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Engel des Giftes
(9/5/03 8:47 am)
Improved Howler or not?

my party will probably enter the CRM next session, and I am still unsure wether to use the correctly improved Howler as stated in the errata, or the Howler as given in the book.
The party consists of 5 members: Wizard 6, Cleric 6, Fighter 5, Fighter 5, Fighter4/Rogue1. They have good equipment.
I always try to do the encounters as hard as possible, but also do not want a TPK that was partly caused by a creature that is significantly weaker in the original version.
So, do you think the encounter at the Main Entrance, using the errataed Howler, is manageable for my party?

Btw, great board, it was already a big help.

(9/5/03 8:57 am)
Re: Improved Howler or not?

If you're using the 3.5 conversion, I'd recommend the correctly advanced CR5 version (which works out to 9HD/large, and is still pretty tough). If you're not using 3.5, I'd recommend that you either advance a CR5 version in the 3.0 rules yourself, or use the incorrectly advanced version from the module.

I used the fully advanced 3.0 version from the errata thread, and my party really hated it. It was beyond difficult, and well into unfair territory, in hindsight. Against your EL5.5 party, the CR7 fully-advanced-howler combined with all the other main gate forces will be a slaughter.

(9/5/03 10:15 am)
Howler howler howler
I used a fully advanced 12 HD version (under 3.5 rules).

My party had already done the south gate, the orc caves, the hydra, and the air they were about a level higher than your group.

One thing that was a big factor for us was how it played out.

Unless your group gives the gate time to mobilize, they'll be busting into the fight with surprise on their side, and the howler will be chained up in the far room.

I had the doors be open into that room, so they could see (and hear) this creature howling in the distance as they engaged the weak gate guards.

This gave them a couple of rounds to fire arrows/spells at the howler before Mereclar (who I had in his room) could come out, unchain the beast, and mount it.

By this time our bard archer had peppered it a bit, and our Paladin (on her hippogriff mount) had charged it for double damage (power attack doubled as well) with a lance.

The fight was tough, but there are a LOT of opportunities for the players to turn the tables with good strategic fighting.

Web spells can keep the Trog priest and his zombies at bay for pretty much the whole combat (in my campaign this happened, and by the time the webbing had burned away a few rounds later the combat was winding down, and the priest fled to the earth temple).

Your 6th level wizard can also fireball to clear out the gnolls and your PCs' level the human warriors and gnolls are no threat anyway...they just get in the way of good maneuvering and they entice the PCs to make wasting spells or firepower on gate guards when a huge howler is about to charge.

If I were you I'd probably advance the howler to at least 9 HD using 3.5 rules, but give the PCs chances to focus on it...leaving the strategic choice in their hands to decide how tough the fight is.

With the howler in the book the fight should be a cakewalk, with wormspike being the only threat.


(9/5/03 10:49 am)
Re: Howler howler howler
Monte said in a chat that the properly advanced one was not playtested and he recomends you use the one from the module, since those are the stats he intended, even tho they may be incorrect.

(9/5/03 11:22 am)
Re: Howler howler howler
I used a 9HD advanced (still Large; v3.0) howler and it gave me my first true kill on a 5th level Ftr/Rog (has lower than avg hp, though), who for some reason stood his ground after one full attack. My group had taken out all of the side guards by that time, so they really only had the full force in the large room to go against, although the spell casters were split off fighting Terrenygit and melting zombies.

I'd really gauge it by how tactical and experienced your players are. I was very reluctant to go with the size adjustment with my 5th level group, even though they usually work very well together. I'm glad I didn't after the lesser one even got a kill in!

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Engel des Giftes
(9/5/03 12:25 pm)
Re: Howler howler howler
Sorry, I forgot to mention that we play under 3.0 rules.

Ok, I now tend to use the original, weaker version. Thank you all for your input.
Of course, any further advice on the subject is still appreciated.

Cordo Crowfoot
(9/5/03 3:42 pm)
Re: Howler howler howler
As the person who asked Monte in chat (after agonizing about it for several months) I would highly recommend using the stats as per the module. I also used the "correctly" advanced version, and lost two PCs--which in hindsight wasn't necessary.

Even if the players are experienced I would still recommend this. Only in the off chance that they are complaining that the module isn't challenging enough and is a cakewalk would I even consider using the "correctly" advanced howler.

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