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I am a new GM (experienced player) and have been running CCT for 6 experienced players. We are just about to finish the Temple of Urgathoa and after last night, I think I need some advice for adjusting CRs.
They fought Lady Andaisin after killing Rolth. Rolth level drained the ranger (who has humans and undead as favored enemies) and the party STILL steamrolled Andaisin. And that was with the sorcerer only half helping because the player wasn't there and I only had the character shoot off a few spells.
I followed the AP and had Lady Andaisin come to find the PCs because they spent quite a bit of time talking to the patients. In hindsight, this was probably not a good idea, because they hadn't been drained by the other battles (they have not encountered the leukodaemon yet), but I have had this problem consistently for the last several sessions (really, since the 6th player joined). This is just the first time they've encountered a boss since then, so up until now I thought it was just because they were encountering "trash fights".
They had enough ranged attacks and were dealing enough damage that she had to spend several turns healing herself. But then they'd bring her HP down so fast, she really didn't have much chance to do anything else with her spells. She did try slay living, but the PC made his save. When she was "reborn". She did get one fighter down to about half hit points and drained his con and dex, but couldn't even hit the other fighter (this was partly because she wasn't rolling great). I did fudge a few rolls, but I feel like I would have had to do it almost every time to really made a difference.
Now they ARE drained, but I suspect they're going to leave and rest before coming back to check out the rest of the dungeon, so I still don't think the leukodaemon will be a challenge.
I know that I can slow down their leveling, but I think this will be frustrating for them. Is there some kind of formula I can follow for making encounters more difficult?
A few tips, I ran this AP a few years back with the same size group:
1. Max HP for significant villains.
2. Add significant henchmen (-1 to -3 CR of solo boss) to boss encounters or add minions/hazards.
3. Slow the XP progression by 1 level. Its not a big change but will make for less work in adjusting encounters.
If you're running PF remember CoCT is 3.5 which means the villains are generally 1 to 2 CR lower than provided for.
Some simple fixes:
- Add a couple of extra minions to every encounter.
- Add henchmen to the boss encounter.
- Make the opponents harder (give them more hp and +1 on everything, +1 to hit, +1 AC, +1 dmg, +1 on saves).
- Let your PCs be one level lower than what they are supposed to be.
- Add time constraint to keep your PCs from resting. More encounters in the same day should make your PCs think about how to spend their resources.
- If you have the time, upgrade your PCs to Pathfinder (there should even be some conversions around on these boards).
What I ended up doing is adding at least 50% to the number of "mooks" and raising their hit points to 75%. I added 1 level to the named encounters as well as raising their hit points.
As far as conversions go you can find one that I've done Here. I've currently finished (but still need to post) Book 4.
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Clearly, the GM isn't having as much fun as he could be if he's posting about it. Players having fun is nice, but far from the GM's only goal. Hell, it's not even his main goal—a GM's main goal is to ensure he himself has fun, with players as a close second.
Personally, as a GM, I enjoy running close and suspenseful battles. I wouldn't be having fun if I just had to run things as-written so my six-man group of optimized Pathfinder characters could trample everything.
If Kyiera wants advice on how to toughen things up, that's what we should give him/her. We shouldn't instead halt things so we can question his/her judgement. :P
We shouldn't instead halt things so we can question his/her judgement. :P
To be clear, I wasn't questioning his judgement. But I believe that "the players aren't having fun because the encounters are too easy" and "the GM isn't having fun because the encounters are too easy" are two separate problems with possibly different solutions. For instance, for the former, I'd suggest beefing up the existing bad guys and for the latter I'd suggest a larger encounter with bad guys who are still relatively weak.
It's important to remember that while it is an awesome adventure path, Curse of the Crimson Throne was built with D&D 3.5 rules. Not only that, it doesn't take into account 6 players nor does it take into account years of rules bloat.
As a GM the first thing I would do, is take a look at what your players are doing and what they usually do. Do they have a specific tactic they exploit the hell out of? Turn it against them later. Is it just that the monsters aren't tough enough? Change things up on them.
Feel free to make adjustments and add in other monsters. Increase saving throw DC's. Add HP.
I HEAVILY altered the final fight but it was a blast.
Gave Queen Ileosa 4 3 simulacrums of herself to run counter songs, inspire courage and others simultaneously, altered her spell list to give her Healing Thief and Unwitting Shield, and run all of that plus the Erinyes at the same time. Those big damage fighters? Well, when they hurt their own party, they tend to hold off a second. It didn't matter to me if certain spells were on a list or not. I figured she was possessed by Kazavon, an ancient dragon chosen of Zon Kuthon, so knowing them wasn't a big deal.
Also, one thing it seems like they are doing is withdrawing and coming back, multiple times. Push them, put them on a timetable, and give consequences to using those kinds of tactics. Maybe the enemies get wind they are about the be invaded and they took their loot and ran off. Or they called in extra security. Maybe they put up some additional traps.
If they cleared the bigger monsters and are just coming back to pick up loot, you can have the lesser ones grab it and take off with it, or better yet, use it against them.
This particular path lends itself well to the timetable because really bad stuff can happen if you wait around too long and treat it like a console RPG.
I ran this for 6 players about 2 years ago, and I loved every minute of it, especially Scarwall.
Basically, you're the GM, don't limit yourself to what's on a page. Challenge your players and make it fun for everyone, even you!
Sorry for my late response to this, we didn't play for a couple of weeks so I wasn't focused on game stuff for a bit. I did not know that Pathfinder and 3.5 were not exactly comparable, so that helps to know a lot!
The players are having fun, and so am I, but mostly because of the story and RP - not during battles. I did check with them and they think they're too easy. I've got lots of ideas to work with now, so I'm excited to start trying them out tonight and see how it goes. Thanks for all the help!