too, where the majority of the party ended an encounter with HP's in the single-digits.

Our party's pyromaniac cleric has just gotten the Leadership feat and took a fire-throwing sorcerer as his cohort, which should really help them get by in future installments.

Good luck,

Kang

* used to be 5 PC's, but the guy who left played a dwarf fighter who stood in the back, shooting arrows, so really not so useful as the tank & primary damage-dealer the party needed at the time - they've since filled that role with a crit-optimized human single-classed fighter whose player's lizardfolk wilder PC had left the party in favour of a better career opportunity back at the end of part 3.


I know this probably won't help the OP, but I am planning on running this AP with 4E rules and 6 PC's.

It will be interesting to see if it is just as deadly in that rules set as it is in 3.5.

I'm guessing "no" as the power curve is not so dramatic at higher levels, but we'll have to wait and see I suppose.

I can post my findings on this thread if you guys like. We should be starting in about a week or two.

Osirion

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Pop'N'Fresh wrote:

I know this probably won't help the OP, but I am planning on running this AP with 4E rules and 6 PC's.

It will be interesting to see if it is just as deadly in that rules set as it is in 3.5.

I'm guessing "no" as the power curve is not so dramatic at higher levels, but we'll have to wait and see I suppose.

I can post my findings on this thread if you guys like. We should be starting in about a week or two.

I would love to hear about your experiences with AoW in 4th edition. I will post here after we finish Whipering Cairn so you will be able to share without spoiling it. Of course you have a while yet as we probably won't get started until around august I think. At least my involvement will be impossible until then as that will be approximately when I return from Iraq.

Tam


What I might do is post in the campaign journal forum as the AP is played out. I am anticipating a lot of good stories from these adventures, and I really want to challenge the PC's and utilize the 4E rules to their fullest extent.


I would encourage your group to A) not make a rogue, and B) get a rogue cohort with the leadership feat. In this AP it's better to be weak at rogue than it is to be weak at fighter, cleric or wizard. Plus the cohort, if focused on skills, can do all the roguey things that no other class can handle.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Tambryn wrote:

So, without any game damaging spoilers, I would like to get some AoW experienced opinions about how well a 3 character group could face the challenges of the AoW AP. Note though, that I am not asking how to build a three party group that will absolutely trounce the challenges as written.

So what about 3 PCs that are straight 3.5 core? 3.5 Core plus splatbooks? 3 Gestalt characters? What about 3 PFRPG characters? I know that the PFRPG isn't out yet and it will hard to make that call, but the character previews and beta characters do seem decently more powerful than their 3.5 counterparts.

I will be a player in this AP and with the DMs blessing am posting this query to try to gauge how many hurdles we will have to overcome to make a 3 character party viable.

Tam

I ran the AoW AP for about two years. We completed the whole thing and I DM every session here is what I suggest.

1. The DM MUST understand the encounters in this path can outright Kill plauyers without much effort and do it a lot. Even with veteran players can get butt kicked due to some enoucnters can be over with one bad effect. (READ UP ON KYUSS KNIGHTS and that area effect ability they have, its a killer early on)

2. As DM be forgiving when it comes to bad die rolls. Don't hand them a win on silver plate but reconize when "random" die rolls might kill your party even though they are playing well.

3. Hide your rolls as DM. I openply rolled through the entire campaign and i regret it. I had ....40+ kills on PC's. I might have had 10 if I pulled some of the punches when things where going bad.

4. I would have you consider have each player control 2 PC's. I would never really suggest that noramlly but here in this contaxt, you might want too. Instead of ALOT optional rules and changing the EL of many enounters though the whole campaign this way it would be easier on you and most players like have two PC's ;-)

5. TPK early in the campaign can be ok. You can still recover the storyline. Once your out of Diamond lakes though it gets harder to re-intergrate a WHOLE group to the campaign.

6. Allow them access to the whole splat book material they will need it and the adventures pull from there as well.

Lastly roll with the flow. I took along time to complete this path but i swear i went to fast a times. Highlight important details and repeat it a few times here and there.

Good luck and forgive my grammer.


I know it's been mentioned above, but I feel the need to reiterate one point: Encourage the PC's to take leadership and perhaps befriend a few NPC's along the way. The lethality of the earlier adventures is apparent, but reworking it can limit a few of the fun aspects. I found a few NPCs from the Bronzewood Lodge or a friendly acolyte of St. Cuthbert can do a lot to help keep PC's alive when they're tracking down the Lands, battling Filge, or scouring out the Ebon Triad.

This helps you fill in the PC's weaknesses, but also gives you a "meat shield." If someone has to cover a retreat, it might as well be an NPC. Later on, Leadership lets the PC's fill in their own gaps. Followers would fall like flies, but Cohorts provide some much needed support.

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