2007-10-08 Ghost Lions

Still Sa-Tsuki, Day 22 – 14 days after the marauder attack

The party discovers the secret lion passage, is attacked by two ghost brute lions and a ghost dire lion on the way up. At the top of the passage, they find a fog-filled room, hear people casting spells behind a door, and a big fight ensues. Using a fireball, the party gets rid of most of the front-liners in the next room, storms in and fights the invisible clerics. As soon as the fireball kills most of the hobgoblin monks, the big boss decides to make a getaway and escapes with the help of Invisibility.

The rest of the fight is an illustration of the things that are wrong with D&D 3.5: It’s just too damn complicated. It would require a lot more preparation than I’m willing to invest. The enemies use spells and potions of Bull Strength, Shield of Faith +3, Bless, Haste, Summon Monster III, and Inspire Courage bardic music. The things that were easy to handle were Ventriloquism, Unseen Servant, Cure Moderate Wounds, Inflict Light Wounds, Hold Person and Invisibility.

Things I should have done, I guess:

  1. Prepare the stats for the fully buffed combat, and just assume they got adequate warning.
  2. Instead of just reading through the encounter twice, really play through the first three or four rounds.
  3. Not only try to figure out what the enemies do based on the round-by-round tactics offered in the book, but write it down in a combat table.
  4. Have a battlemap prepared with all enemy positions and moves on it.
  5. Either have a battlemap with the Listen modifiers (distance, doors) written on the various squares so that I don’t have to calculate Listen DC, or decide on a fixed Listen DC and stick to it, ignoring changing modifiers.
  6. Have the boss fight to the death. It’s stupid, but it’s more exciting.

I think the main problem is that the fight used four monk-4 and three cleric-3 with tons of potions as mooks. They are too weak to be a real challenge and still too strong to be just mooks. That really made the situation more complicated.

Thus, the battle went on for half the evening, and still wasn’t totally exciting. The designers say that the key to winning the battle is an area effect spell like the fireball. I’m ok with that. But once the party has used the fireball as expected, the enemies should have collapsed faster. Some things I’ll have to remember:

  1. If the key to winning the encounter is using a Fireball, and the time and place picked by the wizard is sound, have more enemies be affected by the fireball in order to cut the battle short. There is no point in saving a few mooks if they’re still not enough to be a real challenge.
  2. Have more stupid one-trick mooks with no magic protecting a single more dangerous foe protected by the environment somehow. On our last Sunday session, for example, the two giant stag beetles were formidable foes giving how a small corridor led up to their lair, denying a line of sight to party members at the back, and still making them all legitimate targets for the beetle’s trample attack.

Anyway, I hope that this fight is not an indication of how the midgame will turn out. I felt it was one of the weaker moments in this module. Once again I’m motivated to look at other rule systems. ;)

Things that I liked:

XP

Challenges overcome:

Current XP: