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Ritter Valliard
Pie
(11/11/02 8:52:53 am)
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ezSupporter
How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
Fellow DM's, I need some advice… I don't want a TPK, but I want to scare the PC's.

Here's the situation:

Over the course of 4 months, the PC's have wiped out two bridge (Air & Fire) complexes, both entrance gate complexes, and two Temples (Earth & Air). They also assisted the Water Temple in a failed raid on the Fire Temple (none of the Water Temple forces returned). At this point, Varachan was prepared to send his first assistance to the PC's, and Hedrack had decided to send some forces to see what the problem in the CRM was. The PC's fled to Verbobonc before either Varachan or Hedrack had a chance to go through with their plans. They stayed in Verbobonc for 2 months :/

While they were gone, I decided the Fire Temple attacked the Water Temple to exact some vengeance. Hedrack decided the problem was taken care of and he started looking for replacements for the fallen temples.

The PC's have returned now and cleared the CRM of most hostile NPC's, including the Earth Bridge (the last bridge complex). Eeridik managed to flee (to either the Fire Temple or the Inner Fane, I'm not sure what to do with him right now). Only the Fire Temple remains. The PC's have holed up in the dwarven area where Tulian's Eye was hidden. They are nearly out of spells, but fully healed due to CLW wands.

Rowin, human paladin (9th) with a "holy" weapon, dishes out a lot of damage, but not too good with tactics, decent AC (25?).
Hoglo, half-orc rogue (5th)/fighter (4th)/barbarian (1st), dishes out lots of damage too, worse AC (21), but excellent tactics usually, he's on watch (Ring of Sustenance).
Garthag, dwarf cleric (9th)/fighter (1st), lots of AC (29), lots of HP (110+), but only two 1st level spells left.
Terjon, elf wizard (10th), only Spider Climb and Feather Fall left I think. He does have a Wand of Magic Missiles (9th level).

They just received a warning from Varachan that they have been noticed and reprisals are imminent. The three spellcasters are all asleep and Hoglo is on watch, he is expecting an attack tonight. I think he's going to try to pull an all-nighter, hoping the Ring of Sustenance will keep him going.

Now, Hedrack hasn't sent anyone out to deal with the PC's yet, so he could start out light, just the invisible stalkers? Then again, three of the temples have fallen, and Tessimon fought the PC's, so she could attest to their ability (they did inflict several casualties in their attack on the Fire Temple, just not enough to win). So is a bigger response warranted? Ukemil and the lions? The trog stench might give them enough warning to get moving…

I hope that wasn't too rambling, any suggestions would be appreciated!

Edited by: Ritter Valliard at: 11/11/02 8:57:07 am
Thrommel
The DM
(11/11/02 11:12:19 am)
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Re: How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
The stalkers are nasty. I wouldn't send them. Save them for when the party actually gets into the Fane.

Ukemil is good, but the real advantage to the Dire Lions is their pounce ability. (That rake attack is no slouch either.) Ukemil is good for an ambush where the lions can run out, close, and still get their full attack.

What I'd look at doing is combining Ukemil with the assassins. Use the assassins to reconnoiter the place and then draw the party out of their bolthole. (Perhaps a combination assassination attempt and theft. Nothing makes a paladin angrier than someone filching his sword.)

When the party comes out, have Ukemil use his pets to cut off their escape. Any hints Tessimon can pass on about tactics should be used in preparing Ukemil's spell list.

It should be tough, but I'm guessing it won't be a TPK.

-Thrommel, who's been VERY WRONG about that in the past, so YMMV.

deafdungeonmasterRIT
Pie
(11/11/02 3:26:09 pm)
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Hmm
2 months?

Your PC is crazy for waiting that long! I think they are crazy..

Here is my suggestion..

Reorganization the temple with ambitious (and potentially new) rising stars in EEE or possibly doomsayers, heavily staffs with orcs and possibly drows. Since the players gain higher level, they may need to fight either weaker or more challenging occupants of the temple.. since you may want either air or earth temple to be occupied by that neutral evil druid whom ends up setting up plant temple for her (or his?) own purposes.. thus, this temple will be neutral (though evil) and potentially a resting ground for PC. That is a consideration that you may want to make.

Keep in mind.. Hedrack will probably won't find out about the temple until either 3rd or 4th weeks later, and when he does.. he will hurrily reorganized the temple. I'm not sure if the Triad will get involved in those matter. If they do, what their role is uncertain, it will be best if Second creates more skums through orcs to reinforce the remaining temple..t oo many humans are skum.. so I believe that orcs will be more suitable substitue..

Hedrack may need to call his remaining henchmen (Dunrat or Jaroo) to return and focus on the reorganization.. those four temples are the key to releases of the Big T! Hedrack will need every experiences and structure to acheives this insidious end..

This is when Hedrack starts to emphasize more training on guards, more doomsayers class (on himself and other clerics), somehow bringing or relocating powerful monsters stragetrically located to hinder PCs movement, and recruit adventuring party (mercenary or with evil alignment) to acts as countermeasure against PC as similar in the concept of StarWolf Team vs StarFox team (from N64) and X-Men vs Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Hedrack is now directly involve, making sure that his (and triad) goals are met.. Hedrack may be a candidate for becoming the "fourth" Triad and have Varachan taking over his position (gasp!). He didn't want anything else to jeopardy his plans..

Dang, 2 months? That is asking for trouble!

It will be interesting to see one temple to be fully occupied either by Grells or Blade Spirits. It will be interesting to see Hedrack somehow convinces Dravean civilians at the mercy of Tal to relocates in the Temple in order to fulfill their addiction to drugs.. preferly in Earth temple. This will be Hedrack's most insidious plan, and we can expect PCs to hate Hedrack even more, forcing those poor drawians to fight for their life to fulfill their addiction.

It will be interesting to see Air Temple to be fully occuped by shockers.. it will expand shockers role in ToEE! It is perfectly logical!

chefhermes
Pie
(11/11/02 8:05:29 pm)
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Re: Hmm
How about the party comes back and finds nobody there? Hedrack has pulled all the temple forces back to the outer fane (maybe sacrificing some for failure?) so the PCs walk through deserted halls. (spooky)

Hermes

Andorax
Orc
(11/12/02 7:03:08 am)
Reply
Re: Hmm
Um, guys...he's already figured out how to repopulate, and the PCs have *just* depopulated the repopulation, and don't seem to intend on doing any more leaving for long periods at this point.

The question is what to do for reprisal attacks.


Myself, I stuck, right close to the written script. First attack was one assassin (several people mistakenly thought that it says both...it does not. Hedrack sends one of the two assassins). Then Ukemil and the Lions (feel free to add the Pseudonatural Template to the Lions if it suits your fancy). Then the Stalkers (who, initially, failed their track rolls to follow the PCs back to their camp).

It was only later, when I was getting desperate to find and finish off the PCs, that I resorted to sending the Stalkers, the two Dark Naga from the water door, and the other assassin as a single death squad...which worked all too well and killed off over half the party. That was also the same point in time when the one remaining temple (Water) abandoned the CRM entirely, awaiting blessed oblivion *elsewhere*.


Long story short...stick to the ambush squads as-written, send one a night at midnight. Use fair means to determine if they can even find the PCs at all (presuming that Hedrack will use appropriate spells such as Divination, Locate Object, and Locate Creature (the latter two, btw, will nearly cover the entire CRM from his quarters in the Outer Fane).

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

Ritter Valliard
Pie
(11/12/02 11:02:42 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: Hmm
As far as repopulating, Andorax is right, I've repopulated almost the whole CRM at least once by this point. I'm really hoping to push them towards entering the Fanes now, especially since they've taken so long. It's time for the Doomdreamers' plans to start taking shape and the PC's had better get moving if they want to stop them - Varachan's note warned them of that and they seemed to have gotten the point.

The last time the Outer Fane scryed on the party, they were at the "Water Bridge" boat landing, if the assault party uses that starting point, they won't take long to find the PC's.

I'm torn between between sending one assassin and sending Ukemil and the lions. I don't know if one assassin is enough of a response, it seems more like a probing mission than a serious attack. Maybe I'm underestimating the ability of the assassin?

Stitch
Pie
(11/12/02 12:01:48 pm)
Reply
yeah, but
I'm in the same part of the adventure an dI'm having trouble buying Hedrack sending 1 assassin after 6 adventurers. I'm gonna have hedrack hire a group of 3 evil dueregar mercs to shadow the adventurers for a while an attack at an opportune moment [along with a summoned fire elemental]. Seems more logical.

Andorax
Orc
(11/12/02 12:22:09 pm)
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Re: yeah, but
The idea of the assassin isn't to see if he can kill the whole party, but rather to "discourage" them.

IMC, Victor's first attack managed a death attack on Lyssa (that failed). The PCs were camping in the Fire Temple Area, and Victor escaped through the smoke-filled room and out into the crater ridge.



When Hedrack discovered that Victor hadn't gotten a kill, and that the PCs weren't dissuaded, Victor was sent to team up with Ukemil, and went along with the Trog and the Lions (and was subsequently killed along with them).



Is Victor likely to kill the entire party? Probably not, unless he gets the sole watcher with a death attack. But he's got a decent chance of scoring one kill and running off, causing (in Hedrack's mind) the PCs to think themselves vulnerable and to flee from the CRM.

It's not about mechanical effectiveness...it's about sending a message.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

Ritter Valliard
Pie
(11/12/02 2:49:41 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: yeah, but
Quote:
It's not about mechanical effectiveness...it's about sending a message.


Point taken, we'll see how Victor does...

Edited by: Ritter Valliard at: 11/13/02 7:21:49 pm
Stitch
Pie
(11/13/02 3:24:31 pm)
Reply
true
That IS a good point. Last night the party pretty much wiped out the Duregar mercs with some lucky help from the Stone Golem in Mordain's Temple. Grumble. Of course, two of the Duregar got away and they can fill the assassin in on tactics. :)

Ritter Valliard
Orc
(12/11/02 8:22:51 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Results
For those curious how the attack went...

The party ended up camping in the dwarven rooms near the gargoyle pit, a place they've camped in several times before. The Outer Fane knows about this location, and I sent Victor to tell them to leave. Victor snuck up on the group. Hoglo, the half-orc rogue/fighter/barbarian was on watch at the time (IMC, I've allowed half-orcs the option to take Scent as a Feat, Hoglo has it).

Hoglo noticed the door to their room open (it was unsecured) and faked being asleep to draw the attacker out. I gave him a hefty bonus a Bluff check, but Victor sensed something was up. Victor moved in closer to examine Hoglo and prepare for a Death Attack. Hoglo was waiting until Victor got closer to do anything. We rolled initiative and Victor won. He moved in for the Death Attack, but since that requires a Sneak Attack and Hoglo has Uncanny Dodge, the attempted DA turned into a regular attack with some poison for good measure. A brief melee ensued, during which Victor didn't have time to CDG any of the other sleeping PC's as Hoglo kept him on the move; but, two of the PC's awoke as Victor nailed them with nasty Sneak Attacks.

By this point, Victor was really wanting to flee, so he used his Darkness and Ghost Noise spells to trick the party into thinking reinforcements had arrived and provide himself some concealment. The party fell for it and Victor only had to survive one Opportunity attack from Hoglo to make his escape, unfortunately, one lucky swing and Victor is now resting on the bottom of the Stalagos with the… well, whatever is down there.

The next day the party defeated what was left of the Fire Temple. The Fire Temple was the only portion of the CRM to survive the PC's, and I've moved Tessimon to the Recovered Temple to assist with the recovery of the Fire Node. The party rested in the Earth Bridge complex and was visited by Ukemil and the lions that night.

The party faired alright in this battle. Hoglo was on guard again, and the lions tore him up really bad at first, all those attacks really add up. However, when the rest of the party counterattacked, Terjon the wizard and Garthag the cleric actually had some spells left today and the lions quickly fell under their magical assault. Ukemil made a run for the Stalagos, but Hoglo (barbarian with Boots of Springing and Striding) caught him and soon Ukemil joined Victor.

shidara
Orc
(12/11/02 8:56:30 am)
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Re: How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
IMO, as far as the *game* goes, the assassins, Ukemil and kitties, and Invisible stalkers are not designed to kill the party - -they are designed to scare them and piss them off.

By the time a party are warrants some attention, they should be around the appropriate level to cast raise dead (or at least have an excellent chance of casting one off a scroll). They should be feeling pretty high and mighty, having eliminated quite a bit of the enemy.

Then the assasin/Ukemil/Stalkers strike, and the party feels vulnerable and hunted again. They feel uncomfortable in the mines, they are in the mood for vengeance, because up until now, they have been the aggressors against the temple - this time the temple attacked them!

IMC, Bethe killed the party wizard but was captured. The wizard was back on his feet in mere minutes thanks to a raise dead scroll. The party, initially hired by the church of St. Cuthbert to investigate the cult, is now out for Hedrack's blood.

My party had gotten cocky - they wiped out D-Gran's area easily, thanks to improved invisibility and excellent tactics. Now, they are a lot more careful and reserved, because they know that teh cult is no longer sitting back and taking the punsihment - they're reacting, striking back, adapting.

Basically, what I'm trying to say, is that from a *meta-game* standpoint, the function of the assassins is not to assassinate - it is instead to serve as a reminder to the PCs that (a) they are vulnerable, (b) the bad guys are BAD, and (c) they are meddling with powerful enemies.

If they *were* designed to kill the entire party, Naquent and Hedrack could call up a (Greater) Planar Ally *every*day* and throw them at the party. Two 16+HD outsiders stalking the PCS every day would result in a TPK very soon.

Relax. The assassins are there to scare the players, not to kill them.

Shidara

Ritter Valliard
Orc
(12/11/02 7:54:22 pm)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
I agree with you, shidara, unfortunately, from after-game comments I heard, I think the party has gotten even cockier after they defeated Victor and Ukemil without any losses.

They're terrified about entering the Outer Fanes though, so something is working right ;)

Andorax
Orc
(12/12/02 7:22:10 am)
Reply
Re: How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
If you feel as if they weren't sufficiently intimidated by the first two groups, you might consider ramping up the last one a bit.

IMC, the Stalkers were sent out twice, and twice botched their check to track the PCs, coming back empty handed.

On the third night, Hedrack got serious (and I was trying to push my party into actually pressing forward). So I sent the Stalkers along with the two Naga and the other Assassin.

Of course, I nearly pulled off a total party kill doing so, so use with caution.

"Whadda ya mean, Orcs get levels too?!?"

Infiniti2000
Orc
(12/12/02 8:15:39 am)
Reply
ezSupporter
Re: How much attention is too much? Outer Fane assassins
Let them be cocky. They seem like they are just cocky on the outside though, if they are scared of the Outer Fane. Wait till they run into the EEE (Elder Earth Elemental) or Chymon. ;)

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