It's assassination time.
My players don't know there's one coming, but being properly paranoid little buggers they decided the bad guys were out to get them after the
But even though they're paranoid they're (maybe) not paranoid enough. They think it's a single murderer they're pursuing. They decided it was important to trap the murderer and not scare him away, so they've kept the party split.
So anyway, I've got a set of choices that boil down to: I can put all four assassins in one room against one part, or I can spread them out and try to hit all the players at (notionally) the same time.
Now before you predict a total bloodbath I need to tell you that I decided to start everyone at level 2. GM idiosyncrasy thank you very much.
So it's potentially survivable either way. What I'm looking at is deciding which way the assassins go, and if they need a tweak.
I am, as my players frequently tell me, a very evil GM so take my advice with a grain of salt.
I would add two more assassins to the group and split them into two groups of three. This provides a little more challenge than a two on two fight in each instance and it dispels the much more important problem of having half your group be bored while the other half is getting attacked.
If they were smarter and higher level foes (and this is something I would not hesitate to do in a later book, say 4 onward) I would have the entire group of enemies attack one group teaching the hazard of splitting the party.
Yeah, I'm leaning that way, but ...
I'm sorry, I edited out some key details for the group in rewrites. Let me expand so you can see some of my frustration here. And temptation.
Five party group. As I said, all level 2 due to GM (me) idiosyncrasies.
Remember, they think/know they're bait. So they're setting watch and setting up caltrops/marbles at doors and a few minor things like that. But
Fighter 2 and Pal1/Sorc1 are in a room at Ramblehouse. About three doors down are the gunslinger2 (yes, I did) and Rogue/Cleric.
And up in the longhouse, providing close personal sympathy and secret bodyguard duty for Kurst, is the Druid 2 and her pet Roc. (sorry, never get tired of saying it that way.) Done after loudly flouncing away from the group, too, in the hopes of diverting attention.
They think it's just one killer, with maybe a henchman or two. They haven't figured out the rest.
One thing I've done is 'run the math'. It's nominally four level ones vs four level ones who have a (probable) night attack advantage. Four level ones vs two level twos who are ready is ACL+1, for however long it takes the other two to get there - or for the whole fight if it's the longhouse.
So anyway, following your idea for what amounts to a three-way split is NINE assassins. Four is bad enough for a contingency team, six gets hard to swallow, but nine... sigh.
Just a thought...you could move the assassins to another time/place?
I decided that maybe the best was after the Plague house. I know that it is a bunch of level 1 rogues, but having them ambush them after that house (they went during the day, so 1 less encounter anyway) would be tough. Especially if I could give them ambush site with tall grass (to hide in) and snipe with poisoned crossbow bolts.
Since I was using the variant poison rules...and apparently the elf rogue decided to fail about every poison roll he was asked to make including the weak centipede venom against the assassins...most of the group was taken off guard by the attack. It was probably the 2nd hardest fight they had all night, and it was against the supposedly 2nd encounter.
It was only through good tactics, and a few amazing rolls from an gnome alchemist with his dagger that they survived.
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Thanks to all.
I decided to play it straight. The assassins prefer to gang up and ran it that way. It went badly for the assassins.
They chose to take on the paladin and fighter first. The paladin on first watch saw the attempt to slip the lock. And the second try. And the third, by which time he'd awakened the fighter and they'd positioned themselves. The fighter yanked open the door. Four assassins were surprised. (The gm now changes dice.) The paladin shield bashes the assassin in the door and drops her in place. He takes a five foot step back and holds action. The fighter steps up, shrugs off the only successful attack of opportunity, and repositions the assassin in front of him into the attack range of the paladin. The assassin whimpers.
The rogue/cleric in the room three doors down successfully hears the ruckus of the surprise round awakens the spellslinger, and moves to the hall. The spellslinger gets up.
And three assassins take a swing at the fighter. One hits, and the fighter shrugs off the poison.
In order: The rogue moves down the hall behind one of the assassins, swings, and misses. The spellslinger moves into the hall, uses an ability to add damage, then rolls a natural 20 followed by a natural 20. (gm says if he rolls another 20 in a row the player will be required to chance dice. Player smiles at gm, and rolls a 19.) the damage done is phenomenal, leaving the rogue next to a near headless corpse. The paladin strikes at the assassin in the room using nonlethal damage, leaving her barely standing. The fighter finishes dropping her.
The last assassin blinks at suddenly being the last man standing, draws and burns a smokestick (attack of opportunity misses) and with an acrobatic leap avoids the attack of the rogue. The spellslinger calmly aims, pulls the trigger, and has his pistol jam. Pursuit is aborted when the fighter says to let him go so his sort know what a bad deal it is to attack the party.
Note that I made a couple of rules errors in there, but did not retrofit as the story worked and nobody was majorly broken by it.