editorial eyes on an encounter for 1st level PCs


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I'm creating a scenario for a mix of new and experienced players, and I've written the following boss encounter. The PCs'll be exploring a forest that's being corrupted by a forlarren trying to fully embrace her fiendish heritage. Before this encounter they'll have had some foreshadowing of what threat to expect, and also have aid in the form of a dryad who's been kicked out of the tree the forlarren's messing with. The final encounter takes place in a circular grove with a willow hanging over a pool of water at its center. Standing stones are set along the perimeter of the clearing.

I think it's tough but balanced for a 1st level party, but some second opinions would help! My main concerns are her AC, her low initiative keeping her form setting up the swarm/entangle combo that would form the main challenge, and whether or not I properly applied the druid class level. That being said, I'm fine with some level of numbers fudging, as long as it's an engaging encounter!

forlarren druid encounter:
KRESSIK, FORLARREN DRUID CR 3 XP 800
NE Medium fey
Init +1; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12
DEFENSE
AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+3 AC, +1 Dex, +3 natural)
hp 26 (4d6+4+1d8)
Fort +2, Ref +3, Will +7
DR 5/cold iron
Weaknesses remorse, sickened
OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +1 (1d6-1), mw spear +2 (1d8-1)
Ranged mw shortbow +2 (1d6x3, 60ft)
Druid Spell Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +4)
1st level—entangle (DC 14), whispering lore
orisons— read magic, create water, guidance
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 5th; concentration +6)
3/day—summon swarm [spiders] (DC 14)
STATISTICS
Str 12, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 17, Cha 11
Base Atk +2; CMB +3; CMD 15
Feats Skill Focus (Perception), Magical Aptitude, Weapon Focus (spear)
Skills Acrobatics +5, K: Nature +3, Perception +12, Spellcraft +3, Survival +7, Stealth +5
Languages Common, Sylvan
TREASURE
Gozrehn scrolls, hide shirt (20gp, +3 AC, +4 max Dex, -1 ACP, light armor), mw shortbow (330gp, 1d6x3 60ft) mw spear (302gp, 1d8x3, P)
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Remorse (Ex) Whenever a forlarren kills a living creature, it must make a DC 15 Will save to avoid becoming overwhelmed with remorse. If it fails this save, the forlarren becomes nauseated for 1d6 rounds. This is a mind-affecting effect.
Sickened - Kressik’s blood ritual has left her with the sickened condition, and the modifiers are reflected in his stat block.
Nature Bond (Animal Companion still need to do stats), Wild Empathy, Nature Sense
TACTICS
Kressik begins the fight by casting summon swarm, followed by entangle to trap his foes in the swarm’s area. If they escape or engage in melee, he attempts to flank with his animal companion or any surviving allies who have retreated to the grove.
DEVELOPMENT
Kressik has spent the last several days attempting to corrupt Springbough’s willow, hoping to bend the grove’s energies to allow her to escape her fey heritage and fully embrace her fiendish nature. Scrolls found in the hermitage under the tree, information gained via whispering wind, and her own intuition have helped her develop the details of a blood ritual. Scarring the willow and her own body and mixing her blood with the sap of the sacred tree have begun to shift the grove’s energies, causing the surrounding forest to wither and decay. With a few more days and the sacrifice of her animal companion, she will be able to complete her transformation.

Although the ritual has left her weakened, her fey nature and druidic powers still make her a formidable foe. Remember that the PCs access the grove by traveling through the sacred mists of Gozreh’s stream, and have been restored as if they had a full 8 hours’ rest. Should the encounter still prove too challenging, consider having Springbough use whispering wind to hint that they can interact with the standing stones that surround the tree, granting a boon or dispersing Kressik’s summoned spider swarms. If not all party members are able to reach the stones, some of Springbough’s leaf leshy allies could appear from the trees to assist in activating the stones.
When thePCs defeat Kressik, they will find the Gozrehn scrolls that will help them reverse the ritual and restore Springbough’s willow to health.

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Andrew Mullen wrote:

I'm creating a scenario for a mix of new and experienced players, and I've written the following boss encounter. The PCs'll be exploring a forest that's being corrupted by a forlarren trying to fully embrace her fiendish heritage. Before this encounter they'll have had some foreshadowing of what threat to expect, and also have aid in the form of a dryad who's been kicked out of the tree the forlarren's messing with. The final encounter takes place in a circular grove with a willow hanging over a pool of water at its center. Standing stones are set along the perimeter of the clearing.

I think it's tough but balanced for a 1st level party, but some second opinions would help! My main concerns are her AC, her low initiative keeping her form setting up the swarm/entangle combo that would form the main challenge, and whether or not I properly applied the druid class level. That being said, I'm fine with some level of numbers fudging, as long as it's an engaging encounter!

** spoiler omitted **...

It is pretty good, but I am worried about the number of swarms. 3/day seems a bit high for a 1st level party. While both Heat Metal and Summon Swarm are 2nd Level spells, they are not equivalent in power.

Also, you will need to re-compute the hit points. You increased the Forlarren's Constitution and added on hit die. This gains the character a net of +6 hit points. (4d6 + 1d8 + 10) for 28 hit points.

Contributor

Lord Fyre wrote:


It is pretty good, but I am worried about the number of swarms. 3/day seems a bit high for a 1st level party. While both Heat Metal and Summon Swarm are 2nd Level spells, they are not equivalent in power.

Also, you will need to re-compute the hit points. You increased the Forlarren's Constitution and added on hit die. This gains the character a net of +6 hit points. (4d6 + 1d8 + 10) for 28 hit points.

Good catch on the HP. I figure the swarms can be played by ear, I don't think it's inappropriate to pull some punches in this case. I could also give her access to the spell via a scroll or two, and switch her SLA to warp wood, which would be thematic. That'd also help me fill out her loot some.

I appreciate the feedback, thanks!


DR can be tough at lvl 1. We once had an endless fight with a wererat. The rat was stuck in place by a tanglefoot bag. The bard had dropped our only silver weapon in the before. It took us for ever to kill it due to DR. If they have cold iron weapons that's no issue.


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A CR 3 vs. 1st level party can be a bit brutal, but action economy should be ok.

The biggest pain that I see is the DR 5/ Cold Iron. The experienced players should have cold iron weapons as they are very cheap. The newbies may not yet understand Damage types and resistances. This would be a good time to role play out that the dryad saw that the Forlarren had to use a cold iron blade.

To incorporate this into the game you could slip it into when the characters ask her about the creature that evicted her from her home.

She could say something like:

"It used nasty items to make its magic! From what I could see, it was not normal steel that the implements were made of that it used in its blood magic rituals. It looked to be the kind of metal that is anathema to my kind. My beguiling magics had no effect on it, I think that the creature might be one of my kind. If so, I keep a small pile of cold iron (distance weapon) and a cold iron (melee weapon) in a hidden stash."

1d4 Javelins tipped with cold iron and a cold iron rapier would be appropriate in my estimation.

This would let the characters know about 2 things, cold iron does full damage, and that the creature is currently a fey type.

Beyond that, the swarms are a bit of an annoyance if anyone doesn't have burning hands or an alchemist flask.


Scorch_13 wrote:

A CR 3 vs. 1st level party can be a bit brutal, but action economy should be ok.

The biggest pain that I see is the DR 5/ Cold Iron. The experienced players should have cold iron weapons as they are very cheap. The newbies may not yet understand Damage types and resistances. This would be a good time to role play out that the dryad saw that the Forlarren had to use a cold iron blade.

To incorporate this into the game you could slip it into when the characters ask her about the creature that evicted her from her home.

She could say something like:

"It used nasty items to make its magic! From what I could see, it was not normal steel that the implements were made of that it used in its blood magic rituals. It looked to be the kind of metal that is anathema to my kind. My beguiling magics had no effect on it, I think that the creature might be one of my kind. If so, I keep a small pile of cold iron (distance weapon) and a cold iron (melee weapon) in a hidden stash."

1d4 Javelins tipped with cold iron and a cold iron rapier would be appropriate in my estimation.

This would let the characters know about 2 things, cold iron does full damage, and that the creature is currently a fey type.

Beyond that, the swarms are a bit of an annoyance if anyone doesn't have burning hands or an alchemist flask.

A knowledge check could just as easily provide the information, taking 20 (assuming they have the appropriate skill) would probably be enough. They have both the druid and time (foreshadowing).

@OP: It would probably come down to how you did character creation. There is a world of difference between 15 and 20, even more so with 4d6 drop lowest, etc. An 18 STR makes it much less problematic for the 1st level fighter. Also, never forget the power of Aid Another when it comes to AC at low levels. It would make the hit roll 11+ and basically a straight roll of the damage dice for that same fighter.

Contributor

Oh right, forgot some details - I planned on having a few dead adventurers throughout the forest, some with alchemist's fire and some with cold iron weapons. That should help with swarms and DR.

Scorch_13, great call on the cold iron ritual blade, didn't think about that detail. I also hadn't considered the details of the dryad's eviction, so that's a good way to foreshadow as well.

Skylander4, it'll be a 20 point buy. I'll also make sure they know about flanking, aid another, and the simple options.

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