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Looking around
(1/5/03 8:29:02 pm)
Am I trying too hard to hurt my PCs?
My PCs managed to let the Moathouse cultists get advance warning of their assault, so they prepared a giant ambush at the falling portcullis. In the ensuing fight the party lost a cleric (pinned under the portcullis and torn to pieces by ghouls) and had three members paralyzed and taken by the cultists. They did destroy most of the Moathouse's undead in that fight.

So they're off to rescue their pals as soon as they've hauled the gate up and propped it up. They make it into area 30 where they get another ambush including most of the gnolls and Ysalansh. Two of their three kidnapped buddies are tied up in the room too.

After a long fight, the PCs get back their two friends but Ysal escapes down the hall to the Obelisk and area 32. Excepting the party druid, who wont subject his badly damaged wolf to more combat until he's healed and happens to be out of healing, and one guy who goes off on his own to fetch the companion of the remaining kidnapped PC, pursue to area 32.

Most of the way there they run into Ysal's obscuring mist. They fall back a moment and do a detect evil. I had them pick up the obelisk and surrounds as overwhelmingly evil as a sort of warning, because Ysal had enough downtime (the PCs spent a few moments exploring area 29) to lay a little trap. I used something I read here where Ysal put up an obscuring mist, cut the platform over the shaft loose, and held it up by a rope while he levitated thanks to his potion.

The PCs come into area 32 and they find Ysal on the platform with a rope in his hands. They aren't at all suspicious and three charge out on the platform to do battle. One falls off it when he jostles the thing with his attack. So he falls the 60 feet and lands atop the obelisk. Badly wounded, but still up. Ysal's action comes up and two other PCs are on the platform. He lets go of the rope. Both fail at grabbing it. Down they go, hitting the obelisk hard. One immediately goes down into negatives and the other is about three hit points away.

I figured that since the PCs had been especially noisy (falling isn't quiet) the grell came in. It target the guy nearly in negatives and put him there. So I now have one PC atop the obelisk, who's now starting to get drained by it, two helpless there, and none of the three have a way back up.

Back atop the shaft, Ysal is hiding in the mist and taking potshots at the two PCs still up top, aiming from the noise they're making. He hasn't had any luck, but that and the mist are keeping them from trying to help their fellows down below.

Meanwhile, the PC that went to get the other PC's companion has been caught by Gren and a contingent of skeletons who took the long way around to get behind the PCs in the original ambush and he's leading them towards the druid with the wounded companion who refused to go farther.

I'm starting to think that the falling platform trap was a little too much. There's only one PC to take on the grell on his own now (although he has good fort saves) and he's losing strength to the obelisk. The closest standing PCs can't help him get out of there or assist with the grell because they can't see it, and more foes (albeit just Gren and four skeletons) are coming from behind.

Has this happened to anyone else? I'm thinking I have a near TPK in the offing.:(

Here for a while
(1/5/03 9:47:15 pm)
Re: Am I trying too hard to hurt my PCs?
If you do wind up with a near TPK, rest assured it was not your fault. The druid is the only smart one of the group. When you are badly injured, you must retreat and regroup. You gave them sufficient warning with the detect evil. I can't see a good way around losing at least one PC however.

The grell should make off with one of the PC's on the platform. I ruled that the rope doesn't get dislodged, so those on the platform could still move it up. The PC on the obelisk can then easily make it to the platform that just fell, or make it to the other one. The grell will be busy munching on the (soon dead) PC. The only way around this is if the PC (who is partially drained) can manage to kill or drive off the grell. Little chance.

The druid and the other two remaining PC's should be encouraged to leave. Perhaps, the PC on the obelisk could escape with one comrade (one gets eaten by the grell), running past Ysslansh. They group with the druid and the other two and leave. The last PC with Gren gets taken down to the obelisk to be "fed" to their dark god. This last part worked great IMC.

Btw, I hope I got the number of PC's right, but I think you get the idea. If the remaining party doesn't leave, they deserve to be waxed. Charging onto the platform...sheesh! Anyway, hopefully someone can build on this a little and add some other ideas. Good luck!

Looking around
(1/5/03 10:45:31 pm)
Re: Am I trying too hard to hurt my PCs?
I don't think you are being too hard or unfair to your PCs. I very much am grappling with similar issues. I started the thread Aftermath CRM:MG after my PCs were TPK'ed at the main entrance. When things starting looking bad, after the main grunt (barb 5) fell, they wouldn't retreat even though the NPC paladin called for a retreat.

In last night's session, with three new 6th lvl PCs (one sat out hoping his old PC would get rescued), they risked another TPK. The PCs rushed through Rastor and didn't look for any additional help. Once there, they made a cursory search for the 'secret entrance' before deciding to head up to the south entrance. I feared another TPK and so had a couple giants 'crafting' boulders out front. This wasn't enough to discourage them. The 2nd half of the session ended with a big fight in the Air temple. There may yet be a TPK.

And so, I wholeheartedly agree with many of Infiniti2000's points. I am learning first-hand in my campaign how difficult it is for PCs to learn the lessons of retreating and regrouping to fight another day. I would concur with Infiniti2000's suggestion to rule the rope from the first platform was not dislodged. If you don't want a TPK, they've got to have a way of escaping from their at present untenable situation. Parties splitting up have often lead to TPKs.

I guess sometimes it is part of our job as DM to save the PC's from themselves so that everyone has fun.

To that end, if your PCs aren't prepared for the coldness, perhaps you could make them give you WIS/wilderness survival checks to give them yet another warning. If they proceed down further, they 'think' they will die of the cold (in due time). Hopefully, this would give them a reason to think twice so they will retreat and regroup to come back more prepared.

I'll try to post details of my last session on another thread as soon as I get a chance.

The guy from Belgium
Here for a while
(1/5/03 11:31:20 pm)
Re: Am I trying too hard to hurt my PCs?
just one little comment here berova:

to what deity is your paladin devoted?

because the way i see the paladin (roleplayed exactly the way he should be) he will NOT retreat from the battlefield since this means dishonour. if necesarry, he will sacrifice himself so his partymembers can safely withdraw (hoping some of them wills tick around to help him out) but depending on his deity, he will not fall back! to do so would be the ultimate dishonour and falling in a heroic combat would be his ultimate goal.

but that's just in my campaign :D

Can't leave now (mod)
(1/6/03 7:37:06 am)
Re: Am I trying too hard to hurt my PCs?
One quick question: are your players having fun?

Because, tactics aside, that's priority number one. Every DM has to match their style of game to the style the players like. Either that, or they each need to find a different game.

So if your players are thinking RttToEE is high fantasy, save the world heroics where they are infallible champions and you are thinking grim 'n' gritty super-realistic tactical meatgrinding -- well, someone needs to compromise.

The other thing to consider is that a lot of the encounters balance a very powerful opponent by forcing sub-optimal tactics on them. If you have the monsters do the 'smart' thing all the time, you'll have multiple TPK's and your players will either rise to the challenge or walk away in disgust.

-Thrommel, who rises to the challenge, but only after assuming bat form.

Looking around
(1/9/03 12:31:17 am)
I think we see eye to eye
I think my players are enjoying themselves. I do feel bad about cooking up this situation and then seeing it sort of spiral out of control. I keep having that "it was a really good idea at the time..." sort of feeling about it.

I don't think anybody went in with the assumption that they were going to get off easy and inevitably come out on top. I like seeing them win, but they knew from past experience that they have to earn it too. I think we have a consensus somewhere between ultrareal tactical gaming and high fantasy, a hair more towards ultrareal.

Looking around
(1/9/03 12:34:07 am)
The paladin
The paladin worships Sheela Peryroyal or whatever the halfling agricultural goddess's name is. Her tenets are long on fighting smart and short on standing up and getting shot at. It's sort of a moot point since the pal is one of the guys bleeding out atop the obelisk, though.

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