Drider strategy


This is kind of a mixed Strategy + Rules question. I want to know the best way to handle this encounter vs my level 5 PCs (I am an evil DM that wants to give them a very hard battle).

They are entering a cave that is a drider's home. The drider knows they are coming.

Can the Drider start off invisible + mage armor (cast both right before they enter his cave). And then while still invisible, web the exit behind the PCs, then cast darkness on himself so the PCs can't see him (STILL INVISIBLE BTW), and then just come visible again, but still concealed by darkness, and start blasting the PCs to hell with lightning bolts?

None of the PCs have darkvision, so the drider would be able to see perfectly while the PCs wouldn't be able to see him at all, right? They'd just see a moving huge blob of darkness?

(1) Am I doing any of this wrong?
(2) Could I play the drider even better to grief the PCs even more?
(3) is this TOO hard an encounter if I play it like this for a group of min-maxed level 5s? One issue is they've breezed through everything else I've thrown at them, so I want to give them a tough, interesting battle.
(4) How exactly does the webbing of the exit work if they try to get through it. Can they just easily slash/burn through the webs to exit? If so, how can I use web effectively?
(5) How can I use "supernatural darkness" effectively? Even the drider can't see in the supernatural darkness, so it seems bad...
(6) While the drider is like 50 feet away from the PCs, invisible, but casting spells like Web and Darkness, how do I handle that? do I tell the PCs "you hear someone casting spells 50 feet away", or what do I do? Do I give them perception + spellcraft checks? Do I assume they can't hear the drider who is (as quietly as possible) casting the spells? No idea how to handle that....

The web will ignite easily if they try to burn it. You could have the Drider web the whole party before they notice him and then fire an arrow with a dose of Drow knockout poison at the strongest member of the party.

They shouldn't get perception checks if it's invisible. Maybe they notice tracks or webs or something before they enter his den that will put them on guard. So maybe they aren't flat footed but the Drier should still get first action.

It has Darkness At Will, just have it fill its home with it as well. That way not only is it concealed they can't see anything, anyway. It'll also mean that if they Daylight a few things there'll still be areas of Darkness.
You'll always want to be on the ceiling or the walls. (Out of melee)
If they step out of the Darkness shoot them with arrows. Lightning Bolt is for people in Darkness.

Honestly, I am kind of disturbed that they have no dark vision and want to fight a drider. That said, they probably have some kind of plan. If they have Dark Vision (communal or single target), the spell not the ability, they'll be fine.

Yes, the drider can start off invisible and with mage armour if it knows they're coming. I think modules do this sort of thing.

Your questions about the web spell itself are answered on the PRD.

You can use Deeper Darkness to hide terrain. Something like a pit (the regular hole in the ground) filled with web, or just regular difficult terrain. If in danger the drider can just turn invisible.

As to how to handle them detecting it, they only get information if they detect it. A stationary invisible creature gets +40 to stealth, +20 while casting. Other than that, calculate using the perception rules vs the drider's stealth. If they beat the stealth roll (20 is not an auto-success just fyi) then they get stuff like that. Otherwise, they get nothing. If they get something then give them relative direction and approximate distance.

Drider stealth at 50ft would be 14+20+5=DC 39 Perception. 14 base + 20 from invisible + 5 from distance.

Knowledge (Arcana) is used to determine which spell was cast at you, not Spellcraft (DC 25 + spell level = 28 for Lightning Bolt). If they don't see the drider cast Lightning Bolt they don't get a Spellcraft roll.

Aioran, they have no idea there is a drider. They have no plan. This may be a total massacre.

I had a drider encounter where the PC's started off in a cave with a river bisecting it and the drider far back hiding on a stalactite (spider climb) it was dark and the driders dark vision is way larger than anyone in the party (or anything in general). When they tired to jump the river the driders cast Hold Person then and they still couldn't see him bc of the distance but he could see them just fine. Once the party cast daylight or got close the driders cast darkness or invisibility and the whole time the party was trying to close the driders were raining arrows down on them and casting webs to slow them down. Fun encounter

Some thoughts as they come to me.

I would give them perception checks (opposed by drider's stealth roll) to hear the sounds of spell casting, unless the drider has a silent spell rod or anything. Invisibility would do nothing to help the drider cast stealthily with regards to sound. If successful then the characters who did detect it could try spellcrafting etc. (possibly at a penalty due to being unable to see the caster?) but I wouldn't let those who didn't detect it roll spellcraft.

The drider does have blind-fight, so even in supernatural darkness it'll have the edge, if it comes to that. But yeah if they don't have darkvision then don't go supernaturally dark.

Ray of Enfeeblement on anyone caught in the webbing could work nicely, unless they just burn their way out. You do have plenty of castings of web, though, and the grappled condition can mess up spellcasters (not sure how the normal concentration DC for casting while grappled is affected by the source being the web spell though, or if multiple castings would stack somehow)

Yeah if they do start to burn their way out could you stack multiple web castings on the area to make them take multiple doses of fire damage? Not saying it'd be optimal but it'd certainly be funny, and probably wouldn't break invisibility.

Grand Lodge

Just keep in mind lightsource plus darkvision means being able to see through the Darkness spell. Deeper Darkness is another story.

I had a similar encounter once....

The Pc's knew there was a cave that was filled with spider webs, and they were going in to clear it.

The wizard had a very direct means of dealing with places swarms might hide, so he threw a fireball into the cavern before any of the other PCs entered....

... the look on his face when I asked for a caster level check... was priceless.

(ended up being a rather tough fight with allies blundering in the darkness accidentally attacking one another from time to time.)

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Driders are smart. Here are a few ideas:
*The drider spends the whole time up on the ceiling or walls, as far from PCs as possible.
*The drider has deliberately made the floor slippery and/or cluttered with trash and webs, making it difficult terrain.
*Dancing lights and ghost sound can draw the PCs further into the cave. The drider can cast web to block the entrance from 160' away.
*There are pits or other traps concealed beneath the webs and dust on the floor.
*Let the drider use some of its double treasure to help it fight the PCs.
*Let the drider take full advantage of its 120' darkvision to engage the PCs from range.
*If the PCs are relying on a single light source, have the drider attack that light with dispel magic or deeper darkness.
*Split the party by Casting Suggestion: "go find for reinforcements." If the party is all within 30' of each other, the drider can catch all of them in the area of effect. Someone is likely to fail the save.
*Give the drider an escape plan for if it takes 30+ damage. Maybe a potion of fly or gaseous form and a hole in the ceiling?

You mention you're having trouble challenging your PCs. Do many of your encounters feature a single foe? How many encounters are there in a typical adventuring day?

Only 3 of the PCs showed up. 1 druid, 1 bard, 1 cleric. The druid was all the dps (all level 5). Only the druid is min-maxed, the bard and the cleric are pretty fair and standard.

They still blew right through my drider encounter... it was the only challenging encounter of the day, and it was kind of telegraphed, so they actually entered the battle fully-buffed.

Anyway, I don't know if I was doing things wrong, but the "Web" spell basically did nothing. The martial characters all have high reflex saves and CMB, so if they failed the reflex save, they just CMB out of the web the next turn. (DC 16 only? that's really not hard...)

The druid had no one to see in the darkness, but charged into the cave regardless. He ate 3 lightning bolts to the face and a 4d6 damage trap. Didn't matter since he somehow made his reflex save on every lightning bolt (turns out being blind does NOT effect reflex save)... So he just hits every reflex save, no problem, I roll 6d6 for like 21 damage, roll damage down and half it, he takes 10... and he has 51 health... so 3 lightning bolt later he just chugs a potion and goes back to full and visibly yawns.

So, while eating traps and lightning bolts to the face (and also making his ray of enfeeblement saving throws) the druid just ran to the back of the cave and morphed into raptor form giving it some crazy SCENT, so no amount of darkness + invis would get my drider to safety. My drider immediately withdrew 20 feet to the ceiling, but that didn't stop the raptor who then cast some "swim through air" spell to get into melee and demolish it. I used all 4 lightning bolts on the druid, but it didn't even matter (3 of the bolts hit his familiar also, and I knocked it to -6 health, but the cleric just healed it).

Once the lightning bolts were out, and the raptor was on top of the drider, smelling it and attacking 3 times a round for like +13 to hit each attack (flanking with the hawk + a million buffs), and then averaging about 20 damage on each hit with all the bonuses, it just didn't matter that 50% of them missed from concealment... the drider was just toast.

Was kind of disappointed.. it was a very INTERESTING and FUN encounter, but instead of demolishing the PCs, it just let them showcase how powerful they are and can overcome any enemy. So i guess in that sense it was the perfect encounter for them :P

my lesson learned: need more than 1 challenging encounter per day for the PCs. Don't telegraph it so hard so that they completely buff up with all their once/day stuff.

Oh well, I guess if the players had a good time then the encounter was a success. Hawks don't get scent, so I'm not sure how the Hawk was flanking, but that doesn't sound like it was a huge factor.

Was the spell "Air walk?" That's a 4th level spell, which makes the PCs level 7+, which makes a solo CR 7 creature not a significant threat.

What level are the PCs?

Edit: sounds like they had fun and you learned some ideas for making encounters more challenging, so it's definitely a success.

it was three level 5 PCs.


he was using this basically as a low movement speed "fly"...

he says he can also combo it with this to go ultra-insane: http://paizo.com/PRD/advanced/spells/touchOfTheSea.html

Grand Lodge

Keep in mind with Scent that if there is relatively little to no air flow in the cave then it's not going to work as well or at all. Also, throw a ton of scents at them. Fill it it rotting bodies/food, and other pungent smells so as to make it hard to pick out. Also, single solitary creatures, unless significantly higher level than the PCs, won't be too much of a problem. Mainly due to the fact that the party just gets a wealth more of actions versus the one action. I know the encounter is past but these are things to think on. Also, make sure the Druid has natural spell otherwise he isn't casting while wildshaped.

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Another thing to keep in mind, in addition to what has already been mentioned, is action economy. One enemy, even one that has been literally built to fight the party, has the disadvantage of only having 1 standard, 1 move, and 1 swift action a round. It's easier to bring a threat to the table with multiple enemies.

I would be careful, though, because it sounds like - and forgive me for being so blunt - that you don't have a good grasp on the strength of your party. This is a very important skill to master as a GM, and until you do, it's very possible that encounters will be too easy or too hard. Some players enjoy those sorts of encounters, and there's nothing wrong with wanting to be the invincible heroes or enjoying a tough challenge, but regardless, you need to be able to quantify the party's strength so that you can provide the correct level of power in each encounter that you and your players want.

It sounds like they have a solid system mastery. Through some tougher CRs at them. Spend some time reading the stat blocks and think about good strats, just like you did here. Come to the boards if you want. Once you know the sweet spot where they're challenged but not overwhelmed, try to ride it as long as it lasts. If you do this, though, then toss out the experience system. Level them up when the campaign calls for it. Just because they have system mastery, which is an intangible skill that makes for much stronger characters, and are taking things down often that are way stronger than the system expects, they shouldn't fly through the levels.

One of the great things about Pathfinder is that there are a million spells and character options. One of the bad things about Pathfinder is that there are a million spells and character options, so it's hard to know how they all really work.

Observe the line "Those without a swim speed must make Swim checks to move as normal." in the description of the spell.

Under the rules for swim: swim:
"Make a Swim check once per round while you are in the water. Success means you may swim at up to half your speed (as a full-round action) or at a quarter of your speed (as a move action). If you fail by 4 or less, you make no progress. If you fail by 5 or more, you go underwater."

So, the PC should have been using move actions to make swim checks, or else "sink" through the air, out of reach of the drider. This means no full attacks while using this spell to reach the drider.

Under scent:
"A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet ...
The creature detects another creature's presence but not its specific location. Noting the direction of the scent is a move action. If the creature moves within 5 feet (1 square) of the scent's source, the creature can pinpoint the area that the source occupies, even if it cannot be seen."

So the shapeshifted druid would first have to get within 30' of the drider, then use a move action to scent the direction of the drider, then cast sky swim, and then swim in the direction of the drider. This would prevent the druid from charging. All that is possible, but probably the PC did not go through all those steps?

In hindsight, the drider could have walked 20' along the ceiling away from the druid (provoking an AoO with 50% miss chance), then fired an arrow or cast magic missile. Then the druid could have used a move action to scent the direction of the drider, a move action to move 15' closer and... I guess the drider could have won after all.

I think the lesson here is that PCs can't always do what players think they can do.

Grand Lodge

Another thing to keep in mind adding one more of a creature to an encounter only adds +1 or +2 to the CR and can make a world of difference.

"Noting the direction of the scent is a move action. "

And that's the part I missed =/

I've been playing D&D/pathfinder for under a year, and there are just millions of rules. I can't know them all in my head, and I generally want to tell my players "Yes, you can do that", rather than say "Hold on while I google it and read all about it and everyone pause the game and wait 5 minutes so I can ultimately tell you NO."
It's a hard balancing act.

paladinguy wrote:

"Noting the direction of the scent is a move action. "

And that's the part I missed =/

I've been playing D&D/pathfinder for under a year, and there are just millions of rules. I can't know them all in my head, and I generally want to tell my players "Yes, you can do that", rather than say "Hold on while I google it and read all about it and everyone pause the game and wait 5 minutes so I can ultimately tell you NO."
It's a hard balancing act.

Even people who have been playing for years don't know all the rules; I see it as a shared responsibility. I'll say "Ed, can you look up scent?" while I look up that new spell or swim rules.

If the player wants to do something, there's a good chance they either know the rules, or else know where to find them. So delegate: ask the PLAYER to look up the requisite rules and tell you what page they're on, or hand them to you.

Grand Lodge

What the others have said.

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