Friday, January 28, 2011

Red Frogs, Session 2

See session 1 and it's further commentary here. Note that this session was also posted first on the WotC forums, and so there may be some out of context discussion. Copy + paste is just so much easier than re-writing everything though.

Well, I'd planned on posting a little bit more on this thread even though Auspex's character was no longer active. Last week's session got skipped, and this morning we played briefly until my Hunter (and Sentinel) met an untimely end as well (TPK). This encounter was 3 levels above us (I talked with the DM about how level + 6 encounters were a no-no), but alas it ended up fatal.

Encounter Synopsis

With resources stretched thin from the last fight (Albus had used 5 of his 11 surges), we decided that it would be best to try to avoid combat as much as possible. Immeral snuck around and listened at every door as we explored the castle. We avoided doors where he could hear voices, and eventually we'd explored every non-occupied door, finding a hidden door in the fireplace of the kitchen that lead to a trapdoor. Thievery couldn't open it, and it was the only way forward, so we'd have to find someone with a key. We walked down to a nearby door, and bashed it in.

We had walked into a barracks, which contained a gnome, as well as a bunch of humans and goblins. There were 3 goblins huddled together in one corner, so on Albus' turn (he rolled a 19 on Initiative, for a total of 21) he nailed them with Grasping Tide, hitting all of them. Padfoot moved toward another group of goblins to block access to Immeral and Albus through the corridor between the rows of beds. The Gnome went next, and hit Albus with an area attack (a painful one, at that; the Gnome eventually finished off the party when he was the only one left). Next was Immeral's turn (alas, she rolled a 3, still putting her at 16 total), and a Rapid Shot bloodied the goblins that Grasping Tide had softened up (in the DM's own words, "more than bloodied").

Much of the rest of the encounter was a colossal failure. The DM seems to roll 20's far more than the average person (in the last 4e campaign I DMed, his archer Ranger would crit 3-5 times during a single session). Naturally, using his magic D20 the monsters critted several times against us. And I missed on about 2/3 of my remaining turns. With a freakin' Hunter. I did manage to get one more successful Rapid Shot off (taking out 2 goblins and revealing the "real" Gnome after he used a mirror-image type power to make 3 copies of himself), but other than that I kept trying to use Clever Shot to knock one of the Humans prone as he advanced upon Albus, who was blocking a 1 square wide corridor between beds such that if he kept shifting back if the human had stood up + moved forward, he could have "held" the chokepoint for Immeral for several rounds. Well, I missed with Clever Shot 3 or 4 rounds in a row. Our lucky DM kept pounding on Albus, who had to use both Healing Words on himself, in addition to his second wind. Meanwhile, Padfoot was holding off 2 goblins which kept missing him, so while my nifty little damage sink was doing his job tactically, (holding off 2 enemies while the Sentinel + Hunter dealt with 1) it wasn't really helping. Well, it probably delayed the inevitable because of unlucky dice rolling. Oh, and Albus also popped a daily, so there was a Pack Wolf helping out Padfoot for a couple of rounds before I dismissed it to conserve surges (an attack had nearly killed it, which is the perfect time to dismiss a summon).

Meanwhile, the Fighter was taking on a human, a goblin, and that darned Gnome. He too missed more than usual, though he wasn't doing as badly as I was. Unfortunately, he simply couldn't pin down the Gnome, who had a teleport encounter power + his meat shields holding a choke point. The Gnome just kept sniping Albus and Immeral (there was 1 round where I'd forgotten about his AoE and had the two characters too close to each other, and another round where both were cornered, so there were a couple of positioning mistakes on my part).

At one point Albus went down, and Immeral spent a turn administering a potion (it's not like he was ever hitting anyways). For a few rounds, Padfoot was attacking and I got to actually hit stuff! It was really nice to take actions with the companion even though the Sentinel was down. His two goblins eventually dropped, one Clever Shot was successful (allowing either Albus or Immeral to hit the human again, killing it), and then the Gnome dropped Albus, and then Immeral. The Fighter killed the Gnome's last meat shield (with a Comeback Strike!), and moved forward. Padfoot charged forward to help finish the Gnome off, thinking the little midget was finally cornered (Immeral and Albus were both dying, though both had passed their death saves). Then the Gnome shifted back. "Oh crap!" I remembered, the Fighter hadn't attacked him last turn so even though he was adjacent, he wasn't marked! His AoE dropped Padfoot well below 0 HP, and the Fighter was just under 0 HP. Vanquished, with victory so close.


This was a good example of how vulnerable small parties are. When one PC goes down and another has to spend a round reviving his/her comrade, it hurts. When one player keeps rolling really badly (in this case the player controlling 3/4 of the party, including the companion) it REALLY hurts.

I'd like to point out that Immeral needed to roll a 6 or higher to hit the Humans (in Aspect of the Dancing Serpent), which is who I kept gunning for in order to keep Albus alive. I know this because for 4ish rolls in a row (including Elven Accuracy), I either rolled 4's or 5's. The one Clever Shot that actually connected did so because I remembered my action point and got lucky for once with a 6. I cannot emphasize enough how absolutely frustrating it is to keep missing with a character built around accuracy. I'd also like to note that Auspex's build was much better at dealing with that than mine, since Micah had the Noble Adept theme and Heroic Effort. Had I been running Micah in this encounter, that would be 2 rounds where Clever Shot would have hit, saving Albus from taking hits (and dropping), probably saving Immeral from reviving him, and probably allowing us to keep the humans/goblins and focus fire on the Gnome. Oh, and there probably would have been a Healing Word for the Fighter, too, not to mention the fact that a conscious Albus would have been able to immediately revive Padfoot after the Gnome's assault. That's not to say that Human is always a better choice than Elf for a Hunter (after all, Elven Accuracy will usually work to turn a miss into a hit, and Elves also get a Wisdom bump, a base speed of 7, and Wild Step, as well as the passive skill bonuses), but in this case it's interesting to think about how being Human could have possibly changed the outcome of the encounter.

Even though the room was bigger than the last encounter, the beds still made things fairly cramped, and thanks to the large amount of (standard) enemies Rapid Shot and Grasping Tide were both very useful (when they hit). Which reminds me, every time I tried to hold enemies off with Grasping Tide, I would inevitably roll low on the OA to knock them prone. Usually if I catch 3 enemies with that power I'll deny at least one action (if not all 3, which I have done before), but like I said, I was rolling really poorly today (especially considering how well the DM was rolling).

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